Saturday, August 16, 2014

Towers of Midnight Read-through #45: Chapter 38 - Wounds

By Linda

Egwene POV

Mesaana is bolder and more desperate; she does need success, as Egwene surmised, especially after her boasts to the other Forsaken. Moghedien is cowardly; she feared domination enough to accept the a'dam, which is why it worked on her. Using a metaphor that Cadsuane explained to Rand, Moghedien does not have the strength of the oak, she survives by being a willow and bending until the stronger force passes. Rand firmly refused to be like the willow; he is far too stubborn. Two Rivers stubbornness is a useful character trait for Tel’aran’rhiod as we see for both Egwene and Perrin.

Egwene was dependent on her weaves in Tel’aran’rhiod in this scene. She also tended to concentrate on punishing or revenging particular Darkfriends, which is a dangerous strategy. Egwene says she was not surprised by the things Perrin did, but he outperformed many, including Egwene. She was complacent in more than one way here: of her ability, of her strategy, and of the Shadow’s plans. Yet she was distracted easily enough by Alviarin, Ramola and Katerine and was collared with an a’dam.

Nicola was another over-confident one, especially considering that she had little innate Tel’aran’rhiod talent and not much training. The Accepted was sly and impatient, but she was given ideas above her station by Egwene earlier in Towers of Midnight. Silviana warned Egwene against it:

"You didn't swear them to silence. They are Accepted, and they will brag about being trained with the ter'angreal!'
"I'm depending on it," Egwene said, walking to the study door.
Silviana raised an eyebrow.
"I don't intend to let the girls come to harm," Egwene said. "In fact, they'll be doing a lot less in Tel'aran'rhiod than they probably suspect from what I just said. Rosil has been lenient with me so far, but she'll never let me put Accepted in danger. This is just to start the proper rumors."…

"So long as you intend them to find you, and not those girls," Silviana said, voice calm—but iron. She had been the Mistress of Novices.
Egwene found herself grimacing, thinking of the things that had been expected of her as an Accepted.Yes, Silviana was right. She would have to take care not to subject Nicola and Nissa to similar dangers. She had survived, and was stronger for it, but Accepted should not be put through such trials unless there was no other choice.

Towers of Midnight, A Call To Stand

Egwene used the Accepted; and, in Nicola’s case, used her up.

The name Melaina name means “black one” (see Character Names M article), so it’s interesting that Melaine made herself dark-coloured as camouflage.

Mesaana POV

Mesanna has an old-fashioned way of speaking in this scene:

"Fools they are, and their showing here was pathetic. Punishments will be administered."

Towers of Midnight, Wounds

She is the first Forsaken to sound from another time; and yet did not in A Crown of Swords when she spoke to Alviarin.

Egwene POV

Apparently Semirhage let slip information on the a’dam, perhaps just of its existence, but maybe even details on how it worked.

Moghedien is very skilled in Tel’aran’rhiod but her fearfulness led her to accept domination, or to forget how Tel’aran’rhiod works. She believed in the a’dam Nynaeve put on her in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Mesaana tries intimidation but it didn’t work on Egwene, who had already made up her mind about Mesaana from her appearance:

“She did not look very imposing.”

Towers of Midnight, Wounds

Egwene identifies with the White Tower and gains the strength to break Mesaana from her belief as well as her stubbornness. “Belief and order give strength” as Herid Fel wrote. The order the Tower represents is as a haven of knowledge and stability for over 3000 years. Egwene is the latest of a long and continuous line of Amyrlin Seats. Egwene’s great belief in the White Tower, and the good it represents, gives her the strength to break free of the a’dam and then of Mesaana’s attack.

In fact Mesaana’s role was to break the Tower from within. She was Egwene’s adversary. Egwene had two adversaries: Mesaana, the Shadow’s Amyrlin, a negative and evil trainer, and also Taim, leader of the Black Tower and another evil teacher. Nether had a vocation for their role. Of course it could be argued that Egwene doesn’t have the vocation for teaching either – hers is for leadership and politics – which is why she was partially responsible for the death of a promising but inadequately trained and disciplined Accepted in this chapter.

Breaking Mesaana’s will breaks her mind as well. There are two symbolic aspects here: Mesaana is the Shadow’s goddess of knowledge (and “wisdom”), a dark Minerva (see Mesaana essay, punished by losing her mind. She is physically alive but mentally dead and thus is part of the living dead theme and the wrongness that increases towards the Last Battle. So Mesaana, who sought to break the White Tower, was broken by a newly trained leader gaining strength by thinking about what the Tower stands for. It's a nice bit of irony.

The achievement is not lost on Egwene's companions-in-arms. Amys acknowledges Egwene as an equal. Bair declares the battle over. It is not a good idea to hunt down hidden Black Ajah as Siuan suggests. Melaine thinks the world is in debt to Egwene – but Egwene is in debt to Gawyn. If he had not persisted in his protection of her, she would be dead.

Perrin POV

Perrin is in a nightmare where people are dying for real since those who die in Tel’aran’rhiod die in the real world. Dragonmount is erupting, perhaps reflecting the populace’s view of Rand.

Slayer was resisting the nightmare as Perrin was, so Perrin added to the dream and startled Slayer enough that he was sucked in. Like Egwene, Perrin refused to be sucked into someone’s nasty trap in Tela’aran’riod. Both Dreamwalkers won. Perrin used the nightmare to destroy the dreamspike.

Perrin’s bad leg injury is symbolic of blacksmith gods, who often limped. Bronze Age metalworkers were prone to arsenical poisoning presenting as lameness and skin cancers from the arsenic they added to the copper to harden it when tin was scarce, and the physical appearance of smith gods is an accurate depiction of this.

After Hopper’s tragic death, Perrin finally feels able to leave Tel’aran’rhiod. Hopper’s final words were for Perrin to seek Boundless to explain or show why the balance between wolf and man is different for each man and a matter of choice.

Perrin awakes and quickly focusses on getting his people away from the threat of an ambush which he deduces must be nearby.

Faile realises Perrin is grieving for someone. Hopper will not be reborn.

The wrongness is still present, so it was not due to the dreamspike. The air smells like the Blight. However, when they Travel to Andor, they do not sense the wrongness there.

Egwene POV

Egwene wakes in a mood of relief but also feels the Tower had a costly and narrow escape. Then she sees what Gawyn did and feels the full extent of her overconfidence. If he had not protected her - against her explicit orders - she would never have lived to defeat Mesaana.

Gawyn’s warning message never arrived. Presumably Darkfriends are still intercepting communications.

Gawyn would not have Egwene bond him merely to keep him alive, but only if she had genuine feelings for him.

Egwene and Perrin compare and contrast very well in this sequence of POVs.

Graendal POV

The cushions stuffed with down from Shara are a typical example of Graendal’s self-indulgence, as is the fact that she even thinks of her luxuries at a time like this.

Slayer is not meek or fearful. He knows Graendal will be held responsible for the battle's failure. Also, in his opinion, the Forsaken’s plan was inadequate so he feels less respect for her. Rather daring of him to let her know, though, and that adds to her stress. I guess that Slayer thinks that he rates higher with Moridin than Graendal does, and so she won’t anger Moridin further by striking at him. Graendal lets in cold air so she won’t sweat.

She decides to spring the ambush on Perrin even though her attempts to kill him have failed so far. Slayer starts to voice a protest or warning but is ordered to desist. Graendal thinks him insubordinate. She is aware that the odds are against her because Perrin is so strongly ta’veren. Chaos is needed to increase her chances and distract everyone around him.

Graendal believes that she will succeed because she thinks Perrin is the Fallen Blacksmith and that he is prophesied to be killed by the Shadow:

"But this . . ." she said, rereading the passage. "This says Aybara will die!"
"There can be many interpretations of any prophecy," Moridin said. "But yes. This Foretelling promises that Aybara will die by our hand.”

Towers of Midnight, Writings

She actually calls Perrin “Fallen Blacksmith”. The likely passage of the Shadow’s prophecy they are discussing is quoted at the end of Towers of Midnight:

In that day, when the One-Eyed Fool travels the halls of mourning, and the First Among Vermin lifts his hand to bring freedom to Him who will Destroy, the last days of the Fallen Blacksmith's pride shall come.

Towers of Midnight, closing prophecy

But discussion of this passage will come later in the series. Moridin warned Graendal that prophecy is not easy to interpret (and that's certainly the case for this one), but Graendal is convinced they have it right and is determined to spring her trap. The person close by Perrin that she has prepared carefully is Byar. Slayer’s part is probably to order the deployment of Shadowspawn at the ambush site. How could she fail?


Anonymous said...

Thanks again for continuing with the re-read, and all the articles over the years. I think I've read them all! I wish wot encyclopedia would finish the last book, but alas, I fear they have moved on. Btw, have you replaced TWoT with another series?

Linda said...

And thank you for taking the time to thank me! I don't know where WOT encyclopedia is up to with their updates. My own took over a year.

I still have more to write about WOT, so I haven't replaced it with another series. And I do WOT costumes (full size and quarter size from time to time). I do have other authors that I read enthusiastically though.