Thursday, 13 September 2012

Crossroads of Twilight - Chapters 27-28

In this section, Perrin makes a fateful choice and Mat courts Tuon
The sifting of grains in So Habor represents Perrin’s introspection. No matter how much effort is put into removing the weevils, there are always some that just can’t be winnowed out. Yet, the constant effort eventually makes the food cleaner. Berelain gives Perrin words to consider: “You cannot save everyone, Sometimes you must choose.” Perrin thinks that So Habor’s troubles are insignificant next to Faile’s life. Annoura says people are just threads to be woven in the pattern, and any protest about their choice in the matter makes no difference. There is still no indication why the Aes Sedai met with Masema in secret, except for a cryptic comment that they don’t always get to choose how they serve, which is another reference to having no choice.
With all those thoughts hanging over Perrin’s head, he learns that five Shaido have been captured, and that anyone not involved in their torture is lamenting that they would have been better at torturing the prisoners than any of the others. Arganda, Masema and Aram have them now, with the Wise Ones’ blessing while Sulin is bitter she wasn’t given a crack at them.
The Gheladanin camp is calm and orderly, the men eating and doing chores do so in a manner calm and orderly, just doing the tasks that need doing, and Perrin finds the prisoners being tortured while they are ringed by his followers, who observe in a manner calm and orderly, just doing a task that needs doing. Once again, two examples precede the main situation.
Perrin ends the torture immediately and instinctively by kicking the coals off of a bound Shaido. Masema, Arganda, and Aram appeal to Perrin in three different ways. Masema uses contempt, Arganda uses anger, and Aram whines and pleads. They all want to hurt the Shaido, eagerly. Of the women present, only Berelain expresses slight distaste at what has been taking place. The Ghealdanin mutter about Sulin and Edarra, a sign that their hatred is not limited to Shaido, but extends to all Aiel, despite the alliance under Perrin.
The expectations of the gathered crowd and his urgent desire to find Faile are too much to resist, and Perrin chops the prisoner’s hand off. The axe was light as a feather. Death is lighter than a feather. The similarity to an oft-repeated Borderlands expression is deliberate. The blood sprayed on him further symbolizes death. Perrin’s action risks being the death of the Perrin we know.
Mutilating the prisoner provokes no reaction, asking the Aes Sedai to heal him gets a rebuke that this wound cannot be undone, but it is the threat to consign the Aiel to a life of begging that shocks the assembled crowd to the core, leaving even Masema flabbergasted. Perrin is ready to consign men to a life with no hope and no escape.
Perrin throws his axe away, worried that he might come to like using it the way he just did. He is certain Faile would no longer love him if that happened. Faile is his goal, and so he is able to recognize his error and correct his path. After the prisoners give their answers, he keeps them prisoner, but does them no further harm.
When the food arrives, carefully winnowed, it brings a new hope. Tallanvor has found potential Seanchan allies for Perrin. Perrin is no longer willing to let Faile be an excuse for any action he takes, but he is willing to consider any action that gains Faile back, including making alliance with a distasteful enemy. He is now the third major character to begin talks with an enemy, seeking a truce.
Mat’s section opens with the humourous contrast of the hyperbole in the name of the circus and Mat’s poor opinion of it: “traveling with Valan Luca’s Grand Traveling Show and Magnificent Display of Marvels and Wonders was every bit as bad as Mat’s darkest thoughts had made it.
Mat’s strategy to move slowly is enough to drive him mad, but while the efforts to find him have fanned out ahead of him, the circus hardly merits any scrutiny at all. The Aes Sedai just can’t sit still though, cloaking themselves as they walk about in public, drawing their sul’dam guardians behind them. The sul’dam recognize Mat’s authority, while the Aes Sedai do not. It comes down to who has the gold, an unapologetic and pragmatic ranking system you would never see any of the other main characters follow, concerned as they are with ranking systems using force, or honor, or strength in the Power.
Noal is first to suggest killing one of the inconvenient women, leading towards the next chapter’s conclusion.
Rumours of Suroth’s alliance to a king reach Mat’s ears, but it is unclear whether this is a reference to Perrin’s overture, Rand’s envoys, or someone else entirely.
Mat decides to begin courting Tuon, and his initial strategy is to look acceptable by staying near less acceptable people, such as the traitorous Egeanin. It is unsuccessful, resulting in Egeanin being renamed by Tuon. Leilwin, as she is now known, puts such stock in Tuon that her word acts as law, and she changes her identity to conform to Tuon’s desires. Mat changes to a hard-to-get strategy, pretending to court Tuon’s maid instead. Tuon is delighted that Mat can be so tricky and maintain the pretense to her face. He learns that saying the marriage vow three times, as he did, completes a Seanchan marriage. She has complete control over the outcome, all Mat can do is court her as best he can.
All of Mat’s abilities, memories, and magic items are of no avail; only his charm and other personality traits can win her over. Fortunately, Seanchan aristocracy favours scoundrelous behaviour.
Writing Lessons:
Deliberate and repeated use of an expression in one context will maintain that context when you use the same expression elsewhere.

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