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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #63: Chapter 56 - Something Wrong

By Linda

Egwene POV

The scene opens on the Field of Merrilor. An army of common folk has arrived—or more like, accumulated. Rand didn’t send them, he inspired them: they are Dragonsworn.

Egwene informs us that Merrilor was originally a tower fortress. Her clothing far outshines Gawyn’s in status. For the first time, he is wearing Warder’s clothing, not prince’s—a significant change in his attitude to his role.

Gawyn correctly assesses that Perrin will take Rand’s side, but wrongly assumes Perrin’s army will be a—or the—problem:

"This many armies, this many loyalties, all rubbing against one another. Aybara and his force could be a spark that sends us all up like a firework."

Towers of Midnight, Something Wrong

When it comes down to it, Egwene’s party was arguably the most disruptive at the meeting.

Egwene thinks Rand subconsciously wants to be talked out of breaking the Seals – which it is her duty to do. How content she is that Gawyn is not arguing with her:

Ever since that night with the assassins, he had started doing as she asked. Not as a servant. As a partner dedicated to seeing her will done.

Towers of Midnight, Something Wrong

Yet she is not correct in her judgment. Rand didn’t announce his intentions to break the Seals as an appeal for her to talk him out of it: it was a considered tactic to get Egwene to publicly unify opposition to his plan so he only had to overcome it once.

Gawyn should privately argue or discuss alternatives with Egwene – she sees this as one and the same – even if he ultimately carries out her will. (Another Aes Sedai queen, Elayne, was at first dismayed to discover that her Warder insisted on discussion, but now accepts it.) What should be a fine balancing act went too far one way – Gawyn not taking her seriously -- and now too far the other. Egwene thinks the Hall’s disagreement more than enough for her, although she is encouraged that the Hall is no longer working behind her back—and is, in fact, explaining their disagreement to her—and she doesn’t intend to ignore them. She is determined that the Hall will work with her. However this also makes Egwene work with them. A delicate balance as she says. She needs to develop the same balance with Gawyn but it never happens.

Egwene notices the bloodknives’ rings around Gawyn’s neck—they clank like an unmusical death knell—and from her thoughts has previously asked about where he got them. Gawyn didn’t say. She intends to ask again, but events overtake her.

Gawyn finally learns how wrong he was about Rand killing his mother. Like Galad he was tempted to do evil because of a wrong assumption. This scene shows the dangers of such assumptions leading to fatal decisions. Discussion can be positive, not just cause procrastination.

Androl POV

Androl has a deep sense of right and wrong regarding the Land; he attributes this to having worked it over the years. Considering his great weakness with the Power, he has an amazing Talent with Travelling. With the Dreamspike operating, he doesn’t find the weave difficult to make, as do the others who are stronger, but less Talented—it just unravels. Nevertheless he was nearly able to hold it in place. This foreshadows when he does successfully force the weave past the block, shortly before the Dreamspike is deactivated (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot). The men have realised that something is trapping them at the Black Tower. With the gates guarded, they can’t leave. Sensibly they are going to check if there are any blank spots, although the trap is comprehensive. They don’t yet realise that others can’t Travel in. It is possible to do so if one knows the key to the Dreamspike (see Dream Terangreal article).

Norley seems ingenuous, and Androl sets him to spy. He determines that there is something wrong with Mezar. Apart from now following the dark faction, he has the wrong expression, and his gaze appears partly dead. This is our first look at someone Turned to the Shadow.

Mezar returned after supposedly searching for Logain and reassured everyone that Logain is fine and will be back soon. Norley realises that Mezar is now untrustworthy and Logain could be a prisoner of Taim or another Darkfriend. The men are going to segregate themselves from Tain’s faction so they can’t be taken as easily. Again,this doesn’t buy them time, really; it is the lack of Black sisters for Turning the men which does so.

Androl is desperate enough to try an alliance with the Red sisters. He believes the Reds won’t side with Taim, but at least one (Javindhra) is probably a Darkfriend and the others are being Turned one by one. Only Pevara remains allied to the Light now. Because the Reds have been slow to bond Asha’man, Androl thinks they are actually planning something else, such as gentling them all. Actually their reluctance is due to dissension. And fear. There are so many wrong assumptions in this chapter. (Perhaps the most since Elaida expounded so hilariously to Alviarin in A Crown of Swords.) But also some right ones.

Androl can read Pevara quite well, which bodes well for their future relationship. He suggests that they work together as men and women did in the Age of Legends. She agrees to talk with him. This is quite a contrast to Egwene and Gawyn at the beginning of the chapter. Fortunately for Androl, Pevara is one of the few Aes Sedai who would seriously consider cooperation.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

JordanCon 2015 presentation: The Forsaken - Their Place in History and Myth.

By Linda

What if you wanted to create a group of villains serving a Dark Lord? You want the characters to be powerful, but certainly not invincible, a realistic group, but also disparate enough to be far from united. It's a fine line.

Here is a copy of the presentation I gave at JordanCon 2015 on the creation of the Forsaken, a group of just such villains. Like so much of Jordan's work, they had a solid grounding in reality.

For further reading, there is my essay Three Strands Common to the Forsaken which predates this presentation.

I have written detailed analyses on eight of the Forsaken:









These elaborate on the summaries given in the presentation. I'll gradually write up the last 5.