Monday, May 16, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #17: Chapter 15 - A Place to Begin, Part 1

By Linda


There's a lot in this chapter, so I've split my discussion into 2 parts and will post Part 2 later in the week when I've had time to edit it.

Rand POV

Rand comes to in Tel’aran’rhiod in a place he’s met Ishamael twice before - in The Eye of the World The Stag and Lion, and The Eye of the World Against the Shadow. The story arc comes full circle, and this time he is not afraid. However, he nearly loses himself in the dream. The Wise Ones don’t speak of Tel’aran’rhiod much to Rand, and Lews Therin isn’t prominent in Tel’aran’rhiod either, so he’s more or less on his own there.

As the striated sky and boiling, burning red clouds indicate, this is a special part of Tel’aran’rhiod strongly under the influence of the Dark One and probably near Shayol Ghul. Clouds of tortured faces and the molten lava look to the stones are new, as are the rats being burned by the heat in the stones and the flames depicting tortured bodies.So typically of anything made by the Shadow, the fire holds cold comfort.

Rand has no visions when he thinks of Mat and Perrin in Tel’aran’rhiod; they only appear in the main waking world. Perrin had none of Rand either in the dream, nor did Mat in the *Finns’ world in Towers of Midnight.

Rand’s link to Moridin is more close, more physical, than his links to Mat and Perrin. It is more limiting too, which is why their channelling is affected. Mat and Perrin are not limited by their link to Rand. The three ta’verens’ fates are intertwined, and they are connected by bonds of friendship, as well as by this spiritual link.

Lews Therin did not react to the mention of his kinslaying. In this part of the dream Rand appears to be more integrated:

Oddly, Rand felt more stable—somehow—here in this place where all else appeared fluid. The pieces of himself fit together better. Not perfectly, of course, but better than they had in recent memory.

- The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

and also less influenced by his various links.

Rand recognises Ishamael’s soul, but Moridin seems to reject being Ishamael and identifies himself to Rand. Rand thinks his name (Death) is irrelevant. Wrong. Just as he did when he was Ishamael, Moridin tells Rand that many dreams are more real than the waking world. This is a somewhat “Platonic” philosophy and ties in with the book Min is reading during this scene as we shall see in the next post. I’m not sure Rand accepts Moridin’s statement.

Rand sees the saa in Moridin’s eyes but doesn’t appear to know their significance. He is not interested in Moridin’s offer of sanity, which would mean being touched by the True Power.

Moridin tells Rand he and other Forsaken were restored to life by the Dark One – except those that were balefired. Presumably he wants to use Rand as an instrument of punishment and to vanquish his rivals. It’s less risky for Moridin to get someone else to do it; someone the Pattern is taking pains to keep alive, and someone the Dark One would accept as killer of his henchmen. And if Rand is killed instead or as well, that’s not too bad either.

Moridin says it is a wonder the balefired can be remembered. But that is the point: balefire undoes actions, but can’t undo the fact that actions were done or erase the memories of those actions. If balefire could undo events completely seamlessly, perhaps it wouldn’t disrupt the Pattern as much as it does. As the paradox goes: if a tree falls and nobody witnesses it, did it happen?

Moridin is suffering from the link to Rand – he is over whelmed by tiredness, physical and psychological, and perhaps pain. Certainly despair. Rand is better in comparison, or perhaps bears it better due to his accepting character, whereas Moridin is selfish and has not had practise in bearing adversity. Again, while Rand is used to being very close to people yet not being overwhelmed by that closeness, Moridin can’t seem to separate his feelings from Rand’s.

The two champions have both been reborn: Rand naturally, Moridin unnaturally, as reflects their respective deities. Rand assures us that they will have a final duel. Moridin is not certain what the outcome would be if he and Rand killed each other – as Arthur (parallel of Rand) and Modred did and as the Norse gods and giants did at Ragnarok (a parallel of the Last Battle).

Rand is determined to defeat the Dark One. Moridin thinks the attempt is pointless long-term:

"Perhaps you will," he said. "But do you think that matters? Consider it. The Wheel turns, time and time again. Over and over the Ages turn, and men fight the Great Lord. But someday, he will win, and when he does, the Wheel will stop.
"That is why his victory is assured. I think it will be this Age, but if not, then in another. When you are victorious, it only leads to another battle. When he is victorious, all things will end. Can you not see that there is no hope for you?"
"Is that what made you turn to his side?" Rand asked. "You were always so full of thoughts, Elan. Your logic destroyed you, didn't it?"
"There is no path to victory," Moridin said. "The only path is to follow the Great Lord and rule for a time before all things end. The others are fools. They look for grand rewards in the eternities, but there will be no eternities. Only the now, the last days."

The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

Moridin despairs. He had a nihilistic philosophy in the Age of Legends:

He called for the complete destruction of the old order - indeed, the complete destruction of everything.

The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time

and still does. In The Eye of the World, Against the Shadow, which significantly was when they last met in this part of the dream, Moridin told Rand that he will gain unimaginable power from the death of Time. However, Moridin now doesn’t seem to look forward to this at all; his despair is such that he just wants Nothingness.

Is Rand stupid, as Moridin believes, to think he can kill Dark One? The Pattern has to have both Light and Shadow to be a Pattern according to Moiraine (The Dragon Reborn, Within the Weave) – the Dark One and the fight against him is a, or really, the, major part of the Pattern.

Rand wonders how he got to Tel’aran’rhiod when his dreams are warded. Moridin doesn’t understand their bond, but deduces that is how and why Rand came to Tel’aran’rhiod. If they were both dreaming at the same time, and Moridin went to Tel’aran’rhiod, perhaps Rand would be pulled there too, despite his wards. Or maybe it was arranged by the Pattern. Rand was able to pull himself away by seizing saidin, even though he was distant from it.


t ball said...

I've wondered if this episode is what gives Moridin the idea for the scene at the end of ToM, where Lanfear is in Rand's head. (if that did happen at Moridin's behest and was not something she did on her own, that is).

Linda said...

Quite possibly, tball, and a good point. It all depends on whose idea it was, as you say.