Friday, October 7, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #47: Chapter 44 - Scents Unknown

By Linda


The chapter title refers to what Hurin smells – Rand, and the massive violence and death within and around him (from using the True Power and his link to Moridin). As far as character degradation goes, we are in uncharted territory.

Rand says he will use Lan’s stand at Tarwin’s Gap as a diversion rather than send troops to him. He won’t do what his enemies expect and will go to Shayol Ghul instead. Behind him the Trollocs will invade nations but once their fists divide Bashere’s army will take them from behind.

Nynaeve is using everything she can think of to persuade Rand otherwise, but is being ignored. He is not responding to her goads, either. She worries that Rand is suppressing all emotion and will implode from the pressure:

He seemed so emotionless, but she had seen the beast get free and roar at her. It was coiled inside him, and if he didn't let his emotions out soon, they would devour him from the inside.

The Gathering Storm, Scents Unknown

She is torn between going to Lan or staying to help Rand. Nynaeve thinks she can be calm – but she can’t. She always lets her emotions out, which is why she is a bad liar. An emotionally healthy one though.

Rand thinks Lan is making this stand because he wants to die:

"Rand," Nynaeve said, her anger fading to horror. "Lan will die!"
"Then who am I to deny him that?" Rand said. "We all deserve the chance to find peace."
Nynaeve found her mouth hanging open. He actually believed that! Or he was convincing himself to believe it, at least.
"My duty is to kill The Dark One," Rand said, as if to himself. "I kill him, then I die. That is all."

The Gathering Storm, Scents Unknown

Lan expressed a similar attitude when he was focussed on the duty given him as a baby: to avenge Malkier’s death. This is how Rand has come to terms with his fate – and thinks he will atone for his dark deeds.

Who is Rand, to deny people? Well, he is denying Nynaeve any hope of lasting marriage and children.

Nyaneve can see the consequences of this strategy:

The Seanchan would wage their war to the south and the west. The Trollocs would attack from the north and the east. The two would meet, eventually. Andor and the other kingdoms would be turned into a massive battleground, the people there—good people, like those in the Two Rivers—would have no chance against such warfare. They'd be crushed.

The Gathering Storm, Scents Unknown

It is a different fulfillment of the prophecy that:

"The north shall he tie to the east, and the west shall be bound to the south."

-A Crown Of Swords, Ta'veren

Instead of Rand tying the north to the east he will “allow” or “cause” the Trollocs to do so, while the Seanchan bind the west to the south. Either fulfillment could happen.

Nynaeve was told by Cadsuane to find out where Perrin is and then she will be given more responsibility. They don’t want her interfering or doing her own thing, and hence are keeping her ignorant. However, if she refuses to help, how would they find Perrin? Wise One Dreamwalkers, who could have contacted Perrin’s Aiel in their dreams, have said nothing to Cadsuane. Is it that they don’t want these Aes Sedai to know what they can do, even at great cost? Or is it some plot of the Shadow? Or a plot hole?

Cadsuane knows Rand is aware of where Perrin is. Rand says he, Mat and Perrin are connected.

Nynaeve thinks Narishma’s words worthwhile:

"I want to trust them. I know them for good people. But good people can do the wrong thing. Particularly when men who can channel are involved."

The Gathering Storm, Scents Unknown

And the Borderlander rulers could have done the wrong thing, as we see in Towers of Midnight. This testing nearly ended badly, both here and later in Far Madding. If Rand had gone to them before his epiphany, or didn’t gain enlightenment.

Rand vows he will never again put himself in to the power of another. He probably changed this view after his epiphany, or it became temporarily irrelevant as he has a god-like effect on the Pattern, but it will be interesting to see if the Shadow can manipulate him again on this issue.

He seriously considers raining fire or lightning upon the Borderlander army to give them “encouragement to do their duty and obey him and seems to think these are one and the same. Nynaeve had to talk him out of it. Instead he challenges them to return to their positions in the Blight.

As a reward for caring about Rand, he tells her where Perrin is camped. Rand is like a Warder whose Aes Sedai has died; he is consumed by the knowledge of his impending death and can’t care about others.

Nynaeve wonders if the approaching storm to the north she can sense is gathering in the Blight. It seems closer than that. I think she senses the event where Rand will consider destroying the world – Dragonmount.

Nynaeve’s room moved higher up in the Stone of Tear in the night, her doorway opening onto a wall of stone so that she was sealed in. It symbolises that she’s risen high in the world, and perhaps in Rand’s esteem, but is cut off from doing things and is stonewalled.

Cadsuane patronises Nyaneve to goad her into “proving herself” to be of use. She wants to know more than whether Nynaeve is of use, but if she can be trusted and self-disciplined. Cadsuane is so commanding that Nynaeve wants to obey her and earn her approval. Once aware of this, Nynaeve rebels and demands to know Cadsuane’s plans before she tells her anything. Cadsuane doesn’t answer but pointedly asks how Rand’s meeting went. It is an excellent reality check for them all (and directly refers to the reason why Cadsuane wants to find Perrin). Cadsuane is determined to break through Rand’s darkness.

In contrast, Corele seems ludicrously light-hearted and complacent. She thinks there will certainly be a happy ending to the Last Battle because Min has viewings of the time after. Wrong. If the Dark One wins, he breaks the Pattern, invalidating the prophecies (except presumably some of the Shadow's prophecy.) This forces Nynaeve to divulge information of Perrin’s location, and then Cadsuane tells Nynaeve her plans as a reward.

Cadsuane's knowledge level is that of a scholar. This shows she used her long life wisely and didn’t rely only on her strength in Power. Min and Cadsuane understand the philosophy and theology of the Pattern.

Nynaeve had the choice of whether to help Cadsuane help Rand, and indirectly Lan. Rand fears to go to Far Madding but after his epiphany he doesn’t. He thankfully didn’t think of using the True Power at this time, but does in Towers of Midnight but is not longer inclined to do so.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Shadow's prohecies actually are prophecies but rather a way the DO manipliulate his followers. Why would the DO use prophecies when they are part of the Pattern/Creator and by being fulfilled they strengthen Order. The DO is the embodyment of Chaos and strives for the end of everything.

Linda said...

Well Siuan said that they have an annoying tendency to come true.