Friday, March 25, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #9: Chapter 7 - The Plan For Arad Doman

By Linda


Nynaeve, like Siuan, keeps constant tabs on the weather, as does anyone who lives in communities whose living is based on out-of-doors work. Nynaeve has the Talent of Listening to the Wind, whereas Siuan does not (otherwise she might have sensed the Tower coup before it happened.) Listening to the Wind is a passive Talent of Air and Water (The Eye of the World, Listen to the Wind); the channeller doesn’t actually channel a weave. It is a mild type of precognition in which the channeller is aware that good or bad events are upcoming (The Path of Daggers, To Keep the Bargain). It may not be particularly rare, since Moiraine was quite familiar with it. In the Two Rivers, Nynaeve mainly sensed the weather and the state of the crops – important events in a quiet farming community. Since then she has sensed far more dangerous events, such as upcoming attacks. Right now, Nynaeve is hearing the gathering storm – not actual weather, but the Dark One’s storm, heralded by Rand’s emotional storm.

Nynaeve and Daigian, the weakest and strongest Aes Sedai, have an interesting conversation. Both are not fully accepted by the mainstream Aes Sedai; one because she only just made it, and the other because she hasn’t proven herself yet. In the next book Nynaeve herself will only just make the grade. (Although the test was unfairly harsh).

Nynaeve understands that she has weakened status in common with Daigian:

Unfortunately, Nynaeve's position was still questionable. Egwene had raised her to the shawl by decree, just as she'd raised Elayne: there had been no testing, nor had Nynaeve sworn on the Oath Rod. To most—even those who accepted Egwene's place as the true Amyrlin— those omissions made Nynaeve something less than Aes Sedai. Not an Accepted, but hardly equal to a sister.

The Gathering Storm, The Plan for Arad Doman

Nyaneve is not a ‘proper’ Aes Sedai in her attitudes:

She was Aes Sedai now, but that didn't mean she stopped being who she was.

The Gathering Storm, The Plan for Arad Doman

In Towers of Midnight Rand will tell her it’s OK to be as she is and pressure her not to change.

Nynaeve does as Daigian wishes out of consideration for her grief. Corele manipulated Nynaeve into learning the one hundred weaves for the test for the shawl and thus keep Daigian busy. It was a wise move. Nynaeve needs to know the weaves even if she doesn’t do the test; the fact that she knows them strengthens her position. The weaves are almost too easy for Nynaeve. She never has to have a second go.

Daigian uses “dear” when she speaks to Nyaneve because using Nynaeve’s name would imply equality. Accepting an almost Aes Sedai as her equal would drop Daigian even lower in the eyes of other Aes Sedai. No one shows Nynaeve any mercy in Aes Sedai ranking.

Nynaeve cannot control her feelings as well as Daigian. Nor does she truly understand Daigian’s feelings about Eben. Because they are not a spousal or blood tie, but one of aunt-like affection, Nynaeve thinks they are not strong. I really thought this very immature and arrogant of her, even judgemental, and it was quite right of Daigian to patronise Nynaeve a little.

Nynaeve suggested she Heal Daigian to remove the grief of the broken Warder Bond because she thinks grief borne of the Bond is less genuine. The Bond was made first, true, but affection grew on both sides and was strong. Love doesn’t have to be from marital or blood relationship to be genuine. Also Nynaeve doesn’t consider that her own case of wishing to Bond a man because they love each other is not unique. Siuan and Gareth are another such couple.

Nynaeve impulsively speaks her mind to Daigian about the unjust and faulty Aes Sedai system of ranking by strength in the Power. Daigian is at first insulted at the reminder, but says nothing because Nynaeve is so far above her, and then when Nynaeve continues her point which is the opposite of offensive, Daigian becomes embarrassed since she so rarely gets praise. (The only other time was from Cadsuane.) Nynaeve only stops because she doesn’t want Aes Sedai to stand up to her. In some ways she still wants the ranking to continue so she is the tallest poppy whether she merits or not. It’s rather hypocritical of her. Yet she politely excuses herself to Daigian, a courtesy which many other Aes Sedai would not bother with, proving her genuine respect for Daigian, and after that Daigian treats her as an equal and refers to her by name.

Nynaeve rushes off to Rand’s meeting mistakenly feeling defensive that Rand didn’t think to include her. She considers herself more experienced than he and criticises the number of times he’s been hurt and trapped due to his rashness. Yet she has her own list of narrow escapes – Falme, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Tel'aran'rhiod...although fewer recently.

She still has illogical feelings about Rand’s situation:

I should never have let that woman take him from the Two Rivers, she thought. Look what it's done to him.
She immediately frowned at her own foolishness. If Rand had stayed in the Two Rivers, he would have gone mad and perhaps destroyed them all—assuming, of course, the Trollocs, the Fades or the Forsaken themselves hadn't accomplished the task first. If Moiraine hadn't come for Rand, he'd now be dead. With him would have gone the light and hope of the world. It was just hard to abandon her old prejudices.

The Gathering Storm, The Plan for Arad Doman

but caught them this time. In some ways Nynaeve’s prejudices are what is best about her – her moral values in particular – but it contributes a lot to her hypocrisy too. And to the way she looks down on men in general.

And speaking of abandoning her old prejudices, here she is conceding that Moiraine did something absolutely right and vital.

Rand’s mood now makes Nynaeve fearful of him:

Nynaeve eyed him, surprised at how tight her own nerves had become. He was just a wool-headed villager, no matter how much influence he'd found. He was.
But she could not shake away that look in his eyes, that flash of anger. Holding a crown was said to change many men for the worse. She intended to see that didn't happen to Rand al'Thor, but what recourse would she have if he suddenly decided to have her imprisoned? He wouldn't do that, would he? Not Rand.

The Gathering Storm, The Plan for Arad Doman

Earlier she lectured Rand that he should marry Min. He won’t because he says it will bring Min more pain. (Rather like what Lan said to Nynaeve...) Nynaeve denies this in one breath and thinks Rand has a point in the next.

The female Choedan Kal frightened Nynaeve and she wants Rand to not use the male one. She’s right that it is too great a temptation, as we will soon see.

Nynaeve competes with Cadsuane and is always on the defensive around her. Many readers take Nynaeve’s part against Cadsuane but both women have similar attitudes and a blunt way of getting their point across and getting their own way. Cadsuane sets a high benchmark for Nynaeve and as a consequence Nynaeve feels she is her true rival. She really desires Cadsuane’s approval. Despite what Nynaeve says, Cadsuane doesn’t order people about on account of her age – for a start, as Nynaeve knows very well, age is a secondary factor in Aes Sedai ranking. Cadsuane is a living legend due to what she has done. True merit, really, although her strength helped. She earned her ter’angreal in some way so that they too came through merit. In fact, her power was useless against their original owner (see Cadsuane's Ornaments article).

Nynaeve learned from the girls’ mistakes with Moghedien that Semirhage should have been stilled immediately. She and Elayne were greedy for knowledge and as a result Moghedien ultimately got away. Semirhage doesn’t get away but she damages Rand (and the world) to a terrible degree before he kills her.

In The Ways of Honour the Aiel thought Rand would be pleased with what they have achieved in Arad Doman, but to their dismay he is harsh, arrogant and unreasonable. Rand’s dark mood swings remind Nynaeve of the storm she can feel in the north, the Blight. It is Rand’s link to Moridin, the Shadow’s chief henchman, that she senses. Cadsuane forces Rand to be reasonable. Nynaeve regretted not daring to do so herself but she’s not up to it. For instance, she shivers at Rand’s familiarity with Graendal’s habits. Like the Wise Ones she’s an observer here.

Bael is complimentary of Ituralde, saying he draws the Seanchan’s ire better than Rand does.

Aiel and Bashere want Rand to seize Arad Doman for his own. Rand thinks it won’t work because it would take too many resources. Yet he commands them to pacify the nation and restore order with even less resources and little force.

Rand wants the merchant councillors seized to keep them safe from Graendal and to get them to choose a new king. Like many nobility, they’re more interested in gaining power for themselves.

Starting at the coast, the Aiel are to work their way inland pacifying the country. Rand thinks the Domani will soon flock to the Aiel if they offer food and safety since there is none anywhere else. The Aiel ask for some Saldaeans to ease Domani concerns about following Aiel. Nynaeve is complementary about Rand’s plan.

Rand insists that the Aiel are what he says they are:

"You are what I say you are, Bael," Rand said quietly.
"We are still free people, Rand al'Thor," Rhuarc said.
"I will change the Aiel with my passing," Rand said with a shake of his head. "I don't know what you'll be once this is all through, but you cannot remain what you were.”

The Gathering Storm, The Plan for Arad Doman

That’s true. The Aiel are destined to take back their places of old, and also to be destroyed (see Aiel Prophecy article). I think that at least some will readopt the Way of the Leaf, while others may become keepers of Rand’s Peace. As Aviendha will see in Towers of Midnight if the Aiel remain as they are they are doomed.

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