The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 24

Happy All Hallows’ Eve Eve, WOTerians! Have a Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 43 and 44 of Towers of Midnight, in which mustelidae are bagged, falconidae and accipitridae are compared, and certain homo sapiens get schmoopy.

I apologize in advance if this entry is less than scintillating, as I am currently half-dead with what had BETTER be a very swiftly passing head cold, because I do not have time for this can’t-look-at-computer-screens-or-indeed-anything-for-longer-than-ten-minutes-at-a-time shit. Ow.

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general, including the upcoming final volume, A Memory of Light.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

Short note before we begin: I note that some folks have been expressing concerns in the comments about whether the Re-read will be done with TOM before AMOL is released, to which I say: Slow your roll, my peeps. Your Auntie Leigh has got you.

Rest assured, y’all, I will finish TOM before the end of the year, and I will have an advance review of AMOL for you guys before then too. So rest easy, okay?

Okay! Onward!

 

Chapter 43: Some Tea

What Happens
As they walk through the aftermath of the battle, Galad questions Perrin about the Asha’man, and reflects that Perrin is interesting in that he responds so well to frank honesty from Galad. Galad has accepted Healing from an Aes Sedai, reasoning that there was no point in not committing to the alliance fully. Perrin points out that while they can’t be sure the taint is really cleansed, there’s no point in disbelieving Grady and Neald until there’s a reason to, especially considering they probably saved Galad and all his men’s lives. Galad acknowledges this, but warns Perrin few of his men will do the same.

“Still think I set them up somehow?”

“Perhaps,” Galad said. “Either you are a Darkfriend of unsurpassed cunning, or you really did as you said—coming to save my men despite your treatment at our hands. In that case, you are a man of honor. Letting us die would have made your life much easier, I believe.”

“No,” Perrin said. “Every sword is needed at the Last Battle, Galad.
Every one.”

Then Perrin suddenly freezes and then hurries across the field, where he unearths a wounded but alive Whitecloak (Jerum) from under a pile of Trolloc corpses. Jerum cries with joy at his rescue, and asks how they found him. Perrin replies that he has good ears, and helps Galad carry a now unconscious Jerum to where the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones are tending to the wounded. A Wise One grudgingly asks permission of Galad to Heal Jerum, since Perrin had upheld Galad’s demand that all his men be given the choice to refuse Healing. Galad says to Heal Jerum, and notes that the Wise One looks exhausted. Perrin makes Galad an offer: he can have him and all his men in Andor tonight. Galad says that his men would not trust Traveling, but Perrin counters that they would if Galad ordered them to. Galad asks if Perrin would have the Children join him, then, and Perrin confirms it, but adds that he will need an oath from Galad first, to swear to accept Perrin as his commander at the Last Battle until it is over. Galad asks if Perrin understands how outrageous that is, and Perrin replies that if Galad wants to be sure of getting to the Last Battle, this is the best way. He adds that if Perrin leaves the Children behind, Rand might come back to get them, and that Galad will find it much harder to say no to Rand than to him, nor will he like the results as much. Galad considers the compassion Perrin had showed when he rescued Jerum, and decides no Darkfriend could feign that.

“You have my oath,” Galad said. “To accept you as my military commander until the end of the Last Battle.” He suddenly felt weaker than he had before, and he released a breath, then sat on a nearby rock.

“And you have my oath,” Perrin said. “I’ll see your men cared for like the others. Sit here and rest a spell; I’ll search that patch over there. The weakness will pass soon.”

“Weakness?”

Perrin nodded. “I know what it’s like to be caught up in the needs of a ta’veren. Light, but I do.”

He asks Galad if he ever wondered why he and Perrin ended up in the same place, and Galad replies that he assumed it was because the Light put them there to punish Perrin. Perrin shakes his head, and says that it was because apparently Perrin needed them to be there, and leaves.

Berelain, Faile, and Alliandre sit rolling bandages for the wounded, and Alliandre wonders why the other two have suddenly begun acting like they are friends when it is completely obvious to her that they still can’t stand each other. Berelain admits to Faile that she was wrong about Perrin, and then walks off when she and Faile notice Alliandre eavesdropping. Faile notes to Alliandre that Berelain does not like being wrong.

“She sees the world as a network of half-truths and inferences, ascribing complex motivations to the simplest of men. I suspect it makes her very good at court politics. But I wouldn’t want to live that way.”

“She’s very wise,” Alliandre said. “She does see things, Faile. She understands the world; she merely has a few blind spots, like most of us.”

Faile comments that what grates on her is that she chased Perrin more for the sport of it than anything else; she could have understood if Berelain had been genuinely in love with Perrin. Perrin arrives from the field, looking exhausted, and Faile goes to him. Alliandre leaves them alone and goes to stand with Berelain. She comments that Faile and Perrin are good for each other; Berelain replies that every relationship needs to be challenged, and that Perrin is not her only opportunity to make a connection to the Dragon Reborn. Alliandre observes that her earlier show of frustration was mostly for Faile’s benefit, to assure her the threat had passed, and smiles at Berelain’s cleverness. Alliandre asks whether marriage is all politics and sport for Berelain, or if there is room for love as well. Berelain declares that love is for those who do not rule, but trails off mid-speech as Galad Damodred enters the clearing; Alliandre observes that the Whitecloak is ridiculously handsome.

“I… What was I saying?” Berelain asked, eyes on Damodred.

“That there is no place for romance in a leader’s life?”

“Yes,” Berelain said, sounding distracted. “It’s just not reasonable at all.”

“Not at all.”

Damodred approaches, and Alliandre is amused that he barely seems to notice her. He says to Berelain that he’d heard she pled with Aybara on his behalf, but the topic seems forgotten by both of them almost immediately, and he asks if she would like some tea even though she already has some. Alliandre leaves them staring into each other’s eyes, pleased at the thought that this might finally get those blasted Whitecloaks out of her kingdom.

Commentary
Ah, goofy besotted crushes, they are so very amusing for the rest of us. You wacky, unnaturally pretty kids, you.

It’s probably a little unfair, in the grand karma scheme of things, that Berelain gets to have such an (evidently) unequivocally requited love, when she’s played merry hell with every other love match she’s come across (I’m certainly including Rand and Elayne from way back in TDR here), but, well. There’s a certain depressing truth there, how these things always seem to work out for the beautiful people.

Whatever. If it gets Berelain out of Our Heroes’ collective romantic hair, I’ll take it. At least she and Galad having kids together will work toward improving the overall gene pool, right? So, fair enough. (Heh. “Fair.”)

Galad n’ Perrin as a pair, though, continues to be much more awesome. The idea of the two of them joining forces in a fight, wholeheartedly and with malice aforethought this time, is fairly tingly-making on the “anticipation of epic battles of awesome” front. At least, it will be awesome, once Perrin talks Rand and Egwene and every other channeler on the field down from their (quite reasonable) immediate reaction of Oh HAIL No upon seeing Whitecloaks there. Which should also be quite fun to watch, so there’s that as well. Good times!

And I rather doubt that Perrin will have thought of it this way (and I’m sure Galad wouldn’t have), but their alliance also, I predict, rather rings the death knell on the Whitecloaks’ formerly unswervable conviction that channeling = Evil. First, because of the tsunami of evidence they’re about to witness that channeling is a weapon like any other, subject to the virtue (or lack thereof) of its wielder rather than containing any inherent goodness or badness in and of itself. But secondly and more importantly, because this places the Whitecloaks in a position where they will have to see and interact with these supposedly universally evil channelers on a day-to-day basis.

Nothing breeds and nurtures hatred and intolerance more than ignorance. And by that I don’t necessarily mean a lack of education (though that certainly doesn’t help), but a lack of personal, mundane experience with whatever type of person or thing you’ve been told to fear. It’s a lot harder to believe that X group of folks are all Teh Ebil if you see them every day, brushing their teeth and eating and sleeping, and seeing them be tired, and laugh at jokes, and generally walk around being people, and not foreign scary unknown quantities that you cannot possibly have anything in common with. That chance alone, of having the Whitecloaks get to see that channelers are just people (and vice versa) makes this alliance worthwhile.

Also, the little detail here about Galad’s reaction to finally giving in to Perrin’s ta’verenness made me very happy. Again, that’s the kind of shit I’m here for.

 

Chapter 44: A Backhanded Request

What Happens
Morgase walks through the camp now outside Whitebridge in Andor, nodding to Faile and regretting the rift that now existed between them. She notes that no one seems to know how to treat her anymore, as she is neither servant nor queen anymore. She reflects that she is grateful for what she learned as Maighdin, but it was time to be done pretending. She finds Basel Gill, Lini, Breane and Lamgwin packing up, and Lini asks if Morgase is sure about returning to Caemlyn. Morgase replies that Elayne could use her assistance, and dismisses Lini’s comment about “two roosters in the same barnyard,” though mentally she acknowledges she will have to be careful not to undermine Elayne’s authority. Tallanvor approaches and reports to her with stiff formality about his visit to Caemlyn, and his suggestion that they ask Perrin to have his channelers send them directly there. He then draws her aside to speak privately, and points out that if she does not get to Caemlyn quickly, the news of her survival will beat her there and possibly erode Elayne’s authority. Morgase retorts tartly that Gill and the others are already packing up for just that reason, and Tallanvor apologizes formally for his “forwardness” and makes to leave.

“Must we be so formal with one another, Tallanvor?”

“The illusion has ended, my Lady.” He walked away.

Morgase watched him go, and felt her heart twist. Curse her stubbornness!

She reflects how Taringail and Gaebril both had proven to her how bad an idea it was for her to have a husband. Then Tallanvor stops and comes back to place his sword at her feet. He says he was wrong to threaten to leave before, and that his heart and sword are hers forever. He goes to leave again, and Morgase points out softly that he never actually asked for her hand. Tallanvor replies that he won’t put her in the position of having to refuse him for the good of Andor, so that she may marry to help secure Elayne’s position. Morgase wonders aloud how many times she must sacrifice herself for Andor.

“No,” she said. “Not again. Tallanvor, look at that sky above. You’ve seen the things that walk the world, felt the Dark One’s curses strike us. This is not a time to be without hope. Without love.”

“But what of duty?”

“Duty can bloody get in line. It’s had its share of me. Everyone’s had their share of me, Tallanvor. Everyone but the man I want.”

She kisses him. Lini barges in and breaks it up by declaring that they’re going to go to Perrin to get married immediately. Morgase protests that she won’t be forced into it like Perrin tried earlier, but Lini retorts that she is not Perrin, and this had to be done before they go to Caemlyn. She orders Gill to unpack Morgase’s things, ignoring Morgase’s protests. Tallanvor agrees to come with Lini, and Morgase points out with a glare that he still hasn’t actually asked her.

He smiled, then held her close. “Morgase Trakand, will you be my wife?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Now let’s find Perrin.”

Perrin examines a grove of trees that died and rotted overnight before heading back to camp, disturbed by the phenomenon. There are five forges going there now, and Perrin hopes that the Power-wrought weapons Neald and the others are turning out will give his people an advantage, though he knows Neald will not be able to reproduce whatever he’d done the night Mah’alleinir had been forged. He worries briefly about his inevitable upcoming meeting with Elayne, and then meets Faile. He tells her how Berelain has published her proclamation condemning the rumors about her and Perrin, and thanks Faile for whatever she did to make it happen.

“Do you know the difference between a hawk and a falcon, Perrin?” […] She smiled. “The hawk is better at hunting the rabbit. But, you see, the falcon is better at hunting the hawk.”

[…] Women. He’d never make sense of them. For once, though, that seemed a good thing.

They are discussing the meeting with Elayne when they are interrupted by the arrival of Lini, Morgase and Tallanvor. Morgase announces that as Perrin is the closest thing to a lord in the camp other than her stepson, she supposes he will do to marry her to Tallanvor. Perrin remarks that that was a rather “backhanded” way to ask him, and this seems to irritate both Morgase and Faile. Morgase backs off, though, and apologizes for insulting his authority; Perrin supposes that she has reason to question it.

“No,” Morgase said, standing up taller. Light, but she could look like a queen when she wanted. How had they missed it before? “You are a lord, Perrin Aybara. Your actions show it. The Two Rivers is blessed because of you, and perhaps Andor as well. So long as you remain part of her.”

“I intend to,” Perrin promised.

Morgase offers to speak on his behalf to Elayne in return, and Faile jumps in to accept the offer, though she says they will have to discuss with Elayne about “bestowing proper titles.” Perrin wonders whether Faile is still considering splitting the Two Rivers from Andor. Galad and Berelain approach, and Perrin notes Galad is tucking away a note with a red seal on it, looking troubled. Perrin and Morgase agree that simplicity is best. Morgase and Tallanvor each make heartfelt and eloquent speeches declaring their love for the other, and Perrin feels superfluous, but announces they’re married anyway and shoos them off. Lini snorts and ushers the newlyweds off, and Faile remarks to Perrin that he’ll have to get better at that before heading off to procure wine for the festivities. Perrin contemplates the camp of his army, now some seventy thousand strong, and wonders how he ended up with such a force. Then something strikes him lightly on the back of his head, making him turn. He approaches the tree it came from cautiously.

A hand suddenly jutted out from behind the trunk, holding a brown sack. “I caught a badger,” a familiar voice said. “Want to let it go on the village green?”

Perrin bellows a laugh and circles the tree to find Mat there, richly dressed, with a wide-brimmed black hat, a polearm with a broad blade, and a sack with a squirming badger in it. He is astounded that Mat actually caught one, and Mat replies that he was feeling nostalgic. Perrin notes that there are no colors in his head when thinking of Mat now that they are together, but that something feels right about it. Perrin pulls Mat into a warm hug, which Mat returns. Mat remarks that Caemlyn is buzzing with news of Perrin’s arrival, and Mat decided to beat everyone else to the punch and come here first. Then he sobers and warns Perrin that assassins are after him; Mat will explain, but not here.

“Meet me in an inn called The Happy Throng, in Caemlyn. Oh, and if you don’t mind, I’ll be wanting to borrow one of those black-coated fellows of yours for a few shakes. Need a gateway.”

“For what purpose?”

“I’ll explain. But later.”

Mat tips his hat and jogs off to slip back through the gateway Grady is holding for the refugees, and Perrin shakes his head and bends to open the sack and “ease the poor badger Mat had captured.”

Commentary
Okay, first of all, I wish to note for the record that I am highly indignant at the last line of this chapter, because BOO. It was much more fun when we could entertain ourselves with wildly inappropriate notions of what that phrase meant!

But other than that minor detail: YAY SUPERBOY REUNION FOR THE WIN.

Mat! And Perrin! Breathing the same air! Holy crap!

Seriously, y’all. If my calculations are correct, the last time Mat and Perrin were in the same place at the same time was alllllll the way back at the beginning of TSR, in the Stone of Tear before Perrin went to the Two Rivers and Rand and Mat hared off to the Aiel Waste. I’m not sure of how long that is in internal chronology (though it’s been at least a year), but that means in reader time it’s been twenty years since we’ve seen these two characters “on screen” together.

And I did very much love that their reunion was a deliberate callback to our very first introduction to Mat back in TEOTW. Besides just being funny, it was also a very nice reminder of how very far both Mat and Perrin have come since then. And it makes my anticipation of all three Superboys being together again that much sharper. Whoo!

Other than that, this chapter could have been titled The One Where We Finish Up With Morgase’s Character Arc, Finally, Hallelujah. Not that she’s done having things to do, of course, but in finally marrying Tallanvor, her central character conflict is essentially resolved.

For which I am grateful, if rather conflicted over. Because, on the one hand, it’s good that Morgase decides not to let her previous victimization prevent her from seeking her own happiness. Yay for taking back your power, and all that. But on the other hand, there’s a slightly unpleasant subtext here that implies that Morgase could never have regained her own agency as a person before finally finding the right man, which is a little “ugh”-inducing.

That said, romantic happy endings kind of are par for the course for this kind of thing, so it’s pretty easy to conclude that if it’s there, at least the subtext was definitely unintentional. So, you know, I’m happy enough to let it go. Especially because it means (hopefully) that I won’t ever have to deal with this plotline again.

(Though I will note that while I think Perrin’s idea of a wedding “ceremony” here was supposed to be funny, having just come from a very lovely wedding myself I found his lack of couth to be more annoying than amusing. Way to kill the moment, dude, sheesh.)

Faile vs. ornithology: The Intertubes were rather unhelpful in my (admittedly rather cursory) search to discover whether it was true that falcons can hunt hawks, but the consensus seems to be that while falcons are generally smaller than hawks, they are also much faster and more agile hunters than hawks generally are. So, I guess they probably could hunt hawks if they wanted to, but I tend to doubt it’s quite as common a thing as Faile’s remark seems to imply.

FYI, the preceding paragraph has been brought to you by the International Association of Pedantry and Fussy Nitpicks. Our newsletter’s proofreading is immaculate.

I have no idea what the note to Galad business is about. Was that another Verin message, or is it something completely mundane we’ve already been told about and I just forgot? I tend to think it is the latter, because the idea of Verin sending a note to Galad is rather… startling. Though not impossible, I suppose.


And my eyes are pretty much Done With Me (as are my sinuses, and throat, and lungs, and graagagh), so we’ll have to stop here. Wish me a speedy recovery if you will, my peeps, and in the meantime have a merry and candy-filled Samhain if that be your inclination. See you next week!

151 Comments

Subscribe to this thread