Thursday, June 14, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #23: Chapter 16 - Shanna'har



By Linda


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Faile POV

Faile is tallying up things she needs to deal with: Perrin’s guilt, Berelain’s lies, fairness, the camp and the needs of thousands of people.

Like many young women, she is appalled at the thought that her life, and worse still, perhaps she herself, might turn out like her mother. She admits to herself the reasons why she ran away from home - the desire for adventure and rebellion at being expected to do her duty, even though, unlike many, she has the ability and training to do it well – and that she has been very immature and selfish. It was the seemingly fated or inevitability of her life, the predictability, that she hated. Aviendha is another young woman who objected to her duty to be a Wise One and the prophesied events of her life. Many people in these chaotic and anarchical times would be glad to have the certainty of a valuable role or some knowledge of where their life was headed, especially since Aviendha’s is not a bad fate.

Now Faile is ironically grateful to her mother, whose assessment of her was accurate, as Faile recognises:

Looking back at herself only a few years before, she was amazed to realize that she saw a spoiled, self-centered child. Leaving the Borderlands to become a Hunter for the Horn? She'd abandoned duties, home and family. What had she been thinking?

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

A few years? More like only a few months ago she was still spoiled.

This had a good outcome, but that is no excuse for her behaviour. Rightly, Faile is ashamed of making Perrin walk through the Ways alone. She did not realise the danger – only the adventure – until she saw the Black Wind in action. At that stage she was the runaway princess who was making her knight jump through hoops to prove his worthiness (see Faile essay).

Deira explained Faile’s role, but did not give her a good reason for it:

Her mother had warned her what would happen to her, had told her what was expected of her, and Faile had worried that she would feel trapped by life.
But what Deira hadn't mentioned was how fulfilling it would be. Perrin made the difference. It was no trap at all to be caught with him.

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

There was no guarantee Faile would feel fulfilled; it is an added extra, a reward for following the Pattern, but it is not essential. She should do her duty regardless, to Deira’s way of thinking.

Faile likens the quartermaster to a mixed-breed dog, a mongrel. She is aware that she is being hoodwinked by Bavin’s creative book-keeping, but not how. He probably keeps a double set of books and Faile sees the innocent ones. It is good to see that Faile runs the camp along egalitarian lines, and deftly reins Bavin in.

Food rotted in the time that she looked at the ledgers. This is a new occurrence for Perrins’ camp but not elsewhere:

She noted with displeasure that the bunch of wild scallions beside the pathway had spoiled in the moments since she'd seen them last, their stalks melted and runny, as if they'd been rotting in the sun for weeks. These spoilings had begun only recently inside of camp, but by reports, it happened far more frequently out in the countryside.

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

The Pattern is healthier around the three ta’veren, more vital and fertile – but finally the fraying is beginning to be evident even where they are. At this time, Rand had recently Balefired Semirhage and Elza with the True Power to the detriment of his spiritual and psychological well-being, and consequently the health of the Land.


Perrin POV

Perrin is beating himself up over his failings: brutality, growing callous, and refusing to be manipulated or sacrifice himself.

Faile asks why he fights being a leader.

You're a lord now, and you can't let it be known that capturing your subjects will undermine your rule. Do you think Queen Morgase would abdicate to tyrants who kidnapped her subjects? No leader could rule that way. Your inability to stop evil men does not make you evil yourself."

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

Morgase surrendered to the Whitecloaks so they would help her oust a usurper.

There is a strong vein of Tinker-like beliefs in Perrin in the way he deplores violence and violent feelings. He never aspired to a high position; he only wanted a quiet life and to go back to the simple life after the Last Battle. He can’t of course. Like everywhere else, the Two Rivers won’t be the same ever again, no matter how hard he wishes:

"I could find someplace else," he said, feeling stubborn. "There are other villages. They won't all change."

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

Reluctantly he realises that in order to keep Faile he can’t be a nobody.

She says she would sacrifice her position if he really wanted to. All very noble resolutions on both sides…

Perrin doesn’t know what he wants for their life afterwards. Faile points out that if they settle somewhere else the Two Rivers will be without a lord. Which is fine by Perrin, because he would rather they stop treating him as one – and stop wanting one. But the Two Rivers folk have seen lords and they have been joined by refugees that are used to them. Again, no going back.

While Perrin doesn’t feel adequate for the job himself, he doesn’t want someone else doing it because he can’t trust that someone else would do a better job than him and:

Still, the thought of someone else taking control—someone else being lord—filled him with intense anxiety. And a surprising amount of sadness.

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

For one thing, someone else might take on the job for the wrong reasons.

It is their first wedding anniversary soon, although these landmarks aren’t celebrated in the Two Rivers. (It’s in keeping with the Two Rivers’ unchanging society that they don’t notice the date, as we saw when Egwene had to calculate the date on her fingers in Crossroads of Twilight.) An exception is Tam and Kari al’Thor, who did celebrate theirs even though it is not the custom. In Saldaea, where the climate is severe, people celebrate their anniversary in early summer, whatever the date they were married on. (In such places, they would tend to have the ceremony in summer anyway, due to the difficulty of travel in winter.) Being still together means neither partner has been killed by the Shadow. This is very telling of how grim and harsh life is there.

Perrin is inclined to think that enjoying themselves is frivolous; he won’t fiddle while Rome burns. Faile is not asking for that, just an evening together. The really terrible times mean they should appreciate the good things they have all the more.

Because they speak the same language, it is easy to overlook the cultural gap between them. Faile thinks she has grown more sensitive to Two Rivers culture, but she tells Perrin that not celebrating a wedding anniversary is backward.

When she says:

But I have asked much from you to adapt to my ways. I thought, tonight, I would try to adapt to yours."

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

He is very touched.

Faile is not put off by Perrin’s lack of table manners, though she objects to his wanting meat for breakfast.

With the privacy, he opens up to her on his feelings of inadequacy and of being a beast. He apprehends that if Faile is taken, he would be manipulated:

But if you are used against me, nothing will matter. I'd do anything to protect you, Faile. Anything."

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

She is his one weakness, being all he has since his entire family was murdered. Faile says all leaders have weaknesses, even great leaders. Perrin is a perfectionist, slow and careful, and while taking pains can be good in a leader, it can also slow him down.

She is flattered at the evidence that she means so much to him, just so long as he values her for her competencies. His good points are:

You are driven. Given a problem to solve, no matter how grand, and you will see it done."

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

Perrin had his banners burned so he can’t lead. If he can’t master himself, he can’t master anyone:

Not until I know if I can master the wolf. How could he explain? Explain that he feared the way it took control when he fought, when he wanted something too badly? He would not rid himself of the wolves; they had become too much a part of him. But where would he leave his people, where would he leave Faile, if he lost himself to what was inside of him?

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

This is true, really. The image of Noam, and what Moiraine said, haunts him. Moiraine meant well, but she did not have full knowledge, and misled Perrin. It is up to Hopper, his animal spirit guide, to train him.

Perrin shares his burden with Faile. She is grateful for the trust he has shown in her, and then reciprocates. Perrin thinks he told everything – but did not say he has a psychic link to Rand; Faile held back about Rolan and Masema, two men she killed for different reasons.

She'd been worried that he'd get himself killed trying to rescue her—she didn't say it, but he could infer it. How well she knew him.

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

Perrin did neglect himself almost to death trying to find her.

He is not as accurate in understanding her feelings for Rohan.

Perhaps she'd felt a fondness for him, and didn't wish Perrin to regret killing him. That wasn't necessary. Those Brotherless had been with the Shaido, and they had attacked and killed men under Perrin's protection. No act of kindness would redeem that. They deserved their deaths.

Towers of Midnight, Shanna’har

Perrin realises that the Whitecloaks had made similar judgements about him. He does not suspect she killed Masema. Faile’s guilt is that she felt Rolan did not deserve to die, but killed him lest he kill Perrin.

Faile is satisfied that Perrin showed he believed her to be brave and capable – which she is.

Finally they are a properly united couple and trust and accept each other. It took a while, but then such things can do. Both these characters have moved to the next stage of development and with this comes the realisation that having moved on, they can’t go back. They go through a couple of other stages, but progress has been acknowledged.

3 comments:

Dressageboy said...

Linda,

I think this is the first chapter where I really liked Faile when she is in company with Perrin. Her behavior in the Shaido camp is acceptable and even exemplary but previously, when she was with her husband, I found her manipulative, scheming and duplicitous and frankly wondered if she were a DF plant playing a game as deep as Verin's. But here she truly stopped being an ass and grew into a woman/wife/confidant/partner, worthy of Perrin's trust and love.

Perrin's growing acceptance of who and what he is within the pattern, is refreshing as well. He's finally realizing that nothing undermines those who have chosen to follow you more than your refusal to accept and shoulder that mantle. As he might say, he has a job of work to do and avoiding it won't change it.

And on a side note. I will venture a guess that when next Faile sees Min, Min will tell her that she (Faile) carries Perrin's child.

Just a couple of things, Linda. I understand the need for brevity, else these posts would be as long as the chapters themselves, however, two very important things are brought out in this chapter, (one of BS's best chapters in my opinion) the first and least of these is when Perrin acknowledges Berelain's part in keeping the camp together during Faile's captivity. Faile says, "I'll deal with Berelain, that's one duty you needn't distract yourself with."
"But---"
"I'll deal with her."
Foreshadowing another bit of deft writing -to come- on BS's part.

Now we come to the more important matter, which you mentioned -in part- his sharing his 'burden' with her.

"He finished by speaking of Hopper. He wasn't certain why he'd saved the wolf for last; Hopper was part of much Perrin had told before--the Whitecloaks, the wolf dream. But if felt right to reserve Hopper until the end, so he did..."

It's the sharing of Hopper that brought me to believe he and Faile could/would be a couple like Davram & Deira or Egwene's parents.

Another excellent summary, Linda!

Thanks

Dressageboy

Linda said...

Dressageboy: Yes, she had this annoying tendency to play the princess around him. This lasted longer than it should have due to the stupid competition she had going with Berelain. It was a reversal of two knights competing for a lady's favours in the Courtly Love trope. Poor Sir Perrin/Peregrin had two ladies jousting for him. (He still had to prove himself worthy though.) I've written more about Courtly Love and their characters in the Faile and Berelain essay.

Re Faile insisting she will deal with Berelain: I was saving that until she actually does. What irritated me was that she didn't give him a chance to say something but cut him off. True it is her task to end what she and Berelain so stupidly began, but who knows what he was going to say on this issue?

I agree that the sharing of his wolf guide was a sign they could have a truly close and sustaining relationship, but so was his acceptance of her silence on Rolan (even though his thoughts show that he got her motive wrong) and the way they made space for each other's egos on who would succeed in ending her captivity.

TrueCrew said...

Yep, Faile's coming out party, and to a lesser degree, Perrin's as well, as it is the end of the Eeyore.

I really liked this chapter.