Thursday, March 12, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #60: Chapter 53 - Gateways

By Linda

Pevara POV

Taim has made a Dark School, or Devil’s school, where the hindmost are beaten for mistakes, and the Devil is shortly to take any channeller. The Tower, too, became a Dark School once Mesaana ensconced herself there and brought Elaida and the Hall under her influence.

Pevara reports that the Ash’man are mocking Aes Sedai by overdoing deference and pandering to them. Rand overdid courtesy to Tuon in A Memory of Light. She did not feel mocked but did feel she had been lowered, rather than acknowledged as higher, in status.

Taim is trying to play the rebel embassy against the Reds, by pressuring the Reds to contact the rebels, to ensure the two groups stay apart. If they did join together, there would be more than 13 of them, and they would be able to form two or three rings of six or more, and be a threat to the Asha’man—but they competing and unlikely to cooperate. Pevara should have called Taim’s bluff and accepted his offer to invite the rebels to join them. Though that, too, would have its risks.

In the meantime, Javindhra has cleverly manipulated Pevara. Her contrariness is a ploy; I suspect she is Black Ajah. Pevara realises the danger they are in and wants to bond a few Dedicated and leave. Javindhra’s original negative attitude toward going to the Black Tower, and Bonding Asha’man may represent her true feelings or she may have been ordered to stop the expedition. I suspect the former. It would suit the Shadow to gain some Turned channellers and for influential Reds to be “lost” to the Aes Sedai. Therefore I expect that once the Supreme Council and Mesaana knew about the Reds’ plan, Javindhra was ordered to participate. Very probably she is under orders to stay at the Black Tower herself, no matter what the other Reds do. But if she can stall for time and keep the others undecided, so much the better. To achieve this, she makes herself look foolishly stubborn.

Pevara should remind Javindhra of their duty to return to the Tower, and see what excuse she makes. They should return—they have been given up on and new Sitters raised in their place. When people do things against their natural inclination or what they have said previously, the Shadow is usually involved. Pevara respects Javindhra’s rights as a Sitter and doesn’t pull rank as expedition leader. Previously, she assumed Javindhra would follow custom and law but now realises too late that she may not. Like any good leader, Pevara feels responsible for all the group members, and sees madness in some of the Asha’man, so she feels she must try once more to get Javindhra to leave.

She disapproves of the Bonded Aes Sedai trying to manipulate their Asha’man through sex. At first the women felt justified because they were Bonded against their will. Soon they feel something else; the Bond is a two-way street.

Tarna is now behaving as off-hand and contrary as Javindhra. She has the dead eyes of a Turned channeller. It is immediately obvious to anyone who knows her that something is wrong. This is not the case with Javindhra, whose appearance has not changed and who therefore has not been Turned. She is aiding the Shadow of her own accord – following orders – and is just a Black Sister. Javindhra’s delaying tactics were successful: the Myrddraal have come. Violation of a person’s spirit, will and ethics by enforced apostasy is a huge Wrongness and the Land will react to it.

Pevara feels vulnerable due to being tied to the Three Oaths; without the belief that Asha’man are Darkfriends she has to fear for her life to strike back. More vulnerability follows: gateways won’t open. The Dreamspike is in place. She has left it too late and should have cut her losses days earlier and taken those who would go. The stalling has worked.

Perrin POV

Perrin’s leg feels like it remembers being injured in Tel’aran’rhiod. Perhaps this is because Healing of injuries gained there often leaves a scar, as Verin and Nynaeve showed. It is a reflection of the frequent depiction of blacksmith gods as lame (see Perrin article).

Faile avoids Mat because she disapproves of him and his “disreputable” influence. In the last scene, he encouraged Perrin to stay at the inn late.

There is a hint that something is a little odd about Aravine not returning to her estates in Amadicia. The Seanchan would likely respect her claim to them, being keen on the law, and the risk that she might be able to channel is small.

Perrin believes Rand should make the Seal on the Dark One’s prison anew, breaking the old cuendillar focal points. He didn’t tell Egwene this; just that he will be there at Merrilor. He intends to keep the armies and people from fighting each other, and is more unifying than Egwene, and more open to Rand’s ideas. Having finally accepted leadership, Perrin is taking the time to check all his troops out and return their salute. He wonders how they could sense he resented leadership since they can’t smell emotions. However, they can read body language, listen to the tone of his voice and for what is not said as well as what is said.

Like the wolves Perrin can feel the Last Battle. He is prepared to make anybody fight to prevent the Shadow winning.

This POV is a small, positive interlude between two increasingly dark and dangerous threads.


Thom feels he should wear gleeman’s clothes to rescue Moiraine; they symbolise the quest for him and, of course, how they met. He looks more humble and more “foolish” or carnivalesque in them, just as Noal is wearing a frock coat like a circus master or showman. Mat is in non-descript clothing typical of the Two Rivers, where he started his trickster career as a prankster. Throughout the series, Mat is either over-dressed or quite down at heel; making a spectacle of himself to put one over others. This emphasises that all three men are tricksters and that is why they are the only ones who can go on this quest. It takes three tricksters to beat the *Finns. Whatever is done three times is more potent, more true (see Number Symbolism article).

The joke is on them that they made the opening sign too small, the first time. The triangle is the actual doorway. The men are aware that the game can’t be won. Mat’s luck must change the odds in this rigged game – as it did in Tear with Comar’s weighted dice.

The Tower of Ghenjei’s reception room is black with white steam and the smell of sulphur, or brimstone. The steam and the *Finns are both repelled by fire/light. This Otherworld is an underworld. It’s infernal or hellish, but different to the foxes’ lair or the snakes’ burrow. Perhaps it is neutral territory?

Mat remembers how the rooms and corridors shifted to confuse him during his Rhuidean visit to the *Finns’ world. He holds a grudge against the Foxes because they didn’t answer his questions – yet that’s not their bargain. They bestow “gifts”. He also claims the Snakes’ answers were not useful, but he has been using them.

The Eelfinn have malicious faery-like laughter, but they are also like imps, minions of the devil. Both faery folk and imps are tricky. Their pointed ears are like those of foxes (another tricky and untrustworthy creature (see Animal Symbolism article) and elves, elfin folk, as their name Eelfinn indicates. The *Finns are not agents of Shai’tan, but are alien to all. Jordan has combine multiple sources to create the ultimate otherworld trickster, which Mat must out-trick (see Tricksters article).

A Fox tries seducing or hypnotising them. He suggests a one-sided bargain where they leave their fire, and he will take them half-way to the bargaining chamber. Their music dispels his glamour, exposing his bargain as the worthless, even dangerous, thing that it is, and seduces him in turn. This makes Mat accept that Foxes grant requests rather than answer questions. When he visited the Eelfinn from the Waste, he was the butt of the joke in trying to make the wrong sort of bargain with them.

Mat recognises that the *Finns have consistent rules but not ones that make sense to people from another world. They reach where he entered from the Rhuidean doorway ter’angreal, and confirm that this exit is lost to them. He rolls a one, and then three nines. The latter three tosses of the dice appear to require them re-tracing their steps. Three times makes true, again, and tests their resolve.

The Eelfinn claim they are innocent and don’t deserve to have their rules violated. Such disingenuousness is a typical con or bargaining ploy.

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