The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: A Crown of Swords, Part 11

Hello! Fancy meeting you here. Wheel of Time Re-read? Why, I thought you’d never ask. I live but to serve!

Today’s post covers Chapters 17 and 18 of A Crown of Swords, in which we spin complex psychological rationales, temporarily lose an old friend, and gain a dreaded frenemy.

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, in which you can find links to news, reviews, and all manner of yummy tidbits regarding the newest release, The Gathering Storm, and for WOT-related stuff in general.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 12, The Gathering Storm. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And without further ado, dig in, old chap!


Chapter 17: The Triumph of Logic

 

What Happens
Mat escapes from the palace as soon as he can, thinking that he now knows what rabbits feel like with an eagle’s eyes on them, and stomps back to The Wandering Woman, the dice still rolling in his head.

Had Nynaeve and Elayne been cavorting with Jaichim Carridin and Elaida in the fountain beneath that statue of some long-dead queen, two spans or more tall and pointing to the sea, he would have passed by without a second look.

In the common room, he finds Vanin bandaging up one of the Redarms, Corevin, while Harnan harangues him about accepting challenges until he catches sight of Mat, and tries to act innocent. Mat lets it go, and asks if Thom or Juilin are back yet. Vanin tells him no, but that Nalesean was there, and left a chest in Mat’s room before heading back out; Olver’s reading in the stable, and got spanked for pinching the bottom of one of Setalle’s daughters. Mat does not understand why Vanin gives him an accusing look at the latter news. Corevin adds that “the poor little mite” was sniveling over it.

“He’ll live,” Mat said dryly. The boy was probably picking up these habits from his “uncles.” Next, they would give him a tattoo.

He tells Vanin to head over to Chelsaine Palace to see what he can hear, and in a low voice tells them about Carridin consorting with Darkfriends; they all look grim, and Mat warns Vanin to be careful. Harnan tells him that there was a “fog” in the Rahad yesterday that ate people. Mat knows what it must have been, a bubble of evil, but tells Harnan not to worry about it. He heads upstairs, where he’s intercepted by Caira, one of the serving women, who tells him (smokily) that a man claiming to be an Illuminator had come by to see Mat, but left when Setalle wouldn’t comp him a meal.

“Next time, pigeon, give the meal,” he told her, slipping a silver mark into the plunging neck of her dress. “I’ll speak to Mistress Anan.” He did want to find an Illuminator—a real one, not some fellow selling fireworks full of sawdust—but it hardly mattered now. Not with the gold lying unguarded. And fogs in the Rahad, and Darkfriends, and Aes Sedai, and bloody Tylin taking leave of her senses, and . . .

Caira giggled and twisted like a stroked cat. “Would you like me to bring some punch to your room, my Lord? Or anything?” She smiled hopefully, invitingly.

“Maybe later,” he said, tapping her nose with a fingertip.

He continues up, musing that Olver was going to get in trouble if he kept treating women the way he did, and resolving to keep the boy away from Harnan and the others from now on. He is almost to his room when a chance squeak in the floorboard behind him makes him turn just in time to avoid having his skull crushed by a truncheon. He and the other man struggle; his attacker almost chokes him to death, but Mat manages to pull a knife and kill him before he loses consciousness. They’ve stumbled into a different room during the fight, and Mat tries to apologize to the man inside (who has a large empty chest in front of him), but the second man attacks him too, and Mat kills him with a knife-throw to the throat.

“It’s good to be lucky,” Mat croaked.

He has time to note that both attackers are awfully well-dressed to be common cutthroats before Nerim shows up with a large frying pan in his hand, which he then tries to hide. Nerim notes mournfully that my Lord has gotten blood on his coat again, and Nerim wishes he wouldn’t, as bloodstains are so difficult to get out. Setalle Anan shows up next, followed by her husband Jasfer; Setalle is unfazed by the corpses, and Mat tries to figure out why it is so difficult to think of doing anything that might offend her. Mat explains what happened, and supposes the chest was for loot; Setalle tells Mat that the men insisted on this particular room, next to Mat’s, even though it was too small. Mat doesn’t attribute much importance to this, but Setalle is less sanguine. Jasfer suggests she hire guards, but quickly backs away from any suggestion that he’s telling Setalle how to run her inn; while this is going on, Mat realizes he has a note tucked in his coat:

The few lines on it were printed in square letters like those Olver might use. Or an adult who did not want the hand recognized.

ELAYNE AND NYNAEVE ARE PUSHING TOO FAR. REMIND THEM THEY ARE STILL IN DANGER FROM THE TOWER. WARN THEM TO BE CAREFUL, OR THEY WILL BE KNEELING TO ASK ELAIDA’S PARDON YET.

Mat tries to figure out what is meant by “still” in danger; he also thinks that the only people who could have had an opportunity to slip him the note were either Joline or Teslyn, which makes no sense to him at all. Mat asks Setalle if any man ever gets to understand women, and Jasfer starts cracking up laughing; Setalle opines serenely that it’s men who are impossible to understand, which makes Jasfer laugh harder, and doesn’t stop even when Setalle punches him in the gut.

“There is a saying in Ebou Dar, my Lord,” she said to Mat over her shoulder. “ ‘A man is a maze of brambles in darkness, and even he does not know the way.’ ”

Mat snorted. Fat lot of help she was.

He tries to figure out what to do next, and wishes the bloody dice would stop rolling in his head.

Joline enters the suite she shares with Teslyn, annoyed that Teslyn won’t let her Warders use the extra room, and looks out at the dying garden below, which frightens her.

The Dark One was touching the world, and their only hope a boy who was running wild.

“Bread and water?” Teslyn said suddenly. “Send the Cauthon boy off to the Tower? If there do be changes in what we did plan, you will please inform me before telling others.”

Joline blushes a bit, and answers that Merilille needed to be “set down,” and describes the humiliating way Merilille had taught classes in the Tower. Teslyn is incredulous that she still remembers that after all this time, or that she still attaches importance to it, and adds casually that maybe Elaida was right in what she said of Joline. Joline is still on Merilille, thinking that she despises all the rebels for what they’ve done (even though she admits to herself that Elaida had blundered horribly in handling them), but then wants to know what Elaida said about her. Teslyn sighs, and answers that Elaida thinks Joline is a child who has never grown up.

Joline tossed her head angrily, unwilling to let herself speak. To have that said by someone whose mother had been a child when she herself gained the shawl! Elaida had been petted too much as a novice, made over too much for her strength and the remarkable speed of her learning. Joline suspected that was why she was in such a fury about Elayne and Egwene and the wilder Nynaeve; because they were stronger than she, because they had spent far less time as novices, no matter that they had been pushed ahead too fast. Why, Nynaeve had never been a novice at all, and that was completely unheard of.

Teslyn goes on that maybe, though, they should think of taking advantage of the situation; returning Elayne and Nynaeve to Elaida, with Cauthon and the wilder Aviendha as an added bonus, would be sure to get them back into Elaida’s good graces. Joline reminds Teslyn that Elaida exiled them to this “fly-ridden hole” for no more reason than because she could, and wants to know why they would want to get back into Elaida’s good graces. Teslyn answers that remaining silent for a while was good, to show Elaida that they were not cowed, but too long could be viewed as treason. Joline thinks this is ridiculous, opining that the girls would just be punished as runaways, and surely it doesn’t matter when they start their penances; to herself, she thinks it might be better to make sure Elayne secures the Andoran throne first in any case. She thinks they should wait until Elaida contacts them first (or, she thinks to herself, until Elaida gets deposed in turn). Teslyn is reluctantly persuaded.

Still a child, was she? If she had her way, Elaida would not get so much as a word out of Ebou Dar until she begged for it.

The convulsing woman on the table screams and dies, and Falion wishes she had Temaile with her instead of Ispan, as Temaile is much better at making sure prisoners don’t die before they talk. Falion piles the woman’s clothes, which include a red belt, on top of the body and instructs their two thick-witted hirelings (Arnin and Nad) to toss the body in the alley and make it look like she was robbed. Arnin tries to tell her that no one will believe that, but she slams him against the wall with Air, and the men rush to obey. After they leave, Ispan opines that Moghedien won’t like this, and Falion (wishing she were working with Rianna, the other White, instead of a flighty Blue) disdainfully retorts that Moghedien has forgotten them, and furthermore she is convinced this cache does not exist. Ispan disagrees, starry-eyed at the notion of having an angreal or even a sa’angreal of her own.

“Moghedien was wrong.” Falion watched shock widen the other woman’s eyes. The Chosen were only people.

Learning that lesson had stunned Falion too, but some refused to learn. The Chosen were vastly stronger, infinitely more knowledgeable, and quite possibly they had already received the reward of immortality, but by all evidence they schemed and fought each other as hard as two Murandians with one blanket.

Ispan still demurs, pointing out the other Friends of the Dark in town also searching for the cache, surely sent by other Chosen, and adds that at any rate she is not interested in reporting failure to Moghedien; their punishment might rival Liandrin’s if they do. Falion repeats there is no cache, and lays out her logic: the Wise Women are mostly wilders, and everyone knows that wilders stay far away from objects of Power for fear of attracting the wrath of the Tower, but by contrast, women who are put out of the Tower often try to steal such objects and take them with them, just as the Wise Woman they had just questioned (Callie), had tried when she was put out. Surely such a woman would have located a cache of angreal if there had been one to be found. Falion has a much better idea instead:

“What would please Moghedien as greatly as the cache?” Ispan simply stared at her, tapping her foot. “Nynaeve al’Meara, Ispan. Moghedien abandoned us to go chasing after her, but obviously she escaped somehow. If we give Nynaeve—and the Trakand girl, for that matter—to Moghedien, she would forgive us a hundred sa’angreal.”

Ispan thinks this is a terrible idea, declaring that where those two girls appear, “disaster follows.” She thinks if they’re not going to kill them, they should stay as far away from Elayne and Nynaeve as possible, but Falion is confident that eventually her logic will prevail.

He sits on a barrel and studies the house across the street; his head feels strange, when he thinks of “what he cannot remember.” The house is a goldsmith’s who is supposedly being visited by two friends from the country, but he’s discovered the two “friends” are Aes Sedai. A street tough walking by pauses and assesses him, and he grips his knives under his coat, but the tough thinks better of it and walks on. He is puzzled to see the two hired men, Arnin and Nad, hauling a wheelbarrow full of refuse out of the goldsmith’s stable, and decides to stay until dark, then try to find “Carridin’s pretty little killer” again.

Sooner or later, he would remember. He did not have much time left, but it was all he did have. He remembered that much.

Commentary
Oh, Mat, you adorable little manslut.

Heh. Okay, not really. But still.

While I think most people, myself included, find Mat’s obliviousness re: Olver’s true behavioral role model to be very amusing, I remember a few fans being of the opinion that it stretched credibility that Mat could have no clue of what an incorrigible flirt he is. I tend not to agree, myself.

On the one hand, I see their point, but on the other, flirting is a funny thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people be shocked or indignant when informed that they were flirting, even when–especially when–they were not only flirting, but flirting outrageously. Sure, some of these people are being disingenuous when they deny the flirtage (or they’re, you know, drunk), but not all of them. Some people really don’t know they’re doing it!

It’s like certain parts of your brain just switch off when you see that yummy guy or gal you want to go for—and this is an observation that is not just mine, but backed up by psychological research, which notes that people in “flirt mode” show a similar kind of detachment from rational thought to that observed in the “fight or flight” response to danger. Limbic system SMASH neocortex when it comes to sex, is what I’m saying—or to survival, which from an evolutionary point of view is actually the same thing. Biological imperative and all that.

Given that, and combined with Mat’s terminal allergy to self-introspection, it’s not impossible to suppose that Mat could genuinely have no idea that he behaves the way he does when he’s around women he’s attracted to (i.e. women who indicate they are attracted to him). You’ll note he behaves completely differently around women he’s mentally marked as, for whatever reason, Not An Option for “snuggling.”

(This is a group that includes Tylin, by the way. But We’re Not Talking About That Yet.)

Joline and Teslyn: I don’t think I really understood what was going on here the first time I read this scene. In fact, I’m sure I didn’t, mostly because I totally bought Jordan’s character misdirection re: Teslyn hook, line, and sinker. She’s Red! She’s ugly! She must suck, right? Ah-hah! Book, judge, cover, etc.! Shame on me, you guys. Shame!

Although perhaps I can be allowed a little leeway, because really: I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think that in seven books, Teslyn may be the very first Red sister we meet who not only turns out not to suck, but is… actually kind of awesome. After seven books. I’m just saying.

And she is, you guys. Kind of awesome, I mean. She’s not full-bore, firesale, four-hundred-dollar-leather-jacket-marked-down-to-seventy-five awesome, maybe, but she’s definitely at least a nice sweater in just your color at 20% off. Which ain’t gonna be the dramatic shopping coup adventure you tell over cocktails or anything, but it’s a cool sort of thing to brighten your day, you know?

(That jacket story? Trufax. If we’re ever having a martini together I’ll tell you about it.)

Matters become much clearer, of course, once you have the hindsight of knowing that Teslyn was the one who passed Mat the note telling him to warn Elayne and Nynaeve. Once you know that, it’s pretty clear that Teslyn, far from being in real favor of getting back in Elaida’s good graces by hauling the Supergirls back to the Tower, was actually using Joline’s petulance to manipulate her into doing the exact opposite.

To be sure, I suspect this was less altruism on Teslyn’s part toward Our Heroes, as it was a determination to spike Elaida’s plans just because they were Elaida’s plans; in fact she may state this outright later on, I can’t remember. But hey, the enemy of my enemy, and alla that.

The age thing among Aes Sedai occasionally throws me when one of them makes observations like Joline does here, about her age relative to Merilille’s and Elaida’s. Logically I know perfectly well that with such long life spans the age ranges among Aes Sedai must vary wildly, but with the exceptions of those sisters who are obviously much older, like Vandene, Adeleas, Verin, etc., I tend to unconsciously group Aes Sedai into one narrow “normal” adult age range that makes them all roughly contemporaries of each other (say, 30 to maybe 45 years of age). So it’s always rather jarring to me when one of them casually observes that she’s a hundred years older than another sister, when (I presume) they look like they could have been in college together.

Or something like that. You know what I mean. Maybe. Hopefully. I’m going to shut up now.

Well, except to note that Falion’s name (like the extremely sarcastic chapter title) is very thematically appropriate, since she Fails logic with extreme Failination.

(“Fail,” “Falion,” geddit? “Fail”? “Falion”? Joke? Funny? …Okay, really shutting up now.)

*slinks off*

*slinks back long enough to note that Barrel Guy = Noal = Jain = neener, and slinks off again*
Chapter 18: As the Plow Breaks the Earth

What Happens
Rand sits in his anteroom with the Aiel chiefs in Cairhien, and commands Merana to pour more tea. The Aiel watch expressionlessly as she obeys in a manner that “shouts Aes Sedai,” and Rand wonders if that’s to his advantage or not. She shows perfect self-possession except for whenever she sees Dashiva and Narishma; Rand notes that Dashiva appears to be talking to himself again. Rand comments to the chiefs that he does not let the Aes Sedai channel without permission, but the chiefs make no response. Lews Therin comments that only a fool thinks “a lion or a woman” can ever be tamed, and Rand mutes him irritably before replacing the ward that blocks Merana from hearing.

My sisters do not all realize how very much we need you, she had told him this morning in this very room, but all of us who swore will do whatever you ask that would not violate the Three Oaths. […] I have more than a little skill in negotiation and mediation. My sisters have other skills. Let us serve you, as we pledged. Let me serve you. We need you, but you have some need of us, too.

Alanna had screamed the same thing at him before literally running in tears, though Rand thinks this probably wasn’t what either of them had had in mind. He also wonders why Alanna has always seemed grieved and weepy since the moment she bonded him. He tells the chiefs that the Wise Ones have said the Aes Sedai serve him too; does Rand need to make them dance a jig to prove it? Mandelain finally comments that it’s said an Aes Sedai will do anything to get what she wants, but Indirian and Janwin have decided they want to drop the matter in favor of discussing the Shaido dogs. Rand asks about the Wise Ones, and Indirian reluctantly answers that Sarinde has told him the Wise Ones will run with the spears to take care of the Shaido Wise Ones. Janwin remarks sadly that all things change, and Mandelain wonders if any of them will ever see the Three-fold Land again.

“I hope so,” Rand said slowly. As the plow breaks the earth shall he break the lives of men, and all that was shall be consumed in the fire of his eyes. The trumpets of war shall sound at his footsteps, the ravens feed at his voice, and he shall wear a crown of swords. The Prophecies of the Dragon gave little hope for anything except victory over the Dark One, and only a chance of that. The Prophecy of Rhuidean, the Aiel Prophecy, said he would destroy them. The bleakness swept through the clans because of him and ancient customs were ripped apart. Even without the Aes Sedai, small wonder if some chiefs pondered whether they were right to follow Rand al’Thor, Dragons on his arms or no. “I hope so.”

The Aiel leave, and Rand asks Narishma and Dashiva if they think the chiefs believe he is an Aes Sedai puppet. Dashiva doesn’t see why it matters, so long as they obey, and Narishma doesn’t really get it either. Rand muses on the problems he’s juggling, while Lews Therin moans and mutters, and Alanna stops weeping to be angry about something, and Rand tries to remember what it was like to be alone in his own head. Then Berelain storms in, trailed by Annoura; she waves his letter in his face and demands to know why she is to be sent back to Mayene without so much as an in-person dismissal from Rand. Lews Therin starts humming as soon as she appears, and Rand reluctantly admits to himself that the reason for the letter was because he liked looking at her too much, and abruptly realizes he’s thumbing his ear, which he knows is a habit of Lews Therin’s as well.

Burn you, this is my body! The thought was a snarl. Mine! Lews Therin’s hum stopped in surprise, and confusion; without a sound, the dead man fled, back into the deepest shadows of Rand’s brain.

Focusing on her eyes, Rand tells her she knows very well why, after the incident with the man with the knife on the docks. Berelain tries to laugh this off as a common mugging attempt, but Rand tells her not to play the fool; those who supported Colavaere might not be able to get to Rand, but they can get to Berelain. She is going back to Mayene, and Dobraine will take her place until Elayne can be crowned. Berelain is about to explode, but Annoura touches her arm; Berelain calms herself, and switches tactics, pointing out in honeyed tones that she is in a much better position to negotiate with the Sea Folk on his behalf than anyone. Rand wonders why she’s trying to hold on so hard to such a dangerous and thankless job, and tries to reassure her that Mayene’s sovereignty is guaranteed, but Berelain is sure that the memory of her services will fade in the face of new ones. Rand asks if she will serve if it still means leaving, but before she can answer, Riallin (a Maiden) opens the door to announce that an Aes Sedai named Cadsuane Melaidhrin has come to see the Car’a’carn, and a handsome woman, her gray hair in a bun “decorated with dangling gold ornaments” sweeps in right behind her. Annoura gasps that she thought Cadsuane was dead, and Merana runs through the ward, screaming for Cadsuane not to harm him. Someone embraces saidar, and Rand jumps clear of Berelain, seizing saidin, as do the Asha’man; Riallin veils herself and shouts for reinforcements.

For someone who had caused all that, this Cadsuane seemed remarkably unaffected. She looked at the Maidens and shook her head, golden stars and moons and birds swaying gently. “Trying to grow decent roses in northern Ghealdan may be near to death, Annoura,” she said dryly, “but it is not quite the grave. Oh, do calm down, Merana, before you frighten someone. One would think you would have grown a little less excitable since putting off novice white.”

Merana looks embarrassed, and the tingle of saidar vanishes, but Rand does not release the Source. He demands to know what Ajah Cadsuane is, and what she wants, but Cadsuane ignores him, instead gliding over to inspect Narishma and Dashiva. She compliments Narishma on his eyes; Narishma looks confused and Dashiva grins nastily. Rand snaps at them to do nothing, and again demands to know what Cadsuane wants. Cadsuane finally answers by saying that she would have thought even a “child” like Moiraine would have taught him manners. Then she turns to Berelain, and politely but unequivocally dismisses her; Berelain takes it smoothly, curtsying to Rand and pointedly asking his permission to leave, which he also gives with pointed courtesy. Berelain leaves, and Cadsuane comments it’s always nice to see “children play.” Annoura and Merana still look poleaxed, and Rand realizes she’s deliberately trying to provoke him. He doesn’t know why, but is determined not to rise to the bait. He sits down, and Cadsuane comments that she would like some tea. Rand channels and floats the tea tray over to her and pours tea for all three Aes Sedai, watching to see what they do. Merana looks queasy, but accepts, while Annoura refuses outright, but Cadsuane takes the tea and sips it with pleasure, and tells him he’s a “good boy.” Rand quivers, but controls himself, and asks coldly one more time for her to explain her purpose, or leave —by a window, if necessary.

“To see you,” she said calmly. “I am Green Ajah, not Red, but I have worn the shawl longer than any other sister living, and I have faced more men who could channel than any four Reds, maybe than any ten. Not that I hunted them, you understand, but I seem to have a nose.” Calmly, a woman saying she had been to market once or twice in her life. “Some fought to the bitter end, kicking and screaming even after they were shielded and bound. Some wept and begged, offering gold, anything, their very souls, not to be taken to Tar Valon. Still others wept from relief, meek as lambs, thankful finally to be done with it. Light’s truth, they all weep, at the end. There is nothing left for them but tears at the end.”

Rand explodes in rage, hurling the tea set into a mirror, which shatters, scaring everyone in the room except Cadsuane. He jumps up and asks, snarling, if that’s supposed to scare him. He could crush her instantly, and “Merana knows” why he should. Cadsuane answers calmly that she knows his future, and while some believe the Light abandons men who can channel, she does not. Then she asks if he’s begun to hear voices yet.

“What do you mean?” he asked slowly. He could feel Lews Therin listening.

The tingle returned to his skin, and he very nearly channeled, but all that happened was that the teapot rose and floated to Cadsuane, turning slowly in the air for her to examine. “Some men who can channel begin to hear voices.” She spoke almost absently, frowning at the flattened sphere of silver and gold. “It is a part of the madness. Voices conversing with them, telling them what to do.” The teapot drifted gently to the floor by her feet. “Have you heard any?”

Dashiva laughs suddenly, and Narishma licks his lips. Rand answers that he will ask the questions, but inside his head he calls out to Lews Therin, who doesn’t answer. Cadsuane sighs, and comments that he seems “overwrought,” and suggests they speak later before asking to “borrow” Merana and Annoura for a while. Rand gapes at her a moment, and then shouts at everyone to get out. Once alone, Rand hurls the Dragon Scepter into a wall.

“I am not mad,” he said to the empty room. Lews Therin had told him things; he would never have escaped Galina’s chest without the dead man’s voice. But he had used the Power before he ever heard the voice; he had figured out how to call lightning and hurl fire and form a construct that had killed hundreds of Trollocs. But then, maybe that had been Lews Therin, like those memories of climbing trees in a plum orchard, and entering the Hall of the Servants, and a dozen more that crept up on him unawares. And maybe those memories were all fancies, mad dreams of a mad mind, just like the voice.

He paces until Riallin enters again, supporting a weeping Idrien Tarsin. Rand forces himself to ask gently what is the matter, and when he learns, wants to weep himself.

Commentary
Enter: Cadsuane.

 

DUN.

 

No, like really.

I’ve gotta say, Cadsuane royally pissed me off from the moment she appeared, both on first reading and now. What’s more, she basically never stopped pissing me off, even when she clearly was the one who had saved the day (which has happened annoyingly often), or did something that would have earned a rating of Awesome from me had she been ANY other character.

But she’s Cadsuane, and I just can’t bloody stand her.

I just don’t get her. Her method of “handling” Rand, which seems to consist, in its entirety, of constantly keeping him on the bleeding edge of homicidal rage, makes absolutely NO SENSE to me.

Well, no. That’s not true, precisely. I can, if I squint, see the rationale in there, as long as you favor the mindset that believes the best defense is a good offense —literally, as the case may be.

But we’re going to discuss this more in the next chapter, as that’s where Cadsuane herself thinks about her motives in behaving the way she does, so I’ll leave it for now except to note that her demeanor in this chapter could scarcely have been better calculated to make me instantly despise her, regardless of her motives. Maybe it’s the Southerner in me, but I sincerely cannot abide people who are deliberately offensive as a default stance. Sometimes rudeness is called for, I definitely won’t argue with that, but employing it from the word “Go” is just… just… rude.

Argh.

So instead, let’s discuss the other big thing that happened in this chapter, which is the disappearance of Lews Therin. Though of course we don’t know yet, narratively, that his silence is going to be extended, this is where it starts, and as a result this scene spawned a proverbial horde of wild-ass theories among the readers as to why it happened, and what it meant for the He’s Real camp vs. He Ain’t faction.

Of course, we all know which pony I’m behind here. Quoth the FAQ:

As soon as Cadsuane mentions hearing voices, in [ACOS: 18, As the Plow Breaks the Earth, 331] “LTT” stops talking to Rand. One thing to note is that Cadsuane channeled while making that statement. The obvious thing she did was fetching the teapot to her, but it is possible that she used the channeling of the teapot to disguise something else she did. Furthermore, the voice reappeared in TPOD. So, we’re left with the questions of why did LTT go away? Was it something Cadsuane did? Did he go away of his own volition (was he in hiding)? Did Rand subconsciously suppress him? Why did he come back? Also, what do his disappearance and reappearance signify?

It is interesting to note that this scene marks one of the few times since LTT appeared that Rand truly loses his temper. If Jean’s theory is correct, and the LTT personality is an outlet for Rand’s emotions, Rand’s outburst could have been the cause of LTT’s disappearance, rather than anything Cadsuane did. Once he started expressing his own feelings, rather than feeding them into LTT, the LTT personality retreated. However, after that episode Rand went back to suppressing everything, and LTT eventually reappeared.

Perhaps once Cadsuane teaches Rand “laughter and tears” again, the LTT personality, having lost its purpose, will disappear entirely.

“Jean’s theory” is further up the page, but is basically the same one I’ve been a proponent of, the “Lews Therin is an alternate personality” theory. I don’t know that I completely buy the “losing his temper” part of it, as it strikes me as being a tad pat, but I do believe that Rand himself suppressed Lews Therin the moment Cadsuane raised the specter (heh) of hearing voices as a common sign of taint madness.

(Also, this FAQ entry was obviously written long before TGS came out —it was written before KOD came out, for that matter —but that last bit is rather interesting in light of what happens, eh?)

The other big theory noted there, that Cadsuane’s examination of the teapot was a cover for her doing something with the Power that suppressed Lews Therin temporarily, had a lot of fans as I recall, but I personally never bought this idea for a second. Regardless of whether you suppose Lews Therin is real or an alternate personality, there’s never been the slightest evidence before or since that the One Power can affect something so nebulous and ephemeral as a voice in another person’s head, especially in such a short time. The only things that might come close to being able to do something like it is either Compulsion, which Cadsuane obviously could not have used here even if modern Aes Sedai knew how to do it, which they don’t, or Healing, which also obviously did not happen here. So boo on this theory, sez moi.

And now, having no doubt once again infuriated half the commenters with my dastardly partisanship re: head voices, I cheerfully leave the topic for a couple of final notes:

First, a rather bizarre quote from earlier in the chapter, when Rand is talking to Berelain:

“Berelain, I don’t know what else I can do to guarantee Mayene for you, but I will write out any—” Colors swirled so strongly in his head that his tongue froze. Lews Therin cackled. A woman who knows the danger and isn’t afraid is a treasure only a madman would spurn.

This probably is just a chance turn of phrase, or maybe even an error, but the reference to “swirls of color,” given what happens later with the Superboys, definitely made me blink a little. There doesn’t seem to be any relation between this and the later manifestations of Ta’veren Technicolor Telepathy, tee em, but, uh, I dunno. Thoughts?

Last but not least, this quote:

As the plow breaks the earth shall he break the lives of men, and all that was shall be consumed in the fire of his eyes. The trumpets of war shall sound at his footsteps, the ravens feed at his voice, and he shall wear a crown of swords.

I… really don’t have a lot to say to that, except what I’ve said before: damn does it suck to be Rand.


And we out! Have a jauntily jolly weekend, my pigeons, and see you next time!

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