Thursday, August 23, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #33: Chapter 26 - Parley

By Linda


Perrin POV

Dreamspikes do multiple things, not just block gateways, but they are valued for this one ability now. Presumably they were invented during the War of Power or late in the Collapse. I think the staleness that Perrin smells around an activated Dreamspike is from the flow of the Pattern being blocked.

To a wolf, one weapon is the same as another, but they are more discriminating about their foes. It is this exchange that highlights to Perrin the difference between the hammer and the axe – that one of them can be used to make as well as destroy. This is similar to the distinction the Jenn Aiel made during the Breaking regarding edged tools: a knife or spear can be used to obtain food, but a sword is only for killing. Perrin too is distinguishing between his foes. He is trying to avoid killing Whitecloaks so they can fight their common enemy, the Shadow. The difficulty is getting the Whitecloaks to understand the same. Some do, as we saw in earlier chapters, but, as in many groups, the extremists are more vocal than those with more moderation and understanding.

The best leaders often don’t want the responsibility given to them, or the trust lain in them, but they accept it. It is the latter that Perrin is taking so long to realise.

Perrin decides there should not be a battle, and asks the Wise Ones to help him prevent it. The Aes Sedai won’t do so; they see it as using the One Power as weapon, yet they would be using the One Power to prevent battle. I suspect the Aes Sedai were already disinclined to do this, not wanting to channel at Whitecloaks, and easily convinced themselves they were bound not to.

By showing the Whitecloaks he can really hurt them, Perrin bluffs them into being more malleable.

Galad POV

Galad also wants to prevent battle. He says it’s possible that they don’t understand what is going on, and wonders if he was influenced by Byar and Bornhald into misjudgement.

In this scene Min’s viewing of Berelain falling for a man in white is fulfilled, and returned on Galad’s side. Galad literally wears white, but the viewing could also encompass his purity as well. To a degree, Galad is amenable to Perrin’s suggestions because he wants to make a good impression on Berelain.

Galad notices that Perrin is a “woodsman risen to be a lord.” This is the King of the Wild motif of Perrin’s character (see Perrin essay). As befits a wild man, Perrin is as casual and blunt with Galad as he is with anybody. Even Niall might have had trouble turning his words into something else.

Galad can’t walk away without dealing justice. He is surprised Perrin is serving tea at a war parley, because he thinks it is inappropriate, since where there is such conflict, and lack of trust on both sides, the possibility of poisoned food and drink increases tension between parties.

The tea is a vehicle to introduce Morgase back into Galad’s life. Galad realises that he killed Valda for something Valda didn’t do – but still justifies it on the grounds that Valda deserved it for assaulting Morgase. Then he wonders if that is true. (It is, so Galad was right, but he couldn’t know that for sure. Naturally Valda did not tell Galad whether his sexual encounter with Morgase was forced.) Galad gave Valda a trial by combat under the Light, yet Galad doesn’t see the outcome as “proof” of Valda’s guilt. Once, Galad would have. Once, Galad would have accepted that the outcome of a trial under the Light shows whether the accused is guilty or not.

Interestingly, Perrin is not too shocked when told Morgase is his queen. Galad assumes Morgase abdicated after Perrin “captured” her, but it was after the Seanchan conquered the Whitecloaks and she gave forced consent to Valda. Morgase assures Galad that Perrin is not a Darkfriend, and Perrin that she will judge the trial fairly.

I thought Galad had great character development in this chapter:

I killed Valda, Galad thought immediately. Killed him for the death of my mother. Who is not dead. I have done evil.

Towers of Midnight, Parley

The perfect man has never been shown to be in error before – let alone to such a serious degree.

Galad insists there must be a trial – a fair one - and that the Whitecloaks must prove their claims. No longer is a trial by combat or battle enough in Galad’s eyes to prove guilt or innocence. His own error proved that to him. There must be evidence and a say from both sides.

Byar is forced to see reason and quiet his protests by Galad. It’s impressive that someone under Compulsion still respects Galad enough to go against their programming.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #32: Chapter 25 - Return to Bandar Eban

By Linda


Not only does the sun shine when Rand arrives, but the wind clears away the stenches. (Decent food is very obviously worth more than gold and silver. It always is: health, body and soul, is one of the most valuable things.)

Iralin the dockmaster kept people away from the rotten food so they didn’t die by spreading false rumours about the Sea Folk. When he berates Rand, Rand accepts it, but Min defends Rand, saying he can’t do everything.

The open sacks are full of rotten food, but when Rand opens a sack it is fine. He says that they only opened the rotten ones – something very unlikely, but possible, more possible than that he undid the Dark One’s touch by his presence and made rotten things hale again. The food is killing rats, which is ironic, since rats are the Dark One’s spies and report to him.

Bandar Eban has become utterly rotten and stinking due to Rand’s use of the True Power and balefire (double sin) there to kill Semirhage. (Natrin’s Barrow was some distance away from the capital.) He was also forced to torture one of his loves in Bandar Eban. Now he has returned to right the wrongs he did here, or more correctly, the consequences of his actions rather than wrongs. In contrast, Ituralde has been going through hell fulfilling his part of the bargain he made with Rand, which was to keep the Shadow from overrunning Saldaea in return for Rand restoring order to Arad Doman.

The parlous state of the city makes Rand conscious of his errors and failings, and the good qualities of the Seanchan. Tuon brings order and justice (Link). The comparison (and the way he treated Tam) made Rand want to destroy.

"I wasn't here. I abandoned this city when I saw that I could not use it as the tool I wished it to be. I forgot, Min. I forgot what this was all about. Tam was so very right. A man must know why he is fighting."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

In contrast to earlier, Rand doesn’t call Tam his father. It may be that in later times people forget Tam was his foster father, and write about Rand as born of a maiden, no father, fostered…

Guilt and shame exhaust Rand:

"I know I must go on," Rand said, "but it hurts to know the things that I've done, Min. By turning myself to steel, I pushed out all of these emotions. By allowing myself to care again, to laugh again, I've had to open myself to my failures, too."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

Min gives Rand hope, by telling him of the future. The Prophecies of the Dragon are all about doom and gloom; he needs something more positive, rather than “damage control” or survival instructions. Not that these aren’t important, but they aren’t enough by themselves. Then her viewing widens from Rand to everyone in sight. This is very rare and is perhaps due to the effect of Rand feeling more positive.

Also, Min believes in him, and shows him that she doesn’t blame him for what Semirhage made him do. Her love and belief give him essential confidence:

"You're more vital than them all. You remind me who I am. Besides, you think more clearly than most of those who call themselves my counselors. You could be a queen, if you wished it."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

Min is the only character who just wants to help and support Rand. Rand passes on the hope and trust that she gave him to the Domani and inspires them to clean up their city themselves. Earlier Rand invaded with a peace-keeping force (which of course had to be maintained), now he promotes a more self-sustaining order.

Rand acts like he doesn’t need many guards now. He seems to be very aware of his ‘miraculous’ abilities or qualities now, before they become evident. Often Rand seems to be deliberately expressing enigmatic, zen-like qualities. He still doesn’t answer questions, but now it is to gently make himself mysterious, whereas before it was because he tyrannically refused to be beholden to anyone and explain himself. For example, when asked if he can ennoble people, he smiles and says somebody has to. He will remain a day or so for the Domani to “make things stable”. He is also making the Pattern stable so rot and sickness die down. The people he has gathered can be trusted. Very telling.

Iralin is sceptical it can be done so quickly, but Min says

"I think you'll be surprised by him, Lord Iralin," Min said, gripping the ladder and starting to climb. "I am, each day."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

I believe that Rand is setting up his legacy for when he dies; making his own legend, rather than allowing the Shadow or time to trash his memory as happened to Lews Therin. Perhaps he thinks this is how he will ‘live’ after he dies.