Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #15: Chapter 13 - An Offer and a Departure

By Linda


Chapter 13 is Gawyn’s POV and follows on naturally from Egwene’s POV of the previous chapter. Egwene thinks Gawyn is too independent in his thinking. We see he’s not comfortable at all about his situation and is only content when he’s sparring because then he can stop thinking. Like Aviendha, Gawyn is a person of action. He finds peace and stillness in working the sword, which is great for his military prowess but not so good for planning a course of action or for self awareness. The Pattern is holding Gawyn in stasis until sheer frustration forces him to change.

Gawyn’s admiring recount of Sleete’s tale is interesting. Apparently someone (of the Shadow) wanted people from the Dumai’s Wells battle:

The villagers there had been tempted to sell Sleete to a local band of bandits—their leader had visited earlier promising them safety as a reward for revealing any refugees from the nearby battle. However, the mayor's daughter had argued for Sleete's life, convincing them that the bandits must be Darkfriends if they were seeking wounded Warders.

The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

Male or female, channeller or non-channeller was not specified, and the word ‘revealed’ indicates that the bandits may also have been after information – say of the location of an Aes Sedai or an Asha’man.

Gawyn admires Warders for their humility and dedication. He has neither and this is a pointer to where his sub-thread is headed in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight. He is prophesied to be Egwene’s Warder yet is currently unsuitable to be one, not in fighting ability, but in character.

But then Moiraine complained that Lan, the best of the Warders, was lacking in humility:

Moiraine sniffed. "Your humility, Lan Gaidin, has always been more arrogance than most kings could manage with their armies at their backs. From the first day I met you, it has been so."

The Great Hunt, Watchers

and when he fell in love with Nynaeve she started to doubt his dedication too.

Gawyn’s resentful dig at Rand (as well as Aes Sedai):

While Aes Sedai manipulated the world and monsters like al'Thor got the glory,

The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

shows another important issue in his thread: his envy of Rand which has developed into hatred. The full extent of this comes out when he talks with Elayne in Towers of Midnight.

Gawyn is described as a creature of light and shadow, an ambivalent figure because he has aided evil as much as good; the very thing he rails against Rand for doing.

In his efforts to secure Gawyn as Hattori’s second Warder Sleete says Gawyn belongs with the Warders, that he is one of them. This is not yet true as Gawyn himself recognises:

That was one reason that Gawyn wouldn't make a good Warder. He didn't trust Aes Sedai. His mother had, and look where that had gotten her. And how the White Tower had treated Elayne and Egwene . . . well, he might support the Aes Sedai, but he certainly didn't trust them... Sensible men stayed away from them when possible, and obeyed them with alacrity whenstaying away was impossible. Gawyn had trouble doing either; his bloodline prevented staying away, his pride interfered with obeying them.

The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

Gawyn is briefly tempted by Sleete’s offer but thoughts of Egwene stop him from committing.

Sleete says Hattori would have herself assigned to Andor to be Gawyn’s Aes Sedai. He pointed out to Gawyn that all decisions were bad on the day of the coup, which consoled Gawyn because he respects Sleete. Sleete is convinced that there are wise women in the Tower who will end the division. He seems to know Aes Sedai politics and certainly is aware that Hattori is low-ranked because she is a weak channeller:

”But she's also not influential, so the others don't listen to her. Aes Sedai. Sometimes, all they seem to care about is who carries the biggest stick."
Gawyn leaned closer. One rarely heard talk about Aes Sedai ranking and influence. They didn't have ranks, like the military, but they all instinctively knew who among them was in charge. How did it work? Sleete seemed to have some idea, but he didn't talk further on it, so it would have to remain a mystery for now.

The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

Hattori sounds almost more Brown than Green in that she chose a Warder who is more natural than polished, and is too “busy with other tasks” to find another Warder. Perhaps she is a good delegator and trusts Sleete’s judgement - although trusting a man’s judgement to that extent is also unusual, even in a Green.

According to Sleete Hattori disliked the divisiveness of Elaida’s regime and wanted out of the Tower. After the failure of the Embassy she was concerned to report to the Greens about Elaida’s “true plans” but was kept from telling senior Greens what Elaida’s orders were as long as possible, and had to send her report via message, rather than in person.

Gawyn’s consciousness of the responsibility to pay workers a fair wage is one of the few times he appears in a positive light. In contrast, Elaida’s Aes Sedai are woefully arrogant and ignorant about it.

Katerine returned to Dorlan to show the Aes Sedai there Travelling so they and the Younglings can raid the rebels. She deliberately let Gawyn overhear that Egwene is being abused in the Tower as punishment for being rebel Amyrlin. Gawyn is convinced that Egwene is being tortured (true) and will be stilled and executed. In a flap he rides off for the rebel camp. Sleete deduced his intentions but let him go because a) he sympathises with him and b) he thinks Gawyn might find a way to help end the conflict.

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