Jun 24 2009 4:03pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Fires of Heaven, Part 12

Good day, ladies and gentlemen! We at Wheel of Time Re-read Corporate Headquarters would like to thank you for your patience during our downtime for maintenance. Please excuse our dust! Our services should now be back online.

Unless they’re not, in which case rest assured that those responsible will be hunted down and shot, as our CEO is over this crap.

But in the meantime, please enjoy some light music, and a recap! Today’s offering is a highly profitable summary of Chapters 29-31 of The Fires of Heaven. We think you will find the stock options, as they say, very sexy.

Previous portfolio spreads can be found here. Please note that our company has gone public, and stockholders are advised to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the literature provided before moving forward with their investments.

And now if we’re all ready we can begin the meeting. If you’ll turn to page 4 of your TPS reports...


Chapter 29: Memories of Saldaea

What Happens
Kadere lays on the bed in his wagon, missing Saldaea and his sister Teodora, and touches the scrap of parchment he’d found slipped under his door and had hidden in the woodwork.

You are not alone among strangers. A way has been chosen.

The use of the word “chosen” makes him sure that it was from another Darkfriend, but Kadere is surprised it came now, so long after Natael had attached himself to al’Thor with no explanation and Keille Shaogi had vanished without a trace. Kadere suspects Natael murdered her, and considers it a job well done. He touches the scars on his chest, and thinks about how he had been visited by Lanfear herself two months ago with instructions in his dreams, and how relieved he was that she hadn’t come back.

The second surprise of the note had been the hand. A woman’s hand, unless he missed his guess by a mile, and some of the letters formed in what he now knew for an Aiel way. Natael had told him that there must be Darkfriends among the Aiel—there were Darkfriends in every land, among every people—but he had never wanted to find brothers in the Waste.

Kadere thinks the note spells disaster; either Natael blabbed to some Aiel Darkfriend about who he was, meaning he could be exposed, or the note had come from a minion of another Chosen besides Lanfear, and he was about to be caught between them. Someone scratches at the door, and Kadere lets in Isendre. He chuckles that her black robe must be uncomfortable, and invites her to take it off; she declines bitterly, even though she’s twitching as if itching under it. Kadere can’t understand why the woman had been stupid enough to steal, and is annoyed that it’s made his task more difficult. He asks if she had any news on al’Thor and Natael. She says that Natael never says anything useful except to tell her to be patient and silent and “make accommodation with fate”, whatever that means, and other than that all he wants to do is play strange music and make love. Kadere observes that she has not managed to get into al’Thor’s bed yet, and tells her she will have to try harder. Isendre says “No”, and Kadere reminds her that “no” is not a word their mistress likes to hear. She begins to cry.

“I cannot, Hadnan. When we stopped tonight, I thought I might have a chance in a town instead of tents, but they caught me before I got within ten paces of him.” She pushed back her hood, and he gaped as moonlight played over her bare scalp. Even her eyebrows were gone.

She says they shaved her and then beat her with nettles; sobbing, she says they told her next time they would make her wear nettles, or worse, give her to Aviendha. She repeats that she cannot. Kadere stares at her, and realizes that the Maidens have broken her, and soon she will convince herself that she wants to obey them; he wonders how long it will be before she confesses her sins to them. He asks absently what Aviendha has to do with it, and she shouts back that al’Thor has been bedding her since Rhuidean, and the Maidens think he will marry her. He watches her sob, and tells her gently that if she cannot, she cannot; she can concentrate more on Natael now. He stands and guides her toward the door as she mumbles that Natael will not want to look at her all red and welted, and as they reach the door he twists his handkerchief into a cord and pulls it around her neck.

He tried to ignore her rasping gurgles, the frantic scraping of her feet on the floor. Her fingers clawed at his hands, but he stared straight ahead. Even keeping his eyes open, he saw Teodora; he always did, when he killed a woman. He had loved his sister, but she had discovered what he was, and she would not have kept silent.

He waits until Isendre is dead, then goes to his cabinets for a butchering knife, thinking that perhaps this Aiel Darkfriend would do for a replacement if he can make contact with her. He hums a lullaby Teodora taught him as he goes to work.

Bye, Isendre! I have to say, I feel a little sorry for her. Not much, but a little. She was evil, yes, but it’s hard to avoid thinking that her suffering was disproportionate to her crimes (although I can’t really know that, of course; who knows what she did before coming to the Waste?). Mostly, though, I’m just relieved she’s not around to give Aviendha more ammunition to disparage Rand’s character, so they can get on with the sexing.

The creepiest thing about this chapter, in my opinion, is how Kadere’s decision to murder Isendre comes across as completely rational. And not even in the sense that he was cold about it, but that you find yourself kind of unthinkingly agreeing with him that getting rid of her is—well, not the right thing to do, obviously, but a logical solution to the problem she represents. As long as you have no problem with murdering people, of course.

I also thought the framing device of the chapter was really well done, which was the misdirection about Kadere’s sister Teodora. The progression of it makes you sympathize with him as a human being at the beginning of his POV, therefore making the reveal at the end that much more effective in demonstrating what a monster he is. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, but when I first read this I was honestly shocked to realize he had actually killed Teodora. Cleverly done.

Chapter 30: A Wager

What Happens
Rand sits on the rail of a bridge in the middle of Eianrod, the small town they have camped by, watching the flowing river with pleasure after being so long in the Waste. He hopes that Moiraine has given up on him for tonight, as he doesn’t know if he can stand another episode of her actually begging him to let her stay when he sent her out so he could work with Asmodean. She has started taking him his meals, too, talking at him constantly. He looks at how the river has shrunk, and considers trying to make it rain, but is not sure he remembers how; Asmodean is no help there, as he is no good with weather.

Once he had thought that the Forsaken knew everything, that they were all but omnipotent. But if the others were like Asmodean, they had ignorances as well as weaknesses. It might actually be that he already knew more of some things than they. Than some of them, at least. The problem would be finding out who. Semirhage was almost as poor at handling weather as Asmodean.

He shivered as if this were night in the Three-fold Land. Asmodean had never told him that.

Sulin comes to join him, and remarks that it’s an odd night; they were gambling, but suddenly everyone was throwing nothing but sixes. Rand tells her he’s sorry, and she gives him a strange look; the Aiel didn’t know about his ta’veren twisting of chance. He thinks about the other incidents: three Stone Dogs had fallen into a viper pit, but none of them had been bitten; Tal Nethin, the saddlemaker from Taien, had tripped and broken his neck on flat ground. But on the other hand, Bael and Jheran had ended the feud between Shaarad and Goshien while he was there, looking confused at what they were doing, but swearing binding water oaths to that effect.

He had wondered if those random effects would ever work in his favor; maybe this was as close as it came. What else had happened today that might be laid at his feet, he did not know; he never asked, and would as soon not hear. The Baels and Jherans could only partly make up for the Tal Nethins.

He asks Sulin where Enaila and Adelin are, and Sulin tells him they will come back when they have learned to stop playing with dolls. Rand is confused, but only says to tell them he said they should act like grown women, which pleases Sulin greatly. They are interrupted by the arrival of a party of around twenty horsemen, escorted by Aiel, including Rhuarc and Mangin. Most are Tairens except for half a dozen Cairhienin in the rear, two with con marking them as officers. They look dejected until they see Rand, at which the two Tairen lords exchange startled glances and dismount to kneel before him. One of them, Edorion Selorna, asks incredulously if he has been taken prisoner by the Aiel too, and introduces himself and the other lord, Estean Andiama; Rand remembers them from the Stone.

“They said they were taking us to some Dawn fellow. The Car’a’carn. Means something about chiefs, if I remember what my tutor said.”

Rand tells them quietly that he is the Car’a’carn, and He Who Comes With the Dawn, and tells them to stand and introduce their Cairhienin companions. Edorion summons the two officers, Meresin and Daricain, and Rand thinks it’s like he’s calling dogs. As the Cairhienin obey slowly, Estean asks nervously if Rand sent the Aiel attacking Cairhien; Rand replies that he did not, and the Aiel attacking the city are his enemies. Meresin and Daricain kneel before him, and Rand thinks that after being with the Aiel for so long he had almost forgotten about all the kneeling and bowing everyone did outside the Waste. He makes them stand and introduce themselves, and is surprised to learn that they are lords as well as officers, which is a change from how it used to be in Cairhien. Meresin tells him, stumbling over the “my Lord Dragon” part, that the city can hold for a few days, but it is doomed unless relief comes soon; Estean interjects that that’s why they came out, to look for help. Edorion questions whether Rand’s Aiel will be able to reach the city in time, and Estean describes the atrocities Couladin has visited on prisoners and refugees:

“Sometimes they let peasants make a run for the city, then shoot them full of arrows when they’re almost safe. However safe Cairhien is. Only peasants, but...” He trailed off and swallowed hard, as if he had just remembered what Rand’s opinions were of “only peasants.” Rand just looked at him, but he seemed to shrivel, and muttered under his breath about brandy.

Rand asks Rhuarc how long, and he replies “seven days”. Estean laughs in disbelief, and says it took them that long to get there on horseback. Rand replies that it isn’t how fast the Aiel can make it, but how fast someone can get back to Cairhien ahead of them, to warn Meilan, the Tairen lord in charge there, that Rand is on his way. He adds that it will have to be someone who can keep their mouth shut in case they are captured by the Shaido. Estean goes white, but the two Cairhienin fall to their knees again, and each seize one of his hands to kiss. Rand doesn’t care for this, but Moiraine had advised him to avoid offending other people’s customs as much as possible, so he allows it. The two Cairhienin babble their willingness to go and their gratitude to him, and that they will be his man to the death, etc. Rand finally gets them to stand up again, and thinks that no man should look at anyone like “dogs gazing at a master”. Edorion sighs and says if he made it out he supposes he can make it back in, and asks Rand if he would care to wager a thousand gold crowns that he could really get there in seven days.

Rand stared at him. The man was as bad as Mat. “I don’t have a hundred crowns silver, much less a thousand in—”

Sulin broke in. “He has it, Tairen,” she said firmly. “He will meet your wager, if you make it ten thousand by weight.”

Edorion laughed. “Done, Aiel. And worth every copper if I lose. Come to think, I’ll not live to collect if I win. Come, Meresin, Daricain.” It sounded as if he were summoning dogs to heel. “We ride.”

He and the Cairhienin take off, and Rand turns to Sulin and asks what does she mean, he has ten thousand gold crowns? He’s never even seen that much coin. The Maidens, Rhuarc and Mangin all exchange glances as if he’s crazy, and Sulin answers slowly that as chief and battle leader, one tenth of the every fifth the Aiel take is his, which would include the Stone, all of Tear, and now Cairhien. Rand shakes his head; he had never considered that the fifth might apply to him. He realizes he doesn’t know anything about using taxes (which the fifth might be considered from a certain point of view), and wishes Elayne were there to tell him about it, as that would be a lot more fun than learning about it from Moiraine. He wishes he knew where she was, and that he could get her to explain those two letters.

Maiden of the Spear or Daughter-Heir of Andor, women were strange. Except maybe Min. She had laughed at him, but she had never made him think she was speaking some strange language. She would not laugh, now. If he ever saw her again, she would run a hundred miles to get away from the Dragon Reborn.

Rhuarc suggests they send their own scouts ahead as well; Rand feels the Maidens looking at him, and suggests Thunder Walkers. Rhuarc agrees, and he and Mangin haul Estean off to question him about conditions at the city, Rand shouting after them to treat him humanely. Sulin remarks flatly that he “tends his people well”, and Rand refuses to rise to the bait. He tells them he is going to get something to eat and then sleep.

I’m going to get really, really tired of typing “Cairhien” and “Cairhienin” in the next few chapters, aren’t I? Friggin’ “i” before “e” grammar rules.

Poor Moiraine. She knows the closer they get to Cairhien, the closer her (imagined) end is to occurring, and the less time she has to teach Rand. That’s got to seriously suck, by the way. I used to think I would want to know when and how I will die, but while it would certainly help for organizing the Bucket List, on reflection I think it’s much better not to know.

This is actually the first time in a while that we’ve seen Rand’s ta’veren-ness show up in a “makes random crap happen” context. The last time I remember it happening was back in Rhuidean, and even then it was pretty mild compared to the nutsiness going on in, say, TGH. The plot didn’t need random crap happening for a while, I guess. Eh.

Speaking of which, little research gaffe: I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a “viper pit” in nature. Pit vipers get their (awesome) name from an organ on their heads (shaped like, duh, a pit) that allows them to sense prey, not because they actually dig pits or anything. And true, “viper pit”, in the sense of “a hole full of poisonous snakes”, is a ubiquitous concept allegorically, presumably because it was just too good a metaphor to pass up (usually for politics, heh), but that doesn’t excuse Jordan using it literally. Or maybe I missed something?

The Tairens and Cairhienin: This is what I meant earlier about getting my wishes fulfilled re: seeing Rand interact with non-Aiel now that he’s taken a level in Kinging. It also contains a little bit of an ethical dilemma for me. On the one hand, I share Rand’s distaste for seeing people grovel, because to a modern sensibility, ugh. I hold this truth to be self-evident, that I ain’t licking nobody’s boots, and neither should anyone else have to. On the other hand, this is total guilty wish-fulfillment, and the reason why so many people are into this whole royal/noble/vassal thing as a fictional genre. I am brought once again to one of my favorite Bujold quotes, in which her protagonist Miles notes that members of egalitarian societies tend to take to aristocracies quite well–provided they’re the aristocrats. It’s shamefully true.

As a side note, I found myself kind of perversely liking Edorion, despite the way he treats the Cairhienin. He may not be the most sensitive fellow, but it takes guts to turn around and ride back into a virtual deathtrap right after you escaped from it. Estean, on the other hand, is a waste of space–though I seem to recall he redeems himself a bit during the Battle of Cairhien later. And of course, either way he’s not nearly so bad as some. *cough*Weiramon*cough*

Chapter 31: The Far Snows

What Happens
Rand heads through the blackened ruins of Eianrod to a merchant’s house, which he has declared the Roof of the Winespring Brothers (no one can enter unless they have drunk from the Winespring in Emond’s Field) to prevent the Maidens from setting up there as well; he hopes this will keep Aviendha out too, as he doesn’t know how much longer he can stand listening to her sleep right next to him. He waves the gai’shain away as he enters the building, and goes up to his room. He stops dead on the threshold; Aviendha is standing before the washstand with a cloth and a bar of soap, and nothing else. She is as stunned as he, and stutters something about trying his way of washing.

She was hard muscle and soft curves; she glistened damply from head to feet. He had never imagined that her legs were so long. “I thought you would remain longer at the bridge. I...” Her voice rose in pitch; her eyes widened in panic. “I did not arrange for you to see me! I must get away from you. As far away as I can! I must!”

Suddenly a shimmering vertical line appeared in the air near her. It widened, as if rotating, into a gateway. Icy wind rushed through it into the room, carrying thick curtains of snow.

“I must get away!” she wailed, and darted through into the blizzard.

The gateway begins to close, but Rand channels without really knowing what he is doing, and blocks it halfway. He ties off the flows, grabs up all the blankets and rugs in the room, and runs after her. He chases her through the blizzard on the other side, shouting for her to stop, but she only runs faster, until her figure suddenly disappears; he catches up and realizes it’s a stream or river, and Aviendha has fallen through the ice. He channels Fire at a patch of ground on the bank until it is glowing hot, and sets down the the blankets and rugs before crawling out onto the ice, dimly aware that he will soon succumb to the cold too if he doesn’t hurry. He finds the hole where she fell through and splashes around until he grabs her hair. He pulls her out, screaming curses at himself, and drags her to where the warm ground is. He wraps her in the blankets, but she does not move; he tries listening for her heartbeat, but is not sure he can hear it.

He could feel the weave he had used to block open her gateway, a mile or perhaps two away through the storm. If he tried to carry her that far, neither of them would survive. They needed shelter, and they needed it here.

He channels again, constructing an igloo of sorts from packed snow, and carries her in, closing the doorway with more snow. He warms the air with the trick Asmodean showed him, but has to release it in case he falls asleep. Aviendha is still icy cold, and he strips off his sodden clothes and wraps himself in the blankets with her, hoping his body heat will help warm her.

His sense of touch, enhanced by the Void and saidin, soaked in the feel of her. Her skin made silk feel rough. Compared to her skin, satin was... Don’t think.

He tries talking to distract himself, but keeps circling around to the subject of Elayne, and then Min, which is not helping, so he switches to talking about his plans for Cairhien, and where this place she took them to might be. He thinks that she must truly hate him, if she fled him like that rather than just telling him to get out. Stroking her hair, he tells her she was crazy to do such a thing, and if she does anything like it again he’ll break her neck. He’ll make it so that she does not have to run away; he’ll send her away. He freezes as she stirs; she opens her eyes and does not look surprised to see him there.

He took his arms from around her, started to slither away, and she seized a handful of his hair in a painful grip. If he moved, he would have a bald patch. She gave him no chance to explain anything. “I promised my near-sister to watch you.” She seemed to be speaking to herself as much as to him, in a low, almost expressionless voice. “I ran from you as hard as I could, to shield my honor. And you followed me even here. The rings do not lie, and I can run no more.” Her tone firmed decisively. “I will run no more.”

Rand tried to ask her what she meant while attempting to untangle her fingers from his hair, but she clutched another handful on the other side and pulled his mouth to hers. That was the end of rational thought; the Void shattered, and saidin fled. He did not think he could have stopped himself had he wanted to, only he could not think of wanting to, and she certainly did not seem to want him to. In fact, the last thought he had of any coherency for a very long time was that he did not think he could have stopped her.

Much later, he watches her walk around and examine the igloo, seeming completely unashamed about being naked now, though he admits that at this point it’s a little late for that. She asks what this stuff is, and he explains the concept of snow to her, which amazes her. He says that they can have the Wise Ones marry them as soon as they get back, and Aviendha gives him a determined look and replies that first, he has no right to ask her, and second, he belongs to Elayne. Rand is astounded, and splutters that they have to marry now, after what they just did.

“Not that I’m doing it because I have to,” he added hastily. “I want to.” He was not sure of that at all, really. He thought he might love her, but he thought he might love Elayne, too. And for some reason, Min kept creeping in. You’re as big a lecher as Mat. But for once he could do what was right because it was right.

Aviendha sniffs, and comments that Egwene has told her about Two Rivers customs; he asks incredulously that she wants to wait a year? Aviendha says yes, but then adds that apparently by his customs she would need her mother’s permission, and by her customs only she gets to be the one to ask, so they cannot marry. Rand tries to imply that Egwene doesn’t know about men’s customs, and says that since he started it, they have to marry, but Aviendha is scornful of the notion that he started anything.

“It does not matter anyway, since we are going by Aiel customs. This will not happen again, Rand al’Thor.” He was surprised—and pleased—to hear regret in her voice. “You belong to the near-sister of my near-sister. I have toh to Elayne, now, but that is none of your concern.”

She says they should get back, and then realizes that she does not know if she can reproduce what she did to get them here; he explains about blocking her gateway. Then he eventually realizes that she does not intend to turn her back so he can dress. He mutters “Fair’s fair” and gets up, and tries to ignore her compliments on his behind. He thinks that he has a feeling life with Aviendha was not going to become any easier as a result of this.


That really was my reaction to this chapter, both the first time I read it and now. Seriously, all other considerations aside, if ever a character desperately needed to get laid, that would be Rand al’Thor.

Of course, one of the (smaller) issues I have with Rand and sex is that realistically, his problems re: sexual frustration should be worse after this than before, now that he has, er, broken the seal, so to speak, but I don’t really remember it being portrayed that way. Granted, he does have other issues on his mind in future months, but still. Before this he didn’t truly know what he was missing, is all I’m saying. Oh, well; he’ll be getting the regular sexing soon enough.

Although, I’m obviously looking at this from a very modern viewpoint; the notion that people need sex is really a fairly recent one. And one which is clearly not the way Rand’s semi-Puritanical culture looks at the issue, as his conversation here with Aviendha about marriage customs shows.

Aiel culture, on the other hand, seems to be a mix of the two, in that “casual” sex (in the sense of “between non-married/committed couples”) is expected, common, and largely irrelevant as long as the people involved do not decide to make a commitment, but the moment they do, BANG serious taboos fall into place.

This is the crux of Aviendha’s whole dilemma re: Elayne; if she thought that Elayne and Rand were just casually involved I don’t think Aviendha sleeping with him would be that big a deal (though I could be wrong about that, going by Melindhra’s possessiveness of Mat, but I’m not convinced that’s a typical example, since I’m pretty sure she’s acting at least partially under orders to stay close to Rand’s entourage). But in Aviendha’s mind, Rand and Elayne are betrothed (or the Aiel equivalent), and sleeping with someone else’s fiancé is evidently a VERY large no-no. (As it should be!)

Speaking of semi-Puritanical whatsits, I’ve seen people complain on occasion about the “pan to the fireplace” (or igloo wall, as the case may be) nature of Jordan’s “sex” scenes on those grounds. I will decline to speculate on the possible disingenuousness of such complaints, and merely point out that while so-called prudishness on Jordan’s part may be the culprit, that’s not the only possible explanation. John Scalzi once said something very wise on the subject of sex scenes in novels, which was that part of deciding whether to include them is not only about whether they would fit into the overall tone of the book or whether you’re trying to conform to FCC regulations, but is also a case of simply recognizing your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

In other words, there are authors out there who are very good at writing sex scenes, and there are others who really really aren’t, and probably the nicest thing an author who isn’t can do for his readers is to spare them from having a wretchedly written sex scene inflicted on them. (Scalzi says he “giggles” whenever he tries to write them, which, yeah, good call on no sex scenes, I’d say.) This doesn’t have much to do with how good the author is in general; I think Neil Gaiman is a wonderful writer, but the one explicit sex scene I’ve read of his was actively painful to read. (And I’m not talking about That Scene in American Gods, either, since that was straight-up horror, not a sex scene. If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, there’s no way on Earth I can possibly explain it to you. YIPE YIPE YIPE)

And anyway, all of the above notwithstanding (and you can call me Puritanical for this if you want, I could use a good laugh these days), I think having an actual, written-out sex scene in WOT would be just all kinds of wrong. Just–no.

By the way, the “conforming to FCC regulations” thing above was only partially a joke. In the American market at least, as I understand it, if you want to avoid fighting about the inclusion of language/content with your publisher, the general rule of thumb is that if you can’t show it/say it on broadcast television, don’t put it in. Not that there aren’t plenty of books which flout this rule, but take a look at the books you’ve read in your life; unless you are a giant John Ringo fan, I bet at least three-fourths of them qualify as FCC-friendly.

(And if you are a giant John Ringo fan, get help.)

I feel like I should have more to say about this chapter, but I honestly can’t think of what it might be. Maybe it’ll come to me as we cover the fallout from what happened.

Okay, people, that’s all we have time for today. Let’s break for lunch, and reconvene at the next scheduled meeting. Oh, and remember: next Friday... is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans. Great.

1. crsandoval
Wow great post
keep me from working again
2. Qtip the Sixth
In the Waste, the heat is oppressive, and at night the cold is also extreme. Snakes, being cold-blooded possibly foudn a relatively cool place and kept congregating there, as it was more hospitable than elsewhere? Just a thought.

Leigh regarding Rand's post-coital perspective I agree whole-heartedly. One of the wisest pieces of advice my father gave me as a young teenager was "Stimulation without consummation is an invitation to frustration, so avoid temptation". And it served me well throughout high school. I truly did not know what all the big deal was about--other than having read a few books which were more how-to than necessary(thank you Jean Auel--how to knap flint, how to build a pit trap, how to orgasm . . . ). But if the desires are awakened, shouldn't he be more anxious to repeat the action?
3. Lost in my own Mind
The chapter where Kadere kills Isendre was always been one of my favorite chapters involving the non-main characters. I completely agree about the framing device of the story about his sister. It is great and I to was shocked that he killed her.

In this re-read (or re-listen in my case) I found the tone of Kadere's thoughts very intriguing. To me he sounds like someone who entered into being a darkfriend when he was young but now realizes it is not all that it is cracked up to be. Imagine if you did become a dark friend, there is basically no way to leave. If you try to turn back to the light you will be killed by other darkfriends, and if you go to someone who fights for the light (i.e. Aes Sedai,local lord or king, children of the light) for protection they will kill you as punishment (or they may in fact be dark friends themselves). Either way your family will immediately become a target. The only example of a darkfriend who wants to come back to the light in the series is Ingtar, but since he dies as he does it we don't know how it could have played out. Perhaps we should have no sympathy for an adult that turns to the shadow, but what about some 15 year old?
Kurt Lorey
4. Shimrod
I would have expected some comments on Rand and Aviendha's meeting with the Seanchan. The Seeker probably started some ball rolling in Seanchan not long afterwards. And, who got to try and untie Aviendha's knots on the sul'dam and damane?

And, Rand acquired a sceptre. Maybe not important to the plot, but an important Symbol denoting Rand's changing status.
6. 4thAgeDragon
Can anyone explain the permissions part? Do young people have to ask permission from their parents to have sex? This passage always confuses me. It seems like Rand implies girls can ask that permission from their parents, but any guy that asks for 'that sort of permission' would get his ears boxed. What am I missing here?
Kurt Lorey
7. Shimrod
Oops! I'm ahead on the reading. Thanks be for the sympathetic Yellow Ajah.

Forgiveness for all Rickrolling. ;)
j p
8. sps49
Ah, Chapter 31, one of my favorites. Agreed that having been with Aviendha once would just make it CRAZY WORSE living in the same place as her.

Evil, evil Kadere. Good authors can make bad people sympathetic, but poor Isendre is killed because Kadere's progression of logic is that there is a chance she might kill him, plus she isn't as useful to him as he thought she should be. Not good enough.

And I am sad that Rand has briefly jumped onto the Lecher Mat bandwagon.
Tess Laird
9. thewindrose
Umm, yeah. I need you to come in on Saturday. Why don't you make that Sunday as well. Office Space - I love that movie! I once handed out TPS reports at a meeting.
Sorry - I will post about WoT in awhile. I am going to close up shop an sneak outta here;)
Huon Chandler
10. huonch
At Last!
We get a little rattled during these occasional (but well deserved) breaks.
Talking about rattles, Pit Vipers,(which includes rattlesnakes) do hibernate, and some of them hibernate en masse, hundreds or even thousands at a time.
Thus a Viper Pit is perfectly reasonable, apart from the clever "Pit Viper/Viper Pit" thing.
11. ubxs113
OK, OK, I'll ask the question. What Niel Gaiman sex scene exactly are you talking about?
Marcus W
12. toryx
As much as I hate a lot of the darkfriends/ Forsaken, I really think they can have some of the most interesting chapters. I agree wholeheartedly with Leigh: the revelation at the end that Kadere had killed his sister was just masterful.

The whole business of the Cairhienin kissing Rand's hand really is kind of disgusting though I think Rand's doing the right thing by allowing it. What got me, however, was that in that instant Rand had succeeded in earning the men's loyalty by giving something they desperately desired; not just for them but for their country. For some reason, that impressed me and as a result the hand kissing/ groveling didn't affect me so much.

Re: Rand and the Sex thing.

From my own unique male point of view, as difficult as it must have been to have Aviendha around all the time, frequently naked, after the big breaking of the seal, I suspect it was a somewhat easier after the breaking than before. Part of the reason guys can be such slut puppies (imho, and I don't believe this applies to everyone) is that once that big question is resolved, it's actually less sexually frustrating than it was before.

Nonetheless, I feel pretty sorry for the guy, even if he ends up getting a lot of it with multiple people later on. It's not cool to go from zero to oh-my-god-I-just-had-sex back to zero again.

On another note, I think RJ did a great job of writing Rand's struggle to remain cool before Aviendha woke up. Of all the mistakes I feel he's made with male/female relationships he got that one dead right.

Aviendha was totally cool when she finally gave up the running. "I will run no more." Awesome.
Brian Kaul
13. bkaul
@6: Permission to marry. It's straight out of our own cultural history, nothing obscure you need to be looking for. No young man is going to go asking his dad if it's OK to propose to a girl. He would indeed be told to grow up or "man up" ... and maybe get his ears boxed. :) But the classic notion is to ask the girl's father for permission to marry her. While many skip the step of asking permission these days, the part about him "giving her away" at the wedding is usually still observed.
14. Lost in my own Mind
The one thing about the sex scene was the amount of time that elapsed. Two or three hours? The first time?? I actually think it would have been hilarious if had be a shall we say more typical first experience. Any guy that now comments to say that his first time lasted that long is a liar!

It has always been a small pet peeve of mine how litte sleep people in this series get. Seriously people are living on a couple of hours a night or none at all. More power to them if they can but I am dead if I get less than 7 two nights in a row.
15. Kadere
For the record in Robert Jordan's "Fallon" trilogy there is LOTS of sex and it's WAY more explicit than in WoT. Even in Conan he does a little more before "panning to the fire."

I randomly opened and started reading a page from Fallon Blood and then again from Fallon Pride and both times I opened straight to a descriptive sex scene.

I later found a quote of RJ where someone had asked him about his "Fallon" series and he said that his editor cut out all the plot, and left in the raunchy bits.
Leigh Butler
16. leighdb
huonch @10:

Ah. Well, okay then. I'll allow the viper pits!

(Also, eek.)

ubxs113 @11:

I can't remember the name of the story, but it was in the Smoke and Mirrors collection, and it was just awkward as hell in my opinion. Gaiman said in the intro to the story that he found writing it very embarrassing, which I think is telling.
Maiane Bakroeva
17. Isilel
Kadere's chapter is one of the last examples of a truly dangerous and believable DF in action, IIRC. Great moment, but stuff will only go downhill from here, IIRC .

I have to say that Rand's treatment of Moraine always irritated me. He'd come up with thousands excuses, just to avoid learning stuff from her, that he desperately needs!
First it was the (completely overblown, IMHO) fear of manipulation.
Now, that Moraine was forced to give an oath of servitude justso she'd have a chance to educate him for a little longer, it is just pure laziness.

Even if he thought that Moirane would stay to advise him, he still needed to have some idea of the stuff he'd have to deal with, as sometimes he would have had to make decisions and commitments on the spot.

IMHO his treatment of Moiraine is pretty crummy all the way through and she really didn't deserve it, as she and Lan have done more than anybody to defend the Light. Without ta'verenness forcing them into the right direction or bailing them out, either.

Re: the igloo - Rand can't even lose his virginity without the Weave forcing him! Everything really overwrought, too. Was always a serious meh to me.
Marcus W
18. toryx
Lost @ 14.

I don't remember the chapter well enough any more (it's been a month or so since I re-read it) but I don't think Jordan specified how much sex there was in that two or three hours time. Given Aviendha, I'd bet it was Rand's first and second time, at least.

As for the lack of sleep, from 19-21 I pretty much lived on two or three hours a sleep. Eventually I collapsed with exhaustion and didn't get out of bed for four days, but that was after going on practically no sleep at all for more than two years. And I didn't have Tarmon Gaidan or ruling the world to worry about.
Bill Siegel
19. ubxs113
Thanks Leigh! Also, um, which sex scene in American Gods, cause there were a couple that might raise eyebrows.

And the very first time may not be a tantric session for the record books but you can definitely burn a few hours going at it as much as possible.

And the sleep thing: I'm 29 and sleep about 6 hours a night during the week and I have a couple buddies who get even less, no problem at all. Of course I also know people who get 10+ so...(which includes the afternoon nap, no kidding!)
Leigh Butler
20. leighdb
Kadere @15:

Really. Well, then, it seems both options are wrong. I mean, unless the Fallon sex scenes also happen to be crappy.
21. alreadymadwithcairhien
My only comment about chapter 31 is if anybody noticed that Edorion was the only one who made any sense among the lordlings. Mat and Talmanes would swear by his intelligence later in the series.

Qtip the Sixth
LOL. You forgot building fires and making spearthrowers.

bkaul @13
Some do ask their fathers for permission. Mostly young louts who knocked some girl off before they realized they couldn't afford it.

Isilel @17
Moiraine's treatment of him was pretty crummy too. She deliberately tried to cut him off from others who could help him. She even tried to cut him off from his own friends. Then she played hard to get and ignored him, wanted him to beg for help. She tried to set it up so that she would be the only one he could go to for help. Well I say she got what she deserved.
Roger Powell
22. forkroot
Re: Avienda and He who comes with the Dong

These are young'uns with a great deal of repressed sexual energy. For sure it would be an all-night session with a lot of general petting during recovery periods.

Been there, done that, wish I could still do that :-(
Worst part of growing old.

Re: Kadere

It's a lot easier to put up with the evil bastard in the re-read, because I know what's going to happen to him in a few chapters. Heh-heh.
23. PitVipersoh'boy

Dont tread on me...


24. JennB
Yay!!! Aviendha!!!

I always was so frustrated for Aviendha because she has so much trouble using the new weave for travelling because she discovered how to travel using her own weave first. If only she could remember.
25. TexanSedai
Great Post!

As for the "pan to the fireplace" sex scenes - RJ apparently like to leave alot to the reader's imagination (mice and figs?????) Although I definitely enjoy a good romance novel, I prefer my WOT without any heaving bosoms,quivering members or shaft riding ;)
Alex Johns
26. almuric
Leigh, you might have done a bad thing. I read the whole Ringo page you linked and am thinking of reading them. They sound like fantastic escapist literature, much easier to read than WoT. Am looking for a change of pace. On my re-read, I'm now stuck at the same place that I was the first time I read WoT - 1/4 of the way through Winter's Heart. Just can't make myself read more right now. Was bumming through my basement library this weekend and came up with some R.E. Howard and Zelazny. Both very different from Jordan, but I'm kind of looking for something new. Might have to stop at the used book store soon. Sounds like the kind of thing there'd be a lot of copies of.

And I can certainly see a first-time sex romp lasting a couple of hours. You don't have to, um, 'stick it in' to start, you know. Plus, youthful refractory period. I honestly can't remember how long I was, um, cuddling(?) the first time I had sex, but it seems the overall time period was certainly more than just a few minutes. Perhaps the difference was that we weren't sneaking a quick one in the back of Dad's car. Ahem. Do we need to wonder what kind of birth control Aiel use? Can they use the One Power as a morning-after pill?

As a plot device, having people do things with the one power because they panic is interesting. In real life, you occasionally hear of people using 'hysterical strength' to lift cars off of trapped loved ones. This isn't really the same, though. This would be the equivalent of someone baking a cake when they'd never been in a kitchen before. Does everyone know how to do everything with the One Power subconsciously, they just need to unlock it? As an example, imagine lots of people dog-paddling in a lake. A child starts to drown and the mother figures out how to extend her arms and within seconds figures out how to do the front crawl. (I was gonna make a music analogy but I couldn't come up with a reason why someone would have to play a piano concerto.)

I guess it's always bothered me a little. Too much of a deus ex machina. Where did the knowledge come from? Born with it? Subconscious figured it out? The pattern/wheel put it in her head?
27. Latecomer
Yay new post!

Avi & Rand - FINALLY! Although Avi seems to be saying that she saw this happen in the rings, so will allow it to happen - ONCE. and no more. Huh?

Re Sleeping. I'm the type that is useless without 8 hours of sleep a night. Both my Hubby and Father in Law can however quite happily chug along on 5 / 6 hours a night all the time. In fact my Father in law needs even lesser, he often stays up till 1 to watch F1 racing, goes to bed at 3 and is up again at 6.30. When he was younger, he often stayed up all night with (advertising) clients, came home to shower and went to work. Like, 3/4 times a week.
So yeah, there are some unbelieveable people out there.
Pete Pratt
28. PeteP
Kadere's POV really works hear to demonstrate the run of the mill DF viewpoint. Must say I was kind of surpised by Isendre's death the first time I read it too.

I have always felt Aviendha's holding out on Rand afterwards was very cheap. She says she will run no more and the rings did not lie, and then she goes about teasing him prancing around naked until Avi goes to Elayne and offers to kill herself? No wonder I have always considered Min the best of Rand's three....
Karen Walters
29. Wrenza
Almuric - perhaps a past life imposing OR she saw it in the rings when she went through and remembers it subconsciously

This is one of my favourite chapters - I don't want to know the details, the incoherence of it works so much better when you have no clear details and makes the point that it is out of their control. However points to both of them for stamina - I'm positive after falling through ice and being skinned and in pain I wouldn't fall into passion. Or if I did, it would be with lots of owww and uncomfortable shifting!
Hugh Arai
30. HArai
I see people pointed out viper pits do exist.

Isilel@17: If you want someone to treat you as a friend and confidant, you have to be friendly and confide in them. If you want to be a mysterious know-it-all and drag em around by the nose, you get treated the way Rand treated Moiraine. You'll note he _doesn't_ treat Lan the same way. After she swears her oath, he is more polite, but by then he's acquired Asmodean who he also needs to learn from and believes he has to hide from her, so he can't be with her all the time. Since we learn she knew about Asmodean all along, it's her own damn fault.
31. SRizea
I've also had a bit of a problem with deus ex in WOT. There are plenty of situations in which dumb luck and/or flashes of inspired Power-Weaving have saved the day.

In non-epic fantasy my suspension of disbelief is supported by the implication that there are many stories in the world. Much like in real life, only the lucky ones get stories because the unlucky never make it back from their adventure.

WOT, being the epitome of epic fantasy, cannot take advantage of the "many stories" excuse. RJ has set the scene such that failure of the Light is not only the End Of The World As We Know It, but the End Of All Worlds For All Time. On top of that, the series is rife with imagery indicating a single mis-step means disaster (the struggle with saidin, past lives seen in Portal Stones, 'Finn revelations, Min's "iffy" visions, etc).

The only way I've found to reconcile Luck/Ta'veren/Pattern rescues of major characters with Nigh-Inescapable Impending Doom is that RJ has done it for thematic emphasis on The Struggle. If the Pattern bails you out of whatever sub-optimal (or downright stupid) decisions you make, then all that matters is that you keep trying. This implies that a Just Do Your Best theme is baked right into the heart of the series. Do you think this is supported? Am I over-simplifying the relationship between the Pattern and characters' choices?
Luke M
32. lmelior
Funny you should mention being annoyed with the "I before E" rule, as our friends in the UK have recently decided to drop it since there are so many exceptions (e.g. their, protein, sufficient).

At least we got rid of the other silly things they do, like throwing letters in words that have no business being there (e.g. colour) and using "re" instead of "er" (e.g. manoeuvre ) and having separate forms for words like practice/practise and licence/license. Silly Brits.

Anyway, I was always partial to Brian Regan's version:
I before E except after C,
or when sounding like A
as in neighbor or weigh,
and on weekends, and holidays,
and all throughout May,
and you'll always be wrong,
no matter what you say!

Well I guess I should add something to be on topic. I'm sure I've said this before, but the random happenings are really annoying, totally shattering my suspension of disbelief. Agree that Edorion is cool here. And yay Far Snows!
Joseph Blaidd
33. SteelBlaidd
Lost @ 14
It's a side effect of being young. People in their 20s can deal with wild variations in their sleep scadule a lot easier than teens and 30somethings. I've always thought it was an addaption for dealing with newborn (as an aside my wife and I are expecting a girl in November :D ).

In any case, I think that after a long day in the sadle folowed bu a 15-20 minute run through a blizzard topped with some pretty intense sex it''s entirely reasonable that the Kids went off the clock and cought some ZZZZZs.

It's important to remember that for these characters it's not the sex that's important it's the relationship. So after this Aviendha is much more relaxed, but Rand isn't any better off. She has closure and he's just opened up a big can of worms which he channels into a seriously foul temper, sword practice, and politiking.

Note this is one of my absolute favorite chapters and I have always apreciated the lack of detail. In all honesty, sex done right just looks silly from the out side ;)
Alice Arneson
34. Wetlandernw
Kadere... Gave me the shudders. That chapter, while it was a relief to get rid of Isendre, just makes my skin crawl. Eww.

I enjoyed Rand's musings on the Forsaken. We've pretty much seen it by now, but as much as they are "immortal" and have great power, they really are just human, and not very good examples of the race at that. They are every bit as petty, self-centered, short-sighted, greedy, etc. as anyone else - or more so. It would be wierd, being a Randlander, to realize that THE FORSAKEN really aren't quite what you thought. You grew up with the idea that if they ever got loose, they would know everything, see everything, be able to do anything. Turns out they only know what they see or are told, just like anyone else. They have weak areas and blind spots. The only real difference is that they don't age, get a new body if you kill them with anything but balefire, are generally stronger in the OP than most channelers, and know some weaves that you don't. Not so great after all.

Oh, and yeah, I really hate typing Cairhien, and I only do it when I have to. You have my sympathy, Leigh! Maybe you can find a way to abbreviate it. Cairhien = C'n, and Cairhienin = C'nn or something. We wouldn't mind - especially if it help your sanity or your fingers, either one.

On the sex scenes in WoT... gotta say I'm with the Greeks on this one. Some things which obviously occur are better done "off scene". Call me old-fashioned or un-PC or whatever: watching (or reading) someone else's sex scenes always makes me feel about the same way I would if someone were peering through my bedroom window. Which is to say, GO AWAAYYYYYYYY!!!!! Some things should be private. A great writer usually knows when to give detail and when to leave it to the reader's imagination, and I for one am grateful that RJ generally did well with that.

(Then again, I'm one who has actually been known to discard a book or series (or author!) because I got either bored or nauseated with the author's version of "passionate sex". Gah!)
James Jones
35. jamesedjones
31 SRizea

Agreed on the over-use of the Pattern, taveren, etc. as an explanation for success. But RJ does explain in TGH that there are plenty of examples where stuff doesn't work out in Rand's alternate realities during the portal stones chapter. Just think of the book reality as the one where the monkey on the typewriter produces Much Ado About Nothing. :P
Karen Walters
36. Wrenza

As a Brit whose numbers this site amongst her favourites, partly because of the inspired colour scheme, I would like to state the breadth and depth of the ENGLISH language is what enabled a series like the Wheel of Time to be at the centre of this wonderful site.


ner ner ner na ner ner our language first! :P
Hugh Arai
37. HArai
lmelior@32: From that post I suspect you're American. Anyone living in a country refusing to use the metric system has no room to talk about getting rid of silly things. Although I have to say it makes weather forecasts that use metric for Canadian temperatures and imperial for American temperatures fairly amusing since it provides the image that simply crossing our border causes the temperature to plummet :)
Maiane Bakroeva
38. Isilel
Well, that's not how I remember the history of Rand's and Moraine's relationship.
At first she had to be mysterious because if she had been honest, the Duopatamians would have ran away screaming. But even then the boys and Nyn were quite suspicious of and rude to her.

Then Rand got rather unmistakable proofs that he was the DR, but was refusing to believe it, instead suspecting her of some sinister manipulation, so Moraine had to play mysterious and hard to get.

Then Rand finally believed it, but instead of taking a little time to learn from Moraine, ran away on his insane solitary trek to Tear - which should have been fatal, only in this story ta'veren can do no wrong.
Then in Tear he was doing stuff that by any rational rules shouldn't have worked, but did because it was will of the Pattern and foretold. Etc, etc.
Basically, Moraine always had to struggle with "OMG , AS, she must be plotting something sinister" and when she tried to be a little more direct, it didn't work.

That is not to say that she hasn't been unnecessarily mysterious, but then again, if she hadn't been secretive, she couldn't have survived for so long or have been successful in her mission. I'd have expected Rand to understand it by TFoH.

For instance, I don't see why M. didn't admit that she knew about Asmo and didn't offer to link them so that Rand could learn more efficiently. That certainly seemed gratuitous, but then nobody is perfect.

Moraine's (and Siuan's) tragedy was that they were rational people with logical plans, who were thrown into completely irrational situation, where _what_ was done meant little as long as it was done by a ta'veren.

Yes, I have quite a bit of a problem with Pattern/Luck/ta'veren playing such a huge and heavy -handed role in the series.
I didn't have it in TFOH as much yet, as it seemed that ta'veren still could make a big enough mistake that the Pattern wouldn't cover it and save them. But by ACOS all that predestination began to seriously stick in my craw.
39. Aegnor
You know where I work we actually have TPS reports. The similarities don't end there either, heh.
40. RobMRobM
wet @ 34: "On the sex scenes in WoT... gotta say I'm with the Greeks on this one."

41. Smatt
@ Imelior

Hey, don't knock the language.

We have not decided to drop the rule it has been mentioned as an idea to consider.

It is these very idiosyncrasies that make English a rich and diverse language perfect for creating enchanting stories.
42. Amalisa

In all honesty, sex done right just looks silly from the out side ;)


As for the Kadere chapter - one of my all time favorites! A genuine shock to learn of Teodora's fate!
43. RobMRobM
29. Nice reveal but Kadere is too much like a Jr-sized Fain who doesn't do anything other than drive a wagon around the Aiel waste. Meh.

30. Again, Natael is the only cool Forsaken. Plays music, makes love to the hot girl and then tops it off by telling her to "make an accommodation with fate." Brilliant!

31. Have to say, much as I like the chapter, if re-discovery of travelling is the result of panic-stricken naked powerful channelers, Rand should have been started a practice of regularly barging in on Egwene, Moiraine, and Avi at bedtime, if you know what I'm sayin....

Richard Fife
44. R.Fife
My thought on a sex scene. As far as economy of writing goes, I see no reason for elaborated sex scenes outside of bodice ripper romance (also known as the true smut for women). Unless the actual details are somehow plot relevant, there is no reason for it to be on screen, and even "plot relevant" details can be alluded to more economically elsehow. I'm not a prude (I assure you, as can my fellow Plaid Ajah-ites) but I cannot say I have ever read a "passionate" sex scene in a book that I thought needed to be there. Gruesome perversions of sex, perhaps, long as it is necc. to the plot (to show the mental terror of a rape, per se). But even that can be done off screen with proper character development before and after the event.
45. perrin5454
This is kind of off-topic but I actually am a John Ringo fan. Admittedly, I have never read his Ghost series which the link alludes to. I also skimmed most of that article once I read the first few paragraphs and found it pretty disturbing.

However, I read his Posleen War series which begins with "A Hyhm Before Battle" and continues through at present eight books and I found it highly enjoyable. I also read part of his "Last Centurion" book that was online for free and also enjoyed that. And last but not least, I just ordered his four book "March Upcountry" series that he wrote with David Weber. Leaving aside the creepiness of "Ghost" (which I freely admit is indefensible, at least by me), I find most of the content of his books highly enjoyable. Granted, most of his books are written from a conservative, free-market, gung-ho, us-vs.-them mind-set and many of the "enemies" in his books are from the opposite end of the political spectrum. However, what I find appealing about his books is his healthy grasp on reality.
Now just hear me out before you dismiss me. Most of Ringo's liberal characters are caricatures of the movement. But there are a sizeable number of people who go through life with their head in the sand, just like those characters. These are the same people who say that we deserved what happened to us on September 11th. People who ennoble the suicide bomber but disparage the soldier. People who believe that we can somehow negotiate with Al-Queda and their ilk. I've spent 10 months in Iraq, and I will probably spend at least one more tour in Afghanistan. All I can say is that there is nothing noble about suicide bombers and you cannot negotiate with the hard core of Al-Queda and the Taliban. All you can do is kill them or lock them up until they die of natural causes. THey simply do not care about human life. More than that, they do not care about the same principles that we do; in fact, they will oppose them to the death. THey do not care about the value of the individual human life or even basic civil rights. If they came to power their first act would be to do away with all the tenets of free society which we accept.
Say what you will about John Ringo, he understands this and does not shy away from calling it how it is. He acknowledges that whether we want it or not, we are engaged in a third World War against Islamic terrorism. To paraphrase Robert Jordan, the world is not as gray as people would have us believe, there are some evils which are so heinuous they cannot be rationalized away. John Ringo shares this belief and I agree with him.

And as a post-note, Mr. Ringo himself is a combat veteran who understands exactly what opposing these men entails because he lived it. Again, I realize this may be off-topic (and that Ghost is pretty indefensible) but I felt the need to respond. Now I'm gonna go put on Nomex and duck the thrown objexts :)
46. HurinSmells
I don't think it's a negative for RJ to "pan to the fire" in WoT. The general tone of the series doesn't really have a place for it. When the strongest curse words used are "blood and ashes" and "flaming goat-herder", yeah an explicit sex scene just wouldn't fit.

GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire however is a great example of a more gritty fanatasy world, and its full of explicit language, sex scenes and IIRC there's even a few scenes on the privvy!

A really great example of a fantasy series with very well crafted sex scenes, Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel trilogies are for you. I only picked it up cause there was an endorsement from RJ on the cover!
Lannis .
47. Lannis
Re: Rand's twisting of chance... I love that he apologizes, and Sulin has no idea what he's talking about, though it's a melancholy thing... I feel sad for Rand, but at the same time it's so cool!

Seriously, all other considerations aside, if ever a character desperately needed to get laid, that would be Rand al’Thor.


Qtip @ 2... thank you Jean Auel--how to knap flint, how to build a pit trap, how to orgasm . . .

You've just summarized (rather succinctly, I might add), exactly how I remember Auel's books. ::creeped out shudder::

SteelBlaidd @ 33: Congratulations! Wishing you all good health and happiness! :)

Thanks for the recap, Leigh! :)
Susan Brownhill
48. SusanB
Steel Blaid - Congratulations & Good Luck! Is this your first?

I don't really have anything to say about these Chapters. They aren't really controversial. Like everyone else I was glad the sex finally happened.
49. Freelancer
I believe that the scene of the Tairen/Cairhienin lords being presented to Rand in the Pass is outstanding. Rand sent the Tairens to aid Cairhien back in the Stone. Based on this scene I imagine that went something like:

Tairen Lord - "We're here at the orders of the Dragon Reborn. We're going to feed you, and put an end to your civil war, and keep you alive. You owe us huge for this, so we get to treat you like disobedient puppies."

Cairhienin Lord - "Uh, thank you?"

Rand certainly doesn't want anyone falling at his feet, but what he's learned about this level of leadership from both Moiraine and Elayne keep him from responding in a way that would likely terrify those poor guys. Somewhat like Perrin learning to accept honors in T2R, raised about 3 orders of magnitude.

When Rand, without hesitation, tells the Cairhienin arrivals that he will be dealing with the Shaido invaders, the depth of their gratitude is initially shocking, but makes perfect sense given the dire situation, which isn't on full display until a bit later.

About Kadere, nobody expected the bit about his sister at the end, but just how wicked he is was more than hinted at. Rand was sure he was Asmodean, based on how his eyes never changed, that he didn't react to learning Rand was a male channeler, in fact the Dragon Reborn, etc. For those indicators to be so strong and him NOT be a forsaken, was a neon sign that he's a hardcore DF.

About wedding customs, I bought the ring, took it to her parents and asked, before she had any idea. Dude that wants my daughter goes through her Mom and me or he goes down the road. Still, I find it hilariously out of proportion that the guy who is stuck with being The One for the whole world, is talking about permission to marry.

About Rand and Moiraine, there's a lot there to choose from. Once someone has told you, "Before I let the Dark One have you, I'll destroy you myself", it's a little difficult to have a friendly, casual, share-and-share alike arrangement. A great majority of the things Rand chooses to do have clear justification. Some do not, but remember he isn't 100% in the mental category. Also, when you're trying to keep your enemies off-balance, sometimes it means keeping everyone off-balance. Moiraine tells him to trust no Aes Sedai who already wears the shawl except her or Verin, the two who Rand sees as having tried the hardest to manipulate him directly.

Yes, we all want to grab him and say, "Hey, dude, she's a short-timer for this dirtball, give her a chance to help for the few days she has left." But his current behavior, while not desirable, is understandable.
50. Amalisa
Wow, SteelBlaid! Totally missed the baby-on-the-way mention!

Congratulations! :)
Pete Pratt
51. PeteP
Freelancer @49 -- totally agree on the utter coolness of the Wager.

BTW, just finished "Warbreaker" and anymore wanting more sex in the WoT will be disappointed. I enjoyed it and Sanderson does a good job with multiple POV, but I almost felt as the book was lengthened somewhat unnecessarily to capitalize on Sanderson new status. Sanderson definitely does not get to Jordan's level of descriptiveness.

Jordan's original Conan books (before Tor's re-issuing) were full of explicit sex scenes, though in the Conan style. I have been very glad that Jordan did not include that in the WoT.
William Fettes
52. Wolfmage
"I don't think it's a negative for RJ to "pan to the fire" in WoT. The general tone of the series doesn't really have a place for it."

Probably not. Arguably he could have gone to the greater levels of detail used for intercourse and intimacy in series like the Feist / Wurts' Empire trilogy without making it seem cheap or gratuitous. But I've never personally felt the lack. As Leigh says, he really depends on your strengths as a writer; I don't remember the Conan series sex scenes being particularly well written.

"When the strongest curse words used are "blood and ashes" and "flaming goat-herder", yeah an explicit sex scene just wouldn't fit."

You forgot my favourites: "sheep swallop and bloody buttered onions" and "mother's milk in a cup."
53. Rand Al'Todd
Rand's time with Avi gives a new meaning to "he who comes with the dawn." :-)

An I'm with those who assume that more than one act occurred during that "for a very long time".

RE: Sex scenes - Those of us old enough have seen the rampant increase in EXPLICIT sex scenes since the late sixtys, especially in movies.

Way too many of the movies from the seventies into the 80's had a gratuitous sex scene thrown in whether it helped the plot or not. (Frequently not, just burned up about five to ten minutes of screen time for no purpose.)

PG and R ratings are frequently put on films for violence (sometimes just the "cartoon violence" common to action flicks), and I hate to be in a movie theater and have an unexpected "one scene wonder" sex/nudity scene pop up, especially when with my kids.

Worst example is the scene in "Dances with Wolves" where Stands-With-A-Fist" is shown taking off her top to show frontal nudity (prior to a fade out), when ALL plot motives could have been met by an over the shoulder shot. Otherwise it is a good (if currently PC) view of interaction between Indians and white men of that time period. That one scene prevents the movie from being shown in schools.

I recall one old flick (I think maybe "Charades") has a scene with a screen writer and his female assistant. She complains about the implied sex when he writes a fade out at the end of a romantic scene. He replies that she must have a dirty mind, as he always intends that fade out to indicate that the two participants simply play a game of Parcheesi. (Naturally the movie later shows their scene playing Parcheesi on a giant bed.)

As mentioned by several above, the "old way" lets the reader/viewer use their own imagination, which is usually better than the actual scene.

(Naturally all bets are off if you actually picked the flick/book due to it's XXX rating. And I actively support one's right to do so. - Then you know what you are getting.)

And I've read all of Ringo's Kildar series to date.
54. alreadymadwithMoiraine
Isilel @38
Rand ran off to Tear because Moiraine wasn't talking to him. Instead of cluing in Rand to her plans, her treatment of him was for him to stay put and out of her way while she made her plans. At a guess, I'd say she wanted him to come to her and beg for help so he would not be able to refuse her "suggestions".

How would you like the idea of your destiny being seized and dictated by anybody else without even a by your leave? Moiraine never denied that she wanted to manipulate Rand. Rand stated outright that he would not be manipulated. Instead of soothing him with I would never do that, Moiraine's reply was something to the effect that a sword would not be demeaned by being used for the purpose it was meant for. Which according to my Aes Sedai translator means Yes, I will manipulate you. Do not feel bad because I will arrange for you to appear at The Last Battle, along with allies I and my White Tower cronies will gather for you.
55. jafco
32. lmelior


Ever heard of 1066 AD? The French conquered (a French word) jolly olde England and seriously added a chunk of language (another adapted French word) to the palette (yet another French word!). Get the drift?

American English borrows from everyone: Spanish, Japanese, spaced-out drug addicts - you name it. No language in history, probably, has been so adaptable and expansible. Let's hope it doesn't become incomprehensible.

As to the reread: Good stuff! Rand may be frustrated because Avi cuts him off after this little introduction to "More about Life". But of course we now have however many chapters highlighting Avi's angst about how she will put this episode to Elaine, who understandably, will take her life. Not sure which one suffers the most! Maybe they should just get it on (Rand is after all - from an Aiel perspective - the changer of all things).

Oh well, he does learn to use a sword really well, and is perfectly set up to fall (literally) into Min's ever-welcoming arms. The Wheel weaves.
56. toddywatts
Argh! I get nauseous every time I see the line mother's milk in a cup.

I've always been annoyed by the Websterization of English. Does it take that much effort to write the extra letter? It's like those people who have to get in front of you at a merge. Glad you'll be that one car length closer to where you're going.

Congrats, SteelBlaidd!
John Massey
57. subwoofer
Hi Leigh, hope you got some much needed R&R :) Judging by your participation in this thread, it helped you get "plugged in".

Kadere... not much to say about him except for a DF, he reminded me of the Thuggee way of killing. Making me wonder what the DO really is. Also, the disposing of the body reminded me of the movie Fargo and poor Steve.

Rand and sex... could take it or leave it. Even after it all he is still a knob when it comes to women. Of course, losing your virginity doesn't give you instant maturity or profound insight into the female mind. The only thing you really learn is how little you actually know.

Rhuarc rocks- love how off handed he talks about reaching the Car in a week. Still thinking that there is no fat Aiel. If there are any, they are either not highly mobile or they should patent their diet and sell it to weight lifters.

What I am missing from all these chapters- Loial, more Rhuarc talk, Hopper, Bashere and Bela. Not a big fan of some of the Perrin threads, but at least it brought along the characters I like.

-Go Bela!
58. MasterAlThor
Oh this was a good one. Now here are my rants.

Earlier post were talking about men and breaking the seal so to speak. Well I explained to my son and some of my younger friends that most guys go through a draught after their first time. Eventually, it will rain like it is never gonna let up. So just be patient.

The scenn was done in good taste. So I got no problem with it.

And I apologize for my ignorance again as the only Ringo I know is Starr. So if I could get by with a little help from my friends it would be greatly appreciated.
Pete Pratt
59. PeteP
55 Jafco

The French did not conquer England in 1066 -- my ancestor William the Conquerer, Duke of Normany did! He was most definitely not French. Vikings had conquered Normandy, bought off by a French king in 911, though they did speak French.
William Fettes
60. Wolfmage
Wow, those John Ringo excerpts are absolute dreck. It's like a combination between Ayn Rand's style of clumsy political triumphalism, and personal fixation on male rape fantasy, and the collective talking points of the Fox News punditocrisy, 24, Tom Clancy and a bunch of other Young Republican circle jerks. Though minus Rand's thin veneer of intellectualism, of course.

Why can't conservative fiction writers deliver the reactionary message with ANY subtlety or sophistication, using characters who are either Übermensch or their adjunct women, or paper-thin liberal villains who end up synonymous with evil? It's self indulgent tripe for people who don't want to entertain real political dialogue with a robust form of opposing beliefs.
61. MasterAlThor
Wow Wolfmage

Dont hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

I'm your huckleberry. Let's talk. I'll be happy to hear your opposing beliefs. But this may not be the forum for it.
Roger Powell
62. forkroot
Moiraine tells him to trust no Aes Sedai who already wears the shawl except her or Verin

Moiraine didn't tell him to trust Verin - she told him to be suspicious of all Aes Sedai including Verin and Alviarin. I don't think she was specifically stating any suspicions about Verin, she was just using examples of Aes Sedai that Rand might feel were "on his side" (at the time).

Of course with what we know about Alviarin, she was right to counsel caution! Rand was foolish to put any stock in the letter from Tar Valon.

As for Verin ... well she sure acts suspicious at times, but she's never done anything to hurt Rand's cause, and has certainly aided it.
John Mann
63. jcmnyu

I miss the newsgroup days. Where's the Loy when you need him?

The Kadre scene was masterfully written. A well crafted way to define one character and eliminate another. Bravo.

I personally love the fact that Rand doesn't understand just how much of a BMOC he is. He still thinks of himself as a poor farmer. He doesn't realize what it meant to have conquered one country and been made chief of chiefs to another. His bottom line is now well into the black. And when Sulin explains to him about 10% of the fifth being his, I always get the image of Aiel in cadin'sor walking around the Stone of Tear itemizing everything in notebooks with glasses on their noses and ink stains on thier clothes. Aiel CPAs!

As far as the Far Snows Dance, I always loved the obliviousness of Rand to what was happening. He still thinks she hates him. As someone who could never ever figure out what girls were thinking when I was in high school (and I have the scars to prove it), I can relate to his cluelessness.

And it seems the whole reason RJ has Avihenda flee to Seanchan is so that he can get her and Rand skin to skin due to the fact that she needs the warmth to save her life. But hasn't she been ice cold for several books now?
j p
64. sps49
I am sure this has occurred to almost everyone, but the prophecy discussion from Part 11 has an excellent illustration here. If Aviendha had not gone through the rings and been shown she would get hot in an igloo, would she have given up like that? She may have tried to resist; she was likely safe from Rand until she had recovered from the water.

Another item in this chapter isn't that big a deal story-wise, but what kind of topography does this slice of Seanchan have? They run over ground until they reach a river which is iced over. However, they are close enough to the ocean to see it. Either the river should be ice free, or the sea should be covered in ice. And, if they are in a riverbed, how are they high enough to see the ocean? It's not as bad as the de regueur orthogonal mountains in fantasy or the rivers following odd courses, but it briefly took me out of the narrative.

Maybe this is just my cross to bear :)
Alice Arneson
65. Wetlandernw
Survey says...

Just in case you want an update, here's the current status:

Number responding*: 105
RL Age
Oldest: 69
Youngest: 16
Average: 35.5
Men: 67
Women: 36

WoT Age
Oldest: 19 (That's as old as you can get, since it was first published in 1990. There are at least 10 in this category.)
Youngest: less than one year (Two or three of these. Welcome to our nightmare.)
Average: 11.7

*Note that I only have WoT Age for 87 of the 105, so the average may in reality be somewhat different.

Parents: 44
Grandparents: 5
To our collective credit:
Children: 104
Grandchildren: 17
Greatgrandchildren: 1

*Notes: Not everyone gave their age. The average here is of the 100 who did. Note that a couple of folks also didn't give gender and/or I couldn't figure it out from their user profile. Ditto with children, etc.

As the survey mutated, we didn't really keep up with the educational background info, so I didn't include that this time. Suffice it to say that we're a pretty well-educated bunch.

I haven't tried to find a way to summarize the info on all our locations, but good grief - we're all over the globe! Primarily, though, we hail from North America, Europe and Australia.

I haven't gone back and filled in the Ajah choices for those who had done this part of the survey earlier. I think there's a preponderence of Browns, though, followed by Blue, then Green. I might or might not go back and find all that info. It's a bit tricky, since many of us named two or three that might be appropriate.
Alice Arneson
66. Wetlandernw
Can someone tell me if there'd be a better way to make that info available to the group? This way it's buried in the comments, but maybe that's okay.
67. Miythrandir
For some reason, Isendre's demise reminds me of a scriptural passage that says that the wicked are punished by the wicked. I agree with Leigh that her sufferings induce sympathetic feelings in the reader...poor lady. One almost feels sad that she was set up as an incredibly beautiful lady by RJ and then to see her bald, itchy, naked, in black robes, lacerated, etc. She couldn't even be successful in her seduction role...RJ was rather artful in portraying her demise the way he did. Truly she is the epitome of unrealized potential and even that is creepy.

I agree with other statements that Kadere's killing of his sister was a BAM WHACK BOOM revelation, and that what was disturbing was to see his logic in killing Isendre. I think about every reader was thinking in reading this, "Well, if I was in his shoes, I'd be doing the same thing too." Very creepy. Actually, I was thinking that his butchery job that happened "off-screen" would leave too much evidence and that he was foolish to even attempt it. Otherwise he seemed chillingly logical. Reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe.

Changing gears, this was the most disturbing chapter for me to read because it is the most explicit sex scene in the series. Another rivals it, but I think this "wins" out. If there needs to be premarital sex, I prefer it to be done the Perrin style and for it to be off-screen. Like others, I felt loss at Rand losing his innocence. One would expect this from an anti-hero character like Mat, but to see it from the hero felt off.

The groveling scene with the Cairhienin (Leigh, I couldn't spell this without copying and pasting from you lol) weirds me out too - groveling disgusts me. I understand Rand's perspective in allowing it for political reasons, but when I read it I wanted to say, "GET UP dudes" and I felt odd that Rand allowed this worship. Not only does Rand become a lecher, but a Lordly lecher.
William Fettes
68. Wolfmage
Boy-oh. Can we get some sexual revolution in here pronto to lighten things up. I understand graphic sexual description isn't for everyone, but equating premarital sex with a loss of innocence and protagonist status as a bona fide hero? Holy time-travelling sensibilities batman.

As far as I can see, Rand and Avi are two consenting adults; doing it is perfectly permissible outside wedlock in Aiel culture (which is more important here than Two Rivers' culture); neither party is engaged to another; and their union at one level is ordained in the fabric of the pattern. Outside of Avi's combustible temperament, is there any sensible reason to have misgivings about Rand because of it?

I would have thought that if you have misgivings about anything it would be - *you know* - the whole polygamy thing!
Michael Catapano
69. hoping
What's up with the snow in Seanchan land? I thought the DO touching the world led to global warming, not just in Randland.

re sex scenes in WoT
They don't add much to the storyline but they do flesh out (sorry) some of the relationships. After all, these are a bunch of young people here and, IIRC, sex and the acquisition thereof consumed a large portion of my brain at that stage of my life. It would have been conspicuous by its absence.

He who comes with the Dong
How long have you been waiting to slip that line in there? (oops) My juvenile sense of humor appreciated it

The overbearing Pattern rears its ugly head again. I think it was Moraine that explained that Rand could only stretch the Pattern so far before it tore (metaphor too far?). Then the Pattern could snip him out without blinking its eye (if it had one). So, overall it seems consistent and I can go with it pretty well.

I'm expecting something in November also ;)

I have no idea what a TPS report is. Should I count myself lucky?

A while back, I think in the infamous TSR 10 post, we were entertaining ourselves with casting the WoT movie and proposing a score. Since Rand still appears clueless about what he's supposed to do with Avi here's my suggestion for their post sex music.
Make hate your enemy!

re premarital sex
This is RJ's world and has its own morality and ethics so I think you have to at least partially judge the characters based on their choices in that world. Pre-marital sex seems OK with the aiel.
Bill Reamy
70. BillinHI
Leigh re: Hawaiian shirt day: Possibly the only thing I miss being retired is not wearing one of my many aloha shirts _every_ Friday at work. 'Course I am currently sitting here at 9:30PM local time with no shirt on (shorts only) with very pleasantly cool air drifting in all the open windows :)
On all the deus ex stuff: I agree it tends to get to be a bit much at time, particularly with regards to Rand's chanelling. However, like the lack of communication, if it were to disappear, the story would not be nearly as good (or as long).
Definitely agree on Kadere's POV being very well done and a huge shock. I must admit to feeling slightly (but only slightly) sorry for Isendre. She was just not up to the assigned job - but I don't know if anyone would have been, particularly given Rand's hang-ups and Aviendha's presence.
71. Miythrandir
Wolfmage @ 68

My comments were certainly not a personal attack on you or anyone else so your comment's contempt is entirely unnecessary and misplaced.

I understand you have a differing viewpoint, and that is perfectly fine. It's OK to be different.
Antoni Ivanov
72. tonka

No the DO's touch didn't led to global warming but freeze the seasons at place. The Randland was caught in everlasting summer and the Seanchan in winter.
Helen Peters
73. Helen
32. lmelior
At least we got rid of the other silly things they do, like throwing letters in words that have no business being there (e.g. colour) and using "re" instead of "er" (e.g. manoeuvre ) and having separate forms for words like practice/practise and licence/license. Silly Brits.

No, no, no, those Us need to be in there or the word looks silly, well to British eyes anyway :) We use 'er' as well as 're' and the words mean different things. metre and meter, just makes thing clearer. And practice/practise, they have different definitions in my dictionary, though it also says under practise that the US spelling is practice, ditto for license and licence, one being a verb, the other a noun. Now if you include using an x rather than a t in some 'tion' suffixes, I will fully back you that English is a totally peculiar language.

@55 and 59, yes we were invaded by the Normans not the French, that's where my brown eyes come from.

@64 The ocean is made of sea water, ie saltwater, higher salt content = lower freezing point so would not necessarily freeze when a river did, also the river is not totally frozen, only a 'thin' layer on the top.

General comments, looks like we have another S word which divides us. I liked the way it was written, leave it all up to our imagination, had we had sex scenes written into every book and the whole series being steamier then yes go more descriptive, but as just a one off it would be out of character.
Richard Fife
74. R.Fife
On The Proper (American) Way of Spelling:
Actually, you can thank a horny old codger named Ben Franklin for "American English". After Revolutionary War, he strongly advised (and was heeded) that we should alter the spelling of our words to distance ourselves from England. Thus the "extra" u's were dropped, re was made er in many words etc etc. Least, that is what they taught me in High School History. Might be an urban legend, dunno.
75. The Not So Dark One
Hey, whoever it was a few post ago who told us that Brandon had a free download of Warbreaker on his site - Thanks.

Read it over a couple of days in work on the sly and its quite good. Think he would have to expand his style a bit to encompass WOT but I think he's already acknowledged that in some blog or another.

But yeah, think ill go buy the rest now. ta
76. The Not So Dark One
Okay, Im a little confused. Turns out Warbreaker was only released this month - therfore no other books to buy in the series.
I dont get the marketing strategy - why put out a freebie of the brand new book? If it was part 1 of three, released five years ago with slow sales I could see the plan - it would then boost sales of books 2 & 3. Guess I just dont know publishing.
77. Miythrandir
Perhaps it's a combo of Sanderson being a generous author and his belief that it wouldn't affect sales much due to most of the readers out there not checking out his website. A recent entry on his site indicated that his sales weren't doing too shabby.
Kurt Lorey
78. Shimrod
Regarding ye olde english, Wikipedia has a fairly straightforward exposition upon the subject here:

English Spelling Differences.

Funny that some of the older forms are preserved from Scottish roots, yet the Norman derivations have been almost universally changed in American usage.

Other EU countries are heavily influenced by formal British English and seem to have been sold a bill of goods about which version is more widely used. ;)

The people I feel sorry for are those who are fluent in some variant of English, yet are non-native speakers, especially where their primary langauge is more literal in nature. Spelling differences are usually the least of their comprehension problems.
I can't say about the former Commonwealth (excepting India and Pakistan) and the UK, but American English is extremely contextual, especially when adding in regional differences, idiom, slang and jargon. For Indians and Pakistanis, one has to be quite specific and avoid lapsing into less formal usages to avoid miscomprehension on the part of the listeners.
Jay Dauro
79. J.Dauro
The Not So Dark One @76

As Brandon said, pretty much everyone can get a copy of the book to read for free. Borrow it, libraries, etc.

He was hoping by providing a way to get it easily, to entice new readers to his work. In the hope that they will purchase his other books. Besides, some of us also bought the hardcover, because we like books.

In addition he has provided early revisions of the work, for folks that like to see how the book evolved. He also provides annotations of his books, discussing how they developed and changed as he wrote them, along with explanations of what he is trying to accomplish in a chapter. He tries to help mentor new writers, he teaches courses on writing fantasy and SF. Also he participates in a blog called Writng Excuses on the subject.

If Warbreaker was the first of his you have read, get Mistborn. The trilogy is an excellent treatment of twists to a number of Fantasy tropes.
James Jones
80. jamesedjones
60 Wolfmage

Try the Gap series by Stephen R Donaldson. It's Sci-Fi, but I think you'll get the politics you're looking for. It's all about maneuvering military threats to engineer politcal advantage. Unfortunately, that means you have to sit through 3 books of painful infodump before the action starts. :)
81. Lost in my own Mind

I have always found Moiraine's treatment of Rand to be the real problem. She drive's me nuts. One thing that really annoys me that I haven't heard others mention is how often she has been wrong about the big stuff and Rand was right to go his own way; yet she still calls him a fool for ignoring her. In Ruidean she explcitly says what a mess he made of Tear because he didn't listen to her, but he was right in tear not her. If he had listened to her he wouldn't have the Aiel behind him and would likely be dead. She was also wrong to try to stop him from going to Tear in TDR, and wrong to tell him not to take the Aiel out of the waste. I have a similar problem with Egwene, they both need a little humility.
Marcus W
82. toryx
Freelancer @ 49.

For those indicators to be so strong and him NOT be a forsaken, was a neon sign that he's a hardcore DF.

I don't know, I think those indicators also suggest an Aiel or a borderlander. Both groups have a strong upper lip about things like that, and seem to be willing to more or less accept things as they are without freaking out about it (or so much as batting an eye).

Miythrandir @ 67

Like others, I felt loss at Rand losing his innocence. One would expect this from an anti-hero character like Mat, but to see it from the hero felt off.

Really? You're the first person I've seen who was disappointed that Rand lost his virginity, and I'm pretty sure I read all the previous comments.

I don't think that Rand has become lecherous in any way. He is just an ordinary guy dealing with the standard hormonal issues of youth. And few people who finds themselves falling in love with multiple people ever expect that to be a possibility: our culture (and Rand's as well) doesn't accept it. But that doesn't mean that it can't or won't happen. Rand's inner turmoil with this is pretty understandable, given his background but I don't think that he's at all wrong for feeling the way he does, and I definitely don't think poorly of him for giving in to nature's call when Aviendha urges him onward.

He may be the Dragon Reborn but he's human first.

On Brandon Sanderson: I hate to say it, but I've tried both Warbreaker and the Mistborn series and I've not been able to finish either one. I think he does a fine enough job with the writing, but the stories just don't do anything for me. I'm hoping I'll feel differently when WoT 12 comes out.

Edit to correct a couple of grammatical errors.
Joseph Blaidd
83. SteelBlaidd
Thanks for the congratulations all, this will be our second.

My favorite description of the futility of proscriptive English.
"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that
English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow
words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways
to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."--James D. Nicoll

One of the things I've always liked about this sequence is that Rand's first thought is not to chase but to gather blankets and clothes.

In Mr. Ringo's defense he thinks his "hero" in the Kildar series in one messed up puppy to.
Karen Walters
84. Wrenza
UK English (that just does not look right) is full of idioms as well, I'm from the midlands orginally now living in Scotland - I can confuse the Scottish and they can still confuse me.

Congratulations Steel and I love the quote. Probably true of a lot of English history with other countries as well.
85. 4thAgeDragon

Aegnor, I deal with Real Life TPS reports too. You don't by any chance work with CBORD's Gold system?
Pete Pratt
86. PeteP
I think Avi may have liked Rand from well before seeing her fate in the Rings, before even Elayne started making out in the Stone with him. She seems to have as much problem with Rand being a Wetlander as any Aiel. Between giving up the Spear and seeing her fate to love Rand in the rings, she sure takes out all her anger over the situation on poor Rand....

On Warbreaker -- I almost stopped several times while reading. There is a pay off at the end, but the journey does not always move as fast as it should. It reads like a young man's novel -- written by a young man vs. written by someone with a whole lot more life experience.
Brian Kaul
87. bkaul
Wolfimage@68: You realize that a substantial portion of the American populace wholeheartedly disagrees with the ideals of the sexual revolution and believes it was a bad thing, right? It is, of course, your prerogative to agree with it rather than them, but why be so dismissive? Plenty of people in real life - and perhaps more relevant, the Duopotamians - believe that marriage is the proper context for sex, and that it loses something outside that relationship. No time travel is required, and whether you like the changes it brought or not, the sexual revolution never occurred in the Two Rivers.

Though while you're time traveling, it seems polygamy should become more acceptable, not less ... there's plenty of it in ancient (including Biblical) cultures, but the Greeks and Romans phased it out for Western civilizations. ;)

As for how it's written, personally, I prefer the "pan away" approach. Compare the Song of Ice and Fire series, where my reaction to half of Tyrion's POV chapters is "Wow, TMI!" ... I know some people who've stopped reading that series because it doesn't leave enough to the imagination. A skilled writer can get the point across and let the reader's imagination do the dirty work.

The Not So Dark One@76: Brandon Sanderson has an explanation of his reasoning behind giving away Warbreaker on his website.

Re: English: I had a high school English teacher who described the history of the English language as "taking the best parts" of all the others it encountered and integrating them in. Some old Anglo-Saxon roots, add in the more useful aspects of Norman French, etc.
Lannis .
88. Lannis
Wetlander @ 66: re: survey results... wow! And a big THANK YOU! for taking the time to compile them! :)

hoping @ 69: Congratulations to you, too! All health and happiness to your family! :)

tonka @ 72: Thanks for the weather-freeze answer... I was thinking the Dark One had turned up the furnace for everyone, too. Your answer makes sense.

Re: The Rand & Aviendha sex scene. I liked the "pan to the fire" mystique... left things to my imagination and didn't make it into a BOW CHICKA BOW WOW moment... kept the emotions of the scene in the forefront.

We actually discussed sex scenes in my Creative Writing classes! Which, for varying reasons (and of course the 20-somethings immaturity present) we were in giggles for most of the classes.

Basically, I was taught that writing good sex scenes is extremely difficult, because not only are you baring your characters down to their basic impulses, you're also at risk of alienating your audience that (hopefully) is identifying with your characters in some way. If you write a sex scene that involves something that individuals in your audience do not appreciate, are insulted by, or just down right don't find sexy or intriguing, you are in fact creating a gap between your characters and your audience that is difficult to straddle. Bad sex scenes (or even good ones that through subject matter don't--ahem--turn on your audience) can have a negative impact on your writing as a whole... some readers might decide to put the book down entirely. It's a tricky ground.

And lets just say that sex scene writing exercises we had to do were some of the most hilarious and pitiful pieces we'd read all year... ooh... I can almost feel a case of the giggles coming on...
89. Miythrandir
toryx @ 82

Thank you for being civil. sps49 @ 8 wrote, "And I am sad that Rand has briefly jumped onto the Lecher Mat bandwagon." How do you write in italics btw? Regardless, I agree that I'm definitely in the minority. Seems that the premarital sex rate in the US is at or above 90%.

I understand your feeling that it is natural for people to engage in premarital sex or rather that it is at least natural for Rand...stats and many many others would seemingly agree with you, but "popularity never was a test for truth." Don't get me wrong though - the humanistic world view has it's benefits. While it is true that many people give into temptation, many do not (I for one). Unfortunately, media typically only encourages the perspective that it is natural. My viewpoint is that the genders have strong attractions to each other in order to expedite the marital process, procreate, and to keep marriages intact. Though others may, I did not get married to have sex. People equate (not saying u are) having sex to drinking water...I see sexual matters through a prism of what I call natural conscience and being much more complex than this simplistic analogy.

I am a 26 y/o male (yes, male believe it or not) who had hormonal challenges like most everyone else, am happily married, certainly do not believe in polygamy (Wolfmage), and did not engage in this "natural" behavior despite persistent pressure to do so. God knows I'm being truthful.

I'll stop on my personal philosophy/life. Toryx et al., I apologize if I shared more than you all want to know. My intent is not to impose my beliefs on others but rather to respond to civil commentary.
Lannis .
90. Lannis
Miythrandir @ 89: check out the blue bbCode link just above the comment box.

Italics are basically this
(i)word(/i) with square brackets to make word. Enjoy! :)
Michael Catapano
91. hoping
I'm expecting a book in Nov (like many others here) not a child. Sorry for the misdirection. We did have 150 baby goats born this spring. :)

No the DO's touch didn't led to global warming but freeze the seasons at place. The Randland was caught in everlasting summer and the Seanchan in winter.

I seem to remember someone, maybe one of the chosen, saying something to that effect. But I'm still not certain. Do you know the reference?

By my calculations, it should be, at most, late spring, in Randland. Rand left the Mountains of the Mist in late winter. The trip to Tear, the time spent there and the sojourn in the Waste probably took about two months, hence my late spring estimate.

We first get Nyn's and El's POV about the unnatural heat early on in tFoH, ten days to fourteen days before where we are now.

We have many statements now from various characters as to the extreme heat and drought, more than the season would account for.

That is why I was always under the impression that there was definite heating going on.
93. Miythrandir
Thank you Lannis
Hugh Arai
95. HArai
PeteP@86: About Warbreaker reading like it was written by someone without a lot of life experience: I would say that's intentional. There's really only one POV character that isn't almost totally sheltered at the start, so to me anyway it's fitting they act and see events around them that way.
James Jones
96. jamesedjones
91 hoping

In reference to the response to Lannis 88: LMAO!

89 Miythrandir

I have nothing but respect for your beliefs and what you've done (or restrained from doing).

We have many examples of Rand's strength of will. I believe that his character was influenced from genetics, his soul of the dragon, and his upbringing in T2R. I firmly believe in normal circumstances he would have waited until marriage, but the wheel weaves...
Antoni Ivanov
97. tonka

Yes, The Path of Daggers,chapter two.

I use Ideal Seek (link)

That's quite useful

And your estimate is wrong. You forget that there were time between TDR and TSR and time between TSR and TFOH. And according to which I trust 99% because it has proven 99% accurate, TFOH is hot hot summer. (July, August or Tammaz
Michael Catapano
98. hoping
thanks for the link. I've never seen the site before
Antoni Ivanov
99. tonka
And your estimate is wrong. You forget that there were time between TDR and TSR and time between TSR and TFOH off screen. And according to which I trust 99% because it has proven 99% accurate, TFOH is hot hot summer. (July, August or Tammaz)

PS : And yeah, Mistborn is really really good. I recommend it :)
Alice Arneson
100. Wetlandernw
hoping @91

Check Steven Cooper's WoT Chronology; it's got a really well-researched timeline for everything that happens. According to that, it's early September at this point.

*edit: guess I got too long-winded on the rest of this, so several people beat me to the Chronology link. *

Miythrandir et al

I too was saddened by Rand's loss of virginity, though I didn't explicitly say so in my earlier post. Partly, of course, that is my own personal beliefs, which are pretty much in accordance with Miythrandir's statement @89. However, I can manage the moral equivalent of "suspension of disbelief" for the culture in the book's world, and it still makes me sad. Maybe more so. Rand has always identified himself as "a shepherd from the Two Rivers", and this is something he knows he shouldn't have done. Maybe the Pattern forced him into it, but it bothers him that he's just done something totally outside his own moral code. And of course Aviendha, with a completely different cultural standard, won't let him make it right with his beliefs. In context, I'm not saying she should, but it's tough for Rand and it makes me sad for him.

In the context of our current culture, a lot of people think it's great that Rand & Avi "finally" had sex, just like a lot of people think he's just dumb to refuse to kill a woman. In both cases, I defend Rand's perspective. He was raised in a culture which values human life and the human person, where each one has strengths to be used for the good of all, and each one has weaknesses to be covered by the strengths of others. One of the ways they protect the value of each person is to limit sexual intercourse to the context of marriage. Another way is that those who are physically stronger (men) guard and protect those who are physically weaker (women) from physical harm.

(I won't go into a list of other ways, or the ways in which the women's strengths cover the men's weaknesses. A thoughtful reader can find those quite readily for himself. I also won't go into why it's so different among the Aiel than the Two Rivers, pretty much for the same reason. Also, in both cases, because this is quite long enough already.)

So what I'm saying is that I respect Rand's moral code and personally, I feel sad for Rand when he breaks it, and defensive for him when he holds to it against terrible odds. The fact that I agree with most of it probably makes it easier to respect. Even for characters whose standards I disagree with, though, I think understanding their culture is a big factor in enjoying the books without feeling the need to throw something heavy - at least, not very often. That's why my paperbacks have survived 8 or 10 rereads. ;)
Michael Catapano
101. hoping
My estimate depends on when they left in TDR. Probably two weeks from the Mountains of the Mist to Tear. I think Rand spent two weeks in Tear prior to leaving for the Waste. No more than a month in the waste including travel to alcair, time hanging in rhuidean and then the mad dash to the wetlands.
Could not connect to the link
James Jones
102. jamesedjones
101 hoping

Is that WOT weeks (10 days) or reality weeks (7 days)? ;)
Marcus W
103. toryx
Miythrandir @ 89:

Well, I respect other people's opinions, even if they are far from my own. Otherwise, what's the point of discussing them on a forum?

I saw sps49's comment, but at the time I thought he was joking. Oops. My bad.

My feelings about how natural it is to have premarital sex is kind of aside from my feelings for how natural it is for Rand to have premarital sex. With Rand, he doesn't really have much of a chance to get married at all. As the Dragon Reborn he seems to believe he has even less to offer a bride than Lan.

Of course, he also doesn't understand women at all and he still can't quite deal with his interest in Elayne and Aviendha and Min. Until Aviendha grabs hold of his hair in the pivotal sex scene, he thought she couldn't stand him at all, even as he found himself falling in love with her.

But you already know all that. My point is, the guy doesn't have much chance to expect to have a normal life in any way, especially when it comes to marriage. If there was ever an argument for premarital sex, I'd think that's it. He deserves to have at least some pleasure and experience some closeness with a loved one before he has to sacrifice himself to save the world.

I realize that's an idea that's very contrary to Christian beliefs (which insist that Jesus went to the cross a virgin) but again, he's only the Dragon Reborn, not christ.

As for my own outside beliefs, I think sex is natural and marriage is not. But that's neither here nor there. I don't care whether people are polygamous, monogamous, polyamorous or celibate, as long as they do no harm to others.

One of the things I love about this series is that even with his decidely southern male viewpoint, Jordan did a great job of presenting different points of view about morality. I wish he'd been more successful at that in his portrayal of female perspectives, but you can't have everything.
Brian Kaul
104. bkaul
Wetlandernw@100: Very well said. I agree entirely.
Michael Catapano
105. hoping
tonka and wet
thanks for the link
an impressive work
I stand corrected
Kurt Lorey
106. Shimrod
@ tonka.

Is it true that 85% of all your statisitcs are completely fabricated out of whole cloth?

Or, have you really had 100 questions about Wot chronology, and have agreed with the website in question 99 times? And, you kept meticulous records of your research?

This old saw comes to mind.

Ninety-three percent of the people who use statistics in their arguments just make them up, and the rest get the numbers wrong.
Alice Arneson
107. Wetlandernw
toryx @103

My point is, the guy doesn't have much chance to expect to have a normal life in any way, especially when it comes to marriage. If there was ever an argument for premarital sex, I'd think that's it. He deserves to have at least some pleasure and experience some closeness with a loved one before he has to sacrifice himself to save the world.

The thing is, even Rand doesn't see it that way. He doesn't have any choice about being the Dragon Reborn, but through the whole series, he fights to remain himself while doing what has to be done as DR. Part of remaining himself is to hold to his own standards of conduct, and he rarely makes excuses for his actions based on whining about "I deserve a little happiness." And on those occasions, it's pretty clear from his POV that he is making excuses and he knows it. From a TR background, all the excuses in the world don't justify doing what you know is wrong (whether the readers agree that it's wrong or not).
108. Mark-S
For the Survey

RL Age 39
WoT Age 12
2 Children
Ajah: Brown

So.. I'm pretty dang average
Pete Pratt
109. PeteP
HARai @95 ON Warbreaker -- Yes, POV of the 2 sisters is intentionally naive and young. But given that one of the major characters is 300+ years old, it should hold for the entire work. Sanderson is a young Mormon guy from Provo, Utah who just barely got married. Given the amount of writing he has done, it most likely has spent most of his life behind a computer. He does very well for all of that -- BUT RJ was an older man with great life experiences. There is something to be said about people who have lived a full life before they start writing novels.
Marcus W
110. toryx
Wetlandernw @ 107:

I see your point and I think you're right about Rand's perspective. Rand really doesn't see it the way I was arguing and his internal struggle definitely is reason for sympathy.

I do think, however, that the intimacy he just experienced with Aviendha and later with the other women in the triad are necessary to keep him grounded in his humanity. It may be at the sacrifice of the standards of conduct he was raised with but still necessary. It's not entirely effective: he still ends up becoming as hard (and brittle) as iron but you have to wonder where he'd be if he didn't have these three women to touch him both physically and emotionally. I think it helps keep him human.

The other thing that I think is happening, however, is that he's kind of coming to question some of his standards of conduct and why he believes what he does; which he needs to do in order to relate to the greater world around him. He resists causing harm to women because of his upbringing in the TR but he's also taught by his experience of knowing Aes Sedai and the aiel that just because it's the way he was raised it doesn't automatically mean that's the right (or only) way. Which coincidentally, is also happening in the Two Rivers with the influx of all the outsiders.

Another reflection of that whole struggle is also represented in the conflict with the newly awakening (created) Lews Therin personality.

It does seem odd that Egwene doesn't seem to have the same kind of struggles in these areas. She has little trouble throwing off a lot of the standards of her upbringing.
111. Rand Al'Todd
"BUT RJ was an older man with great life experiences. There is something to be said about people who have lived a full life before they start writing novels."

On the whole, I agree with you.

But philosophically, I have to say that some people can have more life experiences by 25 than others by 75.

Also, hopefully you do not have to experience a rape, a war, a divorce, death of a loved one, etc. in order to be able to understand the issues well enough to write about them. I hope there is some value to experiencing such things vicariously by reading about people who have experienced them.

Admittedly, some people only learn from BAD EXPERIENCE and some never learn at all. And some people are just better writers than others.

It could be that Sanderson's being a Mormon influences his writing so that he does not TRY to express certain emotions, attitudes, opinions, etc.

Or maybe he wanted to keep his viewpoint "intentionally naive and young" as more fitting for his target audience. (Caveat: I haven't read the subject series and I don't know the main target audience.)
112. Aegnor

A TPS report is a fictional report made up for the movie Office Space. The main character forgets to use the new header for his TPS report and has this string of managers stopping by to "make sure he got the memo" about the new header on the TPS report.


Hehe, no I don't work there. Where I work the TPS stands for Third Party Software, and you fill out this report when you want to obtain and use software developed by someone else. They are a big pain.
Luke M
113. lmelior
@HArai #37
Anyone living in a country refusing to use the metric system has no room to talk about getting rid of silly things.

Touché (heh, irony intended)! I concede, Americans lose on that front. For the most part I can "think" in metric, but I still have to mentally convert some measurements.

@Shimrod #76
Good link! One thing I didn't see in there that I come across often in forums is people from the UK changing -lled to -lt, e.g. spelled to spelt.

In case anybody is wondering, I bring up language nuances often because I share my office at work with a guy who speaks British English but writes American English, so it comes up a lot.
Don Barkauskas
114. bad_platypus
Good link! One thing I didn't see in there that I come across often in forums is people from the UK changing -lled to -lt, e.g. spelled to spelt.

Sanderson had a blog post (or a Tweet, I don't remember) about this, where he commented that he had used "smelt" at one point and an editor wanted it changed to "smelled." BS then searched WoT works and found that RJ had used "smelt" once---in tEotW, IIRC---and "smelled" the rest of the time. The copy edit then came back with "smelled" and BS went with that.

Not really a point here, just thought it was interesting.
Hugh Arai
115. HArai
PeteP@109: Every reader takes something different away from a novel, so I won't claim your impressions are more or less valid than my own. Will be interesting to see if you feel the same way about Gathering Storm
Kurt Lorey
116. Shimrod
@113 lmelior.

Here's my pet peeve UK word: whilst.

And, non-native English speakers all across Europe use that word to distraction.

In fairness, non-American English speakers should feel free to place their least favorite (common) American English word in here.
Jason Deshaies
117. darxbane
For everyone who has issues with the pattern saving everyone, it is good to remember that most, if not all, of the characters have lived past lives. Much of what they do "unconsciously" is just an old memory that bubbles into their present consciousness. Now, if the Creator decides that the best souls will be reactivated for the battle that saves all he creates, and the separation of their lives be less opaque then usual, then is that the Creator's prerogative? The Creator may not have a direct hand, but there is definitely some divine assistance being given to the good guys. There has to be a balance, after all.

Wolfmage - RJ was a conservative and so is Brandon, so they can't all be bad, right (uh-oh, I hope you won't boycott the series now that you know the authors are "Crazy Conservatives" :-))
Rich Bennett
118. Neuralnet
The investment/stockbroker speak as an intro gave me the heebie-jeebies since I instantly thought of the phrase "past performance does not guarentee future results" that is the ubiquitous disclaimer of the investment world. Lets hope it doesnt apply to the WoT series... I am really optimistic that the next book will be one of the better ones in the series. ::fingers crossed::
Tess Laird
119. thewindrose
Wetlandernw @65
Wow and thank you!
What a pattern we weave. It has been great getting to know all of you, and also great that some lurkers have come out - and will hopefully continue to comment.

Rand and Aviendha. I think we all saw this coming. The wise ones have her sleeping next to him every night. She is by his side, for the most part all day long (brief interludes to go and learn how to be a wise one). Attracted to each other and they have also been through a great deal of tramatic events and TG is coming - it all helps to push them to what happened in The Far Snows. I am glad RJ left it to our own minds.
Have you all noticed that the first time with each of Rands three - the girl was the one to start it?
Joseph Blaidd
120. SteelBlaidd
The wide veriety of sexual mores that Jordan portrays is one of the things that helps give WoT its feeling of deepseated reality to me.

I've always apreaciated that Jordon recognized that in sex in pre-industrial cultres has a much greater conection to the structures that help deal with it's consiquences (i.e. children).

Now, as I we talk about Rand's moral aproach to the issue remember that as he tries to understand Aviendha he thinks that in the TR sex between engaged couples was normal, though not approved of (i.e. you did not want to get caught :-P ). So he goes from feeling severly gulty for his behavior with both Avihenda and Min to being almost excesivly comfortable with it for Elayne and again Min. The seperator being when he became Bonded to the three girls, an event that makes them just about as married as it is possible to be by any standard :-D
James Jones
121. jamesedjones
110 toryx

It does seem odd that Egwene doesn't seem to have the same kind of struggles in these areas. She has little trouble throwing off a lot of the standards of her upbringing.

Other than thinking that Mat is a lecherous idiot. None of the ladies from T2R can seem to shake that prejudice.
Brian Kaul
122. bkaul
While I like Mat, I would have to say that the girls are just being observant when they consider him to be lecherous. It's in thinking that he, being a man, is therefore an idiot that they're prejudiced.

(Whether you agree that there's anything wrong with lechery or not, his behavior does fit the definition.)
Hugh Arai
123. HArai
bkaul@122: The definition I found first is: 'inordinate indulgence in sexual activity'.
That immediately brings one against the question of whether Mat's amount of sexual activity is inordinate (definition found: 'exceeding reasonable limits'), and is a matter of personal opinion.
124. bbelch
this link is not on the index page for the reread yet, and I think you may be mistaken about the "need for sex" being a modern problem, otherwise why would the oldest profession in the world be sex? However, I totally agree with you that jordan's unwritten version is better than a descriptive scene.
Brian Kaul
125. bkaul
HArai@123: That's a valid point. The definition I was thinking of had "unrestrained" rather than "inordinate." By Two Rivers standards, at least, inordinate would seem to apply too, though in that case it is more of an example of the girls sticking with the moral standards they were raised with. "Unrestrained" seems more detached - he isn't restrained by Two Rivers, or any other, standards other than his own (which seem to amount to little beyond not raping anyone - the sexual revolution may not have occurred in the Two Rivers, but it did for Mat in Tear and thereafter).
Shaylyn Austin
126. Ispan
About the Cairhienin groveling in that way, some comfort can be found in clinging to well defined customs you've followed your entire life when everything else seems uncertain. Their entire world is in an upheaval and Rand grants them a small comfort by not disrupting something that is custom in their country. The groveling is gross, but maybe now's not the time to try to break them of "bad habits."

I agree with many of you in appreciation of the off-screen sex. While reading A Song of Fire and Ice I skipped several pages because the vivid sex scenes bothered me. Skipping those kinds of sex scenes in books doesn't cause me to miss out on any of the story. I mean, I get it: there's incest, rape, etc. I just don't need pages of graphic sexual content to convey those points!
j p
127. sps49
Miythrandir @89 et al-

My comment at 8 bemoaned the fact that Rand briefly thought of Mat as a lecher, just like the girls do, which I think is incorrect.

Recall that Mat is rarely treated well by the Supergirls, including their belief that he is somehow forcing his attentions on diverse females everywhere he goes. This is rooted in Nyneave and Egwene's 2R history with him, which they allow to color their current perceptions of her.

I was mentally cheering on the igloo occupants. I remember my first time, and I am not going to feel regret when anyone else, fictional or not, also gains that experience. As long as nothing bad happens to either.
Pete Pratt
128. PeteP
I am very interested in seeing what Sanderson can do with the Gathering Storm. I think he is a very talented young writer who should do a very good job continuing tWoT. But he is a young writer, getting a massive leg up due to his connection to Robert Jordan. When I think of master novelists, most are not young. I think that the upcoming battles scenes, which some people complain about as not possessing enough detail, are very influenced by RJ's personal battle experiences. Now, not every writer who has a battle in his book needs to be an experienced combat soldier, but it defintely has influenced many.

Orson Scott Card was another young Mormon writer out of Provo, Utah, who may have done some of his best work before he hit 40. Even so, Ender's Game (still one of my favorite books) is a young man's book. Speaker for the Dead is a very different book, but even though they were published soon after each other, because Ender's game was a novella writen when Card was young.

Writing in someone else's universe is not the same as developing your own. I fully believe that Sanderson is capable of completing Jordan's work and writing in Jordan's style. I am very glad that AMoL was expanded to 750k words rather than squeezed into 375k and that Sanderson is endeavoring to complete the work as Jordan would have.

Given all that, I do wonder whether Warbreaker was expanded to almost 600 pages merely because Sanderson is now working on tWoT. It was a good book and enjoyable, but the story could have done better in 300 pages.
Helen Peters
129. Helen
@121 Another thing the 2R girls cannot get over is that Berelain is a tart, everytime we see Berelain in one of their POVs they're thinking she's a tart, though not in that language. Now that is something that annoys me about the supergirls, she's not!

@127 Eg knows and acknowledges in her POV (I think when Nyn and Elayne leave Salidar) that Mat would never force himself on anyone, that he only chooses girls to flirt with that want him to flirt with them.

@83 So you're saying that the English language is basically like Egwene? :)
Hugh Arai
130. HArai
bkaul@125: I disagree with your "little more than not raping anyone" comment.

'He liked giving things to pretty women, even if all he got in return was a smile. He never expected more. If a woman did not enjoy a kiss and a cuddle as much as he did, what was the point?'

Mat does not go any farther than the woman wants to. He makes no pretense at being committed to one woman, but I seems to me he has also either been rediculously ta'veren lucky with his choices every single time or he is very careful to treat the women well, not only in their eyes but the eyes of the people around them. Otherwise it is hard to explain how there are no angry families, friends or employers. It seems like his lack of commitment is the only complaint no matter where he goes Tear, Ebou Dar, Cairhien, the Waste. It will be interesting to see how or if his behavior changes now that he's married Tuon.
April Vrugtman
131. dwndrgn
PeteP said: Given all that, I do wonder whether Warbreaker was expanded to almost 600 pages merely because Sanderson is now working on tWoT. It was a good book and enjoyable, but the story could have done better in 300 pages.

I'm not sure whether this has any bearing on anything but wanted to note that several rough drafts of the manuscript for Warbreaker were posted at his website and thoroughly commented on and 'guest edited' by his visitors. His re-writes strongly reflected those comments. I doubt that gratuitous bloat (great band name!) would have lasted through all of that and a real-life editor.
Sara H
132. LadyBelaine

@121 Another thing the 2R girls cannot get over is that Berelain is a tart, everytime we see Berelain in one of their POVs they're thinking she's a tart, though not in that language. Now that is something that annoys me about the supergirls, she's not!

Maybe she is to us but do not forget, she is notorious for using sex as a tool of statecraft. She might not actually sleep with anyone like that, but her reputation is built on the fact that "she uses her beauty like a weapon."

Never forget, when they were all cooped up in the Stone of Tear together, she was flouncing about in Rand's chambers in her lingerie. It was no great secret that she tried to seduce Rand to secure political aims. Setting aside the morality of a the gorgeous nubile ruler of weak state using sex to aid her nation (which I, personally, have no problems with), the Supergirls are all fairly prim and the product of their prudish culture(s). They would obviously disapprove. Plus, Berelain's boobs are always on display.

I don't know if the Supergirls are aware of Berelain's other running side-plot, of trying to steal Perrin from Faile just because she made an 'Ogier's Oath.'

I love Berelain though. I remember cheering when she tossed Faile around like a ragdoll with her sneaky secret Kung-fu!
Antoni Ivanov
133. tonka
By Lecher Rand and the supergirls mean that Mat sleep with many women. Which is not per Two River's moral code. Hence Rand think himself as a lecher because he does the same (3 women)
Hugh Arai
134. HArai
Helen@129: She's not, but she seems to rely herself on presenting the image that she could be. Besides offering herself to Rand at Tear was hardly the best way to get a good impression from Elayne and Egwene :).

PeteP@128: You wonder if Sanderson doubled his page count just because he's working on the WoT? Because of some marketing plan or because of an influence from RJ's style? The WoT books are one of the most common examples I've seen people use when they say a book would have been better if it was shorter.
Marcus W
135. toryx
Jamesedjones @ 121:

The Two Rivers girls in general tend to be pretty prejudiced and fairly hypocritical as well. Nynaeve is always giving men the rough side of her tongue when they curse but she doesn't hesitate to curse up a blue streak when she feels like it. And then there's Egwene, frowning on Mat for his "lecherous" ways and always being so offended by Aviendha sleeping in Rand's tent and rooms but she sure does seem to have enjoyed her wild night in Gawyn's dream (though admittedly, she reminds herself of that often -- and then dismisses it as not the same.

I really kind of wonder what would have happened if Galad had been both beautiful and not so goody goody. Would Egwene still have chosen Gawyn if Galad had pressed his case at all?

Harai @ 130:

I agree completely with your post.

I also think that it's not difficult for Mat (or any rakish, handsome man) to find women who enjoy a "kiss and a cuddle." It seems to be pretty common for tavern maids and servant girls to be fairly forward with their charms. The Two Rivers tends to be more reserved than quite a lot of the outside world in general.
Antoni Ivanov
136. tonka
@110 toryx

Egwene is different .She was the only one who volunteer to leave Two Rivers(she demanded it actually).While the boys were less than eager and were forced that, the same for Nyneave who felt oblige to save the rest as Wisdom.
She didn't have any trouble accepting she is an Aes Sedai and can channel despite every other man or woman's (from her village) revulsion of anything to do with the One Power. She leaps for the chance to learn anything and she is extremely good at fitting in any society - She is part Aiel, part Two River, part Aes Sedai. And she is doing good job of it.
Hugh Arai
137. HArai
tonka@136: Now all we need to do is find her a society where women don't insist men are idiots solely because they are men and channelers don't insist they are right solely because they are channelers :)
138. frosted
I think I'm one of the few people that didn't enjoy Warbreaker. I actually find myself hit and miss with Sanderson's works, I loved the first Mistborn novel but disliked the second to the point where it's one of the few books I regret buying in hardback.

I really thought Mistborn two was just a one off, suffer from "middle child" of the trilogy, but then I didn't like Warbreaker. I read the draft he had up on his site, one of the later ones, but didn't feel compelled enough to want to read the last one he posted to his site or to read the completed novel. I felt that some characters had little reason to act as they did, the mercenaries felt like cardboard cutouts, and the ending felt rushed, with the reveal of who was manipulating events being trite and not at all interesting. The entire book all the characters felt so happy-go-lucky it bothered me.

I think I've just become jaded or have read too much GRRM, I never felt as if any of them were in danger.

It really bothered me when I thought about it since I had been so impressed with the first Mistborn, especially with how completely different it was from other books in the genre. I'm sure he will do a good job with WOT and will only get better the more he writes.

tl;dr : Sanderson is a great author, but I didn't like some of his work as much as I like the rest.
Brian Kaul
139. bkaul
HArai@130: I think maybe I was too concise, because I don't really disagree with you there.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that he won't press matters further than any woman is willing. (In other words, he won't rape anyone.)

He's willing to sleep with any attractive woman who willingly responds to his advances, though. I can't think of an instance before he meets Tuon where he restrains himself. That's what I was getting at when I said his restraints amounted to "little more" than the aforementioned fact that he would never rape anyone. Apart from that, he is unrestrained.

I wasn't trying to say that he comes as close to raping as possible while stopping short. I meant that apart from a (strong and consistent) pattern of only engaging in such activities with willing participants, there seem to be few other restraints that he considers. He doesn't restrict his procreational activities to marriage or committed relationships, but readily engages in one-night stands with the barmaids at the inns and taverns he frequents, or at least has earned a reputation for doing so.

By Two Rivers (or traditional real-world) standards, that is lecherous behavior. I still like him as a character, but I don't see a need to sugar-coat that and pretend that he's got the same standards as Rand (who's faithful to his harem), Perrin (who's faithful to his wife), or the girls (who'd be judgmental regardless since, after all, he's a man).

It will indeed be interesting to see whether/how married life changes him. :)
Marcus W
140. toryx
tonka @ 133:

People keep talking about how Mat goes sleeping around with so many women. We've only seen outright proof that he does more than a "kiss and a cuddle" with the aiel DF (whose name I've forgotten) and the Queen of Ebou Dar (whose name also escapes my memory atm). Given how obvious RJ was about the relationship with those two women in contrary with all the supposed others in Tear and wherever else, I'm personally pretty skeptical. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think Mat lost his virginity to the Aiel DF. He surely gets around more than the rest of the TR folk but I don't think he's nearly the scamp everyone makes him out to be.

And @ 136:

I agree that Egwene's different, but she still goes around hemming and hawing at every perceived indiscretion.

Sorry, I just read an Egwene POV chapter from LoCs and she got me all riled up. Again.
James Jones
141. jamesedjones
137 HArai

I'm not sure she'd be interested in learning that culture. Sounds a bit too honorable and decent. :P
James Jones
142. jamesedjones
139 Bkaul

He doesn't restrict his procreational activities to marriage or committed relationships, but readily engages in one-night stands with the barmaids at the inns and taverns he frequents.

Don't forget the other side of that equation; he hasn't pursued any adultery. That's a pretty big restriction when you've got all those noble ladies telling Rand about how often their husbands spend away from their home. Mat was a close confidant of the dragon. It's reasonable to assume he got some of the same.
Brian Kaul
143. bkaul
jamesdjones@142: That is a good point. He doesn't try to take anyone else's woman, just all of them that aren't spoken for yet*. I'll revise my characterization of his personal sexual mores to forbid both rape and adultery, while being otherwise unrestrained.

* I just finished TDR in my re-read (I started a bit late), and noticed that Mat is hitting on Aviendha, Chiad, and Bain in Tear. Aviendha just about skinned him alive (leading to a comment about all women being odd, but Aiel women making odd look normal), and he couldn't get either Bain or Chiad alone without the other, but he did try. He was going for every pretty girl he encountered, at that point.
James Jones
144. jamesedjones
143 Bkaul

...otherwise very unrestrained. It's gotta be taveren luck that he hasn't caught the Nine Horse Hitch.
Jay Dauro
145. J.Dauro
I don't believe Mat has engaged in any procreational activities. From what I have seen, I believe he is perfectly aware of the properties of heartleaf tea. (Although we do not see it explicitly, it fits with his character.)
Brian Kaul
146. bkaul
While I meant it merely as a euphemism, I wouldn't be surprised if there are a bunch of little Matlings in the vicinity of Tear ... even modern contraceptives aren't perfect, and herbal remedies have historically had very low effectiveness.
Roger Powell
147. forkroot
It will indeed be interesting to see whether/how married life changes him. :)

Maybe it's my imagination, but I thought there was an internal Mat POV in KoD after he "married" Tuon where he was resigned to monogamous behavior.

Thanks for acknowledging my bad pun. I suspect most of the other posters refrained because they don't want to encourage me!

And yes I was waiting for the Far Snows part of the reread although I actually used it once before when we were discussing the Rand/Avi hookup in advance.

I think you've hit on one of RJ's "design decisions". IMO, he was deliberately vague about a lot of the sexual encounters that may (or may not) have occurred so that the reader can interpret the story through their own lens and sensibilities.

Obvious some encounters were central to the plot, so those were written about (albeit panned to the fire.) Rand's "firsts" with AME and Mat's "adventures" with Tylin come to mind.

Speaking of the latter, I anticipate a robust discussion in this forum when Mat makes it Ebou Dar. Wolf, Free, Shim, Sub, Wet, AMW, et al .. you all do make it interesting!
Pete Pratt
148. PeteP
Frosted @138-- I think you hit on my thoughts on Warbreaker as to the weaknesses of the work. As I said originally, the whole thing felt like a book written by a young man without tremendous life experience.

I personally love long books. I do not like long books that tell small stories. I have never complained about the length of tWoT books, except to say that Path of Daggers and Crown of Swords were too short. While the first 6 WoT books really were self-contained books (with 4-6 some of the longest in the series. 7-9 felt like one long book, and 10-11 felt like one long book, but I read tWoT as one very very long book these days.

I feel really sorry for those who did not do a re-read before each new book, because it would way too confusing without the details fresh. I fully understand why those people stopped reading after any of book 7, 8, 9, or 10 -- but I still blame them for not preparing to read the new book.

I have introduced the Wheel of Time to more than thirty people, all the way back from tDR. My brother has refused to read them to this day, waiting until the series is complete. If I had not started it in 1991, I think I might have done the same.
Brian Kaul
149. bkaul
Maybe it's my imagination, but I thought there was an internal Mat POV in KoD after he "married" Tuon where he was resigned to monogamous behavior.

You're probably right. It's been a long time since I read the last few books; I don't remember.
Alice Arneson
150. Wetlandernw
Jumping back in on a couple of things...

toryx@110 (and others on the same subject)
It does seem odd that Egwene doesn't seem to have the same kind of struggles in these areas. She has little trouble throwing off a lot of the standards of her upbringing.

I don't think Egwene really does "throw off" her standards, nor do any of the other EF kids except Mat. All of them have to learn to deal with life out in the big wide world, which is less sheltered than their little village, so some of their perceptions change, but their moral standards stay pretty much the same.

So, Mat first...I think RJ deliberately left Mat's sex life to the reader to decide, other than Melindhra and Tylin. Does "a kiss and a cuddle" mean a bed or not? Some will interpret it to mean one thing, some another. Decide for yourself. Obviously he enjoys whatever he's doing. In one way you could say that he "threw off" the standards he was raised with, but I think a great deal of that comes from the combination of his own personality with the influx of memories from his Old Blood/Eelfinn connections. He was a bit of a rascal at home, the guy who would definitely try for a few kisses from a pretty girl, but probably not much more. If nothing else, he's smart enough to know that he could end up married to the girl if he's not careful. Out there in the big wide world, though, and with all those other men's memories in his head, he's pretty willing take what he's offered. He still keeps most of his TR standards, though.

Perrin doesn't do anything against his own standards except become a fighter, which isn't wrong but just isn't something he was inclined toward until the Pattern forces it. (I know, some of you are just sure he and Faile slept together before their wedding, but I honestly don't think the text supports that.) He pretty much sticks with the TR code all the way through.

Nynaeve changes mostly in deciding to become Aes Sedai and developing a liking for silk instead of wool, which doesn't conflict with any moral standard. (Someone up there claimed that all TR folks hate channelers, or something to that effect. Not true. Go back and read the books again.) She changes in her own perceptions of the world and her position in it (though that takes a long time and doesn't change much!), but her standards remain pretty much the same.

Egwene goes out and learns new all sorts of new stuff, but I don't see her moral standards changing in any way except possibly her willingness to place expediency higher on the priority list. We see her decide that sometimes, to do what she deems necessary, she will break the rules and pay the price. Not knowing what she was like as a child, we don't know if that's a change or not. Her time in Gawyn's dreams pushes the limits, but she does know it's a dream and so far she hasn't hit the sack with him in real life. She certainly changes her goals in life, but I don't see her standards changing much.

Which leaves Rand, poor guy. I think he must have decided that the triple-bonding more or less constituted a very strange sort of marriage ceremony, since the girls weren't taking no for an answer and each one loves and is committed to him. And since they're all okay with the setup, he seems to just give in. (Hey, in the TR a wedding was done by the Women's Circle, and with all that weaving, the bonding sure is some sort of a women's circle!) In any case, though he seems bemused by the whole concept of three wives, he's much more relaxed about it after that.

*p.s. Sorry about the great long ramble...
151. Latecomer
I was one of those who said 'FINALLY!' when Far Snows happened. This had nothing to do with morality/ my own thoughts on PMS. Rather, I was fed up with the frustration and complaining that Avi was demonstrating - I just did not get any of that 'delicious chemistry' vibe that some books have ; I'm reading Crown of Stars ATM :D and the pre-marriage scenes between Sanglant and Liath are so well written for this. Also for those who think that Mat is a lecher - you have GOT to read about Lord Wichman to get the true definition of lecher.

Wetlander - Thanks - you are awesome for putting those stats together.

SteelBlaidd - Congrats!

Frost - I'm with you. I LOVED MB1, was Meh about 2 and about 1/2 the way through 3. But the end made up for it all - AWESOME. LOVED it.

Warbreaker - I've only read a very early, semi-flawed draft. Will go start on the final ASAP - thanks for the heads-up.

Bye now!
Roger Powell
152. forkroot
Why the apology? It's a good post, and not as long as many. I, for one, appreciate posters like yourself who write well (no typos, names spelled correctly, thoughts given in complete sentences, and something original added.)

FWIW, I agree with you that Rand took the 3-way bonding as pretty much the equivalent of a marriage covenant. As the DR, it's likely all that would be available to him.

Personally, no matter how alluring and engaging they are, I can't imagine what being "married" to three strong-willed women would be like. Heaven knows, I'm happily married to just one, and that's plenty!
Don Barkauskas
153. bad_platypus

Maybe it's my imagination, but I thought there was an internal Mat POV in KoD after he "married" Tuon where he was resigned to monogamous behavior.

IIRC, he mused to himself that she couldn't expect him to stop looking at pretty women, but he'd "...have to stop chasing women, much less catching them."
Hugh Arai
154. HArai
Wetlandernw@150, Forkroot@152:

I think Rand's angst wasn't so much about being married or not as about being in love with all three equally. Not something the TR traditions take into account at all, so his reaction is "I must be a lecher" and beat himself up for not being faithful to one. After the bonding, when they all have proof he loves them, and they all love him and the women are ok with the situation, he accepts what he's feeling as valid.
Antoni Ivanov
155. tonka
@wetlander . (Someone up there claimed that all TR folks hate channelers, or something to that effect. Not true. Go back and read the books again.)

If you mean me ? Then you need to read the post again. I said "revulsion of anything to do with the One Power". Which is less or much true even Tam al'Thor is uneasy about the One Power with all his experience. But most of TR-ers don't want to have anything with the One Power. That doesn't mean that they hate Aes Sedai.Maybe I should have said "are at least uneasy" instead of "revolted by it" . My bad then.
William Fettes
156. Wolfmage
Darxbane @ 117

I’m not prejudiced against conservative writers, I just singled out Rand and Ringo as exemplars for a particular sub-genre of self-indulgent conservative fiction writing, which depends on thick layers of triumphalism and cardboard cut-out characters to ram home a particular political agenda. I certainly don’t think all conservative writers do this, and my point wasn’t that I only want liberal political beliefs affirmed in the literature I read either.

If any particular author harbours views I find particularly loathsome, conservative or otherwise, I may very well feel uneasy about supporting them financially, but I’m perfectly capable of appreciating their works, free from preconceptions, without first administering a political litmus test on the author. I’ve done this without prejudice all my life, and I happily enjoy many conservative authors accordingly, including the illustrious Tolkien himself.

When I read any political laden text, whether it has a liberal, conservative or libertarian gloss, I just want it to be at least somewhat sophisticated in the way it presents that agenda. That is, it ought to use the plot, dialogue, and allegorical devices to tease out its themes and create subtle narratives to flesh out that point of view. What it ought to avoid, however, is using paper-thin caricatures to clumsily ram an agenda down my throat, with one-dimensional soapbox characters who are merely there to act as vessels for the author’s big political rant, attacking some easy strawman target, like an effete terrorist-loving liberal. That kind of writing is just a contemptible form of peaching to the choir, and isn’t challenging or admirable, whether it is serving a liberal or conservative end. It is merely stoking the fires of polarisation with chronic confirmation bias, and it estranges us all from each other.

Personally, I love it when fantasy novels try to deal with timeless themes of political and moral philosophy, and that goes for conservative positions just as much as liberal ones. Accordingly I embrace and support drawing upon, say, the Burkean critique of the excesses of the French revolution, or the importance of institutions of law and family, or sexual morality issues in fiction. A conservative spin on these issues is entirely welcome, if it is written well and done in a way that doesn't insult the intelligence.

Also, for the record, Sanderson describes himself as a “half-liberal, half-Christian-nut-job fantasy novelist”. The conservative component of his beliefs appears very much anchored on certain social views he has taken from his affiliation with the LDS Church, particularly on the issue of gay marriage. Having said that, he certainly has some progressive views in other social policy domains, and his views on political economy are broadly egalitarian, even socialist. So, he is by no means a card-carrying movement conservative in the relevant sense. Having only read Mistborn the Final Empire, I can only say I've liked what I’ve read, and it hasn’t betrayed to me anything close to the ham-fisted political agenda I am talking about here.
Michael Thompson
157. TrollocBait
This is my first comment since tEotW (as michaelt), but I've been lurking since the beginning. Unfortunately, I don't lurk as fast as Leigh re-reads (although to be fair to Leigh, the blame lies with those who contribute 200+ comments on a slow day:)), as my wife insists I don't spend all evening staring at the computer (crazy, I know). I finally had to skip the last 15 posts in order to get caught up. I found myself wanting to comment on things and then realized that no one would be reading them. Anyways. . .

I definitely prefer "pan to fire" mode in books (and movies) as Parcheesi isn't a very exciting a very game to watch. If others think Rand and Avi had a three hour "romantic interlude", well, that's their prerogitive. :) For the record, I also think that Maiden's Kiss is the Randland version of Magic: The Gathering, except it must not be any fun, otherwise they wouldn't have to force people at spearpoint to play with them.

I missed the original survey request (one of those I skipped), but from what I could gather of the questions, here are my stats:
RL Age 28
WoT Age 16
3 Children
Ajah: Brown with a tint of Green (that color probably wouldn't look good on a shawl)
Education: BS in Electrical Engineering, starting my Master's Degree in August

This is a great thing we have here. I wish I had a couple more hours in the day to be able to stay abreast of it. Thanks Leigh!!
Roger Powell
158. forkroot
Welcome back. As an electrical engineer you undoubtedly know that in the 4th Age the Amyrlin will wear a ten-striped stole with the colors in the following order: Black, Brown, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Gray, and White.

I couldn't resist! :-)

Edit: OK, I apologize ... I'll try to stop.
159. Seamus1602

I believe, in at least certain ways, all the TR characters are defined by the ways they change and grow, both in terms of maturity and ideals, throughout the story.

Rand-While he obviously goes from monogamy to polygamy, I don't think that his views on marriage/sex had much bearing on 'The Far Snows', despite his mumbling in the aftermath. He doesn't know what to say and falls back on that. His hesitation and reluctance beforehand is much more based upon his view that Avi doesn't like him.

Mat-Develops chivalry, conscience, maturity, badassery; I sometimes try to imagine Mat pre-WOT, but all I can see is his hideousness pre-Shadar Logoth in EOTW. His biggest ideal change is that he embraces becoming a leader (in action, not thought)

Perrin-I always come back to how Perrin essentially needs to relearn how to behave around women to have a lasting relationship with Faile. I think the idea of 'hiding your anger from everyone else and showing it all to you wife' is quite an idealogical shift for Perrin.

Nynaeve-She becomes a woman in her own eyes. Basically Mat's quote from The Queen's Blessing in EOTW. That's a HUGE idealogical change, and one that she is constantly dealing with.

Egwene-Since her largest defining characteristic for the large part of the series is her ability to readily immerse herself in a given culture at any point in time, it's hard to point out one thing about her ideals that changes. I would say, though, that her largest idealogical shift is the point when she moves from student to teacher. IMO, this doesn't occur until KoD. She's one of few characters that is always ready and willing to learn. By KoD, she's completed her education and is now going to work as the teacher. This is not to say that she is done with all learning, but merely that her ideals have shifted (and she stops running around looking for adventure, she's found her home).

@wetlander - I don't disagree with everything in your post, but I felt inspired by your defense of their remaining values to point out the way in which I believe they've changed.
Michael Thompson
160. TrollocBait
She'll also have a gold or silver fringe to show how tolerant of an Amyrlin she is. :)

Sorry, too good to pass up.
Tess Laird
161. thewindrose
So, remember when we were casting for the WoT movie. Saw Megan Fox last night in the new TF movie, and I think she could do Lanfear - she wouldn't have to do too much real acting right - just look very good and be all crazy?
William Fettes
162. Wolfmage
Miythrandir @71
“My comments were certainly not a personal attack on you or anyone else so your comment's contempt is entirely unnecessary and misplaced.

I understand you have a differing viewpoint, and that is perfectly fine. It's OK to be different.”

It wasn’t expressing contempt so much as incredulity. As much as I don’t come from that perspective myself, I’m not exactly caught off guard by the fact that some do, and that some of those won’t read in a reasonably detached or disembodied way so as to not find characters having sex outside marriage to be uncomfortable or threatening. Nor am I surprised that there are those who may simply find in Rand’s own conflicted feelings a mirror for their own sexual morality.

However, I did think the sentiment that Rand has now lost a kind of virtue and ventured into anti-hero status to be a very strident strain of that kind of reserved sentiment. To me, the sex was a physical manifestation of an existing relationship that has been on slow boil for a fair while at this point in the story, and it is clearly not some one-night stand or transient fling. According to Aiel standards of coupling, nothing they did was wrong and Rand even offers to marry her straight after. More importantly, we have strong assurances through RJ’s foreshadowing, and prophetic devices, such as dreams and viewings, that Avi is not just some random conquest, but actually one of the ordained trio of women he is bound to be with before the Last Battle. So within the confines of this fictional setting, I do find it is somewhat forced to uncritically apply a generic sensibility about the general dangers of unbounded promiscuity between two individuals to Rand’s case.

jamesedjones @ 80

“Try the Gap series by Stephen R Donaldson. It's Sci-Fi, but I think you'll get the politics you're looking for. It's all about maneuvering military threats to engineer politcal advantage. Unfortunately, that means you have to sit through 3 books of painful infodump before the action starts. :)”

Yes, I’ve read all Donaldson’s works thanks; The Thomas Covenant series is actually one of my favourite pieces of fantasy fiction. :)
163. HurinSmells
In Rand's defence, in the very next chapter one of the first things Rand says to Avi is that he will have a Wise One marry them as soon as they get back. Avi is the one that shoots that idea down, quite severly. Also IIRC Rand has never been the one to instigate any of his sexual encounters (with Avi, Min or Elayne) and he loves and ends up "marrying" all three!

That whole period with Min Rand is internally calling himself a lech for allowing hismelf to succumb to Min's advances. That's not because he doesn't love Min, it's more that he doesn't think it's ok to love her as well as Elayne and Avi. I'm personally relieved that whole issue has been sorted out now, cause it's one less thing for Rand to beat himself up about!

On a side not, I'm interested in what everyone's reactions are to the explicit and gratuitously violent scenes in WOT? Are violent scenes easier to digest than sex scenes? I mean, the whole Kadere chapter is pretty full on, there's not really much "panning to the fire" going on here (ala Reseviour Dogs). Is it easier to read about a woman being strangled and mutilated than it is for two people getting it on?
William Fettes
164. Wolfmage
HArai @154
”I think Rand's angst wasn't so much about being married or not as about being in love with all three equally. Not something the TR traditions take into account at all, so his reaction is "I must be a lecher" and beat himself up for not being faithful to one. After the bonding, when they all have proof he loves them, and they all love him and the women are ok with the situation, he accepts what he's feeling as valid.”

Agreed. For the most part, Rand’s internal conflict is solely focused on his simultaneous attraction to three women. His quasi-proposal to Aviendha is the main allusion we get to any overt fixation on marriage, and that could be construed as him simply wanting formal recognition for the new seriousness of the relationship through the only mode of such recognition with which he is familiar - ie. marriage. But when Aviendha explicitly rejects his overture, Rand certainly doesn't dwell on it as an ongoing source of impropriety.

“Is it easier to read about a woman being strangled and mutilated than it is for two people getting it on?”

Apparently. It’s one of those legacies of puritan culture in America that outsiders like me, of a more European sensibility, have difficulty reconciling. Some social conservatives seem very concerned with taking a perfectly natural and innocuous thing like sex, and hiding it away so that it is always shrouded in a thick mystique and sense of danger. Yet going by popular culture, they are otherwise perfectly comfortable with graphic violence as entertainment.

For example, the TV show 24, which is tremendously popular in conservative circles, was so pernicious in its normalisation of torture that it led the military jag and cadet instructors to issue a formal complaint to the producers and Fox because they found it was giving rise to a new generation of recruits with unrealistic pro-torture views. Surely a valid source of concern - but according to new polls, torture is now almost accepted in the mainstream - something which was unthinkable even 20 year ago. But then contrast the sense of ubiquitous moral panic that exists over the mere naked form, like Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple, and it is hard to make head or tail of those priorities.
John Massey
165. subwoofer
@161thewindrose- I second the motion.

@wolfmage- there does seem to be much ado about nothing. The exposed nipple was not a big deal but then we have Janet and Justin going on about wardrobe malfunctions etc. I agree though, our culture seems much more ready to accept violence than sexuality. Sad.
Peter Nein
166. gimpols1908

Both of your capacities for puns impresses me.

Heck, I am just amped about the next installment.
Alice Arneson
167. Wetlandernw
forkroot @ 152 - Thank you! I do try hard.

Oh, and I have to agree, the mind boggles at the potential of one poor sap being married to those three... Oy!

HArai @ 154 - I think Rand's angst wasn't so much about being married or not as about being in love with all three equally. I think it's both, actually, because he really does think he shouldn't be having sex outside marriage. However, I think your point about "all three equally" is totally valid, and causes him at least as much (maybe more) consternation because he always thought he'd be true to one woman. (Of course, he used to think that would be Egwene, but oh well.) I really liked the imagery RJ used to describe their bond, and to imagine the awestruck joy he must have felt in knowing how they felt, and vice versa. It's one thing to have someone tell you, but for something this far beyond his expectation, to be able to feel what they're feeling must be amazing.

tonka @ 155 - I apologize for misquoting you so badly; I'd just read through about 75 posts and couldn't bring myself to go back through and find the reference. I guess "revulsion" came across a lot stronger to me than you intended. I'll agree that many were uneasy about the OP, although far more among the men than the women. By the time they got done with The Scouring of the Two Rivers, I think most of them found it far less problematic than before.

Wolfmage @156 - I was enjoying your discussion when you suddenly blew me out of the train with peaching to the choir. I'm sorry to say I giggled through the rest of your post. ;) I feel like the goof in the back of the class...

Seamus1602 @159 - I don't disagree in general, though there are a couple of points we could debate. They all definitely change and mature over the course of the books. My point was that in that maturing, they don't throw off their moral standards. Their goals, situations, positions, and perspectives change a great deal; it wouldn't be much of a story if they didn't. However, I don't see them setting aside their core beliefs or values in the process, or not to any significant degree, with the exceptions I made in my previous post.
168. Valan
Wolfmage @ 60
For some reason I found your conservative bashing tirade HILARIOUS. I don't know, I'm more than a little liberal in a conservative city, and I'm not sure I'd escape a bar with my head attached saying that stuff. kudos

More than half of my best friends think damn near opposite me, and it makes for some long conversations when i'd rather talk about WoT or play music.

@ Wetlandernw
Thanks for putting that together! Thats cool stuff to see.

@ Mythrandir 67
I too was rather shocked at your opinion. It almost sounds as if, after losing his virginity, Rand is no longer the awesome Hero that he is. I find this sort of rediculous given the circumstances. The only man in the world who could resist a woman like Aviendha after saving her life by warming her up in that fashion is Jesus Christ. And its obvious that Rand has had plenty of flaws before this too discount that comparison.

However, I completely agree with you concerning Cairhienin groveling, it disgusts me too. It aslo disgusts Rand, but some sacrifices are necessary. He does listen to Moraine occasionally.

@ Sub re: Sad
Yeah, it is.
Peter Nein
169. gimpols1908
Just realized I have yet to answer the survey
kids 1 (2ys) 1 (-6mos)
Ajah - grey
Sara H
170. LadyBelaine
theWindRose @161,

So, remember when we were casting for the WoT movie. Saw Megan Fox last night in the new TF movie, and I think she could do Lanfear - she wouldn't have to do too much real acting right - just look very good and be all crazy?

No, nyet, non, nein!!

Famke Janssen is Lanfear: tall, regal, refined, dignified, spooky, impossibly gorgeous.

Plus, she can she can do crazy.
Michael Thompson
171. TrollocBait
gimpols1908@166- Thanks. My wife has corrupted me. I didn't even know what a pun was before I met her. :)

Re Graphic vs "panning to the fire"
One thing I like about WOT is that it I'm given enough info about a situation (with fights and lovemaking at least) to understand what happened, but leave out enough that I can fit the scene to my internal rating system. I tend to think at about a PG-13 level of violence and sex. When every one piles into an Aiel sweat tent, my internal picture shows all the girls from the waist up with their backs to me, and all the men facing me, again from the waist up. I know everybody is naked, but I don't picture how old and wrinkled Bair and Sorilea are (Thanks RJ for not describing that!). It's obvious from others comments that not everyone sees it this way, and that's okay. We see what we want to see through our own filter and imagination, which allows us to all enjoy the same scenes no matter what our personal tolerances are. WOT fight scenes are similar: weapons are flailing, people are dying, and the smell is terrible; yet I don't see it as any worse than the Battle for Helm's Deep.

Bottom line: RJ did an awesome job. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

Now it's off to bed for me.
172. Valan
@ 170 Lady Belaine

That would be beyond awesome. My God, but that nip/Tuck episode involving the big REVEAL really creeped me out. She'd be perfect.

Selene can be Megan Fox, then unveil the Illusion to Famke Jensen.
Sara H
173. LadyBelaine

That! That, my friend, is a superb suggestion. My only qualm is that Megan Fox has sparkling crystalline blue eyes. She'd need to mask those with brown contacts.

I've been reading WoT for so long that I once thought that Nicole Kidman should play Elayne. Now I think she'd be a perfect Morgase.

My new Elayne? Blake Lively. Good Gracious, the Fates have smiled on that girl.
Alice Arneson
174. Wetlandernw
163. HurinSmells I'm interested in what everyone's reactions are to the explicit and gratuitously violent scenes in WOT? Are violent scenes easier to digest than sex scenes?

Not particularly. The first time through, I read every word and nearly vomited. Since then, knowing what's coming, I slide across the surface of the the scene and pick out the plot-relevant stuff. Same with the scene at Taien, and others.

That said, I think the disgusting violent scenes serve the purpose of the book much better than detailed sex scenes would. I'm not big on "gratuitous" anything in either books or movies, but sometimes things can evoke a very strong reaction, including revulsion, without being gratuitous. In the particular chapters at hand, the gruesome detail in Kadere's POV realy drives home what kind of person he is, so that for the remainder of his time (and in rereads, the whole of his time) he evokes no sympathy, only revulsion. His "dispassionate logic" in this scene contrasts so greatly with his heinous actions that he becomes almost incomprehensibly evil.

One could argue that it's not necessary to the plot for the reader to hate Kadere so deeply, I suppose. I personally think RJ had a serious purpose in doing so. In the midst of all the "shades of gray" demonstrated by so many of the characters, the reader is drawn to recognize the existence of real (i.e. non-relative) evil, with the implication of real good. If I may quote RJ's blog again,
Relativism or no relativism, however many shades of gray you want to call up, evil still exists, and if you won’t expend the effort to figure out where and what it is, then one day it will swallow you whole.

Having said all that, and I know it's not an exhaustive argument (it's been a long day), tell me something. Can you explain to me how a detailed description of the entire igloo event would contribute to the plot in some way that panning to the fireplace doesn't? How would such a description not be "gratuitous" in the context of this book?

And now that I've written, proofread and edited this for the last half hour, I'm sure someone else has already given a better answer. *sigh*
Andrew Lovsness
175. drewlovs
33. SteelBlaidd
69. hoping

Congratulations!! My wife and I beat you to it this year... well, for the fourth time, actually (we have a 14, 12 and 3 year old already), but they are always special. I'm listening to our 2 week old give her mother the business as we speak... hehe.

I love kids, as the unconditional love we as human crave can only begotten from 2 sources, parents and children. Anyone looking for it from their spouse I only looking to be disappointed, as that only happens in the movies.

Anyway, I saw the thread when it was new, but really had nothing to add to the discussion; but seeing how newborns are my life at the moment, thanks, Steel and Hoping for giving me a reason to speak up!
William Fettes
176. Wolfmage

"For some reason I found your conservative bashing tirade HILARIOUS. I don't know, I'm more than a little liberal in a conservative city, and I'm not sure I'd escape a bar with my head attached saying that stuff. kudos"

Conservative bashing tirade? I'd say that's a rather uncharitable and oblique interpretation of what I've written. I was attacking some fairly specific literary targets, and the casualties from the spray certainly didn’t include broad conservative first principles in political philosophy or personal morality. I am not a conservative personally, but I don't find conservative values or conservative philosophies to be somehow alien or repugnant.

This started because I was simply having a go at the Ringo books, based on the excerpts Leigh linked, which reminded me of other kinds of conservative agitprop literature I've read which exhibit similar tendencies. But, again, my objective wasn't to smear conservatism in any way.

Now, maybe for some there is little white space between Ayn Rand and conservatism, and my attack on her fiction, therefore, feels like an attack on conservatism itself. But that's really not fair to either conservatism or myself. Modern conservatism is, for the most part, incompatible with Rand's Objectivism, despite some mutual hostility to the liberal economic and cultural project. Indeed, Ayn Rand frequently engaged in scathing attacks on standard libertarian and conservative interlocutors in philosophy and economics, trying to forge her own distinct movement. So to equate the whole conservative movement with Rand is quite disingenuous.

That’s a good thing too. Rand is an object of ridicule in serious academic circles in ways that genuine libertarian and conservative philosophers and thinkers in political economy certainly aren't. For example, figures like Robert Nozick, Richard Posner in modern times, or Milton Friedman, F. A. Hayek and Edmund Burke, going back further, command a good deal of respect in academic circles even though they are far from custodians of the liberal consensus.
craig thrift
177. gagecreedlives

Ben Franklin....hmmm I think I've heard of that guy. He was one of those aristocrats that didnt want to pay his taxes two hundered and so years ago isnt he?

Wolfmage@164 and Subwoofer@165

As Sheila Broflovski would say

"Remember what the MPAA says; Horrific, Deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty words!"

Just have to change naughty words for naughty images.
178. HurinSmells
"Can you explain to me how a detailed description of the entire igloo event would contribute to the plot in some way that panning to the fireplace doesn't?"

I completely agree with you that a detailed sex scene just would not fit with the rest of WOT. As I said previously, in a world where the strongest curse words are "blood and ashes" or as Wolfmage reminded us "mother's milk in a cup", a graphic sex scene would be out of place.

Granted most of the really graphic violence has come at the hands of the bad guys, so I guess in some ways that makes it easier to accept, because that's what bad guys do. I just thought it was interesting that the level of violence in the series has mostly been uncommented on to this point, but the first real sex scene we encounter can generate so much controversy.

Perhaps we just expect a certain degree of violence to occur in the fanatasy genre? Or maybe it's just that most of us can't really relate to the really violent scenes on the same level as we can to a love scene so therefore they don't have as much of an impact?? Hopefully most people have lived through their own love scenes, but have managed to avoid sword fights or large scale battles!!
Wayne Wilson
179. stylusmobilus
Re: the existence of a viper pit.

In some parts of outback Australia there are 'snake warrens' which is basically a small underground area inhabited by a large number of snakes, and sometimes several different varieties. They aren't common, and they're usually found in softer soil or sandy country, in places like abandoned rabbit warrens etc. A bloke I worked with, a grader operator, hit one with the blade and he reckoned an unbelievable amount of snakes came out, browns, western taipans, carpets, all sorts. That's as close as I can get.

Nothing more frightening than a king brown standing up to you. Believe it.
Michael Catapano
180. hoping

Ben Franklin....hmmm I think I've heard of that guy. He was one of those aristocrats that didnt want to pay his taxes two hundered and so years ago isnt he?

IIRC, there was a bit of a dust up about that but it all turned out for the best. :)
craig thrift
181. gagecreedlives
Glad to hear that they kissed and made up.

Friends should never fight over money (or even about the letter U)
Pete Pratt
182. PeteP
Just read the post Leigh linked to on John Ringo -- must say I knew there was a reason I could never seem to get into any of his works. I guess I will never need to try again......
Joseph Blaidd
183. SteelBlaidd
@wolfmage 164 & Subwoofer 165
I'm not sure it's just the puritans. Shakespeare is pretty bawdy but the sex was still off stage and even in Rome violence happened in public at the Circus and the dancing girls we're kept for the private parties.

I suspect in part it's because it's easier to get a consistent reaction from a scene of violence than a scene of passion.
John Massey
184. subwoofer
Not a question of making the igloo scene any better or worse. As I have said I could take it or leave it. It is more so the case of the ease of accepting violence in print/media/etc. over sex. What is this, the 1700's? I have personally seen violence on a big scale- not nice- and am dealing. For me human sexuality is natural, and should not be kept in a dark room under lock and key.

Bottom line to me, these things exist in the world. Making it PC or sugar coating either violence or sex so it is easily digestible for mass consumption or for delicate sensibilities is any author's prerogative. I have always felt that they are there, acknowledge it, and get on with living.

Sorry for ranting, one of my family has the habit of being an ostrich- if I don't see it, it doesn't exist- mentality. We are now going back to our regular viewing...

Sad for Michael :(...

Marcus W
185. toryx
HurinSmells @ 163:

On a side not, I'm interested in what everyone's reactions are to the explicit and gratuitously violent scenes in WOT? Are violent scenes easier to digest than sex scenes?

That is an excellent question. I'm generally in favor of the panning to the fire tactic RJ uses but not because I'm at all squeamish about sexual content; I just think it fits better in the overall telling of the story. And I agree with Leigh; it's often a lot safer panning away than risking a terribly written sex scene.

I think that RJ tends to pan to the fire a lot with the bloodshed too, though. He doesn't dwell long on the detail, even when it comes to strangling Isendre.

I think your later point, however, about the context of experience (people are more likely to have personal experience with a torrid sex scene than a sword fight) is a good one. I'd really like to see more responses to your original question.

Wetlandernw @ 174:

Not particularly. The first time through, I read every word and nearly vomited.

Wow. This is proving to be one of the most educational threads I've read thus far in the re-reads. I confess that I'm accustomed to running into, fairly exclusively, a certain type of reader of science fiction and fantasy. The re-read has demolished that barrier entirely.

My reactions to these novels have always been emotional in scope, ranging from sorrow to exultation, sympathy and flaming anger but given the context of our violent world in entertainment and outside of it I've never experienced anything so visceral as almost getting sickened by it. So it's especially interesting to me to read accounts that have gone so far.

drewlovs @ 175:

I love kids, as the unconditional love we as human crave can only begotten from 2 sources, parents and children. Anyone looking for it from their spouse I only looking to be disappointed, as that only happens in the movies.

Really? As I'm childfree myself, I'm not entirely qualified to disagree but I've found the love I share with my partner to be far more than anything I ever experienced with my parents and even the movies doesn't come close to comparing.

Though maybe the key word is unconditional. Hmm. The only place I thought that was found was with, say, puppies. It certainly doesn't seem to last long with children.
Brian Kaul
186. bkaul
On a side not, I'm interested in what everyone's reactions are to the explicit and gratuitously violent scenes in WOT? Are violent scenes easier to digest than sex scenes? I mean, the whole Kadere chapter is pretty full on, there's not really much "panning to the fire" going on here (ala Reseviour Dogs). Is it easier to read about a woman being strangled and mutilated than it is for two people getting it on?

I think there are a couple of factors at play here. Wetlandernw has already pointed out that the violence plays a specific role in establishing the evil that exists in the world. Showing the Forsaken having sex just wouldn't give the same impression.

But as far as people's sensibilities go, two major differences jump out to me. First, violence is, generally speaking, something that occurs in public, while sex is just about as private as you can get. People watching a bar fight or a battle don't feel like they're intruding; people watching a couple have sex in their bedroom do. Much of our discomfort with explicit sex scenes isn't that we think the sex is evil, but that it feels too voyeuristic to see it "on-screen." It's like we're intruding on a private moment that should be left between the characters involved as much as possible, even if we need to know it happened.

The other aspect, considering the influence of Christianity in America, is that the Bible teaches that we should avoid temptation. I don't know anyone who reads a battle scene and fantasizes about the pleasure of chopping someone up with a sword in real life. On the other hand, reading or watching a sex scene can arouse people to fantasize about sex and in some cases lust for one of the participants. Sex itself is good, but watching something that makes you want to have sex with someone besides your spouse could be dangerous, from that perspective. Violence is bad, but watching just doesn't make everyone want to join in, in quite the same way. We don't have strong hormonal drives to kill, as we do to procreate. It's easier for many people to detach themselves from violence than from sex - sex always complicates things. Some people take the very cautious approach of just not wanting to see anything that could remotely, in any circumstance, be thought of in a way that would possibly be tempting to someone, or look inappropriate. I think that's a bit extreme, myself, but I'm not going to try to make them watch, either.

Personally, I think context is very important. A book/film that portrayed abusive violence as if it were a good and acceptable thing would be problematic. On the other hand, violence where it's appropriate (war against an evil enemy, violence that brings about justice, etc.) doesn't bother me at all. Or, with sex, I really don't mind a scene that's tastefully done if it's shown in an appropriate context, but if it's portraying unfaithfulness and promiscuity as good, desirable behaviors that we should emulate, I'd have some objections.

With either topic, I am glad RJ spares us the details. We don't have graphic descriptions of people's intestines spilling out as their bellies are ripped open by Perrin's axe, and we don't have detailed descriptions of Rand and Avi's genitalia. I'm glad of that, in both cases. There are, of course, contexts in which showing all the gory details of violence in war can be good (e.g. to convey how terrible it really is), and I think the context takes precedence over the content in both cases. I have fewer objections to an on-screen sex scene between a married (or committed/practically married as with Rand's harem) couple than I would with an off-screen scene that portrayed adultery as a wonderful, glorious thing, though the aforementioned discomfort with the voyeuristic nature of putting the former on-screen would still apply.

(Really, if there were an audience standing there watching in the igloo, do you think Rand and Avi would've appreciated? On the other hand, do you think Mat or any of his Band would care if some people watched one of his battles, assuming they posed no threat of giving intelligence to his enemy?)
Marcus W
187. toryx
bkaul @ 186:

I don't know anyone who reads a battle scene and fantasizes about the pleasure of chopping someone up with a sword in real life.

I'm surprised. I know tons of people who have. Hell, when I first started reading this series as a teenager, I was one of them.

I believe that violence in entertainment regularly influences people (especially the young) to want to pick up a weapon and go destroy something. I don't know what it's like for kids these days, but that was kind of what the whole childhood of the 70's and 80's was all about. One big glorious battle after another. Not to mention a major recruiting point for the armed services. (Though I'll admit this is far more applicable to boys than girls)

I think that sex is generally far more taboo in our (read: American) society than violence. And maybe it's somewhat out of a concern for the youth that sex is hidden away as much as it is; parents would (in general) far rather see their children running around with toy guns or slaughtering aliens in video games than to ever express any curiosity about what's "down there."

I don't mean for that to be a blanket statement: I'm sure there are plenty of parents on this forum who wouldn't allow their children to watch one of the Terminator movies, or play with toy guns or swords. But I do think that in general that's far more accepted than allowing a child to witness a bare-chested woman on tv (or god forbid, male genitalia) and I can't help but be disturbed by that.

I do think bkaul has a point about the voyeuristic properties of watching men getting killed over couples having sex. Again, I find that rather disturbing.
Brian Kaul
188. bkaul
It's certainly true that boys have always fantasized about glorious battles, etc. But there's a pretty massive contextual difference between a desire to win glory in battle and a desire to dismember the annoying guy who lives down the street. I meant that the latter, inappropriate use of violence is not generally encouraged by portrayals of the former. A book/film that portrayed the latter as a desirable behavior to emulate would be nearly universally decried, I think.

Similarly, I think it's a little silly to be afraid that the mere sight of a naked person in any context whatsoever will necessarily lead to the desire to go cheat on your spouse, but some of the romantic films that glorify adultery are pretty detestable, even if they "don't show anything." However, I can understand the greater caution that people take on this issue, since the sight of a naked woman often will cause a physical, hormonal reaction in a man, while the sight of blood does not generally arouse a similar passion.
April Vrugtman
189. dwndrgn
As a child I was allowed to read and watch whatever struck my fancy, including violent movies and whatnot and no, I've never gotten the urge to grab a sword and hack off body parts, but then again, I'm a girl. And, I cannot watch a friend or family member bleed without fainting but can read the battle scenes in Erikson's Malazan series without a flinch. With me, it is a separation of reality and fantasy. Just like when as a waitress, this supremely shy girl made good money because I separated myself from the job.

I completely agree, having said all of that, that Americans' willingness to condone violence and shrink away from sex is incredibly odd.
Alice Arneson
190. Wetlandernw
178. HurinSmells @178

In retrospect, I may have been answering a different question. I started thinking in terms of an author's decisions; you were asking more about reader reactions. And I think you answered it very well: ...maybe it's just that most of us can't really relate to the really violent scenes on the same level as we can to a love scene so therefore they don't have as much of an impact... If nothing else, our own experiences fill in pretty well what happens while we're looking at the fireplace. Unlike the combat veterans in the group, my experience doesn't give me much to work with if I just read "Couladin commited a bunch of atrocities at Taien" or "Kadere killed Isendre". To feel the necessary revulsion for the character, I need a little more detail.

Then again, I don't watch the evening news (and neither do my kids!) in part because of the way some subjects are handled. I generally just don't feel I need those images cluttering my mind. (It goes back to that visual memory: once I've seen something, I can never completely rid myself of the image. My daughter is much the same, and at 6 she REALLY doesn't need it!) RJ's blog comments on good & evil, shades of gray, and the evening news (as well as literature) really struck a chord with me.

bkaul @186 Excellent points. Love the last paragraph. :) How true, how true.
191. Aye Aye Sedai
Hmm - found out that Faile was seen at the local Live at 5 music concert.

Not a RickRoll - I'm not cruel.


Now we just need to find Perrin in the Crowd.
Alice Arneson
192. Wetlandernw
...Americans' willingness to condone violence and shrink away from sex is incredibly odd. (dwndrgn@ 189)

I'm sorry, but this just cracked me up. I know what you're trying to say, but the concept of American society "shrinking away from sex" is really funny in light of what you see on TV, billboards, in the theater, in much of popular fiction, or even on the news. Granted that you don't see much hard porn in those areas yet, you sure see a lot more than you used to. Some claim it's a good thing, but not all of us.

Now I HAVE to say it... people keep referring to "puritanical" attitudes toward sex, making it quite clear that you've never looked at the Puritans very closely. They had NO PROBLEM with sex, or they'd have died out in a single generation. How do you think they got those big families, folks? Certain activities are requisite...! They simply believed, as some of us still do, that it was a glorious, beautiful and intensely private thing, meant to be a blessing within the context of marriage. For various reasons, our society keeps trying to take it out of that context, making it more of "just another thing we do" instead of the priceless gift it should be.

Then there's violence... which as some have said is way too prevalent and readily condoned in almost every medium available, especially to kids. Books, movies, TV, video games, playgrounds... Kids are spoon-fed violence with no context of good and evil, and it's starting to show in some horrific ways. Personally I have no problem with reading my kids "St. George & the Dragon" or the battle scenes in Tolkein or Lewis, or any number of other "violent" scenes, because they are clearly good vs. evil. We WANT our kids to learn that evil should be fought on every level. We also want to teach them to discern good and evil, so we're pretty careful with what we read to them or let them watch. (Before someone shouts about brainwashing, let me just say that kids get their brains washed in any event, and as a parent I prefer to use clean water instead of a cesspool.)

Okay, that went off topic. Maybe the new post will be up soon. Y'all got one of my hot buttons.
John Massey
193. subwoofer
Apologies too. Censorship is a hot topic for me and some of the posts smack of that. Also referring to the Holy Bible also has dads sleeping with daughters and sisters etc. in the old testament. Not to mention the slaughter of whole cities and races of people. And this was back in the day. And we all turned out okay. And it is the most quoted book out there.

Just sayin'.

Go Micheal!
Alice Arneson
194. Wetlandernw
Yeah, but the dads sleeping with daughters & sisters isn't told as a good thing.

The slaughter of whole races is a whole 'nother discussion. I have actual work to do today, so I ain't a-gonna go there.
Timothy Schaefer
195. breeze
I have been following the conversation on sexuality for a bit.

For starters I should probably make a statement in reply to Wetlandernw on the use of the term puritanical to describe many modern day sensibilities towards sex. I'd consider you correct when it comes to what the Puritans believed and the meaning of the term. However, my reading of the comments calling American (and many other country's views) views on it as puritanical completely fits within this view. The idea that sex and sexuality is something to be kept private and not be public about seems to be the precise thing being commented on, rather than a statement of denial of existence. Perhaps my reading of the comments using the term puritanical in question is incorrect, though.

Personally, I approve of Jordan's choice. It is not only economic, but it also fits the artistic flavor of the Wheel of Time series. It is politically correct so it does not offend a portion of the readers while, at the same time, it gets the idea conveyed to the readers in such a way that is completely consistent with the feel of the series as a whole. I tend to believe the series would be worse as a whole if he had included graphic sexual scenes. This, for me at least, is not due to prudishness but due to the difficulty I have in seeing graphic sexual scenes in the Wheel of Time. As others above have mentioned, in a series that does not even use serious profanity, passionate sex scenes don't exactly fit the feel of the series.
Jay Dauro
196. J.Dauro
Actually I find it quite intereting in seeing the differences in attitude toward sex between the US and Europe. And I have to respectfully disagree with you, Wetlandernw. In my experience, many (not all, or even most) "puritans" in US society still think that sex is shameful. They manage to have large families, because that is their religious duty. Although I did not get this from my parents, I did get it from my church, and I have any number of friends who got it from their parents and church. I am glad that you appear not to.

My first trips to Europe were a real eye opener.

Still IMO RJ does a good job on balancing the presentation of both violence and sex. He includes the necessary details for the story (such as Mat/Tylin and Kadere), without going too far.

Almost noon, the [i][b]*twitch*[/b] is starting.
Marcus W
197. toryx
breeze @ 195:

Thanks. Your response regarding "puritanical" was exactly what I was thinking.
Jason Deshaies
198. darxbane
Wolfmage @164
Well said, although my comment was mostly in jest, I definitely agree that thinly-veiled allegory and intentionally biased writing is insulting. Your attack on Fox News was a little harsh, but I guess if your point was specific to Conservatives at the time, then it would be impossible to accuse any other network of anything but liberal bias, so if that is the case I can see your point there as well (although one Hannity does not a network make).
Shaylyn Austin
199. Ispan
I'm a 21 year old American woman and I close my eyes nearly every time I see violence on TV or in a movie. I've also walked out of movies that were too violent for me. A large number of Americans may be ok with the disgusting violence but I still get minorly annoyed at being included in the "Americans love violence and fear sex" statement :P We're all different, don't judge all of us by our media!

Also, I do believe that sex is a beautiful thing and people shouldn't be ashamed of having it but I think we still need to be careful about how we represent it in the mainstream media because of how easily children can access it. If my child sees something sexual someday and asks me about it, I won't be afraid to answer, but I can speak from personal experience that being exposed to too much sex at a young age can have a very negative impact on a child. And yes, that was exposure to images and descriptions, not even physical offenses. I certainly didn't appreciate being over-sexualized years and years before I should have been and I don't support the notion that it's healthy to make that normal for our children.

In short: Violence, bad. Sex, good. Consideration for younger audiences in the mainstream media and culture, VERY good.
Alice Arneson
200. Wetlandernw
RE: Puritans and puritanical

My point regarding "puritanical" is that today's common usage of the term is vastly different than the beliefs of the historical group known as "Puritans". Yes, there are those today who see sex as shameful, and for some reason are referred to as "puritanical" in today's lingo. The historical Puritans, however, saw NO SHAME in sex itself; the shame would be in making public what ought to be kept private. I contend that it still is. I know that puts me in a minority, between those who think it out to be all out there, and those who think it's a shameful necessity, but there it is.
Alice Arneson
201. Wetlandernw
Ispan @199

Well said! And aren't you the other one with a small one on the way? If so, congrats!!
Timothy Schaefer
202. breeze

I don't know, honestly. In all my years of living (which are not that many) I've never read a connotation of shame in the term puritanical. Maybe I've missed it or something. I've picked up on negative connotations, just as the term traditional can be used to put similar beliefs in a positive light. Myself, I've never had a problem with people who hold this belief system. I even hold to it myself though not to a great degree and generally only with my own conduct. I don't do a great deal of reading on things regarding sex in public, though, so such a connotation could have very easily passed me.
Luke M
203. lmelior
@Wolfmage #156
If any particular author harbours views I find particularly loathsome, conservative or otherwise, I may very well feel uneasy about supporting them financially, but I’m perfectly capable of appreciating their works, free from preconceptions, without first administering a political litmus test on the author. I’ve done this without prejudice all my life, and I happily enjoy many conservative authors accordingly, including the illustrious Tolkien himself.
This. While reading this post I immediately thought of Orson Scott Card, who wrote a shockingly twisted and hypocritical defense of his views on gay marriage. I've yet to hear a defense that seems reasonable to me, but his was spectacularly irrational. Nevertheless, that doesn't take away any of the loads of enjoyment I got from reading Ender's Game.

@Wetlandernw #192
Well you just said that they had a problem with premarital sex, so that counts as a problem with sex to me :p. They may not have a problem with sex as a means for procreation, but sex for pleasure is considered shameful, which is why birth control is looked down upon. At least, that's what I'm seeing when I see references to puritanical. I'm just going to stay away from this one beyond that, or else I'll get into trouble.

Spot on with the brainwashing comment though. Children are basically brainwashed by their parents and other authority figures from birth. Chanting the Pledge of Allegiance every weekday until you're 18, chanting the Recitation of the Faith (or whatever it's called) every Sunday in Catholic churches - all brainwashing. It's not the malevolent act the connotation of the word suggests, but honestly, when our kids do these things they neither pay attention to nor even understand what they're saying. To me, it seems like parenting is just brainwashing your children the right way.

Also, to me good and evil seems to be pretty obviously delineated in any media aimed at kids that involve violence. My son is too young for any of that, however (at 18 months he's only just now starting to get interested in actually watching anything), so I could be wrong.
Marcus W
204. toryx
Wetlandernw @ 200:

The historical Puritans, however, saw NO SHAME in sex itself; the shame would be in making public what ought to be kept private. I contend that it still is.

It's difficult, really, to be sure exactly how the original, historical American Puritans really felt about the issue outside of their writings and proclaimations, but I'm still not sure I really agree.

As I understood it based on my studies, the Puritans believed that sex existed solely for the purpose of procreation. Any other expression of sex was counter to God's law. This included, of course, any discussion, education, or acknowledgement of sex outside of the marriage bed, in which women submitted to their husbands and took very little pleasure in it.

Now I might not be wholly accurate in this. As I said, the writings only state so much, and they were closemouthed enough about the matter that it's difficult to say. But when I speak of puritanical American values (which, actually, I don't think I have in this forum yet) that's the sort of attitude I'm referring to.

I think at the very least, the tendency to hide away sex as shameful unless it's within the marriage bedroom is not only puritanical but oppressive and ultimately unhealthy.

Imelior @ 203

To me, it seems like parenting is just brainwashing your children the right way.

I don't know about that. I've known parents who taught their children not only what they, as adults, believed but what others believed as well. Giving their children the tools to question and critique beliefs and come to their own opinions using available evidence was an important part of their education.

That doesn't speak of brainwashing to me, at all. So I'd argue that brainwashing isn't necessary for raising children; it's only the most popular method.
Shaylyn Austin
205. Ispan
Wetlander @201

I did mention it in my response to the survey questions a few posts back and thank you!!

We're all just working on the next generation of Wheel of Time fans :)
Alice Arneson
206. Wetlandernw
, when our kids do these things they neither pay attention to nor even understand what they're saying.

Oh, boy, do you have surprises coming! My just-turned-6 daughter recites the Apostles's Creed several times a week, and trust me, she's paying attention and knows what she's saying. I know, because she asks and keeps asking until she's got it sorted out. She does that with everything. She will memorize something without necessarily understanding it, but once she knows it, she won't keep repeating it until she has a satisfactory explanation. Kids ARE listening, all the time, and they understand far more than adults seem to think.

Well you just said that they had a problem with premarital sex, so that counts as a problem with sex to me :p. They may not have a problem with sex as a means for procreation, but sex for pleasure is considered shameful, which is why birth control is looked down upon.
Are you sure you want me to answer this? You and I are clearly talking about two very different groups of people. When I talk about the Puritans, and when I express my own position, your statements are so far out in left field they almost aren't in the same ball park. Sex for pleasure is not shameful!!! It's a great thing and ought to be enjoyed. A LOT. And frequently. However, for some reason many people seem to think that limiting your sexual activity to your marriage means that it's no longer fun. Hello???? Gah.

I'm going to go clean my house. My hot button is going to overload at this rate.
Brian Kaul
207. bkaul
The view of sex being tolerable only for procreation largely follows from the teachings of Augustine, and has generally been more popular among Roman Catholics than Protestants. I'm not certain what the English/American Puritans' take on the question of sex for pleasure apart from procreation was, but most groups with similar theological positions on other issues have a very favorable view of sex. Overall, I would say that the view Wetlandernw has presented is the most natural interpretation of the Bible. Sex certainly isn't portrayed as a bad thing, but rather as a good thing that has a particular context in which it should be celebrated. There's a whole book of erotic poetry celebrating the passionate love of newlyweds, for crying out loud! (If you really want to surprise someone, point out to them that as for literary form, Song of Solomon actually appears to be written as a script for a play!) But even there, while there's poetry about sex and love, there's a clear context and it stays within the bounds of propriety. They talk about it a lot, but the actual act only happens "off-screen."

In any case, the word puritanical, as it's used these days, has little to do with what the Puritans actually believed and everything to do with whatever is perceived to be prudish or legalistic. I'm not crazy about the word, but I understand what people mean when they use it. *shrug*
Pete Pratt
208. PeteP
I am really enjoying this discussion of violence in books. I have never had problem with violence in books or movies and the last time I was in fight was in 1995 --- which I did not start.

My young boys started using anything the could as swords as soon as they could, never having seen anything like that depicted on tv. It was just something that they started to do. Much of the attempts to sanitize modern society by limiting violence really is against human nature.

I fully remember being in 1st grade and having a school principal who believed in swatting kids with an old wooden paddle and allowing children to fight out their differences. He was definitely old school. We had massive fights with 20 or 30 boys between grades on each side over silly issues, but so very important to elementary school children. He retired after that year and suddenly violence was not allowed at all with our new 70s New Age principal. I do remember disliking the change. We then engaged in "play fighting" so that he could still fight, but not get in trouble for it.

Recently, I watched the movie Unbreakable for the first time in a long time. The Bruce Willis character has super powers (feels violence in people, can't get hurt) but has repressed his whole nature in order to conform to society and the desires of his girlfriend/wife. He woke up every morning sad, but could not understand why -- at least until he went about doing what he was supposed to do -- protecting others. In some ways, our efforts to create a utopia without violence has unexpected blacklashes as well.

Our society in many ways has separated us from violence and death. Most people die in sterile hospital beds, but we have extended life so far that usually that only happens when we are old. Wars are fought by a very small percentage of our society, with the rest of us having little involvement. Safety improvements have largely elimiated workplace and traffic deaths (and greatly reduced combat deaths).

What is more dehumanizing -- killing someone up close or killing them from another continent using a drone? Strategic bombing as was developed in WWII was entirely designed to kill as many civilians as possible -- in an attempt to break the will of the enemy in a campaign of terror. Sounds like the Mongols almost.

So, other the years with have sanitized our violence, until the only place left where it is allowed is in movies, tv, video games, and books. Violence is very much part of our humanity, and I am very glad we have found an acceptable outlet. By directing our violent tendency into acceptable and non-harmful directions we can limit the negative impacts. For me, few things help me relax after a very frustrating day than playing a violent video game like Left4Dead.

As to sex, the Puritans actually thought very highly of sex inside of marriage. Some the sermons we have found the early days of New England are about the very topic, criticizing those that held to the idea that sex was only for procreation. It was the Quakers who, of the four major settlement groups in America, that opposed sex as a general principle. See Albion's Seed for a really explanation of America's 4 very distinct groups of settlers and their very different understanding of practically every aspect of society and life.
Maiane Bakroeva
209. Isilel
I have to say that it always amused me that WoT is so full of (often gratuitious) male-oriented titillation - like our attention being constantly drawn to tight dresses, low necklines, breasts that almost fall out of them, women getting naked together and spanking each other at the drop of a hat, etc., yet tiptoes around the actual act in a rather childish manner. But then, gender relationships are generally very high-school in the series, soo...

I have to say that I am quite prudish iRL and don't particularly like reading sex scenes.

However, there is no denying the fact that sexuality is a really powerful motivational force for many (most?) people and thus skirting around the issue after introducing so many sly innuendos, just seems I dunno, artificial? Lame? Of course, if an author knows that sex scenes aren't his strong suit, then by all means, they should avoid them.
But then why heat the atmosphere up so much in the first place?

And sex scenes absolutely can provide plot and character developement.

I have to say that while personally I dislike the notion that Rand needs a whole harem and that none of them actually had a choice about it (sic!), I find the notion that he became an anti-hero by having pre-marital sex truly bizarre. What is Lan in this case? Worse than a Forsaken?;).

I would also point out that historically stringent demands for chastity often lead to massive hypocrisy, creepiness and abuse. Let's not forget that prostitution, including the child one, was at an all-time high during the oh, so proper Victorian era :(.

Re: American horror of naked body, I really don't get it. Why should anybody be traumatized by seeing it in mass media?
Breasts in a film result in it not being shown at school? Really?
Seeing naked men would lead to the world spontaneously combusting?

The thing is, people can get turned on by weirdest things, as long as they are concealed and have a "forbidden fruit" aura about them.
Early 19th century ball dresses, for instance, left relatively little to imagination where breasts were concerned, but concealed ankles. Well, guess what men found most erotic and would go to ridiculous lengths to steal a glance at? Yes. Ankles.
Kurt Lorey
210. Shimrod
@206 etc. wetlandernw.

Hot button -- wetlander.

Ha, ha. Tittilator.

@209 Isilel.

Right on the money (or hot button, or something).
Luke M
211. lmelior
@toryx #204
Giving their children the tools to question and critique beliefs and come to their own opinions using available evidence was an important part of their education.

Don't get me wrong, I think that's absolutely critical, but up until the child is a certain age, he will just assume his parents' beliefs. If Wetlandernw told her daughter that hundreds of millions of people didn't believe in God or Jesus or Heaven, but instead follow the teachings and practices of Siddhartha Gautama, which include many of the same lessons on morality...what are the chances she would decide on her own to convert to Buddhism? I admit I was using the term rather loosely.

@Wetlandernw #206
Sorry, that's just what I thought people meant by puritanical, no offense intended. I guess I waited until after my controversial statement to say, "at least that's what I thought." And I guess I was using my own anecdotal evidence regarding the Pledge. I didn't actually think about what it meant until my late teens. I didn't go to a Catholic church until I met my wife, and the chanting reminded me of my experience with the Pledge.
John Massey
212. subwoofer
gonna get this off my chest because it really grinds on me.
@194Wet- point is these things were in the Bible- in writing and stuff. Sex and violence in scripture... so if we want to censor anything for the sake of our kids- do we start there? That is the point I am trying to get across. This is just my opinion- take it with a bag of salt or whatever. I can either censor things for my kids by using the parental control on my cable box if there is questionable content on TV- I can guide them in knowing right from wrong, but I am not going to spark a revolt because there may be questionable content in print and in media in general.

The world is a big harsh place, full of twisted people like me or worse. I would like my kids to know that in reality, there are bad things and to choose the good. Educate them enough so they make the right choices. Am fumbling for words but toryx said it better than I can.
Alice Arneson
213. Wetlandernw
Subwoofer - Not sure if you're still reading this line... Yup, those things are in the Bible, and you need to read them in context. I think it was bkaul that pointed out the Song of Solomon - now there's some major erotic poetry.

What I want to give my kids is the ability to know right from wrong and good from evil. I want them to learn the good and see the beauty of it, so they can recognize the bad by contrast. You can't teach kids that kind of discernment by just dumping the bucket of bilgewater over them and hoping they figure it out. I want to give them the tools to think for themselves when the big wide world comes along and challenges their beliefs. That's why I'm giving them a classical education. And that's why I'm carefully guarding what kind of input they get at what age, so that they can grow in truth and beauty and goodness and strength, as free of the garbage and twisted values of the general culture around us as I can make it.

For an analogy, I want them to be healthy and happy kids, so I try to feed them a relatively balanced diet, make sure they get lots of exercise appropriate to their age, and get plenty of sleep. I know there are lots of tasty foods out there with loads of sugar and other much nastier chemicals; I'm sure my kids would love to eat them to satiation and beyond, but because I love them, I don't have that stuff in the house. When they see and ask for it at the grocery store, I can explain that it's not good for them and, if they want to know, why not. When they are older and know more of what is good for them, I'll give them much more freedom to choose for themselves. And I'll do so in confidence that they will generally make wise choices because of what they are learning now.

Does that make any more sense? I've seen a lot of people give their kids lots of "freedom to choose" at an early age, then crack down on the rules as the kids get older and find more obnoxious ways to get in trouble. But I've also seen a model with a lot better results: give the kids tight rules and good instruction when they are young, and as they grow in both age and discernment, relax the rules and let them make more choices on their own. Because good decisions are made for them and explained to them as they grow, they learn how to make thoughtful and wise decisions for themselves.
John Massey
214. subwoofer
I get where you are coming from. IIRC the songs of Solomon from Solomon the Wise were done to woo some of his many harem. Lust was his downfall in the eyes of the Lord- that and building some questionable idols for some of his wives. Incidentally, don't try any of that in the modern era, girls just give you strange looks-Lilies of the valley indeed;)

My parents were old school- must be the reason I am old- but I was raised in a very traditional way. My dad smoked, at that time it was perceived as okay. Everybody did it. In the house. No fear of kids and second hand smoke. I have asthma. Yay for dad for helping that out. And he thought he knew best.

My mom made the meals for us, basic meat and potato stuff. Loaded with fat and cholesterol and all those good things- no redeeming nutritional values or fiber. To this day I am still baffled as to why white bread exists. I remember in my early teenage years I was into nutrition and body building and I radically changed my diet and tried to tell my mom that eating like this will get her in trouble. She thought she new best. She is now on a low glycemic diet to keep her type II under control.

Parents are not perfect. People are not perfect. I am not perfect. Do my best and try to be humble and acknowledge my mistakes when they happen. Often and frequent. Don't get me wrong- I see moms in stores with screaming children who are trying to logic things out and explain things to a 5 year old and it drives me to distraction.

Where I was coming from is that the most basic things- sex, drugs, violence are found in the Holy Bible- a very good read. Even taken in context, they are there. Not too long ago, people, schools etc. would educate themselves by reading the Bible and studying scripture. That is how so many were versed back when. And they read the same things and knew the Bible and knew temptation. At an early age. That does not make people not read the Bible. That does not make the Bible a bad book. That is what I am getting at. It is the author's prerogative to put stuff in or not. That is RJ's choice and he did what he did. But if he did put in more detail in the igloo, that would not be a deal breaker for me and make me stop reading the series.
Helen Peters
215. Helen
158. forkroot
I know no-one will be reading this now, but had to say....

bad boys ravish only young girls but violet gives willingly

Just being a know-it all.
Crystal McMillan
216. CDragon27
many cool things in these chapters. the meeting with the Seanchan.
sex with Aviendha, I have babbled before that Rand's relationship with her is the least believable and appealing of the three. to Elayne he is between really good luggage and a favorite pet. and Aviendha's real relationship is with Elayne, Rand is just a complication to it. poor guy.
Roger Powell
217. forkroot
Surfed back here by accident .. I see you have the lowdown on violet. Did Roy G Biv tell you?
218. sexythang
I found it quite comical how Rand kept trying to avoid any sexual thoughts while warming up Aviendha. He'd start thinking about women, then would come his "down boy" thought. (Pun intended.)

Also, if you want a Robert Jordan sex scene, check out his book "The Fallon Blood" and its sequels.
220. Baldsilver
Question. U know where Rand is trying to warm Aviendha up and starts talking about random stuff, pretty much baring his soul, is Aviendha hearing this? My guess would be yes but I can't really decide.
221. SouthTx_Lisa
LOL TPS reports
Stuart Wall
225. stuartalive
I've done my best to avoid the blasphemy on this site, but the posting of it in capitals on the first line of a commentary means that I am going to regretfully withdraw from this re-cap altogether. My prayers for Leigh and anyone else who's heart is so hardened to the love of Christ.
226. s'rEDIT*
@225 Huh? Wherezat? I'm missing something.

Really appreciated the extensive discussions, carried on without any rancor, about sex and violence
. . . oh, and let's not forget the English language! I would say I'm mostly with Wetlandrnw, bkaul, Miythrandir, and Freelancer (he didn't participate much on that topic, but has expressed his views previously).

*I really do belong here, promise, but the system won't accept the apostrophe so I keep signing in this way.
William McDaniel
227. willmcd
Gotta say that I'm impressed by the civility of this discussion on sexual ethics. As a Christian (will the FCC let me say that?) who has personally chosen to follow the "abstain from extra-marital hanky-panky" philosophy, I tip my hat to Miythrandir, Wetlandernw, and bkaul for speaking on "our" views in an articulate and respectful way. And likewise, to all those with differing opinions who responded respectfully in kind with their own perspectives.

In a world where any discussion of sexual ethics seems to lead almost instantly to name-calling, and "I'm refusing to talk to people of your sort any more!!", I wish we could have more discussions like this one.
Nick Hlavacek
228. Nick31
So I found this whole re-read blog recently as I was starting my own personal re-read of the series and I've been quite enjoying the commentary. I've refrained from commenting (until now) since I'm still a few years behind in reading these entries, but as a "giant John Ringo fan" I had to laugh out loud at that part of the post. (And not laughing in a derisive or rude way, but just amused agreement.) It's worth pointing out that John himself has recommended the review written above. :)
In any case, thanks for writing these and I'm looking forward to reading the rest!

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