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.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.
Towers of Midnight, The Seven-striped Lass
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."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.
Towers of Midnight, The Seven-striped Lass
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.