Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #12: Chapter 5 - Writings



By Linda


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT


Gawyn POV

Sleete is an odd Warder with his long hair and unshaven face. Wilder seeming than the average Warder, he is, however, careful and observant. He noticed the forced door and the scrap of black silk. He speaks to Gawyn as an equal, when Gawyn is still a Lord rather than a Warder.

Which brings us to the question: why would Hattori want a second Warder when she hasn’t tasks to occupy Sleete? Is it like getting a second dog to keep the first company?

Sleete is underused in his role, as is his Aes Sedai Hattori. He’s bored, probably, and his unkempt appearance may be a silent protest against the Aes Sedai ranking system. Sleete and Hattori show us the unfairness of a system where, no matter the skill, experience or judgement of someone, they are permanently relegated to the bottom on an innate measure. In a way he is meant as a foil to Gawyn, to show what it is like for well-trained and adept men to be placed in lesser roles.

Finally Gawyn starts to think of how he was trained to behave and act instead of just losing his temper or using force. Yet even thinking of his mother’s example diverts him into wanting to kill Rand in revenge for his mother. He is ashamed of his bullying, but not of condemning someone without evidence, only hearsay. Gawyn’s mood is still all over the shop.

The official explanation of four Aes Sedai deaths is that the Black Ajah are killing them after arriving by gateway. In this chapter Gawyn is more logical and open-minded than Aes Sedai, which means their judgement is dire indeed. The Aes Sedai are convinced they know what is going on, and so ignore evidence, eg that no channelling has been sensed. Egwene might argue that the killer/s disguised their ability and wove reversed weaves, but the Black Ajah only knows how to do the latter, not the former. If the Black Ajah had this skill, they would have killed with the Power, because a knife is slower and potentially messier for the killer. Had any Aes Sedai tested for resonance or read the residues, as the rebel delegation sent to the site of the Cleansing did, they would have found out that no channelling was used at all.

Gawyn realises Egwene is holding back information and manages to pry it out of her. She believes the crimes are all the responsibility of Mesaana. She can’t see that more than one power would be out to destroy the Tower at this time even though at least three powers – Shadow, Seanchan and Whitecloaks – are known to want to do so, and one attacked a short while previously.

Gawyn has correctly deduced that the murders are being committed by an assassin. He says the investigations are making a lot of assumptions, yet he did over Rand supposedly killing his mother. His suggestion to Chubain to question servants, to see if an assassin is among them or if they have noticed something, is a good one.

This highlights the fact that the Tower has no police. The Aes Sedai police themselves and the people in Tar Valon. In future I think the Red Ajah will police channellers and may have Warders to help them (see this theory).

Kateri Nepvue, the young White who ignored Egwene’s warning and worked with her back to door, symbolically turned her back on the supposedly mundane doings in the Tower. Unfortunately they were less mundane than she thought. Working with your back to the door is very bad feng shui – for obvious reasons. Her name is a nod to Kate Nepveu who does the Lord of the Rings re-read on Tor.com.

The books have been opened to any man to try out for Warder, just as they are for women to test for novice. The old Warder grounds represent part of Gawyn’s past and haunt him. He notes in passing that Elaida’s palace, which she planned to be large enough to rival the Tower, is still there. This building may play an important role in the future when the male and female channellers unite.

Egwene won’t allow those who don’t believe in her authority to serve her. She is formal with Gawyn to push her Amyrlin role at him until he accepts it. She thinks he is not obedient enough to be trusted or can’t be trusted to be obedient when he needs to be.

Egwene and Gawyn argue over nearly everything, while thinking the other is unreasonably refusing to see the merits of what they say. When Gawyn presses Egwene to get sisters to take Warders, she immediately defends the sisters’ rights, while Gawyn thinks of the sisters’ responsibilities:

“The Aes Sedai are assets that belong to humanity. You cannot afford to let them go about unprotected."

- Towers of Midnight, Writings

Considering the times, he is right, as Egwene grudgingly admits. Aes Sedai are supposed to serve humanity, not just themselves, whatever the times.

Gawyn objects strongly to Egwene’s request to stop guarding her door. He is appalled she is using herself for bait. Desperation at trying to stop the murders has led her to this step worthy of Gawyn in its recklessness. And I’m reminded of the Tower law that applies unless martial law is operating:

The Amyrlin Seat being valued with the White Tower itself, as the very heart of the White Tower, she must not be endangered without dire necessity, therefore unless the White Tower be at war by declaration of the Hall of the Tower, the Amyrlin Seat shall seek the lesser consensus of the Hall of the Tower before deliberately placing herself in the way of any danger, and she shall abide by the consensus that stands.

- A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

The Tower hasn’t officially declared law on anybody. This law has been in force for over two thousand years (after the Black Ajah revealed itself in the Trolloc Wars) and restricts Amyrlins from travelling abroad without the Hall’s permission, little knowing how much danger an Amyrlin could find at home.


Egwene POV

The tea has not spoiled. Is this the case for foodstuffs that were in the Tower when Rand visited and were “blessed” by his presence, or is it stock imported from Caemlyn and thus under the protection of those linked to Rand? It could be either, since food has been staying wholesome near Rand and his three ladies. Mat and Perrin also extend a preserving influence, as we saw with Perrin in Chapter 2.

Egwene can’t keep aloof from Gawyn because she is finding him irresistible. He clouds her judgement and she fears it would be worse if they bonded. It might help each trust and understand the other though. Later when they do bond it is after Gawyn has shown her his merits while letting her do her role.

Egwene is writing to Darlin that Rand plans to break the Seals hoping he will join her coalition against this, because Rand trusts and respects Darlin and therefore would take notice of his objections.


Graendal POV

Graendal’s pet is probably High Lady Alteima who was in Caemlyn when she went there and killed Asmodean. Alteima hasn’t been seen since that day.

Graendal is in hiding or self-imposed exile after Aran’gar’s death. Her lair is remote and uncomfortable, somewhere she would never be predicted to be. Yet she knew that she could not hide from the Dark One due to the ties she has to him, so it is a futile gesture, something she has never made before.

Graendal is predictable so she can occasionally do the unexpected to her advantage or others’ detriment. On the other hand, Moridin acts predictably insane so others don’t see – or even look for - any pattern to his actions.

Speaking of his “insanity”, Moridin has a fire burning when the day is already warm. It makes Graendal uncomfortable and adds to her fear. Soon she has trouble maintaining composure and ignoring temperatures near Moridin and feels he has some influence of the Dark One. It is probably really so, but he is also manipulating her so she is more susceptible to it and intimidated by it.

Before the intimidation takes too strong a hold, she pretends to be loyal and obedient and manages to persuade Moridin that her confusion was not feigned (even though he was sceptical) and that she deliberately let Rand find her and kill hundreds of people. Aran’gar was just unfortunate collateral damage because she did not flee. Graendal claims this was all her plan to make Rand feel pain – in this case via guilt:

This event would not sit easily within him, and speaking of him as Lews Therin to Moridin would reinforce that. These actions would tear at al'Thor, rip at his soul, lash his heart raw and bleeding. He would have nightmares, wear his guilt on his shoulders like the yoke of a heavily laden cart.
She could vaguely remember what it had been like, taking those first few steps toward the Shadow. Had she ever felt that foolish pain? Yes, unfortunately. Not all of the Chosen had. Semirhage had been corrupt to the bone from the start. But others of them had taken different paths to the Shadow, including Ishamael.
She could see the memories, so distant, in Moridin's eyes. Once, she'd not been sure who this man was, but now she was. The face was different, but the soul was the same. Yes, he knew exactly what al'Thor was feeling.

Towers of Midnight, Writings

She is right, but it is insight after the event and serendipity as far as she is concerned. Graendal’s commentary on her and Moridin’s descent into evil shows the path Rand nearly went down. This scene also shows what you can achieve if you lie well enough. Note that Graendal did not jump to conclusions about Moridin’s identity. Unlike other more impulsive and opinionated characters.

The Dark One speaks directly to Moridin, an indication he is so strong that there is little time left before he is freed of his prison. Graendal has to get on quickly if she wants to take Moridin’s place. Her description of the Dark One’s avatar as “that horrid creature Shaidar Haran” sounds Enid Blytonish to me.

When ordered to stay away from Rand, Graendal says she wants to strike at Perrin. This is to gain standing with the Dark One and Moridin since they commanded in Knife of Dreams that Mat and Perrin be killed. It is the most advanced of her plans, so perhaps she was already planning to gain credit this way, and thus the most likely to succeed, as well as being something the Dark One and Moridin want. Graendal knows it will ruin Rand if Perrin falls. Moridin says it will do far more because he knows the three ta’veren form a tripod which supports the world and that all three are needed at the end to win against the Dark One. It shows Mordin’s level of knowledge, due to his study of the Prophecies, his knowledge of theology, his closeness to the Dark One and perhaps his talent for Tel’aran’rhiod.

Moridin has been collecting objects of the Power to deprive others of them as much as have them for himself. From his thoughts in The Path of Daggers he is personally not that interested in ter’angreal:

It was possible they were carrying away some item he could use - an angreal attuned to men, perhaps - but the chances were small. For the rest, the ter angreal, the greatest likelihood was that they would kill themselves trying to puzzle out how to use them. Sammael was a fool to have risked so much to seize a collection of no one knew what, but then, Sammael had never been half as clever as he thought.
He himself would not disrupt his own plans merely on the off chance, to see what scraps of civilization he could find. Only idle curiosity had brought him here. He liked to know what others thought important. But it was dross.

The Path of Daggers, Unweaving

Of course he might have changed his mind since. Moridin has a strong influence on the Black Tower and after Sammael’s death, the Black Tower stripped his Illian apartments. Perhaps those objects ended up here, locked away from possible theft. Graendal is greedy for the ter’angreal and tries to ask for one, which annoys Moridin. I think it is out of character for her to be so clumsy. She had only just avoided some stiff punishment.

Moridin lends her a dreamspike and Slayer to kill Perrin. The other dreamspike is at the Black Tower, with Moridin’s knowledge and permission, trapping Aes Sedai and Asha’man to be turned to the Shadow, as we shall see, again showing his strong links to the Black Tower. Interesting that there is a key to dreamspikes (I have collected what is known of them here).

Surprisingly, he shows Graendal the Shadow’s prophecies. She had no idea they existed. Few know of them, even among the Chosen:

"They have long been known to me," Moridin said softly, still studying the book. "But not to many others, not even the Chosen.”

Towers of Midnight, Writings

So some who do know are not Chosen? Would these be Isam, or Asha’man, or the highest ranked, non-channelling Darkfriend/s? And few, if any, of the Chosen know of them besides Moridin himself. Why then did he show them to Graendal?

Moridin sounds rather like the Dark One to Graendal, so he really has the weight of the Dark One’s authority. He forbids Graendal to kill any more of the Chosen until Perrin is dead. This is a hint that Graendal killed Asmodean and that Moridin knows this.

Both study the book of the Shadow’s prophecies covered in pale tan leather. Human leather is pale and the book cover may be one of the Shadow’s many parallels to Nazism. Some Nazis had articles made from the tanned skin of those killed at concentration camps. Both Ishamael and Graendal have parallels to Nazi officials who were propagandists (Hitler (Ishamael, but the Dark One more so, see Three Strands Common to the Forsaken article) and Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister (Graendal and Ishamael)), or owned articles covered in human leather (Himmler, Hitler’s head of the SS (Ishamael), and Ilse Koch, an SS overseer at Buchenwald concentration camp (Graendal, see Graendal essay).

The Foretellers for the Shadow were held in isolation. The Shadow keeps knowledge to itself. Their prophecies appear to say Perrin will die by the Shadow’s hand (but Moridin predicts not by Graendal’s hand, which is true so far). Moridin says there may be other interpretations, but he believes their interpretation is correct, anyway.

His command to Graendal to bring him “the head of this wolf” indicates that the passage they were looking at may be this part of the epigram:

In that day, when the One-Eyed Fool travels the halls of mourning, and the First Among Vermin lifts his hand to bring freedom to Him who will Destroy, the last days of the Fallen Blacksmith's pride shall come. Yea, and the Broken Wolf, the one whom Death has known, shall fall and be consumed by the Midnight Towers. And his destruction shall bring fear and sorrow to the hearts of men, and shall shake their very will itself.

Towers of Midnight, closing passage

For alternative interpretations of this passage see here. If this was the passage they looked at, their interpretation may not be correct. The Broken Wolf whom Death has known could be Isam rather than Perrin, but more of this in the link and in the last read-through instalment for Towers of Midnight. We really don’t know which prophecy they read.

In earlier times wolves often had a bounty on their heads due to the danger they posed to the populace. Someone declared a wolf’s head was declared outlaw. Perrin was exiled by Rand and carries a wolf head banner (see Perrin essay). He is an outlaw because he killed Whitecloaks.

Moridin’s thoughts earlier may imply that Graendal shouldn’t be able to see True Power weaves:

The True Power, drawn directly from the Great Lord, could neither be seen nor detected except by who wielded it.

A Crowns Of Swords, Patterns Within Patterns

True, Graendal is allowed to draw on it weakly, but the quoted passage implies that only the weaver can see what the True Power is doing. Secret knowledge again.

9 comments:

TrueCrew said...

Nice summary as always, Linda.

Pet theory of mine. Could the memories Graendal references of those first steps towards the Shadow that she experienced long ago (as did Ishamael and many of the other Chosen) perhaps be a reference to a "memory of Light?"

Sure, it could be a memory of Rand's, but I think perhaps it refers to a recollection of one of the Forsaken that will be crucial in the Last Battle.

Now I'm not saying we have someone turn back to the Light, though it has been referenced often enough, but perhaps a selfish changing of sides for self-benefit, like Asmodean did.

We've already seen in Lord of Chaos' prologue in Demandred's POV that even the Shadow stopped using balefire because it endangered the Pattern. What is the point of immortality if there is no world to rule, no reality?

The only one who seems to know the DO's true game is Moridin, and he is a nihilist. Is it coincidence that he knows the Shadow prophecy and most of the others do not? Is there a hint of the end in such prophecy?

Or perhaps one of the tortured female Forsaken (Moggy, Cyndane, and now Graendal) decide they've had enough.

Or maybe Moridin becomes convinces his nihilism is misplaced (unlikely), or the link with Rand influences him in an unexpected way (more likely).

Anyway, I think a memory of Light will prove huge in the last book.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like he used compulsion on graendal. the "his eyes filled her vision" sounds like what boors had done to him way back in the great hunt. i think that she was forced to fail. if you think about it moridin wouldn't want anybody to even think that they had a chance to topple him from his place at the top. what better way than to set your potential usurpers up for a near certain failure. after all graendal can suffer an "unfortunate accident" if she did succeed.

Emerszi said...

No mention that Graendal was shaken by reading the dark prophecy. Maybe she's finally catching on to what the stakes are.

I wonder at what point Morridin shifts from his current plan: actual victory for the Shadow via some as-yet unknown method to "turn" Rand. Verin thought Rand didn't understand how the true nature of the battle. Was the battle simply the internal decay and despair of pre-epiphany Rand? Does that mean Rand has already won (Rand seems to think so), & the rest is just moving pieces around to see if any humans are left to enjoy "victory"?

Note that I don't think the Shadow "winning" the Last Battle means real victory for the Shadow. You just end up with a depopulated world full of Shadowspawn, who eventually kill each other, leaving a ghost world (ala the world Selene shows Rand via portal stone).

Linda said...

TrueCrew: like many of the titles, I think it has multiple meanings.

First is that things get so bad Light seems a distant memory.

Second is that Rand has to remember the Light and is at risk of not doing so. I think that the Shadow have another go at making him despair or turn to the dark side and nearly succeed. If it's all plain sailing for him, it lessens the threat of the Shadow and his victory over it. Plus zen Rand doesn't fit with the title.

Other main characters may also be at risk of despair or doing wrong.

Lastly, it could well be, as you suggest, that one of the Forsaken remembers Light and aids the Light at the last. I've speculated before on Moridin turning against the Dark One because he wants nothingness after the Last Battle and the Dark One might not. Cyndane is another who may sacrifice herself doing good. Perhaps she shall reverse her Pandora action in opening the bore and help close it. If they truly are treating her really badly she may help the good guys to end her suffering. I do not expect either to survive after they aid the Light, but sacrifice their lives giving that aid. Those seem the two most likely in my opinion.

There isn't any hint of how the world will be if the Dark One wins. The if world where the Trollocs won the Trolloc Wars wasn't a big victory because the Light's champio wasn't even there, let alone killed. Moridin wants Nothingness (vacuum) after the win, the other Forsaken want a Hell (or a dark Paradise) where they rule as the elect, and that If world shows a world that is sterile after consuming itself but not destroyed.

Linda said...

Anon: It could be so. One would expect Graendal to realise what is going on. She senses Moridin using the True Power in this chapter, so that can't have been used on her. I think Moridin is letting something of his link to the Dark One seep through and this is enough.

Moridin certainly manipulates Graendal, but I'm not sure he used Compulsion. Graendal should know if he did: she's well practised at using it herself. One of the best and most frequent by all accounts.

Linda said...

Emmerszi: Do you mean that I didn't mention that she was frightened by the prophecy? I thought I made it plain that she was scared the whole time. A lot of her fear came from not know what is really going on, including that there were dark prophecies. Played handsomely by Moridin.

I strongly beleive that Rand hasn't won yet, and that Cyndane made contact with Rand via his dreams for the purpose of turning Rand. She is the "another" who has been "given this opportunity" that Moridin told Graendal about. But more of this in the epilogue read-through.

Anonymous said...

not really true linda. all the things he did had her off balance also she was not embracing saidar, and she cant sense sidean. gaberal said that just holding the one power was protection enough from compulsion. just because moridin hasn't used the one power does not mean he cant.

Anonymous said...

Nice summary and evaluation as always Linda!

The way the dream spike works is
very reminiscent of how Rhuidean was blocked, from gateways
and TAR, isn't it? The "misty dome"
was deactivated by Rand's battle
with Asmodean, but presumably any
eventual dreamspike was left on the site in TAR..?

Just a reflection... :-)

//Anders

Linda said...

Anders: This is a very interesting idea.

Rhuidean had a dome of mists, the dreamspike leaves a purple dome. But their barriers were very similar.

The wolves and Perrin were able to move through the dreamspike barrier phsyically in Tel'aran'rhiod by holding onto their self-image. If any Dreamer did this in Rhuidean they never told anyone and never moved the Dreamspike if one were there. No Forsaken recognised Rhuidean's warding as a Dreamspike. Lanfear, for instance said she sensed Rhuidean was warded in some way and could feel the residues. The Dreamspike does not appear to leave any residues.