Monday, June 8, 2009

The Dragon Reborn Read-through #1- The Fortress of the Light: Once More Unto the Breach

The Fortress of the Light: Once More Unto the Breach

by Linda

According to Niall, no man had previously held office of Lord Captain Commander before his hair is all white. Valda is therefore yet another young leader in these troubled times, since he is described as dark-haired, never grey. He’s perhaps around his 40s, since he refers to Niall as an old man and Dain Bornhald as a young one. Galad, in his late 20s, is younger still.

Carridin and Niall between them set the conditions for an extreme and rapid reaction to the news of Rand’s fight at Falme:

”It is a worse madness than any false Dragon I’ve ever heard of. Thousands have declared for him already. Tarabon and Arad Doman are in civil war, as well as at war with each other. There is fighting all across Almoth Plain and Toman Head, Taraboner against Domani against Darkfriends crying for the Dragon - or there was fighting until winter chilled most of it. I’ve never seen it spread so quickly, my Lord Captain Commander. Like throwing a lantern into a hay barn. The snow may have damped it down, but come spring, the flames will burst out hotter than before.”

- The Great Hunt, Prologue

It is treason and blasphemy for Whitecloaks to allow a false Dragon to roam free. Yet Niall knowingly does and pays for it in the end.

Niall’s summary of the situation:

Chaos multiplied; what was unheard of, happening again and again. The whole world seemed to be milling, stirring near the boil. It was clear to him. The Last Battle really was coming.

- The Great Hunt, Prologue

He knows about the wars, Illian, Falme, etc. He receives very good intelligence and mostly uses it well.


All his plans were destroyed, the plans that would have secured his name among the Children of the Light for a hundred generations. But turmoil meant opportunity, and he had new plans, with new objectives. If he could keep the strength and will to carry them out. Light, let me hold on to life long enough.

- The Great Hunt, Prologue

shows that despite believing that the Last Battle is imminent, Niall is thinking of his own ambition as much has anything. Rather like Elaida.

Niall’s original plans, now destroyed, were:

”Your task was to seize Almoth Plain! An empty bucket that no one holds except by words and claims, and all you had to do was fill it. The nation of Almoth would have lived again, ruled by the Children of the Light, with no need to pay lip service to a fool of a king. Amadicia and Almoth, a vise gripping Tarabon. In five years we would have held sway there as much as here in Amadicia. And you made a dog’s dinner of it!”

- The Great Hunt, Prologue

Events prevented the Children from beginning an empire.

Niall doesn’t believe in the Tarmon Gai’don of Prophecy. He thinks it will be like the Trolloc Wars again:

Pedron Niall was a man of cold logic, and he had reasoned out how Tarmon Gai’don would be. Bestial Trolloc hordes rolling south out of the Great Blight as they had in the Trolloc Wars, two thousand years before, with the Myrddraal-the Halfmen-leading, and perhaps even new human Dreadlords from among the Darkfriends. Humankind, split into nations squabbling among themselves, could not stand against that. But he, Pedron Niall, would unite humankind behind the banners of the Children of the Light. There would be new legends, to tell how Pedron Niall had fought Tarmon Gai’don, and won.

- The Great Hunt, Prologue

Therefore Niall will unite nations behind the Children and win Tarmon Ga’don. His daydreams of going down in legend as winner of Tarmon Gai’don are rather like Elaida’s. I’m sure they’d be greatly comforted to know how similar they are.

Niall tells Carridin to keep Rand alive and kill any Aes Sedai come to capture him: the tactic is to scare nations with the threat of a false Dragon so that they ask for help from the Whitecloaks and ultimately depend on them to lead them.

If Carridin had not been ordered by the Shadow to muck up Niall’s plan, the Seanchan would have met greater resistance from the Whitecloaks. (The Seanchan would probably still have been able to destroy them though). The Shadow wanted the Seanchan to invade the mainland.

Carridin claims that Bornhald only took half his legion to their deaths at Falme and he will use the remainder to hunt down Rand.

Niall frightens Carridin with threats of sending Carridin to the Questioners as a scapegoat. (It was amusing when he said that Carridin would name himself a Darkfriend once the Questioners got hold of him.) Niall threatens Carridin with death if Rand dies before Niall orders it, or if Rand is taken by Aes Sedai. If Niall dies, Carridin will also die soon after (this actually happened - Rand was taken by Aes Sedai, and Niall was assassinated - but it was coincidence. Niall’s threat was not carried out).

No comments: