Byar brings up the Shadowspawn invasion of the Two Rivers, one of the Whitecloaks’ lowest hours, as a comparable situation to what is happening. Perrin also saw the comparison and was tempted to leave the Children to their just desserts, but decided to prove he was better than they. The Whitecloaks’ abandonment of their agreement to help the Two Rivers folk was never fully explained to Galad.
Bornhald can see that Byar’s claims that Perrin is being insanely wasteful with his supposed resources in an attempt to gain support are completely illogical. It is Byar’s mind which is twisted in even suggesting such as pointless action. Ironically, Bornhald was the one to make the decision to refuse to help the Two Rivers people fight the Shadowspawn. Perhaps his feelings of guilt or dishonour influenced his reaction to save Perrin from Byar.
Perrin sees Berelain is terrified but doesn’t understand why; he does not realise she is terrified for Galad, not herself. He explains what the Whitecloaks cannot know: that the armies have been lured and forced to this point, where the Portal Stone is being used to bring in Shadowspawn for an ambush. He correctly deduces that a Forsaken planned it and reassures Faile and Berelain that he has a retreat worked out if things go wrong.
Faile is delighted that Perrin shows such honour. He is prepared to do the right thing no matter what, as Galad always does.
Galad has not fought Trollocs before. His whole army is in same boat, and they break under pressure. To his disappointment he realises that his Whitecloaks are not better than other men:
The Children of the Light were not protected by their goodness; they were falling in swaths, like grain before the scythe. Worse than that, some did not fight valiantly or hold with resolve. Too many yelled in terror, running. The Amadicians he could understand, but a lot of the Children themselves were little better.This is an echo of Byar’s claims in the previous chapter that the Light would have protected the Children while they attacked Perrin’s forces. Galad’s perfectionist beliefs are broken.
They weren't cowards. They weren't poor fighters. They were just men. Average.
That wasn't how it was supposed to be.
Towers of Midnight, An Unexpected Ally
The Whitecloaks concentrated on looking for humans who may be allied to the Shadow rather than the Shadow’s actual monsters. All Whitecloak forces should have each done a stint fighting in the Blight or the Borderlands to help the Borderlander nations and gain their trust as part of their military training. Their very inexperience proves their unworthiness on their own terms. They can hardly be leaders in the fight against the Shadow if most of their soldiers have never fought a Trolloc.
Gallenne also expected Perrin to leave the Whitecloaks to their fate once the battle got rough for them. The Mayener sees sense in killing Shadowspawn while there is no risk to themselves but he is impressed with Perrin as a man of “true honour” when he says he will save them.
It is a prompt christening of Mah’alleinir. The hammer is attuned to Perrin and grows warm as he thinks of the slaughter in the Two Rivers and the Whitecloaks’ betrayal of their word. His weapon never burns him, only his target. Its burning of the Shadowspawn is reminiscent of the weave-breaking ter’angreal’s effect on the gholam as well as a mirror of Perrin’s feelings.
The Lord Captain Commander is shown that other forces besides the Children stand against darkness, and moreover, do it better. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Whitecloaks are shown to be completely inadequate.
Galad is incredulous that all Perrin’s army gave up high ground and came down the hill to save them. Even more impressively, Perrin’s tactic worked. This begs the question of whether Galad would have done the same. He has suspicions that Perrin is a Darkfriend, so probably not. Perrin even lent his horse to Galad.
What’s more, by physically giving up the high ground, Perrin gains the moral high ground over the Whitecloaks, although they are reluctant to admit it.
Galad hints to Perrin that he did this to gain Galad’s favour. These are empty words. If Perrin hadn’t helped, Galad would be dead and Perrin wouldn’t have to worry about any judgment. So Perrin did himself no favour at all. Perrin knows that saving Whitecloaks still won’t dispel doubts against him. This is more a reflection of the Whitecloaks than of Perrin. Perrin says that the Trollocs were aiming for him, but turned on the Whitecloaks when Perrin escaped them. For this reason he feels somewhat responsible. As Lan observed earlier, Perrin has a strong sense of responsibility.
Perrin’s openness pleases Galad and gains his trust. The blacksmith is not scheming or manipulative. Galad wants Perrin to know his judgment in case one or the other dies; he feels he owes it to Perrin. Perrin is satisfied with the fairness of paying compensation and fighting in Last Battle.
Bornhald’s horror at killing Byar when he attacks Perrin is not assuaged by Galad telling him that he did the right thing. Galad understands Bornhald – and also Perrin – and assures Perrin that Bornhald does not hate him, just hates what Bornhald was forced to do: kill a friend. Bornhald redeems himself with this action, though he probably wouldn't agree.
I love the jokey end to this chapter:
Aybara grunted. "You should get to the wounded," he said, hefting his hammer and looking toward where the fighting was still thick.It shows a strong comradeship, something not that common between members of different groups, let alone ones so disparate and seemingly incompatible.
"I am well enough to fight if I have your mount."
"Well then, let's be on with it." Aybara eyed him. "I'll stay by you, though, just in case it looks like you might fall."
"I'm fond of the horse."
Smiling, Galad joined him, and they waded back into the melee.
Towers of Midnight, An Unexpected Ally
Galad and Perrin are indeed unexpected allies. A short while earlier, Galad looked on Perrin as a criminal and likely Darkfriend. Perrin hitherto has had only rough treatment from Whitecloaks – assault and betrayal, so it was not easy to predict he would ally with them, either.