at is Gaidal Cain
by Great Lord of the Dark: 2005-07-05 | 4.2 out of 10 (5 votes)
Mat is Gaidal Cain. Sort of.
This entire theory was inspired by two pieces of 'evidence'. The first piece of evidence is the following passage told from Mat's POV: "That was one of the things about Birgitte; she would nudge him in the ribs and point out a pretty girl for his eye as readily as any man he had ever known, and expect him to point out in turn what she liked to see, which was generally the ugliest man in sight. Whether or not she chose to go half-naked today—a quarter, anyway—she was... well, a friend. A strange world, it was turning out to be. One woman he was beginning to think of as a drinking companion, and another after him as intently as he had ever pursued any pretty woman, in those old memories or his own. More intently; he had never chased any woman who let him know she did not want to be chased. A very strange world."
Seems innocent enough, doesn't it? But now you have to take my word for the second piece of evidence, for which I do not have the book in front of me. The book I refer to is of course Robert Jordan's 'Conan the Destroyer', based on the movie of the same name.
Yes, that is the first book he wrote for Tor, the one that made Harriet his editor for the first time. But that's a different love story...
In the novel 'Conan the Destroyer', the young blond princess asks Conan about his lost love Valeria, who died in the first movie, shot by Thulsa Doom's poison snake-arrow. Conan hesitates, wondering how he could describe Valeria, a woman who would always point out a girl with a nice bottom, or large breasts, just so that he wouldn't miss such a pretty sight. Valeria, the only woman he would ever love. It's not a direct quote, but something very similar to it is there, I remember clearly.
Years ago, reading ACoS for the first time I made this connection, based on this passage of text alone, always waiting for the day I could get my hands on my Conan novel again to verify it. But with KoD coming soon, and no hope of getting my novel back by then, I feel I have to finally put this important piece of RJ self-plagiarism forth for your evaluation.
Mat and Birgitte were Conan and Valeria in one of their previous lives.
I know we'll have to explain the how and why, so let's try keep it (relatively) quick:
1. Ripped Away
I believe the Pattern allowed for Moghedien's ripping Birgitte from TAR. That's why Gaidal disappeared before Birgitte's unfortunate encounter with Moghedien. He too was removed from TAR in an abnormal fashion and is now in Mat's adult body. There's a certain odd logic to this given that, "He is usually born well before me-so I know my time approaches again when I cannot find him-and I usually hate him at first sight in the flesh. But we nearly always end lovers or wed. A simple story, but I think we have spun it out in a thousand variations." I think this is just another variation, one in which they don't have to grow up, just get torn out and live as adults. RJ will not keep these lovers apart.
2. Mat's memories
The Eelfinn put a lot of men's memories in Mat's head. They may not be able to affect the waking world, but I bet they could grab a guy in TAR. Especially if that guy had been to the Tower of Ghenjei in a previous life. Say around the time of Manetheren and the Ten Nations. I'd say Birgitte learned about Eharoni High Princes, the difficulties of leaving the Tower of Ghenjei and such other details from firsthand experience. Her lover Gaidal was therefore also alive at that time, with the opportunity to enter the Tower and meet the Eelfinn and donate his memories for their future use. When the memories began to emerge in Mat's head, Gaidal began losing his own memories' until he could no longer exist. Now he's just a part of Mat. The next section analyzes this in detail.
Here are the relevant dates to consider:
Jun 8 999 NE, Mat enters the red doorway in Rhuidean
Jun 14 999 NE Rand finds Mat hanging in the courtyard in Rhuidean.
Jun 16 999 NE Mat fights Trollocs at Imre Stand.
Jun 29 999 NE Nynaeve meets Gaidal Cain and Birgitte in TAR. This is Gaidal's final appearance in TAR.
Aug 12 999 NE Darkhounds attack Mat at Rhuidean.
Aug 13 999 NE Nynaeve meets Birgitte in TAR (behind the scenes)
Aug 17 999 NE Nynaeve meets Birgitte in TAR (ch 14 FoH)
Note from the two quotes below, how Mat's new memories didn't take hold immediately, but required time to blend with his own memories, to become part of Mat. They start as waking dreams. Two months later, Mat can tell that the clutter has become organized, they now merge seamlessly with his own.
A quote from Mat on Jun 16: "Before Rhuidean his memory had been full of holes. Casting back in his mind then, he would be able to remember walking up to a door in the morning and leaving in the evening, but nothing between. Now there was something in between, filling all those holes. Waking dreams, or something very like. It was as if he could remember dances and battles and streets and cities, none of which he had ever really seen, none of which he was sure had ever existed, like a hundred pieces of memory from a hundred different men. Better to think of them as dreams, maybe-a little better-yet he was as sure in them as in any of his own remembrances. Battles numbered the most, and sometimes they crept up on him in a way, as with the crossbow. He would find himself looking at a piece of ground and planning how to set an ambush there, or defend against one, or how to set an army for battle. It was madness."
A quote from Mat on Aug 12: "The memories that had once cluttered his head like raisins in a cake now blended with his own. In one part of his mind he knew he had been born in the Two Rivers twenty years before, but he could remember clearly leading the flanking attack that turned the Trollocs at Maighande, and dancing in the court of Tarmandewin, and a hundred other things, a thousand. Mostly battles. He remembered dying more times than he wanted to think of. No seams between lives anymore; he could not tell his memories from the others unless he concentrated.
That last line reminds me a lot of Fain and Mordeth, how they began as separate entities, and eventually blended together to create Ordeith. But the important part is that Mat's memories took time to become part of Mat, and not just a piece of some other man's life.
So, on Aug 17, here's what Nynaeve and Birgitte have to say: "I have not seen him for some time. I think the Wheel has spun him out again. It always happens so." Expectation and concern both touched her voice.
"I do not know, Nynaeve. Time here is not like Time in the waking world. I met you here last ten days gone, as it seems to me, and Elayne only a day before. What was it for you?"
"Four days and three," Nynaeve muttered.
"You see, Nynaeve? The flow of time here can shift in larger ways, too. It might be months before I am born again, or days. Here, for me. In the waking world it could be years yet before my birth."
“I told you. A day in Tel'aran'rhiod can be an hour in the waking world, or the other way round.
A later quote reveals: “This is not Tel'aran'rhiod.” It was not a question, but Elayne nodded, and Birgitte sank back with a long sigh. “I remember everything,” she whispered. “I am here as I am, and I remember. All is changed. Gaidal is out there, somewhere, an infant, or even a young boy."
If Birgitte thinks he could already be a young boy, that suggests he could be one. Meaning that Gaidal's appearance in TAR days earlier doesn't discount his being reborn in the waking world at an earlier date. The discussion between Nynaeve and Birgitte seems to indicate the same. I know it sounds weird, but in this case, I have to go with the expert's opinion, someone who's lived in TAR for millenia, who knows the rules, no matter how odd it seems. I also have to wonder if temporal rules for dead Heroes in TAR are different than those governing real people, like it's not confusing enough already.
Mat is heroic, so it's hard to picture him as ugly, but he hasn't been healed in a while. Instead he gets injuries sewn up by his manservant (Nerim was his serving man, and mended his master as often as his master's clothes; as a seamstress, the man was a ham-fisted cook). So lots of ugly scars, refusal to get Healed, plus the possibility that he is fated to lose an eye, means that Mat is getting uglier by the day.
Mat has an ashandarei or staff, Gaidal wields a sword or two. Oh well, can't have everything. But Mat sticks with what he grew up with, not with what the men in his head used, which is likely swords, though expertise in all weapons is now Mat's, so he could switch to swords fairly easily.
Yes, Mat is fated to marry Tuon. Marriage and love are two different things. Mat seems just the type who might sneak off behind his wife's back for a little time with a blonde warder to the Queen of Andor. I figure this is where the prophecy "The Last Battle done, but the world not done with Battle" comes in. Seanchan vs. Andor as they fight over Mat. Sounds funny to me!
In summary, RJ is a romantic, and he won't let Birgitte live without her Gaidal. He must be around, as an adult. The clue lies with the first fantasy novel he wrote that brought him together with the love of his own life. Gaidal entered the Tower of Ghenjei 2000 years ago, allowing the Eelfinn to access his memories and dump them in Mat's head, where they percolated for two months until the mindmeld was complete.
For your further enjoyment, here's some other samplings of Mat and Birgitte interacting. Ah, young love!
TITLE: Crown of Swords CHAPTER: 28 - Bread and Cheese That was the beginning with her. Any other woman he had ever known would have demanded to know thanks for what, and then explained why none were necessary at such length that he wanted to cover his ears, or upbraided him at equal length for thinking they were, or sometimes made it clear she expected something more substantial than words. Birgitte just shrugged, and over the next two days, something startling occurred in his head.
Birgitte leaned toward him on the bench. "Best be wary," she murmured. "That widow is looking for a new husband; the sheath on her marriage knife is blue. Besides, the house is over there."
He blinked, losing sight of the sweetly plump woman who rolled her hips so extravagantly as she walked, and Birgitte answered his sheepish grin with a laugh. Nynaeve would have flayed him with her tongue for looking, and even Egwene would have been coolly disapproving. By the end of the second day on that bench, he realized he had sat all that time with his hip pressed against Birgitte's and never once thought of trying to kiss her. He was sure she did not want to be kissed by him—frankly, considering the dog-ugly men she seemed to enjoy looking at, he might have been insulted if she had—and she was a hero out of legend whom he still half-expected to leap over a house and grab a couple of the Forsaken by the neck on the way. But that was not it: He would as soon have thought of kissing Nalesean. The same as the Tairen, just exactly the same as, he liked Birgitte.
Shaking his head, he tried to focus on what was important. Other men's memories, of battles and courts and lands vanished centuries ago, filled holes, in his own, places where his own life suddenly went thin or was not there at all. He could remember fleeing the Two Rivers with Moiraine and Lan quite clearly for example, but almost nothing more until reaching Caemlyn, and there were gaps before and after, as well. If whole years of his own growing up lay beyond recall, why should he expect to recollect every woman he had met? Maybe she reminded him of some woman dead a thousand years or more; the Light knew that happened often enough. Even Birgitte sometimes tickled his memory. Well, there were four women here and now who had his brain tied in knots. They were what was important.
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