Monday, October 26, 2015

A Memory of Light Read-Through #2: Prologue— Talmanes, Egeanin and Aviendha POVs

By Linda

Talmanes POVS 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12

Talmanes has a series of POVs interspersed among the other Prologue POVs to maintain suspense. They are glimpses of the trials Talmanes and the Band went through to save the dragons—and also many Andorans. At first they coerced mercenaries to help them secure a corridor to the western city gate through which the refugees could leave the city, but when this was cut off by the Trollocs, as expected, Talmanes persuaded Guybon to order his troops to leave the Palace and help them protect the southern gate for refugees.

Once Talmanes might not have shown concern for the ordinary folk—peasants or labourers—but Mat has had a positive influence on him: he is more socially responsible and caring, and less arrogant. Talmanes admires Mat for caring as well as being a brilliant general:

There was a softness to the man equal to his genius—an odd, but inspiring, combination.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Mat the trickster is a social anomaly, refusing to be pigeonholed or have his behaviour limited, which is why Talmanes:

still didn't rightly know whether to think of Mat as a lord or not.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Despite having the worst sort of Thakandar blade wound, Talmanes remained focussed on saving the dragons, and kills a second a second Myrddraal that was complacent—not knowing that Talmanes had nothing left to lose. His action saved his troops because they would never have been able to eliminate all the Trollocs it was linked to.

The Band overcame tremendous odds to reach the dragons but Aludra criticised them for taking so long to help her. She is sarcastic to Talmanes, so he returns the favour:

"This, it is a new revelation to you?" Aludra asked. "As if I haven't been trying to do that very thing. Your face, what is wrong with it?"

"I once ate a rather sharp cheese, and it has never quite sat right with me."… "What about my face?" Talmanes raised a hand to his cheek. Blood. The Myrddraal. Right. "Just a cut."…

"More Trollocs, my Lord. Lots of them! They're filling in behind us."

"Lovely. Set the table. I hope we have enough dinnerware. I knew we should have sent the maid for that five thousand seven hundred and thirty-first set."

"Are you . . . feeling all right?" Aludra asked.

"Blood and bloody ashes, woman, do I look like I'm feeling well? Guybon! Retreat is cut off. How far from the east gates are we?"

A Memory of Light, Prologue

It turns out that he likes being cryptically sarcastic and ironic; he has a subtle, dry humour.

Maybe if I smiled more when I made jokes, he thought idly, leaning against the side of the barricade. Then they'd understand what I meant. That, of course, raised the question: Did he want people to understand? It was often more amusing the other way. Besides, smiling was so garish. Where was the subtlety?

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Talmanes laughed hysterically at the irony of the situation, to the surprise of the others, who see no graveyard humour, only tragedy. He laughs up his sleeve at people, enjoying fooling them, showing that he is an ideal companion for a trickster. It’s a sign of his dire straits that he is more open than usual, and our opinion of him changes as a result. These are his first POV in the series. Disconcerted by this, Aludra starts stating the obvious, after she criticised Talmanes for it, so Talmanes got his own back.

It was a mercy in more ways than one that Talmanes refused the offer of a mercy killing because he then thinks of a way to escape the Trollocs while the others are defeatist. A further step in his “nothing left to lose” situation is that the pain is no longer growing because the taint has consumed him already. With the Trollocs waiting to rush in and seize the dragons, Aludra offers to destroy them. Talmanes realises that they can use most of the dragons to kill the Trollocs and the rest to blast a hole in the wall on the other side of the square to escape.

Egeanin POV

Egeanin intends Bayle to stick to the law, to reform him. Bayle wants to go off away from the conflict, but she is going to give information and help—offer herself—to Nynaeve and Elayne to stave off depression and loss of identity and redeem her honour after being demoted. She has not explained this even to Bayle until now.

She might be Shipless, but she would not let herself slip into the depths and drown.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Egeanin is also very distressed about sul’dam being able to learn to channel, and that Seanchan power is therefore built on a lie. The Seanchan Empire has lost honour in Egeanin’s eyes; but the Empress rationalises this away by emphasising the difference between innate ability and usage, and learned ability—the power of choice. Yet events can force even a sul’dam into channelling despite her previous intentions, as Bethamin shows in Knife of Dreams, A Cold Medallion. It’s a very thin line. (The Aiel also live a lie: as to their origins and the oaths they forsook.)

Now, months after she had discovered the truth, her mind could not encompass all of the implications. Another might have been more interested in the political advantage; another might have returned to Seanchan and used this to gain power. Almost, Leilwin wished she had done that. Almost.

But the pleas of the sul'dam . . . growing to know those Aes Sedai, who were nothing like what she'd been taught . . .

A Memory of Light, Prologue

While Egeanin has spent a lot of time worrying about this, she has been oblivious to the consequences of her surrender of the male a’dam to the Seanchan. Nynaeve’s chastisement is a rude awakening. She determines that with this extreme loss of honour further penance is warranted: she must be da’covale to the Amyrlin. Killing herself would be too easy a way out.

"Yes," Leilwin said softly. She understood now. "I regret breaking my oath, but—"

"You regret it, Egeanin?" Nynaeve said, standing, knocking her chair back. "'Regret' is not a word I would use for endangering the world itself, bringing us to the brink of darkness and all but shoving us over the edge! She had copies of that device made, woman. One ended up around the neck of the Dragon Reborn. The Dragon Reborn himself, controlled by one of the Forsaken!"

Nynaeve flung her hands into the air. "Light! We were heartbeats from the end, because of you. The end of everything. No more Pattern, no more world, nothing. Millions of lives could have winked out because of your carelessness."

"I . . ." Leilwin's failures seemed monumental, suddenly. Her life, lost. Her very name, lost. Her ship, stripped from her by the Daughter of the Nine Moons herself. All were immaterial in light of this.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Aviendha POV

Aviendha is not reprimanded for breaking the taboo of the glass columns ter’angreal and entering it twice. Instead, the Wise Ones steel themselves for the added burden of the Aiel being at risk of degenerating and being ruined.

Bair has faith that the columns work to help the Aiel and that the future they show must therefore be able to be changed. She thinks the visions are a warning rather than irrevocable fate. Sorilea says this is irrelevant because they must try to change it regardless. Nor does the vision mean that the Last Battle will be won, because if it is lost, the Dark One breaks the Pattern and all prophecy is void.

Aviendha realises that the Merrilor meeting, where Rand will make demands of the other allied nations, but not the Aiel, is pivotal to the Aiel’s future. Also that regardless of whether Rand did or did not include the Aiel in his Bargain, the Wise Ones would feel insulted.

To give the Aiel an exemption from his price—if, indeed, that was what he intended—was an act of honor. If he had made a demand of them with the others, these very Wise Ones might have taken offense at being lumped with the wetlanders.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Aviendha rightly thinks the most important task she will ever do is prevent the Aiel’s road to ruin. But this depends on seeing her children raised better. These are things she would never have known if she had not attempted to ‘read’ the glass columns ter’angreal.

The Wise Ones are pleased that Rand accepts his destiny—has embraced death—and believe that his sacrifice should not be undervalued by the Wetlanders; that it is acceptable for him to demand the nations to follow his wishes in exchange. The Aiel have truly followed Rand—even when they thought his commands or plans foolish—but most of the other nations, on the whole, have not, due to division or scheming or distraction.

Bair takes it upon herself to validate Aviendha’s vision. She feels that she is more expendable because she is not a channeller, and yet also very experienced and strong.

Aviendha asks Bair if she knows of a Nakomi. Bair says Nakomi is an ancient name (see Character Names N). It is a reference to the Song of Hiawatha, and so is part of Jordan’s premise that our history becomes the Wheel of Time world myth and vice versa.

Regarding names, Bair recommends that Aviendha change one of her children’s names and never speak of the former name to anyone as a way to change the vision the glass columns showed. (Aviendha is not even pregnant yet, but no one doubts the prophetic visions—and nor does the reader.) Bair is determined to change the Aiel’s future and Aviendha sees this is a good and meaningful way to do it. This scene refers to the traditional belief in the power of names.


t ball said...

I still find the entire Nakomi thing confusing, a little too deus ex machina, as if the author is guiding the characters a bit. I don't visit theory sites, is there any sore of consensus for what/who Nakomi is? I've seen suggestions ranging from Verin (nah, says I) to an avatar of the creator (also seems highly unlikely).

Linda said...

I discussed this in a Towers of Midnight post, and I still have that opinion. I don't think she was Verin. I accept what Bair says about Nakomi being an ancient name--it fits with the Hiawatha legend. My opinion is that Nakomi is/was an Aiel who was a Hero of the Horn. Towers of Midnight, Chapter 39.

t ball said...

You are sensible, as usual!

BigB said...

Thnk you for resuming the read through, it's a pleasure to read it!

I have 1 comment here (to Nynaeve...): I find it quite interesting that Egeanin's failure lead to the Dark One's proper imprisonment: Without Semirhage's little play on Rand he would never ever (well, I can't imagine how) touch the True Power. That was crucial at the last moment at the bore. Also, Rand would have never recognized Callandor as a True Power sa'angreal. So, all in all, Egeanin's failure, Semirhage's capture and escape, and sadistic play was all planned by the pattern... :o)

Linda said...

Thank you. :)

Good observation. So often things that should have been 'disastrous' of 'bad' turned out OK or even for the best. The Aes Sedai's Law of Unintended Consequences is applied throughout the series.