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aCoS 3-4 (FRR-2012)

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Lord of the Morning

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Location: Shanaine, Manetheren

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 3:09 am
Post subject: aCoS 3-4 (FRR-2012)
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aCoS Ch 3 "Hills of the Golden Dawn"

"On a wide low hilltop some miles north and east of the city of Cairhien, well away from any road or human habitation, a thin vertical slash of pure light appeared, taller than a man on a horse. The ground sloped away in every direction, undulating gently, nothing more than occasional brush obscured the view for more than a mile, all the way to the surrounding forest. Brown grass fell as the light seemed to rotate, widening into a square opening in midair. A number of the dead stems were slit lengthwise, sliced finer than any razor could have. By a hole in the air."

The ebb and flow of the Wheel of Time can seem strange at times. Ten pages might pass, and then-thousand lives end or a nation's course irrevocably shifted, or, twenty might pass with the participates only sitting around sipping tea. Hill of the Golden Dawn is fourteen pages of people standing around on a hill talking, though the conversation is far from mundane. Hill of the Golden Dawn--in the Old Tongue, Al'cair'rahienallen--shortened to Cairhien.

There's some combination of the lighting and the mood, the waves of dust, and dying landscape, that reminds of the sun setting on a dying world, or perhaps sunset before the long night. Thematically it makes sense, we have "Crossroads of Twilight" and later on "Towers of Midnight" and "A Memory of Light." For A Crown of Swords to be dusk is grimly ironic, in so much as the characters persist in thinking its only late afternoon (possibly years left til the Last Battle) when in fact, in might be even later than I give it credit for.

"[Dashiva gave a start, surprised to be addressed. "I....grew up on a farm." He tugged his sword belt straight, which it did not need. Supposedly they trained with the swords as much as with the Power, but Dashiva did not seem to know one end from the other. "I don't know much about having enemies." Despite his awkwardness, there was a kind of insolence to him. But then, the whole lot seemed weaned on arrogance.
"If you stay near me," Rand said softly, "you will." His smile made Perrin shiver. He smiled while he gave orders to go through the gateway as though they would be attacked on the other side. There were enemies everywhere, he told them. Always remember that. there were enemies everywhere, and you never knew who.]"

Several things strike me about that passage. Perrin seems to be living in a kind of dream world. All Rand's hardness, suspicion, manipulations, and politicking are somehow over the top, unnecessary and a symptom of madness. Perrin isn’t necessarily wrong, Rand isn’t sane, though he’s not gone yet either. It’s more like Perrin thinks that well he will just stick to the Two Rivers and those sized problems, he’ll live with Faile, there will be a few years yet, but he can somehow insulate his life from the greater struggles of Tarmon Gai’don--while Rand is living with eminent death and destruction and the very ending of existence. The other thing, is just how apt and true Rand’s speech about enemies truly is. The two that come immediately to mind are Dashiva as Osan’gar and Aram as well, a moron.

“When Rand reined in, he studied Perrin as intently as he had the surrounding country. “I trust you,” he said finally, nodding. Min stirred in her saddle, and he added, “And you, Min, of course. And you, too, Loial.” The Ogier shifted uncertainly, with a hesitant glance for Perrin. Rand looked around the hillside, at the Aiel and the Asha’man and all the rest. “So few I can trust,” he whispered tiredly. His scent was jumbled enough for two men, anger and fear, determination and despair. And woven through it all, weariness.
[Be sane], Perrin wanted to tell him. [Hold on.] A wash of guilt held his tongue, though. Because it was the Dragon Reborn he wanted to say it too, not his friend since childhood. He wanted his friend to stay sane, the Dragon Reborn [had] to stay sane.”

I think Perrin could do with a little bit less trust. He can’t even trust his own wife! Though really, who can? In case it isn’t obvious, the party has assembled in battle formation on a hill some miles from the city of Cairhien: the Aiel, all Perrin’s retinue, along with Rand and his Asha’man. They spot a woman running toward them, Feraighin, a Wise One. Bair and Megana set watchers at every approach to the city to await their return. Feraighin bears news, very bad news. Because of rumors swirling throughout Cairhien, the Aiel think that Rand has gone to willingly submit to the White Tower. The Bleakness has returned, with up to one thousand a day throwing down their spears and running away (or joining the Shaido). Reactions among the chiefs very but are extremely bad. Indirian thinks that if Rand went it was not willingly and he must have been betrayed, and is ready to take his spears north and attack Tar Valon. Timolan says that if true, Rand has betrayed the Aiel and he will return to the Three-Fold land after he sees Rand dead. People who knew the truth could not speak or things would be even worse.

"Perrin eyed Dobraine and Nurelle, watching with their men, and swallowed queasily. How many of those who followed Rand did so because he had the weight of the Aiel massed behind him? Not all, certainly, but for every man who had chosen because Rand was the Dragon Reborn, five or even ten had come because the Light shone brightest on the strongest ranks. If the Aiel broke away, or splintered...
He did not want to think about that possibility. Defending the Two Rivers had stretched his abilities as far as they would go, maybe farther. [Ta'veren] or not, he had no illusions he was one of those men who ended up in the histories; that was for Rand. village-sized problems were his limit. yet he could not help himself. His mind churned. What to do if the worst came? Lists ran up in his head: who would remain loyal and who might try to slip away. The first list was sufficiently short and the second sufficiently long to dry his throat. Too many people still schemed for advantage as if they had never heard of the Prophesies of the Dragon or the Last Battle. He suspected some still would the day after Tarmon Gai'don began. The worst of it was, most would not be Darkfriends, just people looking out for their own interests first. Loial's ears hung limp; he saw it, too."

Three point stance: Perrin is already in the histories -- as he is mentioned in the Karaethon Cycle--”Wolf King” indeed. People will definitely be scheming for advantage the day after Tarmon Gai’don begins, as it began long ago. You might say the opening blows were Rand’s birth and the Black Ajah’s seek and destroy mission along with Moiraine and Siuans’ desperate bid to find him before it was too late, twenty-two years ago. and third--Perrin, perhaps unbeknownst to him, thinks of himself--the irony is succulent. Perrin is exactly the kind of person who will put his own interests over and above the Dragon or the Last Battle. “All for Faile.” I don’t blame him, and if he had acknowledged that mind set since the beginning I think I would be cool with it, the problem I have is that he thinks he can force or expects everyone else to treasure/save his wife.

Rand questions Feraighin about Colavaere and Berelain. During the conversation it comes out that as may as ten Aes Sedai are in the city. Congregating at the noblewoman’s manor we know so well. (Arilyn). Perrin wonders why Rand doesn’t ask about the only truly important thing, Faile. Finally, he explodes and just interrupts demanding to know about her. She thinks Faile is well and calls him [Sei’cair] (golden eyes). (hehe). Perrin is about to bull in and demand to know more (what an idiot as if solving the other problems won’t solve the Faile problem as well), when Kiruna interrupts with a comic interlude:

“ ’Now, listen to me carefully,” she told Rand, gesturing emphatically under his nose. “I called the situation delicate. It is not. The situation is complex beyond your imagining, so fragile a breath could shatter it. Bera and I will accompany you to the city. Yes, yes, Alanna; and you, as well.” She waved away the slender Aes Sedai impatiently. Perrin thought she was trying that looming trick. She did seem to be peering down her nose at Rand, though tall as she was, he stood head and shoulders taller. “You must let yourself be guided by us. One wrong move, one wrong word, and you may deliver to Cairhien the same disaster you gave Tarabon and Arad Doman. Worse, you can do incalculable damage to matters about which you know almost nothing.’ “

Well, Kiruna wasn’t trying to be funny, but I certainly laughed my ass off. The best part is, Rand completely ignores her, just tells Sorilea to take all the Aes Sedai back to camp--if people see them obeying the Wise Ones, they will know he is on no Aes Sedai, leash because the Wise Ones obey him. Sorilea doesn’t seem to think much of that--but she shows him at least marginal respect, which is pretty huge coming from her. As a side note--I don’t think its fair the way the complete destruction of Tarabon and Arad Doman is laid at Rand’s feet. He declared himself on Almoth Plain, and there was Falme of course, but he was never IN either nation.

I don’t really want to get into it too much, but it does bear mentioning. The subject of Chiad comes up with Gaul, and Perrin finds out that she and Bain are with the column, and NOT PROTECTING Faile. I guess he has this notion that they are her personal bodyguards and that’s are they are. Anyways it comes to a head when Loial says he is [ta’veren] and the Pattern needs him et cetera et cetera:

“ ‘Burn the Pattern,” Perrin growled. “It can all burn, if it keeps her safe.” Loial’s ears went rigid with shock, and even Gaul looked taken aback.
[What does that make me?] Perrin thought. He had been scornful of those who scribbled and scrabbled for their own ends, ignoring the Last Battle and the Dark One’s shadow creeping over the world. How was he different from them?
Rand reined the black in beside him. “Are you coming?”
“I’m coming,” Perrin said bleakly. He had no answer for his own questions, but he knew one thing. To him, Faile [was] the world.”

Perrin doesn't have a monopoly on forsaking the greater good, or at least, thinking about doing so. To wit, from chapter forty-four of tFoH, The Lesser Sadness:

"[Not balefire. Mustn't use that. Threatens the fabric of the Pattern. Not even for Ilyena? I would burn the world and use my soul for tinder to hear her laugh again.]"

So there is that. Of course, Rand doesn't abandon the Light because of it, in fact, Ilyena is one of there reasons he keeps fighting (re: Dragonmount in tGS). Of course Ilyena is dead and Faile is alive, Perrin is a simple man, et cetera et cetera. But something about the casual way Perrin just announces it and goes about it is really off putting. I mean he's not even talking about the difference between her living and dying, "if it keeps her safe," so if there's even a chance that it just protect her from harm, let's just sacrifice the world. And we DON'T EVEN KNOW IF SHE'S EVEN HURT. She could be hawking or sipping tea. If Perrin has that big a problem with things, why doesn't he just pull a Gawyn and go live with Faile somewhere and try to avoid Tarmon Gai'don all together.

aCoS Ch 4 "Into Cairhien"

"Faile filled Perrin's mind, but he was not blind, not completely. What he at first saw without seeing, as they rode south and west, began to seep in at the edges. The weather had been hot when he headed north from Cairhien, less than two weeks ago, yet it seemed the Dark One's touch had gained a harder hold, grinding the land more desperately than before. Brittle grass crackled beneath the horses' hooves, shriveled brown creepers spiderwebbed rocks on the hillsides, and naked branches, not merely leafless but dead, cracked when the arid wind gusted. Evergreen pine and leatherleaf stood brown and yellow often as not."

The world is in bad straits, very bad. Looked at another way, the Dark One might not have been able to do this four-thousand years ago. Many of things he is able to accomplish, fix the season, cause war, disease, famine--the Aes Sedai of the Hall of the Servants were better able to resist or at least soften the blow. Certainly weather [ter'angreal] and a knowledge of working the weather wouldn't have allowed him to fix the seasons in place. They had all that, all that, and they still lost, we lost the war. Not because of the Sealing of the Bore--no that was a pyrrhic victory--but the reason it was necessary is that the end, the world completely in the hands of the Shadow, the Choedan Kal in the hands of the Shadow, Paaran Disen fallen--all those were only weeks away. So, they lost, what chance does the Third Age have?

" 'This is...madness." Holding his reins stiffly, Dashiva booted the plump mare closer to Rand's black. Reluctance twisted his features; perhaps even Asha'man worried at being too near Rand. "All it needs is one man with a ...a bow, or a knife, and you don't see him in time. Send one of the Asha'man to do what needs doing, or more, if you think it's necessary. A gateway to the palace, and it can be done before anyone knows what has happened.' "

A bow? A Shocklance perhaps? It's really funny looking back on Dashiva's behavior when we know all the facts, or most of them, at any rate. Back then, it was certainly suspicious, and lent itself to all kinds of theories that turned out to be quiet close to the mark, but the advantage of hindsight adds a certain flavor. Reluctance to aid Lews Therin, or maybe to aid a country bumpkin who he thinks the Great Lord might set above him. Either way, the man has already been the death of him once--but, 'Let the Lord of Chaos Rule.' Rand uses the excuse of the Asha'man needing a couple hours before they knew this place well enough to Travel to the palace, but that doesn't really hold water. I'm not sure if Rand is being dense or RJ is, or if he just wants to do things his way and doesn't trust Dashiva. They are close enough to probably "hop" to the Palace (you don't need to know a place well if you are only traveling a short distance--ten miles for example). And, of course, Rand could use Skimming. With Skimming you must know your destination but not your starting point. Of course, Dashiva isn't supposed to know Skimming, and the Asha'man don't either--but still it is a puzzle.

Kind of funny, both Perrin and Nurelle want to take all the men, the Mayeners and Two Rivers men at least, with them to the gate. Rand overrules that and Dobraine backs him up, but what were they thinking? do they really think that the gates won't be shut in their faces if they approach with a hostile army?

"Dashiva grumbled under his breath; Perrin caught "hero" and "fool" in equally disparaging tones. Without Faile, he might have agreed. Once Rand peered toward the Aiel encampment sprawled over the hills two or three miles east of the city, and Perrin held his breath, but whatever thoughts Rand had, he kept on the road. Nothing mattered more than Faile. Nothing, whether or not Rand saw it so."

So, if Faile is in danger, we have to throw all good sense out the window, got it. I'm not sure I understand Perrin's thinking at all. Does he think he'll force Rand to help Faile or force other people to do so? I mean, when you come right down to it, the only people he really has are the Two Rivers folk. None of the rest belong to him, sure they banded together for the Dumai's Wells rescue, but would they be willing to give all their lives just for Perrin's wife? I doubt it. Perrin could charge in and probably get his throat sliced open--god he's such an idiot, why can't he at least be RATIONAL.

"Perrin shrugged uncomfortably. The Asha'man had spread out behind, taking up most of the width of the ramp; they must be using the Power. Very likely the eight of them could tear the whole palace apart. Maybe Rand could have by himself. But if those towers began spewing crossbow bolts, they would die with everyone else, caught in the open on this ramp that no longer seemed so wide."

They've rode into Cairhien and are on the ramp before the front gates of the Sun Palace. The Asha'man have bound and gagged the sentries with flows of Air. They enter the palace unchallenged and servants take their horses. In the entry hall they encounter a number of strangely dressed Cairhienin:
"Not all men, he realized. All wore swords, but four of the seven were women, in coats and snug breeches much like Min's, their hair cut short as the men's. Not that that was particularly short; men and women alike had it gathered in a kind of tail that reached their shoulders, tied with a dark ribbon. One of the women wore green a little paler than normal for Cairhienin, and another bright blue; all the rest were in dark colors, with a few bright stripes across their chests. They studied Rand's party--with an especial view for himself, Perrin realized; his yellow eyes took people aback, although he hardly noticed it anymore unless somebody jumped, or made a commotion--studied in silence until the last of the Asha'man was in and the doors swung shut. The boom of the closing covered a moment of fierce whispering; then they came swaggering closer, the women strutting even more arrogantly than the men, which took some doing. Even the way they knelt was arrogant.
The green-clad woman glanced at the one in blue, who had her head down, and said, "My Lord Dragon, I am Camaille Nolaisen. Selande Darengil leads our society...." She blinked at a fierce look from the woman in blue. Despite the glare, Selande smelled afraid to her bones, if Perrin was making out who was who properly. Clearing her throat, Camaille went on. "We did not think--We did not expect you to return--so soon."
"Yes," Rand said softly. "I doubt anyone thought I would return--so soon. None of you has any reason to be afraid of me. None at all. If you believe anything, believe that." Surprisingly, he looked right at Selande when he said that. Her head whipped up, and as she stared at him, the fear smell faded. Not completely, but down to a tatter. How had Rand known it was there?"

Selande was one of Colavaere's "young women," meant to seduce Rand when he first liberated Cairhien, in tFoH. She's actually the one that he frightened away by talking about the Power, the taint, and going mad. He remembers her, and she obviously remembers him. Little details clicking together like that are the reason I love the series.

"Camaille opened her mouth, but it was Selande who answered. "In the Grand Hall of the Sun." Her voice grew stronger as she spoke, the scent of her fear growing weaker. Oddly, a slight tinge of jealousy touched it once, just for an instant, when she glanced at Min. Sometimes his sense of smell was more confusing that enlightening."

I am not sure if it was Rand putting her at ease, or she always liked him, or she things he's good looking or what, but Selande is jealous of Min, which is pretty funny.

"Drawing herself up on her knees, Selande managed to make it seem she was meeting Rand eye-to-eye. "We are ready to dance the blades for you, my Lord Dragon." Sulin shook her head, wincing, and another Maiden groaned audibly; several looked and smelled ready to do some violence then and there. The Aiel could not decide what to make of these young wetlanders. The problem in Aiel eyes were that they were trying to be Aiel in a way, to follow [ji'e'toh], their version of it, anyway. These seven were not the lot; hundreds of the idiots, at least, could be found all over the city, organized into societies in imitation of the Aiel. half the Aiel Perrin had heard mention them wanted to help; the other half wanted to strangle them."

LMAO Oh how I laughed, I was practically crying when I read that. Dance the blades. Good grief. I can just picture a Maiden leaning against a column and groaning and then crying from the absurdity of it all. Once again though, Perrin has to bull into the conversation, disregarding all else except what he wants to know:

"For himself, he did not care whether they mangled [ji'e'toh] to mincemeat. "Where is my wife?" he demanded. "Where is Faile?" The young fools exchange guarded looks. Guarded!
"She is in the Grand Hall of the Sun," Selande said slowly. "She--she is one of Queen--of Colavaere's lady attendants."
"Put your eyes back in our head, Perrin," Min whispered. "She must have a good reason. You know she must."
Shrugging inside his coat, Perrin tried to gather himself. One of Colavaere's [attendants]? Whatever her reason, it must be good. That much he was sure of. But what could it be?
Selande and the others were passing those guarded looks about again. One of the men, a young fellow with a pointed nose, whispered fierce and low, "We swore not to tell anyone! Not anyone! On water oath!"
Before Perrin could demand to be told Rand spoke. "Selande, lad the way to the Grand Hall. There will be no blades. I am here to see justice done, to all who deserve it."
Something in his voice made Perrin's hackles rise. A hardness grim as a hammer's face. Faile [did] have a good reason. She had to."

I'm sure Perrin must fear that Rand means to include Faile in those who deserve justice, or maybe those who do not deserve it. Still, it's annoying that he's ready to thump heads when people are too slow to tell him about his wife, to tell him information, that they, in all likelihood, don't even know. His douchebaggery toward Selande and all her uh associates gets old really fast. Sure he thinks they are worthless, and in some ways, he might be right, it's just funny how he runs roughshod over them, though. Goes really well with the whining litany of, I'm not a Lord, and, I'm just a blacksmith. Well if you are sonny, shut up, mind your own business, and stop ordering people around. Oh
Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!
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