Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lord of Chaos Read-through #4: Chapter and Verse

Chapter and Verse

by Linda

This post looks at what’s behind a few of the more interesting and symbolic chapter titles in Lord of Chaos.

Lion on the Hill

How many lions can you crowd on one hill?

Simply and superficially, there’s the White Lion of Andor banner raised above the Palace. In the palace there’s Rand, being lionised by a heap of sycophants, who’s an Andoran prince in disguise and as High King, is symbolised by the Lion, the King of the Beasts (see Animal Symbolism essay.) Bashere is aiding Rand, and if his wife is a leopard, as three times a lord and a courageous fighter, Bashere pretty much qualifies as a lion too, if a much smaller one than Rand. :P

And then at the very end of the chapter, a rogue beast arrives, Taim, who was caged for a time but is now a dangerous animal on the loose – a veritable lion on the high plains as Tuon would say.

A Different Dance

Again, the title seems simply to refer to the pattern dance that Mat dances with Betse. In his memory, it was danced at the onset of Trolloc Wars just before everything crumbled into war. He dances it now in a similar situation, although he doesn’t fully appreciate this. He claims the dance as ‘his’ yet he nearly fell while in the dance, because he was so overwhelmed by his memories.

The pattern dance is also a metaphor for the pattern of Ages; it starts out simple and gets increasingly complicated with each pass, just as the Ages do:

The Pattern of an Age is slightly different each time an Age comes, and each time it is subject to greater change, but each time it is the same Age.

- The Eye of the World Glossary

Speaking of patterns and dances, Mat’s life has been danced about by the Pattern and he’s having a hard time reconciling himself to it:

A series of steps, each taken for good cause or pure necessity, each seeming so reasonable at the time, and each leading to things he had never imagined. He always seemed to find himself caught in that sort of dance.

- Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

The Finns between them have really changed Mat – given him knowledge and gifts that have made him heroic despite his best efforts to avoid all of it. Sometimes he concedes there’s even a good side to his situation:

Without them [his memories], he would not be where he was, commanding nearly six thousand soldiers and more wanting to join every day, about to lead them south and take command of the bloody invasion of a land controlled by one of the bloody Forsaken. He was no hero, and did not want to be one. Heroes had a bad habit of getting killed…On the other hand, without those memories he would not have six thousand soldiers around him. He would stand alone, ta'veren and tied to the Dragon Reborn, a naked target and known to the Forsaken. Some of them apparently knew entirely toe much about Mat Cauthon. Moiraine had claimed he was important, that maybe Rand needed him and Perrin both to win the Last Battle. If she had been right, he would do what he had to—he would; he just had to get used to the idea—but he was not about to be a bloody hero.

- Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

Another ‘Dance’ that is Mat’s is the song Dance with Jack o’the Shadows, the Dance of Death, which is actually sung to Mat by his soldiers in this chapter. Mat himself is King of the Dead, hence this song is his ‘signature tune’.

To Aiel, the dance is battle and Mat even once asked a Maiden if she knew any dances other than battle. Mat and the Band are apparently going to ‘dance the spears’, go to battle against Sammael. However this is just a feint and Mat, Rand and Bashere have a secret plan, a different dance than Sammael expects.

A Matter of Thought

Elayne’s thoughts have been very productive. Off her own bat she has made original ter’angreal. Quite brilliant thinking.

This contrasts with the rebel Hall, which has been indecisive for some time.

Sheriam’s six discuss their own ideas about how to keep their influence with the Hall and do the actual directing as well as day to day management of the rebels: they will manipulate the Hall into electing a very young Amyrlin. Carlinya disagrees about the usefulness of Egwene to this group of six. She points out that is Egwene is easily manipulated, then anyone, including the Hall might do it. Competition for them! No one thought Egwene might be commanding and not very easily manipulated at all.

In Tel’aran’rhiod, the rebel crew discover that the obliteration of the Blue Ajah is high in Elaida’s thoughts, as is her intention to re-unite the Tower. Elaida hasn’t yet realised that these two thoughts are contradictory. There can be no unification of the Tower with this attitude. After all, if Elaida can turn on one Ajah and destroy it, she could turn on another.

Siuan’s thoughts are about what the Tower administration is doing. She discovers that Alviarin is countermanding Elaida’s orders. This is treason; something Elaida wants pinned to Alviarin but hasn’t succeeded in achieving. Yet it only took Siuan a short while to find it.

And someone’s thoughts created a nightmare trap in Tel’aran’rhiod. The group assumes it is one of them, but it might have been set by a Forsaken. We see Demandred hanging around and his ruminations are on why he has been told to let Elayne live.

The Storm Gathers

There are a few things in this chapter which will cause a storm in the future:

  • Siuan’s attempts at revenge and her lies about the Red Ajah, including Elaida, setting up false Dragons to bring them down,

  • The rebel army being created by Gareth Bryne,

  • The large number of novices being collected (handy for the Tower, but also for the Seanchan – it will save them a lot of searching),

  • The arrival of Tarna, the Tower’s emissary in Salidar, and on her return she will realise that accommodation must be made with the Asha’man, and

  • Either Rand or Isam hanging around Tar Valon in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Under the Dust

What is under the dust thrown in our eyes?

Elayne is teaching Sitters, but while Sitters are usually the strongest Aes Sedai, they are too weak to make ter’angreal. By themselves, that is. They’d be fine if they linked, but does it occur to them? Aes Sedai need to link up with other channellers – Sea Folk, Wise Ones, Asha’man – because to set themselves apart will achieve little in the war.

Tarna knows a great deal about what is going on in Salidar. Presumably she received reports from Elaida’s mole/s? Tarna hints to Nynaeve that Galina is the Red Ajah Head but Nynaeve never noticed.

When Elayne and Nynaeve searched for something to inspire the rebels to support Rand, they went to a ter’angreal storeroom in the Tower. They never zeroed in on it though, so we don’t know if it was a ter’angreal or the Horn. Trying again, they find the Ebou Dar cache (including the Bowl of Winds) under the dust of centuries which will also lead them to the Kin. They then throw dust in the eyes of Sheriam’s six by suggesting that the Bowl needs a man to work it to tie the rebels to Rand.

A Pile of Sand

In this chapter a pile of sand represents a punishing, thankless or never-ending task.

Egwene’s dreams are just such a task. She tries her best to remember them and work them out. She acknowledges that she would rather search a pile of sand than have teaching or knowledge withheld from her, which is what would happen if her disobedience over not entering Tel'aran'rhiod was known to the Wise Ones.

Elayne and Nynaeve try to pull Siuan into line, and try to get Sheriam and co to let them search for Bowl. They end up cleaning cauldrons rather than hunting bowls. There’ll be nothing doing until Egwene arrives.

To Understand a Message

To understand a message, you have to get the wording right. Graendal didn’t get the wording of Rand’s reply to Sammael’s emissary right, or pretended she didn’t, so Sammael tells her more. His information alarms her greatly. He successfully lied to her that he had an agreement with Rand and manipulated Graendal into supplying him with information on the other Forsaken. Amusingly Sammael is almost right when he said that the army currently amassing will never move against him.

Graendal got the message of Sammael’s room all right - furnished with items from the Age of Legends stored by a Darkfriend. And that Sammael knew the other Forsaken were all spying on him, trying to get their hands on the cache he searches for.


Rand is offered gifts in this chapter. The obvious one is the gold and gems the Tower embassy offers. Rand is too busy feeling clever that he fooled them into believing him greedy and easily manipulated to remember the saying that every Aes Sedai gift has a hook in it…Egwene was able to witness the meeting due to Rand’s gift of a screening weave.

Rand obtained a gift of information too – that Galina and Alviarin were associates, but he is mistaken in the nature of their association.


Rand is being pricked by a lot of thorns: the Wise Ones, Elaida’s embassy, the approach of Alanna and the rebel Aes Sedai, and Min’s teasing. He is irritable when Min is not there, but hasn’t worked out why yet.

Perrin is the one in immediate trouble though. Faile is very jealous of Berelain and this makes her smell thorny. Presumably Faile finds the situation with Berelain even more thorny than Perrin does.


Unknown said...

Like another commenter, I very much enjoy, and am mentally engaged by, your discussions/essays. They are very fine and sophisticated. Indeed, a cut, or more, above the ordinary.

They illuminate, and I am a pretty careful reader.

Thank you for all your efforts.

Linda said...

Thanks! I'm glad they are a hit. :)

Mik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mik said...

Brilliance, Linda!

I'd like to add two more things to consider;
'Lion on the Hill', I think also refers mostly to Rand and how he has progressed from the 'Camel' to the 'Lion' (in the Nietsche sense of the word)

Another thing I'd like to add would be that 'A Matter of Thought' can (and I think -should- to be honest) be taken much more literal in this case. I'm working from memory here (that's almost a pun, considering the context!), but from your examples in the text and my own notes I know it's a chapter dealing almost solely with TAR.
I think TAR is just that; 'Matter of Thought'...

Wouldn't you agree?

Anyway. Keep it up. I'm lovin it!

Dominic said...

RJ (actually, it's probably Harriet as Brandon said she is the one who used to name most of the chapter for RJ, as she's done for Brandon in TGS) loved titles with multiple meanings, and I agree with you A Matter of Thought was intended to be taken the way you describe too.

As for Lion of the Hill, it's also a in-universe metaphor.

Tuon uses it for Mat in KOD (not the only time it's used, IRRC), to mean that leading his soldiers, he doesn't look a fool anymore - he in his element/at his place - like the king of the hill "at his ease like a lion on a hill" (I'm paraphrasing her, but I think it's fairly close).

I believe this is in part what the chapter title refers too, with some irony intended about Rand who begin his tantrums here, surrounded by little court of foolish sycophants praising "The Lord Dragon" each more over the top foolishly than the next, and whom Rand loathes.

I'm sure the reader was also expected to remember where recently he's seen 'lion' and 'hill". That's in the opening quote about the Lord of Chaos: The Lion sings and the hills take flight", and this was a way to tie Rand to the title of the book, as I'll explain in my upcoming post concerning the Lord of Chaos character and the title of the book.