Monday, October 4, 2010

Towers Of Midnight Prologue: Scenes 5 and 6



By Linda


This post discusses the last two POVs 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




Fain

It’s hard to know how to refer to this character. He truly is neither Fain nor Mordeth, as he says. It looks like he will rename himself soon (I wonder what?), but until then, I guess Fain will have to do.

Fain plans to kill Rand personally and then the Dark One and is moving through the Blight to that long prophesied meeting in Shayol Ghul. He’s devastating the Shadowspawn there as he goes.

He has an obsession with red blood on black vegetation and under black skies:

Blood dripped from the tip of the dagger down onto the weeds. Crimson spots to cheer him. Red below, black above. Perfect. Did his hatred cause that storm? It must be so. Yes.
The drops of blood fell beside spots of darkness that appeared on dead leaves and stems as he moved further north into the Blight...
The creature that had been Padan Fain opened his mouth in glee, closing his eyes to the tumultuous black sky and raising his face, lips parted, enjoying his feast. After it passed, he sighed, holding his dagger tighter--cutting his flesh.
Red below, black above. Red and black, red and black, so much red and black. Wonderful.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

It reminds me of the ‘red on black’ prophecy in the Karaethon Cycle:

Twice dawns the day when his blood is shed.
Once for mourning, once for birth.
Red on black, the Dragon's blood stains the rock of Shayol Ghul.
In the Pit of Doom shall his blood free men from the Shadow.

- The Great Hunt, Discord

and the red and black of Moridin’s livery. That’s three uses of this symbol: Rand, Moridin and Fain.

Cutting his hand is important to Fain; he seems to celebrate his kills by shedding his own blood in this way, and it mirrors Rand’s blood sacrifice.

Fain’s other obsession is hatred of the Dark One and his compulsion to hunt Rand. He loves the Dark One’s tempest because it inspires him:

The sky was black. A tempest. He liked that, though he hated the one who caused it.
Hatred. It was the proof that he still lived, the one emotion left. The only emotion. It was all that there could be.
Consuming. Thrilling. Beautiful. Warming. Violent. Hatred. Yes. It was the storm that gave him strength, the purpose that drove him.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Fain is literally consumed by hatred. He hates the Dark One, but he also likes what the Shadow likes. The Shadow is an old friend as well as an old enemy, as Aginor said of the Shadar Logoth evil at The Eye of the World. The Shadar Logoth evil that Mordeth made is so extreme in fighting the Shadow that it became like the Shadow. Another instance in the Towers of Midnight Prologue of the story coming full circle.

Mashadar is acting like Fain’s pet animal, rubbing around his ankles. With it, he can kill Myrddraal instantly. Aginor made the Trollocs and Myrddraal by twisting human and animal genetic stock with the True Power. Fain can corrupt the bodies of Trollocs and link with the undead Shadowspawn to him like a Myrddraal, only more effectively.

Their eyes had grown sluggish and dull, but when he desired it, they would respond with a frenzied battle lust that would surpass what they had known in life.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Madness has made Fain free – of the Pattern and of the Dark One:

He was mad. That was good. When you accepted madness into yourself--embraced it and drank it in as if it were sunlight or water or the air itself--it became another part of you. Like a hand or an eye. You could see by madness. You could hold things with madness. It was wonderful. Liberating.
He was finally free.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Jordan said that Fain has a lot of skills and abilities outside of channelling and in some ways, has unwittingly side-stepped the Pattern. We certainly see that here.


Borderlanders

The last scene of the Prologue shows us the arrangements for Borderlander security and the care in designing the defenses. Despite the number of soldiers taken south, there is no lack of forces to man it.

There is a feeling of rising creepiness as the Shadowspawn attack approaches; a realisation that the defences aren’t going to be enough:

It was time for Tarmon Gai’don. And looking out into that storm, Malenarin though he could see to the very edge of time itself. An edge that was not far distant. In fact, it seemed to be growing darker. And there was a blackness beneath it, on the ground northward.
That blackness was advancing.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

He’s certainly seeing the Last Days.

Keemlin’s courage and sacrifice are moving. Unfortunately it seems inevitable that these outlying fortresses – and maybe towns and cities further in - will be destroyed.

Malenarin’s affirmation that:

But every man atop that Tower knew their duty. They’d kill Trollocs as long as they could, hoping to buy enough time for the messages to do some good. Enough time for lamps to be lit, for mirrors to be focused, warnings to be sent.
Malenarin was a man of the Borderlands, same as his father, same as his son beside him. They knew their task. You held until you were relieved.
That’s all there was to it.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

foreshadows that other Bordlerlander centres are/will be in the same predicament – such as those where Ituralde, Lan, etc are. Some might be saved or relieved but not all. Maybe even the nations will go under.

Is Malenarin right when he says:

The queen would not have gone south to seek a false Dragon, no matter how cunning or influential he might be. She believed.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Hopefully it was the right move by the Queen. Maybe the Borderlander rulers have unwittingly preserved a substantial part of their forces to be better used elsewhere.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love you guys. But your spoilers? Not actually hidden in RSS feeds. Sad day.

Seriously, it would be awesome if you could look up the technique for trimming the part of a post that shows up in the RSS readers. If you apply that tag (or whatever) right after the 'click here to expand the rest of this post' link, you will be warmly thanked. ^_^

Anonymous said...

Nice post, as always!

I thought that Fain's blood might be the basis of the fog/mashadar that's following him, he cuts himself and the blood turns into fog.

Nickel

Jack O' Shadows said...

Perhaps the Dark One will be pulled into the pattern and destroyed at TG, while Fain will slip (or be forced) completly out of the pattern and be imprisioned by the Creator (or by the One Power) losing the remainder of his being and left as an immense power of evil and hate (especially toward the Dragon) writhing, boiling, and growing to become the Dark One of the Ages to come. Just a thought, prompted by Fain's new-found "freedom" from the Pattern.

TankSpill said...

When I read Fain's POV about Red on Black, I wasn't thinking so much that he had become a part of that prophecy so much that he was allowing that prophecy to influence him.

Anyway, thanks for these recaps, are you going to review Chapter 1?

Lauren Roundy said...

Good stuff as always.

I think it was intentionally vague as to why Fain was cutting himself. Did he doe it because he was trying to attract Shadowspawn like worms and Trollocs to him so that he could kill and/or use them? Did he do it because he just liked it? Was cutting himself with the SL blade somehow giving him his powers? Was it just because he was mad?

Also, I personally think the "new name" that he will take on will be "Shai'tan."

Linda said...

Anonymous: My apologies. so sorry to have inadvertently spoiled the book for you.

I have been using this method for over a year and no one has mentioned this problem before.

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't worry TOO much about it. I probably sounded snarkier than I intended to be. I just wanted to make sure you knew the spoiler link wasn't working under that circumstance... and figured if I told you now, you'd have time to work it out before ToM is released.

At any rate, I'm glad someone finally spoke up. We lurkers tend to be too silent at times. ^_^

Anonymous said...

FWIW - Google Reader could be your test platform; that's the specific one that wasn't stopping at your spoiler link.

Anonymous said...

My CONCLUSIONS FROM wot PL COMMENT- * sETEL aNAN INN KEEPER FROM EBU DAR TRAVELLING WITH MAT IS BURNED OUT aes sedai Martine Janata while studying ter'angreal vanished from tower 25 yrs ago
* Mesana forsaken was in tower as Evannelin
* Arangar male forsaken in female body is Blathamel killed in first book

by- Prashant

Linda said...

Anonymous: After checking out this problem I find that RSS Feeds aren't affected by the jump-breaks I use to hide spoilers. So no spoilers tag is going to work.

From now on I'll do the discussion articles with spoilers a different way - an announcement post with a link to the spoiler post. Just as I do with updated essays.

And yes, if lurkers don't speak up, I don't know what they're unhappy about. :)

Nickel: That is a most interesting idea!

Jack: I think that some other readers have suggested that Fain will replace the Dark One. I've also seen it suggested that one of the Forsaken becomes the new Dark One.

Linda said...

Tankspill: I am going to do Chapter 1 either late this week or early next week.

I was going to say that I don't think Fain is copying the prophecy deliberately, but perhaps he is anticipating Rand's red blood on black that he will see.

Lauren: I agree that it's deliberately vague. Your suggestions are all good possibilities.

I think he hates the DO too much to take the same name. He will take the name of a 'wild card' god like Loki, I think. Both Fain and his opposite number Mat have similarities with Loki.

Prashant: I agree with suggestions 1 and 3. I think that Evanellein has too much regular contact with other Aes Sedai for Mesaana to assume her identity. A friendless Aes Sedai would be much easier as an alias.

thewindrose said...

Fain is a nasty piece of work, I am interested to see what his new name will be. (I do hope it isn't Loki as I had a wonderful black lab I named Loki - and he was nothing like Fain!;)
So another trio - for Red & Black - Moridin, Rand and Fain.
Thanks as always for your reviews Linda!

Linda said...

The Wind Rose: I've been trying to think of another figure who led monstrous creatures to the battle for the end of the world. No luck yet.

I would hope that no dog would be like Fain! Such an animal would be like a Darkhound! :D

The extra Red-and-Black figure was unexpected, but it works. It will be interesting to see where this symbolism goes.

Anonymous said...

I really would dislike Fain chosing a new name. He took the name Ordeith before and I thought always, that it was a good name (especially linked with the link between wormwood and revelation and then coming the last battle etc).

So maybe he has now so completely changed that he needs a new name.
If we're going to think about names from mythology, maybe it's Behemoth.

Behemoth means "monster" what certainly is beyond humanity and it's like Fain a chimera of two.

In the Apocrypha it's said that Behemoth and it's counterpart Leviathan were send to torture humanity (in a way like the DO and the Shadar Logoth evil). Leviathan on the other hand is linked to the great serpent (it's a great serpent itself) and one theory is, that the DO is the great serpent (so I don't say it's true, I just say it's a possibility to build up some speculation).
It's also said taht Leviathan lives on the ground of an ocean, while Behemoth rules the desert.
Also Fain spoke about a Leviathan in the Aryth Ocean (certainly not the Do), so maybe that's kind of a little hint - and the blight is kind of a desert, too.

In the Talmud it's told that at the end of Harmagedon Behemoth will fight Leviathan and both will then be slain by the "Righteous" - like Fain wants to fight the DO and Rand (or if you want the Creator) has to fight both.

I'm a bit curious if ever will be revealed what exactly was the evil, Mordeth discovered - if I remember correctly, Brandon said that it was more than just the evil of humanity etc.
I doubt it a little bit that we'll find out because there is no evidence that Fain ever had a connection to something further than Shadar Logoth - so maybe, even if he remembered how to "meet" this evil (if that's in a way possible - physical or whatever), I doubt he would, because as Mordeth it led him to being bond to Shadar Logoth.
Fain seems more kind of an amalgamation without further connections now.

Donnie

Linda said...

Anonymous: Yes, I too like the Ordeith/wormwood reference to Revelation. Although I wondered how or if "the star called wormwood would fall into the sea."

Your idea of Behemoth is an excellent one. I was thinking of Loki because he leads a heap of jotunn (trolls) to Ragnarok just as Fain seems to be gathering undead Trollocs.

But Behemoth is just as appropriate in a different way. And my eye did catch the unexpected name Leviathan and wonder what it portended.

Anonymous said...

Till now I was assuming the three who must become one include Lews Therin (along with Rand and probably Moridin). Now that Lews has been assimilated/subsumed/whatever I was shifting towards Luc/Slayer as a possible replacement, but this new info leads me to believe that Fain might be more likely to be one of the three....and HIS blood on the rocks might fulfil the prophecy. Crazy? Probably :)

~lakesidey

P Authier said...

I have been thinking more and more on the final showdown between Rand and Fain. I am thinking it will be similar to what happened with Gollum at the end of LOTR but instead of Rand refusing to toss in the ring it will be more like Fain and the DO being stuck in an endless loop inside the DO's prison.

Linda said...

P Authier: lots of people have speculated that Fain will have a Gollum-like role. He might, but if so RJ would have put in a twist to it as he always does.

Laynie said...

I just re-read the ENTIRE series while waiting for ToM, and I realized that it's said (I can't remember in which book) that Mazrim Taim's palace in the black tower is decorated in black and red. I thought that it might be significant (maybe Mazrim Taim could even be Moridin?)

Linda said...

Laynie: It's at the end of KOD in the epilogue. His palace isn't entirely in red and black but it is prominent. I have thought for a long time that Taim is Moridin and have posted a theory about it at Theory Corner here on the blog.

Jack O' Shadows said...

Taim was most likely trained and set up initially by Ishamael. We also don't have much information on how or why Logain claimed to be the Dragon. There is a very good chance that Logain was duped initially, and that Taim was a willing participant (and darkfriend) from the get go. I think Taim has been used and manipulated (even rescued from AS) by various Forsaken through-out the series. Like all dark friends he has been made certain grand promises, but he seemed to back off and reluctantly follow Rand until Crossroads of Twilight. This was probably under the direction of "Dashiva". In CoT, our black-ops Forsaken blows his cover when he attacks Rand in Cairhien. Taim seems to be on his own again at this point, but just a few chapter later, Ishamael returns as Moridin, and we don't really see Taim in a semi-positive light ever again at this point. I think he is tied to Moridin's apron strings. He is a tool and nothing more, though a very influential and dangerous one.