Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #5: Galad POV

By Linda


Unlike most characters, Galad can tell the time even when the sun is hidden. Is he so sensitive to the sun that he knows where it is even if he can’t see it? As the paramount Child of the Light emblazoned with the Sunburst symbol and half-brother to the Lord of the Morning, he is truly in tune with the Light of the World.

Galad sees the long promised dead mules that show Jordan’s credentials as a Southern writer:

Nearby, bulbous forms floated down in the river, to catch upon rocks. Some were the corpses of men, but many were larger. Mules, he realized, catching a better look at a snout. Dozens of them. They’d been dead for some time, judging by the bloat.
Likely, a village upstream had been attacked for its food. This wasn’t the first group of dead they’d found.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Perhaps this makes Galad a Southern gentleman. If the village was attacked for food, why were the mules allowed to float away and not retrieved and eaten by somebody? A waste if people are starving.

The Children of the Light are lost in gloom and discomfort. While everyone is moaning about the mire, the corruption and the vermin, Galad notices that there are still healthy and beautiful patches. Even in filth there is hope. The Land resists evil, as Galad does. He thinks the rottenness and the mire are testing the Children, but actually it also symbolises them. The Children of the Light are literally mired and stained and in need of reform. Only Galad can see the potential for good in the situation or find the way out of their problems – though like he said; it was a difficult way.

Galad could have taken the Children back through the swamp, as Bornhald wished, but he refused to; he was correct when he said that it would lead to the past. He thinks he can’t face Asunawa because Asunawa has the more powerful backing and also that the Last Battle is more important. Yet by running he has ensured that he will face Asunawa and also likely make a positive contribution to Tarmon Gai’don.

There is much in this scene about Whitecloak beliefs as well as Galad’s beliefs:

Valda--the Lord Captain Commander before Galad--had turned out to be a murderer and a rapist.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Galad is right, but not in the way he thinks. When Galad finds out Morgase is alive, he believes that some of his justification for killing Valda was false, and thus that, contrary to the Children’s belief, the truth wasn’t validated by ordeal under the Light, and has a crisis of conscience. Yet it was validated, but it was not the truth that Galad thought. Valda is a murderer because he arranged Niall’s death.

Galad feels Valda’s misdeeds tarnished “the entire order”. This is a reference to monks, crusading military monks in this case, and the Children’s real world parallels of the Teutonic Knights and Knights Templar.

In the minds of Galad and most Whitecloaks, his victory over Valda in their duel proves the justice of his claim:

“If the Lord Captain Commander’s cause had been honorable, would he have fallen to me in a battle under the Light? If I were a Darkfriend, could I have slain the Lord Captain Commander himself?”
Harnesh didn’t answer, but Galad could almost see the thoughts in his head. The Shadow might display strength at times, but the Light always revealed and destroyed it. It was possible for the Lord Captain Commander to fall to a Darkfriend--it was possible for any man to fall. But in a duel before the other Children? A duel for honor, under the Light?

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

The justice of trial by ordeal was a belief prevalent in medieval and earlier times. Much of Whitecloak custom is medieval in style too, while the rest of the mainland has attitudes and technology (except in the case of weaponry) of the 16th to 18th centuries. Asunawa and the Questioners are like a witch-hunt with their hysterical sightings and accusations.

The Whitecloaks’ faith is combative, but can lead to fatalism:

“Tell me, do the Children of Light surrender?”
Golever shook his head. “We do not. The Light will prove us victorious.”
“And if we face superior odds?” Galad asked.
“We fight on.”
“If we are tired and sore?”
“The Light will protect us,” Golever said. “And if it is our time to die, then so be it. Let us take as any enemies with us as we may.”
Galad turned back to Asunawa. “You see that I am in a predicament. To fight is to let you name us Darkfriends, but to surrender is to deny our oaths. By my honor as the Lord Captain Commander, I can accept neither option.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

just as belief in the Pattern and its revelation though prophecy does for other mainland groups. Whitecloaks are convinced that the Light will protect them until it is their time to die. These aspects have similarities with the Way of Leaf, but the Whitecloaks’ use of violence to spread and maintain their belief as well as defend it is, of course, a complete contrast.

Not all the Children follow the Karaethon Cycle, especially the leadership. Niall thought it legend:

The Last Battle truly was coming. Not the Tarmon Gai’don of legend, with the Dark One breaking free to be faced by the Dragon Reborn. Not that, he was sure. The Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends might have made a hole in the Dark One’s prison at Shayol Ghul, but Lews Therin Kinslayer and his Hundred Companions had sealed it up again. The counterstroke had tainted the male half of the True Source forever and driven them mad, and so begun the Breaking, but one of those ancient Aes Sedai could do what ten of the Tar Valon witches of today could not. The seals they had made would hold.
Pedron Niall was a man of cold logic, and he had reasoned out how Tarmon Gai’don would be. Bestial Trolloc hordes rolling south out of the Great Blight as they had in the Trolloc Wars, two thousand years before, with the Myrddraal-the Halfmen-leading, and perhaps even new human Dreadlords from among the Darkfriends. Humankind, split into nations squabbling among themselves, could not stand against that.

- The Dragon Reborn, Prologue

Rand al'Thor was a false Dragon and a tool of the Tower. The world was full of fools who could not think. The Last Battle would not be some titanic struggle between the Dark One and a Dragon Reborn, a mere man. The Creator had abandoned mankind to its own devices long ago. No, when Tarmon Gai'don came, it would be as in the Trolloc Wars two thousand years ago and more, when hordes of Trollocs and other Shadowspawn poured out of the Great Blight, tore through the Borderlands and nearly drowned humanity in a sea of blood.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

Niall fails to consider that Tarmon Gai’don could have hordes of Shadowspawn plus the Dragon Reborn, yet it makes sense that the Last Battle would be worse than the Trolloc Wars. I guess anything with the word “Dragon” in it, and thus a world-saving channeller, would be unlikely to be acceptable to Whitecloaks.

Asunawa calls the Dragon heresy:

“The Last Battle comes, Asunawa. We haven’t time for squabbling. The Dragon Reborn walks the land.”
“Heresy!” Asunawa said.
“Yes,” Galad said. “And truth as well.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

The Questioners’ beliefs are built on illogic and rejection of the Prophecies that the Dragon Reborn will walk the Land.

Some Aes Sedai consider male channellers as heretical and the extremists see them as tainted or abandoned of the Light (apostate) (The Dragon Reborn, The Price of the Ring), or even as unbelievers (see Aes Sedai Attitudes to Male Channellers article). Such attitudes are similar to those of the Questioners.

Galad doesn’t seem concerned that the fulfilment of prophecy – or what is truly happening – is heretical to Questioners. He realises that the world is in the Last Days, therefore Rand must be the Dragon, being unable to believe the Pattern would not provide humanity with a much needed saviour. His junior officers also accept the existence of the Dragon Reborn and Galad’s statement that they will ally with Rand against the Shadow.

“It’s a good plan though,” Trom said, then lowered his voice. “I’ll admit, Damodred. I worried that you’d refuse leadership.”
“I could not. To abandon the Children now, after killing their leader, would be wrong.”
Trom smiled. “It’s as simple as that to you, isn’t it?”
“It should be as simple as that to anyone.” Galad had to rise to the station he had been given. He had no other option. “The Last Battle comes and the Children of the Light will fight. Even if we have to make alliances with the Dragon Reborn himself, we will fight.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

The last sentence foreshadows that the Whitecloaks will do so.

Galad’s philosophy is that doing what is right is the most important thing and requires any sacrifice. Galad’s parallel is the perfect Arthurian knight, Sir Galahad (see Arthurian Who’s Who and Character Names G articles):

Doing what was right was the most important thing in life. It required any sacrifice. At this time, the right thing to do was flee. Galad could not face Asunawa; the High Inquisitor was backed by the Seanchan. Besides, the Last Battle was more important.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

He is perhaps more perfect than his half-brother, Rand, who will literally represent Everyman, errors and all.

Galad, with his extremely high standards, expecting the Children to bear their afflictions with pride, is the Light’s ascetic, just as Graendal is the Shadow’s. (Incidentally, I always thought Galad would be a target for Graendal.) It is Morgase’s teachings that make him a better, more human leader:

However, memories of lessons Morgase had taught--lessons he hadn’t understood in his youth--were nagging at him. Lead by example. Require strength, but first show it.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

His stepmother was the making of him and he is much influenced by her and thinks of her as his mother. This is a credit to Morgase.

Galad shows Byar that Aes Sedai will be needed at the Last Battle to fight Shadowspawn, Forsaken and Dreadlords. If the Children had succeeded in eliminating the Aes Sedai, they would have ensured the Light’s defeat. Later in the book we see that many Whitecloaks can’t fight even the least of the Shadowspawn, the Trollocs.

In this scene Bornhald and Trom don’t call Galad Lord Captain Commander or my Lord. They also try to advise him. Galad impresses them almost against their inclination. In contrast, Byar does give Galad his title and is strongly roused by his speech:

“Where is the victory of this swamp? I refuse to feel its bite, for I am proud. Proud to live in these days, proud to be part of what is to come. All the lives that came before us in this Age looked forward to our day, the day when men will be tested.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Galad’s speech about the swamp foreshadows that he will refuse to be weakened or corrupted by Whitecloak attitudes or the Questioners.

Galad inspires the Children rather than bullies them, and, following Morgase’s lessons - lessons he had barely understood before, let alone adopted - not only shows strength, but also in a short while, goodness and nobility.

In this scene Galad mirrors Egwene. Working a way around her Oaths, Elaida said Egwene was a Darkfriend to justify attacking her with the Power. The Questioners had no need of hypocrisy or restraint. Asunawa seems to consider Galad easy prey but he was quickly out reasoned just as Elaida was by Egwene. He appears to lie, or else he’s as good as Elaida in convincing himself he saw what he needed to see:

“But I would not call that fight fair. You drew on the powers of Shadow; I saw you standing in darkness despite the daylight, and I saw the Dragon’s Fang sprout on your forehead. Valda never had a chance.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Ironically it was Valda who told us Asunawa never actually lies (A Crown of Swords, Prologue), despite doing a nice line in mistaken beliefs and distorted truths. (Just like Elaida.)

Medieval logic was faith based and so it is with that of the Whitecloaks, who are strongly medieval. For instance, Asunawa believed something is evil, because it was a threat to him, an anointed of the Light, therefore that evil something must have given off signs to him.

This is like Elaida’s logic about male channellers, which she regards as unbelievers:
    The Light rejects channelling men. ‘Proof’ of this is that male channellers are cursed to go mad and rot alive. If a man actively channels, then he doesn't believe in the Light, because if he did believe, he would try not to channel so the Light wouldn't reject him.

Asunawa is more concerned about power and influence than the welfare of the men:

“You cannot hinder the Hand of Light in such a way! This would give them free rein to seek the Shadow!”
“And is it only fear of questioning that keeps us in line, Asunawa?” Galad asked. “Are not the Children valiant and true?”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

A lot of this is a power grab. Valda owed Asunawa his position to the extent they collaborated to assassinate Niall. (Asunawa then threatened to get someone else as Lord Captain Commander, but Valda foresaw this and brought forces into the Fortress (A Crown of Swords, Prologue)). Galad is more revered than Asunawa is feared and owes him nothing, therefore with him as Lord Captain Commander Asunawa would lose power and influence.

“What terms would those be?” Asunawa asked.
“You swear--before the Light and the Lords Captain here with you--that you will not harm, Question, or otherwise condemn the men who followed me. They were only doing what they thought was right.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Asunawa claims Galad is touched by the Shadow, which is why he could defeat Lord Captain Commander. According to Whitecloak beliefs Valda was doomed to die in the duel for honour due to arranging the murder of an anointed Lord Captain Commander; Galad was just the instrument of this. When Galad out-logics Asunawa by saying that the Light should have defended Valda and prevented Valda’s death, Asunawa answers that shit happens.

Galad shows up Asunawa, in the way he has the welfare of the Children at heart, rather than his own power, and in the way he concentrates on the Children’s true role. He runs his men through their catechism in front of the High Inquisitor and shows that they follow it better than Asunawa does.

Asunawa is outraged at the limitation of his power when Galad forces Asunawa to agree to leave all Galad’s forces alone. More importantly, Galad shows his men that Questioners should not be necessary, and that there are more important things than power grabs. After all, the Questioners’ role of policing the Children shows that the Children are imperfect, and the more they exercise that role, the less perfect the Children must be. Their existence denigrates the Children. No wonder the Children despise them.

Asunawa’s influence is reduced further by Galad’s noble willingness to sacrifice himself for the Children and the Last Battle, which makes Asunawa look like the power hungry schemer that he is:

“Galad,” Bornhald said softly. “Don’t do this. We can fight. The Light will protect us!”
“If we fight, we will kill good men, Child Bornhald,” Galad said, without turning. “Each stroke of our swords will be a blow for the Dark One. The Children are the only true foundation that this world has left. We are needed. If my life is what is demanded to bring unity, then so be it. You would do the same, I believe.” He met Asunawa’s eyes.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

We are left believing that Asunawa would not willingly sacrifice himself in this way, yet he is sacrificed for unity after Galad’s officers pick up on these words. Thus ends the Whitecloaks’ split and rebellion.

Galad is definitely leading by example, which is why Bornhald finally acknowledges his title:

Galad turned his sword and handed it out to Bornhald. “Return to our men; tell them what happened here, and do not let them fight or try to rescue me. That is an order.”
Bornhald met his eyes, then slowly took the sword. At last, he saluted. “Yes, my Lord Captain Commander.”

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

Galad owed Bornhald and Trom for their support, but now they owe him. And so ultimately will all the Whitecloaks – except Asunawa and maybe the other Questioners.


Fragrant Elephant said...

Another great post! Brandon's writing of Galad in this section was excellent -- I was impressed at the character's development and the way he uses reason and Whitecloak logic against Asunawa. Some fans speculate that the line, "His blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul" could mean that Galad will sacrifice himself at the Last Battle. Well, however that prophecy works out, readers know that Galad will always Do the Right Thing.

Peter said...

I always look forward to reading another installment of your WOT insightful analysis.

I have always considered the character of Asunawa to have a strong parallel to the 17th century English "Witch-finder General" - Matthew Hopkins.

Linda said...

Thanks all!

Peter, that is a good suggestion.