Monday, August 6, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #32: Chapter 25 - Return to Bandar Eban



By Linda


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Not only does the sun shine when Rand arrives, but the wind clears away the stenches. (Decent food is very obviously worth more than gold and silver. It always is: health, body and soul, is one of the most valuable things.)

Iralin the dockmaster kept people away from the rotten food so they didn’t die by spreading false rumours about the Sea Folk. When he berates Rand, Rand accepts it, but Min defends Rand, saying he can’t do everything.

The open sacks are full of rotten food, but when Rand opens a sack it is fine. He says that they only opened the rotten ones – something very unlikely, but possible, more possible than that he undid the Dark One’s touch by his presence and made rotten things hale again. The food is killing rats, which is ironic, since rats are the Dark One’s spies and report to him.

Bandar Eban has become utterly rotten and stinking due to Rand’s use of the True Power and balefire (double sin) there to kill Semirhage. (Natrin’s Barrow was some distance away from the capital.) He was also forced to torture one of his loves in Bandar Eban. Now he has returned to right the wrongs he did here, or more correctly, the consequences of his actions rather than wrongs. In contrast, Ituralde has been going through hell fulfilling his part of the bargain he made with Rand, which was to keep the Shadow from overrunning Saldaea in return for Rand restoring order to Arad Doman.

The parlous state of the city makes Rand conscious of his errors and failings, and the good qualities of the Seanchan. Tuon brings order and justice (Link). The comparison (and the way he treated Tam) made Rand want to destroy.

"I wasn't here. I abandoned this city when I saw that I could not use it as the tool I wished it to be. I forgot, Min. I forgot what this was all about. Tam was so very right. A man must know why he is fighting."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

In contrast to earlier, Rand doesn’t call Tam his father. It may be that in later times people forget Tam was his foster father, and write about Rand as born of a maiden, no father, fostered…

Guilt and shame exhaust Rand:

"I know I must go on," Rand said, "but it hurts to know the things that I've done, Min. By turning myself to steel, I pushed out all of these emotions. By allowing myself to care again, to laugh again, I've had to open myself to my failures, too."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

Min gives Rand hope, by telling him of the future. The Prophecies of the Dragon are all about doom and gloom; he needs something more positive, rather than “damage control” or survival instructions. Not that these aren’t important, but they aren’t enough by themselves. Then her viewing widens from Rand to everyone in sight. This is very rare and is perhaps due to the effect of Rand feeling more positive.

Also, Min believes in him, and shows him that she doesn’t blame him for what Semirhage made him do. Her love and belief give him essential confidence:

"You're more vital than them all. You remind me who I am. Besides, you think more clearly than most of those who call themselves my counselors. You could be a queen, if you wished it."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

Min is the only character who just wants to help and support Rand. Rand passes on the hope and trust that she gave him to the Domani and inspires them to clean up their city themselves. Earlier Rand invaded with a peace-keeping force (which of course had to be maintained), now he promotes a more self-sustaining order.

Rand acts like he doesn’t need many guards now. He seems to be very aware of his ‘miraculous’ abilities or qualities now, before they become evident. Often Rand seems to be deliberately expressing enigmatic, zen-like qualities. He still doesn’t answer questions, but now it is to gently make himself mysterious, whereas before it was because he tyrannically refused to be beholden to anyone and explain himself. For example, when asked if he can ennoble people, he smiles and says somebody has to. He will remain a day or so for the Domani to “make things stable”. He is also making the Pattern stable so rot and sickness die down. The people he has gathered can be trusted. Very telling.

Iralin is sceptical it can be done so quickly, but Min says

"I think you'll be surprised by him, Lord Iralin," Min said, gripping the ladder and starting to climb. "I am, each day."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

I believe that Rand is setting up his legacy for when he dies; making his own legend, rather than allowing the Shadow or time to trash his memory as happened to Lews Therin. Perhaps he thinks this is how he will ‘live’ after he dies.

7 comments:

James Reid said...

Very nice post. I like your idea that Rand my have hope of a life after this all over. I think he has earned it.

Sven said...

Love your work Linda. It really make me enjoy the books more.

You (uncharacteristically) gloss over the state of the food in the sacks. It's like Schrödinger's cat, it's both rotten and hale at the same time. The presence and state of Rand alters chance at the moment the sacks are opened.

Also, I don't believe that the distance of Natrin's Barrow to Bandar Eban has anything to do with well.. anything. The only thing that matters is the presence of Rand. Just like the pattern is thinner at Shayol Ghul (and starting to get thinner everywhere) the pattern is thicker where Rand is now he's come into the light again.

Björn said...

In addition to the above persons objections on distance:
Rand didnt kill Semirhage and torture Min in Bandar Eban, they were still in the manor house in far eastern Arad Doman.

Manetheren said...

Sounds like Linda is referring to proximity. True,all the incidents were all a distance from each other, but when looking at the entire world or Rand's continent as a whole they are actually quite close in relation to the grand scheme of the pattern.

Poke a hole in a sheet, breaking a few threads, the surrounding threads and fabric strength can hold and compensate. Poke 3 or 4 holes in close approximation and the whole area weakens creating instability in a localized area that can easily develop a larger hole in the sheet.

Linda said...

Thank you Manetheren, that is a nice expansion on what I was trying to say.

I'm really busy at the moment with my real world job, getting ready for DragonCon and with WOT, so my posts and replies will be quite delayed for the next couple of weeks I expect.

asdasdasdjijijijijijiji said...

I really like how Min throughout the series has always been a buffer. She is the only one who sees her lover in Rand first, unlike Elaine and Avienda, or even Egwene, who first see an emperor, the Car'a'carn and a channeler, despite their affection and friendship with him.
Min has been a buffer also by being in miraculous places, holding legendary objects (the Crown of swords and the Callandor in her lap), without thinking of glory or showing greed or selfishness. I think that she will become a legendary philosopher, if she writes a book. That makes her one of my favourite characters and possibly my favourite lover of Rand's.

Anonymous said...

Since existing food never got made hale, it's more likely that Rand repaired the 'field', like a quantum wavefront. It's a recurring theme too.