Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-Through #9: Chapter 6—A Knack


By Linda

Perrin POV

Egwene and Rand’s spat went on long enough for Moiraine to arrive and gauge the meeting.

Perrin’s positive thoughts are really noticeable after Egwene’s negativity in the last chapter. For instance, he is proud and impressed that Mat freed Moiraine. When he sees Mat riding through the countryside, he wonders where Mat is going—to Ebou Dar, as it happens—but doesn’t judge. With his abilities, Perrin’s POVs represent truth or accuracy in a situation. Perrin is likely the most reliable of the narrators.

Rand is stunned into disbelief that Moiraine is back. She gives a philosophical explanation as she has so often in the past: “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills”. But then, Nynaeve and Min are also shocked. Min had given up on her viewing that Moiraine still had essential deeds to accomplish:

She had not really lied when he asked her what viewings she had kept back. Not really. What good to tell him he would almost certainly fail without a woman who was dead and gone?

- A Crown Of Swords, Into The Woods

Min sighed regretfully, but it was not as if she had really expected Moiraine to turn up alive. Moiraine was the only viewing of hers that had ever failed.

- A Crown Of Swords, Into The Woods

—and now Moiraine is about to do one of these essential deeds.

Egwene gives Moiraine a formal greeting as Amyrlin, which Moiraine doesn’t take very seriously. Moiraine has less strength in saidar than previously—which means by tradition she should have been much meeker around the Amyrlin—but more in everything else. She points out that she gets credit for discovering the Amyrlin, and by implication reminds Egwene that she owes a lot to Moiraine. Then Nynaeve, in turn, shocked Moiraine by hugging her. Moiraine is not used to physical demonstrations in public, and has typical Cairhienin reserve. Nynaeve has very mixed feelings about Moiraine, but from this point on, the two women work together quite well.

Darlin may be thoughtful at Moiraine’s return because his wife-to-be is Moiraine’s cousin. Also he maybe have heard of things about her from Caraline.

Egwene informs Moiraine—complains, really—that Rand is exacting a price for his sacrifice. She puts a negative spin on it, as she did all the previous chapter. After reading the treaty herself, Moiraine responds by quoting the Karaethon Cycle, including prophecies already fulfilled that she relates in a new way. When Egwene and Gregorin protest Rand’s conditions and plans, she counters them with prophecy.

"'He shall slay his people with the sword of peace,' " Moiraine said, " 'and destroy them with the leaf.'…'The unstained tower breaks and bends knee to the forgotten sign . . .' "

A Memory of Light, A Knack

The first prophecy was about Rand breaking the Aiel, but now also the other nations, with peace. Rand’s peace is twofold: that from victory over the Shadow certainly had a lot of bloodshed, but that between the nations will hugely alter the Aiel and Seanchan, if not the other nations. In the second prophecy quoted above, the White Tower will bow to Rand and his wishes more than once. Not what Egwene wanted to hear. Moiraine doesn’t perhaps yet know the full story of the aftermath of Dumai’s Wells, but we do.

A few people offer Rand constructive criticism. Saerin is complimentary about the treaty, but says the Seanchan need to be included in it. Elayne notices the lack of any conflict resolution procedure. Both are sensible points. The treaty will be void if the Empress does not sign. Then Aviendha says that the Aiel must be included in the peace, which is quite ironic considering other nations are complaining about being pressured into it. Quite a few rulers want to expand their nations at the expense of others. Perrin sees that the Aiel could be the enforcers of the peace, since they need to be doing purposeful things. Other nations think that the Aiel can be manipulated their way.

Rhuarc fears this will be an end to the Aiel. Rand says it is a beginning. Privately, however, he remembers what Aviendha told him; that some Aiel believed that Rand would completely destroy the Aiel:

". . . your dream now . . . when you wake from this life, we will be no more . . ."

-A Memory of Light, A Knack

As mediators of peace—sworn to be via the treaty—they will have a variation of their old role in the Age of Legends, serving and helping the Dragon.

Cadsuane is very approving. So is Elayne.

Moiraine makes Rand see that he can’t oversee the battles. He has the wrong attitude for winning military battles. Rand is against the Amyrlin being the general—and Egwene doesn’t protest this, even though it was her aim to win this role for the Tower. Moiraine seems to have made her reconsider. Moiraine then tells Egwene that she will break the Seals, and leads her to understand her dream of Rand walking to Shayol Ghul on shards (of the Dark One’s prison):

Him walking toward a burning mountain, something crunching beneath his boots. She stirred and whimpered; the crunching things were the seals on the Dark One's prison, shattering with his every step.

-Lord Of Chaos, A Pile of Sand

The shards are the broken Seals—that “what men made shall be shattered”. Moiraine makes Rand give the Seals to Egwene and Egwene promise that she will break them.

As an Accepted, Moiraine studied philosophy, and she really shows this in this chapter. Perrin doesn’t follow Moiraine’s philosophy of trusting the Pattern to make things happen right. He believes in making his own way, and not relying on the Pattern. For all that wolves are supposed to be fatalistic, Perrin isn’t:

Moiraine always had believed in following the weave of the Pattern and bowing to the Wheel's turnings. Perrin didn't see it that way. He figured you made your own path, and trusted in your own arms to do what needed to be done. The Pattern wasn't a thing to depend on.

A Memory of Light, A Knack

Perrin has been far less trusting of the Pattern since he learned how the good and bad were mixed within it. In his eyes this made it far from a masterwork, and therefore not to be relied upon.

Rand gets Egwene to sign first. Faile sees that Rand brought all who supported him, and relied on Egwene to bring and unite the waverers and outright opponents. Then he only had to get her to sign—and the rest had to follow. Elayne is the last to sign and Rand gives her the leadership of the armies as an incentive.

Faile then wonders about the damane the Seanchan have taken and the nations also. Rand considers damaging their forces if they don’t sign—yet all will be needed in the Last Battle. Of course the Empress considered not participating in Tarmon Gaidon and standing aside to take advantage of the weakened world after. This is selfish and short-sighted, since the Seanchan’s participation ensured victory.

The mainlanders assume the Empress will hold to the treaty if she signs it. For all that other Seanchan take pride in honouring all oaths they take, Fortuona signed and then considered breaking the treaty. Mat was the one who insisted she keep her oath and shamed her into it.

Rand decides publicly that he will allow the Seanchan the captives that they have taken because they have done good with the bad. Balance.

Rand asks that the generals send some forces to save Lan’s army first. This is the reverse of his dark pronouncements that he would let Lan distract the Shadow and strike elsewhere without sending any forces to aid Lan.


Lan POV

Lan is pleased that Kaisel of Kandor accepts the realistic outcome of their battle. The Malkieri are proud to go down in one last charge.

Lan realises that everyone deserves the choice of fighting for the Light. Like Rand, Lan did not want the responsibility of leading others to their deaths. He never learned how to bear the responsibilities of kingship in practise by watching his parents. Compare this with Faile instructing Perrin:

"Perrin, my father says a general can take care of the living or weep for the dead, but he cannot do both."
"I am not a general, Faile. I am a fool of a blacksmith who thought he could use other people to help him get justice, or maybe revenge. I still want it, but I don't want to use anyone else for it any longer."
"Do you think the Trollocs will go away because you decide your motives are not pure enough?" The heat in her voice made him raise his head, but she pushed it back to the pillow almost roughly. "Are they any less vile? Do you need a purer reason to fight them than what they are? Another thing my father says. The worst sin a general can commit, worse than blundering, worse than losing, worse than anything, is to desert the men who depend on him."

The Shadow Rising, Among the Tu’atha’an

Part of the compact between noble and commoner, ingrained in Faile from her birth, was that nobles provided safety and security. And a part of giving security was to remind people that evil times were not forever. If today was bad, then tomorrow would be better, and if not tomorrow, then the day after. She wished she could be certain of that herself, but she had been taught to give those under her strength even when she had none herself, to soothe their fears, not infect them with her own.

Lord of Chaos, Prologue

Lan knows he must be responsible for his soldiers; he just didn’t want to have any soldiers with him to be responsible for.

By pulling slowly out of the Gap, Lan’s forces unknowingly enabled their reinforcements to join them very easily. The timing is perfect. The Wheel weaves.

Lan never had conventional childhood and development and had not previously sworn the Malkieri oath to defend. Andere insists Lan show pleasure at their rescue and victory and he laughs. Rarely, if ever, has Lan laughed in the series until now. It’s nice to end a chapter with joy.