The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Path of Daggers, Part 8

Allo allo! Wheel of Time Re-read, here! Wotcher!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 11 and 12 of The Path of Daggers, in which I valiantly battle the eeeevil forces of (a) rampant apathy and (b) wanton conspiracy-theory nutcasery. Go me!

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 information 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.

WILL SHE PREVAIL against the dastardly doings of the Deadly Doldrums in the tin-foil-hatted Dungeon of Despair? Dunno!

Chapter 11: Questions and an Oath

 

What Happens
In a barn, Rhiale tells Sevanna that the Seanchan soldier they were interrogating is dead, and opines that they should have let the Maidens do this. Someryn thinks he told them much before he died; Sevanna eyes Someryn’s excessive cleavage and jewelry, and wonders whether Someryn is copying her or competing with her. Meira thinks the man told them nothing worth knowing; they already knew his people were in Amador. Barely hiding her contempt, Sevanna tells them they know why the Wise Ones had to interrogate him in secret, lest his lies about hundreds of thousands more of his people on the way frighten the rest of the Shaido.

“They are right to fear,” [Tion] said in a stony voice. “I am afraid, and take no shame in it. The Seanchan are many if they are no more than took Amador, and we are few. You have your sept around you, Sevanna, but where is my sept? Your wetlander friend Caddar and his tame Aes Sedai sent us through his holes in the air to die. Where are the rest of the Shaido?”

The others quickly align themselves with Tion against Sevanna, even Someryn and Modarra. Sevanna sneers, and tells them she suspected Caddar would betray them, which is why she took every Wise One who can channel with her, and points out that the alternative—staying in Kinslayer’s Dagger to be hunted down—was worse. She says they are in a “fat, soft” land now, ripe for the picking, and they will make Caddar pay eventually. This doesn’t appear to mollify the others, and Tion asks if she has given up her plan to marry the Car’a’carn; Sevanna replies she has given up nothing, but that is not important at the moment. She stalks out of the barn, trying to calm her sudden nervousness that these women could easily do to her what they had to Desaine. Outside, she tells the head Maiden Efalin to bury the body and hide the grave, disgusted that Efalin is actually letting her worry show openly. She heads off back to the manor house, and the Wise Ones emerge and follow her, talking among themselves; what she hears makes Sevanna grimace.

Where were the rest of the septs, and had Caddar been a spear hurled by Rand al’Thor, and how many Seanchan were there, and even did they really ride lizards? Lizards! These women had been with her from the first. She had guided their feet step by step, but they believed they had helped plan every move, believed they knew the destination. If she was losing them now…

Sevanna feels better as she surveys the thousands of Jumai Shaido going about their business on the large manor estate, and the wonderful docility of the many wetlander gai’shain, including the family that had once owned this estate. She overhears the Wise Ones discussing what a disaster it had been going against the Aes Sedai at Dumai’s Wells, and tells them sharply that they were winning until Rand al’Thor joined in; the Aes Sedai are nothing. They are interrupted by a man named Kinhuin, who tells them the Mera’din (Brotherless) ask for the Wise Ones’ judgment; the Jumai say they cannot take their share from this place because they are not Jumai, but the Brotherless say it is really because they outnumber the Shaido two to one. Even the Wise Ones are hard-put to conceal their dislike for the Mera’din, who had abandoned clan and sept rather than follow Rand al’Thor, but Sevanna tells him that the other six Wise Ones will judge his case. She says she must stand aside, since she is Jumai herself, but she is sure they will speak in favor of the Mera’din. The Wise Ones are displeased at this, but Sevanna thinks to herself that Kinhuin will remember she spoke for the Brotherless. Once alone, she heads off to do something more important.

Galina is being punished for slapping a Wise One (Belinde); she is in a sack suspended over hot coals, covered with itching powder, howling in pain and fury both. Sevanna appears, and she and Belinde make fun of her “sniveling” for a moment before the Maidens cut Galina down. Sevanna wonders aloud if Galina has been “softened” enough, and tells her that she can stop being da’tsang if she swears to obey Sevanna in all things. Without hesitation, Galina immediately agrees, thinking that she would obey until the moment she sees an opening.

“Then you will not object to swearing your oath on this,” Sevanna said, tossing something down in front of her.

Galina’s scalp crawled as she stared at it. A white rod like polished ivory, a foot long and no thicker than her wrist. Then she saw the flowing marks carved into the end toward her, numerals used in the Age of Legends. One hundred eleven. She had thought it was the Oath Rod, somehow stolen from the White Tower. That also was marked, but with the numeral three, which some thought stood for the Three Oaths. Maybe this was not what it seemed. Maybe. Yet no hooded viper from the Drowned Lands coiled there could have frozen her so still.

Therava appears with a dozen more Wise Ones, and wants to know when Sevanna was planning on telling the rest of them about this oath; Galina goes ice-cold at her voice. Sevanna sneers, and Galina cannot understand how she has the nerve to stand up to these women when she cannot even channel. Therava seizes Galina’s hair and yanks her upright, and Galina thinks of how she had fantasized about visiting dire retribution on every one of these women—all except Therava, who filled her nightmares. Therava tells Sevanna to give Galina to her if she wants Galina broken; she will soon obey without Caddar’s “toy”. Sevanna and the others all start arguing whether the “binder” would work any better than the “traveling box”, and Galina seizes the distraction to lunge for the white rod, desperate for anything that will keep her from Therava’s clutches. Therava steps on her hand before she reaches it (Galina doesn’t dare move). She and Sevanna negotiate to have the oath be to all of them, but with Sevanna and Therava foremost. Galina thinks that if this rod was like the Oath Rod in the Tower, it could remove oaths as well as impose them, and as Therava channels into the rod, swears to obey every Wise One present in all things, especially Therava and Sevanna.

The last hope that this “binder” was something else vanished as Galina felt the oath settle on her, as if she suddenly wore a garment that covered her far too tightly from her scalp to the soles of her feet. Throwing back her head, she screamed. In part that was because it suddenly seemed as if the burning of her skin was being pressed deep into her flesh, but mainly, it was pure despair.

“Be quiet!” Therava said sharply. “I do not want to listen to you wailing!” Galina’s teeth clicked shut, nearly biting her tongue, and she struggled to swallow her sobs. Nothing but obedience was possible, now.

Therava tests out the oath by making Galina confess that she had wished harm on the Wise Ones; satisfied, she takes the rod and gives Galina a series of orders, including that she will not channel without permission. Sevanna angrily demands the rod back, but Therava informs her that certain decisions have been made, and just as the clan chief needs a Wise One to advise him, so does she who speaks for the chief, and Therava will be that advisor. Sevanna glares at them all for a moment, then asks icily for this advice; Therava answers that they should move away from these Seanchan and into the Mountains of Mist, to establish a stronghold from which they can work on reuniting the scattered Shaido. Sevanna agrees that they should move, but insists on east, not north. Therava warns her about the consequences of too often ignoring a Wise One’s advice, but Sevanna just laughs at her, saying they will all go down if she does; she has made sure of that. This makes the Wise Ones wary, and Galina tries to make herself take note of this byplay through her misery as possible ammunition. Suddenly a slight flurry of snow falls, melting before it reaches the ground; the Wise Ones gape, having never seen snow, but Galina is more astonished, wondering why the Great Lord would have “loosened his grip on the world”. Therava demands an explanation from Galina, but when Galina explains, is contemptuous of this “snow” being a problem.

Galina clamped her jaws shut on explaining about snowfalls, aghast that her instinct had been to curry favor. Aghast as well at the small pang of pleasure that keeping the information back gave. I am the Highest of the Red Ajah! she reminded herself. I sit on the Supreme Council of the Black Ajah! They sounded like lies. This was not fair!

Sevanna tries to take Galina with her, but Therava refuses, and has Galina heel her like a dog. Galina scurries after her, trying desperately to think of a way out, and unable to come up with one.

Commentary
Sevanna: Is annoying. And loses a rod. The En—argh.

(Well, but she is!)

I really hate the smell of ennui in the recap, because it means I have to sit there and struggle to come up with something interesting to say about something I really have no interest in at all.

And I don’t. Blah blah Shaido, blah blah Galina, blah blah blee blah bloo blah bleh.

*huff*

Okay. Something interesting. Um.

Well, I will say this is where you can first really start to tell the Shaido are beginning to succumb to a culture-wide depression. In this, Jordan had obviously known of the studies done on cultures which, for one reason or another (usually conquest, subsumation, and/or decimation by another culture), essentially perceive themselves as having lost their identity as a people, and the correlation of unusually high rates of suicide, depression, and alcoholism within the remnants of such societies.

Of course, the Shaido haven’t technically been conquered, subsumed, or even really decimated (though I suppose Dumai’s Wells counts as a good try), but nevertheless their old way of life has been completely destroyed. Granted, this is true of all of the Aiel (and the rest of the Aiel are not exactly shiny happy people these days either), but I think the difference here is that the Shaido collectively (if subconsciously) realize that unlike the rest of the Aiel, their own uprooting was only partially due to outside forces, and owes just as much if not more to their own deliberate rejection of Aiel tradition, prophecy, and law, by following Couladin (and later Sevanna) instead of Rand. Basically, the Shaido know themselves to be traitors to their own people, no matter how justified they may believe that betrayal to be.

And there is no hatred more destructive than self-hatred, my friends. Even their dislike of the Brotherless is symptomatic of that self-loathing, for the Mera’din are basically nothing more than a mirror held up to someone who doesn’t want to see what he looks like. And we will see over the course of this storyline how this cultural self-destruct sequence progresses, until by the time Perrin stages his rescue of Faile, the Shaido are all but falling apart at the seams anyway.

Even Sevanna, possibly the most willfully blind character in WOT (which is saying something), notes how many of the Shaido are subtly (at first) abandoning their social mores and attitudes. She views it with disgust, of course, instead of the alarm any remotely competent leader would have on seeing such warning signs in her people, but there you go.

Galina: Still in a world of suck. Still think she deserves it. Still feel sorry for her anyway.

Oath Rod Part Deux: I… don’t have much to say on it, since it pretty much does what it says on the tin. It’s too bad (sort of) that this whole plotline kind of flails away without Sevanna ever getting to try her bright idea of attempting to use it on Rand, though.

Because that? Would have been high-LARIOUS. “See Sevanna. See Sevanna smushed like grape. Die, Sevanna, die!” Ah, well, I can still dream.

Therava: Weelllll… this chapter is notably less on the sexual element to her sadism that I noted before (and which some people vehemently disagreed with me on, as is their right and privilege). I seem to recall it gets ratcheted back up again later, though, so I will withhold judgment (and commentary) on the matter till we see them again. I will instead just say yikes and leave it at that for now.

(Wow, apparently I can come up with something to say about anything. I’m not sure this should be considered a compliment.)


Chapter 12: New Alliances

What Happens
Graendal forges a letter, regretting that there had not been a transcriber among the items she had removed from Illian after Sammael’s death. She seals the letter with the sigil of Alsalam, King of Arad Doman, and gives it to a slightly-Compelled courier named Nazran, who recites the story he is to give Rodel Ituralde (that a Lady Tuva brought it from Alsalam before dying of wounds from a Gray Man attack). She sends him off with satisfaction of how the letter will increase chaos in Arad Doman, as well as serve her own ends. She toys with a small gold ring, pleased and surprised that an angreal tuned to women had been in Sammael’s stash.

A pleasant surprise to have time to find much of anything useful with al’Thor and those puppies who called themselves Asha’man constantly in and out of Sammael’s chambers in the Great Hall of the Council. They had stripped it bare of what she had not taken. Dangerous puppies, all of them, especially al’Thor. And she had not wanted to risk anyone being able to draw a line from Sammael to her.

A chime sounds as the beginnings of a gateway form, and Graendal is bemused that someone is observing the old courtesies, and weaves to send a chime back. The gateway opens to admit two women dressed in identical red and black gowns; one is Moghedien, but Graendal does not recognize the other, a short, imperious young woman with long silver hair and vivid blue eyes, and an “impressive” bosom. Moghedien introduces the girl as Cyndane, which makes Graendal smile, as the name means “last chance” in the Old Tongue; she notes that Cyndane seems to know what it means, and does not like it at all. Cyndane strides across the room and demands to know if Graendal knows Sammael is dead; Graendal notes her strength in the Power when she gets closer, and is astonished to discover the girl is stronger than Graendal herself. She makes light of her connection to Sammael, saying he importuned her to join in various schemes but that she always put him off, and she suspected something “dire” had happened when he stopped showing up. She asks Moghedien where she found Cyndane, deeming her a “remarkable find”, but Cyndane snaps that the name is all she needs to know, and asks if she’s noticed the weather lately. Graendal continues to ignore her, asking Moghedien what this is all about.

“You make a mistake, Graendal.” A chilly smile barely curved Cyndane’s full lips; she was enjoying this. “I lead between us. Moghedien is in a bad odor with Moridin for her recent mistakes.”

Wrapping her arms around herself, Moghedien shot the silver-haired little woman a scowl as good as any spoken confirmation. Suddenly Cyndane’s big eyes opened even wider, and she gasped, shuddering.

Moghedien’s glare turned malicious. “You lead for the moment,” she sneered. “Your place in his eyes is not far better than mine.” And then she gave a start and shivered, biting her lip.

Graendal doesn’t know what’s going on, but seats herself in a show of casualness and asks who this Death person is they keep talking about. Cyndane answers that Moridin is Nae’blis, and the Great Lord has decided it’s time for Graendal to serve him. Graendal angrily declares this nonsense; how could someone she’s never even heard of be Nae’blis? She tells them to leave, and Moghedien suddenly channels to put out every light in the room; instantly Graendal flings herself out of her chair and weaves a light, so she can see to put webs of Compulsion on them both. It works, and they both gaze at her adoringly; Graendal commands Moghedien to tell her what the purpose of all this was, and Moghedien begins to weep, begging her to serve Moridin lest she get them all killed. Graendal sees that both she and Cyndane are terrified, and suddenly the One Power vanishes from her, extinguishing the light.

Behind her, a voice rasped like rock being ground to dust. “The Great Lord thought you might not take their word, Graendal. The time when you could go your own way has passed.” A ball of… something… appeared in the air, a dead black globe, but a silver light filled the room. The mirrors did not shine; they seemed to dull in that light.

[…] She gaped at the Myrddraal standing there, pale and eyeless and clothed in black deeper than the ball, but larger than any she had ever seen. It had to be the reason she could not sense the Source, but that was impossible! Except… Where had that strange sphere of black light come from if not from it? She had never felt the same fear others did at a Myrddraal’s gaze, not to the same degree, yet her hands rose on their own, and she had to snatch them down to keep from covering her face.

She is unnerved to see that Moghedien and Cyndane are prostrating themselves before the Myrddraal, and asks uneasily if it is a messenger from the Great Lord. It introduces itself as Shaidar Haran, and that when it speaks, Graendal should consider that she hears the voice of the Great Lord. Casually, it snaps the necks of her two Compelled servants. Graendal thinks quickly and then smoothly kneels to the Fade, asking what she should do. To her shock, it laughs, though Myrddraal do not; it compliments her bravery, but warns her not to let it go too far. As she listens to its instructions, she decides not to mention the letter she’d sent to Ituralde.

Moridin, whoever he was, might be Nae’blis today, but there was always tomorrow.

Cadsuane rides in a coach with Daigian and Kumira through Cairhien as an icy rain falls on the city; she watches as Aiel stare in amazement and Cairhienin laugh for joy at the sight. Daigian is arguing very diffidently with Kumira about the weather, contending that logically, if the unending heat was the Dark One’s work, then the change in that pattern must be due to some other agency than the Shadow. Kumira would prefer proof, and tells Daigian to put her mind to what they can do about the sisters with the Aiel. Cadsuane snorts, and opines that they deserve whatever happens to them; if it were up to her, she might have given them to the Aiel anyway, to atone for the “dog’s dinner” they made of matters. As they arrive at the Palace, she warns Kumira and Daigian to be careful in the task she’s set them. They are met in the Palace courtyard by Corgaide, the head servant, whom Cadsuane asks for a room where she can work on her embroidery. Then Cadsuane turns to Merana, Faeldrin, and Bera, who are waiting there watching her, and remarks that she’s surprised to see them strolling “at their ease”; Merana flushes, but Bera replies calmly that they were given a freeday because of the rain.

“I cannot understand why you keep coming back, Cadsuane. Clearly, you want something from us, but unless you tell us what it is, we cannot help you. We know what you did for the Lord Dragon”—she stumbled a little over the title; they still were not quite sure what to call the boy—“but it’s obvious you came to Cairhien because of him, and until you tell us why and what you intend, you must understand that you’ll find no aid from us.”

Faeldrin nods, and Merana adds that if they decide they must oppose her, they will. Cadsuane is inwardly contemptuous of this challenge, but only answers that she didn’t come to see them, though Daigian and Kumira might like to visit. She leaves the latter two to be hustled off, and smiles to herself; Daigian and Kumira would be accorded little respect owing to their low standing, and no one would ever suspect they were there to see what room for maneuvering there might be in the others’ oaths to the boy. She notes as she heads through the Palace that some of the Aiel stare at her as coldly as ever, but others give her nods or even a smile. She thinks that the story that she had been responsible for saving their Car’a’carn had accorded her more respect from the Aiel than any other sister.

She wondered how they would feel if they knew that had she had the boy in front of her right then, she would have been hard-pressed to stop herself from blistering his hide for him! Barely more than a week since he nearly got himself killed, and not only had he managed to elude her completely, he had made her task even more difficult, if half what she heard was true. A pity he had not been raised in Far Madding. But then, that might have led to its own catastrophe.

Corgaide sets her up in a room, and Cadsuane asks for Alanna Mosvani to be sent to her. Then she sets up her sewing basket, which contains a number of things that have nothing whatsoever to do with sewing, and begins working on her latest piece.

The major image on her piece of embroidery was finished, a man’s hand clutching the ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai. Cracks ran across the black-and-white disc, and there was no telling whether the hand was trying to hold it together or crush it. She knew what she intended, but time would tell what was truth.

Alanna enters, and demands to know why Cadsuane keeps badgering her; she cannot tell any more than she has. She starts to say that Rand belongs to her, but cuts herself off; Cadsuane tells her she’s kept Alanna’s crime to herself, but Alanna should not think that Caduane won’t “core her like a cabbage” if necessary. Alanna embraces saidar, but Cadsuane does not deign to rise to the challenge; she notes that one of her hair ornaments, intertwined crescents, is “cool against her temple”. After a moment, Alanna lets the Power go, and sullenly repeats that she doesn’t know any more than she’s already said: Rand was injured, then not, except for the unHealable wounds, and has been leaping all over the south via Traveling, and is full of “rage, and pain, and suspicion”. Cadsuane tells Alanna in no uncertain terms that Alanna will tell her if anything changes; defiantly, Alanna tells her Cadsuane would have done the same in her place.

Cadsuane scowled over the cup at her. She might have. There was no difference between what Alanna had done and a man forcing himself on a woman, but, the Light help her, she might have, had she believed it would help her reach her goal. Now, she no longer considered even making Alanna pass the bond to her. Alanna had proved how useless that was in controlling him.

Alanna finally agrees sulkily to keep Cadsuane informed, and Cadsuane resists the temptation to slap her. Then they are interrupted by none other than Sorilea, who asks if Cadsuane is done with Alanna; at Cadsuane’s confirmation, Sorilea kicks Alanna out, which she obeys with a flounce. Kiruna appears, carrying a tea tray, and starts to ask Sorilea (respectfully) why Alanna was running when she sees Cadsuane and flushes deep red; Sorilea tells her to put the tray down and go, which Kiruna does silently.

As she turned to go, Sorilea caught her chin in sinewy fingers. “You have begun to make a true effort, girl,” the Wise One told her firmly. “If you continue, you will do very well. Very well. Now, go. Chaelin is not as patient as I.”

Sorilea waved toward the corridor, but Kiruna stood staring at her for a long moment, a strange expression on her face. If Cadsuane had had to make a wager, she would have called Kiruna pleased at the praise and surprised at being pleased. The white-haired woman opened her mouth, and Kiruna gave herself a shake and hurried from the room. A remarkable show.

Cadsuane asks if Sorilea thinks Kiruna will really learn their ways of weaving saidar; she is skeptical herself, because it’s well known that once a sister learns one way of doing a weave it is almost impossible to make a different way work as well. Sorilea’s answer reveals she knows just as much of the difficulties involved as Cadsuane does, which Cadsuane takes as a reminder to herself that the Aiel are far from being ignorant savages. Sorilea then asks sharply how they are to properly punish Alanna Mosvani if doing so would harm the Car’a’carn; Cadsuane hides her surprise that Sorilea knows about the bond, and returns one revelation for another, telling her that at the distance the two currently are from each other, Rand will not be able to tell much more than that she is alive, though of course he will die if she does. Sorilea nods, and then says that most men will take an offer if it seems attractive, but the Wise Ones learned too late that this is not the case with Rand al’Thor; now he suspects anything offered freely, and if Sorilea wanted him to take something, she would pretend that she did not want him to have it. Cadsuane is excited by this undeniable evidence that Sorilea is feeling her out, and decides to take a risk.

“Do you believe a man must be hard?” she asked. She was taking a chance. “Or strong?” By her tone, she left no doubt she saw a difference.

Again Sorilea touched the tray; the smallest of smiles might have quirked her lips for an instant. Or not. “Most men see the two as one and the same, Cadsuane Melaidhrin. Strong endures; hard shatters.”

Cadsuane drew breath. A chance she would have scoured anyone else for taking. But she was not anyone else, and sometimes chances had to be taken. “The boy confuses them,” she said. “He needs to be strong, and makes himself harder. Too hard, already, and he will not stop until he is stopped. He has forgotten how to laugh except in bitterness; there are no tears left in him. Unless he finds laughter and tears again, the world faces disaster. He must learn that even the Dragon Reborn is flesh. If he goes to Tarmon Gai’don as he is, even his victory may be as dark as his defeat.”

Sorilea studies her a while, then answers that while the Dragon Reborn and the Last Battle are not in the Aiel’s prophecies, she thinks that Rand al’Thor sees them as nothing more than a spear to be used, and broken if necessary; perhaps she and Cadsuane aim at similar targets. Cadsuane is cautiously agreeable, and suddenly Sorilea shows her how to Travel, though she is too weak in the Power to make the flows actually work. Cadsuane’s jaw drops, and she answers that she has nothing comparable to return for such a gift; Sorilea smiles, knowing Cadsuane was now in her debt, and offers Cadsuane a cup filled with plain water.

“I offer you water oath,” she said solemnly, picking up one of the cups. “By this, we are bound as one, to teach Rand al’Thor laughter and tears.” She sipped, and Cadsuane imitated her.

“We are bound as one.” And if their targets turned out not to be the same at all? She did not underestimate Sorilea as ally or opponent, but Cadsuane knew which target had to be struck, at any cost.

Commentary
Enter: Cyndane.

Dunnnn!

Seriously. In my mind, this chapter is most memorable not for what actually happened in it, but for the near orgiastic frenzy of Looney Theory spewage it engendered among the fans. Chumming the waters doesn’t even nearly cover it, you guys; it was like that scene in Jaws. All of them.

Of course, my perception of the crazy may be a little outsized, as by the time TPOD was published I had finally entered the fandom, and this therefore was the first time I was witnessing the aftermath of a newly released WOT book live, so to speak. There’s a bit of a difference between watching a concert on tape, and actually being in the mosh pit, let’s just say.

The two main outbreaks of wild theorizing, naturally, centered on two points: who Cyndane actually was, and how that information (and the other tidbits on Graendal’s doings in the chapter) affected the case for who murdered Asmodean. Of the two, Cyndane’s identity was by far the least contentious. I’d say pretty much 98% of the fandom instantly concluded that Cyndane was none other than our favorite lovelorn psycho back from the dead (or whatever): Lanfear.

In fact, as I recall it the debate was not so much over who she might be, but whether she could possibly be anyone other than Lanfear. And aside from a few nutbars claiming she was Semirhage, or Mesaana, or (later on) Alivia, or even Moiraine (no, really), just about everyone was sure the answer was No.

This has been concluded beyond doubt by now, of course, but as I recall most people were convinced by her very first appearance here. We probably shouldn’t be too het up about that, though, since I’m fairly certain Jordan intended this to be a total gimme from the get-go; even aside from the personality match, the real-world allusions (Cyndane = Cynthia = Artemis = moon goddess = Selene = Lanfear) were more than enough of a clue on their own.

No, the main contention was over whether this chapter bolstered (and, in some people’s view, confirmed) that Graendal Dunnit re: Asmodean.

I’ll be honest, I ain’t getting into this. I have already said all I’m going to say on the topic of Asmodean, sorry. But you guys, of course, are more than welcome to go to town in the comments regarding it.

Instead I will move on to Cadsuane, and the way she continues to manage to completely make me want to slap her even as I admire her technique—and, to a degree, sympathize with her views, which only makes it worse. The conversation with Alanna, for instance, was pure skeevery re: the bonding thing, even as I sympathized with Cads wanting to smack Alanna around. But then, my reasons for wanting to punch Alanna are a bit different than Cadsuane’s for that very reason. Sort of. Argh.

The Far Madding comment Cadsuane makes here about Rand is either the first time we learn where she is originally from, or a reminder of it in the wake of Elyas’s passing comment in the previous chapter about the state of gender relations in Far Madding. Which is to say, seemingly as bad as some of the least appealing examples of patriarchy in the real world, except the other way around.

I’m not sure if this is intended to act as an excuse for Cadsuane’s treatment of Rand, or an invitation to marvel that she gives him even as much consideration as she does, with an upbringing that (I surmise) regards men as little more than ciphers. Either way it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though I give Jordan credit for the gender-flipped point. The sad truth of it is, if we switched everyone’s genders in WOT, Cadsuane’s tendency to dismiss and/or belittle Rand would not be less infuriating to most readers, but in my opinion it would not strike the majority of readers as being nearly as incongruent.

I’m also sure that this statement will not excite controversy in the comments at all. Heh.

I also got reminded by Sorilea’s conversation with Cadsuane re: Alanna how very shocked I am that Alanna isn’t dead yet. In fact I’m still surprised Alanna’s death wasn’t part of the avalanche of crap that almost sent Rand over the edge in TGS, because I totally had the Warder bond snapping being the thing that almost screws our Hero.

Of course, it’s early yet. Yay?

As for the alliance between Cadsuane and Sorilea, I remember when I first read that a shiver went down my spine even as I agreed with Cadsuane’s assessment of Rand. Those two? Working together? RUN AWAY, YOU GUYS. Yeeeeek.

And has Cadsuane accomplished her goal, as stated here and (we think) prophesied by Min? Teaching Rand laughter and tears, and to be strong instead of hard?

I… dunno. I mean, it certainly seems like Rand learned laughter and tears again by the end of TGS, but he was kind of alone on a mountaintop when he learned it, so I don’t know how much Cadsuane could honestly be said to have had to do with the whole thing. I suppose in a roundabout way you could say she was the root cause, for digging up Tam and sending him to talk to Rand, which more or less triggered the whole near-meltdown, but… well. It seems a bit, I dunno. Roundabout.

*shrug* I will withhold judgment on this. The process, in any case, is far from finished, and I get the feeling ToM will do a fair bit to clarify this whole thing anyway. No point in jumping the gun.


And with that lack of concludedness, we out! Have a nice mid-May, and I’ll see youse mugs Friday!

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