Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Towers of Midnight - Chapters 10-14

In this section, the past catches up to the heroes.
Perrin learns the taint has been cleansed from saidin. He could have learned this at any time over the last few weeks, but he learns it now, because it reflects his current situation. Cleansing the taint is a metaphor for wiping the slate clean, casting off past sins. It is relevant because Perrin’s sin of killing other men is coming back to haunt him.
Neald is making circles with Wise Ones, and he is the first to explain that he can use saidar to strengthen his weaves of saidin. He feels more complete, as he feels saidar, and can increase the Power and size of his weaves. The sensations are reflected back to the women, who have disparate feelings about what they sense.
Perrin opts to keep Grady away from the Black Tower for rational and practical reasons, but it reminds readers that the Black Tower hasn’t been seen in a long time, since Pevara arrived and an ominous revelation had just taken place.
Galad decides to fight Perrin now so he won’t have to face him at the Last Battle, mirroring Rand’s decision to break the seals.
Elayne’s council expresses vastly different advice regarding her political prisoners. Birgitte is all practicality and hardness, while Dyelin thinks this is the moment when releasing the captives will earn Elayne the most credit. Birgitte is emotion, Dyelin is reason. Elayne decides this is an opportune time to claim Cairhien.
Mat’s letter to Elayne, with its spelling mistakes, is funny. It once again feels out of place with what has come before due to modern touches like the postscripts, but succeeds because it defies expectations. Mat never writes, foiling one expectation and providing a surprise. Postscripts don’t belong in this world, so Mat uses three of them. Mat is a trickster and it is always correct to write him defying expectations. Thom is laffing so hard at me that I want to be done.
Min gives only readers the only insight into Rand’s head since he descended from Dragonmount. Rand’s earlier behaviour with Egwene and Almen Bunt revealed a changed man, but it is Min’s insight that gives part of the reason.
Alanna vanished, leaving no clue where she is going. The likeliest explanation involves no abduction, simply a decision to leave and accomplish something. Rand could have contacted her and set her a task, weaving a Gateway that she could use without others detecting it. The change in Rand’s behaviour is the only impetus she likely received to make her do anything at all.
Cadsuane declares that Alanna, and by extension everyone, is a tool. This is an odd statement for her to make publicly, but is nonetheless consistent with her focus on Rand. Rand asks her to find someone who is missing in the Caralain Grass, someone who has been abducted by well-meaning allies in the White Tower. Assuming she succeeds, Cadsuane can then act as a bridge, or mediator between Rand and Egwene.  
Rand has insight into the Last Battle, how it will be fought, what he needs, and what must be done. He is decisive, apologetic, self-assured.  He knows secrets and has new abilities, such as his ability to pick Darkfriends out of a line-up. Somehow he picked up the fact that Mattin Stepaneos is being held in the White Tower, though that could have been learned through a ta’veren effect when he was in Tar Valon. Rand makes amends with the Aiel, Cadsuane, Nynaeve, Tam, everyone he let down previously. If he realized on Dragonmount that every one wants a second chance, he is getting every second chance possible.
“I’m not a weapon. I never have been,” he says. Cadsuane says that “Of all people, you cannot afford to let the pressure of life drive you.” Rand has understood some of what Cadsuane had to teach, but it is unclear whether this is the entirety of it, since the Asha’man haven’t yet learned their part.
Finally, Rand is forgiven by his father, and reclaims his role as a son. At the same time, Tam’s acceptance allows Rand to be a man, an equal, to his father. Nynaeve said that he needed to grow up, but feared the man he became. That judgment has been reversed.
Egwene meets with the Wise Ones, seeking their help with Rand. The two sides are polarizing quickly, setting up the final confrontation long awaited, when the heroes must confront, then accept those who differ from them in fundamental ways.
Egwene sees a strange reflection in Tel’aran’rhiod, a window that doesn’t exist in the real world. Verin’s words are repeated, and her newfound credibility combined with the fact that this is being repeated for the reader’s benefit strikingly points to its importance:  There is a third constant besides the Creator and the Dark One. There is a world that lies within each of these others, inside all of them at the same time. Or perhaps surrounding them Writers in the Age of Legends called it Tel’aran’rhiod.
Egwene tricks Nynaeve by appealing for advice from her past as a Wisdom, then reversing their roles in the next example she presents. It’s startlingly effective and convincing as a technique to make an inflexible character bend. Nynaeve could hold out for months otherwise.
Writing Lessons:
Repetition infers importance. Use repetition to lead or mislead readers.

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