Wednesday, January 16, 2013

An Ending: Mat Cauthon

This post contains spoilers for A Memory of Light

Read at your own peril. 

I've made no secret of my love of Matrim Cauthon. I'm also one of those people who when I read The Gathering Storm was immediately jarred because Brandon Sanderson got Mat wrong. In Towers of Midnight, Mat got better, but there was still something off about Mat's personality, about his humor. So I was a little worried about how Mat was going to play out in this final book. 

I was even more worried when Mat didn't show up until Chapter 11. CHAPTER 11! It took one of our major characters hundreds of pages to get in the book. And I had this fear that Brandon Sanderson was going to minimize Mat's role because he doesn't get Mat. And I wouldn't have been able to live with that. 

Luckily, that's not how things played out. And once the action started, once Mat was in battle mode, he was perfect. He was Mat. And it was beautiful.  

The Four Generals

My big fear that Mat was going to be written out felt realized when Rand declared Elayne the head of the Last Battle and put the four generals in charge. There had never been any doubt in my mind that Mat's pivotal role in the last Battle would be as the General. He would be the one directing the forces of Light. And when Rand declared Elayne, I was like "WHAT? NO!"

In hindsight, it sort of makes sense. Rand and Mat haven't been together since...well since Lord of Chaos. I don't remember exactly. Rand only saw the beginning of awesome General Mat. And Rand doesn't even know where Mat is at this point. So I guess I get that.

And oh my gosh, was the Four General story line amazing. As soon as Perrin started seeing Graendal at the camps, I knew something was up, but then when the Sword-Bearer (can't remember his name, you know who I'm talking about, the guy Lan was talking to when they were grooming horses) mentioned his concern about Agelmar, I was like COMPULSION! No way Agelmar was a Darkfriend. (Though man, I admit, it would have been cool if one of the four Generals had turned out to be a Darkfriend.) And that entire story line about the battles and Compulsion was amazing. 

And of course, who is the only General you can trust to not be Compelled? Matrim Cauthon of course! 

It was like the Pattern itself wove Mat to be there for that battle, to lead the Armies of Light. And of course, the Pattern did. 

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and being THE GREAT GENERAL was the Wheel's will for Matt.

The Horn of Valere

I honestly have no idea how I missed this. I mean, I've never been a huge Wheel of Time theorist, but there were a couple of things I was sure of: Matt would be the General at the Last Battle and he would blow the Horn of Valere. How the heck did I miss that Matt (having died twice) was no longer connected to the Horn?

When Olver first put the Horn of Valere to his lips, my thought was: "Good thinking, kid. Blow the Horn, then Mat will be able to locate you (because he'll recognize the sound of it of course). Then he'll rescue you and blow the Horn himself."

When the Horn freakin' worked for Olver and Noal showed up....It was perfect. How did I miss it? How did I miss that the Horn was no longer connected to Mat? It's was so obvious. And yet the entire series was devious in that way because every character in the series assumed Mat had to be the one to blow the Horn, because he blew it. No one--not even Mat himself--thought about how his dying would change that.

I guess it makes sense that Mat wouldn't know. After all, his "dying" when he was hung was the equivalent of Buffy dying at the end of season one. A basically fake death. Yes, his heart stopped but he was shortly revived. Mat wouldn't remember being killed that other time, because Rand balefired the whole thing away. 

Anyway, I was shocked that Olver was able to blow the Horn. But it made perfect sense in hindsight, and I applaud Team Jordan for being to pull a fast one on many of us.    

Also, I love Mat making sure he's not a hero of the Horn. :) 

The Dagger

I'm going to agree somewhat with the general consensus and say the Padan Fain thing happened way to fast. However, on the other hand, that also makes sense. 

Padan Fain and the Dagger were Mat's personal demons, but not in the same way that Slayer was Perrin's (which we will talk about more in my post about Perrin).  I would say Mat and Padan were more the equivalent of Perrin dealing with the whole Boundless/Wolf Brother thing. Whereas Perrin and Slayer were more equivalent to Mat's role to the Last Battle. So it's not fair to equate them. Slayer was Perrin's last battle. And the dagger was Mat's Boundless. So considering it on that scale, it makes more sense. 

Yes, it took Perrin ages to get over his Boundless issues. But Mat and Perrin are not the same people. I've said it before that Mat gets the most improved award, whereas Perrin pretty much stays the same person. And that's why the personal battle was harder for Perrin. Because he's so unchangeable. 

So that being said, when Mat was pulled off his horse by the mist, I literally shouted out loud. I had a strong belief that Mat wasn't going to die, because at one point Robert Jordan had mentioned writing an outrigger novel about Mat and Tuon (which I would love to read, but alas isn't going to happen). But when the mist got him, I thought he was a goner for sure and all I could think was "No, no, no, no, no, anyone but Mat." 

When he popped up and killed Fain, I was so happy. A little dues ex machina? Maybe. Maybe just a little. But it was also perfect. Because the dagger, that temptation, was a part of him, but a part of him that he had overcome. 

And him leaving the dagger behind and the dice stopping was perfect. 

Rand and Mat

I wish we had gotten more of Rand and Mat together. For nearly five books these two were inseparable. For half of that, Rand was keeping dagger crazed Mat alive. I wanted more. But their conversation of trying to one up each other was perfect. I loved it.

"Sure," Mat said. "By the way, I saved Moraine. Chew on that as you try to decide which of the two of us is winning."
Mat followed Tuon, and behind him rose the laughter of the Dragon Reborn.

But my big regret is that we never got to see Mat, Rand, and Perrin together for one last conversation. It's been a long road for those three, and I would have liked to see them together before the end. 

Note: I'm going to write an entirely separate post on Tuon, which will deal with Mat and Tuon, but this is long enough as it is. 
 

9 comments:

  1. This post is kinda old but I'll comment anyway. I literally just finished A Memory of Light a few minutes ago. Overall, I am pleased. One scene I really wanted was Mat's thoughts as either Hawkwing talked to Tuon or his thoughts as Tuon told him about her conversation with Hawkwing. Alas, no dice.
    Another thing, did I just straight up forget about Mat saving Moraine in the Tower and losing his eye? Or was it never written out? I always wanted more information on the Snakes and Foxes creatures.

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    1. Mat saving Moraine and losing his eye was in Towers of Midnight. It's definitely there and written out. Perhaps you just forgot about it? If you did, you should definitely go back and read it. It's a fantastic sequence!

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    2. Wow, super fast on the reply! Well done.
      I suppose it has been awhile since I read Towers of Midnight. I am glad it is in there. I would be incredibly annoyed if that was left out. I also had no memory of Thom and Moraine getting married. I'll have to locate that section again. Makes me wonder what else I have forgotten from this series. Thank you.

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    3. My replies aren't usually this fast, I just happened to be on my computer when I saw your comment. And since Mat's my favorite character, of course I knew the answer. lol

      I don't think Thom and Moraine getting married was directly described. It was glossed over, if I recall, sort of like Egwene and Gawyn's marriage was. (Still bitter about that being glossed over).

      I'm planning to do a re-read of the entire series again soon (to see what things I forgot or slipped my notice), now that I've read the end, but it's a commitment! Have to find the time!

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    4. Well, I'm glad that the timing worked out! That burning question can be stricken from the record. A re-read of the series would be glorious, but I understand what you mean. That is a huge time commitment. Perhaps in a few years I will try to tackle it. I never read the prequel, so that would be a logical place to start. A little something new to get me going and then the ability to scrutinize all the early plot devices with the knowledge of the ending would probably be enjoyable in its own right.
      Good luck.

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  2. I am on book 13, having started rereading from New Spring after I read A Memory of Light in January. For some of these, it's my third reading. I can't believe how many more details I'm catching this time. Possibly because I'm moving along so rapidly, maybe because I found the WoT Wiki. Having finished the books there aren't any spoilers and it helps me immensely.

    While Mat was not my top favorite character I've always liked him a lot. As much as I appreciate Brandon Sanderson finishing the series, I agree, he never really got Mat. He turned him into a bit of a babbling idiot. At least, that's the impression I've gotten as I've reread books 12 and 13. I felt bad. Mat was a character and hated responsibility, but he never acted stupid.

    I appreciate your post here and your thoughts on it. I've just found your blog and will have to find the time to come back and check out more.

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  3. I have had the Dragon banner across my back for 15 yrs. I lost my wife in Sept and am now raising two boys 4 and 3. I want a new tattoo, of Matrim, with the saying I am lost in my own mind. Any pictures that could be posted would be great

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  4. Sorry for commenting so late but this thread really hit home. I felt the same way about Sanderson changing the way Mat speaks when he takes over. I do think he did a brilliant job over all though. I think the reason Mat returns to be more similar is a lot of the last book had already been written by Jordan before he died and was kept word for word out of respect.

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  5. I am surprised people thought so highly of Mat in the 1st half of the series. I could not stand reading him. He WAS a babbling idiot. After Sanderson, I LOVED Mat. He matured without changing his nature.
    Sanderson did admit that Mat was the hardest character to write while Perrin was the easiest.
    Finished the series this week. I am going through something. So sad that is over :(

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