Friday, May 19, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #30: Chapter 27—Friendly Fire

By Linda

Bryne POV

From Bryne’s viewpoint, his battlefield dispositions are working well; there is no conflict or confusion over them, unlike the evident cracks in the Borderlanders’ army. It was a shot-down raken that disrupted the camp—Egwene’s forces not being used to large aerial fighters. The Tower army are increasingly needing the Seanchan to augment them, although if the Seanchan were under Bryne’s command at this time, they would have been needlessly wasted in the near future like his own forces. The Empress’ refusal for her legions to serve under Aes Sedai preserved them.


The Aes Sedai are making minimum size gateways to conserve energy, but Min does not think this is reasonable. Once a upon a time, she would not have baulked at all. The Empress remarks that Min thinks herself high and there is an element of truth in this: she has risen high and it has left its mark.

The Seanchan are very careful about infiltrators and assassins; but they have already been infiltrated by Moghedien. Min reluctantly admits the Seanchan are well-organised. She makes excuses for Bryne’s army, but he had the rebels’ army neat and organised, so this may be a symptom of his Compulsion rather than solely an effect of being fired upon. The Empress’ army stands ready, but they take time to make measured decisions along the chain of command, which Min chafes at. She repeatedly comments that the Seanchan could make a big difference to the battle—and so they will, because they aren’t in the control of a general under Compulsion. Part of Min’s mood derives from her resentment that she is not with Rand at Shayol Ghul. She feels insignificant because she is not a channeller; she does not have a proper position in the war, or outside it—but soon will.

Mat thinks well of Bryne’s defensive positions, and Tylee is happy to lead a legion onto the field so she can study hiss methods. The Seanchan, Mat included, make no criticism of Bryne yet. He has worked his troops hard, but well, and tired them out. Soon will come the “errors”.

Our seeress is not surprised Mat has an eye-patch… Interestingly, Mat sees Min as an opportunity for some insight into the future. He wants to know what the omens are! The Raven Prince (and he is very much that now) thinks the Seanchan are mad, but fun. Min thinks Mat is mad to enjoy teasing them, or even living with them. As a trickster, he likes stirring them up and making them uneasy by flouting their rules. Mat loves the challenge of finding loopholes in rules or ignoring customs, and the Seanchan have a lot of both. But the outsider is also an insider, now—he has embraced his high position.

Ironically, Mat spouts old tongue sayings he’s never read or heard, while claiming others are mad. Then he complains about people not reading widely enough to recognise his quotes, when he rarely touches a book himself.

Min grudgingly bows to the Empress while Mat doesn’t. Mat is the butt of his own joke about embarrassing himself:

"How curious," Fortuona said. "That would make her your equal, Knotai. Of course, you seem to have forgotten to bow again…You embarrass me in public again."

"Only as much as I embarrass myself." He smiled, then hesitated, as if thinking through those words a second time.

A Memory of Light, Friendly Fire

There is a point to social rules, and a fine line between “rules are unimportant to me” and “I don’t understand how this society works”.

Mat tries to get Min to leave the room in case the Empress realises what she does and grabs her for her own, but Min blabs on unthinkingly, despite his warning. Now she has a new job—as a sacred woman, an oracle. She is shocked she made such a simple mistake, but Mat’s ta’veren pull played a part. Min is needed here. Tuon is in awe of her—the only time we see such a reaction to someone from her. With her regard for omens and the Pattern she sees Min as blessed to be able to see parts of it, and also a blessing to impart these visions to her. Fortuona also gives Mat huge credit for telling her about Min.

Min was not asked if she wanted to join Tuon’s court, just co-opted, as Mat warned, even though Tuon knows Min is Rand’s love (and also Bryne’s messenger, but she was not told that). A true truthspeaker was not an omen Tuon could ignore. Even better, Selucia will be pleased to not be Sofeia anymore.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #29: Chapter 26—Considerations

By Linda

Egwene POV

Until the advent of the Sharans, Egwene had thought the Seanchan one of the worse groups around. Like the Whitecloaks, she will ally against those she is against because of something that is actually far worse.

The Amyrlin is not willingly meeting with Tuon; she is going because Tuon demanded it.

"I needed to meet you," Fortuona said. "You are my opposite.”

A Memory of Light, Considerations

Egwene had expected that Rand’s treaty with the Seanchan would be enough. She assumed Tuon was childish because of her small size, but revised her opinion so far during the meeting that she called Tuon “woman”. Then she stopped Tuon making a speech at her—even though it was in her own voice. Egwene was deaf to the honour of the latter.

The two women quickly get to the crux of their enmity: damane. Egwene argues that her behaviour is proof that the Seanchan attitude to channellers is a fallacy. (While ever the Aes Sedai do not go out into the community and improve lives with their knowledge and ability, they are vulnerable to being forced to do so. This is why the Wise Ones said that those who can channel have an obligation to their people and make such women become Wise Ones.) Tuon lies about how well damane are treated, but Egwene has first-hand knowledge to the contrary (and post-traumatic stress disorder from it). Egwene did go out into the community to help Rand and this is what happened. Had she led a life of shelter, and ultimately privilege, in the Tower, she could never have countered Tuon’s arguments so well—or done many other things.

Tuon thinks she loses face speaking to an escaped damane—shock horror!—but to the Aes Sedai and the reader she lost face by lying. Especially since Egwene had just finished saying that her behaviour shows that Tuon is a liar about channellers with the spark.

Egwene assumes that Mat is playing a part to some end or has been trapped by the Seanchan—she, in turn, is shocked to discover he is with the Seanchan willingly. The incongruity of the pairing (the Queen of Spades (Tuon) with the Jack of Diamonds (Mat), so to speak) makes her laugh. More incongruity follows when Tuon says they were fated to marry and then that belief in ta’veren is mere superstition. Obviously no damane has the rare ability to see ta’veren, or, as Jordan indicates, channelling talents are influenced by the culture and society:

”Certain groups are better at some abilities but it's a matter of need. The Atha'an Miere are dependent on the sea, the wind and water, and it would be natural for them to develop high skills to deal with control of weather and winds. For the Aiel, Dreaming is one of the ways to find new water; using need is how they find water. When the population in a hold is too great, and they have to find a new hold, the Dreamwalker uses need to find it. So yes, there are more Dreamwalkers there. “

2006 book signing

Mat’s sour joke:

"I suppose I should be grateful the Pattern didn't haul me by my boots over to Shayol Ghul.”

A Memory of Light, Considerations

is foreshadowing that he will be heading that way.

Egwene argues minutely over what the Seanchan borders currently are, and succeeds in getting Tuon to admit that the Seanchan haven’t conquered the Sea Folk. The Empress very much wants legitimacy for her rule in the westlands because she claims her right to rule as deriving from being a descendent of Hawkwing rather than an invader.

Tuon insists on the right to recruit for damane in areas she doesn’t hold. In turn, Egwene insists on some equality—or balance—in the rules: especially in damane having the right to be released if they wish, especially women about to be collared. The Seanchan see damane as a resource to be used. Further, Tuon thinks it is better to collar Darkfriend channellers or Sharans than execute them. The Empress effectively sees such damane as bound by the a’dam against committing further crimes (whether or not she knows about binders being used in the Age of Legends), whereas Egwene sees those allied to the Shadow as having betrayed the Creator and no longer deserving of life. They may receive the Creator’s grace in another life—as Egwene thinks about Sheriam when she is executed.

Perhaps the Pattern would be kinder to her next time she was allowed a thread in its great tapestry. But perhaps not.

The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands

When Tuon denies that sul’dam can learn to channel, Egwene challenges her to be tested. Tuon backs off and says maybe they can learn, but this is not the same as actually channelling. Of course, those with spark may not have actually channelled when they are found during their testing, but they are collared regardless and never given the benefit of the doubt. Neither woman explores this important issue, because they are preoccupied with escalating their challenges to each other until they have to be separated by Mat.

The Raven Prince is all too accurate when he says to his wife:

“we really bloody need Egwene for the next couple of weeks or so. “

A Memory of Light, Considerations

That’s about all the time Egwene had left to live.

An agreement is reached: the Seanchan will fight, but their army is not subject to Egwene. However, in the near future all the armies are going to be subject to a—the—Seanchan general: Mat. Then the two really will be as one for the Last Battle, as the Aelfinn advised Rand:

“The north and east must be as one. The west and south must be as one. The two must be as one.”

Knife of Dreams, News For the Dragon

Elayne POV

Elayne worked herself to exhaustion fighting Shadowspawn. Symbolically, while she was incapacitated, the sunny sky that has followed her since Rand’s epiphany clouded over. Or maybe it was due to the approaching Shadowspawn army that will threaten her.

Just as her army’s trap appears to be working, the second Trolloc army arrives early and without warning. All Bashere’s suggestions to counter this are futile, and Tam accuses him of being a Darkfriend. Elayne notices he isn’t behaving properly. When Bashere is arrested, Elayne is too focussed on salvaging the situation to react.