Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #23: Chapter 20 - On a Broken Road

By Linda


The map-maker’s map allowed them to find an old road, possibly dating to the Age of Legends. Is it a road from the past or to the past? Or the road to the Underworld?

Talmanes mocks Mat, but Mat is too busy mocking womankind to notice. I guess the Cairhienin lord is amused by twenty year old Mat’s claim to vast experience. And why is Mat complaining bitterly? One reason is that Mat feels bad about the deaths in battle that he is responsible for. Another is that Mat thinks he can’t be lucky because he couldn’t escape battle – or marriage. Yet he appears to have come out ahead from both. Certainly richer! (And Mat is the god of wealth.) That’s good if you take the materialistic view of life. And Mat often does. Mat always wanted to be rich, and now he’s married to the richest woman on the planet. So why is he complaining?

Which brings us to the third reason: he’s missing Tuon and worried about her safety. Talmanes appals Mat by saying he sounds husbandly. In defiance, Mat is determined not to give up gambling and drinking. Talmanes teases him again, saying he’s becoming boring, but he stops and offers sympathy when he realises Mat is miserable. Mat won’t talk about it. He’s very tense but refuses to admit it is because of Tuon.

Vanin feels his position is threatened by the map maker. Mat used to really admire Vanin as a mature man with the sort of trickster skills he’d like to acquire. But he is a fully fledged trickster now and finds Vanin’s insecurity and weaknesses amusing (see here for an analysis of Vanin’s character development).

As egalitarian as Mat, Vanin tries to treat Aes Sedai exactly as he does everyone else but backs down at just a look from Joline.

Mat naively thinks Joline couldn’t hurt him with the Power if he wasn’t wearing his medallion because she is bound by the Three Oaths. He is mistaken: she only has to think of it as ‘discipline’ or ‘punishment’. Teslyn stopped Joline from hitting Mat with indirect weaves of the Power in Knife of Dreams, A Short Path.

Teslyn respects Mat; the first man she ever has (see this post analysing Teslyn’s character). Mat almost regrets rescuing the Aes Sedai because they show little gratitude. Yet as far as appreciation goes, Teslyn was well worth rescuing.

Joline and Teslyn are on poor terms with each other, partly because Teslyn is starting to stand up for herself again. Prior to her capture she used to be very dominant:

As inexorable as Elaida, she ground down whatever lay in her path. They stood as equals in every real way, certainly, but not many managed to prevail over Teslyn without a clear advantage.

A Crown of Swords, The Triumph of Logic

but she no longer is; an effect of her traumatic enslavement.

Joline tries to get more horses than is reasonable out of the Band. This, and Vanin backing down makes Mat be rude to her and bluntly show her the faults in her plan. Ultimately he will earn her respect too.

Teslyn is disappointed in Mat for being rude to Joline. Not necessarily because he is being unpleasant to an Aes Sedai, but because he is showing bad manners. Mat has rarely insulted anybody before. Mat is ashamed; he wants Teslyn’s respect. This is not something he’s ever worried about before with Aes Sedai. Talmanes is surprised that Mat is not prepared to pay such a price to get rid of the Aes Sedai, but Mat won’t be ripped off by them or pushed around. After all, as he keeps telling himself in Towers of Midnight, he’s a married man now.

Mat realises that to get food will require a lot of money and so brings his whole chest with him into Hinderstap. Perhaps he already has an idea of how he is going to get them to sell food: which is to be an Odin/Loki combination; a trickster. (An essay on Tricksters in the series is currently being written.) Talmanes openly goes along for the ride. (For an in-depth analysis of Talmanes, see here).


Alec said...


I agree with everything you've written about Teslyn. I sense that you like this character more than most/all of the minor characters. I do as well.

She experiences a real journey as a character. Has complexities, questions her beliefs, changes her attitudes. Grows as a human being.

Have you considered what her role in A Memory of Light might be? I've thought of a few things, but the only thing which feels concrete is a scene where she gets an audience with Egwene. And tells the entire story of her captivity, rescue, and journey with Mat.

I've considered that she could become an Egwene ally and perhaps regain her Chair.

I've also considered that she might return to Mat and become (who would have guessed) his Aes Sedai advisor. Or at least friend.

Or, that she might command a group of Aes Sedai in support of the Band.

So, what theories have you?

Linda said...

Teslyn is fascinating as someone who was so unpromising has become much more human.

Egwene said she had a new role for the Red. I think Teslyn will be in the vanguard for this.

Perhaps she also helps get the Horn to Mat or Mat to the Horn. Egwene has an annoying tendency to discount Mat. There's good reason and long history behind it, but now is not the time for such attitudes. She and Egwene have something rare in common being former damane.

I'd like to see her regain her chair.

Anonymous said...

Egwene is just annoyin

what is a cornoid?