Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #38: Chapter 35—A Practised Grin

By Linda

Olver POV

Olver tries to make Bela go faster, but she ignores him to stay safe in the middle of the group for her and Olver’s own good. Wisely, she conserves her energy. None of the adults in the group think a child should be at the forefront of danger, but Olver disagrees. As they travel, he daydreams of being a warrior, earning respect from the Shaido and avenging the death of his father. The caravan has lost 15 people in a few days in the Blight, and Olver wishes Noal were there because he would know how to deal with the Blight’s dangers and how to get out of it. Then he remembers that Noal died in the *Finn’s world. It was not Thom the bard who told people how Noal died, but Moiraine. Olver feels very alone—left behind by those close to him—and is determined that no one will abandon him again.

Olver rightly expects that Mat will show up at Shayol Ghul because he always ends up in danger, even though he says that he will stay out of it, and Shayol Ghul is the most dangerous place of all. Olver thinks Mat is faking being humble, but Mat genuinely doesn’t want to be a hero; he is pressed reluctantly into it by fate. Of course, he could refuse to listen to fate, but Mat won’t let others die or dishonour himself by doing so. Doing the right thing even though he’d much rather not is the best thing about Mat.

Cadsuane POV

Cadsuane respects the Aiel because they are so determined and focussed—great fighters. In her opinion, the Wise Ones don’t weave as well as Aes Sedai, but their toughness makes up for it. Yet by long custom, the Aes Sedai would never have let Sorilea test even for Accepted, which would have been a terrible waste, considering her other fine attributes.

The future Amyrlin realises the extent that the Aes Sedai have been corrupted by the Shadow to prevent them making a proper contribution to the Last Battle. Intelligent, courageous and with no illusions, she tried to do something about the problem at least as far back the Aiel War, but was prevented by events.

Cadsuane interprets Aviendha’s respect to her as acknowledgement that Cadsuane should be the leader at Thakan’dar. The Green sister works out that the Forsaken attacking the area is Graendal, even though the Forsaken looks nothing like Graendal originally did. She teaches the group what little she knows of the True Power—which again, is more than most Aes Sedai, because she is very effective at mining the White Tower archives—and also understands that Graendal used the True Power as an emergency source. Cadsuane and Sorilea make a private pact to hunt Graendal, but they aren’t successful.

Rand is using enough of the Power, including saidar, for it to be felt strongly at Thakan’dar. Cadsuane expected Forsaken to be in this area, and is determined to protect Rand from them. Her sensitivity to the atmosphere of sombre misery at Thakan’dar that emanates from the Dark One shows that she is far from unfeeling.

Speaking of feelings, Aviendha feels responsible for Graendal’s breaking her ring when she wasn’t there. She didn’t release her colleagues to defend themselves, but held them to her, never considering that they might be in danger. Cadsuane accepts that Aviendha did make a mistake and advises that in future she stay with her ring. Sorilea suggests that Aviendha call on her, Amys or Cadsuane if Graendal reappears and Aviendha counters that they must all do the same. Cadsuane and Sorilea rather reluctantly agree. Nevertheless, this plan did not happen and Aviendha battled Graendal alone.

Faile POV

Faile is trying to catch the person who tried to open the Horn’s chest, but is lured from her trap. Or so she fears. However, it was just as well that Faile decided to investigate the noise because Vanin spied her hiding something in the waste dump and dug up the Horn. Faile considers blowing the Horn of Valere for their salvation against Shadowspawn, but believes it would be futile because the Horn is still tied to Mat.

When Faile thinks of this situation

“And Light, she hoped that she hadn't been deceived more than it seemed.”

A Memory of Light, A Practised Grin

her hopes are forlorn, because she has misinterpreted the scene, but the distraction and subsequent Shadowspawn attack prevented her finding anything out. Had she hurried back to her tent, she would possibly have seen the chest moved while she was out—but she still might have blamed it on another Redarm in league with Vanin, and not Aravine.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #37: Chapter 34—Drifting

By Linda

It is Perrin who drifts into nothingness as he lies wounded, but Rand is “drifting” between the Dark One’s nothingness and reality, between all of time and here-and-now, and Faile’s group are directionless as they decide where to go next.

Rand POV

Rand’s contact with the Dark One’s blackness in his previous POV has brought him outside of Time, which is where the Dark One is imprisoned. The Dark One’s nothingness that wants to consume is a black hole personified. Shaitan can’t create independently—only eat or destroy what the Creator has made. The Creator has no other name, as though s/he has no other role. Which brings the question, can the Dark One actually make a world in his own image? He is nothingness, so is that also only what he creates? Is all his other rhetoric about (re)making the world a lie? Or does he do a cheap knockoff of the Pattern he just destroyed? So many questions.

All around him spread a vast nothingness. Voracious and hungry, it longed to consume. He could actually see the Pattern. It looked like thousands upon thousands of twisting ribbons of light; they spun around him, above him, undulating and shimmering, twisting together. At least, that was how his mind chose to interpret it.

- A Memory of Light, Drifting

Twisting ribbons of light is also how the Powers in weaves appear to those who can see them. Rand is watching the Pattern being woven.

As Rand sees, the Pattern is all of time, all possibilities, all at once. This is why if the Dark One wins in one world he will win in all: because all the worlds and times are right there.

In this chapter, Rand, like the Welsh god Lleu Llaw Gyffes, is liminal, on the threshold: he is not in the Pattern, and not entirely outside it either, but in between. This is the only place that Lleu—and his parallel Rand—can be killed, and where the greatest alchemical wedding can take place. Having seen what he is fighting for, Rand steps back into the Pattern/reality a bit so he can make sense of events and not be lost in the vastness. I was always convinced that this confrontation would not be determined by a simple “who would win in a fight”, but a theological or metaphysical solution.

It’s nice to see the Dark One pointing out to that his faithful henchman he has been effective, after he and Rand criticise Moridin.

Perrin POV

Badly wounded, Perrin is dying. He has landed in a world with wolves who have not had wolfbrothers and they reject him. Ironic, after he spent so much time fighting his wolfbrother side and finally accepted it.

Lanfear comes to check on him and is disappointed to see him beaten. Perrin is ashamed at failing her and pleads to be Healed, an indication that he is under her Compulsion. His conscious mind is shocked that he cares about her opinion, so he has some control over himself still, and is not fully under her sway.

Lanfear won’t Heal him because he doesn’t deserve her. A dark Goddess of Sovereignty, she only Heals those who serve her or that she thinks will. In desperation, Perrin thinks of Faile and a portal out of Tel’aran’rhiod, and manages to shift to Merrilor, then collapses. This little scene shows not only that there is still something wrong with Perrin, but how he will overthrow it and be fully himself.

Faile POV

Faile suggests Berisha sent them to the wrong place due to the trauma of the bubble of evil and her injuries from it. Setalle/Martina disputes that an Aes Sedai would fail under pressure—because those are weeded out in testing for the shawl—but we know that at least one has. Faile doesn’t think Aes Sedai are so free of error.

While Aravine says:

”Surely the Shadow has greater things to misdirect than a simple supply train."

- A Memory of Light, Drifting

she knows very well that it is not, but is trying to pass it off as an accident and cut short their concerns that it is a trap or at least a danger. Faile thinks that

If the Shadow had planned a trap for her caravan, it meant the Shadow knew about the Horn. In that case, they were in very serious danger. More serious, even, than being in the Blight itself.

- A Memory of Light, Drifting

This is quite correct, as are many of Faile’s deductions in the series. Aravine has convinced Setalle that the misdirected gateway was not intentional, but the bubble of evil’s fault. An ex-Aes Sedai would want to think that a sister did not fail under extreme pressure, and so accepted the rationalisation readily enough. Faile decides the gateway was an honest mistake that a Darkfriend took advantage of by killing Berisha to strand them. Setalle openly admits to Faile about being a burned out Aes Sedai, something that Faile thinks is suspicious in itself and leads her to wonder if Setalle is a sleeper Darkfriend. While Faile has the right idea, she is looking in the wrong direction for her sleeper. Sometimes paranoiacs are justified; but, unfortunately, Faile becomes suspicious of everyone except her close assistants. To those, she’s very trusting and loyal.

Setalle suggests they head for Shayol Ghul. That must have given Aravine quite a surprise.

Aviendha POV

Aviendha respects Sarene and the way she keeps her emotions under control. That’s something coming from a parochial Aiel, particularly when she says that Sarene would have made a good Maiden. It’s ironic that in the Tower Whites are considered the least practical and worldly, but out in the world others think they would make good fighters.

While Aviendha is killing red-veils, Graendal kills two of her ring, gravely injures another and captures the fourth by Compulsion.

For all that she rejects the red-veils as not Aiel—because ji’e’toh defines Aiel and they don’t follow it—Aviendha takes it personally that the men used to be Aiel, but the Shadow corrupted them. At least she blames the Shadow and not the men for this.