Feb 9 2009 3:03pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Great Hunt, Part 1

Hello! Welcome to the re-read of The Great Hunt, Part 1, part of the on-going Re-read of the Wheel of Time. Today we will be covering the Prologue through Chapter 5.

Previous entries can be found here. Standard spoiler warnings for the entire series apply; if you haven’t read, don’t read.

As a note, I’m going to be trying to choke back a bit on the recap portions, as they have started to get kind of out of hand, and I’m on a schedule here. So there will be times when some details are lost; sorry about that. (Of course, the operative word here is “trying,” so take it for what it’s worth.)

To make it up to you, though, I’ve added a new feature to the recaps which should be pleasing to the eye and heart, or something. I hope you like it.

Prologue: In the Shadow

What Happens
A man calling himself “Bors” sneers at the hundred or so people gathered in the huge room with him. Like all the rest, he is wearing a black silk mask that disguises him, but he is contemptuous of the ones who made no further effort to camouflage themselves. He notes a Domani noblewoman, a Shienaran soldier, a High Lord of Tear, a Tinker, an Andoran Queen’s Guard, and two women wearing the ring of Aes Sedai, whom he refers to mentally as “witches”, with especial hatred. A chime sounds, and the doors of the chamber open to admit two Trollocs, who flank the doors and fall to their knees as a Myrddraal enters. Bors tries to convince himself he is not scared. The Fade announces, “Your Master comes”, and commands them all to fall down and grovel. The air above the Fade shimmers, and Bors immediately throws himself to the floor and recites a catechism (“The Great Lord of the Dark is my Master, and most heartily do I serve him...”). A voice commands them to rise, and Bors sees a man floating in midair, robed and masked in blood-red cloth; Bors is confused as to why the Dark One would appear like this, and thinks perhaps it is one of the Forsaken instead. He notices that the man’s hands are badly burned, which confuses him further. The man tells them his name is Ba’alzamon, and that the Day of Return draws closer; he promises them riches and power for their faithful service once the Wheel of Time is broken and the world remade. Then he causes three illusions to appear below him:

A country lad, by his clothes, with a light of mischief in his brown eyes and the hint of a smile on his lips, as if in memory or anticipation of a prank. [...] A curly-haired youth, as heavily muscled as a blacksmith. And an oddity: a battle axe hung at his side, a great, steel half-moon balanced by a thick spike. The man who called himself Bors suddenly leaned forward, intent on an even greater strangeness. A youth with yellow eyes. [...] A tall fellow, with eyes now gray, now almost blue as the light took them, and dark, reddish hair. Another villager, or farmer. [...] A sword swung from the figure’s belt, a sword with a bronze heron on the scabbard and another inset into the long, two-handed hilt. A village boy with a heron-mark blade? Impossible!

Ba’alzamon then gives each of the Darkfriends their instructions so that no one can hear what the others’ orders are; when he comes to Bors, Ba’alzamon tells him to go back to Tarabon and continue his “good works” there, and to have his followers watch for the three boys. He also gives instructions regarding “those who have landed at Toman Head”; the instructions make no sense to Bors, but he promises to obey. Ba’alzamon gives him a painful, confusing vision of all kinds of things, among them a woman or girl in white, a wolf, a horn, and a soldier with an insectlike helmet. Then Ba’alzamon moves on, and Bors returns to the puzzle of the three boys, which he has named in his head the Blacksmith, the Swordsman, and the Trickster. An empty-eyed servant appears and leads him back to his room, and Bors changes into his real clothes – a white cloak with a sunburst on the breast – anticipating the work to be done on Almoth Plain.

Ah, the infamous Darkfriend Social. Probably on record as one of the worst parties ever.

The Shienaran Bors sees is Ingtar, I’m sure. I’m fairly certain we find out who the Tairen and the Andoran are later, too, but I’m hazy on it so I won’t speculate. The two Aes Sedai could be any number of Black sisters we meet later, though it’s a good bet that one of them is Alviarin. And of course we all know who “Bors” turned out to be, though I think we don’t find out until freakin’ A Crown of Swords. I could be wrong about that, though.

I like this prologue for two reasons: One, it’s short. A rare and happy occurrence! Two, I enjoyed seeing Rand, Mat and Perrin described by a total outsider, even an evil one. Jordan using “Bors” to assign them semi-archetypal titles was a nice touch, too. Most particularly it helped mitigate some of my lingering annoyance with Mat, to see him described as a “trickster” instead of, you know, a “snotty dumbass”.

What can I say, Bugs Bunny was always my favorite Looney Tunes character. I’m so unique that way.

Chapter 1: The Flame of Tar Valon

What Happens
It’s windy. The wind reaches Rand, where he’s training on a tower top with Lan, and suddenly solidifies and pushes him so that Lan almost impales him with the practice sword. Lan yells at him, asking what’s got into him, and Rand explains about the wind. Lan pauses, and then just says that strange things happen this close to the Blight. He asks why Rand hasn’t left yet, even though it’s been a month since they returned to Fal Dara. Rand picks up his sword, and says he needs to know how to use it, otherwise wearing a heron-mark sword just makes him a target. Lan suggests selling it, as his blade is rare even among heron-mark swords. Rand rejects the idea, but asks why his sword is so special. Lan explains to him about Power-wrought swords, and how after the Breaking Aes Sedai swore never to make any more, so those that still survive are rare and precious. Lan surmises that Rand’s sword is likely three thousand years old or more. Then he tells Rand that Rand wanting to learn the sword is not a good enough excuse for remaining. Rand mutters about Mat and Perrin and Egwene, but then admits it’s because Moiraine has been ignoring him; she dumps all this horrible stuff on him, and then won’t tell him anything more. Then they hear drums and trumpets, and look over the wall to see a large party approaching Fal Dara, flying a banner with the Flame of Tar Valon on it. Horrified, Rand asks what so many Aes Sedai are doing here, and Lan tells him the Amyrlin Seat herself is with them. He looks at Rand almost sympathetically, and tells him he should have left a week ago. He leaves. Rand stares at the approaching column a moment more, and then grabs his stuff and runs off.

While I don’t really buy the “Tam and Morgase were BFFs in Tar Valon” theory that’s been batted around in the comments, I suppose that’s one way Tam could have gotten his hands on a 3,000-year-old Power-wrought sword. Although, I seem to recall Tam was part of the Illianer Companions? If so, he could have gotten it there, as well. I really do hope we get the skinny on this at some point.

The jelly-wind incident: I’m guessing, the first low-key instance of the “bubbles of evil” which will get thrown into the story any time it’s not plausible for Fain to be there to be random at everyone. Whoo.

By the way, I hope everyone’s caught that a Warder telling Rand that he’s good enough “not to stab himself in the foot” means that by any other standards he’s already pretty damn deadly with a blade. This makes me happy.

Chapter 2: The Welcome

What Happens
Rand dashes through the keep, which is bustling with preparation to receive the Amyrlin Seat, and arrives back at the room he shares with Mat and Perrin to find it filled with women taking all their clothes away and replacing them with new. Rand demands to know what’s going on, and Elansu, the shatayan (housekeeper) informs him that Moiraine Sedai ordered their clothes replaced, and orders him to strip down right there and hand over what he’s wearing. Mortified, Rand chases them all out first, which amuses the women no end, and hands his old clothes out to Elansu. The new clothes are ridiculously rich and ornate in Rand’s opinion, and he is appalled to discover that the cloaks have the Dragon emblem embroidered on the breast. He gets dressed anyway, and packs up some of the clothes, his bow, and Thom’s harp and flute. He heads to the stables, but cannot resist taking a peek on the way at the Welcoming ceremony bringing the Amyrlin Seat inside the keep. He stays long enough to see the Amyrlin step out and greet Agelmar, and then hurries on. At the stables, he asks for his horse to be saddled, bemused at how the servants all think he is a prince or something (because of the “al” in his name). The stableman bows and scrapes, but shamefully admits he cannot obey; orders have just come down that no one may leave the keep. Rand asks if it was Agelmar who gave the order, but the man doesn’t know. Worried, Rand takes off.

Ah, the inevitable lordening of the characters, starting with the fancy schmancy clothes, of course. So much fun for all us proxies out here, innit? Yes, yes it is.

I do like that it’s so consciously engineered a move on Moiraine’s part; if anyone would understand the importance of perception, it would be a former royal niece (thanks for the correction, guys) and current Aes Sedai. In her Fourth Age life she was probably a PR manager. Or a film agent.

The fact that Rand more or less deliberately delayed leaving until it was practically guaranteed that he would be caught is, of course, meant to be swept under the ta’veren rug of plot contrivances, but I think it also works as simple self-destructive behavior; on some level he wants to be caught. Stupid? Yes. Believable? Yes, actually. Just like the way I sometimes purposely hit the snooze button in the morning just one time too many and end up ten minutes late for work.

Not that I do that. It’s just, you know, an example.

We may as well get used to Rand sabotaging himself, by the way, because he’s about to do A LOT of it. And it is ANNOYING.

Chapter 3: Friends and Enemies

What Happens
Rand goes to the sally gate, which is guarded by two armsmen named Ragan and Masema. Ragan likes Rand, and would have let him through even despite the order, but Masema sourly refuses to consider it. Rand tries a couple of other gates, but they are all guarded. He begins wandering at random through the keep.

Gentled. Would it be so bad, to have it all over? Really over? He closed his eyes, but he could still see himself, huddling like a rabbit with nowhere left to run, and Aes Sedai closing round him like ravens. They almost always die soon after, men who’ve been gentled. They stop wanting to live.

Stubbornly, he keeps going. As he wanders he starts feeling like there are invisible eyes on him; he wonders uneasily whether it’s the Amyrlin looking for him, or perhaps evidence that he’s already going mad. He ends up in a storeroom, where Loial is watching Mat and Perrin dice with some servants. Rand asks Loial if he knows any secret ways out of Fal Dara, but Loial tells him the Ogier didn’t build this town, only the older version which is long gone by now. Mat and Perrin come over, and Mat asks Rand what’s up with the fancy clothes; Rand tells him all their old clothes have been replaced with the same. He tells them the Amyrlin Seat is here, and he has to get away. Mat and Perrin don’t understand why Rand thinks the Amyrlin would care about him, and Rand dodges the question by telling them about the eyes he felt watching him, and the strange wind incident earlier. Mat asks how they’re going to leave if the gates are barred. Rand, startled and dismayed by his assumption, tries to head it off at the pass, saying maybe he doesn’t want them to go with him, maybe he’s tired of being around them, and besides, people here think he’s a lord, and maybe he likes that, and when he goes he’ll go alone. Perrin is hurt, and Mat angrily tells him he can do whatever he wants. Loial starts talking about ta’veren, and Mat yells at him that he’s sick of hearing about that, and drags Perrin out of the storeroom. Loial tries to apologize to Rand, and Rand gives him the same treatment he gave Mat and Perrin; hurt, Loial stiffly takes his leave, too.

Guiltily Rand wanders off again, and eventually runs into Egwene. She tells him she talked to Mat and Perrin and Loial, and she knows what he is doing, and that it’s stupid. He tries to be mean to her too, so she will leave, and instead she tackles him and sits on top of him. He threatens to do something to her with the One Power if she doesn’t get off him, but Egwene sniffs and says she can do the same if she wants. They fight a bit more, but then Egwene agrees that perhaps he should hide. She suggests the dungeons, and reveals that she has been visiting Padan Fain. Rand asks her if she’s crazy, but she bullies him into coming along. The men guarding Fain, Changu and Nidao, seem unusually surly and rude for Shienarans; Egwene mentions that they used to be nice, but seem worse every time she comes, as do the other two prisoners down there with Fain. They reach Fain’s cell, and Rand hangs back out of the light, but Fain knows he is there, of course. Fain tells him the battle’s never over, and soon he, Fain, will be free, and Mordeth knows, and so on. Egwene thinks this maybe wasn’t so good an idea after all, and tells Rand she will hide him in the women’s apartments instead.


[Mat:] “I seem to have luck with the dice. I can hardly touch them without winning.”


Can I just say that I freakin’ hate this particular plot conceit, where the protagonist deliberately sabotages his relationships with his friends in order to “protect” them? It makes me want to throw things every time, because it never works, and it always makes things worse. This one in particular, because I’m in a position to know that Mat, for one, isn’t going to shut up about Rand thinking he’s a high and mighty lord for like FIVE BOOKS — long after he finds out why Rand said it in the first place!

Grr. At least Egwene wasn’t stupid enough to fall for it, though of course she does have the advantage of knowing why Rand’s acting like a damn fool. Her knocking Rand down and sitting on him was actually a hilarious visual.

But then, of course, she has to ruin her credit in the non-stupidity column by suggesting she and Rand go visit Señor Yo Todo lo Corrupto. BRILLIANT PLAN, EG.

Sheesh. Smackings for everyone in this chapter! Bah!

Chapter 4: Summoned

What Happens
Angry and worried, Moiraine puts on her formal shawl denoting her Ajah, worrying about why the Amyrlin is here and who she brought with her, and whether this will ruin everything. Someone bangs on her door peremptorily, and she opens it to find two Aes Sedai there. Moiraine is relieved to see Anaiya, also of the Blue and a kind, straightforward woman, especially for an Aes Sedai; the other is Liandrin, a pretty but petulant Red. Anaiya greets her warmly, but Liandrin just informs her that the Amyrlin summons Moiraine to see her, now. As they walk, Moiraine asks them for the news. Liandrin tells her that three more false Dragons have declared themselves at once, but Anaiya adds that one of them is in chains already, and of the other two, only the one in Saldaea, Mazrim Taim, can channel, and sisters should already be there to deal with him. They stop momentarily to greet the Lady Amalisa, and Moiraine notices Egwene out of the corner of her eye, hustling a tall stooped figure into the women’s apartments.

Moiraine permitted herself a small smile, quickly masked. If the girl shows as much initiative in Tar Valon, she thought wryly, she will sit in the Amyrlin Seat one day. If she can learn to control that initiative. If there is an Amyrlin Seat left on which to sit.

Moiraine also notices that Liandrin is suspiciously nice to Amalisa. They move on, Moiraine wondering what the Red sister is up to, and Anaiya continues to give the news. The riots in Caemlyn have died with spring’s arrival, and Elayne and Gawyn are safely in Tar Valon, although Whitecloaks shadowed them the whole way there. The Illianers have called the Hunt for the Horn, and something is agitating the Sea Folk. The Aiel are stirring too, and there are vague rumors of fighting on Almoth Plain.

They arrive at the Amyrlin’s suite, and Moiraine notes the sisters there in the anteroom: Verin Mathwin and Serafelle, Brown, Carlinya, White, Alanna Mosvani, Green, and a Yellow sister Moiraine does not know. Leane, Keeper of the Chronicles, comes in and escorts Moiraine to see the Amyrlin. Inside, Moiraine sees to her dismay that the chest holding the Horn of Valere is there. She goes to the Amyrlin, Siuan Sanche, and greets her formally. Siuan tells her that Elaida is in Tar Valon, and that the Reds are very puffed up over having found Elayne, who may well be the most powerful Aes Sedai in a thousand years. Moiraine counters that she has found two girls in the Two Rivers, one of whom is at least as strong as Elayne, and the other who far outstrips them both, and there is no chance either of them will choose Red. To Moiraine’s surprise, Siuan ignores this news to tell her that Elaida also was in high dudgeon about a young man she met in Caemlyn, who she claims is very dangerous, more dangerous even than Artur Hawkwing, and that Moiraine spirited him away despite that. Moiraine says she has three boys with her, but none of them want to be kings. Siuan says perhaps, but one of them is ta’veren. She adds that the Hall considered a motion to have Moiraine sent into retreat as a punishment. They discuss the politicking in the Hall for a bit more, and then the Amyrlin declares she will speak to Moiraine alone. Leane is surprised, but leaves. Siuan weaves a ward against eavesdropping around the room, and then she and Moiraine hug warmly. They reminisce about their time as novices together for a moment, then Siuan gets back to business:

“Moiraine, if anyone, even Leane, discovers what we plan, we will both be stilled. And I can’t say they would be wrong to do it.”

Well, it’s official: “Amyrlin” is twenty times more annoying to type than “Ba’alzamon”. I know the books don’t start referring to her as “Siuan” until after she’s stilled, but I will be starting it now, by God.

Our first non-Emond’s Fielder POV! Our first Aes Sedai-centric chapter! AND THE SCHEMING BEGINS IMMEDIATELY. Hah.

It’s interesting how, the moment Moiraine, Anaiya and Liandrin start talking, it’s obvious how much bigger a world they move in than Rand et al. I mean, duh, right, but it’s a startling change of perspective after being stuck in the heads of (ex)farmfolk for so long.

Also interesting is how the first two Aes Sedai we meet other than Moiraine and Elaida are so similarly set up as diametrical opposites, in personality, in politics, even in looks. Of course, this is even more true than we yet know, considering what Liandrin’s real Ajah turns out to be, but even leaving that aside, it’s pretty clear from the beginning that the Red Ajah is intended to be firmly in the Knights Templar/Asshole “Good” Guys camp. I’m not positive, but I don’t think we meet a single Red sister that’s even remotely not an Asshole Good Guy until Pevara, aaaalll the way in Winter’s Heart.

Chapter 5: The Shadow in Shienar

What Happens
Siuan agrees with Moiraine that they must do what the Pattern has chosen them to do, and fulfill the Prophecies, but begins musing on the only other two Amyrlins to be stripped of her office (Tetsuan and Bonwhin). Moiraine tells her to pull herself together, and Siuan retorts she wouldn’t be having nearly as many problems if it weren’t for Moiraine. She asks what happened to the original plan.

“The Pattern pays no heed to human plans, Siuan. With all our scheming, we forgot what we were dealing with. Ta’veren. Elaida is wrong. Artur Paendrag Tanreall was never this strongly ta’veren. The Wheel will weave the Pattern around this young man as it wills, whatever our plans.”

Siuan shivers and changes the subject, to the Horn of Valere. She says Agelmar gave it to her the second she arrived, terrified that he would not be able to withstand the temptation to sound it himself. She muses at how the Horn resurfacing means the time is near, and the Pattern is now throwing up false Dragons. She worries that they may have accidentally gentled the real Dragon, but Moiraine reassures her that after the real Dragon proclaims himself there will be no others. Moiraine shows her the broken Seal, and Siuan says that she saw the young man in the courtyard; one of her Talents is seeing ta’veren, and the man she saw “blazed like the sun”. She asks if Moiraine is sure this Rand al’Thor is the Dragon. Moiraine is sure. She explains her new plan: to convince Rand and his friends to take the Horn to Illian. She says the Illianers would follow anyone who brought them the Horn, and thus Rand will have a ready-made army to protect him when he declares himself. Then she says they’ve been talking alone too long, and the conversation breaks up.

Geofram Bornhald leads his column of 2,000 Whitecloaks across Tarabon, thinking of the orders he had received from Pedron Niall, the Lord Captain Commander of the Children of Light, to come here and meet with someone at Alcruna. He thinks proudly of how he managed to get so many here without having to silence any witnesses. He discovers that the “someone” he’s meeting are Questioners, led by Einor Saren, Jaichim Carridin’s second in command, and that they have killed everyone in the village to avoid being seen. Bornhald wants to know what he is doing here; Einor tells him that there are strangers on Toman Head with a great force, and rumor says they are monsters, or that Aes Sedai fight for them, or both.

For a moment, Bornhald stopped breathing. “Then the rumors are true. Artur Hawkwing’s armies have returned.”

Einor’s like, whatever, and Bornhald orders Byar to get the men across the bridge and settled.

Liandrin heads through the keep to the Lady Amalisa’s chambers, where she and her serving women are giggling over a book of courting customs. Liandrin throws everyone but Amalisa out, and then burns the book. Amalisa tries to figure out what she had done wrong, and Liandrin strikes at her with the One Power:

It was not a perfect ability; Liandrin could not force anyone to do what she wanted—though she had tried; oh, how she had tried. But she could open them wide to her arguments, make them want to believe her, want more than anything to be convinced of her rightness.

Liandrin commands Amalisa to scour the keep for the three boys Moiraine had brought with her to Fal Dara, and to tell no one of this. She tells Amalisa they are worse than Darkfriends and must be found. She leaves Amalisa’s rooms, and thinks she feels eyes on her, watching. She dismisses it as her imagination.

Fain sits in his cell, waiting. The door to the guardroom opens, and Fain greets the figure there, saying they were not who he was expecting, but no matter. He grins up at the ceiling, muttering that it’s never over.

I love how Moiraine tells Siuan “we can’t make any plans! He’s ta’veren!” and then two seconds later is like “My plan, let me show you it!” Heh. Silly Aes Sedai.

See, this is exactly why Bornhald the Elder is even worse than the zealous nutballs like Byar; in one breath, Bornhald’s all, oh, but I want to make sure they’re Darkfriends first, and the reader’s all, Aw, so he’s kinda sane, and grandfatherly and huggable!

Yeah, and right after that he finds out his colleagues have slaughtered an entire village, just to keep them from blabbing, and his only reaction is mild irritation.

Ugh. No. Die in a Fire, kthxbi.

And Pedron Niall, of course, makes Bornhald the Elder look like a giant fluffy woobie of non-hypocrisy by comparison, but I’ll have plenty of opportunity to hate on him later, so we’ll leave that for now.

I feel kind of dumb re: Liandrin, because even though it’s screamingly obvious to me now that she is Black Ajah, the first time I read this I really thought she was just a high-riding bitch. This might have been because I was overthinking it: surely, I thought, a character who’s been set up to be so thoroughly unlikable will turn out to be a good guy just for the cognitive dissonance, right? Yeah, not so much.

The watching eyes thing is interesting, though, that Liandrin feels it too. I've always assumed it was Fain, but that doesn't seem right, now. Ideas?

Okay, that’s it for today, peeps. Come on back Wednesday for Part 2, which will cover Chapters 6-10 of The Great Hunt. See you there!

1. AnnOnimous
Oooo, first comment, don't I feel special.

I always found it nifty that Fain rubs off on people.

As to where Tam got a 3,000 year old power-wrought sword, I've got a sneaking suspicion that Kari was an Aes Sedai... maybe just me.

And maybe between my phone ringing and the baby fussing I might not have first comment anymore....
2. superfan99
@ AnnOnimous:

This just occurred to me after reading your post, but she could have been a stilled Aes Sedai, which would explain the early death.
3. AnnOnimous
I've figured stilled or burned out... don't think it would make too much difference. But would that have made Tam her Warder? Would baby Rand be enough reason for a Warder to survive his A.S.'s death? Gaaahh!!
4. Tony Zbaraschuk
I'm still wondering how much of Fain rubbed off on Egwene during her visits to him...
5. Zeynep
Re Chapter 3: Come on, what did Loial do to deserve a smacking? He later accepts Rand's apology immediately too.

Our first Aes Sedai-centric chapter! AND THE SCHEMING BEGINS IMMEDIATELY. Hah.

Yes, heh. I had not noticed that actually, but of course you are completely right. Even an Aes Sedai's musings about another's schemings begin immediately ("What was the wretched girl up to?").

Re Red Ajah: I'm listening to the audiobook of The Path of Daggers, and Teslyn Baradon was all right---arrogant and bitter and angry and all, of course, but still all right. As I recall, part of her Aes Sedai agenda was to undercut Elaida in revenge for sending her as an ambassador to what she saw as an unimportant country. Not actively doing harm while trying to do good to her definition, is what I'm trying to say. Of course, I might be misremembering her Ajah.
6. David M.
Bors true identity is revealed in The Shadow Rising, when Liandrin meets up with him in chapter 38. She specifically calls him Bors, and we see it all from his perspective, so we know she's right--he's Bors. It could have been revealed earlier--maybe early in tDR, but I don't have my copy of that book with me, so I can't check.
7. Pattonmat89
I wonder if it's, oh, I don't know, the ancient sword of Manetheren. I mean, the Two Rivers is supposed to be where the kickass "Old Blood" is really, really strong, just because Manetheren was that awesome. I mean, the last Queen of Manetheren was an Aes Sedai. And the last King died at Aemon's Field. I think one of the descendants of Manetheren kept the old sword after the Trollocs left, and just forgot about it until Tam left, 2,000 years or so later. But that's just me.
Herb Schaltegger
8. LameLefty
Well, even Kari being Aes Sedai or "Stilled Sedai" doesn't explain the Power-wrought blade by itself. How many other Aes Sedai have we seen with access to such blades? Now, if there's some story Tam can tell eventually about how he and Kari Sedai were off on some mission (of Verin's no doubt :-P ) to find something in the Waste and come across some ter'angreal that burns her out and there just happens to be an ancient sword there, maybe. And oh, by the way, while Tam is scouring a battlefield and finds infant Rand and thinks, "This is just the thing to give Kari's life meaning again . . ."

Eh, I don't know.
Leigh Butler
9. leighdb
Tony Z:

Egwene might not have been affected by Fain at all, since she can channel. Remember how Moiraine talks about her presence being some proof against the Shadow all by itself.
10. HeWhoComesWithTheNoon
I've always liked Fain as a character. Yes, RJ sometimes had a groan-worthy tendency to overuse his "wildcard," but the actual character arc of Fain is the only one we've had of a bad guy that goes through every book, and I can't honestly yet tell you what I think is going to happen. Though if he bites off Rand's finger and then while capering in joy, falls into a fissure in Shayol Ghul, thereby destroying the last seal and allowing the bore to close naturally and inadvertantly saving the day, I'm going to be upset. He's got the duality with Rand with the merging triple-consciousness thing, plus he's getting random unexplained powers. Ishydin may be the Dark's champion, but Fain is the Dark's Rand, if that makes any sense. Plus he's the only bad guy I can think of who isn't infected with chronic superiority character flaw, ie. "these ignorant country bumpkins wouldn't know the first thing about the One Pow-ZZZZAAAAAAP!!!"

Whenever I see fan cast lists, I see Steve Buscemi listed as Fain, and I think he's way too obvious for Fain. And I don't see him pulling off regal Mordeth Fain without being silly. The people who really work for Fain for me are Kevin Spacey and John Malkovich.

Fain, along with Lews Therin, are the two characters that I'm really curious about what's going to happen in aMoL. Well, obviously I'm curious about everyone, but those are the ones I'm in the dark about.

I wish I could plead with Brandon Sanderson, though I know this decision isn't his to make, to scrap whatever Big Redemption may be planned for Elaida and just have her stripped naked, beaten with the One Power, stuffed in a box, and dropped off the side of a boat that do be owned by Bayle Domon. I wish I had a holodeck so I could personally recreate her and headbutt her. Least favorite character in the book (from a plot standpoint, not from a writing standpoint).
Leigh Butler
11. leighdb
David M:

Ah, thank you for the correction.
Iain Scott
12. iopgod
Presumably, a power-wrought-blade isn't particularly obviously valuable if you don't know what it is... as a looter on an old battlefield probably wouldn't. they might notice (and know the meaning of) the heron-marks, though... and sell it to someone like the Illianer Compainion's Second captain, Tam Al'Thor (a blademaster? Possibly... presumably an outlander would have to be pretty good to become Second Captain...)

Which means it could come from anywhere. Of course, Jordan being Jordan, it probably does have some significant (and "obvious") provenance!
13. AnneW
Oh, how I hated the scenes at the beginning of this book with Rand skulking about trying to escape. BAH.

As a data point, they were much worse to listen to than to read. I think my mind subconsciously skims text with people wandering and running about in corridors or tunnels. I blame Tad Williams.
14. AfroSamurai
First off I just want to say you're the best Leigh. I just began rereading the series a couple of weeks ago and reading your articles along with the books has really given me some insights I would not have come to otherwise. FTR, you're right about Tam being in the Companions. When Rand meets the Amyrlin (it's not that bad to type lol) Moiraine spills about Tam rising to Blademaster and Second Captain of the Companions. Keep up the good work.
Iain Scott
15. iopgod
Re: the sword, again: According to the Mattin Stepaneos entry on, the King of Illian presented the sword to Tam (attributed to an RJ book signing question)
Joe Sherry
16. jsherry
The identity of Bors is heavily suggested before The Shadow Risingt - the whole thing with the Fade threatening Jaichim's family (unless that was early in TSR), but yeah, it's confirmed by Liandrin later in The Shadow Rising.
Joe Sherry
17. jsherry
Oh, and some of my favorite scenes are Moiraine and Siuan together. It hints at how desperate of a plan this whole thing was and that Moiraine does know what is at stake for her and Siuan.

It humanizes Mo far more than any other scene does becaue it allows her guard to drop just a bit.
18. meiyas
First of all, thanks for the reread. I am really enjoying reading the books again, and the comments.

small correction Fain = "Señor Yo Todo lo Corrompo"

what really surprised me about chapter 5 is that we have several different POV in it. I don't remember a previous chapter were that happened
19. Heather J.
Aah, the chapter heading pictures! I’m so glad you’re adding these, b/c I never noticed their significance when I first read the books, and of course they are not in the audio version (although I’d LOVE to hear the narrators try to describe them to me …).

For those who are interested, you can check out the official speculation on who all the known darkfriends at the darkfriend party were at if you want (just click on THE GREAT HUNT then on the PROLOGUE link).

“It’s windy.” HA! There you go again with the humor that I love.
20. rlmoore1
"surely, I thought, a character who’s been set up to be so thoroughly unlikable will turn out to be a good guy just for the cognitive dissonance, right?"

I thought the exact same thing, I kept looking for the good in Liandrin.

I am really enjoying the re-read. I don't know many people who read WOT, so it is nice to get someone else's perspective.
Leigh Butler
21. leighdb

small correction Fain = "Señor Yo Todo lo Corrompo"

Oops. I guess it's a good thing I abandoned my idea of doing the entire intro part of the post in Spanish, huh?
22. Ofer Nave
iopgod - I didn't know that Mattin Stepaneos gave Tam his sword - thanks. That immediately brought the following thoughts to the forefront for me:

1) Mattin Stepaneos has been only a name until just now, in book 11, when he became an on-screen character, and an interesting one so far.

2) Tam al'Thor was in book 4 for the Two Rivers/Fain thread, but only just now, in book 11, has he made his first on-screen appearance outside the Two Rivers.

Are we going to get to witness some kind of reunion? I can tell you that the two character reunions I've been looking forward to most since the first book is Rand and Tam, and Rand and Bela.
Angel Banchev
23. Tiranas
The It`s Windy bit was priceless :) I have to agree that the visual of Eg over Rand was a hilarious bit to perceive :) Also the Darkfriend get-together helped set some ideas of how the characters would evolve.I consider it a clever bit of foreshadowing especially on Mat`s part with the Trickster and all.Also i do have to agree about Bornhaldt and he being a hypocrite...Liandrin was portrayed as a stuck up and does not change that much thrue out the series.In general the bits about the Aes Sedai have never appealed to me that greatly.Frankly later those chapters tend to get cumbersome.Dunno maybe its just me.

About Tram...I think that somewhere in the whole bunch of pages is explained that the king of Illian awarded him the sword or at least that`s how i remember the thing.

All and all keep it up Leigh.Plus the chapter head pictures are a great touch.Nicely done.
24. ToasterJ
Really lovin' the reread so far Leigh! I wish I had known you were going to do these back in September when i started my reread, so I wouldnt be so far ahead.

Alas, but since I am so far ahead, I just finished a crown of swords where it is revealed that Pevara is a red ajah non-asshole when she begins ferreting out darkfriends for white ajah whats-her-name. So, the red ajah gets some cred before Winter's Heart after all!
Ofer Nave
25. odigity
Also - Leigh - damn you! Bad enough having to wait all year for book 12, now I have to endure a long sequence of smaller pains in between your postings. Why can't I just hide in T'A'R until 2010?
Kyle Bass
26. bkyle4
Oh, these are some good times. TGH first showed me how political this series would be...factions inside of factions, inside of plots, inside of wheels and patterns and such. TEOTW was such an innocent time. *sigh*

I'm currently in the early going of LoC, and thinking that this re-read might pass me up if I don't pick up the pace!
27. stoutdog101

First off, great job! I've been following all along... IMO you shouldn't shorten the posts. It's been about 3 years for me so I have gaps in my memory that rival Mat's! Besides I'm in grad school and don't have the time to do a catch up myself.... yes, I wasn't born when the first book came out :)

On Liandrin: Wow, I'm surprised I didn't pick up on her evil tendencies when she is beating the snot out of Amalisa. Shows how little we knew about Aes Sedai at this point in the series....

Question: Who let's Fain out of the dungeon? Maybe I'm missing something, but was it Liandrin? A controlled Amalisa? Ingtar? Or do we even know?
Richard Boye
28. sarcastro
re: non-Asshole Reds - I think that Tarna Feir, who was Elaida's emissary to the rebels, and who ultimately was ...resigned to the Asha'man bonding idea, was relatively non-strident and assholish when she first showed up in LoC.

But that's just me.

More later.

Yeesh, this pace in punishing ;)
Abdel Masdoua
29. TheDarkOne

I've got to say that this re-read is really great!
It has become an addiction!!!

I'd almost forgotten the atmosphere in the two first books where things seem so simple and even a little naïve when you confront them with all the stuff that happens after.
Especially the question of the trust between the characters ; and we haven't learned about Daes Dae Mar yet...

Thank you so much Leigh for the work you're doing here!

Love your humor! ^^
Jeff Gross
30. RIPJordan
First off I would like to thank you very much for the enjoyable re-read and commentary that you provide, it has inspired me to re-read the book along with you.

Re: It's Windy. That has to be the best description that I have ever heard of the opening of EVERY book!!! How come it is never that windy in the rest of the book?

Re stoutdog101: "Question: Who let's Fain out of the dungeon? Maybe I'm missing something, but was it Liandrin? A controlled Amalisa? Ingtar? Or do we even know?" I always that that it was Egwene and Mat that Fain was talking to and a Fade came along after them and then knocked them out and released Fain, but I could be wrong!

Also I have always thought of Bornhald the Elder that way I always thought of him as a smart boy that just caught up with the wrong crowd and has been warped through his 35 year association with them to not be as affected by their atrocities. Through this does say something about the type of person he is in that he has become jaded to their actions knowing that they are bad but doing nothing about them, I agree, makes him FAR worse than Byar, Valda, or Bornhald the Younger.

re: As for Liandrin I believe that I always saw her as a darkfriend from the first time I read about her as she talks about 'feeling' The Dark One's power stirring. Also at the end she talks about her 'orders' being explicit I just assumed that she was working for the other side and after the attack it just made be believe it even more.

Well I have rambled on to much thank you very much again for all the work that you have put into the re-read and the commentary!!!!!
31. RobMRobM
Random thoughts re the kick off chapters of TGH and Leigh's excellent summary.

Pro - Matt as trickster v. "snotty dumb ass." You nailed it - I recall having the same response at the time and thought - how is he going to become a trickster? I also like Bors' comments that most of the people present could be identified by their clothes and jewelry - speaks volumes about the overconfidence and lack of preparation of Darkfriends and suggests why they had problems killing off the five TR kids throughout the series.

1. Leigh, you're killing me. I can't believe you're making fun of my Tam-Morgase comments in earlier posts. Straightforward syllogism -- please tell us what in the following is not logical: 1) Is the Morgase line that she became familiar with Two Rivers speech in her youth a total throwaway or not? If former, analysis ends. 2) If not, and it is intended to mean something -- the more likely conclusion, given the amount of foreshadowning in EOTW -- there is no information on anyone from the Two Rivers that could be the source but Tam; 3) Tam had opportunity, given that he was an officer in an Army from the next country over, could well have spent time in Camelyn on official or unofficial business and, indeed, per TGH chapter 8 spent enough time in Camelyn to have married a local merchant's daughter. QED - RJ probably has/had planned backstory that Morgase and Tam had some level of contact in Morgase's youth. Doesn't mean they had a fling, doesn't mean that Kari and Morgase were cousins, doesn't mean Kari and Morgase went to White Tower togethre, doesn't mean that he and Morgase even talked directly together ... but somewhere, somehow, she heard Tam's speech enough to pick out the Two Rivers accent. I'm not going to restate all the grounds for my separate conclusion that Tam and Morgase are fated to end up together in AMOL but that also accords with common sense (1. EOTW c. 1 theme of Tam as desirable widower who has remained unmarried; 2. Tallanvor is set up as a weasel - not a happy ending if they stay together; 3. He likes redheads; 4. Won't be a happy ending if Rand heads out all alone back to Two Rivers; 5. Tam and Morgase and now in Perrin's camp together and will meet shortly; 6. awyn's speech about Two Rivers folk being best husbands for strong-willed Andoran royals; and 7. We need the payoff of Tam wielding his blademaster skills on camrea, and wouldn't it be nice if he saved Morgase along the way -- but maybe I'm just a romantic at heart.)

Re the sword - you get to be a blademaster in two ways - you defeat one in single combat and get to keep the other's weapon (a la Galad v. Valda) or a panel of blademasters judge you worthy. My assumption is that Tam qualified on latter either as Second Captain to Companions or in getting to that position, and got awarded a treasure of a sword (power wrought) by the Illian King due to his great service to the crown. Again, back story would have been in an outrigger novel. (By the way, love the tease in one of the later books where the current First Captain of the Companions has a point of view about how unhappy he was to be in service to Tam al Thor's kid -- what's the story behind that throwaway?) (P.s. I agree with the commenter who thought have Mattin Stepaneous in Tar Valon would be significant in AMOL - I'm guessing he helps Egwene defend the castle against the coming Seanchan invasion.)

I did love your comment about Rand not stabbing himself in the foot = he's pretty freaking good at the sword arts. Nice point!

2. The self-sabotaging by Rand is perfectly understandable. He's freaked out by the news he got at the Eye, the person who has told him what to do and how to do through the trip across Randland (Mo) is refusing to give him any guidance, and he doesn't really know his next step -- so he stays with his friends and practices his sword. Not hard to understand - he's a mess. see also point 4 below.

3. Not "bah"; "Faugh" is better. And I still hate Fain as a character - you nailed in him in the EOTW summaries. Please, please, not him again.

4. Contrary to some, I really liked RJ's tactic of having Rand going into hiding in women's quarter. We're back to the Camelyn Road wandering where we get to see Rand as a powerless, panicking young guy rather than as the big, bad DR. (Bring back the Graham Chapman accent from Life of Brian -- "He is not the Dragon Reborn, he is a very naughty boy") It makes the payoff all the better when he develops later in the book and the series. Victory over Balzamon hasn't gone to his head quite yet. I also loved the Mo-Suian discussions about how the stakes over Rand's status as the DR may lead to their own destruction among the AS -- a mindblowing expansion of the complexity and underlying tension in the story. Bravo to RJ. Game on.

5. 100% with you on Liandrin. I expected her to be something other than a Red=superbitch, later turning Black, caricature. Guess we waz wrong, although it nicely sets up the KoD shocker when she becomes a permanent pet to the Seanchan. Couldn't have happened to a nicer girl, lol.

Joe Sherry
32. jsherry
I figure that whether or not Andor has sent a taxman into the Two Rivers in a generation or more, Morgase HAS to be aware of the Two Rivers because of the famed Two Rivers Tabac as a major export. It's widely known and popular as a superb blend.


No. That doesn't make sense and neither does the fact that the people of the Two Rivers barely know they are part of Andor and that they have a Queen.

If Two Rivers tabac is really as popular an export, wouldn't Morgase and her predecessors have been sending tax men into the Two Rivers for decades? Seriously, if the tabac is known outside of the realm it would be known in Caemlyn.

So, while it makes sense (to me) that Morgase would recognize the accent of the region which produces her nation's popular exports, it then doesn't make sense (to me) that the Two Rivers don't know of their Queen or much of Andor.

This ties into the Tam / Morgase / accent discussion, but I talked myself into it and right back out of it.

I do think that Tam / Morgase may be a stretch. It's not impossible, but it gives me an "oh, come on!" feeling in my head.
33. RobMRobM
jsherry@31 - that is a really interesting point. My supposition is that TR people deal with the merchants in Baerlon via Taren Ferry, and the Baerlon folk them then trade the tabac all over Randland. No need for TR people to go far in the ordinary course. Also, I'm guessing that the Queen's taxmen and Army don't get to Baerlon much either -- truly the Wild West of Andor, with TR being that much more inaccessible due to all of the surrounding natural barriers.

P.s. Re my note @31, at point 1 and subpoint 4 -- of course I meant Tam heading back alone to Two Rivers rather than Rand; and Gawyn rather than "awyn."
34. Tapioca

"If Two Rivers tabac is really as popular an export, wouldn't Morgase and her predecessors have been sending tax men into the Two Rivers for decades?"

Not really. Keep in mind that the Two Rivers farmers aren't making huge amounts of cash. The people who would be making the serious money would be the merchants who buy the leaf from the farmers who don't know that their tobacco is the best in Middle Earth and then reselling it in other markets. And there's no way that Morgase wouldn't be taxing the merchants in some form.
35. RobMRobM
Leigh - re the watching eye thing: I was stumped but now I'm wondering whether it could be Lanfear doing the watching? She shows up so quickly after Rand and company leave the castle, I'm having the sneaking sense she knew they were there and had them all under observation. Thoughts back? I can't come up with a better alternative. Rob
36. Erdrick
About Tam's sword:

"'I got it a long time ago,' Tam said, 'a long way from here. And I paid entirely too much...'"

Wow...I really wish we could have heard these stories. He goes on to say how much Kari did not approve of the sword, so the speculation that he got it from her does not seem plausible. One thing fans really enjoy about back stories is the way they intertwine with major themes and happenings in the primary storyline. There seems to be several "throwaway lines" that seem to be setting up this very thing for the now not to be prequel novellas. Too bad.

There also seems to be some confusing mixing of terms with prequel and outrigger novels. Robert Jordan planned three prequel novels: New Spring (the only one he did write), some of Tam's back story, and what led up to Moiraine and Lan showing up in the Two Rivers just in time. He then announced the possibility of a set of three side-plot (or "outrigger") novels "following some of the characters on another story arc." Supposedly at least one was to be about Mat and Tuon (post Tarmon Gaidon), I guess heading out to Seanchan to restore order to the chaos Semirhage caused by slaughtering everyone in the royal family except for Tuon.

Robert Jordan did write some notes about these books, but I highly doubt these stories will see the light of day. I was at a book signing with Brandon Sanderson in NYC, and I think I recall him saying he felt the same. He said something about the notes for those being just notes, and nothing like the detailed outlines, audio storytelling, and chunks of finished text like there is with AMoL. He did speculate that the notes (as raw notes) may be published in some form after AMoL comes out, but that's up to Harriet. And I actually like that idea even better. Without an outline, anything else would be little better than fan fiction.

Sorry, I try not to write long posts, but for some reason (after bringing up Tam's sword) this one just kept growing. Well, I shouldn't apologize; RJ started out thinking he could finish the series in 5 books, maybe 6, but after writing the first book he realized it would take much longer (

Okay, that's enough! G'night.
37. jafco
Tam's backstory.

One has to be...someone LeBron James or Michael Phelps (does Tam ever show up with a bong?) to ever wear a Heron Mark Sword (especially one made by AS 3,000 years ago).

Further, Tam was in the Illian Guard and surely fought and defended against the Aiel there. Still he survived and ended up on the slopes of Dragonmount - about 2000 miles north - where he found and enfolded and sequestered a special baby high on the mountain.

Plus, he always wins the archery competitions in Emond's Field - a place where EVERYBODY shoots well, using a technique that Rand finds help him attain saidin.

There is a lot we don't know about Tam. All we do know is really positive - brave, resourceful, talented, warrior, etc. - a great role model for Rand, the King of the World.

So could Tam and Morgase and other majors in this story have a connection? I think it's evident, but we haven't been shown what they are. Interesting stuff.
38. stoutdog101
@ RIPJordan: "I always that that it was Egwene and Mat that Fain was talking to and a Fade came along after them and then knocked them out and released Fain, but I could be wrong! "

I looked it up on Encyclopedia-WOT. Apparently Jordan says that Ingtar and a Fade (Shaidar Haran?) freed Fain. Sequence would go as this (I can only surmise, since we never get Mat or Egwene's POV):

1) Ingtar enters, frees Fain (end of Ch.5)
2) (beg. Ch.6) Mat and Egwene enter, get knocked out by Fain/Fade/Trollocs
3) Ingtar leaves with Fain/Fade
4) Fade runs into Rand, Ingtar tells Rand to go away (Fain lurking?)
5) Ingtar takes Fain/Fade out
6) Rand discovers Mat and Egwene, and that Fain is missing.

Make sense?
craig miller
39. craigpmiller
Thanks a million for your re-read.

I usually re-read the previous release before tackling the new WOT novel - just to get up to speed - so I know the series pretty well, but your sheiky-geek insights are a delight.

Windy! :-D

Keep 'em comin'
40. Rikka
the first low-key instance of the “bubbles of evil” which will get thrown into the story any time it’s not plausible for Fain to be there to be random at everyone. Whoo.

okay, that earned a lmfao. I hate Fain. damnit, he's annoying. Rand is also annoying here. As is much of TGH with all that sensless wandering in 'if' worlds bur Rand fails at just about everything for the next bajillion chapters.... Egwene fails pretty hard too and it makes me sad when Moiraine wellthinks her... Nynaeve does alright for once! Yay!

Siun is one of my favorite females in the entire series. I adore the woman six ways past sundown (wow that sounds like a pillowfriends implication... o_O) and I remember being quite giddy when Siun and Moiraine confirm Rand's dragonyness.

Also nice to know Liandrin's been trying at compulsion. it would rankle to know the girls learn it...and I also thought the watching eyes were Fain, though Moiraine does say that his eyes never leave the room where the boys are.
Ofer Nave
41. odigity
RobMRobM - You're a sly bastard. I know the series back and forth, and never even considered the possibility of a Tam/Morgase connection, but your logic is solid. Though I still can't see how to pull off Morgase switching from Tallanvor to Tam in one book after all the previous build-up - especially considering how many men RJ has listed her being with already, including an upset comment by Elayne about it; really, it's practically become an unconscious running joke. Not to mention that RJ has so far has never veered off course once developing a romantic pairing on screen. All of those have either been consummated or are still on course to be shortly.

jsherry - Regarding the tabac, I've been wondering the same thing for years. I think this is the one case in which RJ simply decided to blatantly indulge in an amusing and plot-insignificant LOTR reference in defiance of logic, because the logic clearly does not hold. That's how I've always figured it, and I decided back then to simply accept and forgive it. I love LOTR, too, so I can sympathize, out of respect for Tolkien.
42. birgit
The wind was called by Siuan's company. She mentions to Moiraine how their tampering with the weather swamped the fields near the river.

I thought the watching eyes are Fain and Liandrin can feel them because she is a darkfriend, like the darkfriends who can feel Mat's dagger.
43. seanie
still doin' great leigh , again thanks ! someone posted about nonassholeish reds (Tarna) got me to remembering an impression - i haven't seen a theory so correct me if i am restating someone elses idea but i think Tarna will end up being egwene's keeper. ultimately she will ditch darkfriend sheriam and this will be a good melding of rebel and tower . Tarna is always complaining (mentally ) about how inflexible elaida is and how she never takes advice etc . She is also very admiring of Egwene's toughness. Thoughts ?
Kate Nepveu
44. katenepveu
Icons! Cool!

Yeah, the opening chapters are pretty annoying. Is this the first major instance of the whole thing where groups of women delight in embarassing the hell out of young men by staring at them naked? Which combines two of my _least_ favorite things, humiliation comedy and a view of gender relations as war, and which tells you all you need to know about my reaction to almost all of the male-female relationships in WoT.

And I heartily approve of the recap-commentary balance here and also your not burning yourself out on the posts!
Joe Sherry
45. jsherry
Tapioca @ 34: I'll grant the farmers aren't making serious coin, but I have a difficult time accepting that they are completely backwater provincials who don't know they are putting out a good product.

They may be simple, but they ain't stupid.

You may have a point about taxing the merchant instead of the farmer, though while my reading on this sort of thing isn't very wide, I'd be very surprised if there are nations who don't tax the farmer too.
46. lindal
Following along on the re-read and I think I figured out how Verin was able to chase down the boys and not lie about it.
Prior to Verin's bombshell about the dark prophecy Moiraine and Siuan are speaking with Verin about the dagger and it's affect on the world while its loose and Moiraine says something along the lines of, "it's imperative that we retreive the dagger...". I think Verin used that as her rationale for stating that "Moiraine sent her".

While she was hoping to use the opportunity to track the progress of the Dragon Reborn, when Rand wasn't there, she was committed to staying with the group to retreive the dagger whether she wanted to or not.
Leigh Butler
47. leighdb
Sarcastro @ 28:

Really? See, cause I remember Tarna was actually a complete beech when we first meet her; a lot of people were convinced she was a Darkfriend just based on that chapter in LOC. It wasn't until we see her again in WH that she turns out to be a Non-Asshole.


Hey, I'm not laughing *at* you, I'm laughing *near* you. Seriously, Tam/Morgase is a perfectly fine theory, though I seem to recall someone brought up some timing issues with it; I just tend not to endorse theories that haven't been or are unlikely to be confirmed by the text. And plus, there's just something a little too pat about it; ta'veren etc., yes, but there's only so much coincidence I can stand. Sorry.

Of course, if it turns out you are right I will totally give you maxima mea culpas.

re: watching eyes being Lanfear: sure, why not. Makes as much sense as anything else.


re: tabac and why Morgase isn't taxing it: this is discussed further on, when Ingtar talks about how the nations are shrinking, and hardly any of them have the ability to really hold all that they claim to. I'm sure Morgase would love to get some Two Rivers tabac taxes; but if it comes down to getting that at the expense of being able to exert authority over lands closer to Caemlyn, well.


See, the embarrassing men/naked thing didn't bug me until it became such an overused gimmick that it was ridiculous. A little is funny, because that kind of thing does happen; for it to happen *constantly* - yeah, it gets old.

Gender relations as war: Oh, there's a whole screed in there. Which we will get to in due time.
Leigh Butler
48. leighdb
Actually, correction: a lot of people thought Tarna was a Forsaken, not a Darkfriend, because of the icon for that chapter. Mesaana in disguise, to be exact.
Kate Nepveu
49. katenepveu
Leigh, I don't remember whether it bugged me initially, but now I can't help but see it as part and parcel of the whole problematic treatment of sex & gender in WoT and it just makes my skin crawl.

(I may skip the Mat/Tylin chapters when the time comes, because honestly.)
50. Clearlyhere
I always disliked the beginning of the book except for the Power Girls and when Rand meets Thom. I feel like saying "Skip to the end."

Rand seems to be acting like a boy for real. Depression makes people do stuff like this. Think just kill (gentle) me know. Yell at your friends to make them leave you. RJ did a good job with Rand here. Not much fun in the beginning, but good characterization.
51. Buddhacat
I think the watcher was Ishamael; may be with his warder cloak. I seem to recall he spied on Sammael and Graendel in some later book using the invisibility cloak.
52. Githraine
Regarding the Tabac issue, Morgase (I think) mentions at some point that she had to choose between holding the 2 rivers or the Mines in the Mountains. Gold trumps wool and Tabac.

The Tam/Morgase thing I think is really pushing things too far. At some point, a Queen might hear that accent. Not much there, RJ does not like every loose end to be tied up, remember...

On the sword, there are 2 contradictory statements. Tam tells Rand that he 'paid entirely too much for it'. So how did the King of Illian give it to him? was the cost something other then Money? then why would he follow that with "2 coppers is too much for something like that" (or something like that).
Evan Langlinais
53. Skwid
Regarding taxation, when I was working on my expansion to the d20 game, one of the things we worked on was an economics and banking system, because Jordan really didn't bother with one other than to mention that moneylenders exist and some system of bearer-bonds and standardized currency exchange rates is honored by them. It didn't make the final cut of the Netbook, but we did use it in our house game. My point, though, is that I'm not sure Jordan thought much about economics and how taxation in his world was implemented and enforced. Which, you know, I've read a couple of economics-heavy SF books, but they don't tend to be my favorites, you know?

Kate@49: Shit, I'd forgotten about Tylin.


Leigh Butler
54. leighdb

Well, you can't cover everything, I guess. I like verisimilitude in my fantasy as much as the next person, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. I'd be more likely to criticize Jordan's lack of interest in the religious aspects of his cultures long before I cared about the economics, personally.

Tylin: Don't worry, we've got five whole books before that happens!
55. Sidetrack'd
Githraine - Tam was most likely referring to the 'cost' as the killing inevitable when serving in an army, since his service for Illian is what earned him the sword.
Joe Sherry
56. jsherry
I agree, Sidetrack'd - it's the emotional / moral cost of what he had to do.
57. meiyas
I agree with Sidetrack'd, he refers to the cost in violence.
Also I always understood the 2 coppers comment as if referring to any sword, not that one in particularly.
58. Don, Iowa
Posted by: Githraine *On the sword, there are 2 contradictory statements. Tam tells Rand that he 'paid entirely too much for it'. So how did the King of Illian give it to him? was the cost something other then Money? then why would he follow that with "2 coppers is too much for something like that" (or something like that).*

My assumption is paying entirely too much bloodshed for an item would be the answer to the first statement. And along those lines it could be that he detests battles between humans (killing animals is ok), so paying 2 copper for a heron marked blade is too much when you could pick up a good farm tool with a purpose that does not include human bloodshed.
59. Don, Iowa
got sidetracked at work and now it seems I'm 5 messages behind heh.
Josh Rice
60. Anomander
I think the "invisible eyes" are the grey man that Ingtar lets in to the city. We learn about it in one of his discussions with Rand (might be in Falme when Ingtar is confessing).

I've always assumed it was the grey man that let Fain out, good to know that Jordan cleared it up!
Abdel Masdoua
61. TheDarkOne

Yeah, that all gender war and the relationship between men and women being so antagonistic always bugged me!
That and the Supergirls stuff which gets really annoying on the long run...

About the watcher, I always assumed it was Fain.
I never thaught about it that way but Rob's theory that it's Lanfear is actually a valid point!
Peter Moore
62. NaClH2O
The DarkFriends Social is my second favorite prologue after EotW. I guess I just like parties

Carradin is Bors is easily deduced from the prologue in tDR. Its not confirmed till tSR by Liandrin, but I thought it self evident by the Fade visitation and the conflicting orders bit.

Leigh, I have to agree with you that a Tam/Morgase meeting is a bit much. Tam got the sword from Stephanos as a reward for rescuing him from the Whitecloaks. I forget where but there is a Niall PoV in which he remembers that he almost captured Stephanos who was rescued at the last minute by the Companions. End of story. Nothing terribly other worldly about it.

RJ confirmed that the 'jelly wind' (should be the name of a blues group) was an early bubble of evil. Can't site the source, but I distinctly remember going "ah hah! I was right!" because that was what I thought.

I have to admit tho that tGH is my least favorite book in the series, especially because of all the whinging and witless wandering all the characters do. It didn't really get good except for a few bits here and there (the girls in the tower mostly) until right at the end. And later on in the book there are some glaring inconsistancies.

NaCl(but they all can't be LoC or tSR)H2O
63. Erdrick

From LoC Ch9 (Plans) Niall is looking over his collection of captured banners:

"The Illianer king came out on top in the Troubles finally, at least to the point of forcing a treaty that affirmed the border between Amadicia and Altara where it was at the beginning, but Niall doubted the man would ever forget that he had had the advantage of terrain and numbers at Soremaine and still been defeated and captured. If the Illianer Companions had not covered the field for the rest of the army to escape Niall's trap, Altara would be a fief of the Children today, and very likely Murandy and even Illian."

I really hope we get some access RJ's notes someday.
64. Rebecca Starr
Jumping in late as always it seems!

Even before the Prologue, I have a question about Jordan's dedication in this book - did he ever mention at book signings or elsewhere what he meant when he said, "They came to my aid when... the true Eye of the World passed over my house."? The answer might give us an insight as to how he intended the Eye in the series to be used/interpreted etc.

as to the prologue, Carridan's orders in Tarabon at that point were just to foment trouble, yes? Or more specifically to aid the Seanchan in creating chaos?

Three questions: - that freaky wind (I agree it seems like the first 'bubble of evil') pushed Rand into the splintered edges of Lan's practice sword, and sounds pretty painful. Why, as he's dashing about for the next few chapters, is he not bleeding??

- if nothing can even make an Aes Sedai-wrought blade become dull, how did men destroy them following the Breaking?

- was there ever an answer to that Age-old question, 'Where did Moiraine go?' By now we know it wasn't a way for her to sneak in the Darkfriend social...

Ch 2
gosh I am full of questions today - I wonder if this Shienaran Welcome is only held when the Amyrlin Seat comes, of rather if it is for any important visitor. I'd like to know more about the Pact since it merits a capital letter

Ch 3
Leigh and Rob and a few others... the eyes are the grayman that Ingtar let in, who later shoots an arrow at Rand
also, one would think those dungeons would be lit as bright as noon in Shienar!!! They tend to be pretty smart about keeping out the Fades and shadows

Ch 4-5
I remember being *thrilled* the first time we got Moiraine's POV, it was like, ooooh, now I'm in the head of someone with knowledge and power. I do still wonder what part of her 'plan' she can't tell Siuan... guess we'll probably never quite know what she was thinking on that score

Happy Great Hunt everyone
Jeff Gross
65. RIPJordan
@64 I believe that the Eye of the World that he is talking about is the eye of a hurricane. I remember reading that somewhere because I was wondering the same thing when I first read the dedication. I just can't remember where I read it at.
66. Sidetrack'd
RIPJordan - the 'hurricane' reference rings a bell for me, too, but I can't remember where it's from either...

Or are we sharing a TAR dream...?
67. locosweetie
gee, a lot of stuff came to me reading the recaps, commentary, and coments. I don't think I'll be able to remember it all. Mainly, the Tam/Morgase thing is just in bad taste. Forget all the 'but he said this, and she said that when that happened'. Sure, it may be plausable, but its just too much. Think about it. There is already rather small (though clear) wriggle room to find nonrelation between Rand and Elayne. To have Elayne's mother get together with Rand's adoptive father is like some cheesy romance movie where the writer was on a deadline and just realized he didn't have enough characters for everyone to have a love interest. Gah!!!

I think I assumed that Rand was channeling the 'jelly wind' with out knowing what he was doing. Then I thought it was the pattern pushing things a bit. But I'm probably wrong.

I love these begining chapters because it shows Lan being on someone's side beside Moiraine's. Him having unconditional loyalty to someone as standoffish as Moiraine never sat well with me. That attitude put them both way outside where they really needed to be.

What is with all this annoyance with the characters? Their attitudes all make perfect sense. Rand is scared senseless, Mat still has the daggar, Perrin feels like a freak, and Loial is the one easily hurt and quick to forgive. The only 'big' person I had the urge to slap was Nyneave when she said something like: that girl thinks voilence can solve everything, I oughta box her ears. It was in reference to Aviendha, I'm not sure which book.

When we first see Masema on top the wall, I remember thinking "this guy is NUTS!" I don't know, just a vibe I got.
68. RobMRobM
Boy, these comments are interesting. Almost as fun as the books themselves. :-)

Erdrick 36. Sorry for the imprecise use of prequel v. outrigger. Thanks for the informative post reminding us of the distinction.

odigity 41. "You're a sly bastard. I know the series back and forth, and never even considered the possibility of a Tam/Morgase connection, but your logic is solid. Though I still can't see how to pull off Morgase switching from Tallanvor to Tam in one book after all the previous build-up...." --If it happens, I don't think it would be difficult to write. Tallavor's not a coward, so his death in an early battle and having T and M spend time together in Perrin's army should be enough, especially if T demonstrates the bravery, swordsmanship skills, etc., we expect him to have (and want him to show "on camera" at least once in this entire frickin series). And, while it may be a romantic trope, I do expect it to happen for the simple reason that Tam is too cool a character for RJ not to give him a happy ending post-TG, and I can't think him going home to Two Rivers alone would be a happy ending. And, if not Morgase, then who would be a good match? (That could be the subject of a separate post, if folks want to go down that road. Queen Alliandre? Not set up well enough in the text? Leane? Like her but she's stuck in the White Tower and can't see how they'll get together. Running out of ideas already....)

leigh 47 and everyone else. Re the separate Tam-Morgase issue of Two Rivers speech, I don't want to be a one trick Tam-Morgase pony but unless one insists on a very specific variant of the circumstances in which they meet (e.g., must be when Morgase is in Tar Valon or after she becomes Queen), there are no timing problems. Tam easily could have been the source of Morgase's knowledge of Two Rivers speech during her youth as referenced in the key chapter of EOTW (he married a girl from Camelyn, so obviously spent time there during the relevant period). Note to Githraise 52 - I believe the text references a specific incident in her youth, not just something she's picked up in passing through the years. We're back to my earlier point in post 31 - either it's a throwaway line or it's Tam, as there is textual support for him to have done it and none in the canon for anyone else we know from Two Rivers. I could be wrong but if I were a betting man I'd be betting that RJ wouldn't be including a throwaway line in such a critical, portentous scene for the entire series. So, I expect to receive lots of culpas from Leigh and others in good time (and, if not, I'll blame it on Brandon Sanderson not getting good notes on this point from RJ and Harriet, LOL).

kate 44, leigh 47 and others. You nailed it on the men-women relationships throughout the WOT. Needless friction and battling throughout the series by most of the major characters were plot devices I could live without. The girls' disrespectful treatment of Mat throughout the series used to drive me crazy. (The funny thing is the Tylin thing, while outrageous, never bothered me much - maybe I should buy my wife a knife to spice up our romantic life).

leigh 47. I strongly agree with the response to jsherry re Andor control over Two Rivers. The far side of the river after Whitebridge is almost total wilderness except for Baerlon area and Two Rivers. Andor can't even keep Camelyn safe, let alone rural, mostly agrarian outposts over a 1,000 miles to the west. This also ties in with the theme that Randland culture has been moving backwards for years with the AS and various countries not being able to hold together at the level of past achievements. So the Trakands can feel proprietary towards the Two Rivers they just don't have the wherewithal to bring it back in the fold. Makes perfect sense to me (although I love Odigity 41's theory that it is just another RJ homage to Tolkein).

Githraine 52. Yes, Tam's "payment" for the sword is metaphorical. His fever dream at Winternight (battles are always hot, etc.) shows the mental cost Tam paid for being a warrior and blademaster. I wonder if the negative reference to Tam by the current Illian companion leader (see my point in 31 above) is due to tough leadership in is role as officer or, perhaps, that he had a bad separation from the Companions following his finding Rand on Dragonmount -- i.e., did he desert the Army and run home with Kari and the baby? Chose family over duty and glory? Damn the absence of that second prequel novel....

Anonmander 60 - is the grey man theory textually confirmed? If so, why wouldn't Perrin has smelled him as he did repeatedly did for grey men throughout Book 3. Inquiring minds need to know....

Nice work, all. Rob
69. RobMRobM
Re Anonmander 60 - Grey man looks like a winner. See TGH chapter 46, Ingtar's confession that he let in a grey man. then in TGH 9 Rand gets the sense of being watched again, followed immediately by the grey man's arrow. But still surprised no mention of Perrin being able to smell him. Another thing RJ worked out only later in the series....?

Agnes Kormendi
70. tapsi
Perhaps Grey men aren't that easy to smell if someone's not familiar with their 1) existence 2) smell, and at this point, Perrin still needs to learn a lot.

Re the Tam-Morgase romance, I'd be sooo disappointed if that happened, that'd just be too much for me. And I like Tallanvor a lot.

I don't think Berelain recognised Morgase, as someone suggested, there's no reason to suppose they met before. Alright, they were both rulers, but there was a fair stretch of land between them and I don't suppose Berelain had much chance to travel (or that the High Lords would let her wander off and make alliances).
71. RobMRobM
Final point before I take a shower and go to work - re the mystery of the missing Moiraine who got back to Fal Dara just before the start of chapter 1, a point you didn't mention in the summary:

While not explained in text, she had to have taken a boat to Tar Valon so that she could have her favorite clothing maker (as discussed in detail in New Spring) make that set of kick ass royal clothing for Rand. That stuff, complete with dragon insignias, had to come from somewhere. No doubt Moiraine she also went to the Tar Valon library and looked up records to find out info on Tam, so as to give Siuan the background on his story a couple of chapters later. My suspicion remains (as discussed in earlier EOTW comments) that Nyneave gave Moirane enough info on Rand and Tam that she could focus her research on officers of the Illianer Companions.

Tim Kington
72. TimKington
When Liandrin meets Amalisa:
Liandrin gave a little start, as if she had just awakened.

What's this about? Do you think this is one of Ishamael's secret commands being activated?
73. michaelt
RobMRobM @71 I think it is highly unlikely Moiraine went to Tar Valon during her mysterious absence. When she has her interview with Siuan, Siuan tells her that she only received two messages from her. One saying she had found him, and the other that they were going to Fal Dara. I don't think Moiraine would have gone all the way to Tar Valon, and not paid the Amyrlin a visit, or even been seen by someone's eyes and ears, especially if she's doing research in the Library. She did her research on Tam before she arrived in the Two Rivers. She would have been following the information of "The Second Captain of the Illianer Companions took his family home to the Two Rivers. They had a son born at the time of the battle on the slopes of Dragonmount." She would have researched who he was, and where he came from so she could recognize him when she heard stories about him.
Helen Cousins
74. naath.sedai
Is it just me or are the characters all blithely unaware of Fain being Mordreth - I mean, the bit where he shows up at the end of tEotW seems to make it entirely clear, but no-one seems to actually mention it at any point?

My new pet theory is that Mordreth's don't-trust-anyone approach to the world has worn off on Rand via keeping company with Mat and his dagger. And this is why Rand is such a MORON...
75. tearl
Leigh, thanks for the re-read, it's been great!

As per your comment:

The two Aes Sedai could be any number of Black sisters we meet later

We KNOW one of them is Liandrin.

From The Shadow Rising, ch. 38, Hidden Faces, Liandrin tells Bors/Carridan

"Do you remember...a meeting where Ba'alzamon himself appeared, and showed US the faces of...." (emphasis mine)

Thanks again.
76. Rebecca Starr
RIPJordan and Sidetrack'd - thanks for the hurricane clarification! Makes perfect sense
77. Alrin
In reference to the comment where someone said Tam receiving the sword because he led the Companions who rescued the king of Illian;

The years don't match up on this. For one thing, the years don't match up; the Whitecloak War took place in 957 NE, more than 40 years before the main storyline, and about 20 years before the Aiel War. Tam would have been far too young to have even left the Two Rivers at that point.

Beyond that, the Companions did not actually rescue him; rather, they covered the field after his capture so the rest of the army could retreat, and Mattin Stepaneos was later ransomed.
78. MoreBooksForMe
Reguarding the hurricane comments: RebeccaStarr, RIPJordan, Sidetrack'd

I lived in Charleston SC in 1989 when hurricane Hugo came. The eye of the hurricane passed right over the city. The winds and rain went form completly crazy to absoutly calm. It was a very cool experience and I could see why RJ would include that in a dedication.
79. dmp
@64. Rebecca Starr
"that freaky wind pushed Rand into the splintered edges of Lan's practice sword, and sounds pretty painful. Why, as he's dashing about for the next few chapters, is he not bleeding??"

A practice sword is made out of wood, like the type used by Tom Cruise in "The Last Samurai".
Joe Sherry
80. jsherry
dmp @ 79: Sure, but if one is being pushed into the splintered edges of a wooden sword, I'd still expect it to wound / cut.

Maybe it wasn't a deep push and just scratched him, but still.
81. Lsana

On the possibility of a Tam/Morgase hookup: I think you seem a bit too fixated on the idea of a happy ending. Remember that this book is about an apocalyptic battle where even victory will bring about the end of the world as we know it, while defeat will bring about the end of the world period. What about that summary suggests to you that every good character will be in a position of perfect or even moderate happiness by the end of the book?

I actually don't think Tam will go back to the Two Rivers alone at the end of the series, but that's because I don't necessarily think there will BE a Two Rivers post-TG.
82. Erdrick
@79 dmp,

Here's RJ's description of the practice swords:

"With a bundle of thin, loosely bound staves in place of a blade, the practice sword would make a loud clack when it struck anything, and leave a welt where it hit flesh. Rand knew all too well. Three thin red lines stung on his ribs, and another burned his shoulder. It had taken all his efforts not to wear more decorations. Lan bore not a mark."

There are several types of practice swords. If they were using the solid wood swords like in Last Samurai, Rand probably would have been impaled. Look up kendo bamboo practice swords. They match RJ's description, and make a really cool "clack" when you strike with them. I've used them, and I can tell you they're not easy to break....

@77 Alrin,

Thanks for pointing out the date problem. It's great to have a discussion with a group knowledgeable enough to catch these things. Moiraine states that Tam fought in the Whitecloak War in Chapter 8 of TGH. So, did RJ not think over the dates carefully, or is Moiraine mistaken, or is Tam just older than we thought? He must be in his 60's at least.
83. RobMRobM
michaelt 73. My concern with your response doubting that Moirane went to TV while mysteriously missing from Fal Dara is you've ignored how Rand's entirely new lordly wardrobe, built around dragons and herons, arrived on the scene. Not clear that Fal Dara even has a maker of lordly clothes of the necessary type and, even if so, given that Angelmar and hordes of soldiers saw a man channeling in Tarwin's Gap, there is no way Moirane would have blown the Dragon Reborn secret by ordering Dragon embroidered clothes in the City. Conversely, Tar Valon is less than a week away by boat and, if you read New Spring, you know that Moirane has an excellent, discreet, very lordly tailor who has been serving her for years and years. It makes sense to me that she went to TV while leaving Lan behind to watch Rand, ordered the clothes, did whatever else she needed to do for a few days while the clothes were being made (including some research time) and then headed back with the clothes and information.

Moreover, your thought that she did the research on Tam before she left TV for the Two Rivers in contradicted by the text of Chapter 8, where she says she wishes she had the info earlier. I do agree with your point that one would have expected her to consult with Siuan while in TV, but no doubt she was trying to lie as low as practicable during this sensitive period and limited her time to a minimum in or around the White Tower.

Re Alrin and Erdrick. Great point about timing. My guess is that Tam is the type would who have run off to wars at age 16 or 17, and it is now 17 or 18 years after Dragonmount, so that would make Ram in his mid-50s. He's still a vigorous, active guy (as his bow and quarterstaff skills would indicate) and it would put him at Dragonmount in his late 30s, giving him 20 years go rise up from nothing in the Army to Second Captain and blademaster. That seems about right and consistent with the story.

84. RobMRobM
Lsana 81. Great point about what is going to happen during and after TG. I expect a lot of Aiel and probably other misc Randland cannon fodder soldiers to die in the area around Shayul Ghul, in fulfillment of prophecy. The Sea Folk's boats are ready to take em all up north. I expect Rand to die and be reincarnated somehow - blood on rocks, etc. I expect some significant magical damage to the areas around Shayul Ghul but don't expect a full breaking of the world type disaster in lower Randland (although that could happen if enough Foresaken get frisky). Even if that case, Foresaken would go after cities rather than Two Rivers. Not sure what else to expect but I have trouble seeing how they'll be that many sad endings despite the human cost to many others.

Specifically, can't be Perrin (broken crown prophecy), doubtful it's Mat (he'll lose an eye in Finnland but outrigger novel discussion of life with Tuon afterwards supports living through the battle), can't be Rand (needs to be around to bear kids with Aviendra in his new body), can't be Lan or Nyneave (need to fulfill Min's prophecy of future baby holding sword in seven towers land of Malkier), won't be Egwene, although Gawyn will have his point of a knife balancing time before getting together with her, and Egwene will be fated to be Amerylin Seat for next 100 years. I doubt it will be Moirane, as Min's prophecy is that Rand will fail without her and he won't fail (once he gets her back). Berelain and Galad will get together, per Min, but do you think that they'll be allowed to be killed afterwards. Don't see it. Soooo... hard to see a big bloodbath for the main characters in TG. Possible that Tam will sacrifice himself for son but that doesn't feel right to me. I do think he'll survive and I do think he won't be alone.

Thoughts on this? I'm curious if others have contrary opinions. Rob
85. tearl
RobMRobM @84

Generally agree. Small point re possible human costs of Tarmon Gai'don

can't be Lan or Nyneave (need to fulfill Min's prophecy of future baby holding sword in seven towers land of Malkier),

I believe this vision isn't prophecy on Min's part, but history. The baby is Lan.

86. Caine09
I agree with you totaly re the whole "Ive got to protect the one's I love" crap. There're all at it and it doesnt do anyone any good at all. What really pisses me off is the list of women that Rand randomly recites in later books.

I hate Aes Sedai so much, luckily for them I hate Whitecloaks more.

Ah the fancy clothes, what we do without the fancy clothes. And the sometimes irrating detail on exactly how they look.
87. RobMRobM
Tearl 85. I believe we (or one of your compatriots) had the same discussion back in the Baerlon/Min chapter in EOTW. I'm of camp that all of Min's viewings are forward looking, so this would be Lan's baby and the Thom Merrilyn vision (a man, not him, juggling fire and white tower) someone other than Thom's nephew Owyn....but I understand others have different views so no need to rehash at this point (unless you really want to).

But thanks for agreeing on the general point. Lsana's post really made me think for the first time of what TG will entail, and I'm having trouble concluding that it will be all that bad for the good guys. The more interesting issue is who will bite the dust. I'm baffled and getting the sense that it will be an no named ensign on the Enterprise situation.

88. darxbane
How does Tam get a Heron-marked Sword? I think we see the answer in the prologue of Knife of Dreams. There are two ways to become a blademaster. Either being recognized by a council of 5 blademasters, or by defeating one. The latter has the added bonus of letting you keep the other guys sword, lik Galad got to do. This is most likely how Tam got the sword. I'm sure he was in many battles before the blood snow.
89. Lsana

I'm not saying that you aren't right that TG will involve no cost to the heroes, but I will say that if you are, it will be a cop-out of the highest order. You seem to be picturing the end of the series more or less as status quo: Egwene as Amyrlin, Elayne as Queen of Andor, Lan and Nynaeve in a restored Malkier, Perrin and Faile ruling the Two Rivers and/or Faile's homeland that I can't spell, Mat and Tuon ruling the Seanchan, and Rand doing whatever with his little harem. If that's the end of the series, it will mean that Tarmon Gaiden, the last battle, the apocalypse that brings about the end of the 3rd age, will not only be less disruptive than the previous end of an age, but it will be an order of magnitude less disruptive than two events that have happened since then: the Trolloc Wars and the rise and fall of Hawkwing's empire. If you call two-year-long campaign that leaves pretty much all of the world's institutions intact "the end of an age," then what do you call a centuries long war that destroyed every nation in the world?

It may be that WOT, like Dune, will leave the world frozen in the form where we first saw it, but if that happens, given the precedent that has been set by previous event, I will cry foul.
90. RobMRobM
Lsana - again, your initial question was a great one - what is likely to happen at TG. And, yes, RJ has teed this up through prophecy that most of the main characters have to survive which, if not handled right by BS, risks turning the ending of the books into a bit of a letdown/copout.

The "good" news is that virtually all the main characters are going to have to suffer on their way to surviving - Rand's impending death and its effects on him and the girls will be a big one, Mat giving up an eye will be another one (yuck), and Egwene having a scary near-death or near-failure scene with Gawyn will be a third. I guess we'll need to rely on that for the AMOL drama and story resolution.

Thinking more about who will die in additional to a million or so Aiels and Randland cannon fodder - I'd bet we'll lose Anglemar, Queen Tenobia, Davram Bashere (tough to be from the borderlands, I guess), a bunch of AS (but not too many, as they need to grow back to historical levels after TG settles down), a whole lot of wolves and, probably Elyas as I think about it - that would be kind of sad but he'd want to go down with the rest. Other suggestions?

91. Fun Bob

I would also think that we lose Alliendre, Galad, alot of High Lords, and at least a few of the Aes Sedai we're familiar with: Sheriam, etc. Also, if Mattin Stepaneos dies, Illian will need a new ruler, which would be a pretty good ending for Tam, as the former Second Commander of the Companions. Morgase-Tam would also end the feud between Illian and Andor, especially since Morgase is out a job since Elayne will be queen and Tam will love Elayne for bearing his grandchild.

Also, I feel pretty stupid that I never put together that "Matt giving up half the light of the world to save the world" referred to Moiraine's direct impact on Tar'mon Gaidan. We haven't heard a hint of it since Min's predictions and Moiraine being out of the picture in Finnland...It also boosts Matt's importance above just being the Trickster, as the Dragon Reborn can't defeat the DO without his, and Moiraine's, help....
92. LynnOH
After TG; Major culture changes with men now being able to channel openly;existence of Seanchen; circle women no longer hidden etc. I believe Rand's redemption after defeat/imprisonment of DO will have something to do with the "song" being found. Maybe the song comes back when the Tinkers/Aiel and Ogeir get to mingle. The song FINALLY heals Rand.
93. Lsana
The casualties I want to see from TG:

Andor, Cairhein, Tear, Illian, Shienar, Saldaea, Arad Doman, Amadacia, the Aiel, the Whitecloaks, the White Tower, Seanchan. I could go on, but I suspect that you get the idea.

Did RJ actually say that the major characters would survive TG? I remember him saying that the major characters would survive to participate in TG, but that once they were there they would be fair game. However, I didn't follow RJs interviews so religiously that I couldn't have missed something.

In some ways, though, it doesn't matter. I don't necessarily want any of my favorite characters to die. But I do want to see the third age die, and to my mind, that means killing off all of the major nations and institutions that have made the third age. Twice already in this age, the old order has been overturned. Most of the nations we see date only back to the end of Hawkwings empire. Unless TG is equally disruptive, it's hard to see how it could be called the end of an age.
John Massey
94. subwoofer
Leigh, I am making head way here but I am reminded that the effort in catching up with you pales by comparison to the effort of what you are doing. I do love the chapter heading pictures too.
I did like an outsider's insight upon seeing Mat, Perrin and Rand, I did have to wonder about seeing Rand and Not calling him Aiel, like every other random person. I also loved the bit about Rand wanting to take off and finding his everyday clothes gone for some fancy duds... I am surprised that you glossed over the bits about how....casual... the Shienaran's are about nudity and stuff and how formal Rand was... The maid wanting to make sure that Rand was not keeping any clothes was good fun.
For chapter 3 I could not agree with you more- everyone deserves beats! Egwene thinking that she is hot stuff and wanting to chat(?!) with Fain....Sack of hammers! leave well enough alone!
In chapter 4 I could see the whole scheming thing coming a mile off...they were scheming 20 years before they even came across Rand. Aes Sedai are like an all women CIA- lots of cloak and dagger, but in the end it is a toss up whether or not they do more harm than good. Another theme that RJ echos throughout the series.
Chapter 5 was annoying for me- we find out that Siuan has the flippin' Horn and she's okay about it. If I had one of the harbinger's of the End of the World that is supposed to keep it from going badly, I would handcuff it to my wrist and not let it out of my sight. And I would fly out of there ASAP back to Tar Valon as soon as I could rounding up as many sisters as I could to get me there. When things are about to hit the fan it helps to have either allies or cannon fodder around you to soften the blow.
95. markerikson
"Egwene might not have been affected by Fain at all, since she can channel. Remember how Moiraine talks about her presence being some proof against the Shadow all by itself."

Ah, but Fain isn't the Shadow. At least, the part of him that is really dangerous isn't. The Shadow part, as far as we know, was merely his ability to track Rand down. The part of him that causes people to hate each other is Mordeth, who is not of the Shadow.

So, whether being a channeler can protect one from Fain seems like it is probably an entirely different question.
96. Aellinsar
I'm a bit late to the party, butthanks for doing these! I'm in the middle of my own audiobook re-read these days and have made it from NEw Spring up to tDR. Although I wasn't a poster, I was an avid reader of the rec. group back in college (read tEoTW freshman year of HS). It's nice to see some familiar names.

Oneof the things that struck me about this portion of the book was how when Moraine met up with the two other AS, she wasn't instantly comparing her strength to theirs and determining deference. (If we believe later books, the other two should proably have had strong deference towards Mo.) Since it somes up in every scene in the later books as well as New Spring, this makes me wonder if Jordan hadn't thought up the idea yet when he was writing tGH. Personally, I wish he'd left that thought undiscovered.
97. u_turnagain
I'm a lot late, but maybe someone will join late like me and read this posts.

Re: Tam
I like the theory of him as warder, but I raise it to him being able to channel too. Where else would his knowledge of the void come from? If he was stilled and Kari bonded him to save his life, Tam would be one of few who could train Rand to get the void necessary to channel.

Re: Eyes
There was the feeling of eyes in TEOTW in Aridhol. It was the suspicion and distrust that ultimately caused it's downfall. Certainly sems like there is a lot of suspicion and distrust going on right here. So ultimately, caused by Fain/Mordeth and the dagger gets my vote.

Re: TG and the breaking.
How did the age of legends come about? I don't think it was a catastrophic breaking, that caused the Age to progress, but rather a metophoric one.
Changes I see are:
Aiel fighting life replaced with way of the leaf.
Ogier venturing out from their stedding.
Aryth ocean is no longer viewed as a barrier.
A retreating blight (allowing Malkier rebuilt).
A non-nation final continent where legendary stuff can happen.
98. Immortality
All the stuff about Andor not taxing the famous Two Rivers tabac is silly.

The fact that the road to Baerlon and then further into Andor being the ONLY practical route for merchants is referred several times in the series.

So obviously Morgase taxes merchants when travelling to/from the mountains, or entering/exiting Baerlon or other cities.
Elroy Skimms
99. elroyskimms
u_turnagain @ 97

I'm a lot late, but maybe someone will join late like me and read this posts.

Better late than never!

Re: Tam
I like the theory of him as warder, but I raise it to him being able to channel too. Where else would his knowledge of the void come from? If he was stilled and Kari bonded him to save his life, Tam would be one of few who could train Rand to get the void necessary to channel.

The Void is not exclusive to channeling. Lan uses it as well. It certainly could be Warder related. When Lan begins training the boys in TEoTW, he describes the Void (though does not name it as such) and Rand makes the connection.

Re: Eyes
There was the feeling of eyes in TEOTW in Aridhol. It was the suspicion and distrust that ultimately caused it's downfall. Certainly sems like there is a lot of suspicion and distrust going on right here. So ultimately, caused by Fain/Mordeth and the dagger gets my vote.

I had always assumed the "eyes" in Fal Dara was a Fade. But your Shadar Logoth connection makes perfect sense.

Now, for my own $0.02:
As Siuan reminds Moiraine of the previous 2 now-stilled Amyr's from the Red, she makes the statement that the deposed Amyrlins were kept in the tower to avoid being viewed as martyrs and rallying people to their cause. She says that people could pity the women who were scrubbing pots, but they certainly could not rally people around them. On the re-read, that made me think of Egwene's current situation. She, a "deposed" Amyrlin, is stuck in the tower and spends a lot of time scrubbing pots as punishment. We are left with the image of her Novice and Accepted peers rallying to her. Not sure if this was RJ foreshadowing, but it seems to fit nicely.

100. Bedrayne
I realise this is almost necro-resing this thread, but, RobMRobM I don't see Tam + Morgase. Instead, how about Tam replacing Lan as Moiraine's warder?
101. justmike
u_turnagain @ 97

I don't think Tam could channel, or at least he was never gentled. Elaida would have definitely recognized the name al' Thor as a man gentled not more than 20 years ago
Thom Boyer
102. perlmonger42
RobMRobM@71: The problem with your theory that Moiraine went to Tar Valon to have fancy duds made for the Two Rivers boys is that the the text explicitly says "the Lady Amalisa had new made to give you." Sure, the decorations may have been suggested by Moiraine, but I don't see Amalisa sending Moiraine off to have their manufacture seen to.
John Massey
103. subwoofer
Um yes... this seems like eons ago, but I don't see Mo jumping around like Gandalf just to get things made and check records. It is a pity that Traveling was a lost art, otherwise that would of helped immensely here.

I do think that since Mo had formed a plan with Suian from the outset, she had all of this figured out when she first dropped into the TR. Mo says as much, at least to the point where she knew it was one of the three, just not which boy it was. Hence the reason Mo took Rand and Mat, and Perrin.


104. pdlandis
Yay! This was good of course, although I've gotta get through all of these before I start being late for class every day.

Since people already mentioned it before I got here (naturally), I'm not going to repeat that Tam was Second Captain of the Companions, but I am going to pontificate that I'm pretty sure we read somewhere that Second Captain of the Companions is a Big Deal. It's like...second only to First Captain of the Companions, who only reports to the Crown and the Council of Nine (or something like that). Or maybe I just made that up... But anyway, being a Blademaster is reason enough to explain the sword in my mind, since Powerful Unbreakable Swords are just kind of tossed around by people who don't know they're Powerful Unbreakable Swords in these types of stories. Yeah, there's probably some interesting back story but it works well without it, too.

This is the point in which I started to think a lot more of Mat the first time through, and even more so the second time reading it. He's called the Trickster before he's even played any tricks of note? Sure, it's just a name given by the man called Boors, but still... Trickster fits both what he does later and who he is now, whereas Perrin would be better named Wolflord or whatnot, and Rand...well, Rand always likes his sword (even when losing a hand), but it's not exactly his most dangerous trait later on.

On to the next re-read.
105. Thalasshaya
RobMRobM@71&83, perlmonger42@102: Recall that when the Dragon Banner is unfurled at EOTW, RJ goes to great trouble to describe it as a serpent-like creature, but with legs and a mane. None of the TR kids (or Loial!) even know what a Dragon looks like, thus the convoluted description. Mo tells them what it is, then keeps it wrapped up. It's fairly safe to assume that she could get Amalisa to get a dragon embroidered on something if she sketched the design out and the embroiderer would simply assume it was someone's fanciful house crest.

That still leaves the question of where she went during the time of the Darkfriend Social (while Ingtar was hunting...) and why!

I had always assumed the "watching eyes" feeling in Fal Dara keep was, along with the surly prison guards and the general tense nerves everyone experiences, Mordeth's creeping influence. It could just as easily be a greyman, and Perrin wouldn't be expected to detect it because the only super-sense he has right now is sight, and that only part of the time. We also don't get much time with him here, so even if he smelled "wrongness" we might not see it.

I haven't finished re-reading the Fal Dara bit, though. I'm reading the commentary here chapter by chapter as I finish them.

I always thought of the battle of the sexes tension as a mark of RJ's generational background which is virtually irrelevant to people who experienced puberty in the 80s or later. This ties into my theories of why Roger Moore is regarded as a bad Bond (the scripts set him up for failure - with Bond girls tougher than Bond himself) and why men my parents' age STILL can't figure out whether it's polite or insulting to open the door for women. The sharp gender binary of the 50s got exploded in the late 60s and conflagrated on through the 70s and left shrapnel all over everybody's psyche. Everyone who lived through it is still scarred today.
Jerry Bennett
106. Isvarden
the unseen eyes are from the first forsaken she comes into contact with.....guessing
107. Felix Velarius Bos
I completely agree with you. Whenever a main character's like "HOMIGAWD!!!!1! I must protectz you!11!1!11!!" and then acts like a total dick/bitch to them to get them to not want to be around them anymore, I just want to reach into the book and smash their heads in. I certainly have this feeling with Rand a lot. >.
109. Merry B
I just found this today and I'm loving it muchly! Thank you for doing this!

RE: The watching eyes thing is interesting, though, that Liandrin feels it too. I've always assumed it was Fain, but that doesn't seem right, now. Ideas?

For some reason, now, I'm thinking Verin. She was there; she clearly knew that Liandrin was Black Ajah. She was also a nosy woman so it would make sense that she'd want to know what everyone was up to. I could be very, very wrong, though!
Dawn Boyall
110. deebee
Love the reread Leigh, though I`m about 18 months and 8 books behind...but I will catch up before Tarmon Gaidon!

About Mat being called the Trickster-isn`t that just about the first thing RJ tells us about him, back in Emond`s Field, that he`s always playing practical jokes?

At the time of the Prologue he`s infected by the dagger and a bit subdued but Trickster describes his basic nature.
Theresa Sumrall
111. smaller
I know this is pretty late, and I'd rather read more of your posts than the comment thread, but I just wanted to throw in here that the feeling of eyes was probably a Fade that darkfriend guards let through the gate.
112. Mordeth
Watching eyes is pretty obvious a greyman. People keep feeling them without seeing him.

Ingtar mentions letting in, "A pale little man you didn't seem to really notice even when you were looking at him."
113. mordeth

Egwene has no protection from the taint of Mordeth/Fain.

This was explained by Moraine in book 1. She tells Nyn that her protection (channeling) won't keep her from catching Mat's sickness.
114. LesserTaveren
Way late to this party, but in the re-read I assumed the watching eyes belonged to Slayer. He hasn't been introduced yet, but Rand feels the eyes just before a black arrow almost kills him (Slayer/Isam/Luc's MO), and they can't locate the assassin. We know from later that Slayer can disappear physically into T'A'R. As a side note, since we know that Ishy is very focused on converting Rand, and Lanfear is focused on seducing him, Slayer is probably commanded by one of the other unbound Forsaken.
115. MFMegazerox
Yeah, this comment is REALLY late, and this problably has been mentioned in previous comments, but in A Crown of Swords, I think there was a relatively nice red when Elaida sent a white to investigate Alvarian in the white tower. I am only on The Path of Daggers, so if there is some crazy plot twist where she is black ajah, I guess I could be wrong. The reason I am still reading this is that I am good at forgetting any spoilers.
Chris R
117. up2stuff
Okay, I joined the post somewhere in the middle of the series. But, all things being Circular in WOT, I have started back at the beginning of the series, via audiobook and also gone back to the beginning of the post to see what I missed and to get all the insights I missed out on before.

Anyway, maybe Tam "paid" for his sword by enlisting in the Companions for 2 coppers a day. It could have been a moral compromise, i.e join the military, or maybe a military not of his homeland, in order to care for his wife and it led him down the Military Career path he did not really want and gave him memories he wished to forget.

Looking back at his life, and what we know of Tam, I could see him thinking, "2 coppers is too much for something like that" as stated @52. Those coppers had been the cost of his peaceful tradesman or farmers life.
John Massey
118. subwoofer
Just a random thought here but like old Jack Burton used to say..."what the hell"...

From the outset we have Rand Loial and Lanfear on the cover. RJ has gone into great detail describing Lanfear as the hottest woman on the planet, so beautiful her farts smell like roses, and she spends several chapters trying to er.... land Rand.

Here's the thing- has anyone noticed that the tittle is one "c" away from having a whole new meaning? Vis-à-vis Lanfear?

*Sneaks off to bunker before angry townfolk arrive with burning torches and pitchforks*

Nadine L.
119. travyl
It's fun to read these comments, especially the theories with my added knowledge from TGS and TOM. Especially RobM^2's fierce desire for Tam/Morgase.

Had to ask my dictionary what you meant :( which led me to another book title: replace your c with r and it's all about Fain.
(less provocative than your "vulgar" version, certainly less creative as well)
120. Sharix
Just pointing out that Lan becomes truly awesome in the first chapter and is quite kind and insightful when it comes to Rand's troubles — both in determining what they and advice-giving.
Erik mayne
121. wolven74
I've always thought, through my numerous re-reads, that the writing in TGH suddenly got a lot more in depth, and I've always been all "weee!" *happy dance* for that reason. However, one thing has always bothered me about chapter 5. That is, Liandrin.

See... this book is our first exposure to Aes Sedai outside of Moiraine. And our first POV section outside of Moiraine is Liandrin. Ok, I get it, we need to get a raving Black Ajah bitch to counter the good heartedness of our favorite blue (so far). But my hang up is this: Why in Liandrin's section of chapter five does she suddenly turn into Yoda?

She says things like, "...of the red Ajah am I, my daughter." when talking to Lady Amalisa. Then, in the same conversation..."It is you who are foolish, my daughter. I care nothing for books. Here men enter the Blight, and walk in it's taint. In the very Shadow. Why wonder you that the taint may seep into them? Whether or not against their will, still it may seep. Why think you the Amyrlin Seat herself has come?"

This is the only section of any book in the series where a character has that strange speech pattern. It's always brought me out of the story in that scene and thrown me off.
John Massey
122. subwoofer
@Wolven74- from what I read on the wiki Liandrin is described as a person who rose from more humble beginnings. It says that when Liandrin is honked off she reverts back to speaking like a commoner. I suppose this may be the way common folk speak in Tarabon, but I cannot be sure as I don't recall the parts of the series that took place there off the top of my head.

@travyl- heh, yes but can you really, honestly say that Fain is "great", especially from what the text has given us?;)

Oh yeah, and here's your pitchfork back too;)

*strolls off to check out a certain bunker*

123. Divil The Bother
The eyes I think are Lanfear. Rand feels goosebumps the first time he thinks he's being watched. Liandrin also feels the tingle. It's similar to what Mo feels when suan creates the ward against listening which indicates channelling.
124. McNicky
Chapter 1
"It's windy."

Completely epic. Thank god I wasn't drinking milk.
125. breher
@95 - I'm sure Elaida would agree with you on that count :)
126. Alsadius
"surely, I thought, a character who’s been set up to be so thoroughly unlikable will turn out to be a good guy just for the cognitive dissonance, right? Yeah, not so much."

That's a tempting analysis, but you didn't know at this point that Jordan was capable of making a character way, way more irritating than Liandrin.
127. BrownAjah

I hope someone reads this, but yeah to Liandrin going Yoda - I don't think I noticed it until now, my umpteenth reread, but it stuck out and was a little jarring

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