In Defense of Galad Damodred

"What's to say about Galad?" you might ask."He's an obnoxious do-gooder. He sees everything in black and white. For the Light's sake, he's even a Whitecloak. Oh yeah, he's gorgeous - so what else can you write about him?"

Well, as it happens, quite a bit.

Let's go back to his childhood. He is, as we all know, the son of Prince Taringail Damodred and Daughter-Heir Tigraine Mantear - and as most of us have worked out, the half-brother of Rand al'Thor. When he was just three or four, his mother left without warning, never to return. Not long after, Taringail married the new young Queen, Morgase Trakand, who adopted Galad and went on to have two children of her own, Gawyn and Elayne.

Yes, I know you know all this. Bear with me, I'm about to get to a point.

Why did Tigraine leave? Because Gitara Moroso Foretold that she must do so, or else disaster would fall on Andor. But Galad doesn't know that. Most children of that age, if a parent disappeared without any reason, would be likely to think they'd done something to drive that parent away. Taringail, judging from what we know of his character, couldn't have been much of a father, so Galad would be hit hard by his mother's apparent desertion.

Then Morgase came and, so far as we know, treated Galad completely as her own son. We know that she thinks of him as such, and that he thinks of her as his mother. Is it so far-fetched to suggest that the child Galad would be afraid that if he wasn't good, he'd lose her as well? All his life, he's tried to be the perfect son and later on, the perfect brother. This has backfired on him at times - perfection in elder siblings is not something particularly desired by younger ones. But Elayne, if you ask me, is in serious need of an attitude adjustment.

A lot of people, in that first scene with Galad, got the impression of him as somewhat of a telltale and spoilsport. So, for that matter, did I. But think about it from his point of view for a moment. The political climate at that time was largely hostile toward the royal family. Then Galad entered the palace gardens, where no one except the royal family should be, to find his younger brother and sister - the heir to the throne - talking to a tall stranger with a sword. Elayne's soft heart regarding strays and hurt creatures probably being well known, pretending to fall and be injured would be an excellent cover for an assassin to get to the Daughter-Heir. Of course Galad called the guards. What else should he have done? The most that would happen to Rand if he was innocent would be being tossed out of the Palace, while if he was an assassin both Elayne and Gawyn could have been killed. It wasn't even a choice.

As for Galad seeing everything in black and white, I don't think he does at all. On the contrary, we see him trying to decide what the 'right' thing to do is, in The Fires of Heaven and other times, which allows for at least several shades of gray in his worldview. His behaviour is more consistent with wanting to do good, but not always knowing what good is.

What else are we accusing Galad of? Let me see - He's always polite. He never makes fun of people. He wouldn't dream of taking advantage of the fact that women swoon over him. He didn't want to fight a weakened and outnumbered man despite the fact that (from his point of view) he could make easy money by doing so. He's concerned about the safety of his sister and the girl he's in love with when they keep mysteriously vanishing and no one will tell him where they are. Shocking!

Oh, and he's a Whitecloak.

Granted, that's pretty bad on its own. You're not likely to see "In Defense of the Children of the Light" appearing here any time soon - although you never know. But is he a rabid, anything-related-to-the-Power-is-evil Whitecloak? Of course not. If he was, he'd have arrested (or tried to) Elayne and Nynaeve when he found them in Amadicia, not gotten a boat for them and seen them safely on their way. In The Shadow Rising, we see he's studying the writings of Lothair Mantelar (and, incidentally, manages to be perfectly courteous and friendly to Min, despite the fact that she's apparently the silliest, most frivolous, most empty-headed twit ever to be born. That had to be an effort - and before anyone protests, I'm referring to the Elmindreda disguise, not to the real Min.) It seems pretty clear that what he cares about is the original purpose of the Children as defenders of what's right and good - and likely that he'll be the one to bring them back to that vision.

Now, of course, there are certain things Galad is not aware of. That is that his sister is now a fully-accredited (well, nearly) Aes Sedai: the girl he is in love with is now the Amyrlin Seat of the rebel sisters (and as such faces stilling should her side happen to lose) and, most interestingly of all, that the half-brother he never knew he had is the Dragon Reborn. We all want to see what happens when he does become aware of them - especially the last.

It's that last I want to deal with. A lot of people have wondered whether Rand and Galad will come into direct conflict, and if so, what will happen. Rand, remember, knows what his relationship to Galad is, and will probably tell Galad first if he tells anyone. Just how significant Rand thinks it is I don't know, as he thinks of Tam and Kari, not Janduin and Tigraine, as his real parents. But Galad will, I'm certain, find it immensely significant. That revelation would change Rand, in Galad's view, from 'dangerous stranger to protect people from' to 'little brother to be protected.' Especially as Rand is his mother's only other child, and the only person who knows why Tigraine left Andor. Once Galad finds out his mother's desertion was none of his fault, he'll be a lot happier - and a lot easier on himself and other people.

So don't knock Galad, people. He hasn't had it easy. And in my opinion, he's a great character.
Raina's Hold / Raina's Library / Raina's Library - Essays