Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #64: Chapter 57 - A Rabbit for Supper

By Linda

At first I thought it remarkable that the group was returned to their Tower of Ghenjei entry point rather than Tear, since they were in the chamber where the Tairen doorway ter’angreal was in the *Finns’ world, or even a random point. A definite link-point, or tangent, between the two worlds is necessary for entry or exit it seems. The Tower is the nearest active tangent since the other two were broken when the doorway ter’angreal were destroyed. Which leads me to wonder how new tangents are made between the worlds, and by who.

Mat boasts in his exhilaration at escaping– so typical of a trickster. He even forgot the price paid for their escape until Moiraine reminded him by asking after Noal. Neither man told her that Noal was actually Jain Farstrider. Thom deduced his identity before Mat did, but said nothing.

Moiraine seems more human to Mat now, because she is more expressive—the same character, only stronger. He is in awe of her courage and determination, and likens Moiraine to great heroes like Birgitte and Jain—then realises he has spoken with them, too. Mat refuses her offer of Healing for his pain. While he respects Moiraine’s courage in attacking Lanfear even though she knew what the consequences would be, he fears and dislikes the One Power as much as ever and avoids being in her debt.

Emotion is a ‘treat’ for the Finns. Like the elfin or fairy folk, the *Finn folk steal from people. The Eelfinn ‘stole’ Moiraine’s ability to channel—it is now a fraction of what it was. Moiraine is now only novice strength but the ivory bracelet angreal raises her to Cadsuane’s level or even Nynaeve’s strength. She was not drained completely, for some reason; perhaps so that they could keep drinking her intense emotions? If she were stilled, then she would be depressed and lifeless in comparison. The *Finns may not have even been able to drain her completely; but may have had to leave a miniscule ability, since they were not severing someone from the Source, or burning out their ability.

Lanfear’s ability was slightly reduced so she was removed from the *Finns fairly soon. The loss persisted despite her death and transmigration to a new body. Moiraine was correct that the *Finns lied about killing Lanfear and that Lanfear’s departure was associated with Moridin’s visit to the world, looking for a woman:

"They claimed to have killed Lanfear by draining her too quickly, though I think they may have been trying to make me afraid. A man was there once, when they woke me. He said I was not the one he wanted." She hesitated, then shivered.

Towers of Midnight, A Rabbit for Supper

It is telling that she shivers at the thought of him, that this brave woman was somewhat fearful of him. Her belief that Mat and Thom would come for her kept her going and stopped her despairing.

The angreal was one of Moiriane’s three demands – and the trickster *Finns unexpectedly used it against her. They were able to get the batter of someone as clever and far-sighted as Moiraine. As discrete as ever, Moiraine keeps her other two requests to herself. These appear not to have been about obtaining her return – she knew she needed to rely on Mat and Thom for that, from info gained through the Wise Ones’ ter’angreal in Rhuidean. She “used them for the best”, so presumably they were to help the war against the Shadow. She has no object on her, so she may have asked for something intangible, such as knowledge. Another thing to bear in mind is that she was as naked, passive and comparatively helpless as a baby when freed—a symbolic rebirth. Moiraine shows no new ability. Perhaps one of her demands was for staying alive until Mat and Thom reached the chamber and completed their bargaining. (She would anticipate that, after what he went through last time at the hands of the *Finns, Mat would include their escape as part of the bargain.)

As confirmation that we are at the end game, there is some exchange of information between Mat and Moiraine. Moiraine recognises the relevant prophecy for Rand cleansing saidin of the taint:

'By the Dragon came our pain, and by the Dragon was the wound repaired.'

Towers of Midnight, A Rabbit for Supper

Some of the information is flawed: Mat still believes Morgase was killed by Rahvin. He tells Moiraine that Rand killed him, but neither he nor Thom know the fates of the other Forsaken. At this point Mat intends to go to Caemlyn (which has been attacked by the Shadowspawn and lost).

Moiraine proposes marriage to Thom (like an Aiel!) to Mat’s great shock. He has been oblivious to their relationship until this point. Naturally, he assumes that Thom, after all the trouble he has had with Aes Sedai, especially them killing Owyn, fears and dislikes them as much as he, and can’t imagine Thom loving one.

Before they can ask, Mat refuses to marry them, in contrast to Perrin marrying Morgase (whom Mat still believes dead, although she was in Perrin’s camp when Mat dropped by) to Tallanvor. And worse follows: Thom volunteers to be Moiraine’s Warder – and even to live in Tar Valon or Caemlyn. Mat thinks he is nuts. The Warder bond is a trap that Mat would apparently never succumb to, and Tar Valon and Caemlyn are too painful for Thom. Mind you, Mat said the same about marriage: “Only a fool married” (A Crown of Swords, A Note from the Palace). (Tricksters avoid marriage—and responsibility, too—which is why Mat won’t take the responsibility of marrying the happy couple.)

Thom reminds Mat that Tuon could learn to channel. Mat takes comfort that she wouldn’t dishonour herself by doing so. Yet Tuon will channel eventually. One of her roles is Nemesis and she will be her own Nemesis one day. Another is Fortuna with her wheel, showing that what goes around comes around.

Feeling surplus to requirements, Mat wanders off to privately honour Jain and worry about Tuon and his loss of stereoscopic vision. He gains useful items by chance. This ability or luck will wear off to a degree once he is no longer ta’veren, but he will still be a trickster figure, still be innovative and cleverly walking the edge, but probably less invincible.

No comments: