Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #31: Chapter 28—Too Many Men


By Linda

This is one of a series of shorter chapters with quick scenes that show the pace accelerating as everything tips into the abyss of the Last Battle.

Lan POV

With some thorough investigation and analysis, Lan’s doubts have become real concerns that the battle plans of the Borderlander army are being sabotaged. Agelmar’s efforts are not good enough to counter the Shadow, even though they have evaded suspicion until now. Baldhere, who originally raised doubts, is convinced that only tiredness is behind the “errors”, and feels no hint of “I told you so”.

Lan deduces what Agelmar’s underlying disastrous battle plan is, and is able to circumvent the final order that would set the trap, and also begins undoing some of the damage. However, he won’t act further until he knows all the facts, which is fair, but potentially risky. Great Captain Pedron Niall said:

And never wait to know everything. The man who waited to know everything was still sitting in his tent when the enemy burned it over his head.”

Lord of Chaos, Red Wax

Although the Whitecloak commander was also prepared to reconsider his approach if he had qualms.

Actually either approach is risky here: investigate and more damage may be done meanwhile, or stop everything and be seen to be unjust, which is bad for trust and morale.

Loial POV

The Ogier had started to accept that Elayne’s army would lose its battle against the Shadow, when Loial defiantly Treesings as a weapon, making the wooden hafts of the Trollocs’ weapons sprout leaves and become useless. His Song of Life undoes the Shadow’s wrongness with something positive, even if dead wood does not usually re-sprout. It’s a reminder to never say die. Loial is appalled at the human loss of life and wanted to counter it with more life. For his own part, the Ogier really wants to live to finish his book.

Mat POV

Mat is dissatisfied with second-hand information on how the battle is going and suspects it has been simplified:

Looking back at the maps, Mat felt like cursing again. Maps, maps and more maps. Pieces of paper…How could he know they were accurate?...More and more, he was thinking that battle maps were about as useful as a heavy coat in Tear. He needed to be able to see the battle, not how someone else thought the battle looked. The map was too simple.

A Memory of Light, Too Many Men

He has a point; although, it is perhaps coloured by his own preferences since, while fully literate, he has never had patience with sitting and studying as Min does. Likewise, Tuon would like to see the battlefield herself, and so she agrees that Mat should go. The Seanchan military commanders are offended that Mat judges them and their messengers lacking.

Like Mat, Min, has also been dressed in green and black by the Imperial tailor in recognition of their Andoran country heritage. However, I doubt that Min has literally hundreds of silver hair pins in her hair.

Personal nudity is shaming to the Seanchan, according to RJ’s notes, and therefore a high-ranked Seanchan stripping off in public is lowering his eyes. It is even more embarrassing for a prince to do this; but, as the Seanchan will learn, tricksters like the Raven Prince are shameless. In fact, his bold rebellion inspires Min, and when she says she is tempted to follow suit (unsuit?), he dares her to do it. She glares at him.

Mat has subverted regular Seanchan guards with bribes to get his clothing back—a small undermining of discipline but still significant. Again, so typical of a trickster. He also tried it on the Deathwatch Guards, and won’t do it again. Thoroughly intimidated by them, he is glad they are incorruptible for Tuon’s sake.

Speaking of holding people to their duty, the Seanchan prince reminds Min that Rand would like her to stay with the Seanchan to act as a bridge between them and the Aes Sedai and other Mainland nations. His manipulation angers her.

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