Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #48: Chapter 45 - The Tower Stands

By Linda


Egwene wears the colour of blood, anger and violence as she moves through the camp toward Tar Valon. It is also the opposite of the colour she would have chosen both on the colour wheel and the political wheel: green. The symbolism here is more overt – Egwene says of her red dress “this is symbolic” - than Jordan would typically write. Six Ajahs are represented among the rebels, and Egwene is the only one dressed in the Reds’ colour. She is of all Ajahs and none, working hard at unifying them.

Egwene thinks Bryne’s army would decide the war, but they didn’t; Egwene and the Tower Sitters did. There is no big force of Tower Guards on display at the bridge because the Aes Sedai are going to raise Egwene Amyrlin and also because they want to appease the rebels rather than appear a threat to them. And there is useful work for the soldiers to do in the city. In the recorded histories, open and secret, there has never been an open attack by Aes Sedai on Aes Sedai, so Egwene is reluctant to attack. She is mindful of her legacy, just as she lectured the Reds on how their legacy is that of Elaida’s. However, she will make the gateway to Tar Valon and take responsibility personally for the attack.

In the last hour of her life, as she faced execution, Sheriam confessed to crimes after saying she would never do what Verin did: poison herself to tell all as she died. Verin joined up so she wouldn’t die and then killed herself to betray the Shadow; Sheriam joined up happily and betrayed the Shadow at the last in the hope she wouldn’t die. Sheriam was perhaps horrified at the repercussions of her betrayal of the Dark One at the last moment. This scene:

They'd placed her head on the block and taken it off, just like the others. That scene would always be vivid in Egwene's mind—her former Keeper, lying with her head pressed against the stump, blue dress and fiery red hair suddenly bathed in warm golden light as a thinner section of clouds moved in front of the sun. Then the silvery axe, falling to claim her head.

- The Gathering Storm, The Tower stands

fulfills Min’s viewing of Sheriam:

Sheriam’s tilted green eyes fixed immediately on Min’s face. Rays of silver and blue flashed about her fiery hair, and a soft golden light; Min could not say what it meant.

- The Fires of Heaven, Sallie Daera

All three colours are there: Sheriam in blue and the silver axe, bathed in golden light. They are positive colours because her death was a positive event, removing a leader of the Black Ajah.

Fifty executions make Egwene realise that there are worse things than corporal punishment. Egwene refuses to keep Black sisters alive for interrogation due to the risk they could be rescued. She is the first to realise the danger of greed for information. This theme is discussed in Dom’s excellent Price and Prize of Knowledge essay (though it has not been updated for The Gathering Storm or Towers of Midnight).

The executions followed due legal process and Verin’s sacrifice is probably only acknowledged privately at this stage. She identified more than 95% of the Blacks among the rebel Aes Sedai. There were no false positives apparently. It is good that Verin was so careful as well as thorough.

A lot (almost twenty) of the Blacks got away. We don’t know how they were alerted; perhaps by Darkfriend soldiers among Bryne’s guard or Darkfriend servants. These people are consistently disregarded by Aes Sedai.

Lelaine’s and Romanda’s competition for Egwene’s favour is both phoney and pathetic – and futile.

It has been many days since the rebels sent their delegation to the Black Tower and no one has apparently enquired about the lack of contact from them until Egwene did, despite Aes Sedai thinking Asha’man are dangerous. I found this an unrealistic blind spot.

Four of those sworn to Egwene are in the delegation. Only one of the four would be a “proper” candidate for bonding a Warder, although Myrelle already has five Warders. Nisao has a Warder and Faolain and Theodrin are not fully regarded as Aes Sedai. Someone is trying to reduce Egwene’s faction: one was captured, one murdered, and also one beheaded, so now only three remain with her: Morvrin, Siuan and Carlinya, and Carlinya was killed in Towers of Midnight – but by then the entire Tower owes fealty to Egwene as Amyrlin.

The original dream ter’angreal which Sheriam stole is actually supposed to be with Elayne, not the rebels as stated in this chapter. This is a long running error. Nynaeve and Elayne took the ter’angreal with them to Ebou Dar and used it to meet with Egwene in Tel'aran'rhiod (Lord or Chaos, Weaves of the Power). However, it has not worked for Elayne since she became pregnant (an error, it doesn’t require channelling), and so Elayne lent it to Aviendha to take with her to Arad Doman (Knife of Dreams, A Different Skill).

Another error is that Siuan is described as diminutive, whereas in earlier books she was of average height. Her emotional reaction to the appearance of Tower Aes Sedai almost triggers the attack. Yet in an earlier chapter she lectured Egwene on controlling her body language and looking out for others testing her strength as Amyrlin.

Egwene’s assumption that Mesaana would flee the Tower was wrong. Yet Egwene didn’t assume the Tower wouldn’t attack her:

But expectations like that one—assuming that she was safe—were what had gotten Egwene captured in the first place. She was Amyrlin. She couldn't risk herself. It was frustrating, but she knew that an end had come to her days of solitary action, striking out as she saw fit.
She could have been killed, rather than captured, all those weeks ago. The Salidar rebellion would have floundered, and Elaida would have continued as Amyrlin.

The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands

Egwene distrusts Elaida more than Mesaana in this scene. She is more mindful of the potential threat Elaida poses, anyway, at this stage. Plus she realises some possible repercussions of her actions.

The White Tower’s “blackened holes, like spots of corruption on an otherwise healthy apple” remind us of the lingering corruption there: the Black Ajah, Mesaana, and also the Bloodknives. As Egwene acknowledges:

It stood defiant of those who would break it, within and without.

The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands

As the chapter title indicates, the Tower is still standing despite its holes and next it will stand for Egwene.


FelixPax said...

Egwene as a character's has hardened significantly in TGS and ToM books, in contrast to Rand al'Thor who's become more like a 'willow tree' since the ending of TGS book.

Egwene cuts throats.
Rand cuts black cords.

Egwene kills darkfriends.
Rand saves darkfriends.

Egwene offers wrongdoers hard justice.
Rand offers wrongdoers a second chance.

Perhaps Rand experiences with Ingtar on Toman Head is one reason, for the stark contrast between two old childhood friends' viewpoints of what to do with exposed darkfriends?

Rand and Matrim Cauthon never did kill Mili Skane in Andor either.

Ingtar's last stand, did end up helping to save four individuals lives at Falme.

For all reader's know the exposed Black Ajah member Talene Minly could have been truly repentful, as Janya and Ingtar each claimed at separate points in the series.

In Egwene al'Vere character's defense, she does seem to have a mental limitation caused by her prior Seanchan imprisonment. What is this important? Because after that point she began to suffer from PTSD. It was expressed at Mother Guenna's house in Tear when she was captured by BA's, and again at the White Tower when the Seanchan Empire attacked the Tower. At a certain point, Egwene de-personalizes individuals.

Rand's character went through a slightly different process, however he hasn't been the same man since Dumai's Wells. An alternate form of PTSD, except that Rand al'Thor character has changed since the ending of TGS book. The PTSD version of Rand al'Thor is dead now. Whereas the PTSD version of Egwene al'Vere remains alive and kicking.

It'll be interesting to see how the two Tairen Nobles freed by Rand al'Thor in ToM book, end up reaction to the Shadows moves in AMoL book. Will they aid the truly blind Dragon (Valan Luca) or not in Tear? Will they do as Berelain once claimed Weiramon might, that is conquer Altara and Murandy?

Anonymous said...

Someone is trying to reduce Egwene’s faction: one was captured, one murdered, and also one beheaded, so now only three remain with her: Morvrin, Siuan and Carlinya, and Carlinya was killed in Towers of Midnight – but by then the entire Tower owes fealty to Egwene as Amyrlin.

Yes, but that's a different kind of fealty. I found it quite strange that Sheriam never revealed that she and the others had been blackmailed into swearing fealty to Egwene; she had nothing left to lose and every reason to want revenge on Egwene.

Csarmasz, Máté said...

Maybe she wasn't feeling vengeful.

I have other problems with these chapters. Egwene is acting completely idiotic (to the point of being unbelievable) and nearly ends it all in a disaster.

Fragrant Elephant said...

The oath of fealty to Egwene had no effect Sheriam, so she probably didn't think it was worth telling anyone. Also, maybe she was embarrassed to report it?

In any case, do we have evidence that she never revealed the oath?

Anonymous said...

Well, we have no evidence that the oath wasn't revealed, but if this had happend, Romanda or Leleine would certainly have tried to use it for their own advantage.
About Sheriam not caring: She wasn't bound to the oath, but she had to act most of the time like she was bound, or Egwene or someone else could have come up with some questions about it.
In the end she certainly thought more about providing some information, to save her life, instead of taking revenge on Egwene.

A funny thing about the oath that Sheriam and the others swore to Egwene is, that it's very similar to the fourth oath Elaida wanted the Aes Sedai to swear on the oath rod - and Egewene used the knowledge about this plan against Elaida.
They were not bound by the oath rod, but (apart from Sheriam) by the first oath and had only the possibility to work around it, like every Aes Sedai does it with the interpreation of the first oath.

Brad Murgen said...

I don't track enough of the details to really notice these things and haven't gone through all your older posts, but I'm curious regarding your mention of errors... have you found errors in continuity and the like within the Jordan books, or only in the Sanderson books?

Hinkel said...

Most errors by Jordan that were discovered have been minor and corrected in later editions of the books. Elayne's sudden inability to use the twisted stone ring was an error begun by Jordan in Crossroad of Twilight and then mentioned again in Knife of Dreams.

Compounded by its changing locations in tGS, this is a pretty bad set of mistakes surrounding an item that has been of significant importance in the series.

Here's a link to a list of errors corrected and uncorrected: http://encyclopaedia-wot.org/main/errata.html

LordJuss said...

I've never been certain that Elayne's inability to use the twisted stone ring is an error. We know pregnancy has all sorts of weird effects on the Power and it doesn't seem unreasonable that it may affect the functioning of the ring. Is it stated that she can't use it because she can't channel, or just that she can't use it?


LordJuss said...

Have just checked. You're dead right - 'Tis an error.


Linda said...

LJ: Yes, it doesn't require channelling.

Others: Regarding errors - most of Jordan's have been fairly minor. Missed counts of AS and their Ajahs and the like.

The dream ter'angreal has been an on-going error since COT and seems to have been occurred to fill a plot hole of how to explain why Aviendha is in TAR and not Elayne.