WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT
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."Considering the times, he is right, as Egwene grudgingly admits. Aes Sedai are supposed to serve humanity, not just themselves, whatever the times.
- Towers of Midnight, Writings
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.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.
- A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike
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’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 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.
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
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.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.
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
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.”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?
Towers of Midnight, Writings
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.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.
Towers of Midnight, closing passage
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.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.
A Crowns Of Swords, Patterns Within Patterns