Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #30: Chapter 27 - The Tipsy Gelding

By Linda


Mat is beginning to feel right again – as in ‘back to his old self’ - and is wearing old clothes as a sign of this. He’s going back to his trickster mode hence the scruffiness and the gambling itch (see Tricksters essay). Tricksters are grubby, greedy and disregard the rules. Mat thinks his longing for dicing and barmaids is bucking the ‘rules’ of marriage.

He feels he has to go back and confront the Finns because they have got the better of him twice now. Three times is for keeps.

Just as Mat spent this last scene fretting over Tuon, so Thom is feeling really down about Moiraine and with far more reason. He doesn’t put on his gleeman’s cloak until he cheers up. Mat notices that Thom cares about Moiraine but doesn’t twig why because he can’t stand Aes Sedai himself – or more properly their channelling:

Mat had little love for Moiraine, but he wouldn't leave her to them, no matter that she was Aes Sedai.
Bloody ashes. He'd probably be tempted to ride in and save one of the Forsaken themselves if they were trapped there.
And . . . maybe one was. Lanfear had fallen through that same portal. Burn him, what would he do if he found her there? Would he really rescue her as well?
You're a fool, Matrim Cauthon. Not a hero. Just a fool.

The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

He often calls himself a fool. The fool is an important motif in Mat’s character (see Fool and Joker essay and Mat essay). Tricksters are often fools or made to look foolish.

It’s Rand who has trouble resisting Lanfear. Mat is still happy to avoid Rand because he believes Rand will be a Kinslayer again. Mistakenly, Mat thinks that if he doesn’t go near Rand he will be safe from Rand’s channelling. Rand nearly destroyed the entire world at the end of The Gathering Storm.

Thom’s speech shows how and why the Pattern and Cycle of Ages work and why Rand’s and Moridin’s despair is wrong:

"We can't go back, Mat. The Wheel has turned, for better or worse. And it will keep on turning, as lights die and forests dim, storms call and skies break. Turn it will. The Wheel is not hope, and the Wheel does not care, the Wheel simply is. But so long as it turns, folk may hope, folk may care. For with light that fades, another will eventually grow, and each storm that rages must eventually die. As long as the Wheel turns. As long as it turns..."

The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

The Wheel brings something from the past back into Mat’s mind: his lust for the Shadar Logoth dagger with its ruby “red like his own blood”:

And the old lust, the old desire, would seep into him again . . .

The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

Red is the colour of lust as well as war, and tricksters are greedy and lustful. The linking of the dagger with Mat’s blood refers not only to blood-lust but also to Mat’s close relationship – blood-relationship, if you like - with the dagger. And also to Mat’s relationship with Fain/Mordeth, who is now using the dagger to sprinkle his blood to sinister effect.

Deceptively, Hinderstap seems in better order than most towns:

"That's a nice sight," Talmanes noted. "I was beginning to think every town in the world was either falling apart, packed with refugees or under the thumb of invaders. At least this one doesn't seem likely to vanish on us ..."

The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

This is a reminder that Mat brings war and is king of the dead, and a foreshadowing that Hinderstap does have deep problems. The village is too perfect, too innocuous; a lure like the witch’s gingerbread house in the lonely forest.

It seems Mat doesn’t just rely on his luck, he can actively manipulate it.

"I can lose when I want to, if it's for the best."

The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

In this case he is deliberately on a losing streak but made sure to win a few tosses too, to make it look less suspicious.

Greed nibbled every man, and strict "rules" could be bent if opportunity walked past and winked suggestively enough.

The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

Tricksters ignore the rules – that’s how they operate – and they do so to get what they want, satisfy their desires, against the odds. Mat is greedy, as all tricksters are. They are also familiar with outstaying their welcome or their spiel falling flat.

This time Mat is greedy for supplies:

Mat felt a sudden spike of fear. After all of that losing ... if they kicked him out anyway. . .
Desperate, he pulled open the top of the chest again, revealing the gold coins inside.
"I'll give you the ale," the innkeeper said suddenly. "And Mardry, you've got a wagon and team. It's only a street down."
"Yes," said Mardry, a bluff-faced man with short dark hair. "I'll bet that."

The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

The Mayor senses a trick and suspects loaded dice but he still thinks he can win against Mat if he makes the throw personally, and Mat is desperate enough to agree.

Talmanes is uncomfortable because he senses something wrong with the place, after earlier remarking on its unusual normality. Mat is oblivious, being so focussed on his epic dice game. It’s only while waiting for food and drink to be gotten that he finally sees what Talmanes saw earlier.

The dice stop in Mat’s head when he says they are staying; so this was an important decision. Mat wonders if he made a wrong decision. We may have not seen the full effect of this, but one important result was that the Mayor told Mat about Trustair. Thom had obtained a drawing and knew there was a bounty on information about Mat, but didn’t learn the name of the village where the woman wanting the information was staying.

Brandon Sanderson said Mat’s trick of manipulating the villagers with their own greed into filling his empty wagon with food, after they had refused to sell him any, in this scene is a nod to the tricksome traveller in the Stone Soup folk tale, who manipulates villagers into contributing ingredients to his soup pot after they refused to share any food with him. Mat’s parallel General George Patton tricked his own superior officers with what he called the ‘rock soup’ method: forbidden to attack, he would send out reconnaissance missions which would meet (expected) resistance and need more and more reinforcements, turning into full-scale attacks. He used it in the Battle of Sicily and again near Metz where he was ordered to halt during Operation Market Garden.

However at the end of the chapter trickster Mat is tricked by the villagers and the Dark One’s warping of the Pattern. He said there was nothing to worry about and was immediately made a fool of.

Afterword: The name Hinderstap is an interesting one. Hinder could mean ‘hold back’ or ‘rear end’. Or both. Stap is an obsolete word meaning stop. “Stap me vitals!” was an eighteenth century exclamation of surprise meaning ‘stop up my bodily organs’ and goes with both meanings of hinder. Mat came close to being stopped at Hinderstap, and indeed three of his men are missing and may well be stuck there, held along with the unfortunate villagers in a terrible loop of the Pattern.


Mattrickster said...

Great Article Linda, & follows on well from your Trickster essay.
But I disagree with both articles in that they state that Tricksters, including Mat are amoral & greedy. The only Joker in the WOT who fit.s that discription is Fain. Even the Aes Sedai are more amoral than Mat. They convince themselves that what they want is in everyone's best interest, a bit of collateral damage, who cares. And if they're angry, well that's just the fault of the person who caused their anger. In COT, the subject of negotiations, Egwene is looking at the Boats carring Supplies & Recruits for the Tower. She gets angry at the Ship's Captains obvious fear of being caught between the Rebels & The Tower. She thinks about frightening them just because she can. She only holds back to avoid getting into a spitting contest with the Tower. The morality of scaring innocents didn't occur.
Mat is much more moral. He lives by a different set of rules but they are invoiable. He never even considers harming innocents. He got involved with the Band because he could not leave the Carhien & Tairen soldiers to the Shaido even though he was trying to leave Rand.
In Hinderstap, he wasn't being greedy but responsibly trying to but food & supplies for the Band. And it is a truism that you cannot Con an honest man. Mat learnt that from his father, Abel Cauthon, the best horse trader in the Two Rivers. I think that Mat's character was summed up by Siuan in TDR, that of a disreputable Uncle who is most likely to die trying to save one more child from a burning building!

Linda said...

Mat himself says he doesn't follow 'the rules'. He does have his own rules but they aren't always nice. Nynaeve said Mat was the most irresponsible boy in the Two Rivers. His word means little unless he makes a promise. In contrast, Perrin's word means a lot every time.

Something I should add to the essay is that Mat broke the 3000 year old law of war by refusing to help the wounded after the battle in Altara. That's the kind of thing Tricksters do - he tricked the Seanchan then he left them to suffer the consequences. It's unthinkable to the regular WOT characters. Tricksters do the unthinkable. That's how they trick people. Often these unthinkable things are necessary, as I said in the essay.

Mat is greedy - the Shadar Logoth dagger alone proves that. And Aludra's sarcastic remark on how well he looks after his money chest. Yes, it's very useful, but contrast this with how little Perrin regards money and his group is by far the larger.

Anonymous said...

Linda leave off perrin is married already and you know not real, no one is trying to set you up with mat.

leave mat alone, if a early Nynaeve gave someone the title most irresponsible boy good for him. she didnt say lazy, mean or violent just that he prefers fun to work. so what its not like there is a lot of jobs in the to rivers, being born into something with next to input and no other options isnt my idea of fun and i would run from a career picked for me. how many people hate jobs that they need but dont enjoy, he is just a city boy born in a small town.

i think mattrickster has a better read on Mat than you this time. mat doesnt follow other peoples rules so what its social code not law(most of the time ;) ), the two rivers rules prob didnt make sense to him anyway. things that Nynaeve thinks are good and proper or wrong are because they were rude so people didnt explain them to kids and now no one remembers why the rules are there.

the way they look at sex isnt because its wrong they just live somewhere there arent many people so if a boy "dont keep it in their pants" one of his sons might be trying to sneak his half sister into a hayloft. not nice so they wouldnt say this so kids would just be told to wait for marrage, how many of the rules are like that with no explanation when you are growing up so you ignore them.

He has his own rules and like he said rules dont have to make sense they just have to be consistent. the Aes Sedai found it unthinkable no one else cared to much, for the most part people follow the rules of war so that they dont get beaten to death if they wake up in a pool of blood after the battle and see the wrong banner still flying. Mat was leaving Altara with no intention of coming back to fight and hiding who they were fighting so why worry about it, they would kill him anyway if caught well eventually after some inventive sadism.

how is Mat greedy he doesnt seem to care about the money after he has it. of course he picked up the dagger, no one owns it and he prob hardly ever seen something worth that much. the only reason MAt took it instead of Rand or Perrin is because he was looking for someway to relax after everything while Rand was scared snotless and Perrin is anal and passive. Perrin thought nothing of looting later when it was stealing from his enemies, it wasnt the Shaidos gold but he needed to feed everyone so he took it how is this different from Mat feeding the band.

Mat isnt what i call greedy because he will give his money away to help people without a second thought. save the children has done some annoying things to get money but it is for what they think to be a good reason are they greedy

Mattrickster you can con an honest man its called stealing the only reason a con works is because the guy is just as guilty as you so he cant report it. you are right in that he is more moral than egwene after everything she and the girls had done to him he still risks his neck for them because it is what he think is right. egwene thinks about killing people because they have become an inconvenience to her ambitions, she did in a way she considered murdering nicola and instead got her killed in a stupid plan that only worked with Perrins help.

like they way you called it a spitting contest we call it something similar in england but im not sure that your comment would have been posted;)

Hinkel said...

Uh oh, Linda - it looks like you've incurred the wrath of Mat fanboys.

Keep up the good fight. Your articles are all the more enjoyable as a resource because you don't play favorites. And I like that you often compare the characters with their parallels as an aid in examining their behavior.

Anonymous said...

not wrath, well not really and the fact that linda doesnt play favorites as you put it normally makes the posts more enjoyable.
but doing it that makes one of my favs look like a greedy child and some i hate look good.
its sort of like meeting your best friends angry ex girlfriend after he just got a round in. i hate egwene always have always will so having her being writen in a good light is kinda like saying to a person from NY hey bin laden may be a prick but he is a good leader! you still wanted him dead, you still like your friend but you get a bit annoyed at the person telling you even if its the truth as they see it.

Linda said...

Thanks for all the comments.

When I talk about greed, I don't mean just about money. Mat's greedy because he wants it all: girls, wine, food, fancy clothes, fun...The money is a stepping stone to that.

All the characters have good and bad points. Tricksters are particularly ambivalent. They're charming too - that's how they get away with being ambivalent.

Dragons are also ambivalent (in a different way - they're more threatening, for instance) but they lack charm and that makes a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

yes every character has good and bads sides i just i dont agree about which parts are bad and which good.

Anonymous said...

so you are saying that the man with three girlfriends lacks charm? Then he is either gorgeous or packing a redwood, he does spend a lot of time practicing his sword work but he should still be single if he had no game.

and the two false dragons we have seen have definitely got their own charms, logain has no problem with women even when he was a gentled false dragon he had enough looks from some to think about trying it. and his Aes Sedaui pet seems happy with his "work ethic."

Taim real or forsaken obviously attracts some girls on looks alone and he is the evil head of the black tower full of nutters.

So saying dragons lack charm isnt really true. besides havent you heard that for some power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Anonymous said...

Actually being gorgeous doesn't seem to count in WoT as galad seems to get less action than a priest in a playground.

he is smarter and better looking but baby brother gets the girls even the one he appears wants to marry offered herself to rand first so i guess money and power count for more than brains, looks and good intentions. maybe thats his problem hes taking the girls out sight seeing instead of taking them home?

yes there are different types of charm, and mat is a flirt but i dont think that he charms anyone but girls. he is good at people off and doing things that distract them from what they should be thinking of but thats not really charm.

his value has come from proving himself and earning respect from his peers when they actually see him think but they dont seem charmed then either some like bashere seem in awe of him but dont appear to like him very much. those that have known him a long time dont find him charming or respect him unless they have seen him professionally but this works for him as they dont take him seriously and are suprised when he gets the better of them.

still cant find anything in this trickster that could be called charming

Anonymous said...

ok meant ot ask a month ago when i read it again but what is it in i think crown of swords that elayne and Avi are doing at night that Avi is to embarrassed to think about when she thinks of Rand as her only lover.

trying to not to have a dirty mind about this but why would an adult blush about anything else given their close relationship? and while i doubt anything is happening because if it was wouldnt silverbow have given them hell over it as she would feel what Elayne felt.

it has bugged me for a while because i dont think they are having sex but im a guy and i dont know anything else that would make a girl blush that way

Anonymous said...

ok on the Rand and his sword work, do you think he was better than lan they became blademasters around the same age but lan had been trained his whole life but rand earnt the nheron mark what 4 maybe 5 months after he picks up a sword(1 month till fal dara, 1 more there plus travel time to falme). Rand skipped a large chunk of the year with the portal stones travel but he kills a blademaster at the end of about 4 months of training.

if lan is so good why did it take him so long? i know rand is training under him but if it came down to it man to man who would win? you know if Rand had both hands and didnt get bored and singe Lans nuts off ooh fun Rand might have been holding back in training because he was afraid of Nynaeve castrating him for killing her suger daddy.

Hinkel said...

@Anon - can you be more specific about the timing of the scene with Avi and Elayne? - you could also try posting your question in the message boards.

According to Brandon the order of skill among the top blades goes Lan, Rand (pre-hand), Galad, then Gawyn. Apparently Gawyn is good, but not quite as good as he thinks.

Anonymous said...

Hinkel if i could remember yes i wasnt reading all the book i just picked it up to check something and forgot to put it down again until i saw the other book i was reading so not at lot of help.

but there isnt a lot of Avi povs so i could find it again im just to tired and fuzzy brained right now summer classes and job hunting, not how i pictured college life.
i think its while they are still in altara but i cant be sure when because they hade seperate rooms in the palace.

and the sword fight look more of a who would win in kill or be killed brawl between rand and lan not who not which was is the most technically gifted.

but ive got a better one for you if the Two Rivers boys made up a rock band out of rand and Mat which would have been lead and which bass, pretty sure perrin would be drums cause he cause sing and isnt really cool enough to be the front man. yes Rand is the Dragon but Mat has an 80s front man thing going on with his style withn the hat and lace. rand is cool but tight pants and knee high boots?

think mat is more of a jazz man as well Rand blues so that might workbetter for a rock band.
Can Rand sing, i know Mat can and that perrin cant but has Rand tried since the books started?

Anonymous said...

that Gawyn comes forth is good but that suprises me if he killed two blademasters in one day without getting to banged up but galad barely defeated Valda is interesting. does that mean that the warders are not as good as people think or was Valda reallt that skilled. Morgase had heard of Valda's skill but most people outside of the borderlands know next to nothing about lan or the warders.

Linda said...

Mat charms enough readers for them to be peeved at any perceived criticism of Mat.

Anonymous said...

might be because Mat can do everything but write neatly so far. the only thing anyone has compained about is his behaviour and that was only from stuck up pruds who could have used time with one of his other talents:)

easy to like someone who can do anything you want to do but still be a nice person most of the time.
as long as you dont have a sister i think most guys would get on fine with mat if he were real, you might roll your eyes a bit but you would have to let him plan your stag night!

Anonymous said...

No one is missing. The three soldiers were a mistake, according to BS.

Manetheren said...

I would have to say that Matt is more of a cross between a Trickster and Robin Hood. (Note: No, I am not a Matt fan; he is my least favorite main male character by a large margin. His scenes end up being fun, but I am a Rand fan, with Perrin a close second because of their similarities.)

Matt does have the eye for money, games and women and such, but he particularly loves to prey on the wallets of the noble and higher up merchants. Granted they have the most money and he admits it regularly, but he takes an extra glee out of socking it to the nobles and rich because Matt believes he'll put the money to better use than all the distasteful things the rich and decadent tend to amuse themselves with. Matt, more often than not tends to direct some of the money towards the less fortunate (Olver), usually with no strings attached other than to keep promises, which would not affect or involve him at all.

Matt pretty much uses the money as a tool. Often times to pay his soldiers and in the case since leaving Ebou Dar using it to get the prisoner Aes Sedai and his people out of Seanchan Territory safe and alive. Only his large amount of money was able to keep people, who would have no qualms about turning him over to the Seanchan, quiet and helpful. The Trickster/Gambler facet allows for quick capital accumulation during a period when time is of the essence. He tries to convince himself he is only doing it to save his own skin, but there are too many times from his POV when its clear he's only thinking of everyone else and that he's a part of it is just an added bonus. Matt has the capacity to help and subconsciously feels a responsibility to those who are with him.

As to his Trickster side in battle, he does break the established rules, but he does follow is own set of rules. His number one rule is that he keeps his promises; that rule supersedes every other rule he follows. Matt has promised to get the Aes Sedai away from Seanchan and he has promised Tuon she would be safe and then released once he escaped. He can't fulfill either if they die. While in Seanchan territory, Matt knows he is outnumbered and outgunned. He has to present a force bigger and badder than they actually are to have any chance to fulfill his promises. He can't reveal his forces, numbers, armaments or anything, especially at the outset of this leg of their escape (It's already established how adaptable the Seanchan are). He might normally follow the "help the injured" rule under normal circumstances, but in this instance he can't risk failing in Rule #1. At least the way I see it.

Linda said...

Mat is many things as I described in my Mat essay linked above: trickster, fool, joker, god of wealth, King of the underworld. Robin Hood also is a trickster figure - think about how the tales emphasise his tricks on the Sherrif of Nottingham. Tricksters can trick for good causes as well as bad ones. Sometimes a bit of both.