Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #13: Chapter 6 - Questioning Intentions



By Linda


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

On the surface, the chapter title refers to Morgase’s intentions toward Tallanvor, Andor and Perrin, which climaxed when Perrin said Morgase should marry. Yet it is also about leadership intentions: especially Perrin’s role and the way the other people working closely with him react to how he is fulfilling it – or not.

Morgase notices Faile is a better leader now, after Malden. She is almost tempted to advise Perrin on leadership, but then reminds herself that he has declared himself lord of part of Andor. Plus she has no need to; Faile can, and should, do the job instead.

Perrin and Faile are matched perfectly in Morgase’s opinion. And so they are: Wild King and Queen, Strength and Temperance). So well matched, and so well connected - he to Rand, she to Saldaean royalty - that as a couple they pose a threat to Andor.

Perrin wants Alliandre to return to her nation now that the mission is over because she was forced by circumstances to join them. In the same way, he isn’t recruiting; people just beg to join him and his army. His advisors insist he should keep them all and make a proper army, but he won’t take the responsibility and so demands his banners be burnt. Everyone is disappointed with Perrin for issuing this command, even Morgase, who wanted them gone. She realises that with the Last Battle coming someone needs to unite people and lead them. This is something Andoran monarchs have not done in the Two Rivers for centuries – which Perrin claimed as his domain, yet Morgase strongly objects to. Perrin intends to send the Two Rivers people home with Tam. Berelain reminds Perrin how obligated he is to his forces, who he is now dismissing so cavalierly. Masuri is nervous when the rulers encourage Perrin to keep his army but he rejects this and says Rand can get the forces if he wants to. He is a long way off understanding he is the Dragon’s bannerman.

Perrin accepts Edarra’s rebuke that he has neglected his responsibilities as a leader and has yet to earn her respect. He always had a strong sense of duty and he can see and feel what responsibilities it entails so well that they are more than he is prepared to accept, in contrast to Mat, say, who just blithely muddles on, reacting to events as they occur and only seeing their true significance at their climax, or even not until afterwards; or Galad, who sees their full import but accepts that the Pattern has placed him in the position to take these responsibilities. Galad always does his duty and expects others to do likewise. This is where Galad falls down: other people disappoint him, whereas Perrin is currently disappointing others. The two men are very similar in their values and personalities, but the way they react to duty leads to different leadership outcomes. When Perrin finally accepts his role, the two men have a strong mutual understanding and respect and get on very well.

Like many people who have no experience with a stratified society and servants in particular, Perrin gets it wrong, being either too friendly or else too autocratic (as here) when he commands MOrgase to marry. Morgase unbends a little and advises him to learn from Faile.

Morgase still has some inner conflict, but accepts her great drop in position and makes the best of it. She realises how much was beneath her notice before. As one of those lower ranked, who are led and not leaders, Morgase now appreciates the role of a servant and what skill is involved in the position. With her weeks of harsh on-the-job experience in Malden, she has a far better idea than Elayne. In hindsight, Elayne’s mistakes in Tanchico, curtseying to another, slightly higher ranked servant as a maid would curtsey to a noble, are quite ludicrously naive. The servant thought she was mocking her:

Thinking quickly, Elayne bobbed a servant's curtsy and picked up the tray; a servant carrying something was going about her work and not likely to be stopped or told to do something else. Lady Ispan? Not an uncommon name in Tarabon, but there was an Ispan on the list of Black sisters.
"So you mock me, do you, you little cow you?" the stout woman roared, and started around the table waving her thick wooden spoon threateningly.
There was nothing to do without giving herself away; nothing but stay and be hit, or run. Elayne darted out of the kitchen with the tray, Nynaeve and Egeanin at her heels. The cook's shouts followed them, but not the cook, thankfully. An image of the three of them running through the palace pursued by the stout woman made Elayne want to giggle hysterically. Mock her? She was sure that had been exactly the same curtsy servants had given her thousands of times.

The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace

Being subject to Gaebril, then Whitecloaks, then Aiel has been a steady downhill spiral in Morgase’s eyes. Yet Gaebril was the worst of the three since he stole her will without her knowing.

Morgase once had so much self-confidence that Compulsion had to be constantly renewed on her:

Compulsion had presented no difficulties with this woman.
A scowl twisted his face. It did with some. A few-a very few-had a strength of self so firm that their minds searched, even if unaware for crevices through which to slide away. It was his bad luck that he still had some small need for one such. She could be handled, but she kept trying to find escape without knowing she was trapped.

The Fires of heaven, Prologue

Now:

She wasn't sure what she was, but she would learn how to do her duty as a lady's maid. This was becoming a passion for her. A way to prove to herself that she was still strong, still of value.
In a way, it was terrifying that she worried about that.

Towers of Midnight, Questioning Intentions

The good thing is that Rahvin’s Compulsion has worn off.

Alliandre is uncomfortable now that her time of enforced servitude is over and she has been restored to her original status while Morgase, who was her equal for a time, still serves. The queen of Ghealdan and, to a lesser degree, Faile believe in inherited social standing (more so than Davram Bashere, who told Perrin that all nobles were commoners once, and can become so again if they are sufficiently incompetent or unlucky) and writhe in embarrassment when Morgase is revealed to be a (former) Queen of a powerful country.

Servant role or no, Morgase is still thinking like a Queen. She realised that she had to stay away from Caemlyn until Elayne establishes herself. For one thing she made enemies under Rahvin’s influence and is therefore a liability to Elayne. She worries that Elayne is not queen yet, or even in Caemlyn.

Perrin rather brusquely suggests Morgase and Tallanvor marry as soon as possible. Had he phrased it more tactfully, he might not have put Morgase’s back up and made Tallanvor miserable. However, legitimately being able to tell Perrin off really restores Morgase’s confidence:

It seemed she had some spark left in her after all. She hadn't felt that firm or certain of herself since . . . well, since before Gaebril's arrival in Caemlyn!

Towers of Midnight, Questioning Intentions

Morgase eyed the Aiel askance and criticised them for insulting Aes Sedai, but she now sounds rather like an Aiel woman insisting on her right to ask the man herself.

She is distracted in her search for Tallanvor to soothe him by scouts returning with news and goes to eavesdrop. In contrast with Perrin she puts knowledge gathering for Andor ahead of her beloved.

Morgase thinks the Wise Ones are as haughty as Aes Sedai – but they are leaders in their society.

The Wise One Nevarin takes the literal meaning of what Perrin says, and presses him on it. Perrin doesn’t respond to her challenge, but makes more obvious what he wanted to know. She then has a dig at Wetlanders instead, and Faile defends them gently. Perhaps Nevarin is trying to make Perrin ask things plainly and in a way that does not imply others are incompetent – a better leader as she sees it.

Similarly, Edarra, later in this chapter rebukes Perrin for his disinterest in his role as leader. He takes it better than some thought he would or should. She pounces on Perrin’s statement that Rand isn’t in Cairhien. Morgase correctly suspects Perrin has a source of information that he doesn’t share. Understandably, since this is his psychic link with Rand.

The Aes Sedai told Edarra that women channellers could link with the men. Seonid and Masuri have earned the right to speak without having to ask aloud, but just take visual cues on whether any Wise One wants to speak first. Morgase is appalled that Aes Sedai have lost their status. She is indignant on their behalf, yet her own change of position was greater and harsher and for less cause. Both Aes Sedai accept their situation, which is probably why they are now given more latitude. However, Edarra still refers to them as apprentices.

Balwer worked out that moving people through gateways will be more time-consuming than Perrin thought and that the Asha’man are not up to it. In a way, the Pattern may have made the most of the bubble of evil by keeping them together until Perrin truly accepts his duty.

Balwer is keen to go to Cairhien with the scouting party. He loves information, so perhaps that is all that is behind this eagerness. Perhaps.

2 comments:

Nicole Santa Maria said...

Great note about Galad and Perrin contrasting at this point because the former is disappointed in others and the latter disappoints others.

Linda said...

Because in earlier books she still craved his touch and believed she would be poewrless to resist him if he appeared before her.

Now she is able to see his inadequacies. Quite a contrast.