Friday, September 7, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #50: Chapter 44—Two Craftsmen

By Linda

Perrin POV

The hospital in Mayene is well-informed about how the battles are going. By recognising Chiad, Perrin reminds of her potential dishonour as a gaishain in visiting the battlefield to retrieve the injured and tend them. Perrin tells her it’s an exceptional time and what use is honour if the Dark One wins? She says it is everything, and he privately agrees. Otherwise the society ends up like Shadar Logoth or dark Rand, both of which had to be undone to save the world. Perrin convinces Chiad to find him an Aes Sedai that will lessen his fatigue by saying that he has to save Rand and Gaul. (She actually crept in to him to ask about Gaul, which is against tradition, and shows the extent of her love.)

Perrin and Master Luhhan acknowledge each other’s master’s pieces. And Master Luhhan is brilliant: the Whitecloak Byar doubted that the axe he made was indeed made by a village blacksmith. Both craftsmen agree that killing is never beautiful, even if the tools made for it are beautiful.

Perrin saw a vision of Mat talking with Seanchan (to arrange his transportation to Thakan’dar). And like Mat, he feels Rand pulling him to come and help. Perrin thinks he used himself up too early, but Master Luhhan says no, he’s still alive and must keep fighting because it’s an exceptional day. (A variant of what Perrin just told Chiad). It’s so typical of their characters that Mat would object to Rand’s pull because it’s an imposition, whereas Perrin would doubt that he is capable of undertaking it.

Perrin tests Masuri for trustworthiness before he will let her restore him. After all, an Aes Sedai cannot lie and neither does Perrin’s sense of smell. She grudgingly admits she was wrong to try and use Masema and has learned better—especially how excellent Perrin is. The Brown sister says that all the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones with Perrin learned this. Once Masuri washes away his fatigue, she gasps as he vanishes physically into Tel’aran’rhiod. Yep, he’s even better than they know.

Thom POV

The gleeman is another underestimated character. At first Thom appears to be a spectator of the battles recording the events as an epic ballad. But that is only one thing he is doing here. He gives as an accurate view of what’s happening. The Windfinders and the Dark One fighting over control of the weather. The last steamwagon fallen. The mist on one side of Thakan’dar unaffected by either the Windfinders or the Dark One; this is probably Shaisam. Thom muses on how one must do the unexpected to perform well, and in fact, that is what he is doing: being the unexpected last defence of Shayol Ghul in the waking world.

How glad he is to be there to protect Moiraine as much as Rand. Despite his ruminations he is alert and kills Jeane Caide, who was disguised as Cadsuane, but did not walk like her—the fifth Aes Sedai he has despatched. We never do learn what Jeane was doing between Tanchico and now. Nor do we know the names of the other four sisters that Thom killed. Robert Jordan doesn’t want the reader to know everything. But how bold is Thom to calmly knife channellers.

Because he is a very experienced and skilled performer, Thom is an accurate judge of a disguise, and is not fooled by an outer semblance or a faked voice. Thom has some aspects of the Fool in him—as a wandering but wise fool gleeman with his tall tales containing elements of truth—and also some aspects of the Magician, the next tarot card. The magician card originally represented an itinerant performer at fairs and was later developed by the occultists into a magus, and Thom is certainly both of these, as was his most important pupil, Rand, who started out performing at inns and houses on the way to Caemlyn and Tear and probably will again as he wanders the world after the Last Battle. Full circle.

As so often is the case, the chapter title refers to more than one situation. The two craftsmen in the series ostensibly are Perrin and Haral Luhhan, but they also could be Perrin and Thom (the POVs of the chapter) or even Perrin and Masuri, who is so skilled in removing fatigue.

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