Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #23: Chapter 20—Into Thakan’dar

By Linda

Egwene POV

Romanda uses traditional Aes Sedai Healing as battlefield emergency medical aid, which is how this type of Healing was actually used in the Age of Legends.

Gawyn makes a good observation about the senselessness of the Trollocs trying to hold the area against all odds and with huge losses.

"It's like . . . like the Fades think that even after a rout like this one, they're in a good position.”

A Memory of Light, Into Thakan’dar

Egwene listens to him and orders the army to pull back. Too late; the Sharans arrive. The coin armour of the soldiers is very typical of ancient Chinese soldiers, and the dresses of the channellers are also Asian in style—Korean and Mongolian, mainly (see Sharan fashions). The Ayyad’s black dresses symbolise their link to the Shadow, and also parallels Chinese history. In the Qin dynasty, the most popular clothing colour was black, since the Qin Emperor believed that the Qin dynasty should eclipse the Zhou dynasty like water extinguishes fire, and black is the colour of yin and water.

Egwene realises that Aes Sedai should be in Warders’ cloaks—the ultimate camouflage—in battle so they can hide, if necessary. They can’t always drive off attacks with channelling and are as helpless as anybody when outnumbered by hostile channellers.

Aviendha POV

Forgers are perhaps more like androids than Shadow constructs, since the Aiel are adamant that they are not alive and Demandred said that they can’t live outside Thakan’dar, but turn to dust if take away from the area (Lord of Chaos, Prologue). They use the blood of people to temper the blades—one person for each.

Rhuarc is now a siswai’aman and perhaps the highest ranked of them. It does not appear to mean that he has abdicated his position as clan chief.

Aviendha owns more than one necklace: the snowflake one from Egwene, plus, judging by what Cadsuane said, one from Rand as a remembrance/regard gift. She is prepared for her own people to pay the ultimate price for the Light’s victory:

Seeing the end of her people had nauseated and horrified her, but also awakened her. If the end of the Aiel was the sacrifice required for Rand to win, she would make it. She would scream and curse the Creator's own name, but she would pay that price. Any warrior would. Better that one people should end than the world fall completely under Shadow.

A Memory of Light, Into Thakan’dar

Like Rand, Aviendha has prepared herself for the enormity of sacrifice to come, and understands Rand wanting to get on with that fight. She feels that they are very alike, and that this comes out in the way they treat each other:

She stepped up to him, and he moved so that he stood just beside her, his shoulder touching hers. He did not drape an arm around her, and she did not take his hand. He did not own her, and she did not own him. The act of his movement so that they faced the same direction meant far more to her than any other gesture could.

A Memory of Light, Into Thakan’dar

Rand also uses an Aiel expression of love to her for the first time.

Aviendha realises that Rand intends to kill the Dark One. Unlike everyone else, she thinks this idea reasonable, but says that the greatest victory would be making the Dark One gai’shain. Rand is dismissive, but Aviendha is correct, as she also is in wondering if sealing the Dark One up is equivalent to taking him gai’shain. She lectures Rand about ji’e’toh, which amuses him—but she thinks the subject too serious for amusement.

The new crossbow crank first mentioned by Mat and Talmanes in Knife of Dreams, As If All the World Were Fog, has arrived among troops outside the Band and it may even hve been improved upon (See Inventions article for further details).

Some gai’shain have temporarily put aside white to fight with the Dragonsworn in the Last Battle—following the prophecy of the Dragon breaking oaths and ties:

"It is said," the one-eyed man said carefully, "that when the Dragon is Reborn, he will break all oaths, shatter all ties."

-The Great Hunt, What Was Meant To Be

Aviendha is inclined to dismiss their abandonment of custom, even honour, as foolishness but then thinks she should reserve judgement. In a way, the prophecy is self-fulfilling when it is being used to justify breaking their oaths. Other people, including Uno, have done this with the prophecy in mind and some were compelled by events without any consideration of the Karaethon Cycle. We also see people—gai’shain and Tinkers—refusing to break their oaths even though they have the bitter realisation of why it is not wrong for others to have done so.

Since Rand declared himself, many people have broken their oaths or ties: soldiers and channellers that were pledged to others have pledged themselves to Rand, some against their rulers’ wishes: Shienarans, Saldaeans, Tairens, Illianers, Cairhienin, Asha’man, Aes Sedai. Gawyn’s choice to put aside his Warder’s oath led to the bond between him and Egwene being broken.

Others are revealed as Darkfriends and so shown to be faithless to whatever ties they were thought to have. People also left their homes, marriages and jobs to wander aimlessly. The breaking of oaths is encouraged (if not caused) by the Shadow as part of the chaos.

With prophecy so prominent, it is easy to see only the workings of destiny in the characters’ lives as though they have little free will and are wholly beholden to follow the Pattern. However, fate is not more powerful than free will; as with the other complementary forces in the series, there is a balance between the two. Some characters have one attitude to this, some another. Rand uses prophecy as a guide to recognising patterns of events and what may arise from them. Aviendha does the same for what she saw in the three rings and is trying to prevent the future she saw in the glass columns. Earlier, in The Gathering Storm, The Ways of Honour, she had expressed dislike of being fated to marry Rand. She wanted to ensure choice, and therefore uncertainty and free will, in her life. Mat uses prophecy as an instruction manual because when he tried to deny fate, he failed; he went from one extreme to the other. But it’s not simple—there is an interplay of choice and the Pattern in people’s lives. Min knew that Gawyn would make a hugely fateful choice between two futures, with no indication which way he would decide. In Jordan’s world history and fate are broadly determined but each individual has the choice to work towards fulfilling their role in the Pattern or to reject this.

Rand proved that the dull dagger worked, preventing the Dark One from sensing him—see ter’angreal article for more information—and feels the touch of the Pattern in the way events have led to it being in his hand at the crucial time. Aviendha wants Rand to stay serious, but he tries to laugh. When she realises something is bothering him, she openly asks what the problem is, instead of telling him off or abusing him as so many others seem to do. Not surprisingly, the theft of the Seals has him concerned that they will not be broken at the right time. Breaking the Seals allows Rand to reforge the prison—clearing rubble so he can build, as Herid Fel said. This is why someone (Logain) will have the role of Sealbreaker once they are stolen back.

Despite earlier criticising Rand for levity, Aviendha makes jokes. He gives her command of the channellers at Thakan’dar to fight Dreadlords and Forsaken. Both Min and Aviendha each wanted to go into Shayol Ghul with Rand, but this would be unwise, since neither would have an actual role there, whereas they certainly would (and will do) elsewhere. As each sees the unsuitability of the other’s wishes, it quietens their own objections.

Nynaeve doesn’t want Rand to use Callandor because it is a trap. But that is the point of it. It’s a trap actually aimed at Moridin, but it has to appear as though Rand is the vulnerable one to lure him into it.


Anonymous said...

Great post as always Linda. The shadow forgers seem less like androids and more like the Golem or a Homunculus. Rhuarc putting on the headband struck me as odd and out of character for him. There was nothing in what he says in the previous books that would indicate he would join the siswai’aman.

Linda said...

Good point. I also thought of a Golem in particular. Also trolls because they turn to stone when exposed to light.

I also was surprised that Rhuarc did this without any forewarning.