Friday, October 1, 2010

Towers Of Midnight Prologue: Scene 4

By Linda

This post discusses the fourth POV of the Prologue of Towers of Midnight, available at and selected ebook retailers.

My commentary is hidden under the link because it contains spoilers.

Click here to expand the rest of this post


The long promised dead mules that show Jordan’s credentials as a Southern writer feature in this scene:

Nearby, bulbous forms floated down in the river, to catch upon rocks. Some were the corpses of men, but many were larger. Mules, he realized, catching a better look at a snout. Dozens of them. They’d been dead for some time, judging by the bloat.
Likely, a village upstream had been attacked for its food. This wasn’t the first group of dead they’d found.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

If people are fighting over food, it’s a wonder the mules weren’t eaten instead of let float down the river.

The Children of the Light are lost in gloom and discomfort. While everyone is moaning about the mire, the corruption and the vermin, Galad notices that there are healthy and beautiful patches. He thinks the rottenness and the mire are testing the Children, but actually it also symbolises them. Only Galad can see the potential for good in the situation or find the way out of their problems – though like he said, it was a difficult way.

Galad could have taken the Children back, as Bornhald wished, but refused to; he was correct when he said that it would lead to the past. A confrontation with the Questioners lies ahead and Galad’s nobility and goodness will hopefully weaken the authority of the Questioners.

Doing what was right was the most important thing in life. It required any sacrifice. At this time, the right thing to do was flee. Galad could not face Asunawa; the High Inquisitor was backed by the Seanchan. Besides, the Last Battle was more important.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Since he is fleeing towards Asunawa, he will have to face him. If he survives that, he can then focus the Children on the Last Battle.

There is much in this scene about Whitecloak beliefs as well as Galad’s beliefs:

Valda--the Lord Captain Commander before Galad--had turned out to be a murderer and a rapist.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Galad is only half right. When he finds out Morgase alive and that therefore half his justification for killing Valda was false, he may well have a crisis of conscience. Contrary to the Children’s belief, the truth wasn’t validated by ordeal under the Light.

“If the Lord Captain Commander’s cause had been honorable, would he have fallen to me in a battle under the Light? If I were a Darkfriend, could I have slain the Lord Captain Commander himself?”
Harnesh didn’t answer, but Galad could almost see the thoughts in his head. The Shadow might display strength at times, but the Light always revealed and destroyed it. It was possible for the Lord Captain Commander to fall to a Darkfriend--it was possible for any man to fall. But in a duel before the other Children? A duel for honor, under the Light?

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Trial by ordeal was a belief prevalent in Medieval and earlier times. Whitecloaks dress in medieval style too. The rest of the mainland has attitudes and technology (except in the case of weaponry) of 16th to 18th centuries.

The Whitecloaks’ faith leads them to fatalism:

“Tell me, do the Children of Light surrender?”
Golever shook his head. “We do not. The Light will prove us victorious.”
“And if we face superior odds?” Galad asked.
“We fight on.”
“If we are tired and sore?”
“The Light will protect us,” Golever said. “And if it is our time to die, then so be it. Let us take as any enemies with us as we may.”
Galad turned back to Asunawa. “You see that I am in a predicament. To fight is to let you names us Darkfriends, but to surrender is to deny our oaths. By my honor as the Lord Captain Commander, I can accept neither option.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

just as belief in the Pattern and its revelation though prophecy does for other mainland groups. Not all the Children follow the Karaethon Cycle, especially the leadership. Niall thought it legend:

The Last Battle truly was coming. Not the Tarmon Gai’don of legend, with the Dark One breaking free to be faced by the Dragon Reborn. Not that, he was sure. The Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends might have made a hole in the Dark One’s prison at Shayol Ghul, but Lews Therin Kinslayer and his Hundred Companions had sealed it up again. The counterstroke had tainted the male half of the True Source forever and driven them mad, and so begun the Breaking, but one of those ancient Aes Sedai could do what ten of the Tar Valon witches of today could not. The seals they had made would hold.
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.

- The Dragon Reborn, Prologue

Rand al'Thor was a false Dragon and a tool of the Tower. The world was full of fools who could not think. The Last Battle would not be some titanic struggle between the Dark One and a Dragon Reborn, a mere man. The Creator had abandoned mankind to its own devices long ago. No, when Tarmon Gai'don came, it would be as in the Trolloc Wars two thousand years ago and more, when hordes of Trollocs and other Shadowspawn poured out of the Great Blight, tore through the Borderlands and nearly drowned humanity in a sea of blood.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

Asunawa calls it heresy:

“The Last Battle comes, Asunawa. We haven’t time for squabbling. The Dragon Reborn walks the land.”
“Heresy!” Asunawa said.
“Yes,” Galad said. “And truth as well.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Some Aes Sedai consider male channellers as heretical and the extremists see them as tainted or abandoned of the Light (apostate) (The Dragon Reborn, The Price of the Ring), or even as unbelievers (see Aes Sedai Attitudes to Male Channellers article).

Galad doesn’t seem concerned that the fulfilment of prophecy – or what is truly happening – is heretical. His junior officer also accept the existence of the Dragon Reborn and Galad’s statement that they will ally with Rand against the Shadow.

“It’s a good plan though,” Trom said, then lowered his voice. “I’ll admit, Damodred. I worried that you’d refuse leadership.”
“I could not. To abandon the Children now, after killing their leader, would be wrong.”
Trom smiled. “It’s as simple as that to you, isn’t it?”
“It should be as simple as that to anyone.” Galad had to rise to the station he had been given. He had no other option. “The Last Battle comes and the Children of the Light will fight. Even if we have to make alliances with the Dragon Reborn himself, we will fight.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

The last sentence foreshadows that the Whitecloaks will do so.

Bornhald and Trom don’t call Galad Lord Captain Commander or my Lord. They also try to advise him. Galad impresses them almost against their inclination. In contrast, Byar does give Galad his title and is overly inspired by his speech.

Galad inspires the Children rather than bullies them:

However, memories of lessons Morgase had taught--lessons he hadn’t understood in his youth--were nagging at him. Lead by example. Require strength, but first show it.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

He not only shows strength, but also in a short while, goodness and nobility.

“Where is the victory of this swamp? I refuse to feel its bite, for I am proud. Proud to live in these days, proud to be part of what is to come. All the lives that came before us in this Age looked forward to our day, the day when men will be tested.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Galad’s speech about the swamp foreshadows that he will refuse to be weakened or corrupted by Whitecloak attitudes or the Questioners.

In this scene Galad mirrors Egwene. Both were delivered into the hands of their opponents by supposedly loyal personnel, athough Galad was trying to avoid his opponent while Egwene was making a strike against hers. Elaida said Egwene was a Darkfriend to justify attacking her with the Power. The Questioners have no need of hypocrisy or restraint - or do they? Asunawa seems to consider Galad easy prey but he was quickly out reasoned just as Elaida was by Egwene.

Asunawa appears to lie, or else he’s as good as Elaida in convincing himself he saw what he needed to see:

“But I would not call that fight fair. You drew on the powers of Shadow; I saw you standing in darkness despite the daylight, and I saw the Dragon’s Fang sprout on your forehead. Valda never had a chance.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Ironically it was Valda who told us Asunawa never actually lies (A Crown of Swords, Prologue). Asunawa is more concerned about power and influence than the welfare of the men.

“You cannot hinder the Hand of Light in such a way! This would give them free rein to seek the Shadow!”
“And is it only fear of questioning that keeps us in line, Asunawa?” Galad asked. “Are not the Children valiant and true?”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

A lot of this is a power grab. Valda owed Asunawa his position to the extent they collaborated to assassinate Niall. (Asunawa then threatened to get someone else as Lord Captain Commander, but Valda foresaw this and brought forces into the Fortress (A Crown of Swords, Prologue)). Galad is more revered than Asunawa is feared and owes him nothing, therefore with him as Lord Captain Commander Asunawa would lose power and influence.

Asunawa’s influence is reduced further by Galad’s noble gesture:

“Galad,” Bornhald said softly. “Don’t do this. We can fight. The Light will protect us!”
“If we fight, we will kill good men, Child Bornhald,” Galad said, without turning. “Each stroke of our swords will be a blow for the Dark One. The Children are the only true foundation that this world has left. We are needed. If my life is what is demanded to bring unity, then so be it. You would do the same, I believe.” He met Asunawa’s eyes.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

He is definitely leading by example which is why Bornhald finally acknowledges his title:

Galad turned his sword and handed it out to Bornhald. “Return to our men; tell them what happened here, and do not let them fight or try to rescue me. That is an order.”
Bornhald met his eyes, then slowly took the sword. At last, he saluted. “Yes, my Lord Captain Commander.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Galad owed Bornhald and Trom for their support, but now they owe him. And so ultimately will all the Whitecloaks – except Asunawa and maybe the other Questioners.

Overall a great scene which really brought Galad into his own and showed us his thoughts.


Aaron said...

I dunno...the Galad chapter felt the most "un-Jordan" like to alot of ways I've appreciated sandersons quicker style, and have to admit I enjoyed TGS far more than the preceeding 4-5 books because of that...but the galad chapter just didn't ring true for me. It was too easy, the Asunawa/Galad debate seemed almost high school or juvenile in its, "So there!" Galad triple-snaps. You just needed Bornhald to say, "Burn!" after one of Galads one-liners. I don't think Jordan wouldve written it that way (or in less than 100 I admit there is a plus side to sandersons style).

Again, many thanks. Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you made no mention of a betrayal. Not sure of the correct spelling but Bartlett (or Barlett?) betrayed Galad to Asunawa and I'm curious if the swamp was more time consuming because of (as my 1st impression was the Dark Ones touch changed the layout of the land) intentional misdirection by this disloyal scout?

Linda said...

I do need to add something about the betrayal to this post. Since the swamp represents not only the corruption of the land, but also that of the Children, the disloyal scouts - and one would not have been enough - probably did make the most of the swamp. Or maybe the Shadow ‘obliged’ for them. There’s not much difference - not in the effect, anyway. The more evil intent around, the easier for the Dark One to make changes.

Aaron: Egwene played 'snap' with Elaida. And with a similar result.

SteelBlaidd said...

It's Important also to recognize that in both cases Egwene and Galad are arguing to their audience more than their opponent.

I think Elayne might find her brother some what more tolerable to be around now. He's learned to recognize that You cant force right behavior in others. You have to inspire it.

Frank said...

Looking at Elayne who, for all her occasional bouts of total annoyingness, seems like she's going to be a good ruler, and Galad, who looks to be shaping up the same, one wonders where oh where poor Morgase went wrong with Gawyn. Though I guess he did okay with the Younglings. But they weren't ultimately loyal to HIM, were they?

Anyway, I'm glad we're finally getting Galad some awesomeness. I've always thought he got a bum rap.

Linda said...

SteelBlaidd: Very true. It will be interesting to see how they relate now. I'm not sure that they can express themselves freely. Galad is so reasoned and Elayne quite passionate.

Frank: Until now we've not know if Galad even has any estates of his own. He should have extensive lands in Cairhien too, from his father.

Both Gawyn and Galad suffer from being left out and not given important jobs. They were training for those when everything went chaotic. Gald joined the Children and found decent employment.

Gawyn stayed where he was - and was NOT valued. The Younglings were always the Tower's. Gawyn was always Egwene's - but now she is also the Tower. He has to understand that and support her. it's a similar role as what he should have given his sister.

Frank said...

I wonder what Galad's plan WAS, before the whole Tower thing drove him to the Whitecloaks. I mean, Gawyn was going to be Prince of the Sword, but what about him? I don't think they ever really said; maybe no one ever really thought about it. He really has had a difficult life; part of his uprightness must have been a reaction to losing his mother and then probably feeling like he had to atone for his scoundrel of a father. Probably also felt he had to prove himself to Andor and Morgase.

Linda said...

Frank: I'm not sure if Galad even had any plan. The Andorans appear to have been careful to keep him away from Cairhien. That was probably a good idea considering what went on there.

It wasn't just his father who was a scoundrel - all the Damodreds (even in a way Moiraine since she is an Aes Sedai) had a bad reputation.

As a child Galad always 'told' on the other kids (and also on himself) so he was unpopular with them. That wouldn't have helped.

Morgase said she gave him extra care to make up for his early childhood. But that didn't include giving him much to do. He has suffered much from being the reserve Prince of the sword and nothing more. A disgrace, really, considering his potential, but that's what happened a lot in royal families.

TheWheelWeaves... said...

I've always wondered why Cairhien and the Children of the Light shared the same sigil, or 'logo', if you will.

Symbolism in this manner always held meaning in RJ's writings (i.e. Seanchan ravens and Shadow ravens; Seanchan are corrupt and represent evil in a way, as they are invaders to Randland and hold captive women who can channel.)

So why Cairhien and the Whitecloaks?

Your previous comments got me thinking. The matter of the ruler of Cairhien has been discussed enough that it should be significant, yet Elayne has barely even given thought to the throne there, and Rand pretty much controls the land anyway.

But...what about Galad? He could be a good candidate for the throne, especially if things dont work out with him as a whitecloak.

That would tie in quite nicely with his upcoming relationship with Berelain, as she was put in charge of Cairhien by Rand for some time.

Linda said...

TWW: One thing both Cairhien and the Children have in common is their austerity, although they go for opposite colour schemes. Neither group has lived up to the symbolism of the Sun/Dawn - Cairhien scheming and corrupt, the Whitecloaks extremist and bullying.

Galad is a viable King of Cairhien but may not be 'free' in time to make a claim. Until now Elayne has had her hands full with establishing herself in Caemlyn, but she already made a claim to the Cairhien throne via a letter had Norry draft.

Anonymous said...

My vote is that with Amadicia now owned by the Seanchan and Amador either captured or destroyed, Galad moves the remnants of the Children to Cairhien and both the country and the army end up better off for it.