Monday, April 4, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #12: Chapter 10 - The Last of the Tabac

By Linda


Ituralde is holed up in an abandoned stedding instead of gradually retreating further into Arad Doman as originally planned because he fears encountering Aiel (Rand’s Aiel). He feels pinned between the 100K Aiel and the >300K Seanchan. Actually he’s pinned where Rand could find him.

We get to see Graendal’s letter she wrote back in Lord of Chaos to manipulate Ituralde, though he has probably used it more cleverly than she anticipated:

" 'Strike hard against the Seanchan,' " Rajabi read. " 'Push them away, force them into their boats and back across their bloody ocean. I'm counting on you, old friend. King Alsalam.' "

The Gathering Storm, The Last of the Tabac

Now, though, Ituralde, while having achieved much, feels his time is running out, which is why he is smoking the last of his Two Rivers tabac, his best tabac. Ituralde remembers seeing Thom perform when Elayne was a young child over 15 years earlier, which shows how good a performer Thom is.

Just as Ituralde decides to force the Seanchan into a siege and die with dignity, Rand arrives. Rand apparently doesn’t know why Graendal wants Ituralde fighting the Seanchan. Her goal is anarchy, wars, weakening nations and armies, and distraction from uniting to fight the Shadow. Rand himself starts to bring the nations and armies together effectively in Towers of Midnight, once be becomes life-affirming instead of death-affirming.

In the same way the Domani officers, even Dragonsworn, follow Ituralde, believing he can do the impossible, so Ituralde believes in Rand:

Only one such as the Dragon Reborn himself could stride into a war camp like this, completely alone, and expect to be obeyed. Burn him, if that fact by itself didn't make Ituralde want to believe him.

The Gathering Storm, The Last of the Tabac

Rand’s lack of fear in the stedding, where he is among a potentially hostile army yet is unable to channel by normal means, is interesting. He has not drawn the True Power yet, so his confidence should not stem from its accessibility through his link to Moridin. Nor has he obtained the male access key back from Cadsuane so he would not think that he could somehow override the stedding barrier by entering it while drawing on the male Choedan Kal. Perhaps he’s just convinced that the Pattern will keep him alive to face the Dark One, or that he can pull Ituralde and his forces into doing what he wants by sheer force of will. Later in The Gathering Storm, Rand will use the power of his will to menace people into obedience. Perhaps he would have done that here if Ituralde was unwilling,

Rand openly says he remembers the Forsaken personally:

"I remember each of them—their faces, their mannerisms, the way they speak and act—as if I've known them for a thousand years. I remember them better than I remember my own childhood, sometimes.”

The Gathering Storm, The Last of the Tabac

This is before he sees his past lives on Dragonmount.

Rand’s calmness about the Last Battle or in offering the Amadician throne draws Ituralde in, as does his similarities with Ituralde’s beloved King Alsalam:

There was a way about this man, the way he discussed events like the Last Battle—events that mankind had been fearing for thousands of years—as if they were items on the daily camp report.

The Gathering Storm, The Last of the Tabac

Ituralde wants proof, but Rand acts as though the very request for proof means he has him.

What Ituralde sees is but a small part of how Rand will appear after his epiphany. Here he has the potential to inspire others; then he will actually do it. As Egwene says:

"The man I saw wouldn't need to destroy such a place," Egwene said. "Those inside would just follow him. Bend to his wishes. Because he was!”

Towers of Midnight, A Good Soup

I loved the exchange when Rand offers Ituralde 100 Asha’man:

"What could you do if I gave you a hundred men who could channel?"
"No, most of them are stable," al'Thor said, taking no apparent offense.

The Gathering Storm, The Last of the Tabac

The bargain is that Rand will see the Seanchan out of Arad Doman in exchange of Ituralde holding back the Shadow in the Borderlands. Ituralde thinks this is an opportunity to keep on fighting with honour. Rand fails with his side of the bargain while Ituralde does his considerable utmost to keep his. However Rand ultimately does the job for him in Towers of Midnight, A Force of Light, although it is only a temporary measure.

We see the beginnings of dragon legends in the Wheel of Time world, ones with resemblances to those of real world dragons. The dragon is claimed to be ten feet tall, have glowing eyes, and appear in the sky. Only one of these beliefs is true. The alteration of history to legend and myth is one of Jordan’s major themes.

Characterisation is good in this chapter; the only misstep is “hunker down”, which grates. It is not an expression used prior to The Gathering Storm.


norman said...

Another strange phrase that BS uses often is "smile deeply" - don't remember RJ ever using that phrase.

Anonymous said...

Or the horrible "war bunker" Mat calls the castle in Caemlyn.

Anonymous said...

but that could be a pet name for elayne though her lies about who the father is hasnt helped her rep.

everyone thinks she was sleeping with a darkfriend guardsman. i have heard worse names given to girls people think are sleeping around.

Russ said...

I thought it was pretty cool how Ituralde was comparing himself with Thom juggling the balls. Thom used distraction to escape being pressured into adding any more and causing a spectacular fall. Ituralde knew he was in for a spectacular fall, and then along comes Rand and gives him his out.