Monday, May 30, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #20: Chapter 17 - Questions of Control

By Linda


The chapter title refers to internal and external control. Semirhage controls herself and her captors despite their best efforts, until Cadsuane works out how she can be broken. Perrin worries about his self-control and leadership. He feels too inadequate to be a leader because if he can’t manage himself how can he be responsible for others?

Cadsuane POV

Cadsuane has performed remarkable deeds in her career. The Gathering Storm tells us that when she did these things her main motive was to become legendary. In previous books she did not foster or revel in her reputation, but took advantage of it when it helped her achieve a goal. Sanderson is more partisan toward the characters and Cadsuane is one who is portrayed more negatively. He has said he has never liked her. In this chapter Cadsuane compares herself with Semirhage and thinks they both nurture their images.

With a flash of insight, Cadsuane treated Semirhage as da’tsang. This is something which the Aiel didn’t suggest, yet Wise Ones know from experience how shame can break a person.

It is a measure of Semirhage’s shock that she began cursing in the Old Tongue when she was smacked; she would know that curses aren’t effective if they are not understood.

Semirhage is made to eat off the floor. Degradation and humiliation of a prisoner is common in the interrogation of an enemy captive. It probably occurs much sooner in a real world interrogation than it did here. The Nazis used it routinely for any they considered undesirable and the Forsaken have many parallels to Nazis (see Three Strands Common to the Forsaken essay) – eg Semirhage has parallels to just such Nazi camp commandants who did this (see Semirhage essay). Not that the Nazis were the only ones who did this before or since.

Perrin POV

Balwer is forcing administration on Perrin, especially paperwork. It looks like he is going to get a seal! Perrin is the last of the three ta’veren to do so: Rand has long had one and Mat has used his ring as a signet. It is a sign that Perrin is a leader even if he doesn’t fully accept it yet.

Perrin feels Rand pulling him north. Rand isn’t literally there yet; but Perrin is sensing Rand’s future need of him.

There are too many people with Perrin to be moved by Grady’s modest gateways. They probably don’t have enough food to reach Andor by road. Obviously bigger gateways are needed and they will soon work out how to make mixed circles to do this.

Perrin is aware he needs to find balance within and without. Despite his doubts he has done well balancing the various needs of those he is responsible for, as Tam says to Rand at the end of the book:

That boy's put on a balancing act to impress any menagerie performer.

- The Gathering Storm, The One He Lost

He will do just as well internally, too, but that is a more private balancing act.

Perrin has to work out whether he wants to be a leader and what style of leader he should be. He realises what lack of leadership and temperance has done to his group. The sorry state the Shaido social structure was reduced is a warning in itself. Despite the difficult and uncertain conditions, Perrin’s group did not become lawless and destructive as the Shaido did, proof that Perrin is a much better leader than he is aware.

Perrin worries about being a berserker, of losing control of his emotions while fighting. He fears the wolf dream because he thinks running with the wolves is to blame. In this book Perrin and Rand are both forced to realise that the dark, violent side of themselves is truly them and not anyone else - not wolves, not mad Lews Therin.

Ironically it is a wolf that guides Perrin to this realisation and helps him gain control and balance within himself through his training in the wolf dream:

The trick, it seemed, was to be in complete control of who you were. Like many things in the wolf dream, the strength of one's mental image was more powerful than the substance of the world itself.

- Towers of Midnight, Oddities

The strength of this place, Hopper sent an image of a wolf carved of stone, is the strength of you. The wolf thought for a moment. Stand. Remain. Be you...But do not come too strongly.

- Towers of Midnight, The Strength of This Place

Self-control and restraint are as essential as strength. The themes of
strength and temperance are important in Perrin’s sub-thread. Perrin already has strength and fortitude, but Hopper teaches Perrin how to be more temperate as well as how to temper himself and his love for Faile gives him something to be temperate for.

The more Perrin masters Tel’aran’rhiod, the more he masters himself. Once he does that, the master craftsman feels qualified to master others.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

when i read this chapter i wonder if rand was trying to show the aes sedai how far they have fallen. he knew enough about Semirhage to have broken her himself in hours instead of wasting time Cadsuane now knows his restrictions didnt stop the interrogation from working and that as the "Best" of her generation she is closer to the forsaken than anyone else she has met her whole life.
dunno its what i would have done in his place it would have been a lot fun to mess with cadsuane this way and it would have helped the tower learn from their mistakes at the same time. a good joke and no way for her to retaliate with out looking stupid if she was smart enough to figure out she was being got at.