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.

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