Monday, July 28, 2014

Towers of Midnight Read-through #43: Chapter 36 - An Invitation

By Linda

Egwene POV

Egwene appears in Tel’aran’rhiod dressed in white sewn with gold thread and black obsidian trim. Since Tel’aran’rhiod is a dream world, and dreams communicate through symbols, let’s look at the symbolism. Egwene is dressed in pristine white to show her purity here, the opposite of the Shadow’s black, and her personification as the White Tower, but she is also dressed like a White sister, logical and lacking in empathy. She has made her deductions on what is happening and put aside her feelings for Gawyn (and overridden his). The gold (the colour of the sun and royalty) and black (darkness) trimming perhaps indicate her plans to deal with Rand and the Shadow… Yet she is overshadowed by both. The dress is a showy version of Mesaana’s dress that she wore in The Gathering Storm Prologue while vainly boasting of how she would deliver the Tower to the Shadow. And Mesaana is about to act on that promise and attack her enemy, Egwene.

No less important is that Egwene chose the one colour both Aiel and Sea Folk respond to. For the Aiel, white is for gai’shain, who serve the warriors to restore their honour, but then Egwene is the Servant of the Servants of All. To the Sea Folk, white is unflattering to wear and shows a lack of joy in colour (Winter’s Heart, To Lose The Sun). Does this help Egwene in her negotiations with them?

Egwene disconcerts the Aiel and Sea Folk channellers with her honesty. By admitting that Aes Sedai are controlling, and acknowledging that the other groups have something to offer the Tower, Egwene shows them respect and makes them more inclined to consider her offer.

Egwene suggests they share knowledge and, gasp!, cooperate; and even learn to appreciate each other’s ways. She wants two of each group’s advanced students to train with, and learn the ways of, other groups. They should train for at least six months but less than two years, and must follow the rules of their host group. At the end of their stint they return home for at least one year and then can choose where they wish to be. This way the groups retain their autonomy and customs but widen their outlook. Egwene’s unspoken intent is for larger quantities of trainees to be exchange students and she is relying on the fact that since only the best will be sent it will be seen as a high status posting and others will clamour for this recognition. And so it spreads.

The Sitters argue for the old system of White Tower control, but Egwene shows them that times have changed. Asha’man can’t be ignored or treated badly. Like the Wise Ones and Windfinders they are worthy of respect and acknowledgement. Egwene wants to guide rather than dominate. Unspoken is that the Aes Sedai schism and the Black Ajah purge publicly proved that Aes Sedai are not superior to other groups. The discussion appears open in this scene but there is a lot that is not said aloud.

The Shadow did not play to Egwene’s plan, but just attacked; rather like Rand’s response to Graendal’s attempts at manipulation:

”You make her think that you are sitting down across the table from her, ready to play her game. Then you punch her in the face as hard as you can.”

The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light

Egwene’s plan was logical (the white dress!) but its attempts at manipulation were seen through. Or ignored.

Perrin POV

Perrin realises that he can’t throw the dreamspike away secretly. This looks back to when Nynaeve, Elayne and Egeanin tried to remove the threat of the male a’dam by throwing it in the deepest ocean and failed to do so. And also forward to the aftermath of the Last Battle, when Birgitte will arrange for the Horn of Valere to be hidden:

"I sent Olver away," Birgitte said. "With guards I trust. I told Olver to find someplace nobody would look, a place he could forget, and toss the Horn into it. Preferably the ocean."

A Memory of Light, Epilogue

It will be found in another Age when it is “needed”. Things hidden away are “intended” to be found; they can be relied on to recur. (The Dark One is one of those things.)

Perrin sets out to hide the dreamspike in Tel’aran’rhiod in a city somewhere while he attends to Slayer. He can’t outrun Slayer but must confront him and kill him.


Anonymous said...

Egwene also allows the wind finders and wise ones to keep objects of the one power. Something no aes sedi would have allowed. Even though it was never a crime per say. Aes Sedi still insisted that all one power objects where property of the white tower.

Linda said...

Yes, partly as a mark of respect to the Wise Ones and Sea Folk, and to rid herself and the Aes Sedai of obligations. And partly because with the advent of the Asha'man the Aes Sedai can hardly justify keeping the objects attuned to saidin. (Asha'man will be making them before long anyway, so it is pointless).