Monday, September 22, 2014

Towers of Midnight Read-through #48: Chapter 41 - An Unexpected Ally

By Linda

Galad POV

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 POV

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 POV

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.
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

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.

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.

Perrin POV

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.

Galad POV

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.
"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."
"Thank you."
"I'm fond of the horse."
Smiling, Galad joined him, and they waded back into the melee.

Towers of Midnight, An Unexpected Ally

It shows a strong comradeship, something not that common between members of different groups, let alone ones so disparate and seemingly incompatible.

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.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Towers of Midnight Read-through #47: Chapter 40 - A Making

By Linda

Perrin POV

The staleness is now left behind in Ghealdan, but all is not right with the land in Andor:

There was no pollen. There were no wolves. Both seemed terrible signs to him.

Towers of Midnight, A Making

No pollen means no fertility, no food. No wolves means no top predator. The world’s ecology has been corrupted, continuing the wrongness theme.

Perrin believes that he can’t do anything about it:

The world was dying. He couldn't save it. That was Rand's job.

Towers of Midnight, A Making

But it is not just Rand’s job; he can’t do it alone. And as we shall see, Rand will have Mat on the battlefield, and Perrin in Tel’aran’rhiod, and everyone making a contribution.

Perrin has spent a lot more time thinking than doing, brooding on his role and on leadership and relationships, but with his thoughts going round in circles. He is distressed that he couldn’t kill Slayer, grieves for Hopper as he does for his dead family, and is also angry that he doesn’t know what the Shadow’s plan was. In this scene he feels impelled to undertake intense physical activity to stop thinking. Soon he’ll finally progress to deciding and then acting. Faile keeps Perrin’s thoughts and feelings in line at this difficult time – this is in keeping with the moderation or temperance role that she plays (see Faile article).

"Fools," Perrin whispered. "Fools to follow me. Fools not to hide."
"You'd really have them do that?" Faile said, angry. "Cower someplace while the Last Battle happens? Didn't you say every man would be needed?"

Towers of Midnight, A Making

She keeps a focus on what is important and encourages others to, too.

The importance of choice is highlighted in this chapter:

The hammer could be either a weapon or a tool. Perrin had a choice, just as everyone who followed him had a choice. Hopper had a choice. The wolf had made that choice, risking more in defense of the Light than any human—save Perrin—would ever understand.

Towers of Midnight, A Making

Perrin made his important choice between the hammer and the axe made back in Crossroads of Twilight. He’s been worried all along that his important choice was between being wolf or human, not realising that he over-thought this issue.

If Hopper “died forever” after being killed in Tel’aran’rhiod, he can’t become a Hero of the Horn, since they are spun out of Tel’aran’rhiod into the waking world to work the will of the Wheel. I doubt his sacrifice went unregarded though.

Perrin’s desire for physical action was literally constructive in that it led to creating an amazing weapon. His act of creation parallels his dream of making something in Towers of Midnight Prologue when he brooded over all his unresolved issues (see Post #3: Prologue, Perrin POV read-through post). It has been too long since he used his artisanal skills. Not since Tear, the day he made his first “master’s piece”, as acknowledged by the smith, has he created anything at a forge. He has forged things metaphorically though, such as this army, and that has kept his eye and hand in.

As the Tairen smith hoped, the hammer led Perrin back to the forge to create a marvel….to become a smith god.

Man, if I have ever seen anyone made to hold a smith’s hammer, it is you. So take it. Keep it.”
Perrin closed his hand around the haft. It did feel right. “Thank you,” he said. “I cannot say what this means to me.”
“Just remember the ‘one day,’ man. Just you remember it.”

The Dragon Reborn, The Hammer

Very prophetic words from the smith. Perrin

felt a need to create, as if to balance the destruction he'd seen in the world, the destruction he'd helped create…

The world was cracking, breaking further each day. It needed help, right now. Once a thing shattered, you couldn't put it back together.

Towers of Midnight, A Making

You have to start all over again. Perrin made a hammer in actuality as he dreamed. It is a symbol of his army and his leadership of it, forged together truly to be guided by him.

While focused at his work, Perrin identifies or merges with the forge.

He breathed in and out, his lungs working like bellows. His sweat was like the quenching waters. His arms were like the anvil. He was the forge…
He felt something leaking from him, as if each blow infused the metal with his own strength, and also his own feelings. Both worries and hopes. These flowed from him into the three unwrought pieces...

as if all of his strength and emotion had been forged into the metal.

Towers of Midnight, A Making

He sees he is making a hammer – as he did in the dream. During the process he makes a lot of noise and quaking:

Blow after blow. Those beats were so loud. Each blow seemed to shake the ground around him, rattling tents.

Towers of Midnight, A Making

Perrin’s bucket of molten liquid is like lava. Smith gods are associated with earthquakes and volcanoes, for example the Ancient Greek god Hephaestus or the Ancient Roman god Vulcan, who have strong links with Perrin. The Norse thunder god, Thor, another parallel of Perrin, also shook the ground as he made deafening thunderclaps.

Noisy it might be, but the work is meditative and melts away Perrin’s resistance and rigid thinking habits so he can transform. He forges himself as he forges his hammer. Finally he knows what he is doing and why. The hammer is all steel – Perrin has steeled himself, and is tempered now.

Perrin won’t lead the army unless they acknowledge and accept the risks; give informed consent. Nine people, eight channellers plus Perrin, made the hammer; nine is the most yang (positive, active) number (see Number symbolism essay).

At the forge, Perrin leaves his old hammer, symbolic of his old self, behind. What is his new hammer? Its name, Mah’alleinir, is a reference to Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, with which he fought giants and never missed his target. The old tongue meaning of “He who soars” is an acknowledgement of Hopper, who wanted to fly.

Faile POV

Berelain immediately seizes on the implications of power-wrought weapons and blades. She fears Perrin will attack the Whitecloaks so that he will not have to submit to them. Faile is pretty sure that he won’t. Perrin confirms that he will keep his word.

Faile realises Perrin would never have suited Berelain because of what she thinks him capable of. Galad is similar in character to Perrin, but Berelain has idealised him and looks up to him as much as Faile does Perrin. Berelain claims Rand would be pleased if she married someone close to him. Back in Tear, she rejected Mat as too like her, which is why she didn’t respond to his greetings, much to his shock (The Shadow Rising, Rumours). (He is used to his advances going over well, and so is she.) Berelain expects Rand and Perrin to be like royalty or aristocrats and play pragmatic politics, but they aren’t. Not wanting to go against her own long-held principles of concentrating on advancing the standing of her country and her rulership, she justifyies her desire for Galad on the grounds of political advantage. Faile is not fooled. She agrees to help Berelain dissuade Perrin from attacking the Whitecloaks if he appears to as payback for Berelain backing off and restoring Perrin’s honour. So convincing is Berelain that Faile actually wonders what Perrin plans. Berelain pleads but it is not necessary.

Perrin POV

Elyas asks Perrin if he is “one of us” finally – a wolf. Perrin says no; he is who he is, which is half wolf and half human. He wonders if over-thinking has been the problem. Umm, yes. Encouragingly, he decides to worry less, and just be. At last he has found his balance. This is part of the necessity of balance theme of the books. In many ways he is a very successful Wolfbrother because he is balanced.

The army only now feels unified because Perrin is a proper leader. He is concentrating on doing, on performing his actual duties and not letting responsibility weigh him down.

As Perrin realises, he is a symbol to all these people. People can lose faith in a symbol if it is unworthy to be followed or looked up to. When Berelain damaged Perrin’s reputation and integrity by implying Perrin was unfaithful, she made him less worthy to be followed. Faile sensed the loss of regard and what it meant to Perrin and his army and acted to have it restored.

Galad POV

Galad fears his choices – his beliefs – were mistaken. He feels everything has been wrong since Morgase returned. It is because he killed a man for the wrong reason and therefore did evil. So things cannot be right. In fact, Morgase’s very existence proved that Galad can make big mistakes. Morgase drove this home by relating how she made a mistaken judgement, and also by openly regretting that she did not teach him the world is not black and white. Galad is aghast that right is harder to recognise than he previously believed. He did what seemed right regarding Valda and yet strictly speaking it wasn’t. Valda committed a crime – more than one crime – just not the crime that Galad thought. His conscience disturbed, Galad considers surrendering to Perrin to prevent the Whitecloaks being killed, mirroring Perrin’s contemplation of surrendering to Galad a short while earlier. But Perrin is a Darkfriend, Galad believes, so he feels unable to do so. He fears the Children may be wiped out before the Last Battle. This is a reasonable fear – the nearby Shadowspawn army is aiming to do just this. The Whitecloaks’ mistake is in believing Perrin is the Shadowspawn’s leader, when he is their target. As Perrin makes plain, he is indirectly responsible for the army attacking the Whitecloaks.

Byar blames Galad for their predicament. Galad says that he acted with honour by having a trial, but Byar believes they should have just attacked. In Galad’s opinion they would be utterly defeated by Perrin’s forces if they did so. Byar’s counter that the Light would have protected them should also hold now, but Byar illogically denies this. And the Light doesn’t protect the Whitecloaks from being killed by Shadowspawn.