Monday, July 25, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #35: Chapter 32 - Rivers of Shadow

By Linda


Last chapter, Nynaeve showed us how far she has come; this chapter she shows us how much she is aware of her own development, not only in channelling, doing consciously what she previously hid from herself, but in how she embraces her power - and her responsibility. She also shows us that she is ambitious and not above making the most of her status within and without the Tower

And with the authority of the White Tower behind her, she was one of the most powerful individuals in the world, matched only by other sisters and the occasional monarch.

The Gathering Storm, Rivers of Shadow

Nynaeve approves of Aes Sedai being bowed to, just like any other Aes Sedai. “Servants” outranking monarchs and having no qualms about bullying them: the world order was overturned at the end of the Second Age, an example of Wrongness.

Nynaeve is starting her career as an Aes Sedai at the top of the tree. Unlike Egwene, most of Nynaeve’s striving was done earlier, when she became Wisdom. Added to her eventual high ranking by Aes Sedai system is the fact that, as she says, she is married to a monarch. Interestingly, this was mentioned in Towers of Midnight as a factor to be considered in whether she should pass her test for Aes Sedai.

Nynaeve thinks Cadsuane partly blames her for her exile. Is this because Nynaeve thinks she could have persuaded Rand not to impose it? Cadsuane has had no thought of blaming Nynaeve in any way.

Merise is either the first to see the ghosts, or the most eager to do so. The apparition is a funeral procession of the dead, doubly a “dance of death”. The dance of death, or danse macabre, originated in medieval Europe perhaps in response to plagues such as the Black Death, and was popular in the 15th century. Songs and pictures were created of Death depicted as a skeleton and often playing a musical instrument while it leads people of all classes and ages in a processional dance. Certainly Bandar Eban, riddle with disease and famine as it is, is not far off being a plague city. A feature of the dance of death was that the great and the small were part of it. There were no exemptions due to importance or wealth.

It appeared when Rand arrived in the city and this backs up what Cadsuane’s agent told her in the previous chapter of only bad events happening in Bandar Eban after Rand arrives there. The procession circles the city where Rand is and where so many people are diseased and starving. There is no Forsaken in the city; Graendal is quite some distance away.

Both Merise and Corele have a low opinion of Rand and want to leave Bandar Eban. Unlike them, Nynaeve thinks it is worth protecting the kingdom against a Seanchan invasion. To Nynaeve’s surprise, Cadsuane gives Nynaeve grudging approval of her judgement, but Nynaeve discounts it because she takes a negative view of Cadsuane. Cadsuane walks off in the middle of Merise’s denigration of Rand so she does not agree with it.

According to Nynaeve the room darkened when Rand threatened Cadsuane like a cloud over the sun. Rand is Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun (see Rand essay), and he is shadowed over due to being too linked to the Shadow:

Rand certainly was effective at subduing countries, but his kingdoms needed more than just handouts of grain. They needed stability, and they needed something—someone—they could believe in. Rand was getting increasingly bad at offering either one.

The Gathering Storm, Rivers of Shadow

If Rand is unstable, the Land is because they are one.

Deep in thought over her worries about Rand, disease, famine and infertility, Nynaeve still notices and searches out someone ill with a bad cough.

She knows bullying Rand – her usual style - won’t work but she doesn’t know what will. Moiraine managed to get Rand to listen to her without bullying or trickery but Nynaeve refuses to “fawn over” Rand as Moiraine did:

In order to get him to take her as his advisor, she'd agreed to obey his commands and offer advice only when it was wanted. What good was advice when it was given only when it was wanted? People needed most to hear the advice they didn't want!

The Gathering Storm, Rivers of Shadow

At least this way Rand listened to Moiraine. People do have a right not to take advice if they don’t want to, even good or vital advice, and they have the right not to have it forced on them. Nynaeve is convinced she is the one Rand actually needs to listen to. Not that she doesn’t give excellent advice, but most of Rand’s would-be advisors think that of themselves. Unlike the majority of them, she has the best intentions:

She didn't want tell him what to do; she just wanted him to stop acting like a fool. And, beyond that, she just wanted him to be safe. She'd also like him to be a leader that people respected, not one that people feared. He seemed incapable of seeing that the path he was on was that of a tyrant.

The Gathering Storm, Rivers of Shadow

She is a very protective woman. Nynaeve thinks punishment and hard measures are for the Women’s Circle to deliver, not the Mayor. She prefers a bicameral leadership where one leader is stern, the other warm and kind. Her bias is to think that each of these roles should be limited to a particular gender.

The king’s “messenger” did not follow Domani fashion and was very beautiful - one of Graendal’s pets. Although Milisair sent him to be tortured, he was alive until Rand searched for him.

He would speak on anything other than the things we wanted!" Jorgin leaned forward. "I don't know how he did it, Lady. Burn me, but I don't! It's like some . . . force had ahold of his tongue. It was like he couldn't talk. Even if he'd wanted to!"

The Gathering Storm, Rivers of Shadow

The messenger couldn’t divulge any information to the torturer because he was under Graendal’s Compulsion. The apprentice Kerb was not part of the chandler’s shop, but was found later among refugees. He was a plant, since he knew Graendal’s location due to having been there.

Nynaeve is annoyed that Rand has stooped to Milisair’s level and permitted inhumane confinement (and potentially torture). This is an indication of how corrupted he has become since previously he refused to abuse Semirhage. Nynaeve decides to demand better conditions for Milisair and discovers she (and the king’s messenger) had been poisoned with tarchrot leaf. Nynaeve doesn’t say how it kills, or what symptoms it produces apart from drowsiness, weakness and pallor. If tarchrot caused diarrhoea (and the cell stank of excrement) and/or vomiting in its victims, as many ingested poisons do, this may have been attributed to an illness such as jail fever caused by the poor conditions. The fact that Nynaeve used tarchrot for euthanasing a dog suggests a real world equivalent might be Fool’s Parsley (Aethusa cynapium) also known as Dog Poison. Fool’s parsley is a fairly strong poison and inflames the gastro-intestinal tract. (Wheel of Time herbs, including tarchrot, are described in the Herbs and Other Medicines article).


Shadar said...

"Interestingly, this was mentioned in Towers of Midnight as a factor to be considered in whether she should pass her test for Aes Sedai."

Isn't Nynaeve the first openly Aes Sedai Monarch in 1000 years or so (Since Elayne hasn't run through the test)

Anonymous said...

i dont see how she can think that bowing to Aes Sedai is right then later say that she would give up being Aes Sedai if it would help people.
if she doesnt need or care about people bowing then why want the title in the first place she has done more good for the world than any Aes Sedai since the breaking without it.
even Cadsuane deeds are worthless as they could have simply shielded men taken them to Tear and proved to everyone that they are false dragons then made them live out the rest of their lives in far madding but they choose to kill instead so it increase the value of Aes Sedai in a world where they do next to nothing for people

in konw hypocrites are tar valons number one export but they cant really turn every woman who goes barmy can they?

Anonymous said...

i have read every book about 7 times and i only just realised that the chapter titles are actually relevant.

wooops reading for 8th time and just noticed the first chapters match the title for fires of heaven.

and i normally annoy people by seeing everything the first time when we see movies and they have to watch it again to see what was going on in the background well this is embarassing

Anonymous said...

Nynaeve approves of Aes Sedai being bowed to, just like any other Aes Sedai.

I have to say, I didn't view Nynaeve's thoughts here in quite such a negative light. After the sick boy's parents were afraid and suspicious of her, she's gratified when the guards treat her with respect. If she had wanted groveling, she wouldn't have encouraged Kin to stand up to Aes Sedai.

I apologize if it comes across like I'm nitpicking on your post, but it feels as though you're being a bit harsh on Nynaeve. I didn't think she came off badly in this chapter.

Moiraine managed to get Rand to listen to her without bullying or trickery

But submitting to him WAS an act of manipulation ("I remembered how to control saidar"). I like Moiraine, but there's no question that she manipulated Rand at every turn.

Anonymous said...

i get why rand was pissed at her for doing this yes it was useful in the end but she should have asked before ordering his men as she has no right to give commands anywhere since she doesnt even own a home at this point and holds no rank in the dragons command.

i would have hung the men they shouldnt have taken her commands, they know she doesnt have the right to take prisoners or force her way into someones property but are more afriad of an Aes Sedai and arent obeying the law or defending peoples rights.

same thing for modern police or miltary occupying enemy ground you cant push your way into someones home weithout cause and the law on your side.
even the americans dont sneak in during the night and drag you away, ok they do sometimes but usually on orders with approval of command and local authorities they are also held acountable if something went wrong.
if the prisoners had died because she had found them nothing would have happened to her.

and she doesnt think people have the right to ignore her advice she has been brought up to think of men as idiots and that peoples rights are what the most powerful Aes Sedai nearby says they are not what the law says or what people think is right and fair.

same as cadsuane she hadnt been accepted by rand but she apoints one of her followers to run a country without asking anyone who has an official position and they only keep their position because people are afraid of them not because they want them there or respect them. or when she takes prisoners they were tied up by rand to get them out the way but she declares them tower prisoners and appears to use torture to find out why they were locked up when she had no right to ask them anything let alone hold them against their will.

the worst thing to hapen to nynaeve are respecting anything about cadsuane and egwene becoming queen bitch as she is afraid of her and cant tell her to go to hell or whatever the WoT version of that is

Linda said...

Shadar: neither really.

Elayne isn't fully Aes Sedai and Nynaeve isn't fully a monarch.