Friday, August 12, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #40: Chapter 37 -A Force of Light



By Linda


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Min likens Rand to a circus performer on the high wire. She senses he is on the edge of psychological disaster. He feels it is pointless to express emotion. In fact, much seems pointless to him. He has given up on negotiating with the Seanchan and saving Arad Doman. Both Moridin and Rand are infecting each other with feelings of despair and futility in some sort of positive feedback loop. Min fears the way Rand is bottling his anger and how he is no longer regarding cost of his actions.

Nynaeve challenges Rand to answer people’s questions. He stares her down. Min thinks it is Nynaeve’s fault that Rand is silently bullying her in this way because she shouldn’t have pushed at Rand while he is so tense. But he is always tense these days and becoming increasingly aloof and dictatorial.

Min notices that ignoring heat and cold can be done by those who aren’t bothered by regular human concerns but doesn’t understand the full significance of this. The aloofness and distancing that enables them to ignore temperature closes them off not just from their environment, but from feeling empathy with other people.

Min sees a viewing of Dragonmount with a crater in one side and clouded with Shadows. A tiny light from the heavens shines on it. As the axis mundi, central axis of the world, the mountain represents Rand; but the viewing also indicates that Rand will go there and battle his dark self. The crater in the mountain’s side symbolises Rand’s side wounds. Rand, too, is clouded with shadow – he is linked to the Shadow through Moridin and using the True Power and also through using balefire. Shadows make the mountain seem lower than it really is. Rand’s despair and emotional exhaustion has lowered him and leads to this viewing and to events on Dragonmount. The light afterwards indicates that Min sees a favourable outcome of the viewing, although she has no idea of what any of the viewing means.

Min was totally humiliated by Semirhage’s attack on Rand through her. She thought she could defend herself and Rand, but was wrong and now she sees herself as a liability and thinks Rand does too. Rand thinks she is revolted by his attack on her. He has no idea what she is upset at. (Nor does she of he). One of the many “if only they’d talk openly and honestly” situations in the books. (Min was also liability to Rand at parley where he lost his hand shielding her from Semirhage’s attack.)

Min goes with Rand to prove a point, while secretly feeling a liability. She feels she has to keep trying. Rand doesn’t argue, but in turn defiantly takes the access key. Min says nothing about it. Neither dares talk lest their relationship fall apart. Each fears what the other will say.

Rand is wearing a dragon-marked sword:

The black scabbard, with its lacquered red and gold dragon, sparkled in the light. Such a strange weapon those scholars had found beneath the submerged statue. The sword felt so old. Was Rand wearing it today as a symbol of something?

The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light

The sword was confirmed by RJ’s assistant Maria Simmons to be Hawkwing’s sword Justice. So far it has played no role in the plot. Rand is wearing it because he is going after Graendal to deliver justice. He has apparently told no one about the significance of the sword.

Graendal’s palace she has seized is like her parallel Goering’s Carinhall. Both were flamboyant and luxurious palaces located in woods surrounded by war, where their owners partied on unaffected, indulging in self-gratification and self-display. Both palaces were levelled; Carinhall at Goering’s orders by the Luftwaffe as the Allies approached, and Natrin’s Barrow by Rand’s balefire.

Ramshalan is not dressed as a conventional Domani. Instead, he has bells on like a court fool. Rand assumes Graendal will do something clever to Ramshalan involving Compulsion that he will not b able to anticipate:

"I don't know. I wish I did. She'll think of something clever, then infect Ramshalan with a very subtle Compulsion that I won't be able to anticipate. I'll be left with the choice to keep him nearby and see what he does, or to send him away. But of course, she will think of that as well, and whatever I do will set in motion her other plans."
"You make it sound as if you can't win," Nynaeve said, frowning.

The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light

She does so: getting Delana and Aran’gar to weave the Compulsion. What Rand did does set in motion other plans. He did not win against her and has yet to bring her to justice.

Ramshalan’s accent is quite different when he returns from Graendal’s palace, with his “I say…” like an English gentleman of last century, which I found grating, it was so clumsy. Although it could be a sign that Graendal didn’t weave the Compulsion.

Rand feels very constrained by Cadsuane and somewhat traumatised by her. It is why he reacts so badly to her. He also rejects Callandor as constraining, yet he decides that he must constrain himself, so he does not need to be constrained by others:
"I see a different answer to my problems," Rand said, voice still almost a whisper. "Both times Callandor failed me, I was being reckless with my emotion. I allowed temper to drive me. I can't kill in anger, Min. I have to keep that anger inside; I must channel it as I channel the One Power. Each death must be deliberate. Intentional."

The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light

Min is still not able to voice her feelings to Rand. Nor Nynaeve either. When he is intent but dispassionate like this, Min finds him terrifying.

People who have been balefired are dead, but they can be reincarnated. In this sense they are not dead forever.

Rand’s reaction to his vast weaving of balefire:

Min could see his face again, now that the enormous column of balefire had vanished, leaving behind only the glowing access key. He was in ecstasy, mouth agape, and he held the access key aloft before himself as if in victory. Or in reverence.
Then he gritted his teeth, eyes opening wide, lips parted as if he were under great pressure. The light flashed once, then immediately vanished. All became dark.

The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light

Rand is addicted to the Choedan Kal’s power and to destruction? He is very dark after using balefire. It is a stain on his soul, because balefire is the ultimate sin. That is why the Dark One encourages it; so Rand just aided him. It is significant that the Creator’s champion balefires people and it is worse than a Dreadlord or even the Naeblis doing it, because Rand is one with the Land and is supposed to be Good. It is very bad when he does such bad things.

Very aptly, Nynaeve brings light as she asks what has happened to Rand? What indeed?

Rand thinks the removal of Graendal is worth the cost, especially since the people he killed were walking dead anyway because they were made mindless by Graendal. Sometimes Rand wishes that he was burned out of existence.

He left Ramshalan whimpering in the dark alone, which shows how uncaring he has become.

Nyaneve wishes for Moiraine. Min says they have to do something. Nynaeve asks if this is the way Rand has to be to win. They discuss how ruthless Rand has to be:

Can we dare send a man to fight the Dark One who won't sacrifice for what needs to be done?"
Min shook her head. "Dare we send him as he is, with that look in his eyes? Nynaeve, he's stopped caring. Nothing matters to him anymore but defeating the Dark One."
"Isn't that what we want him to do?"
"I. . . ." She stopped. "Winning won't be winning at all if Rand becomes something as bad as the Forsaken. . . We—"
"I understand," Nynaeve said suddenly. "Light burn me, but I do, and you're right.

The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light

In desperation they go to Cadsuane, who has been warning about this all along. They all have to work together to “handle” him. It should be to help him, as Min notes.

"Handle" Rand? That was another problem. Nynaeve and Cadsuane were both so concerned with handling that they failed to see that it might be best to help him instead. Nynaeve cared for Rand, but she saw him as a problem to be fixed, rather than a man in need.

The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light

Merise, Cadsuane and Sorilea go out of their way to patronise Nynaeve. Is this to annoy her enough that she stubbornly persists in her aims? Is it a test? Or is Sorilea, at least, trying to sabotage Nynaeve’s efforts? She tries to send Nynaeve away and asks for her obedience.

Cadsuane insults Merise by praising Nynaeve backhandedly. This is not what she would have done in earlier books. Cadsuane is more negatively written in The Gathering Storm, and Towers of Midnight. Cadsuane orders Nynaeve to find Perrin; why can’t Dreamwalkers find out Perrin’s location from the Aiel with him?

32 comments:

Jack o' the Shadows said...

I know this is slightly off subject (relating more to previous chapters), but so much has been said as to whether Sorilea is a dark friend, and this chapter especially reminds me of the power of compulsion. The loss of the Domination Band from Cadsuane's room correlates a little too nicely with Sorilea learning the wards protecting it, but her personality does not seem to be typical dark friend material. I am reminded of Moghedien drawing information out of Nynaeve and Elayne in Tanchico, and how easy it would be for any Forsaken to do so to her (maybe a corrupted Wise One could pull it off). Seeing as the incident was driven by Shaidar Haran, Moridin and his mind-trapped minions could have been involved, so Moghedien herself could have extracted the info from her or another Wise One.

Here's to hoping one of my favorite characters does turn out to be good in the end.

Anonymous said...

not sure about the timeline maybe that dome thing was blocking the aiel as well as the wolfboy and gateways

you dont know when she first came up with this plan or when she found out tam was with perrin

Anonymous said...

fav character?

just burn the evil old cow

BURN HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Would burning an evil cow make evil steak?

Anonymous said...

i think it how we got joan rivers

no steak can be evil with the right sauce plus fried onion and mushroom with steak chips

Dressageboy said...

Linda? Pardon my direct contradiction of your post but you said;

"People who have been balefired are dead, but they can be reincarnated. In this sense they are not dead forever."

Not so. Ref; The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, hard cover edition;

Pg. 43, "...The searing energy of balefire did more than kill or destroy--it actually burned threads from the Pattern. Anything destroyed this way actually ceased to exist before the moment of destruction, leaving only a memory of deeds no longer done and souls forever erased from the Pattern."

Pg. 69, re: Osan'gar and Aran'gar. "...Both proved that the Lord of the Grave was an apt name for the Dark One; he could defeat even death, so long as it was not death by balefire."

But to speak to your posting more directly; I find it, -is curious the right word-? that a chapter which has Rand doing what, to this point, is his darkest deed is titled, "A Force of Light" one would think, on the surface of it, that it refers to the use balefire but let me posit that it also refers to this being the nadir of Rand's 'Hero's Journey' and thus the real beginning of his return to the Light. The chapter in which he physically threatens Tam, is actually part of this chapter, merely separated because of the need to have simultaneous actions occurring. Rand has now killed dozens, perhaps hundreds of souls, burned them out of the Pattern forever and yet he feels only,

"...He was in ecstasy, mouth agape, and he held the access key aloft before himself as if in victory. Or in reverence. "

Here we have Rand literally experiencing ecstasy at mass murder, however he chooses to explicate it, that's what it is and Nynaeve and Min are stunned, nay stupefied by his display of utter darkness. From here, the threatening of his own father's life is a logical next and final step before what must occur, to wit; his death/rebirth as a deity, The Lord of The Morning.

Anonymous said...

Dressageboy the dark one cant save them but they can reborn

cant remember when but RJ to say that the forsaken that had been balefired could be reborn but it had made it so that the dark one could only have saved them if they had died firght on top of him

Anonymous said...

and yet he still will never be as cool as the lord of time

if he is now a diety what does that make egwene for expecting him to obey her stupid plans and getting angry at him for turning his back on her.
not that it matters she is going to hell anyway

Leyla said...

I disagree with Dressageboy. I believe he only returned to the Light when he "walked upon his grave, blind" on Dragonmount. What he did near Graendal's castle was truly evil, as Linda wrote. It seemed that even Rand despaired of knowing how to outwit Graendal's cunning! A Force of Light is, I think, meant to represent the force of balefire and what it does to those it erases from the Pattern. I think that Rand was agape with ecstacy b/c of the amount of the One Power that needed to be used in order to obliterate the castle. However, I agree that Nynaeve was cowed for a little bit, then brought back to her wits by Min.

On another note, I agree with Linda too on the writing of Cadsuane. "Burn the bitch"? Are you KIDDING me? She is one of the wisest characters in the series. I never understand why people hate her so. Sanderson simply wrote her very wrong, that is all. For Light's sake, (haha) he compared her personality to Semirhage's!!! He obviously has a bias. And...dare I say it...someone else should have been chosen to finish the series. He is too prejudiced against characters whom he dislikes, and it irks me extremely. As it does other readers.

Ok, that's my two cents.

Anonymous said...

while i would be happy to watch cadsuane burn and use her twisted corpse flames to make popcorn.

when i said burn the evil old cow i meant sorilea. i dont care if she is a darkfriend or not the wrinkled old bat has yet to do anything useful and has betrayed rand by giving cads travelling and is yet to be punished.

wonder if that would bother cadsuane, if sorilea is a darkfriend as it means that the shadow wanted her next to rand so she has to be doing something very wrong in her plans and what she wants out of him.

and i think the quote is burn the witch,
burn the bitch is what is think when ever egwene is in a scene.

Anonymous said...

one of the wisest are you completely nuts a wise person would have known that you have to earn trust and respect for someone to listen to you

and yes someone will want to find out what you are up to but they will ignore your lesson if they dont respect or understand your view point.

look at politics,
everyone is very well educated and nearly everyone very clever. they dont respect each other so nothing gets done and nothing changes.

she is like rands mother in law now.
he puts up with her because of min but doesnt give a damn what she thinks and ignores her but her head is to far up somewhere dark and smelly (despite what aes sedai think) to realise that being put up with and making him stay polite is not respect and is nowhere near trust

Anonymous said...

leyla
i think men hate cadsuane becuase she reminds of every annoying sister, teacher and yes evil mother in law we have to live with plus she acts like an ex that caught you in bed with her sister so i dont think many guys have time for her.

woman dont like her because there are a lot of very intelligent women out there that while they make bad personnel choses are still able to recognise stupidity at 50 paces

Yamezt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

yamezt
odd name
does it really matter egwene has made it clear that she doesnt intend to change anything and elaida's little foretelling says that the tower will try and increase its power not make the system better.
i prefer the shadow wanted her to keep cadsuane around rand view though as it means she was wrong about everything and is part of the problem. which will shut up those people stupid enough to like her.

t ball said...

@Jak O' the Shadows - That's an interesting thought, but I think Sorilea is too strong a personality to be easily used with compulsion. And she's no spring chicken away from home for the first time like the wonder girls were when Moghedian did her trick with them.

No, I think if Sorilea is a DF, she is a DF on purpose. She may have turned in a manner like Ingtar, who saw being a DF as the only hope in a hopeless situation.

Heh, appropriately enough, my capcha confirmation word below is 'demon'.

Yamezt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

hey no worries most names i read online are odd to me as i am english so have grown up with a set of fairly common english names around me most of my life.
i only said it was odd because i cant place it, have no idea where it comes from or even what gender its for.
i didnt intend to insult you it was more an amused i dont even think i could pronounce it right first time.
no discomfort at your name just dont think ive seen anything like it before.
actually hoped that the comment would get you to explain where its from.
for all i know its just a screen name and not real
yes i have a red kneck but that is because i spent most of the summer welding and am very sun burned right now.

egwene doesnt have to change anything by leting aes sedai retire into the kin
retiring now means that they stop being aes sedai so they are no longer going to be included in the towers stupid system and will have to go by age.
which is just as stupid since like strength it is something you cant help and doesnt actually make you better at things.

a better one would be setalle anan as she no longer has any power but has earned respect from the high and the low and has proven that she is still a good asset to the tower

as to what tempted her some people just are not very good people to start with added to the aiel life style of having to earn everything and killing is fine in petty fights seems like a good mix to make darkfriends

Anonymous said...

Yamezt
please unbunch your panties (or boxers not sure which apply)
even google doesnt have this name so dont have a go at Anonymous for not knowing it.
and if you dont not what im saying

panties in a bunch =
1. When a person overreacts to a trifling insult or barb, or to a joke.

2. When someone acts in an anal-retentive manner, and makes a big fuss out of a relatively minor problem.

t ball said...

Insulting someone's name, and in doing so perhaps also their ethnicity or heritage, is not a trifling insult or barb. It's just plain insensitive and rude. Telling them not to be insulted is even more rude.

Anonymous said...

never seen odd as an insult
something odd isnt the same as something wrong. problem with text is you cannot tell how someone meant something you just get the words not how they were intended

you are not insulting someone if you dont now where they are from or what their background is, if someone is insulted by someone not knowing anything about their heritage from a name that they wouldnt have seen before then they deserve what ever insult they felt.

calling someone an ignorant red neck for not knowing every single name from every single culture on earth is even more rude. i typed it into google and couldnt get a clear idea of what it was, if its a name, something he made up or if it comes from another country so i got annoyed at Yamezt calling people names over the word odd.

odd can be used for anything you dont know on the spot so yes it was a trifling insult not like calling someone a redneck for not knowing something

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to puzzle out if Nynaeve has shown Corele and the other yellow Ajah her new healing method and healing severing.

We have been shown several scenes with Cadsuane mentioning Corele trying to learn Damar's style of healing and yet Nynaeve has been with them since Book 9.

Anonymous said...

Yamez is a family name. So presumably T Yamez? Otherwise Yamez(t) is the way the Dutch pronounce Jamez/James. So, Jamez T? Or perhaps the T is sort of joined together. I don't speak Dutch.

Could be wrong on both and maybe it is an internet name, but then when you have names like Unique diversified into Uneek, Uneque, Uneqqee - or like Ashleigh instead of Ashley, and Ginnifer instead of Jennifer.

As to odd being construed as insulting is hardly a surprise. Names are very personal. Perhaps the lesson learnt here is not to make a personal attack onto someone even if you disagree with their point.

Anonymous said...

the first comment was explained as not being an attack just a badly put question.

the second was being an attack based on the reply

neither seems to actaully disagree to much with the point Yamezt made someone offended by accident the other didnt like the response

Anonymous said...

google the word odd online the first definition
1. Deviating from what is ordinary, usual, or expected; strange or peculiar: an odd name; odd behavior. See Synonyms at strange.
it isnt an insult just a way of saying unusual to you

Anonymous said...

I still can't see how calling someone strange/odd/unusual would not result as someone likely to be offended. All 3 have a negative connotation implying, as you state, "deviating from what is ordinary". Deviation is another negative.

Anyway, thread has derailed. I'm mainly here for WoT.

Linda said...

Anonymous: good question about Corele and the other Yellows. We don't what Nynaeve did or did not show them. They look down on her but whether that is a defense against her being stronger and better at Healing than they or the cause of them not learning from her is unknown.

Linda said...

Anon: I can see why you think Sorilea being a Darkfriend undermines the point about the weak still being strong and useful.

However someone in the Wise Ones is a Darkfriend. If Sorilea became one, like tball I think it is due to despair over the Aiel's fate.

Leyla said...

@Anonymous...(there are a lot of those, jesus):
she's wise because she saw before probably anyone else that he was becoming too hard and not strong. it is also wise to try to teach hiim a "lord's courtesies" (to quote from r.r. martin) so as not to turn more people against him thanr he needs to. also, the way she treats him is pretty similar to the way all the other aes sedai treat him, so i don't see what's so annoying about her. she's less annoying to me than other aes sedai who are working for their own personal gain and not necessarily for the salvation of the world. she also saved his life, doesn't that count for anything? that was a pretty tricky situation that i'm not sure most aes sedai would have known how to handle as deftly as she did. but whatever, hate her...i don't care. to my mind the most annoying character in the series remains egwene. at least cadsuane has the excuse of living for a pretttty long time to be so arrogant, while the other is so young as to be under drinking age in our time, haha.

Anonymous said...

leyla
i didnt say that i hated her i only gave what i think the reasons are for people hating her.
i used to hate her now it is just contempt for her arrogance and one sided views on respect and her slap happy way of life.

your view on egwene is the smartest thing i have read today. i hated her basicly from the first time she apeared.

first read eye of the world at 17 most hated in series for me from the start and she has yet to earn the contempt rating of cadsuane from me yet, she is still at the i would go behind a bush if she was on fire stage

Anonymous said...

Leyla@ I will freely admit that I'm not particularly found of Cadsuane (especially in the last two books, as I (like Linda) feel that her character was a bit off there), but what I find annoying about her isn't the typical Aes Sedai holier-than-thou attitude per se. As you point out, she has lived for a very long time and thus her arrogance might be excused as an effect of an age-long custom of being more competent than those around her.

What I do find annoying however, is that while Cadsuane is a very wise and very capable (and, perhaps, extremely reckless, as was my initial impression of her in her first meeting with Rand) individual, I don't see what she hoped to achieve with her approach to Rand. If she hoped to teach Rand to laugh and cry again, I think she would have done well to focus less on aggravating Rand and more on the import of joy and sadness.

That being said, overall, I do find Cadsuane an enjoyable character, even if she is annoying at times.

Anonymous said...

i have a problem with names. i once nearly failed a college course because i forgot to put my name on anything all term so it looked like i hadnt done any work showed the teacher my hand writing to prove i had handed in the work and got an a

also i sometimes get annoyed or may be tired and offend people i will say im sorry if i do annoy someone but when its online you have to wait for replies and peoples anger builds up and if it is Anonymous that person will read my future posts and judge them on the merit of what i wrote not on the fact that i got annoyed and called them a pillock.

Anonymous said...

sort of like the stilled sisters in salidar if you have no standing people actualy look at it on merit not you are a moron or a genius