Thursday, October 11, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #36: Chapter 29 - A Terrible Feeling

By Linda


Faile POV

Having finally cleared his name regarding his fidelity, it is now time for Perrin to explain his Whitecloak crimes:

"It bothers Perrin when people think he did something wrong. As long as the Whitecloaks continue to insist he is a murderer, his name will not be clear." He was being bullheaded and foolish, but there was a nobility about it.

Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling
Faile loves Perrin’s honour and strength. Borderlanders respect strength and also have a strong sense of honour, as we are seeing with Yoeli, Faile’s fellow countryman defending Maradon, and the Borderlander rulers. While Faile trusts Morgase to be just, she is naturally worried that the trial could go against Perrin.

Berelain assumes everyone is manipulative and subtle like her – but then she has had to assume this for her own political survival. Faile comes from a region where they can’t afford the distraction of political games, and, not having had to expect the worst of people, understands individual variation better.

When she had her viewing of Berelain falling for a man in white, Min commented that Berelain had no shame (Lord of Chaos, Thorns). An example of Berelain’s lack of shame in love is her continued efforts to find any excuse to go see Galad. She showed little restraint or care about others in her pursuit of Perrin either, though that was desire, not love.

Alliandre casually provides further opportunities to discuss Galad. She may be trying to confirm Berelain’s feelings for future reference, or just distracting the other two women from the topic of Perrin. It must have been tiresome to have the front seat while their fight over Perrin went on.

When Faile thinks the Commander of the Whitecloaks is not a good marriage prospect for a ruler, she is probably thinking of how unpopular Whitecloaks are, and their tendency to takeover nations. On the question of how would Berelain and Galad manage their respective positions and responsibilities, the Whitecloaks could settle in Mayene, since they no longer have Amadicia and their presence would keep Tear out. Or the Children could establish in an ‘empty’ area and Galad and Berelain could use Travelling to be together.

Alliandre abruptly brings up Morgase. She and Faile are angry with Morgase for not telling them her identity, when Alliandre, at least, thought they had become friends in their trials. The captives abandoned ranks so all could survive together, but it turns out the three women were all roughly of the same rank anyway. Berelain and Perrin think that Morgase’s reticence is reasonable, but then they weren’t taken by the Shaido.

The bubble of evil turned people’s weapons against them, to bring fear and despair. Things designed to protect are now attacking their owners. It fits in with what people are feeling: Faile worries that Perrin’s nobility could be turned against him, Galad that his leniency to Perrin will be the undoing of the Children, while Perrin is stalling to find out whether there is a trap, but that gives the ambush more time to be set up…. Berelain was the first to identify the bubble of evil and the solution to deactivating their weapons. Faile saves Berelain even while reflecting on how trying Berelain is.

The fingerroot trees in this scene appear to be like freshwater mangroves. True mangroves usually grow in brackish water.

Morgase POV

A mentoring mother, Morgase watches out for the weaknesses and strengths of her children and tries to bolster them. She is aware that Elayne uses knowledge as a weapon to get ahead of others, outdo them, or undo them. Galad has very high principles, but a simple definition of morality, whereas Morgase believes that sometimes there is no possible moral ground:

Shown him that the world was not black and white—it wasn't even gray. It was full of colors that sometimes didn't fit into any spectrum of morality.

Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling
Later in this book we see the Seanchan who are both very good and very bad at the same time and the amoral *Finns.

Galad thinks Valda deserved death for raping Morgase, and betraying her trust. He has some moral confusion because he was only half right about Valda’s crimes, yet is glad that he killed him. Morgase will use this to widen Galad’s understanding of people and their circumstances and failings. It will prevent him from being judgmental of others. Too many of the Children succumb to self-righteousness. Both Galad and Berelain have fairly inflexible systems for dealing with people and situations: Galad is too straightforward and polarised, Berelain too Machiavellian. It should in an interesting relationship.

Morgase respects Galad’s choices. Some were better than her own, in her opinion. This is quite a thing for her to admit, considering how she felt about Whitecloaks even before she went to them, and what she experienced at their hands.

While Galad listened to Morgase’s belief that Valda was behind Niall’s murder (correct), he doesn’t include that in Valda’s crimes since he has no evidence.

Galad is disapproving of even the possibility that Morgase might be advocating Perrin not be punished for his crime. Morgase judges Perrin to be good and is prepared to find that his crime might have extenuating circumstances, especially knowing Whitecloaks. She shows Galad the downside of capital punishment – that if someone is wrongly convicted the punishment cannot be undone – and that no judge is infallible.

Morgase is surprised that she respects Niall and has fond memories of their games of go. It might surprise her that Niall felt the same. Or perhaps it wouldn’t. She wants Galad to be like Niall, or even better.

Galad believes that the Whitecloak dogma that Aes Sedai are all evil is mistaken. It developed from the observation in The Way of the Light that the One Power can lead to corruption. Which is true, any power can; and Galad has firsthand knowledge that the White Tower is in need of reformation, but the battle against the Shadow outweighs other problems. He agrees to travel with Morgase, but pointedly doesn’t say with Perrin. And only after the trial.

The trial is very important because Galad believes that no crime should go unpunished and that Perrin has a guilty conscience. By this stage of the scene, Galad seems to be softening on his opinion that Perrin is Shadowspawn. After all, surely Shadowspawn would not have a conscience with which to feel guilt.

Morgase exposes Galad’s threat to execute his prisoners as a lie or, if he carried it out, a wrong deed. He is dismissive:

"So you would have killed the others," Morgase said. "People who did no wrong, who were innocent of nothing more than being beguiled by Aybara?" "The executions would never have occurred. It was merely a threat." "A lie." "Bah! What is the point of this, Mother?" "To make you think, son," Morgase said. "In ways that I should have encouraged before, rather than leaving you to your simple illusions.

Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling
This is inconsistent with his earlier attitude and quite a change for him, since it shows him as in the wrong, normally unthinkable. Morgase regrets that she did not show Galad that good and evil are not that simple since good people can mistakenly do wrong or be pushed into it by circumstances. Perrin could be one in this situation. Morgase herself wrongly convicted a man to die. The Light doesn’t automatically protect people from evil or prevent good people from doing wrong, as Galad is starting to discover. Right now he is suppressing this a little. Morgase makes some inroads in puncturing his zealous convictions, because he frowns and looks troubled, but then he appears to decide to see what the Pattern and the trial bring. Morgase wants Galad to be aware that there could be reasons why people commit crimes and that there is not just one appropriate sentence for each type of crime.

Galad decides the delay provided by the bubble of evil is an opportunity to think. As Bryne remarked earlier, Galad thinks a lot. And usually to good purpose.

In the exchange quotes above, Moragse calls Galad ‘son, which is true, since he is her step-son (unlike Ituralde’s and Lan’s use of ‘son’ to younger men, which sounds patronising) and is consistent with the way she called Elayne ‘daughter’ in The Eye of the World.

Perrin POV

Perrin’s hammer is a tool rather than a weapon and so it didn’t respond to the bubble of evil.

Tam is leaving Perrin to go to Rand, who will try to kill him – and almost become a Kinslayer of his own volition. The shame of this brings Rand out of the darkness. Tam will tell Rand that Morgase is alive.

Elayne POV

Elayne’s comical parade through Caemlyn on a litter adds to her reputation for recklessness as well as courage. Her reluctance to rest, and earlier to accept the guidance of a midwife is paralleled in Queen Elizabeth 1, who in her last illness refused to be examined by a doctor or to rest in bed. The litter is also described as a bed in one sentence. All through her long reign Queen Bess made a big show of being a woman, as Elayne does here. I noted some other parallels between the two women (here), but I’ll write more in the Elayne essay that I’m writing.

Elayne’s fear of heights reminded me of the Seanchan saying: “On the heights, the paths are paved with daggers” (The Shadow Rising, Seeds of Shadow). Perhaps Elayne’s fear of heights is a symbol that she should guard against a tendency to overreach in her ambitions. The success to taking and keeping the Cairhienin throne is being above Daes Daemar, Elayne thinks. She might not be going to intrigue in Cairhien – much - but is going to put spies on Aludra, because she mistrusts her motivation and discretion. Elayne offers Aludra access to more bellfounders, but also insists on an oath of secrecy: using carrots and a stick, as she was taught to do.

Elayne is disparaging of Mat’s judgment of the cannons’ value until she remembers her own mistakes. This mirrors the Galad and Morgase scene where each sees the other’s imperfections and is reminded of their own.

Aludra had the cannon bodies recast because if the metal has flaws or is the wrong composition it could explode upon firing. Aludra thinks there is no danger to bystanders because her calculations are perfect and she judges that they were followed. She does not allow for people making mistakes, such as operator error, and in her own way is as overconfident as Galad or Elayne. The cannon are firing four to six inch cannonballs. Elayne thinks they are so small compared to catapult stones that they won’t do much damage. Aludra is planning on four men per cannon (see Mat, Fireworks and Bellfounder article). The sound the cannon makes upon firing is realistic, but there is no smoke or recoil described. The men take three minutes to reload, but Aludra says they would be faster with more training. Until now she has shown a reluctance to let go of her creations, but in battle she can’t calculate all the trajectories herself, or do all the training of gunners. In this demonstration she had to allow the men to light the fuses.

It is interesting that Birgitte recognises gunpowder. She realises what a difference gunpowder weapons will make to the world, with more destructive and lethal power accessible to more people, as per Egwene’s dream of Mat:

Mat sat on a night-shrouded hilltop, watching a grand Illuminator's display of fireworks, and suddenly his hand shot up, seized one of those bursting lights in the sky. Arrows of fire flashed from his clenched fist, and a sense of dread filled her. Men would die because of this. The world would change.

-A Crown Of Swords, Unseen Eyes
The chapter title of “A Terrible Feeling” refers to Birgitte’s mislike of gunpowder weapons. In contrast, Elayne is just excited at the opportunity they present and is unconcerned about what misuse they could be put to. In many ways, with breezy confidence and little thought for anything except her own nation’s benefit, Elayne gives this reader the most misgivings. One can see this aspect of her character in Aviendha’s visions of Elayne’s children. But the title is also appropriate for Galad’s confusion over getting Valda’s crime wrong, and in committing a wrong deed yet feeling right about that, and for Morgase’s regrets in not teaching him better.


Anonymous said...

The bubble of evil didn't effect the hammer at this point because it's not a weapon. The power wrought hammer is later.

Anonymous said...

Nice recap as always Linda.

One comment: Perrins hammer is a normal smiths' hammer at this point, he is yet to manufacture his Power forged behemoth.

It was debated somewhere that his hammer was unaffected since the bubble of evil only affected weapons, which the hammer is not.


Anonymous said...

Oh snap. Beaten by minutes. Oh well, uhm Hear, hear!


Linda said...

Thanks, everyone! I need to fix that up. :)

herid said...

I think you are being somewhat unfair to Elayne. She did have misgivings about using the dragons if only subconsciously.

Birgitte finally lowered her glass. She felt. . . solemn.

"What?" Elayne asked as the Guards took turns with her glass, inspecting the devastation. She felt some odd indigestion. Had she eaten something bad for lunch?

Sid said...

Actually the word 'lunch' is a new addition to the series in the last two books as well

Linda said...

Herid: I interpreted that as Elayne subconsciously feeling the revulsion Birgitte was feeling. That is why she can't pin down while she feels bad - it's second hand from Birgitte. If something appals you personally, you are conscious of it.

herid said...

Elayne usually can tell the feelings that come through the bond. In this very scene she mentions that Birgitte felt solemn. I think it's her own subconsciousness at work here.

@Sid That's a good point about "lunch".