Friday, September 30, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #45: Chapter 42 - Before the Stone of Tear

By Linda


Rand is confronted with an unresolvable conflict and breaks down:

We don't know the names of the women who were in Graendal's palace, Lews Therin said. We can't add them to the list.
Rand tried to ignore the madman. That proved impossible. Lews Therin continued.
How can we continue the list if we don't know the names! In war, we sought out the Maidens who had fallen, We found every one! The list is flawed! I can't continue!
It's not your list! Rand growled. It's mine, Lews Therin. MINE!
No! the madman sputtered. Who are you? It's mine! I made it. I can't continue now that they're dead. Oh, Light! Balefire? Why did we use balefire! I promised that I would never do that again.

The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear

He used balefire to destroy Graendal because it’s the only sure way to get rid of a Forsaken but as a result he can’t add the names of the women he killed as collateral damage to his list. Rand can’t atone for their deaths in the way he usually does.

He realises that he is begin forced to commit evil – become a Kinslayer – by the Dark One. While “the devil makes him do it”, this is not a valid excuse. Both of his personalities know this. The Rand personality accepts and is prepared to pay the apparent price:

"It doesn't matter, as long as the world survives. They cursed me before, swore at Dragonmount and by my name, but they lived. We're here, ready to fight. Again and again."

The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear

The Lews Therin side of him is horrified and distressed:

So many names we don't know, Lews Therin whispered. So many dead by our hand.
And it was just the beginning.

The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear

This self-flagellation is dangerous to his well-being as well as futile. He/they can’t know the names of everyone, female and/or male, who dies for him or is killed because of him, as he just proved to himself. He needs to express care and encourage cooperation, rather than try to do everything and shut himself off from people and beat himself up internally.

Who is the more mad? Rand denies any conflict when Min feels disquiet:

"I am well, Min," he said. "I was thinking."

The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear

This is both untrue and a scary indication of the extent of his dissociation and the unfeeling state of his Rand personality.

While previously Rand did at least as much good as bad, if not more, the growing influence of his link to Moridin and the corruption from using balefire has led to his doing more harm than good, to the extent that he can’t deny it:

Each time he'd conquered a kingdom before, he'd left it better than when he'd arrived. Rand had removed Forsaken tyrants, brought an end to warfare and sieges. He'd cast out Shaido invaders, he'd delivered food, he'd created stability. Each land he'd destroyed had, essentially, been saved at the same time.
Arad Doman was different. He'd brought in food—but that food had drawn even more refugees, straining his supplies. Not only had he failed to give them peace with the Seanchan, he had appropriated their only troops and sent them up to watch the Borderlands. The seas were still unsafe. The tiny Seanchan empress hadn't trusted him. She would continue her attacks, perhaps double them.
The Domani would be trampled beneath the hooves of war, crushed between the invading Trollocs to the north and the Seanchan to the south. And Rand was leaving them.

The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear

Nor can he justify the extent he has made things worse.

He used Arad Doman to deal with the Seanchan, and to track down Graendal, and he took its troops and general to defend the Borderlands. No wonder Arad Doman is now such an Arid Domain.

Rand decides he will be more overt about his location and activities because Lan is riding to Tarwin’s Gap. There is little time left. Bashere doesn’t know what would draw the Borderlander monarchs away from the Blight at such a crucial time. Rand announces that the army in Tear is going to Shayol Ghul and not Arad Doman. He assumes the Seanchan will take Tear and Illian while they go to Shayol Ghul. Rand doesn’t mind if Ituralde stays in Saldaea and holds back the Shadow, or returns to Arad Doman and holds back the Seanchan. Bashere admits the situation is such a mess that there is no right answer.

Nynaeve and Cadsuane are not with Rand. He doubts they are working together, because he thinks they can hardly bear to be in the same room, but he is mistaken. They are meeting about finding Perrin and tracking down Tam to bring him to Rand - although Cadsuane hasn't told Nynaeve much yet about the plan yet.

Rand is now so corrupt that the entire food delivery turned rotten. The best thing he can do for Arad Doman at the moment is leave. And he does so because he has no answers, not knowing how or why it is happening. He may think it is his ta’veren effect. And Tear cheers as he arrives. This makes him feel more guilty than not worrying about Arad Doman’s approaching starvation does.

Rand and the Land are stuck in a dreadful positive feedback loop, where the blighting of one exacerbates that of the other. No wonder they are both in a parlous state. Moreover Rand’s:

ta'veren effect seemed to be growing more powerful, causing increasingly greater distortions. And more dangerous ones.

The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear

This reflects his darkening character and his violent mood swings which have grown more powerful and more dangerous.

Rand thinks Weiramon a fool. Lews Therin says he likes him, which shocks Rand because in Rand’s opinion Lews Therin doesn’t like anyone. Lews Therin says Weiramon is honest:

More than I am, for certain! A man doesn't choose to be an idiot, but he does choose to be loyal. We could do much worse than have this man as a follower.

The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear

Yes, Rand could have Taim as a follower! Actually a man can choose to be an idiot – or at least appear one. Just as he can choose to appear loyal.

Anaiyella is wearing Weiramon’s colours although we don’t know what these colours are. I had deduced a long time previously that Weiramon is a Darkfriend (see Darkfriend article) and this hinted to me that Anaiyella is one also. “Wearing his colours” may further indicate that she is one of the underlings in his circle, or that these colours are those of the Forsaken who commands them both.

Rand kept his tongue. Arguing with the madman was pointless. Lews Therin made decisions without reason. At least he wasn't humming about a pretty woman again. That could be distracting.

The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear

As I said above, which one is mad? Rand is so dissociated that he doesn’t accept the Lews Therin personality as a part of himself, or that it is having an influence on him despite him asking Lews Therin for advice and information and using his knowledge.

And a pretty woman doesn’t distract Rand too? It’s all Lews Therin’s fault! If the devil doesn’t make Rand do it, Lews Therin (Lucifer) does!

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