WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT
Elayne foolishly tries to pull rank on her medical advisor. For this consultation, Melfane happens to be wearing blue and white, traditional nurses’ colours (see here for discussion of Wheel of Time midwifery).
Last scene, Elayne realised the stupidity of putting her babies and throne at risk, but here she is back at it again, this time objecting to advice. She thinks it is unfair she has been prescribed bed rest to recover from traditional Aes Sedai Healing, which draws on the patient’s vitality as well as the Healer’s energy. It was rather unfair on her babies that she was nearly killed in the previous chapter. She should be thankful all turned out OK and accept the consequences.
Birgitte feels outraged and betrayed that Elayne didn’t trust her. She also feels she has no role here in this life beyond what Elayne provides her. In part this is due to her consciousness of her previous lives and the lack of Gaidal in this one so far. What neither has considered is that if Elayne is killed Birgitte will very likely die too, although I know that Birgitte’s courage would make no allowances for that.
Some important information is exchanged in this POV. Mat is told that the Shadow are after him personally, which Verin also told him in The Gathering Storm, but the women omitted to inform him that an invasion of Caemlyn is imminent. Perhaps they don’t really believe, or want time to think about it. Ironically, Verin told him about the threat in her letter, believing he would read it early. Mat discusses with Elayne how to kill the gholam.
Elayne tallies that three Darkfriends were killed and four escaped, but actually four were killed: Lounalt, Chesmal, Temaile and Eldrith. Hanlon, Shiaine, Falion and Marillin are on the loose. If she acted on the information it would have been worth the cost, but as far as we know she did not.
The Borderlands are really feeling the need for their forces away in the south. The Shadow took advantage of Paitar Nachiman’s desire to speak to Rand to encourage the monarchs to take as many forces as they would. I believe they subverted the expedition as much as possible and that at least one of the rulers has a Darkfriend advisor. (For instance, Paitar’s own advisor, the dissatisfied and divisive Kyril Shianri is a possibility). The situation is just too convenient for the Shadow to be otherwise. At the Cleansing of saidin we saw that Lanfear had been hanging out north of Shadar Logoth – which means the Borderlands.
Ituralde has Aes Sedai as well as Asha’man Healing his troops. This reminds me that Memara, the Red who was sent to Saldaea by the Tower at Alviarin’s suggestion, has not re-surfaced.
The Traitor’s Banner seems to be an extant device adopted by Yoeli to rally forces against the appointed authority (Torkumen). He probably would not have time to invent something and is not a noble so he doesn’t have any colours of his own.
The Queen’s representative, Torkumen, ignores the crisis and demands time for private meditation. He claims the Trollocs are not urgent because they are always there. One would think his orders not to be disturbed so pathetic that they would be rejected, yet obviously many obeyed them. Yoeli and his men fought and killed quite a few soldiers loyal to Torkumen to open and hold the gates to rescue Ituralde’s men, actions that still haunt the soldier.
Torkumen tries to frighten Ituralde and Yoeli from continuing to fight the Shadowspawn. Yet if what they have done is enough to merit what he threatens them with, why would they back out now? You can only be executed once.
Ituralde believes all ties are superseded now that the Dragon is here and Tarmon Gai’don is coming. He names Torkumen Darkfriend, but Torkumen is more shocked when Ituralde cut him off, cursed him and left. Likely Torkumen joined the Shadow due to ambition and would not take being ignored.
Yoeli accepts that Torkumen is either a fool (an incompetent) or a Darkfriend. He won’t use gateways to escape Maradon and leave it to the Shadow. This foreshadows Rand’s refusal to abandon the city also.
Likewise Ituralde will make his stand here (hence the chapter title) to hold the city until messages are delivered for reinforcements, and it will be a marathon stand. Maradon is named after the ancient Greek town of Marathon, where the Battle of Marathon occurred in September 490 BC. It was a decisive battle in which the Athenians drove off the first Persian invasion of Greece. The Athenian army was to be commanded by ten generals, each of whom was to hold operational command for one day. (This change in command is a real life parallel to the Battle of the Shining Walls in the Aiel War). The generals were evenly divided on whether to await the Persians or to attack them, and the tie was broken by a civil official, Callimachus, who decided in favour of an attack. Four of the generals then ceded their commands to the Athenian general Miltiades, thus effectively making him commander in chief.
The Greeks could not defeat the Persian cavalry on the open plain, and waited until the cavalry were temporarily absent from the Persian camp, whereupon Miltiades ordered an attack upon the Persian infantry. Miltiades reinforced the flanks of his forces and decoyed the Persian’s strongest troops into pushing back the Greek centre. The Greek flanks then suddenly wheeled in and surrounded the Persians. The Persian troops fled to their ships with great losses.
According to legend, an Athenian messenger was sent from Marathon to Athens, a distance of about 25 miles (40 km), and there he announced the Greek victory before dying of exhaustion. This tale became the basis for the modern marathon race.
Yoeli made a stand too, to defend Maradon, and also to behave honourably and protect others from the Trollocs. In honour of Ituralde’s and the Saldaean’s efforts, Rand will stand against the Shadowspawn army and exhaust himself destroying them by channelling unaided more than anyone else could have with a sa’angreal.
Perrin is distressed the Whitecloaks are forcing him to fight them because it is a waste of forces on both sides that should fight the Shadow. Faile is more bigoted in her attitude and has no qualms about destroying the Whitecloaks. This ties in with the previous POV where Saldaeans fight over whether to rescue people fighting Shadowspawn, or to follow orders and keep them out.
Galad’s seal of a winged silver sword, point-down, which Balwer doesn’t recognise, emphasises the sword of Damocles, part of the origin of the Damodred name. Definitely the threat of death (and ultimately extinction) hangs over the Whitecloaks.
Galad doesn’t sign letters with his name, only with his title. The position is more important to him than the status. He is not interested in the cult of monarch, just in doing the job.
When Perrin plays chase with wolves, or fails at it, Hopper appears to guide him. It’s necessary: Perrin is fearing for his humanity again but then picks up on Hopper’s hints on how to manage himself:
Perhaps he wasn't like the wolves because he was a wolfbrother. Perhaps he was a wolfbrother because he was like the wolves. He didn't need to control them. He needed to control himself.Elyas found his balance between wolf and man after some effort. Perrin has to also, or else he believes he will end up like Noam. (Noam seems a more convincing or balanced wolf now than was in Jarra – or at least in Tel’aran’rhiod he is. Back in The Dragon Reborn, he was probably new to wolfbrotherhood, and still had not fully abandoned being human.)
Towers of Midnight, To Make A Stand
With instruction, Perrin moves by scent in Tel’aran’rhiod with eyes closed. He is actually using “need” to go to where he needs to be, just as female Dreamwalkers do, only they don’t use scent, but only their will. That doesn’t mean they are any better at it, just slightly different, more passive.
Like the Aiel Dreamwalkers, Hopper is a rather careful tutor:
You are too young. These things are beyond you.Good point.
"Too young?" Perrin said, standing. "Hopper, the Last Hunt is nearly upon us!"
Hopper lay down, head on paws.
"You always tell me that I'm too young," Perrin said. "Or that I don't know what I'm doing. Well, what is the point of teaching me, if not to show me how to fight men like Slayer?"
Towers of Midnight, To Make A Stand
Perrin decides to meet the Whitecloaks, although he fears it may be the wrong decision based on his visions in the dream.
He was pleased to see healthy flowers on Dragonmount in Tel’aran’rhiod. They were a welcome change, and a sign of the hope, really, that comes from Dragonmount.