Friday, February 19, 2010

The Path of Daggers Read-through #2: Borderland Deception

By Linda

The four Borderland rulers are annoyed with Rand because he has ignored them and the potential peril their lands are in. So what do they do? All four rulers, not just one of them or their emissaries, leave their lands with their counsellors or household heads and a large part of their forces for months to wander around in the south in the very way they found objectionable in Rand. Brilliant.

They are incensed that Rand has supposedly ignored them, but they owe him a great debt. He used the Eye of the World to save them from Trollocs which Agelmar believed would overrun Shienar at the least when the Eye should have been used for Tarmon Gai’don. The monarchs should be even more angry with the White Tower, which has done nothing, but they are quite happy to have thirteen sisters potter along with them in the south for months.

If ever there was evidence that the rulers have been manipulated by the Shadow, this is it...

It will be interesting to see if Rand's chiding of them at the end of The Gathering Storm, will bring them to their senses and make them see their hypocrisy.

The chapter title Deceptive Appearances warns us to look for those whose appearances are deceptive. Verin of course is one, playing both sides of the board, and Moridin and his game of sha’rah is another (more on him in the next post). Normally perceptive, Verin misinterprets her sighting of Irgain, interpreting it as a warning to behave herself, when actually the Wise Ones were reassuring her that the stilled Aes Sedai were being treated honourably and the Aiel were making efforts to keep them alive. Such is the effect of a guilty conscience.

Which brings us back to the Borderlanders. The rulers and their closest counsellors were the ones who decided to go south. Who among them might be a Darkfriend under orders to move them away from their lands? Or even merely a ‘sleeper’? Paitar’s councillor, Kyril Shianri, is a candidate; he has the mandatory dissatisfied look, vanity and arrogance. To make sure all are committed to what amounts to weakening Borderlands, he was very quick to pounce on any doubt and scorn it. He actually butted in on exchange between a King and Queen:

She [Ethenielle] made her own greetings just as short, ending with a direct "I hope you've come this far without detection."
Easar snorted and leaned on his cantle, eyeing her grimly. A hard man, but eleven years widowed and still mourning. He had written poetry for his wife. There was always more than the surface. "If we've been seen, Ethenielle," he grumbled, "then we might as well turn back now."
"You speak of turning back already?" Between his tone and a flip of his tasseled reins, Shianri managed to combine disdain with barely enough civility to forestall a challenge.

- The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances
So eager is Shianri that he seems to be over-reacting. Neither Easar nor Ethenielle were thinking of turning back.

(Also watch out for Lomas, the Kandori scout described as sly by Ethenielle).

It’s worth thinking about the Aes Sedai with the Borderlanders even though as far as we know none of them had any part in the rulers’ decision to make a pact and move south to meet Rand. For instance, why didn’t Coladara, Paitar’s Aes Sedai advisor, argue against the move once she was told that it was on? Ethenielle believes Coladara wasn’t involved in their original negotiations and this may or may not be correct. Paitar holds the White Tower in high esteem and would be influenced by what Coladara said. In fact, she and her seven Aes Sedai visitors were keen to join them.

The other three rulers weren’t influenced by Aes Sedai because their advisors had left (Easar and Ethenielle) or because they had none (Tenobia). Aisling left Easar for the White Tower after the coup (probably in answer to Elaida’s summons for all loyal Aes Sedai to return to the Tower) and went on the ill-fated expedition to the Black Tower. She is now bonded to an Asha’man, Arel Malevin.

Nianh, Ethenielle’s advisor, hasn’t resurfaced. She might be one of those Aes Sedai who stood apart from the Aes Sedai split; perhaps she answered Cadsuane’s summons:

She [Cadsuane] had begun gathering sisters she trusted, those here with her and others, the day she first heard of strange events in Shienar

- Winter’s Heart, Wonderful News

and is one of the Aes Sedai gathering information for her.

One would think Memara, the Red suggested by Alviarin to pull Tenobia into line is a likely Darkfriend, but that is academic here since she had no influence with Tenobia. (Who knows what Memara has gotten up to, left behind in Saldaea.) We know nothing about the allegiances of Illeisien and the four sisters who met Tenobia ‘by chance’ just before she left Saldaea, or why they were more keen on secrecy than Tenobia was. It might be because they had different allegiances to Memara and wanted to keep their presence from her.

All four rulers agreed on moving south, but they probably have different reasons, despite appearances. Tenobia apparently mostly wants Bashere’s and Taim’s heads and wants to vent her anger at Rand for using her forces without her permission. Ethenielle wants Rand to stop breaking nations – as though it is all his fault – whether he is the Dragon Reborn or not. The motives of Easar and Paitar are unknown.

Ethenielle didn’t want Aes Sedai with them, or even to know of what they were doing. She thought the Tower might even execute them for what they do. Perhaps Ethenielle thought the White Tower was in control of Rand? Presumably the Borderlanders had enough information to know Rand has many thousand Aiel warriors with him. How were 200 thousand Borderlanders supposed to bring Rand, a strong channeller commanding huge Aiel forces to heel without Aes Sedai?

What did Illeisien say to Tenobia that made her accept them when she was so against Memara (and probably the White Tower) at that point? What do Illeisien’s group plan regarding Rand? The group of five Aes Sedai would be too few to take such as strong channeller as even a non-Aes Sedai such as Loial knew:

"Perrin, both Elora and Ledar say that when Aes Sedai find a man of great power, they always gather thirteen to take him. Oh, they recount stories of four or five, and both mention Caraighan—she brought a man nearly two thousand miles to the Tower by herself after he killed both of her Warders— but. . . . Perrin, they wrote of Yurian Stonebow and Guaire Amalasan. Of Raolin Darksbane and Davian, as well, but the others are who worry me." Those were four of the most powerful among the men who had called themselves the Dragon Reborn, all long ago, before Artur Hawkwing. "Six Aes Sedai tried to capture Stonebow, and he killed three and captured the others himself. Six tried to take Amalasan; he killed one and stilled two more. Surely Rand is as strong as Stonebow or Amalasan."

- Lord of Chaos, The Sending.

A strong channeller can over come six Aes Sedai and they are only five. Were Illeisien’s group actually in cahoots with Coladara and co all along? Together they make exactly thirteen. How...exactly fortuitous.

Deceptive appearances indeed.


Dida said...

How fortuitous, indeed! ;o)

There were more hints about Far Madding being the real end goal destination for the Borderlander's army in Winter's Heart book, IRRC too. Low costs, lots of food because of trade, and many borderlander's present in the city then, according to Rand's pov.

I likewise found it, curious that Suroth delivered a letter to Masema, and then later made an alliance with a foreign King to deliver lands (Illian) to the Seanchan Empire. That foreign King, should be King Roedran of Murandy, I think.

Getting back to your short essay, shouldn't the Black Ajah members with the Borderland Rulers already have some sort of back door communication system to Mesaana? Who then communicates to Semirhage, about the what Seanchan intentions are. Of course Semirhage, never did tell Mesaana about the "raid", laugh....

One would think the topic of Illian, Murandy and the Borderlanders placement came up between Demandred, Semirhage and Mesaana off scene?

Linda said...

It depends on who sent and of the Aes Sedai inclluding possible Black Ajah to the Borderlands. For instance, ages ago Moghedien sent various Black sisters on missions, some of which we have not seen again.

The Forsaken aren't big on telling each other anything so who can say what they divulged and what they didn't. Or what lies they told to each other. Maybe we will find out, maybe not. Plenty of things have been withheld from the reader, too.

Dida said...

True, Moghedien does send Rianna, Jeaine Caide, Berylla Naron on some unknown tasks (tFoH),Ch.18), from Liandrin's point of view, and none have been seen in a long time.

As for the Borderlands rulers armies being possibly a destination; ,how did two separate groups of Aes Sedai (Saldaea, Kandor) later become +50 Aes Sedai by the time these armies ended up on the northern border of Andor, according to Elayne's Kin spies?

Rianna Andomeran is a native from Kandori, (speculation -->) why couldn't she alternatively be tied to a future invasion of her native land or one of the other Borderlands states?

There has been hints at a dark future of Kandor elsewhere in the series, as you yourself have mentions as well.

Jeaine Caide was sent off to some unknown task, yet she was the first of Liandrin's group to mention this:

“The Forsaken,” Jeaine muttered, folding her arms tightly; thin white silk molded her breasts even more revealingly. “What good are promises that we will rule the world when the Great Lord returns if we are crushed between warring Forsaken first? Does anyone believe we could stand against any of them?” (tSR, Ch.38 "Hidden Faces")

Will Jeaine flee from the Shadow, as Talene Minly did the Supreme Council in Tar Valon?

Laugh, the Forsaken would prefer to kill each other off. Of course they're not telling each other the total truth, as each of them has a separate agenda.

Timmay said...

I'm surprised the Shadow didn't steer the Borderlanders more in the direction of the Seanchan, whom I don't believe we've ever seen the Borderland rulers discuss, with each other or with Elayne.

Linda said...

The Seanchan were always aimed at the White Tower because they had the means for dealing with it. The Borderlanders have been carefully aimed at Rand, again by the Shadow. Both groups need all their resources to do neutralise or at least damage their respective targets (and themselves) so the Shadow would discourage them from considering other problem groups.

Macster said...

The fact we now know, courtesy of Towers of Midnight, that Paitar wanted to test Rand's readiness for the Last Battle and his claim to being the Dragon Reborn via prophecy, and the others (except Tenobia) were there to support him, seems to say that the Borderlander army really had nothing to do with the Shadow. But them being out of position, and all those Aes Sedai who just happened to number thirteen, is still suspicious. Perhaps Darkfriends or Black Ajah were still responsible for the alliance by encouraging Paitar to tell the others of the prophecy, then encouraging Ethenielle and Tenobia's anger so they would all go after Rand with their armies. After Rand gets the Borderlanders behind him, Cadsuane mentions wanting to talk to the sisters, but no mention is made of who they are or their allegiances, nor do we see this meeting. Only AMoL will reveal this to us...

@Dida: That idea is rather attractive, since Semirhage could have told Suroth to give that letter to Masema, and she is allied with Demandred whom some theorize is either posing as Roedran or has compelled him/infiltrated his court.

As for the missing members of Liandrin's coven, I'm convinced Rianna and Berylla were manipulating Masema. No idea about Jeaine--sent to the Seanchan back in Tanchico? To the Whitecloaks? To Taim?