Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Analysis of Minor Characters #3: Gaul

By Linda

Like Talmanes, who I discussed last week, Gaul is a skilled warrior who also happens to be a thinking man:

“The world is changing,” Gaul said quietly. “Rhuarc, and Jheran, my own clan chief - the Wise Ones, too - they tried to hide it, but they were uneasy when they sent us across the Dragonwall searching for He Who Comes With the Dawn. I think perhaps the change will not be what we have always believed. I do not know how it will be different, but it will be. The Creator put us in the Three-fold Land to shape us as well as to punish our sin, but for what have we been shaped?*” He shook his head suddenly, ruefully. “Colinda, the Wise One of Hot Springs Hold, tells me I think too much for a Stone Dog, and Bair, the eldest Wise One of the Shaarad, threatens to send me to Rhuidean when Jheram dies whether I want to go or not. Beside all of that, Perrin, what does the color of a man’s eyes matter?”

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

and a good reader of people:

“There is more, Brandelwyn al’Vere,” Gaul said. “Your face says so.”
“There is,” Bran agreed.

- The Shadow Rising, Homecoming

Min told Perrin that Gaul, the Aielman in a cage in her viewing, would be an important figure in Perrin’s life. There are a few ways he has made a contribution.

Firstly, after Perrin told Gaul where Rand, He Who Comes With the Dawn was, he probably passed this information on to other Aiel who were on the search:

“You’re a long way from home, Gaul. Why are you here?”
“We search,” Gaul said slowly. “We look for He Who Comes With the Dawn.”
Perrin had heard that name before, under circumstances that made him sure who it meant. Light, it always comes back to Rand. I am tied to him like a mean horse for shoeing. “You are looking in the wrong direction, Gaul. I’m looking for him, too, and he is on his way to Tear.”
“Tear?” The Aiel sounded surprised. “Why . . . ? But it must be. Prophecy says when the Stone of Tear falls, we will leave the Three-fold Land at last.” That was the Aiel name for the Waste. “It says we will be changed, and find again what was ours, and was lost.…
Tear; I will remember it.”

- The Dragon Reborn, A Different Dance

(Another group figured this out after encountering Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne in Cairhien.) By this action the Aiel took the Stone as Rand took Callandor, fulfilling an important prophecy.

One way in which Gaul has been important for Perrin personally is the example he sets Perrin. Perrin was amazed at Gaul’s fighting prowess but at the same time reluctantly had to recognise that he isn’t so bad himself:

When he finally stood, panting and nearly stunned, looking at a dozen white-cloaked men lying on the paving blocks of the square, the moon appeared not to have moved at all. Some of the men groaned; others lay silent and still. Gaul stood among them, still veiled, still empty-handed. Most of the men down were his work. Perrin wished they all were, and felt ashamed. The smell of blood and death was sharp and bitter.
“You do not dance the spears badly, Perrin Aybara.”

- The Dragon Reborn, A Different Dance

Of all his abilities, it is that of killing, even when necessary, which Perrin has most loathed. Gaul also shows Perrin how to accept fate and continue on calmly,

“Gaul?” The Aiel raised his head. “It may be worse in the Two Rivers than I thought.”
“Things often are,” Gaul replied quietly. “It is the way of life.” The Aielman calmly put his head down for sleep.

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

rather than try to duck it, or waste energy railing against it.

Gaul’s relationship with Bain and Chiad mirrors that of Perrin’s with Faile and Berelain. Perrin even met Faile the night he freed Gaul. Each man is stuck with two women, one they love and one they don’t, and can’t seem to get the one they want all to themselves. This is all the more amusing because Bain and Chiad only joined Faile and Perrin because they were intrigued by their relationship:

“Bain says they wish to see more of your lands, but I think it is the argument between you and Faile which fascinates them. They like her, and when they heard of this journey, they decided to go with her instead of you.”
“Well, as long as they keep her out of trouble.” He was surprised when Gaul threw back his head and laughed. It made him scratch his beard worriedly.

- The Shadow Rising, Into the Ways

Yet the two Maidens were soon caught up in their own triangle with Gaul. At first Perrin and Gaul both sat on the outer in the Two Rivers, wishing they could show the women they didn’t long for their company:

“Do you know any funny stories?”
“Funny stories? I cannot think of one, offhand.” Gaul’s eyes half-turned to the other fire, and the laughter. “I would if I could. The sun, remember?”
Perrin laughed noisily and made his voice loud enough to carry. “I do. Women!” The hilarity in the other camp faded for a moment before rising again. That should show them. Other people could laugh. Perrin stared glumly into the fire. His wounds ached.

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

Gaul even compared Faile to a Maiden of the Spear:

“Early, then.” Gaul hesitated. “You will not drive her off. That one is almost Far Dareis Mai, and if a Maiden loves you, you cannot escape her however hard you run.”

- The Shadow Rising, Homecoming

and Berelain, Perrin’s stalker, can defend herself too, even if she doesn’t fight with actual weapons.

Like Faile, Chiad was unwilling to love at first and sometimes goes too far with her teasing games:

"Tam al'Thor and Abell Cauthon move well for wetlanders, but these Whitecloaks are too stiff to see everything that moves in the dark, I think. I think they expect their enemies to come in numbers, and where they can be seen."
Chiad turned amused gray eyes on the Aielman. "Do you mean to move like wind then, Stone Dog? It will be diverting to see a Stone Dog try to move lightly. When my spear-sister and I have rescued the prisoners, perhaps we will go back for you, if you are too old to find your own way." Bain touched her arm, and she looked at the flame-haired woman in surprise. After a moment, she flushed slightly under her tan.

- The Shadow Rising, A New Weave in the Pattern

Bain thought Gaul had made a good point and this was not the place for mockery. It only made Chiad look frivolous.

After the Battle of Emond’s Field Gaul and Chiad held hands, a very public demonstration of love on Aiel terms, and this mirrors the marriage ceremony of Perrin and Faile a couple of chapters before, during which they held hands.

In the Two Rivers Chiad threatened to make Gaul gai’shain if he didn’t let her tend his wounds (The Shadow Rising, The Price of a Departure) but ironically Chiad and Bain ended up gai’shain to him:

"Gaul searched the entire Shaido camp to find me, and reports say he defeated twelve algai'd'siswai with his spear. Perhaps I shall have to make a bridal wreath for him after all, once this is all through."
Faile smiled.
Chiad smiled back. "He did not expect that one of the men he killed would turn out to be the one to whom ain was gai'shain. I do not think Gaul is happy to have both of us serving him."
"Foolish man," Bain—the taller of the two—said. "Very like him to not watch where he jabbed his spear. He couldn't kill the right man without accidentally slaying a few others." Both women chuckled.

- The Gathering Storm, Embers and Ash

They tease Gaul as much as ever:

"Perhaps Gaul would like his back rubbed again, or water fetched for him. He grows so angry when we ask, but gai'shain gain honor only through service. What else are we to do?"
The women laughed again,

- The Gathering Storm, Embers and Ash

Faile used to toy with Perrin but her captivity seems to have cured her of this. On the whole, Perrin’s relationship is more resolved than Gaul’s. Both men still have the unwanted ‘other’ around though. As part of the aftermath of Malden, it is up to Faile to deal with Berelain. Bain and Chiad are bound as sisters and share a man with each other. The only resolutions to the situation might be for Gaul to come to love Bain too, or for Bain to be killed during the Last Battle.

Faile laid down a bridal wreath to Perrin – insisted on a wedding before she would leave the Emond’s Field battle zone. Chiad told Gaul she won’t make a bridal wreath:

Gaul wanted Chiad to marry him, but by Aiel custom, she had to ask him, and though according to Faile she was willing to become his lover, she would not give up the spear and marry. He seemed as affronted as a Two Rivers girl would have been in the same circumstance. Bain seemed to be part of it too, somehow; Perrin did not understand how. Faile professed not to know, if a bit too quickly, and Gaul grew sullen when asked.

- Lord of Chaos, A Bitter Thought

Gaul confirms this and explains more:

"Chiad told me she would not lay a bridal wreath at my feet; she actually told me." The Aielman sounded scandalized. "She said she would take me for a lover, her and Bain, but no more." Another time that would have shocked Perrin, though he had heard it before; Aiel were incredibly ... free ... about such things. “As if I am not good enough for a husband." Gaul snorted angrily. "I do not like Bain, but I would marry her to make Chiad happy. If Chiad will not make a bridal wreath, she should stop trying to entice me. If I cannot catch her interest well enough for her to marry me, she should let me go...She avoids me, but every time I see her, she pauses long enough to make sure I have seen her. I do not know how you wetlanders do it, but with us, that is one of the ways a woman uses. When you least expect her, she is in your eyes, then gone. I did not even know she was with the Maidens until this morning."
"You mean she's here?" Perrin whispered. That icicle was back, now a blade, hollowing him out. "And Bain? Here, too?"
Gaul shrugged. "One is seldom far from the other. But it is Chiad's interest I want, not Bain's."

- A Crown of Swords, Hill of the Golden Dawn

This is the reverse of Perrin and Faile. Chiad won’t marry Gaul but can’t bring herself to reject him either. Gaul doesn’t really appreciate why. If Chiad marries him, either she breaks with Bain or Bain gives up the spear too. Yet Gaul doesn’t love Bain, so that’s too great a sacrifice for her. Bain’s death in battle is also a way for the quandary to be resolved.

Now that Chiad and Bain are Gaul’s gai’shain, he is more hopeful that they will marry. Chiad seems to be considering it too. Bain hasn’t indicated what she wishes to do.

Perrin thought he shouldn’t marry Faile, but couldn’t drive her away for her own good or conclusively reject Berelain either.

One of Perrin’s issues is leadership and Gaul mirrors this too in a much lesser way. Gaul is a future contender for clan chief and the Maidens acknowledge his potential as well as their acceptance of his love and his suit for their spear sister by allowing him to lead them in the search for the captives:

There was something else odd about their departure, he realized as the last Maiden went by. They were letting Gaul lead. Normally, any of them would have stuck a spear in him before allowing that. Why...? Maybe...Chiad and Bain would have been with Faile. Gaul did not care one way of the other about Bain, but Chiad was a different matter. The Maidens certainly had not been encouraging Gaul's hope that Chiad would give up the spear to marry him—anything but!—yet maybe that was it.

- Winter’s Heart, Taken

Both men are desperate to find and liberate their beloved:

"I have to find her first, Perrin Aybara." There was something in the Aiel's voice, something in his scent, that Perrin could only call heartache. He understood the sorrow of thinking the woman you loved might be lost to you forever.

- Knife of Dreams, Outside the Gates

Back in A Crown of Swords, Hill of the Golden Dawn, Perrin’s declaration that he would let the whole world burn if it kept Faile safe dismayed Gaul:

"Burn the Pattern," Perrin growled. "It can all burn, if it keeps her safe." Loial's ears went rigid with shock, and even Gaul looked taken aback.

Since Aiel are sticklers for obligation and responsibility, Gaul might still disapprove of the sentiment, but after Chiad was made captive I imagine he at least understood.

* I agree with Gaul. I think that there are more changes to come for the Aiel. Much more drastic ones.

(For those interested, I have written an essay on the themes and parallels I see in each of Perrin and Faile).


Hinkel said...

Good stuff, Linda. I'm starting to look forward to these minor character highlights almost as much as new chapter releases.

luvtheedragon said...

great stuff....keep on rolling....