Monday, April 16, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #15: Chapter 8 - The Seven-striped Lass



By Linda


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

The Seven-striped Lass is a rowdy but clean tavern and is a reference to Tarvalon.net, with its innkeeper Melli Craeb being Melissa Craib, beta reader and Tarvalon.net webmaster. There are a few inns in this scene and in Mat’s other scenes in Towers of Midnight, and their names can be significant (see Towers of Midnight inns article).

Mat is calling himself Master Crimson – the colour of blood and war. The chapter ends with Mat actually smelling the blood that the gholam spills and drinks. Crimson also contains ‘crim’ and Mat will claim a reward for killing this criminal monster.

Curiosity is trying to get the better of Mat, but he is restraining it with difficulty. The same goes for his fondness for women. Mat thinks he’s a heart-breaker now that he’s married. Unfortunately I found the humour of this laboured, it was repeated so often.

Mat is foolish for brooding over Verin’s sealed letter in public where it can be plucked out of his hand. Verin underestimated Mat’s fear and loathing of the One Power and therefore Aes Sedai. Mat thinks Verin’s instructions in her letter could make a much worse delay than waiting out the required number of days. It probably would have prevented Moiraine’s rescue.

In Thom’s opinion there’s something wrong about Verin. She is an atypical Aes Sedai. On the other hand, Mat likes her better than other Aes Sedai. They are kindred spirits – tricksters, neither good nor bad but in between (see Tricksters essay). Thom’s sad song is borne of his sorrow for Moiraine. He is the best bard around. People remember his performances years later.

Mat’s all dolled up in his lace embellished coat with nowhere to go. He is missing Tuon and Elayne won’t see him. (By the way, you can’t half remove a band of lace and more than one band of lace on a sleeve would be very ostentatious on a male’s garment even for Mat.)

People see Caemlyn as safe from the Seanchan and the Dragon, but what about the Shadow, which will attack at the end of the book? Safeness is an illusion, since Wrongness is rife.

From the outskirts of the camp, Mat looks back at Caemlyn ablaze with light and remembers his memories of assaulting it:

Mat glanced over his shoulder as the two of them crested a hilltop. Caemlyn was ablaze with the light of torches and lamps. Illumination hung over the city like a fog, grand spires and towers lit by the glow. The old memories inside him remembered this city—remembered assaulting it before Andor was even a nation. Caemlyn had never made for an easy fight. He did not envy the Houses that had tried to seize it from Elayne.

Towers of Midnight, The Seven-striped Lass

foreshadowing of the city under siege at the end of the book when Talmanes will stand in the camp and see the city ablaze, but this time for real.

Mat is fond of Teslyn (an Aes Sedai!), but taunts her in conversation. It is almost flirty. She is grateful to Mat and thanks him for rescuing her. She feels in debt and will repay it, when most Aes Sedai feel the world owes them everything and never acknowledge a debt.

"Remember, should you ever come to the White Tower, you do have women there who are in your debt, Matrim Cauthon. I do not forget."

Towers of Midnight, The Seven-striped Lass

This is probably foreshadowing of Mat going to the Tower to get the Horn and needing her help. I get the feeling Teslyn will do her utmost to get Joline to help, and Edesina, though Joline will try to ‘tame’ Mat as payment – perhaps for the joke sweet buns.

Teslyn acknowledges that her belief she could have resisted the Seanchan is an illusion necessary for her self-respect. Remarkably, since she loathes men (see Teslyn article) and dislikes to touch them, she shakes his hand. Hers is hard, but warm. She is not cold-blooded.

Mat feels kindness to her in return and offers her horses and supplies. She protested that she was sincere and not trying to manipulate him. He said that’s why he made the offer.

Teslyn is a very interesting minor character. Her trauma made her so desperate that she ended up “reformed” by a man. She now treats men – one man at least – better than many Greens do.

If Mat hadn’t spoken with Teslyn, she would not have been able to save him from…(to be continued).

I'll pause the read-through for a couple of weeks while I am at JordanCon and then on vacation. Really looking forward to talking with the Wheel of Time community in a few days' time! Hope to see you there.

6 comments:

Manetheren said...

Yes, this chapter made Teslyn one of my favorite minor characters and only one of the few Aes Sedai (two or three). The one thing Mat ever wanted, a sincere thank you and appreciation. For a group as prideful and entitled as most Aes Sedai act, being humble and appreciative towards others is a difficult thing and especially in Teslyn's case, one of the bravest. I think she's become my second favorite Aes Sedai in this series (of those whom were already Aes Sedai before the start of the series, aka The Old Guard). Her quick adaptation when fighting the gholam to help protect Mat was pretty awesome.

Nicole Santa Maria said...

Can't wait to hear about your JordanCon adventures!

Linda said...

@Manetheren: it's surprising how much Teslyn has grown in the series, and how she has grown on the reader also.

@Nicole: they are coming!

Anonymous said...

I maybe wrong, but isn't Teslyn Black Ajah?

Linda said...

No she isn't. In fact, she is held by the 3 oaths. When she told Mat that if he rescued her she would do anything that didn't harm the White Tower the oath against lying cut in and she couldn't finish the sentence. If she was BA this couldn't have happened. Her actions also have not been one of the Black.

Russ said...

Linda I agree with you about the married man joke being a little labored/forced, one reason being that he now believes himself to be a ladykiller when he never did before ("Rand [Perrin] knew how to talk to girls.") even though it is a fairly common trope for a man "off the market" to remember his sexual prowess when single to be greater than what it was. I'm thinking along the lines of "The Seven Year Itch" or the newer movie "Hall Pass". Of course the problem with that comparison is those use a much longer time that has passed.

Teslyn is a character you just have to root for. I'd argue that the abuse she's endured has been as bad as almost anybody's, and we've gotten to watch her overcome it. And I agree that she's still got a pivotal role to play in Tar Valon. Great use of a secondary character.

I'm guessing the Black Ajah Anonymous was thinking of was Talene.