Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Towers of Midnight Read-through #44: Chapter 37 - Darkness In The Tower

By Linda

Gawyn POV

Gawyn remarks that the air is fresher with a clear sky. Endless clouds are part of the wrongness:

The open air felt good - different, somehow, from the same air beneath a cloudy sky. With the last light of dusk fading, the stars shone like hesitant children, peeking out now that the uproar of day had died down. It felt so good to finally see them again. Gawyn breathed in deeply.

Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower

The “rightness” seems to help change his negative thoughts and feelings. Gawyn is in Andor where the wrongness is weaker because Elayne is there, and those linked to Rand have some of his positive influence on the Pattern. Another example is that there is less rotting of food around Perrin.

Gawyn is jealous of Rand’s status:

Much of Gawyn's hatred of al'Thor came from frustration. Maybe jealousy. Al'Thor was playing a role closer to what Gawyn would have chosen for himself. Ruling nations, leading armies. Looking at their lives, who had taken on the role of a prince, and who the role of a lost sheepherder?

Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower

The Andoran Prince has been lost, and will be lost again in A Memory of Light. As First Prince of the Sword he would lead an army but he would not rule nations as Rand does. Currently Gawyn is doing neither. It sounds like he is not content to be Elayne’s advisor and protector. If he were Prince of the Sword he would have higher status than he does now and also be doing what he was trained, and sworn, to do. He thinks about what his status would be if he were Egwene’s Warder: an honourable post but it means stepping aside as far as individual personal achievement is concerned. Finally he understands about serving another, which is what he also would have done as Elayne’s First Prince of the Sword. He was sworn to that job, but never seems to have really understood it or accepted it. Having gained some understanding, Gawyn is more ready to be Egwene’s Warder. As we find out in the next book, that doesn’t mean much because Gawyn is frustrated and discontented with the roles life has offered to him.

Gawyn still has trouble not reaching for his sword when thwarted. He would be a tyrannical ruler if were to rule nations like Rand, but then so was Rand, only a short while earlier. Gawyn manages to restrain himself and ask politely for information. This is Foreshadowing of Gawyn “reaching” (over-reaching?) for his sword in A Memory of Light because he feels that he is not playing an important role, and causing his own, and therefore Egwene’s, death.

From what he learns, he quickly deduces that Egwene is in Tel’aran’rhiod and vulnerable to assassins, and runs through a gateway to the Tower and up to her rooms. Just in time: the dreamspike is immediately brought to Tar Valon and no further gateways can be made until it is gone. Gawyn was the person running to save Egwene in her prophetic dream:

Straps at waist and shoulder held her tightly to the block, and the headsman’s axe descended, but she knew that somewhere someone was running, and if they ran fast enough, the axe would stop. If not…

- A Crown Of Swords, Unseen Eyes

Egwene’s body lies helpless in bed as her mind fights Mesaana and the Black Ajah in Tel’aran’rhiod. Gawyn runs frantically through the Tower to prevent the Bloodknives killing her while she is unconscious. He had to be quick to get a gateway made before they were blocked by the dreamspike and also to get there before the Bloodknives killed Egwene.

Gawyn is finally roused to protect others and think more of himself for doing so, rather than thinking OF himself. Again this is what he was brought up to do as First Prince of the Sword. His fight in the dark against the Bloodknives in Egwene’s room is probably his finest hour. Only the fact that they keep fighting gives him hope they haven’t killed Egwene already. He puts his decision to protect into action and is taking grievous wounds while defending Tower from them, even if Egwene is dead. His solution to combat the Bloodknives’ powers is to take the risk of fighting in the dark, where there are no Shadows to distract or mislead. Egwene’s maid was caught in Egwene’s trap and is a helpless witness.

Egwene POV

Carlinya’s death in Tel’aran’rhiod against the Shadow fulfils Min’s viewing of a raven tattoo:

For an instant, Min saw an image of a raven floating beside her [Carlinya’s] dark hair, more of a drawing of the bird than the bird itself. She thought it was a tattoo, but she did not know its meaning.

-The Fires of Heaven, Sallie Daera

Many readers thought the raven tattoo meant she would be captured by the Seanchan and made da’covale, since da’covale are marked with a raven tattoo, whereas Min’s viewings of those taken as damane involve the a’dam. However ravens are also symbols of the Shadow. It was a representation of a raven (and the Shadow) since Tel’aran’rhiod is not the ‘real world’ but the World of Dreams.

The Wise Ones consider whether to join Egwene in fighting Forsaken. Such a dangerous battle is not one to go into lightly – even though they did enjoy it. The Dreamspike traps Black Ajah, Wise Ones and Aes Sedai alike.

Mesaana almost overwhelmed Egwene’s mind in Tel’aran’rhiod; she had to flee to escape the Forsaken. The Wise Ones camouflage themselves for ambush, thus showing more skill than Egwene who Egwene attacks in an obvious pattern.

Perrin POV

Perrin denies Slayer is a wolf. He is a wolf of wrongness – a human Darkhound, in a way. Slayer, with two souls in one body, and losing his humanity through frequently entering Tel’aran’rhiod in the flesh, is emblematic of wrongness.

Slayer worries that Perrin will drop the dreamspike into Dragonmount’s vent. Or Perrin was meant to think so. Perrin isn’t sure which, but either way it does give him an idea of how to destroy it.

To fight Slayer, Perrin became a wolf in Tel’aran’rhiod fully, and feels a rightness that he should be so. Perrin doesn’t try to offload the dreamspike as he intended, but keeps it with him.

In this scene Perrin and Slayer are equally matched. In contrast, Perrin out classed Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod. Egwene is shown as not quite experience enough or skilled enough for Tel’aran’rhiod battles in this chapter. When Egwene grabs at Perrin with Air, Perrin undoes her restraints and stops weaves including balefire. He warns Egwene about the dangers of the World of Dreams, just as she has done to channellers who are novices in Tel’aran’rhiod. What Egwene tried to do was a big mistake; had Perrin been held by Egwene’s bonds of Air, he would have been at the mercy of the Shadow.

Distracted by Perrin’s presence and skill, Egwene was nearly killed by the Black Ajah. Perrin sees Egwene under attack and gives her some timely reminders of how Tel’aran’rhiod works. In the meantime, Hopper is severely injured. Perrin helps Egwene at the cost of Hopper. While Perrin is distracted by Hopper’s peril, Slayer is the stronger in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Perrin worked out how to replenish his blood in Tel’aran’rhiod. He can’t heal himself though. Slayer implies there are ways to do so.

Mesaana POV

With an offhanded thought, she strapped Katerine's back with lines of Air. Failure needed always be punished. Consistency was the key in all forms of training.

Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower

Mesaana consistently is uncaring, as an earlier POV shows:

Mesaana could be cruel where necessary, and she did not care what Semirhage did to others.

Lord of Chaos, Prologue

The Dreamspike is as much a hindrance as it is a help. It pins Egwene’s people in place but also prevents the Black Ajah luring them elsewhere to an ambush (and the Aes Sedai would probably have fallen for it, given their track record). Mesaana assumes Egwene knows where the dreamspike is, because non-channellers don’t handle objects of the Power effectively, supposedly, nor are they entrusted with them.


t ball said...

The scenes with Perrin and Egwene in TAR were some of my favorite in this book. And I loved it even more when it became important again -- for both characters, for different reasons -- in the last book.

Perrin saying "it's just a weave" was a very powerful moment from a very simple statement. It made me go, "duh!" while bopping myself on the head when I read AMOL.

For Perrin, the entire arc that culminated with him defeating Slayer later on was some of the best character development of the entire series. This made me both enjoy Sanderson's treatment and pine for what Jordan might have done differently.

Linda said...

I like how they mirror each other in interesting ways, even down to their prospective spouses making their lives more difficult, although for different reasons.

Yes, I agree that for Perrin TOM and AMOL were a great story arc.

It's true that Jordan would have done various things differently - some better, others maybe not better, just different.

Leyla said...

As always, I enjoy reading your astute read-through of each chapter - I'd love for you to do this with the earlier books, which are so rich in symbolism and information that becomes relevant - much, much later, that is.

My last sentence leads into my next thought: maybe Jordan would have written it better, prose-wise [I think Sanderson lacks musical prose] but he might have taken twelve more books to do it. From a completely objective perspective, things slowed down way too much after LOC/ACOS, and I can't really accept the whole "Pattern is slowing down" as a defense - it sounds ridiculous! It also sounds like backpedaling. Jordan is certainly a master, but I honestly think his books would be much more popular, as well as critically acclaimed, if he had managed to condense the period between A Crown of Swords and, say, Knife of Dreams, because imho the action doesn't really start up again until KOD.
I hope my opinion isn't too controversial! I think that even huge fans, in their heart of hearts, can admit that the series became way too unwieldy, and Sanderson saved it in that respect.

I'm still not sure who/what Nakomi was. Before she appeared again in AMOL, I had the idea that she was somehow linked to the ter'angreal in Rhuidean, that the ter'angreal was so special that it had developed sentience of a sort, in the form of Nakomi, especially seeing that nudging Aviendha in that direction resulted in her going through the column ter'angreal again, even though she didn't need to. However, I *wasn't* able to account for the strange things that were happening to the food/fire, which does sound exactly like T'A'R now that I think of it :)

Linda said...

Thanks Leyla. :) Dominic and I started a chapter by chapter re-read at Wotmania in 2007, and then when we started the blog we decided to concentrate on posts about the themes since TOR had started their read-through by that stage and we wanted to do something different. I might go back to doing a read-through in the future, using the original read-through posts as a starting point.