Friday, March 18, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #7: Chapter 5 - A Tale of Blood

By Linda


Rand's POV

For some reason the Pattern apparently keeps certain Aes Sedai close by Rand:

The Pattern had no place for his onetime insistence that all Aes Sedai be kept at arm's length. It wove as it willed, and experience had shown that Rand needed these Aes Sedai. What he wanted no longer mattered.
He understood that now.

The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

Rand certainly needs Nynaeve (and Alivia); and Cadsuane of course is going to teach all the Asha’man something. The others are much less obvious in importance, but this may be deceptive.

Rand is tempted to trust Corele because she helped Heal him of Fain’s wound. Is he as wrong as he was with Elza, whom he thought pleasant? (At the end of The Gathering Storm Corele pales at the thought of what is at stake in the war: the Dark One breaking the Pattern, so perhaps she is not a Darkfriend).

The two pains of Rand’s side wound are equal. Equal and opposite, but not cancelling each other out as they did at Shadar Logoth, and as Flinn expected they would. Rand believes one or both of the side wounds will spill his blood at Shayol Ghul.

According to the swirling visions Rand sees, Mat is dicing with the Band outside a city – this might be Trustair, but it is not a city, so Caemlyn is more likely. Rand uses the visions as a useful tool now; for instance, he noticed that Tuon has been gone a while from Mat’s side. Perrin will do the same in Towers of Midnight and I guess Mat maybe in A Memory of Light. Mat’s usually last to accept esoteric stuff.

Rand’s demeanour is autocratic and unreasonable unless people show him how hurtful this is:

"I expect no delays. I know you do not like being forced to keep your agreement, but I will suffer no lagging to prove a point. People die because of your slowness."
Harine looked as if she'd been slapped. "Surely," she said, "the Coramoor does not imply that we would not keep to our Bargain."
The Sea Folk were stubborn and prideful, Wavemistresses more than most. They were like an entire race of Aes Sedai. He hesitated. I should not insult her so, not because I am frustrated about other things.

The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

Rand is currently as arrogant as any Aes Sedai himself. In Towers of Midnight he will become like an Age of Legends Aes Sedai.

The Sea Folk either make their male channellers walk the plank or maroon them. These executions were used by real world pirates. Male Sea Folk costume also follows the clothing style of 16th-17th century corsairs and pirates ( see Costume article).

Rand is bitter that no one believes saidin is clean because it could be a delusion, when such an “impossible thing” – one of Rand’s nine, see theory – is a great achievement.

Lews Therin’s memory of Jorlen Corbesan is clear to Rand, much to his horror:

Oh, Light, Rand thought with despair. I'm losing myself. Losing myself in him.
The most terrifying part was that Rand could no longer make himself wish to banish Lews Therin. Lews Therin had known a way to seal the Bore, if imperfectly, but Rand had no idea how to approach the task.
The safety of the world might depend on the memories of a dead madman.

The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

Yet despite this fear, at the end of the book Rand gets extensive past lives memories without losing himself in them. Unfortunately none of these include anything about Sealing the Bore as far as Rand can tell.

In this scene Rand is conscious of the state of mind of those around him, more than he has been in a while. He thinks of Flinn:

Flinn had come to Rand because he wanted to learn Healing.
Rand had turned him into a weapon instead.

The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

Rand feels guilty about this, which is at odds with the harshness leaking through his bond to Moridin. After his epiphany Rand realises that Asha’man are not weapons – or should not be:

"Tell them that I was wrong. Tell them that we're not weapons. We're men.”

Towers of Midnight, A Testing

Elza didn’t say Rand had cleansed the taint until Corelle openly supported Rand. Her explanation of why people are reluctant to accept that saidin is clean is right, though:

"Yes," Elza said, "but be that as it is, you must realize how difficult it will be for others to believe this, Lord Dragon.
During the Time of Madness, it took decades for some people to accept that the male Aes Sedai were doomed to go insane. It will likely take longer for them to overcome their distrust, now that it has been ingrained for so long."

The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

Rand wants to leave something positive and lasting in the world:

What would happen when he died? Wars and devastation to match the Breaking? He hadn't been able to help that last time, for his madness and grief at Ilyena's death had consumed him. Could he prevent something similar this time? Did he have a choice?
He was ta'veren. The Pattern bent and shaped around him. And yet, he had quickly learned one thing from being a king: the more authority you gained, the less control you had over your life. Duty was truly heavier than a mountain; it forced his hand as often as the prophecies did. Or were they both one and the same? Duty and prophecy? His nature as a ta'veren and his place in history? Could he change his life?
Could he leave the world better for his passing, rather than leaving the nations scarred, torn and bleeding?

The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

In The Shadow Rising He Who Comes With The Dawn, Rand said that the thought he is destined to break the world horrified him. So perhaps for his third question he asked the Aelfinn how to prevent this (see The Aelfinn's Answers).

Fulfilling prophecy is Rand’s duty:

My power and influence are meaningless against fate. My freedom is all just an illusion, Flinn.

The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

No one has any answer to that.

Cadsuane's POV

Semirhage ignores Merise’s questions and tells her alarming and revolting things she did in the Age of Legends to intimidate and frustrate her questioners. It’s working:

"This woman, nothing works on her," she said. "She never changes the tone of her voice, no matter what we do to her. Every punishment I can think of only creates more threats. Each one more gruesome than the last!”

The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

Cadsuane is very impatient because she knows she has little time left to do what she needs to do. Mistakenly, she wants to break Semirhage to get her knowledge of weaves – such greed for knowledge led Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene into keeping Moghedien alive so they could milk her, and then Moghedien escaped. Semirhage will too. Cadsuane is so eager she is even tempted to break her word to Rand that she would follow his strictures, and she is normally one of the few Aes Sedai who does always keep her word.

Cadsuane shows quite a bit of insight in this chapter, first about herself, and then about Semirhage. She’s right that Semirhage thinks she can escape and then revenge herself on them. In the Age of Legends Semirhage so intimidated her jailors that they actually smuggled her to freedom (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box).

Cadsuane realises that they would not break Semirhage with pain anyway:

Al’Thor's prohibition on hurting Semirhage was meaningless.
They could not break this woman with pain. Semirhage was the great torturer of the Forsaken, a woman intrigued by death and agony.
No, she would not break that way, even if the means had been allowed them.

The Gathering Storm, A Tale of Blood

Rather unflatteringly for herself, she sees similarities between herself and Semirhage. To figure out how to break Semirhage she has to work out how to break herself. Definitely disturbing.


Aelys Sedai said...

Dear Linda,

Wonderful article. Yes, my comments that are dotted here and there on your blog are somewhat sporadic and much younger than the articles themselves. However, that doesn't make me any less thrilled with your great interpretations.

This is one of my favourite chapters ever, but there's nothing I can add to your comprehensive read-through. Instead, I had a question. Ever since I learned of Latra Posae Decume and her deeds during the last Age, and seeing Egwene develop into this awesome Amyrlin that she will be, I was curious of they could be connected by something more, something deeper, than mere similarities. Not only strong, female Aes Sedai or leaders, nor Slicers of the Shadow; outrightly, I suspect Egwene might be Latra Posae reborn.

It's a constant theme, the rebirth, if often in cynical ways, such as the Forsaken. But the theme is there, yet we've seen no one but Rand "reborn" from the last Age. It's not impossible, is it, that Egwene would be Latra Posae?

Linda said...

Thanks, Aelys. I'm glad you're enjoying them.

Others have also theorised that Egwene is Latra reborn. It's quite possible.

Another possible reincarnation is that of Ilyena as Elayne. The names have the same derivation: Helen. Of Troy??