Monday, May 24, 2010

Crossroads of Twilight Read-through #4: Meeting at Cross Purposes

By Linda

People complain that if only the characters would talk with each other, things could be sorted out. Yet in Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm, Logain and Rand do talk, and a fat lot of good it was. Rand’s meeting with Logain, Bashere and Loial actually made things more divisive.

Bashere wanted to talk to Rand first, and alone. Considering that his news was that the Shadow were after the Seals, this was quite reasonable. Logain also thought his news about what Taim is doing and the danger he represents was deserving of a private report:

Bashere and Logain both wanted to talk to him, but not in front of anyone, especially each other it seemed... [The Aes Sedai with Logain were] not prisoners, and certainly not guards, but Logain had been reluctant to explain with Bashere present, and Bashere reluctant to leave Logain the first chance to talk to Rand alone.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

Bashere sees Logain, or perhaps all men who Bond Aes Sedai, as a threat:

Bashere spent more time peering into his winecup than looking at anything else, but whenever his eyes touched Logain, he unconsciously ran a thumb along his sword hilt. Rand thought it was unconscious.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

This is quite different compared to his attitude to the Asha’man who fought in Altara. It is a pity Rand didn’t hear the men out separately, starting with Bashere.

Bashere’s obvious distrust of Logain, and Min’s comments on her viewings, particularly regarding Logain perhaps thinking he is the Dragon Reborn, don’t help:

“You have to do something” Min muttered, folding her arms beneath her breasts. “Logain’s aura still speaks of glory, stronger than ever. Maybe he still thinks he’s the real Dragon Reborn. And there’s something . . . dark . . . in the images I saw around Lord Davram. If he turns against you, or dies. . . . I heard one of the soldiers say Lord Dobraine might die. Losing even one of them would be a blow. Lose all three, and it might take you a year to recover.”

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

It's typical of Rand at this stage that he focussed on the former and not on the latter warning. Rand went to the meeting feeling antagonistic thanks to Min, and practically brandished his dragons in Logain’s face. Then he wondered why Logain wasn’t receptive to Rand’s own news that he cleansed saidin. Of course that also depends on how Logain was informed of it.

Logain’s report was:

“I assumed it came from you.” His eyes moved slightly in Bashere’s direction, and his mouth tightened. “Taim does a great many things people think are at your direction,” he went on reluctantly, “but he has his own plans. Flinn and Narishma and Manfor are on the deserters’ list, like every Asha’man you kept with you. And he has a coterie of twenty or thirty he keeps close and trains privately. Every man who wears the Dragon is one of that group except me, and he’d have kept the Dragon from me, if he dared. No matter what you’ve done, it is time to turn your eyes to the Black Tower before Taim splits it worse than the White Tower is. If he does, you’ll find the larger part is loyal to him, not you. They know him. Most have never even seen you.”

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

Taim is trying to remove the Asha’man close to Rand because they aren’t the ones he suggested – the Darkfriend ones he suggested.

Rand disregards Logain’s warning that Taim gives private classes to prospective Dreadlords and advances them faster than other Asha’man. Logain and Rand refuse to believe each other; refuse to acknowledge each other’s standing. Rand sees Logain as feeling competitive toward Taim and to Rand. He's also miffed that Logain doesn't believe Rand cleansed saidin. And he knows from Min that Logain has great glory to come. Logain sees Rand as allowing an evil to perpetuate and also as domineering. And he knows from Min that he will have great glory. They'd both rather be the only bull in the paddock, but they aren't.

What Logain assumed came from Rand is the order to capture Toveine’s expedition. It is not the Bonding of the Aes Sedai that Logain is talking about since the Asha’man state that Taim was furious at them Bonding any (The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit), so it was obviously not part of his orders.

It was partly Rand’s pique that Logain didn’t believe Rand had done the impossible that led Rand to discount Logain’s assessment of the danger Taim presents and to think Taim is a problem he can face another day. He could not be more wrong.

Rand decided to make truce with the Seanchan at this time because of Bashere’s report on the attempt to get Seals and Logain’s report on Taim:

The seals on the Dark One’s prison on one hand, Taim splitting the Asha’man on the other. Was the seventh seal already broken? Was the Shadow beginning the opening moves of the Last Battle? “You told me something once, Bashere. If your enemy offers you two targets. . . . “
“Strike at a third,” Bashere finished promptly, and Rand nodded. He had already decided, anyway. Thunder rattled the windows till the casements shook. The storm was strengthening. “I can’t fight the Shadow and the Seanchan at the same time. I am sending the three of you to arrange a truce with the Seanchan.” Bashere and Logain seemed stunned into silence. Until they began to argue, one on top of the other. Loial just looked ready to faint.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

His three aides are not keen on Rand putting aside two important problems to potentially making a third problem. As Cadsuane spelled out to Rand, a truce with the Seanchan effectively legitimises their takeover of territory and will therefore be unpopular with most nobles. He might gain an alliance with the Seanchan, but he'll antagonise his mainland allies or potential allies. (With true brilliance Rand ends up antagonising almost all his allies in The Gathering Storm.)

Misled by Min and by his own feelings of resentment and competition, Rand distrusts Logain when he’s actually among the most loyal of the Asha’man.

Rand’s link to Moridin was making Rand strongly nauseous and dizzy at this stage. By The Gathering Storm the link had greatly corrupted Rand’s judgement and Rand’s treatment of Logain could be an early manifestation of this corruption.

My next post will compare Rand’s links to Moridin and to Mat and Perrin.

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