Fri
Feb 20 2009 3:23pm
The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Great Hunt, Part 6

Heyla, Heyla, Wheel of Time Re-read, right over here! Step right up, and try your luck! That’s right, young person, I mean YOU. Come on over! Say something snarky and win a prize.

Yes, indeed, it’s Part 6 of The Great Hunt, ladies and gennemun, in which we will be covering Chapters 31-36. Right over here, take your place in line. Please observe the warning sign, in which I acknowledge being slightly a liar, as I accidentally said on Wednesday’s post that we would be doing Chapter 37, which we aren’t. All fun and games, girls and boys, please don’t hurt me. I just work here.

Previous entries can be found in the big tent. Watch your step, see the spoilers? Don’t step in the spoilers, really, you won’t like it, and neither will the elephants.

Sorry, sir, you must be THIS high to ride. Get lost, shorty! Tall and cool people, on the other hand, come on over! Click the link and be Transported. Strap in and enjoy! Try not to throw up!

Chapter 31: On the Scent

What Happens
Verin Delves Rand with saidar, and then leaves him to attend to Hurin; Mat demands to know where Rand and the others went, and how they got here ahead of Ingtar’s party. Rand asks how they found him, and Perrin tells him the gate guard officer jumped a mile when he heard Ingtar’s name, and then Verin wrung the story out of him. Rand tells them he had the dagger, but the Darkfriends took it back; Ingtar asks urgently about “the other thing,” and Rand confirms they took that too. Mat looks disappointed, but says they have two sniffers now—Perrin is one too—and they will find it again. Rand looks at Perrin curiously, and thinks he hears Perrin mutter something like “Shadowkiller”. Verin gets up with a Healed and shaky Hurin, and tells them they will go to The Great Tree, an inn she is familiar with. As they set out, Rand talks to Hurin about the best way to pick up the Darkfriends’ trail again, Hurin calling him “my Lord”, and tells him to rest until he is fit. Then he notices the others all staring at him, and apologizes to Ingtar, saying he does not mean to take Ingtar’s place. Ingtar thoughtfully replies that Moiraine and Agelmar were right to make Rand his second, and maybe it would have been better if Rand had been in charge from the start. They reach the inn and settle in; as Rand bathes, he thinks about Verin’s presence, which he thinks is Moiraine trying to control him again. His red coat is scorched, so he puts on the just-as-ornate black one, sighing, and finds Selene’s letters in the red coat. He thinks about how foolish it is to fantasize about her, and abruptly uses the lamp to burn the notes before going downstairs.

 

Perrin waits in the private dining room with Verin, Loial, Ingtar, and Mat, thinking:

It was him, he thought. Rand is the Shadowkiller. Light, what’s happening to all of us? His hands tightened into fists, large and square. These hands were meant for a smith’s hammer, not an axe.

Rand enters, and asks after Hurin; Ingtar says he insisted on going out, but Ingtar told him only to follow the trail until he smelled Trollocs, unless Rand thinks they ought to follow them tonight. Uneasily, Rand repeats that he wasn’t trying to take command, but Ingtar just stares into the fire. Perrin thinks that Rand wasn’t as nervous about it as he would have been before. Verin then repeats Mat’s question about how Rand got to Cairhien so fast. Rand tells them what happened with the Portal Stones, and Selene, and stealing back the Horn. Perrin thinks Shadowkiller again, and realizes when Rand gives him a look that he must have said it aloud, loud enough for Rand to hear if no one else. Verin comments she would very much like to meet this Selene, and then their food arrives. Perrin finds it difficult to watch Mat eat so healthily while looking like he’s so sick. They hang out in the room until Hurin returns, and tells them that he tracked the Darkfriends to Lord Barthanes’ manor. Ingtar is shocked, and Verin points out that there are Darkfriends among the high as well as the low. Ingtar scowls. Hurin opines that there’s no way they could get in there by force, and Verin rejects Mat’s suggestion that they go to Galldrian, on the grounds that the King would doubtless be thrilled to have an excuse to take Barthanes down, but if Galldrian gets his hands on the Horn they will never see it again. Verin says that she should be able to get an invitation to Barthanes’ manor in a few days, and Hurin interjects that Rand already has one. Everyone stares at Rand, and he pulls out the two invitations and shows them. Ingtar notes the other is from the king, and inquires what on earth Rand had been doing. Rand replies quietly that he didn’t do anything; they just sent them. Verin comments that sometimes the Pattern provides what is needed before you know it’s needed, and casually crumples the King’s invitation and tosses it in the fireplace. Rand asks how he can go, as they will know he’s no lord; Ingtar looks skeptical, and Hurin flatly disbelieving.

Burn me, Perrin thought, if I didn’t know him, I wouldn’t believe it either. Mat was watching Rand with his head tilted, frowning as if looking at something he had never seen before. He sees it, too, now.

Verin tells Rand it will help people believe he’s a lord if he stops telling everyone he isn’t one, and says any mistakes will be attributed to his being an outlander. She adds, dryly, to just remember how he behaved in front of the Amyrlin; if he acts that arrogant, they will believe he is a lord even if he’s in rags. Mat snickers. Verin continues that the date on the invite is for tomorrow night, and Ingtar explodes that they can’t wait that long; Verin faces him down, and he repeats that he must have the Horn. Hurin protests him speaking of the Horn like that, and reluctantly trails off under Ingtar’s glare. Verin says that the invitation mentions that Rand took “an interest in one of the King’s projects”; Rand can’t think of what that means for a moment, then remembers the giant statue outside the city. He asks Verin what it is, and she tells him it is a sa’angreal, one of a pair of the two largest ever made. The other is on Tremalking and is meant for a woman to use, but the one outside Cairhien is meant for a man; used together, she says, they might have enough power to Break the World again. Ingtar is appalled, and asks what if Logain or some other false Dragon uses it? Verin replies casually that she doesn’t think they need to worry about that, as the two must be used together to generate that much power, and what Aes Sedai today would aid a man in channeling?

“One by itself is powerful enough, but I can think of few women strong enough to survive the flow through the one on Tremalking. The Amyrlin, of course. Moiraine, and Elaida. Perhaps one or two others. And three still in training. As for Logain, it would have taken all his strength simply to keep from being burned to a cinder, with nothing left for doing anything. No, Ingtar, I don’t think you need worry. At least, not until the real Dragon Reborn proclaims himself, and then we will all have enough to worry about as it is.”

Perrin and Mat both know she is talking to Rand. Rand stares at Verin and says, with emphasis, that they will take back the dagger and the horn, and then it is done. Verin smiles.

Commentary
People have complained about Hurin getting so subservient and all, but even ignoring his about-face in the next chapter, the fact that he totally talks back to Ingtar here indicates to me that it wasn’t so much a generalized “lords are so much better than me!” outlook, as it was a personal loyalty to Rand himself, and a desire to do as well by him as possible.

See, I knew I was right to like him. So There.

I love Perrin’s observations of Rand, here. Also, am I right in remembering that we don’t get a Mat POV until after the Healing in the Tower in the next book? I find that interesting; there’s probably some of kind of equation to be drawn regarding ratio of frequency of character POV to character Awesomeness that I don’t have the imaginary math for. Talk amongst yourselves!

Verin: She So Sneaky. It’s kind of magnificent. I love that she has an entire conversation with Rand about being the Dragon Reborn without anyone else in the room (those who aren’t in the know already, anyway) even noticing.

Chapter 32: Dangerous Words

What Happens
Uno and ten Shienarans provide an escort for Rand, Ingtar, Verin, Hurin, Loial, and Mat to Barthanes’ manor (Perrin was left at the inn). Mat is grumbling about having to pretend to be Rand’s servant, and Verin tells him a servant can go where others cannot without notice; his job and Hurin’s is to see if they can sniff out/feel the location of the Darkfriends/dagger. They reach the doors, and Rand shows his invitation and introduces his guests, making the servants’ eyes pop. Mat and Hurin go off to the kitchens, and the majordomo takes the rest of them to the ballroom and announces them loudly, drawing stares from the various nobles; Rand hears murmurs about his heron-mark blade. Barthanes comes up and greets them briefly, and says to Rand that perhaps they will have a chance to talk later before moving off. Verin and Ingtar go mingle, and Loial whispers to Rand that he can feel a Waygate nearby before moving off too, as Verin had instructed them not to clump together. Rand keeps moving in order to avoid being drawn into conversation with anyone, until suddenly Barthanes is walking next to him. Barthanes comments that Rand seems restless, and Rand, remembering what Verin had said, settles into Cat Crosses the Courtyard, and Barthanes’ mouth tightens. They talk about Galldrian and the statue, and Barthanes seems to find deep meaning in everything Rand says. He mentions that Rand seems young to carry a heron-mark blade.

“I am less than a year old,” Rand said automatically, and immediately wished he had it back. It sounded foolish, to his ear, but Verin had said act as he had with the Amyrlin Seat, and that was the answer Lan had given him. A Borderman considered the day he was given his sword to be his nameday.

“So. An Andorman, and yet Borderland-trained. Or is it Warder-trained?” Barthanes’s eyes narrowed, studying Rand. “I understand Morgase has only one son. Named Gawyn, I have heard. You must be much like him in age.”

“I have met him,” Rand said cautiously.

“Those eyes. That hair. I have heard the Andoran royal line has almost Aiel coloring in their hair and eyes.”

Rand stumbled, though the floor was smooth marble. “I’m not Aiel, Lord Barthanes, and I’m not of the royal line, either.”

Barthanes makes a noncommittal answer to this, and moves off. Rand realizes he knows just enough of the Great Game to have no idea how it was played, and wishes Mat and Hurin would find something fast so he could get out of there. He moves into another room and sees Thom performing there; Thom fails to acknowledge him, and Rand turns to go, but is accosted by a noblewoman named Alaine Chuliandred, who asks if it’s true he plays the flute. Bewildered, Rand says yes, and tries to excuse himself, but they are joined by a second woman (Belevaere Osiellin) and then a third (Breane Taborwin), and all three of them make extremely unsubtle passes at him. In desperation, Rand ducks around them, joins Thom and begs him to talk to him for a minute. He tells Thom about what’s happening, and Thom tells him again that he will not get involved; Rand says he knows that, he just wanted to get away from those women for a moment. Thom is taken aback. Just then Hurin appears and tells Rand that his manservant has fallen and twisted his knee. After a moment Rand catches on and comments loudly that he supposes he’d better go check on the fool.

“You play very well at being a lord,” Thom said softly. “But remember this. Cairhienin may play Daes Dae’mar, but it was the White Tower made the Great Game in the first place. Watch yourself, boy.”

Commentary
We’ll be seeing Breane Taborwin again, in one of the most random character resurfacings ever. And I am in total agreement with whoever said (Rich?) that Cairhienin names are the best in WOT.

Also, what’s great is that Barthanes was actually completely correct about Rand’s ancestry — both parts. Irony is fun!

I’m always bemused by claims that Jordan is not good at writing political intrigue, because in my personal opinion it’s one of his greatest strengths as a writer. Not good at writing romance, I’ll totally give you (though even there I think he has his moments), but c’mon, the conversation between Rand and Barthanes here is pure awesome covert ops hilarity.

Actually now that I think about it, this may be why I like Jordan’s political intrigue so much and others do not: what I personally love about fictional politicking is that it always (to me) has this Mission: Impossible element of the absurd to it that makes me grin even when the fictional stakes are deadly serious; at its best, it’s like intricate verbal choreography writ large, for (hopefully) world-altering stakes.

Is it realistic? Well, I’ve never personally participated in either espionage or politicking (unless you count arguing political theory on the Internet, which you... really don’t), so take it for what it’s worth, but I strongly suspect 95% of political intrigue in all fiction is total bullshit.

That’s hardly the point. As well ask whether dancing is realistic walking, or if chess is realistic war.

Furthermore, I get the strong sense that Jordan agreed with me regarding Daes Dae’mar; it is absurd, but that’s why it’s great. He too often has characters trip themselves up to hell and gone by overthinking hidden meanings and seeing conspiracies under every bush for him not to have meant it both as Serious Business and as comic relief.

(Which brings me to the free-association and totally off-topic question: Why is it that no one’s made a musical based on spies yet? It’s a match made in heaven, I tell you!)

Chapter 33: A Message From the Dark

What Happens
Hurin tells Rand that he followed the Darkfriends’ trail to a walled garden behind the manor, where they were joined by Trollocs, went in, and did not come out again. Rand comments that he is glad Hurin is talking naturally to him again, and Hurin flushes and says hanging out with actual Cairhienin servants has proven exactly what their formality is worth in terms of loyalty to their masters, which is to say nothing. They meet up with Loial and Mat; Mat is still in a foul mood over having to pretend to be a servant, and tells Rand that he can’t feel the dagger at all. Rand reassures him that the dagger is in the chest with the Horn, and that’s probably why he can’t feel it. Mat mutters something about “as long as [Rand] doesn’t go mad and...”, but trails off, and fortunately Loial misinterprets his words. Rand says harshly that he’s not mad yet, and tells Hurin to lead them to the garden. When they get there, Loial tells them the Waygate is within the walls; Mat is unenthused about the notion of traveling the Ways again. Rand tells him to go get Ingtar and Verin and bring them back here, and to remember to limp. Mat sweeps him a sarcastic bow and says as my Lord wishes; does he want him to carry his banner too? He heads back to the manor, and though Rand doesn’t believe Mat would betray him on purpose, he wonders how long it will be before Mat gives away his secret without meaning to. He gets Loial to boost him up so he can see over the wall, and then hauls himself over without waiting for the others. Hurin and Loial quickly follow, Loial muttering about rash and hasty humans. Rand walks up to the Waygate and tells Hurin he should be able to smell the trail in there as well, and removes the Avendensora leaf key. The Waygate opens slowly, but instead of the dull silver reflection from before, the opening is pitch black, and the blackness starts to ooze out of the gates. Loial shouts it is Machin Shin.

The sound of wind filled their ears; the grass stirred in ripples toward the walls, and dirt swirled up, sucked into the air. And in the wind a thousand insane voices seemed to cry, ten thousand, overlapping, drowning each other. Rand could make out some of them, though he tried not to.

. . . blood so sweet, so sweet to drink the blood, the blood that drips, drips, drops so red; pretty eyes, fine eyes, I have no eyes, pluck the eyes from out of your head; grind your bones, split your bones inside your flesh, suck your marrow while you scream; scream, scream, singing screams, sing your screams . . . And worst of all, a whispering thread through all the rest. Al’Thor. Al’Thor. Al’Thor.

Loial searches for the leaf key in the grass, and Rand finds that he has seized saidin. He throws the Power at the blackness coming out of the gate, and fights inconclusively with Machin Shin until Loial finds the key and shuts the gate, pushing the Black Wind back inside. Rand falls to his knees, fighting to let go of saidin, and finally succeeds. He says they will never follow Fain through that. They go back over the wall, collect Mat, and head back to the main room, where Verin sees them. Everyone heads for the exit; Barthanes appears and entreats them to stay longer, but Verin demurs and leads the party to the doors. Barthanes pulls Rand aside before he can follow, and tells him he has a message for Rand from a certain Lugarder; he observes that Rand knows who he is talking about. Rand asks what the message is.

“He says he will wait for you on Toman Head. He has what you seek, and if you want it, you must follow. If you refuse to follow him, he says he will hound your blood, and your people, and those you love until you will face him.”

Shakily, Rand ignores Barthanes’ further questions and takes his leave. Outside, he tells the rest that Fain has taken the Horn through a Waygate to Toman Head. Back at the inn, they rejoin Perrin, and Rand and Loial explain what happened. Verin doesn’t understand how Fain could have compelled the Black Wind to stand guard at a Waygate, if that’s in fact what happened. Rand says he doesn’t know about the rest of them, but he is going to Toman Head. The others all declare they are coming too, of course, and Verin decides they must try the Ways again, only from a different Waygate, the one at Stedding Tsofu. She sends them all off to bed; Rand asks her why Mat looks so gaunt, and she explains the Healing did not work as well as they thought; he has only a few weeks left, she thinks. She asks how Rand feels, and whether he has “surrendered to the Wheel”, and he snaps back that he will ride to find the Horn, and then he is done with Aes Sedai. Verin doesn’t reply, but watches him thoughtfully as he leaves.

Commentary
Rand’s being awfully reckless here; I’m not sure if we’re supposed to ascribe this to incipient madness, or what. Jordan seems to have wavered back and forth in the earlier books about just how fast Rand’s taint-induced psychosis is progressing, probably because he thought at the time the story wasn’t going to take nearly as long as it did. This is far more evident in The Dragon Reborn, if I recall correctly, but it’s worth mentioning here.

Mat’s been pissy about the whole “Rand as lord” thing all along, but this is the first time I’ve seen the implication that it’s actually because he’s jealous. Not coincidentally, perhaps, this is also the first time Rand worries about Mat betraying him. Perrin’s already considered it several times, of course, but then he’s been around Mat for a lot more of the intervening time than Rand has.

Chapter 34: The Wheel Weaves

What Happens
Thom trudges back to his lodging in the Foregate, disgruntled over the way the nobles had pumped him for information about Rand. Thom had gone by The Great Tree afterwards, but Rand and the others had already left. He enters his room and sees Dena lying on the bed with her face to the wall; he goes to wake her, and sees that her throat has been slit, and blood covers the far side of the bed. He hears the wardrobe doors creak behind him, and Thom whirls and throws two knives, getting one of the two attackers in the throat, killing him instantly, and the other in the shoulder. The wounded assassin tries to run, and Thom hamstrings him with a third knife, and asks him why. The assassin says it was Barthanes, looking for information about the Andoran lord, and offers Thom a cut of the reward in exchange for his life. Thom tells him his mistake was touching the girl, and kills the man. Zera comes in and tells him he will have to leave Cairhien; Thom says he has one more man to kill first, and Zera tells him if he means Barthanes, someone beat him to the punch: Barthanes was found this morning in his bedchamber, torn to pieces and his head on a spike. She tells Thom she will take care of the bodies, and urges him to leave. Thom nods, and then Zera sees one of the assassins and gasps; he is one of Galldrian’s. She sees Thom’s face, and tells him he’s crazy if he thinks he can kill the king. Then they hear a roar coming from the city walls and go to the window; Thom says it looks like someone has fired the granaries. Zera again urges him to leave and not do anything stupid; Thom agrees, and grins wolfishly as he exits the inn.

Fain sneers at Falme and heads into town alone with the chest on a pack horse. He thinks about what he’s learned about the Seanchan (by torturing the locals) and sees that a lot of what he thought was nonsense is actually correct. He rides to Turak’s manor and tells the guards he has a gift for the High Lord. The soldiers look at the gold and silver chest, and take it and Fain inside. After prostrating himself before Turak, he tells the Seanchan that there is a treasure inside, and as soon as Fain is able to open the chest, it will enable Turak to conquer this whole land. Turak goes to the chest and quickly figures out the trick of opening it, to Fain’s suppressed rage, and takes out the Horn and the dagger. He examines the Horn and is visibly startled; he asks if Fain knows what it is, and Fain replies that it is the Horn of Valere. Turak continues to examine the Horn, but Fain only has eyes for the dagger. He goes to grab it, and when restrained by Turak’s bodyguard, snarls that it is his. Turak tells him if Fain sufficiently interests him he may give the dagger to Fain, but first he wants to know why Fain brought the Horn to him. Fain concocts a story about how the Horn has been passed down in his family for generations, waiting for the time when the ancestors of Artur Hawkwing came back to this land, and now he only wants to serve. Turak is skeptical, but intrigued; Fain tries to urge him to sound the Horn himself, but Turak says he will be bringing it back to the Empress. Perhaps, he says, he will give Fain to her along with the Horn. Fain is elated at the notion of having access to a ruler “again”. Turak then tells him why he will not sound the Horn:

“Do you know that whoever blows the Horn of Valere is linked to it thereafter? That so long as he or she lives, it is no more than a horn to any other?”

He says to do such a thing would confirm in the Empress’ eyes that Turak was making a bid for the Crystal Throne, and that would likely prove fatal for him. Turak says he will keep Fain with him until he sails for Seanchan, to hear more stories. Fain warns him that there are Darkfriends following him, led by one named Rand al’Thor, who will try to take the Horn back. Turak is unimpressed, and Fain is hustled out, where he goes in search of an inn, still confident that his plan will lead to al’Thor’s demise.

Commentary
Whoa. Dude, I don’t think I ever made the connection that Thom is the one who killed Galldrian until just now. Holy crap. How did I miss that? Is that right? Galldrian’s not one of the supposedly-dead royals who shows up again later, like Mattin Stepaneos did, right?

If so, damn. On the one hand, Thom is awesomely badass here; on the other, regicide = Bad, Thom! Even for crappy kings! For shame!

Dena’s murder is actually one of the more affecting character deaths in WOT, in my opinion. Maybe because we get so few actual deaths overall, but even so, knowing that she will never get to be the first female gleeman just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s just kind of tragic and awful. Poor Dena.

Blah blah Fain, blah blah Seanchan, blah blah hate them. Though I do find it mildly hilarious that Fain’s had possession of the chest the longest of anyone in the book, and everyone else has managed to open it except him. Ha ha, neener!

Chapter 35: Stedding Tsofu

What Happens
It takes Rand et al two days to reach the stedding; Perrin asks Loial on the way if wolves avoid steddings, and Loial replies that only creatures of the Shadow refuse to enter them; Loial himself does not seem happy about going there at the moment, though. When they pass the border of the stedding Rand is startled at the chill that passes through him; he feels refreshed, but also as if he had lost something, though he’s not sure what. They are met by a young female Ogier named Erith, who welcomes them to Stedding Tsofu, and asks if some of the armed soldiers could wait outside; Ingtar sends all the Shienarans except Hurin back out, and they all follow Erith deeper into the stedding. Loial asks Rand if Erith is not beautiful, and Mat snickers. Loial remarks it’s good to be back in a stedding, but denies that the Longing is taking him yet; he explains to Rand, Mat and Perrin what the Longing is, but assures them he is fine for years yet. Mat comments he’s glad to be in a stedding, too, and Rand grimaces, knowing what he’s referring to; Perrin punches Mat in the shoulder. They reach the hobbit Ogier village, which seems to grow right out of the ground like the vegetation, and Rand finds himself envying the peaceful joyfulness that all the inhabitants seem to have. Midway through the village they meet the stedding’s other guests; three Maidens of the Spear. Rand studies them in uneasy fascination. The youngest of the three sees them and shouts “Shienarans!”, and all three veil themselves and move to attack. Ingtar prepares to meet them, and so does Rand, to his own surprise, but Perrin hesitates, and Mat yells at them that they’re crazy, thinking of fighting against women. Erith, Loial and Verin both try to get everyone to calm down, but the Maidens do not listen. Then another Ogier strides in between them and harshly chastises all of them for forgetting the Pact, and the Maidens hastily unveil and apologize, shamefaced. Rand, Hurin and Ingtar also put up their weapons, and the Ogier introduces himself to Verin as Juin; he is here to take them to the Elders. Verin follows Juin out of the clearing, and the others watch the Maidens for a few moments more; Rand notices they are giving him particularly scandalized looks, muttering about his sword. Then they leave, and Erith comments they are here to trade for sung wood.

As they followed her, Perrin murmured, “Sung wood, my left foot. Those Aiel are searching for He Who Comes With the Dawn.”

And Mat added dryly, “They’re looking for you, Rand.”

Rand says that’s crazy; after Erith leaves them, he pulls Mat and Perrin aside and demands an explanation. They tell him about meeting Urien in Kinslayer’s Dagger and what he had said; Mat concludes that since Rand’s the only Aiel they know of outside the Waste, it must be him. Rand doesn’t think that’s very funny, and Mat half-apologizes, but adds that Urien could have been Rand’s cousin for the resemblance, until Perrin makes him shut up.

They all wait for the Elders, Hurin deeply enjoying the violence-free air of the stedding, and Rand and Mat go over to Loial, who looks extremely uncomfortable. Rand asks if he’s nervous about the Ogier finding out he ran away from Stedding Shangtai, and Loial hisses at him to keep his voice down. He’s afraid if they find out he ran away he’ll end up married; he explains that among the Ogier, the men have no say in who they’ll marry or when; the women always decide. Mat bellows laughter at this, and says where they come from, men do the choosing, and wives cannot stop a man from doing what he wants. Rand frowns, thinking about how he had “decided” to marry Egwene — which is to say, he didn’t — and tells Mat he thinks they do it the same way as the Ogier. Mat laughs again. Rand asks him to think of a time his father ever did anything his mother really didn’t want him to; Mat starts to answer with a grin, and then frowns and closes his mouth again. Juin returns and tells them the Elders are ready to see them now.

Commentary
Oh, Lord. Do I have to talk about this? I do?

Fine, look: sexual politics in WOT are messed up. We all know that. The thing is, I do see the point Jordan was trying to make, and I actually do appreciate it, up until the point it started to become self-parody. However, that time is not yet, and I am trying to have a policy of not letting knowledge of future flaws overly color what precedes them, because I hate when critics do that of extended works.

Just for example, one of the reasons I stopped reading Television Without Pity (other than not having time for it anymore) is because of how annoyed I got with their recaps of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The funny thing is, I am completely in agreement with the recappers’ prevailing opinion that the latter seasons of the show were distinctly inferior to the early ones (sound familiar?), but what pissed me off was how they were letting their hatred of later Buffy episodes retroactively poison their reviews of the earlier ones, despite stating that they loved them.

That’s not cool, in my opinion. Yes, the overall body of work must be judged as a whole, but let the individual sections stand on their own merits, as well. That’s my aim, anyway.

Therefore, I declare the marriage conversation with Rand, Mat and Loial in this chapter funny.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be hiding behind this metaphorical pile of sandbags here.

Chapter 36: Among the Elders

What Happens
They head to the meeting, Loial getting more and more nervous, and Rand suggests he wait outside for them. Loial eyes the knot of women Ogier standing around and watching them, but agrees, and pulls out a book. Juin leads the rest of them into a hill that’s been excavated into a cavernous meeting hall, where they are met by the seven Elders, three men and four women. The one in the center introduces herself as Alar, the eldest of the Elders. She says Verin has asked them to use their Waygate to retrieve the Horn of Valere from Darkfriends, and while she agrees that the need is very great, she warns them that to travel the Ways is to risk their very souls. Rand says they have seen Machin Shin, and Ingtar adds that he would go to Shayol Ghul itself to retrieve the Horn. Alar tells them they must see for themselves what can happen, and two other Ogier bring in an Ogier named Trayal, who shuffles along between his attendants, vacant and drooling. Alar says Trayal was one of the last of their kind to travel the Ways, and asks Verin to touch him. She does so, and jerks back, saying that the body is there, but there is nothing inside. Trayal’s attendants take him back out, and Verin says whatever the risks, they must follow the Horn; Alar looks at the other Elders, and then reluctantly agrees. Then she brings up Loial; Rand, Mat and Perrin all immediately speak up for him, saying that Loial is their friend and they need him to come with them. Verin adds that they need him for his knowledge of how to navigate the Ways. Alar looks at Rand, and says that Verin told her they were ta’veren, and that they must be strongly ta’veren indeed for Alar herself to feel it. She says Loial is very young, and charges Rand to take care of him Outside and see that he is returned to them safely; Rand promises that he will. They leave the meeting, and Loial anxiously asks them how it went; Rand tells him the Elders are letting him come with them. He notes the flower Loial is toying with, and asks about it; Loial says Erith gave it to him, and under his breath, adds that she told him he was handsome.

Mat let out a wheeze and doubled over, staggering along clutching his sides, and Loial’s cheeks colored. “Well . . . she said it. I didn’t.”

Perrin rapped Mat smartly on the top of his head with his knuckles. “Nobody ever said Mat was handsome. He’s just jealous.”

“That’s not true,” Mat said, straightening abruptly. “Neysa Ayellin thinks I’m handsome. She’s told me so more than once.”

“Is Neysa pretty?” Loial asked.

“She has a face like a goat,” Perrin said blandly. Mat choked, trying to get his protests out.

Rand grinned in spite of himself. Neysa Ayellin was almost as pretty as Egwene.

They head out of the stedding to the Waygate, and Rand realizes that saidin is back, waiting for him. Verin removes the leaf key, and as the Waygate begins to swing open Rand sees that the opening is black again. He shouts that it is the Black Wind, and Verin thrusts the key back into place, closing the gate before it had opened more than a fraction. Everyone sighs with relief. Verin ponders the oddity of the Black Wind waiting for them here, too, and gives Rand a look that only he notices. Loial suggests trying another Waygate elsewhere, but Verin thinks that Machin Shin will be waiting for them no matter where they go. Finally, Hurin pipes up and suggests using the Portal Stones instead, reminding them of how the reflected world he and Rand and Loial went to let them cover a hundred leagues in less than two days. Alar is puzzled, saying she thought no one knew how to use the Stones anymore, but Verin replies the Brown Ajah knows many things, and she can use one. In that case, Alar replies, there is a Portal Stone right nearby; Verin asks her to show them the way.

Commentary
Verin knows how to use Portal Stones, eh? Tricky, very tricky!

Oh, and to head the obvious misconception off at the pass: Verin was not using the One Power in a stedding to determine Trayal had no soul inhabiting his body. It’s established later on (in Winter’s Heart, during Perrin’s wolf-dream adventures, if I’m not mistaken) that the signs by which you can tell someone’s soul has left their body are all physical, and can be determined by anyone, not just a channeler. Verin’s tricky, but she’s not that tricky.

I really don’t have a lot else to say about this chapter, as it is pretty much all setup for what’s about to happen; I did make a point of quoting the boys’ banter above, though, because I’m going to miss it when it goes, which is Real Soon Now.


All right, park’s closed, everybody out! You two, under the bleachers, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves, get out of there. Come back Monday as we move into the final week for this book, with action, adventure, outrage, opinions, and, of course, your obligatory Big Ass Ending, starting with Chapters 37-40. Spin that Wheel!

111 comments
Alrin Kharr
1. Alrin Kharr
Aw man, no Chapter 37? That's one of the best chapters in the book, I was rather looking forward to it. Oh well.
Kyle Bass
3. SherlockTomes
Anyone else listen to the audiobooks? Michael Kramer reading the Machin Shin Chant is sufficiently creepy...

It's interesting how much Verin underestimates Logain, and how at this point in the series, Verin believes the group of people she names (Siuann, Moiraine, etc.) to be in the upper echelon of non-Forsaken strength in the world. Oh, how disabused of this notion you'll become...
Alrin Kharr
4. Black Tower
Maybe Ms. Butler can start standardizing her posting times. Hmmmm?
Rich Bennett
5. Neuralnet
When I first started reading this series I actually really enjoyed all the sexual politic banter among the boys and girls. It was funny in a half true sort of way. the problem is that the same joke gets old after a couple of books.
Blake Engholm
6. UncrownedKing
#4
hahahah then that would keep me off the edge of my seat, no fun in that.
Alrin Kharr
7. Emerkel
I understand the whole, "Men who can channel broke the world and it changed the dynamics of male-female relationships" thing Jordan has going on in the story, but he takes it a bit too far. As a tangential thought he also makes female authority figures bossy, pushy, and somewhat unlikable. There are no real female leaders, only female manipulative dictatory bit... you get the picture.

Anyway, that's my two cents and I'ma stickin' to it. (FYI, I am just finishing TFOH and maybe the focus on Nynaeve and Elayne is wearing a bit thin!)
Alrin Kharr
8. Rikka
WARNING: long and pointless comment ahead!

chpt 31:
Keep it juicy leigh. I wish I had my books for these scenes :/ Verin's presence especially makes me want to read every word. Poor Rand getting strung along like the naive little sheepherder that he is. There's a whole hell of a lot in this chapter: Rand coming into his own lordliness, hinting at Ingtar as a DF, Perrin's realization that Rand is Shadowkiller, the Choedal Kal (and the mention that Siuan, Moiraine, Elaida one or two others and three still in training.... coughcoughelayne,nynaeveandegwenecoughcough... are strong enough to use it). Logain being much less powerful than Rand, and just in general what Rand can/could do once proclaimed.

chpt 32:
Why do they leave Perrin? Why do I not remember that they do? D: Books, I need you!

Also, Rand in this chapter is floundering and flailing but doing well almost entirely by acciendent. The "I am less than a year old" is SO badass. Gotta love those Borderlanders... and Lan >.> I'm a sucker and I know it.

"I’m not Aiel, Lord Barthanes, and I’m not of the royal line, either.'
LIES AND SLANDER! LIES AND SLANDER, RAND AL'THOR! >.> (Can you slander yourself? or is that just self-depreciation? either way, well played RoJo, well played.) Agh, Thom, he's getting snagged and you know it, you bastard, help him!

chpt 33:
Oh Mat, suck it up and deal sweetheart. I love you and everything but you're acting an ass at the moment :/.Also, why did I now remember Rand seizing saidin there? I really do need to reread these books. :( I think Rand's madness meter also has to do with the situation as much as inconsistancies in RoJo's planning. When's he's not thinking about station and just flying by the seat of his pants, he's probably just pulling taveren strings as much as anything else, getting what needs to be done, done. When he gets all bogged down in the "oh shit I'm the DR, I don't want the AS to use me and throw me away" shit, he gets a good bit more angsty and crazed. That's my $0.02.

chpt 34:
Thom in all his badass grieving glory. I love how calmly Zera treats with Thom after he's killed a few assassins and his lover's lying dead in the bed beside him. The man's wild-eyed, probably bloodcovered and plotting to go a-kingkilling and she's all "I'll hide the bodies. Don't be dumb and have fun!"

Turak is one of those people I shouldn't like but I do. For me he's the epitome of nobility (not as a quality but as a station). His fight with Rand is epic. EPIC.

chpt 35:
Welcome to the stedding, DR, you might want to get comfortable with the feeling...Mat, stop being a jerk and thanks, Perrin, for punching him. Also, I always saw stedding as more like Lothlorien and less like the Shire.

Maidens! So impulsive, those women. S'amazing any of them become Wise Women. Also, well said, Mat, aka Captain Obvious. Where's your sidekick ADD girl? Oh wait, we don't meet her for another book yet. Mat's already convinced (good boy) that Rand's Aiel. Has Rand even accepted that yet? I think he knows it but doesn't want to admit it but I could easily be wrong. As for marriage. Fuckit. I do want one case of polyandry though, somewhere, before the series ends. Just for my sake.

chpt 36:
Nice jab Perrin. And Rand's still holding on to thoughts of Egwene... ew. Verin could channel in a stedding if she had a well, no? Not that she does/did, just asking. Can we get a quote on what Verin says about the Portal Stones?


also, standardized posting times would be nice but is perhaps asking a bit much.
Alrin Kharr
9. Adventurer
Are you sure Verin didn't delve Trayal? Don't we find out that she has a well at some point?
Leigh Butler
10. leighdb
Black Tower:

Maybe Ms. Butler can start standardizing her posting times. Hmmmm?

Ms. Butler actually has no control over posting times, as it happens.
Blake Engholm
11. UncrownedKing
31) Thats true, we don't get any Mat until TDR. AND ITS AWESOME because of what side effects come about during that chapter.

32) Silly horny noble women, and poor Rand, cornered by all those cougars and no wing man in sight.

Leigh, talking about the movie, I was thinking Goldfinger meets The King and I

33) Do we see Barthanes again??

34) How awesome if we got a Thom POV during the assassination of Galldrian???? My head would have exploded with all its raw awesomeness.

35) Fremen are..... I mean these Aiel are bad ass. I mean women fighters would are in some ways more fierce then the men? No wonder Rand falls for Aviendha, I mean shes just as likely to kill him as make love to him (every geek here knows thats sexy). ha

Any Dune lovers out there that can tell me if there were women fighters in that book too?? Been really long time since I read that.

36) It has been a few years since i have read all these books, so I have forgotten who turns out to be Black ajah (mostly because it eventually gets so intricate that you'd need a flow chart, family tree, compass, map, and a guide just to find your way through all the names)

Keep it up Leigh, was waiting for this all day.
Alrin Kharr
12. Lsana
Just a quick question: do we ever figure out who killed Barathanes or why?
Alrin Kharr
13. tacoma
Go easy, Black Tower. People have lives.

Personally, Leigh, I fully appreciate your efforts, thanks for doing this.

On topic, I really enjoy the idea of daes dae'mar a lot. I think Jordan does a good job of making the paranoia readable, as I suspect that his intention here is to highlight how pervasive it is in Cairhien and to give you a sense of how people think in that environment. To give it true justice would take so many pages of text that getting through it would be murder. I'm an analyst by trade, particularly of foreign military and political leadership, and can vouch that trying to figure out what people are thinking without their POV is damn near impossible. Good job RJ.

Now if only Loy would show up...

--mike
Aidan Young
14. aidanyoung1102
I'm loving the re-read and I'm glad you're keeping it verbose. Jordan is extremely long-winded so it makes sense that the re-read would be, too.

I am currently listening to COT on CD and what occurs to me in going over these re-reads is how much more HAPPENS in the beginning of the series than in the later books. The pace of the books just SLLLOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWSSSSSSSSSSSS down later. Also, the humanity of the main characters seems much more apparent, whereas later they seem to become "superhero-ish."

A note on Verin (whom I LOVE): I believe we find out for certain that she is a darkfriend in KOD. Could Verin, like Elza (Green sister from Dumai's Wells who guards Rand/Nynaeve at Shadar Logoth in Winter's Heart), be a hint at darkfriends that are betraying the shadow? Double agents, if you will. There seem to be undercurrents in the series that hint at "light" and "dark" lines blurring as Tarmon Gai'don approaches.

OR are these super sneaky darkfriends gonna REALLY MESS PEOPLE UP in AMOL?
Pablo Defendini
15. pablodefendini
@ Black Tower#4

Mr. Defendini, however, does have control over posting times, and he assures you that there will be no standardization of said times. ;)

We like keeping you on your toes. And who knows, maybe you'll come looking for WoT one day, and additionally find something else on this site that you will enjoy just as much.
Blake Engholm
16. UncrownedKing
@14
Isn't the saying:

"There is no one that can't be turned back to the Light"

That said, you bring up a hell of a good point, will some darkfriends turn....back??? Will some of the Forsaken??
Alrin Kharr
17. gentlaman_bastard
I was looking forward to the awesomeness that is 37. Miss Butler you're a tease!
Brett Michie
18. bchurch
Wow, I can't believe I never put two and two together with Breane Taborwin. I feel quite sheepish.

Agreed that Cairhienen names are awesome. Take 'Talmanes Delovinde' for example. Just rolls off the tongue.

I did find and amusing flub with a throw away name here:

"“That’s not true,” Mat said, straightening abruptly. “Neysa Ayellin thinks I’m handsome. She’s told me so more than once.”

“Is Neysa pretty?” Loial asked.

“She has a face like a goat,” Perrin said blandly. Mat choked, trying to get his protests out.

Rand grinned in spite of himself. Neysa Ayellin was almost as pretty as Egwene."

In tSR, when Perrin is returning to an Emond's Field preparing to defend itself and he's uncomfortable with his home-town people calling him Perrin Goldeneyes. He sees "horse-faced Neysa Ayellin, who had paddled his ten-year-old backside that time Mat talked him into stealing one of her gooseberry pies."

I don't point this out to criticize; I actually find it somewhat endearing. Weird of me, I know. But in a cast of hundreds, a tiny mistake like this with a person mentioned twice (to my knowledge) is actually very human.

I'll shut up now and go sit in the corner.
Kyle Bass
19. SherlockTomes
@aidanyoung1102

What in KoD indicates that Verin is a darkfriend?

Elza doesn't betray the Shadow to return to the Light; due to Verin's "Compulsion," the idea that Rand must survive until the Last Battle takes root in her mind. Verin, not knowing that Elza is Black Ajah, doesn't realize that Elza's desire to see Rand make it that far is so that he can be defeated by the Dark One.
Alrin Kharr
20. pdl
Do we know if Verin can actually use a portal stone herself?

The fact that she made Rand do it seems to imply that she can't, but who can say they know Verin's motives?

Her "Browns know many things" doesn't mean Browns know squat about portal stones in AS-doubletalk. then she says she can use the portal stone. Could she be implying that "she" can make use of the portal stone because Rand can work the thingies?

Would she be strong enough in the Schwartz.. ahh One Power? Add 'does she have an angreal?' to the list of questions.

I just finished reading the battle for Two Rivers at the end of The Shadow Rising and have been paying special attention to Verin on this readthrough.
Alrin Kharr
21. MoreBooksForMe
Leigh,

I can think of one musical spy movie. It's called "Top Secret" and stars Val Kilmer in his first lead role. Its one of those spoof movies but I read on IMDB that Val Kilmer did all of his own singing it it.

P.S. Love the posts, keep it up.

P.P.S. I think this was the first time I noticed about Thom going after Gallendrin (sp?).
Alrin Kharr
22. alreadymadwhensaidinwascleansed
Barthanes being more correct in his musings about both parts of Rand's ancestry than Rand himself is hilarious now that i think of it.
i also enjoy the three ta'veren acting like the three stooges. seriously, for now until the next book or so, we'll be getting more of Mat's trademark snickers and the hitting Mat part. enjoy it now because it'll pretty much disappear later on. when Rand is the DR and Mat is the badass general of his own badass BOTRH. also, does anyone else think that Mat became more observant ever since he got a hold of that dagger thingy? vestiges of his paranoia, maybe? and i love Perrin's remark at the stedding. "Sung wood my left foot." as well as Rand challenging Mat to prove Two Rivers folk do it differently from Ogier. priceless.
funny how Hurin latched on to Rand as a figure of authority earlier in the book and now here we know why. because Agelmar and Moiraine said Rand was next to Ingtar on the chain. it had seemed strange that Hurin being more experienced than either Rand or Loial would defer to a younger man. not losing his head in such a strange place would have gotten his respect even more. plus the way Rand carries himself, i think he's already subconsciously carrying himself like Lews Therin would, in terms of posture and general carriage. what egwene would describe as arrogance from a mountaintop(she's one to speak).
Breane Taborwin actually resurfacing later on is but a funny demonstration of how the wheel turns. from one of the most powerful ladies in cairhien to being the lover of a tavern bouncer.
i'm going to miss Turak when the book is done. he's one of the more likeable seanchan high lords around. certainly more so than athan shadar suroth.
and of course must not forget Thom. i never actually realised his connection to Galldrian's death. that means he lit the spark that erupted into the cairhien civil war.
Brett Michie
23. bchurch
pdl @20

In chapter 37, the next one on the list, Verin states bluntly that she is aware of her limits and would be destroyed before coming close to channeling enough power to use a portal stone. Whether she has an angreal sufficient to the task remains to be seen. She hints at something in her possession in a later book that could be an angreal or a well. Can't remember what book or what it is, but I believe it's something in her sewing basket or some such that she hasn't been without for fifty years or so.

Also, if she is BA, then her telling Rand straight out that she's not strong enough doesn't mean much. I'm leaning towards her not being BA, but am watching her closely as things progress.
Arjan Brand
24. fikkie77
Barthanes Damodred is probably killed by 'a' or 'the' Gholam. Just look at the way he is killed and how the Gholam kills later on in the series.

Spoiler Alert:
Verin Black Ajah? I really don't buy that. If she was, she would have killed Cadsuane when she could. And isn't there a Verin POV somewhere where she either talks about the Dark Lord and/or the Forsaken? Bad guys always mention the Great Lord and the Chosen. Verin is strange and has her own agenda (like most Aes Sedai), but I don't think she's a Darkfriend.
Tim Kington
25. TimKington
@Lsana

Barthanes was ripped to pieces by a gholam. This was for letting Fain get away.


I don't think Thom physically killed Galldrian. I always thought he did it through Daes Dae'mar. He could probably incite a riot that would get him killed or something like that - seems less risky.
Blake Engholm
26. UncrownedKing
timkington,

I disagree I picture Thom a secret agent who tried to get out of the agency and chose the life of a gleeman. But your never out they just pull you back in. I think he is completely capable of sneaking into a palace and assassinating someone who just killed the woman he was falling in love with.

( now that I just wrote that, it may seem perposterous, but I stand by it)
Alrin Kharr
27. lindal
TimKington@25
Tom physically kills Galldrian. In TDR when Mat leaves the tower and runs into Tom at the bar/ inn, Tom says, "So much trouble killing a man causes..." Then he goes on to talk about Dena.
Maybe not totally conclusive, but he certainly killed someone before drowning his sorrows.
Heather Johnson
28. HeatherJ
“Also, am I right in remembering that we don’t get a Mat POV until after the Healing in the Tower in the next book?” I wonder if it has anything to do with the dagger and not wanting to show any of the evil thoughts brought on by it in one of our heroes?

As for Breane, I had to go look her up and now I’m shocked – I totally missed that one every time!

@#3 MadlyHatter: Yeah, I mentioned that the first time Machin Shin came up – I have to skip that part of the audio book b/c it’s so creepy.

@#7 Emerkel: It’s been a while so maybe I’m wrong here, but wasn’t the pre-compulsion Morgase a good female leader? Anyone have thoughts on that?

@#8 Rikka : “The "I am less than a year old" is SO badass. Gotta love those Borderlanders... and Lan >.> I'm a sucker and I know it.” Exactly! I always loved that part myself. And I’m right with you on the polyandry thing. I mean, we have it with the Aiel already, but I want to see how Rand and his harem work it out once they’re actually all in the same place …

@#11 Uncrowned King: It has been a while since I last read the original Dune, but I just read Paul of Dune recently. If I recall, ALL the Fremen can fight. I don’t know if the women go on Maud’dib’s jihad though. But I distinctly remember that Chani can fight well, and so can Alia (she’s death in small package, at least in the new book).

@#25 Tom Kington: I give Thom full credit for killing the king w/ his own hand. Not that he’s not capable of “getting” him killed, I just think that he’d have preferred to do it himself in this situation.

Leigh: Excellent job as always. I’ve gotten NOTHING done at work since your post came up. :)
craig miller
29. craigpmiller
Leigh, thanks again!

UncrownedKing@11
Any Dune lovers out there that can tell me if there were women fighters in that book too?? Been really long time since I read that.


Paul's sister, Alia, kills Baron Vlad H. Women throw their babies onto the knives of their attackers. Most have a Crysknife and know how to use it. Yes I think ALL Fremen can fight. Sorry about the crosstalk. :-)
Ofer Nave
30. odigity
1) You pretty much have to quote Machin Shin. No way to recap that properly. I don't often find WoT scary/creepy, but Machin Shin's rants are one of the exceptions.

2) No, the shire is the Two Rivers, not the stedding - though the scouring happens in book 4 in WoT, rather than in an epilogue, so we get to enjoy it's consequences for a long time.

3) We already knew enough about the ways and Machin Shin from book 1. I'm convinced that RJ had Alar do the Trayal demonstration here to further develop the WoT soul mechanics/mythology so that we better appreciate the gray men that are about to start popping up.

4) I, too, appreciate the few rare moments of Emonds Field banter that is almost entirely absent after the first few hundred pages of book 1. They really should have a bit more fun now and then, or they'll snap from stress and grumpiness. Next time they get together for a Two Rivers reunion, Mat should order them all to get drunk like he did with his bodyservants at the end of KoD (I love that part).

Lastly, I usual enjoy Buffy commentary, but if that site is all merciless critique, then I'm afraid to look. It's my favorite show (though surely Firefly would have eclipsed it had it been allowed 2-3 seasons to exist).
Alrin Kharr
31. Naraoia
#16:

"That said, you bring up a hell of a good point, will some darkfriends turn....back??? Will some of the Forsaken??"

Which Forsaken? I don't think it would be a believable turn for any of the ones that are still alive. Asmodean, yes, but RJ killed him off as soon as he became interesting. *pissed*

#11:

"34) How awesome if we got a Thom POV during the assassination of Galldrian???? My head would have exploded with all its raw awesomeness. "

I actually like it better this way. I have a feeling that writing the scene would've spoiled it.

#12:

"Just a quick question: do we ever figure out who killed Barathanes or why?"

Don't think so, though it's been a while since I last read the books. His whole death seems a bit random. (Also, why did the assassins want Thom, and especially the girl??? *is confused*)

-----

BTW, it's my first comment here (I think it is, anyway ^_^), so I might as well say I'm enjoying the commentary hugely. Keep it up.
Ofer Nave
32. odigity
Pointless trivia: Barthanes's manor (where he was killed by a gholam in book 2) gets turned into a school by Rand in book 6, after which Herid Fel (a researcher at the school) also gets killed by a gholam in the same building. I wonder if the six gholam have districts. And a hotline.

Also, I never connected Lamgwin's Breane with one of the women hitting on Rand at Barthanes, but when her last name came up later, I did connect her family to Dobraine, who is currently Rand's steward in Cairhien. It amused me to think that Breane's been caught up in that Amadicia/Ghealdan/Altara chaos trying to escape the civil war in Cairhien, and she doesn't know that it's now stable and her relative even runs the place. :)

Regarding Verin's warning that using the big S'A would fry most channelers, she's working on the assumption of people trying to use them directly, not through the access keys (which no one knows the location of yet) which would make if safer, probably as safe enough as any A/S'A, according to how the buffering feature is designed.
Kyle Bass
33. SherlockTomes
@#28 HeatherJ

I agree on the point of Thom: while capable of orchestrating an assassination, he was pissed. I think he felt the need to do it himself, and thought it would make him feel better (but not as good as wine makes him feel...).

And yes, I think that showing that scene "on screen" (on page?) would have ruined it to some degree. It's all about the sneakiness.
Alrin Kharr
34. Lsana
@18 bchurch,

About Neysa Ayellin: in my edition, the girl who said Mat was handsome was Marisa Ayellin rather than Neysa. So I do think that was a mistake on Jordan's part, corrected later.
J Novak
35. Novak
Random comments on your comments:

You know, "Self-parody" is about the best description for the sexual politics in Randland that I can think of. Because you're right, it didn't start out insane, and is not uniformly insane. I think that probably applies to the descriptions, too, as they take up more and more of the later books at the expense of plot.

And frankly, if Jordan got a metric ton of fan mail praising him for either of those things, I'd be hard pressed to blame him for going the way he did, even if I think it was the wrong thing to do.

Anyway, if you never noticed the Galldrian thing (which I totally did, and which is why Thom is a badass) I'm not sure I ever noticed the subtlety of the ta'veren thing going on in the background, here. Not with the daes dae'mar going on in Cairhien-- that still strikes me as sit-com like, even if the ta'veren makes it go down easier.

But the notion that Rand got propelled farther and farther along the route to leadership, for instance, because Ingtar was suffering an internal crisis of conscience strikes me as ta'veren at work. The questions-- better asked than answered-- include these: Was it ta'veren at work in selecting Ingtar the Darkfriend with a conscience to lead the mission? Or was it the Wheel weaving his having a conscience? Or was it the Wheel weaving him to be a Darkfriend in the first place?

And the overarching plot for this book, of the Great Hunt itself. The only reason the Hunt is taking place is because Fain stole the Horn in the first place. But the only reason Rand is getting any of the experiences he's getting-- the leadership role, the involvement with the Great Game, the constant need to channel, the exposure to weird bits of lore and legend like the Portal Stones-- is because he's following Fain. Moreover, because he's trying to help Mat.

I don't remember ever looking at things in the light that all of that business with Aridhol-- the knife, Mat's foolishness, Mat's predicament, Fain's involvement, the theft, all of it-- as being necessary things to provide Rand with some of the experiences he'd need to go through later on.

Or if I did think that way, I clearly managed to forget about it. But it's still damned deft writing.
Alrin Kharr
36. Naraoia
#28:

"And I’m right with you on the polyandry thing. I mean, we have it with the Aiel already, but I want to see how Rand and his harem work it out once they’re actually all in the same place"

Umm... polyandry means more than one man for a woman. What Rand and the girls are doing is polygyny (and also lame, contrived, pointless and many other bad things*)

But yeah, in a world that's supposedly so female-dominated, one would expect to see at least some polyandrous societies. Yet the only non-monogamous one we learn about is (1) polygynous and (2) generally weird compared to the rest.

*No, I don't hate WoT, but I'm frustrated to no end with all the stupid flaws. It could've been so much more awesome. *grumpy*
Richard Fife
37. R.Fife
*sulks out from under the bleachers*

On Mat PoV: I think Jordan just didn't want to mire us down with what must be going through Mat's head all the time pre-healing, which is constant suspicious and whiney emo bitching. Yes, that's right pdl, now you can picture Mat sitting around with died black hair cutting himself with his sword-spear (whatever its called) cause nobody loves him.



Rikka@8 They leave Perrin cause they didn't have a good reason for him to be there that would not look suspicious. I actually love that RJ did that, instead of making the party incidentally always just the right size to go everywhere together.

In response to Leigh @ 10 (finds a wet noodle to ship BlackTower with). Standarized times or now, I am very grateful for this wonderful, free to us readers service.

UncrownedKing @ 11 Barthanes is found a disembered pile of gore the next day. Also, the women were deadly too, although never explicitly mentioned. They definately never had the warrior society Randland has. But Alia has an all female guard of Fremen in books 2 and 3, and the Lady Jessica was a pretty badass fighter besides.


HeatherJ@28 Polyandry means one woman, two husbands. Just like a misandrist is a man hater.

Still no proofreading!
Brett Michie
38. bchurch
Lsana @34

Thanks for that. Most of my copies of these books are old hard-bound first editions near to tatters from many readings. There are a few typos, specially in tSR.

Naroia @36

The one thing I can think of close to polyandry in the books is the Green Ajah and their warders. Dunno if this counts and not much detail given there if it does.
Alrin Kharr
39. almuric
While Rand's waiting for Ingtar and co. to show up, why doesn't he buy some plain clothes? I can't believe it wouldn't occur to him. He hates the friggin' lordly outfit. Why wouldn't he have bought some plainer stuff?

I can see where Jordan would write in a scene and then Hurin or some other helpful fella tells him that switching to plain clothes would be a really bad move as far as the Daes Dae'mar is concerned (making everyone even more paranoid about it or whatever) but even so, why wouldn't he buy some to wear for after he leaves town? The only thing I can think of is that Jordan didn't bother to write it as he'd just have to come up with some way for Rand to lose the clothes and the book was already pretty long as it is.

That's always bothered me. I just had to get it off my chest.

I, personally, would love an explanation for how Thom managed to kill Galldrian. His capabilities are never fully explored, in my memory. How badass is he, exactly? Do we find out when/how he learned to fight? You gotta figure the king would have some serious guards around, with the whole 'game' going on all the time and people constantly scheming to replace him. That kind of handwaving just irritates me. We should get some sort of explanation, even if it's only a couple of throwaway lines that Thom blurts out in a later book, or even a bit of internal dialogue. Can't get enough of that internal kvetching, "Light blind me!". ;}

I do like the interplay between the three Two Rivers boys, where each laments the fact that they know nothing about girls but is sure the other two are real suave and debonair. But yeah, as beautiful as all the girls are, there's not a one of them I'd want to end up with, as bossy as they all are. Why they can't treat each other with a little respect and courtesy is beyond me. And beyond Jordan, too, I guess.
Alrin Kharr
40. Effervescent
I fell behind on the readings, which is cool in my opinion (12-18 chapter reviews versus only 6 is awesome), except that responses after the first hundred are probably read by very few people. Good thing I'm caught up.

I have to say, I for one do not mind the "no one truly dies in the WoT universe." I've read the first couple of books in Martin's "A game of thrones" series (yes, I named it after the first book, since off the top of my head, I can't think of the overall series title), and the way Martin goes for "realism" by killing EVERYONE of note, WoT is a lot more...comfortable.

Just THINKING about all the people who die in the first 2 books by Martin makes me sick at heart.

That Jordan found a way to justify killing very few people (ala the pattern) is enough for me. I use these books to avoid reality, not to look for it.
Alrin Kharr
41. ian manc
I'm surprised you didn't realise Thom was the assasin, but then we all miss different things (I was REALLY surprised at the end of Planet of the Apes). What I like about these few chapters is that Rand's disposal of the first two letters leads directly to the the civil war that lets him walk in and take over in TFoH.

I also love the way that on the surface Cairhien is sooo civilised and formal, but one farm boy sends hormones raging and people start killing or filrting. I bet they're all well nasty in the bedroom!

Verin is a much better mentor than Moiraine, she's like the aunt who gives you sweets and lets you climb trees, whilst Moiraine is scolding you for eating betwen meals and scuffing your shoes.

Verin, Mat, Fain....all it needs is Nynaeve to be there and my 4 favourite character would have been covered in one go.
Alrin Kharr
42. Heather P.
Thom is one of those sneaky badasses ... you get all complacent thinking he's just a harmless gleeman, and then you find out differently. Woe is you if you're on the wrong side of him. He's also been one of my favorite characters, I was SO happy he didn't "actually" die.

To R.Fife@37: On the Sword of Truth series, I wholeheartedly agree. The first 5 or 6 books, amazing, after that, tedious and preachy.

On a side note, I've always loved the WOT series but since this re-read started I've become SUCH a WOT geek! I love it!!
Herb Schaltegger
43. LameLefty
odigity@30:

"4) I, too, appreciate the few rare moments of Emonds Field banter that is almost entirely absent after the first few hundred pages of book 1. They really should have a bit more fun now and then, or they'll snap from stress and grumpiness. Next time they get together for a Two Rivers reunion, Mat should order them all to get drunk like he did with his bodyservants at the end of KoD (I love that part). "

Well, isn't that why Cadsuane is trying to teach Rand how to laugh and cry again?
Ofer Nave
44. odigity
LameLefty@43: I hope Rand learns laughter and tears again, too, but I cannot condone Cadsuane's behavior. She's a bitch. My bloody sympathies to Far Madding.
Herb Schaltegger
45. LameLefty
odigity - I totally agree about Cadsuane. On the other hand, your comment that they might or will crack from the strain is, I think, why she's trying to remind The Dragon Reborn that he's still Rand Al'Thor.
Richard Boye
46. sarcastro
Thom:
I always thought Thom was awesome.

Don't forget that Moiraine comes to acknowledge that he is as skilled as Daes Dae'mar as she is when they both start manipulating the Tairen High Lords into a gelatinous condition favorable to Rand. He also is credited by Morgase as being one of the prime movers who steered her on the Lion Throne amid the chaos of the last Succession.

Cairhien: Versailles meets Sho-gun.
Yes, I love the Cairhienin. I think their names are awesome (Taringail Damodred? Merelille Ceandevin? Aldrin Caldevwin? Selande Darengil?).

I think their culture is cool (as a reader), as noted. I did never notice, however, as TonyZ said elsethread that it is all an exaggerated reaction to their dwindling society. That makes sense. Duh. It is the actions of a society well and fully falling(fallen?) into decadence. When the Andoran shit starts to the hit the Interregnal fan, and the Lords of Andor start mobilizing and politicking, they actually are working on something tangible, and actually start tangible endeavors towards that end (the Lion Throne); the Cairhienin are being all silkily smooth and deceptive for the sake of being all silkily smooth.

Three Noblewomen Cougars
As to the three noblewomen cougars, I totally knew who Breane was when she showed up - her bio in the glossary refers to her as a pampered noblewoman who ends up in a shocking state of affairs, or something.

We also see Alaine show up again. I do regret that we never see Belavaere though. She seemed like one of the more predatory Cairhienin nobles, who would doubtless rise to the top. In fact, I often wonder why RJ gave us Colavaere when Belavaere would have done just as well as a ruthless noblewoman who seized the throne. At the very least, I would have loved to see Belavaere again. Que Sera Sera.

Dena:
Dena was a pretty nasty character (she cheated Loial!), but her death was pretty effective and shocking. The only other bit-character death that I thought was so hurtful to the reader was Sahra Covenry, the unfortunate novice whom Siuan sent to a farm for a penance because she had seen the WonderGirls come and go, who got zorched by Alviarin and died. That sucked. (Verine the Accepted also got a raw deal).

Verin FTW!
Verin is and always remains my second favorite Aes Sedai because she is so awesome, enigmatic, erudite and slightly creepy. In my film version she will be played by Louise Fletcher (aka Nurse Ratched and Kai Wynn).
Heather Johnson
47. HeatherJ
@#36 Naraoia & @37 RFife: oops, sorry 'bout that. I got them backwards and totally missed the point of the original comment. :(
Alrin Kharr
48. Clay Blankenship
Hi everyone. I have been lurking up until now but I wanted to say how glad I am you are doing these recaps. It is neat to see names I recognize from Usenet back in the mid-90's.

You have inspired me to go buy and read _New Spring_, which I had refused to buy earlier since I was disgusted with how long it was taking to wrap up the series. So now I am very much looking forward to the final book and glad to have this refresher.
Alrin Kharr
49. gagecreedlives
I must also join the ranks of the people that completely missed that Breane comes back.

“He says he will wait for you on Toman Head. He has what you seek, and if you want it, you must follow. If you refuse to follow him, he says he will hound your blood, and your people, and those you love until you will face him.”

Well Fain is certainly many things but a person to make empty threats apparently isn’t one of them. Isnt that right Huan?

Doesn’t seem to matter if your human or ogier the thought of marriage is enough to give some men the heebie jeebies and into the hills they run.

Emerkel @7 and HeatherJ @28 Morgase does come across a good leader prior to her head being messed with. Also Faile (as I jump behind the metaphorical pile of sandbags with Leigh) also seems to be a good leader. She has jealousy issues but she seemed to do a good job with the people under her care at the Two Rivers and later she does what she can under the shaido.

Rikka @8

"I do want one case of polyandry though, somewhere, before the series ends. Just for my sake.”

Im pretty sure its mentioned somewhere that one of the green sisters has married all her warders. But I cant remember which one. And that could be my faulty memory or just nasty aes sedai gossip.

UncrownedKing @16

The only dark friend I believe we have seen try to come back to the light was Ingtar and he does it by sacrificing himself. I think it’s a case of once your in your in and theres no going back short of death.

I also think Barthane was killed by a gholam but does anyone have any idea what the ruby dagger would do to a gholam if anything?

Ian manc @41 hope it was the original you watched
Sam Kelly
50. Eithin
Pablo at 15: Making it harder for us to find what we want doesn't make it any more likely we'll stick around for more. Please stop trying to hog our time, it's precious to us. Not that I care about standardised posting times, but per-author or per-tag RSS feeds would be really good, because then I'd get to miss a lot less cool stuff.

Naraoia at 31: I agree about the distancing from Galldrian's assassination - hearing about it from Thom's comment is rather cooler. For that matter, I don't think I want to hear about someone on the side of the Light killing unless attacked, even if it is a king.

On the one hand, Thom is awesomely badass here; on the other, regicide = Bad, Thom! Even for crappy kings! For shame! Hey, nothing wrong with regicide. If they're going to be kings (and especially Bad Kings - did Galldrian have Favourites?), they need to accept the risks of the job. And Thom probably just used a dagger, which is practically natural causes for a monarch.

R.Fife at 37: Technically, that's "multiple men", not just two - and restricting it specifically to husbands (or wives) would be -gamy. The whole Randwich business is rather squicky, given that he doesn't seem to get a choice in this - though, admittedly, pretty much the one constant in the situation is that anything Rand decides on will be a really bad idea.

Thinking about the Aiel situation, actually... having multiple wives to one husband probably leads to a lot of situational homosexuality amongst the warrior societies. I'd imagine that as a military historian, this is something Jordan considered, too.
Richard Boye
51. sarcastro
GageCreed@49

Myrelle Berengari is mentioned as marrying all three of her warders "in defiance of all custom!"

In one of RJ's finer touches, Myrelle, being Ebou Dari, is shown, while in T'A'R, to be wearing a necklace with three marriage knives, but a fourth one flickers in and out of existence as she deals her newest warder, Lan.
Richard Boye
52. sarcastro
:Ooof:

That was the sound of a gut-punch.

Randwich!!!!

Eithin, that's superb. Well done.
Alrin Kharr
53. gagecreedlives
Cheers sarcastro. I was racking my brain over that one. I wonder how Myrelle's husbands feel about Lan.
Alrin Kharr
54. jafco
Leigh: Great intro! How long do you spend trying to write something fresh and witty for each of these myriad installments.

1) Stop with the gholam stuff. Thom did Galldrian, no doubt. He's a real badass, not just a gleeman (a disguise probably taken to protect him and to shake off the effects of losing his love and his home (maybe a child, too? Is the jury still out on who's Elayne's daddy?).

2) Polyandry: Someone consulted his dictionary and set things straight above, although Lsana notes that the Green Ajah may have some practitioners thereof.

3) Sexual politics: So how, pray tell, is TWoT different from today? I await a dissertation.

4) If Rand thought Neysa Ayellin "was almost as pretty as Egwene" then she was. The later book is either misquoted or an error was made in its printing. Twenty-one-year-old boys have a knack for knowing who is pretty.

5) After this book, the banter among the boys dies, and that's a shame. They all (gals too) become so secretive and tight that it probably adds about six books to the process.

Mat becomes the comic relief. He does it so well, so constantly, while also being heroic, trustworthy, loyal, lusty, and MUCH put upon by the SuperGirls and others (except Birgitte, bless her) that he becomes the (my?) hero of the books. Rand is like - Whoa! fighting off a bevy of horny women who also slap his face a lot! while trying to save the world, and Perrin is busy putting out fires started by his schemer minx of a wife (she makes AS look like placid dreamers) while telling everyone to stop calling him "Lord".

Even so, I wouldn't miss a minute of it. There's so much backstory (see Novak above) and good story (keep reading Leigh and the comments) that one realizes there's some truly brilliant work going on here. Of course, after about 8 reads, I realized that, too. ;)
Alrin Kharr
55. HeWhoComesWithTheNoon
I for one HATE the whole thing where each of Rand, Mat, and Perrin think that the other two know about talking to the ladies.

I don't think female rulers are any more irritating than male rulers in WOT. Alliandre and Berelain also don't suck, along with whomever mention non-compulsed Morgase. The SuperGirls, whom everyone seems to hate, seem to me to act like perfectly reasonable facsimiles of what 19 year olds with a sudden influx of phenomenal cosmic power. In fact, Perrin is the only one in my mind who doesn't at least become a little bit of a dick in his newfound power.

It cracks me up how spoiled I am on WOT, between the FAQ and WOTmania and everything else. Whenever someone doesn't know something that's been endlessly debated and agreed upon by the online community (like who killed Barthanes, for example) I am taken aback.

BTW, following WOT's rebirth cycle, just spend some time thinking on this: Tupac was re-spun as Asmodean. Just look at the similarities.
Alrin Kharr
56. Sidetrack'd
Rand stumbled, though the floor was smooth marble. “I’m not Aiel, Lord Barthanes, and I’m not of the royal line, either.”

I wonder how many other key plot points are laid right out in the open in such ways that we don't understand/recognize them yet? Gonna be lots of D'oh! by the time the smoke clears, methinks.

HeatherJ@28
I give Thom full credit for killing the king w/ his own hand. Not that he’s not capable of “getting” him killed, I just think that he’d have preferred to do it himself in this situation.

I gotta go with that, too - Tom wanted revenge, straight up. Although...

Thom nods, and then Zera sees one of the assassins and gasps; he is one of Galldrian’s. She sees Thom’s face, and tells him he’s crazy if he thinks he can kill the king.

Maybe Zera's playing Daes Dae'mar, too? It's her comments that set Tom on the path to taking out Galldrian and really wrecking Cairhien...


Odigity@30
They really should have a bit more fun now and then, or they'll snap from stress and grumpiness.

I always felt that's actually an integral part of the plot thread - the immense pressure all of the characters under, and that it steadily increases throughout the story.

Also, I got into Buffy after watching Firefly and Serenity - and in a way, I'm almost glad Firefly didn't last. After seeing the total hell and misery Whedon puts his characters through... {shudders} I don't know if I could've taken that with Kaylee.

HeWhoComesWith@55
Whenever someone doesn't know something that's been endlessly debated and agreed upon by the online community

Sorry, I'm one of those - I've intentionally avoided theory/discussion sites (before this one) because I truly wanted to stretch my brain and see what new things I could pick up on with each re-read (7 or 8 so far :).
Alrin Kharr
57. HeWhoComesWithTheNoon
@56 I wasn't being disparaging for people not knowing the theories, et al., I was more making fun of myself for thinking stuff like "Duh, we all know Verin is not black ajah because of her POV where we see her refer to Shai'tan as the dark one rather than the great lord, but she's been somehow freed from the oaths and is able to lie and use minor compulsion. Not like those wonky fools that think she's Coreanin Nedeal."
Alrin Kharr
58. birgit
Verin replies casually that she doesn’t think they need to worry about that, as the two must be used together to generate that much power, and what Aes Sedai today would aid a man in channeling?

"Don't worry, it takes both to break the world." Isn't less than breaking the world a problem, too?

Fain concocts a story about how the Horn has been passed down in his family for generations, waiting for the time when the ancestors of Artur Hawkwing came back to this land, and now he only wants to serve.

Thom mentions that he heard that story about some Cairhienin noble. Fain must have heard it, too.

Urien could have been Rand’s cousin for the resemblance

Is he really related to Rand?

Verin ponders the oddity of the Black Wind waiting for them here, too, and gives Rand a look that only he notices.

Did she hear Machin Shin? She was standing closest to the Waygate, after all.

She hints at something in her possession in a later book that could be an angreal or a well. Can't remember what book or what it is, but I believe it's something in her sewing basket or some such that she hasn't been without for fifty years or so.

Isn't Cadsuane the one with the sewing basket?

(Also, why did the assassins want Thom, and especially the girl??? *is confused*)

They are looking for information about Rand. Dena was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. They didn't want to kill Thom, just question him about Rand (at least that is what the assassin tells Thom).

I wonder if the six gholam have districts.

Isn't there only one gholam that is loose in this age?

I, personally, would love an explanation for how Thom managed to kill Galldrian. His capabilities are never fully explored, in my memory. How badass is he, exactly? Do we find out when/how he learned to fight?

He is good with his knives.
Alrin Kharr
59. dubjazz
UncrownedKing@11

Any Dune lovers out there that can tell me if there were women fighters in that book too??



Surely all the Bene Gesserit are trained fighters; physical as well as super-audio/psychic warriors?
Alrin Kharr
60. boquaz
It bugs me that many of the people RJ sets out as "good leaders" are well-intentioned bullies at best. Characters like Alliandre, who actually show promise as reasonable leaders are given very little screen time.

The analogy of WOT political wrangling : politics to chess : war is perfect!
Alrin Kharr
61. Egglie
Tom = gleeman, bard, assassin with super knife skills, grand master, international man of mystery and silver fox.

I am pretty sure Verin has a weak angreal, its a broach in the shape of a flower and is mentioned in her POV when she is doing her "compulsion lite" act on the other AS.

She says "I know how the portal stones can be used" to Alar, meaning that she knows she can Make Rand do it.
Alrin Kharr
62. elteescat
Hi, Leigh. I'm enjoying your recaps and commentary here. I don't have time right now to actually read the books because I'm taking a RN college course right now, but I've read The Wheel of Time so many times I practically have it memorized so I'm finding the recaps more than sufficient at the moment to allow me to revisit my favorite place! I just have one little problem with your coverage of chapter 31: didn't you notice that wind that blew in right as Rand was burning "Selene's" letters? It was as if Lanfear knew Rand had burned them. It made me think that perhaps they were similar to the coins Moiraine gave the boys at the beginning of Eye.
I think Thom was right to kill Galldrian in revenge for Dena's death. A king was stupid to think a lowly gleeman would have anything important on "the young outland lord" anyway! But, no, Galldrian doesn't come back like Stepaneos. (The story never noted that Stepaneos actually died, just that he dissappeared if I recall correctly and then he showed up as a "guest" of Aes Sedai.) And did you like how Thom was surprised that Rand didn't need his help?
I loved Rand's conversation with Barthanes! Barthanes gets a little pissed when Rand starts Cat Crosses the Courtyard, ha ha! I have often wondered what that walk looks like. I think it would be a little like the wightlessness of walking in a swiming pool when you do the walk. Just an easy casual kind of looseness to your body. Ha ha, Barthanes "musing into his wine as if Rand had just said something profound!" "I didn't know Andormen played the game so well. You have given me much to think about." And all Rand said was I'm just nobody and I'm doing nothing. Ha ha!
The High Lord Turak was so amusing! You will find the Seanchan to be very amusing if you pay a bit more attention to them!! Turak actually WANTS his Empress to "live forever" and he wouldn't dream of trying to usurp her in any way. He has no desire to gain any more power than the Empress, may she live forever, has given him.
I agree with you that Fain is pathetic for not figuring out how to open the box! Neener neener NEENER!!!! And wasn't it pathetic that he wasn't smart enough to act afraid of the grolm at the entrance to Turak's manor house? All he did was make the guards take special notice of him.
Richard Fife
63. R.Fife
I know uranium can be used to make a nuclear bomb, doesn't mean I actually know how to make the bomb. Well... maybe I do, good ol' high school physics... but still
Alrin Kharr
65. Lsana
@58 birgit,

I don't think that Fain is trying to copy a specific story with his whole, "The descendants of servants of Hawkwing." I think it's just BS. He has spent enough time learning about the Seanchan before he gives up the horn that he can be pretty sure what BS they want to hear (not that it was that hard).

@55 HeWhoComesWithTheNoon,

So do we know that it was a gholam that killed Barathanes for failing to catch Fain, or is that just a fan theory? Not that it's a bad theory, but if we do actually know, what's the source?

And while we are on the subject of "things that have been debated to death," if you'll forgive me, what's the connection between Fain and Machin Shin? That there is one seems without question: Machin Shin caught him and let him go intact, while at the same time picking up on his compulsion to hunt Rand. But is that connection due to the Dark One's hound part of him or the Mordeth part or both?
Alrin Kharr
66. Rebecca Starr
yay recap! yay everyone's comments! Ok, my turn:

Ch 31
Leigh, I agree with you; I love that we see Rand through Perrin's observations here. One of the things I've always thought RJ did so well is slow character change/development (tho granted he had a lot of pages in which to do it...) As first time readers, we hadn't realized yet that Rand fit his Lord-y coat either, because we saw him wearing it in his eyes, in his self-doubt. And now that we see him through Perrin's eyes, we realize the subtle slow changes, too. ::shivers:: Hats off, RJ

Ch 32
lovin' the description of Barthanes' manor crouching like a huge toad. as far as daes dae'mar, I actually like it as a plot device. It allowed WoT to be so much more than a cliched story of Pure Good vs. Pure Evil, of Black vs. White. Because of all the human contrivance, most of it connected to the Great Game, WoT has so many shades of gray, and that is why it has been the be-all-end-all to me since I was 12

also lovin' the Cairhienin lady Frenemies in this scene

Ch 34
Leigh! How did you not know?? Oh yeah Thom kills Galldrian because he is pure awesomeness. and you know, it used to bug me that we didn't get to see that scene, but now I'm off the mind that the omission and our imaginations make it even cooler

I do want to know how the Seanchan (Turak in particular) seem to know so much about the Age of Legends, i.e. opening the chest with the Horn. can someone refresh my memory on the Armies of the Night?

"Fain decided how the man was going to die." One of the most chilling one-liners of the entire series.
Alrin Kharr
67. Rebecca Starr
Ch 35
Perrin should know better - he already knows wolves can enter a stedding because of his trip into one in EotW

Ch 36
now this is interesting! I always remember that discrepancy between the two Neysa descriptions, too. But since I had to trot to the bookstore for a new copy of TGH for this read through, I'm working with the updated copy, i.e. Thom and not keeping the harp in tune. Sure enough, now it's Marisa Ayellin. you'd think, though, that someone would also have caught the error of Rand thinking he can no longer sense saidar (oops!) on p.507

UncrownedKing@11 - no we won't see Barthanes again; he's been torn to pieces by a gholam

Lsana@64: "Machin Shin caught him and let him go intact, while at the same time picking up on his compulsion to hunt Rand."

doh, when you say it that way, it sounds so wonderfully obvious. Thank you!
Richard Fife
68. R.Fife
@Lsana
I have personally always had the feeling that Machin Shin found a kindred spirit in Ordieth/Fain/Mordeth. Something kinda like the Dark One evil, but also something entirely seperate. Perhaps it is the reason snakes don't bite lawyers: professional courtesy.

Rebecca Starr@66:
I would imagine the Seanchan know so much since they did not have the horrors of the War of a Hundred Years to destroy half of everything. They went, they conquered, life was great. Heck, they don't even have shadowspawn (that anyone sees) over there, and the World of WOT book even comments that their blight is far tamer (although still lethal to even look at). So yeah, just less upheval, and a single, solid government that might be all the more interested in preserving knowledge.
Alrin Kharr
69. michaelt
All this talk of Thom's awesomeness made me think of a scene I would REALLY like to read about in AMOL. I would like to see all the supremely awesome blademaster (or equivalent) characters fight together in TG. This would include Rand, Mat, Perrin, Tam, Lan, Gawyn, and Galad fighting as a coordinated group and creating mounds of dead Trollocs and Myrdraal on all sides. Mat of course yelling about where his bloody luck has gone, or about why the flaming dice are so bloody loud.

I get chills thinking about all that awesomeness gathered together in one place.
Ofer Nave
70. odigity
"A general who draws his sword has put aside his baton and become a common soldier."
-- Madoc Comadrin, "Fog and Steel"
Alrin Kharr
71. seanie
dubjazz:
in later dune books 3 or 4 maybe -- there is the fish speaker troops of the tyrant , they are all female.
I looked at the fain/machin shin the same way ,
evil not of the shadow.professional courtesy indeed lol. now we need a new analogy for bankers/wall streeters/bailout bonus babies
Alrin Kharr
72. elteescat
Dear Rebecca Starr, As for the "sadair oops", it's a very amusing typo!!!! Ha ha!!! Probably done by the type-setters not paying attention to what they're doing!! There's a scene in one of the books where Perrin's horse Stayer gets called Slayer and if I'm not mistaken, at one point in another book one of the girls channels saidin!!! There are a few stupid little mistakes like that scattered throughout the series.
Alrin Kharr
73. michaelt
odigity @70
"A general who doesn't draw his sword when needed has kept his baton and become a dead general."
--michaelt
Ofer Nave
74. odigity
michaelt@73: Nice try, but I'll take Mat Cauthon's advice on war before yours any day. :)
Alrin Kharr
76. Lsana
Seanie,

I'm pretty sure that Machin Shin is of the Shadow or at the very least, of the Dark One. The preponderance of evidence seems to be in favor the darkness in the ways being a manifestation of the taint on saidin, and Machin Shin seems to be a product of that darkness. It's effect on people's psyche could very easily be an extreme version of what some male channelers suffer.

Though I've occasionally wondered if Mordeth might have been a male channeler who had pretty much completely succumb to to the madness. In which case, the taint as manifested by Machin Shin would seem like an old friend. But that still wouldn't explain why it would have picked up the compulsion to hunt Rand.
Alrin Kharr
77. Tony Zbaraschuk
Fain's pretty awesome in this book, though he seems to be losing it in the later ones.

But the line where he tells Turak that the Darkfriends are chasing him... in case you didn't notice, that's _his own_ Darkfriends, the ones he brought with him from Shienar, and the Trollocs with them. Such an... elegant... way of disposing of them, I didn't notice till maybe my second or third read-through.
Alrin Kharr
78. michaelt
odigity -
I'm crushed you don't think my war skills are as good as Mat's. I wish I had 1000+ years of dead guys living in my head. :)

I was just trying to say that it would be a really cool scene, however improbable (i.e. Rand would set up some Deathgates and vaporize anything that got close). One complaint I have with WoT is that we never get to see super skilled warriors working in concert with each other.
Ofer Nave
79. odigity
michaelt@78: I agree with that. One of my favorite scenes is when Rand and Lan go after the renegade asha'man in Far Madding, action-adventure style.
Brett Michie
80. bchurch
Lsana,

I agree that Machin Shin is of the Shadow and could very well be the madness of Saidin-taint incarnate. The theory of Mordeth being a male channeler is very interesting . . hadn't thought of it and don't know if there's any evidence given to support it. If that were the case, then Mashadar could very well be another example of Saidin-taint taking form in the world. This would explain, possibly, Machin Shin recognizing Mordeth as a kindrid spirit, or even another form of itself.
As far as the black wind consuming trollocs and the like, I think this hearkens back to the old premise, one of Weis-Hickman's favorites, that evil turns on itself.

And as for Machin Shin being compelled to hunt Rand, I think this is due to his being so strongly Ta'veren. I think that the black wind is drawn like a magnet to Rand whenever he is close to a waygate. The other Ta'veren also pull it, but not so strongly as Rand. eg. when Perrin and company travel the ways in tDR, Machin Shin doesn't come on them till they're leaving and when the super girls travel with Liandrin in tGH, they don't so much as hear it.
Melissa Miracle
81. elteescat
Lsana and bchurch, Moiraine said that Machin Shin was "born of the corruption of the Ways" rather than being shadow spawn. The Ways are rotting basically so that makes Machin Shin more like bacteria or a parasite or virus. Mashadar is born of the evil of Shadar Logoth which was an evil originally intended for fighting the Shadow rather than being of the taint of Saidin. Mordeth was simply a power-hungry bastard rather than a channeller and when he and Fain combined, the result was something so evil the whole world is in danger and he/it also is dangerous to shadow spawn like Machin shin and Mashadar. I think Machin Shin is going after Rand because it made friends with Fain and decided it would be exciting to catch him after noticing how bad Fain wanted him.
Alrin Kharr
82. michaelt
Here's my Machin Shin theory. Some of this I posted during TEOTW reread, but I'll expound on it.

The Ogier "grow" a Waygate at Aridhol. Aridhol destroys itself, Mashadar manifests itself, and everything in the city becomes tainted (including the Waygate). Due to the Mashadar-tainted Waygate, the Ways start to become dim, things in them start to die, and eventually Machin Shin (which would be derived from Mashadar) starts driving mad/eliminating (eating?) anyone who enters. Rand comes along, cleans saidin, and pumps Shadar Logoth and the surrounding area full of tainted saidin. The residue of the taint remains in the rocks and stones of the area. The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and go... On the same patch of ground where Rand deposited the taint, a city is built named Aridhol. After several years a man named Mordeth appears. Repeat.

I'm of the inclination that when Fain was caught by Machin Shin in TEOTW, his Mordeth/DO's hound soul twisted Machin Shin into a Mashadar/DO's hound type creature. Thus, like Fain, it is always trying to get Rand, and to a much lesser extent Mat and Perrin.
Alrin Kharr
83. Dr. Morganstien
@46 Sarcastro
Verin is and always remains my second favorite Aes Sedai because she is so awesome, enigmatic, erudite and slightly creepy. In my film version she will be played by Louise Fletcher (aka Nurse Ratched and Kai Wynn).
I couldn't agree more

@55 HeWhoComesWithTheNoon
Thanks for pointing out Berelain, I think so far she is the best female (One-Power-less) leader we have so far.

That is only because Soriela and Morgase can technically channel. I also can't believe I'm the first one to think of Soriela, she's so awesome.
Alrin Kharr
84. michaelt
I kept getting interrupted on my last comment and missed a key point. The saidin's taint leaves a residue of where Aridhol was, so when the city gets built again in a future age the taint starts contaminating everyone and everything there ("There isn't a pebble that isn't tainted"). So saidin's taint -> tainted rocks -> Mordeth/Mashadar -> tainted Ways -> Machin Shin.
Fain + Mordeth = Crazy Freak who needs to kill Rand.
Crazy Freak who needs to kill Rand + Machin Shin = Crazy Machin Shin who needs to kill Rand.
Melissa Miracle
85. elteescat
Nah, I'm of the belief that the people of Aridhol created that evil themselves (with Mordeth's help) because it was a beautiful city before he came along and an ally to Manetherin. And if the Waygate there had caused the corruption of the Ways I think it would have started there and radiated out and would thus have been noticeable. The ogier said that all of the Ways started going dim at the same time and the corruption was equally spread throughout all of the Ways when our friends followed Moiraine to Fal Dara.
Arjan Brand
86. fikkie77
The Ways were made with tainted saidin. That caused the decay of the Ways and the birth of Machin Shin. The Aridhol taint and Mashadar were born out of the vileness of the people of Aridhol and Mordeth and was opposed against the DO, like the people of Aridhol were.
Tim Kington
87. TimKington
@elteescat

I noticed that wind when Rand burned the letters, but lately I've been wondering if Lanfear is just invisible and following Rand around all the time. It seems like there are a couple of places where he smells her, and then she shows up just when he gets into trouble with the Trollocs.

The reason Turak really wants the Empress to blow the horn is because of the Crystal Throne - the BBoBA says it's a ter'angreal that inspires devotion.


@Lsana

I'm not sure RJ ever said straight out that Barthanes was killed for letting Fain go, but there's pretty good evidence for it: We see Fain oscillating between north and south after taking the horn - this is because the Fade is trying to take the Horn to Shayol Ghul, and Fain doesn't want to go, but Mordeth is weaker in the morning. Then in TSR, we see Slayer sent to kill Fain - that's why he's in the TR - to kill the "renegade". So the Shadow is pretty pissed at Fain, and it makes sense to kill Barthanes for letting him go.
Alrin Kharr
88. seanie
Lsana: thats interesting , i never thought of mordeth as a channeler
Blake Engholm
89. UncrownedKing
@55

"BTW, following WOT's rebirth cycle, just spend some time thinking on this: Tupac was re-spun as Asmodean. Just look at the similarities. "


Ladies and gentlemen, we have officially reached a new level of theorizing. ha
Anthony Aziz
90. aaziz
"(Which brings me to the free-association and totally off-topic question: Why is it that no one’s made a musical based on spies yet? It’s a match made in heaven, I tell you!)"

It shall be called "GENTLEMEN".

Again, great recap!

It's almost like reading the series again - I look forward to this every other day! I'm glad you increased the frequency :)
Blake Engholm
91. UncrownedKing
"the BBoBA" This is an abbr. that I can't wrap my head around this early in the morning. Someone help my ignorance
Alrin Kharr
92. Lsana
@80 bchurch

There has to be more to Machin Shin's actions than just Rand being ta'veren. The boys were just as strongly ta'veren in the first book, and it had not particular desire to go after them then; they only caught a glimpse of it when they were almost out. Compare that to TGH, where every time Rand opens a waygate, the black wind is right there. I thought it was explicitly stated somewhere that the wind had picked up Fain's compulsion to hunt Rand, but maybe I'm making that up.

@81 elteescat

Seems to me that you are nitpicking about Machin Shin:

Dark One -> Saidin taint -> Corruption of ways -> Machin shin.

Dark One -> Corruption of Aginor -> Aginor's genetic manipulation -> Trollocs.

Based on that pedigree, I would say Machin Shin is just as much "shadow spawn" as trollocs or fades, just coming from a different branch of the family tree.

As for Mordeth, yeah he was a power-hungry bastard, but it seems clear that that isn't all he was. Even in Randland, power-hungry bastards don't stay behind as ghosts after they have killed everyone else with a giant, man-eating cloud representing their emotions hanging over their city. Him being a channeler is just a theory of mine, but I think he was something, even though we probably won't ever find out what that something was.
Ofer Nave
93. odigity
UncrownedKing@91: I believe BBoBA stands for "The Big Book of Bad Art" - in other words, the Encyclopedia. So named because it had full-page blow-ups of the covers of the first seven books, as well as being filled with really awful art of characters and objects in the series.
Blake Engholm
94. UncrownedKing
ahhhh see I even have this book. Your correct, the character art makes the covers look like Mona Lisas.

Not to start the whole "The covers are TERRIBLE" thread again. Its all been said before.

But seriously the art=bad.
Alrin Kharr
95. Sidetrack'd
Anyone think we'll get a new, inclusive encyclopedia after the smoke clears? Roll in the stuff from the later books, and maybe some of the backstory/notes/stuff RJ left?
Alrin Kharr
96. Aneid
Anyone think we'll get a new, inclusive encyclopedia after the smoke clears? Roll in the stuff from the later books, and maybe some of the backstory/notes/stuff RJ left?

Like the Tupac = Asmodean regurgitated.

I thought Tupac’s mom was in the Black Panthers and Asmodean’s mom ended up in a big black pot after the Fades dragged her away?

Besides, everyone knows RJ was a Notorious B.I.G fan.

Wilson, back me up, man.
Melissa Miracle
97. elteescat
Lsana, I am merely using the "official" WOT description of Machin Shin. I was stating the facts based upon how it was described by Moiraine. Initiates of Tar Valon would have the most expertise on the subject and I don't remember her calling it shadow spawn.
Alrin Kharr
98. gagecreedlives
I think machin sin is a bit of the saidin taint that grew over time. A reflection of the male aes sedai who created them. So I wouldnt say the dark wind is shadow spawn as such but is certainly of the shadow.
Now I dont have my books handy but when Fain goes to Shayol Ghul he goes through a process and the dark one imprints a bit of its self onto Fain so he can hunt down the dragon.
Maybe machin sin felt that imprint and its desire to find rand and thats why its always there no matter where rand goes.
If any WoT scholars out there or people with the books handy could help me some quotes to back that up or to prove that Im a thousand different types of fool please do.
Alrin Kharr
99. Erdrick
Man, it's taking me forever to catch up. I guess that's what I get for taking a vacation. Just three more chunks to go!

Leigh, I was just wondering...in your commentary on chapter 6 you stated that TGH is not one of your favorite WOT books in general, and you also mentioned not remembering much of what happened. I'm just wondering; has your opinion changed after rereading all of this awesomeness? You do sound like you're really enjoying it this time around.

I know, I know; hardly anybody reads these back comments anyway. I'll catch up soon.
john massey
100. subwoofer
I stepped in a spoiler....sorry. Big tent is very useful though. That Verin chick again! Has someone figured out the deal with her? I might as well be behind the sandbags with you for all the good these comments do me but WTF is the final book going to be like to wrap up all these plot lines that RJ has out there? Maybe we could do a s'eance resurrect RJ and get him to finish his series.... Write till they nail the coffin shut...grumble grumble
Alrin Kharr
101. Galagros
Quite late here ... and someone may have already addressed this, but Verin says she knows how the portal stones "may be used," not that she knows how to operate one herself. She is referencing Rand being able to use one IMO.
Alrin Kharr
102. Lizina
Hi everyone. We may not imagine how our lives could be more frustrating and complex-but Congress can. Help me! Please help find sites for: Bathroom mirrors without drilling tile. I found only this - world debt relief. Three tips for modern office furniture. These mirrors are ideal and perfect accessory for your bathroom. Thanks :confused:. Lizina from Malawi.
Alrin Kharr
103. endertek
For those wanting polyandry or polygamy or any variant of big love, does Graendal count? She certainly has a way with atypical sexuality and positions herself (get what I'm doing here) as an authority on sexual hedonism, at least. Sorry this comment is so late - but I'm catching up!
Alrin Kharr
104. EarthandIce
One of the things I noticed after re-reading ch 34 of tGH is the first reference to Tuon, the Daughter of the Nine Moons. He does not say she is the Daughter of the Nine moons at this time, only she is the preferred successor to the Empress. It is close to the end of Turak's explanation to Fain as to why he would not sound the Horn.

Thanks for all of the work being put into this. It takes time and effort.
Alrin Kharr
105. Rogerwilliam
Hi first time here and found this site very informative.
Cheap car rentals
Alrin Kharr
106. eponymous
@89 and @96

Anyone else think that the original author made a typo in the Tupac=Asmodean theory?

Wouldn't Seanchan High Lord *Turak* being respun as Asmodean make more sense??

Now that I've typed that, however...No, it makes no sense, because Asmo was trapped with the rest of the Forsaken in Shayol Ghul.
Jake Bobo
107. Jake O Shadows
Thom = AWESOME
Verin = MORE AWESOME THAN ANY OF US CAN STAND.
Also the whole I'm not Aiel or Andor royalty (wink wink nudge nudge) thing. I get the feeling my first post AMOL re read (of which I'm sure there will be many) will be full of Fight Club worthy head slaps.
Chris
108. MatCauthonReborn
It strikes me that Rand is in major trouble in Cairhien. He goes to Lord Barthanes (Darkfriend) manor with Verin (Black Ajah), Ingtar (Darkfriend) and Mat (partially corrupted by Mordeth).
Alrin Kharr
109. Reiko
Has anyone read Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series? He's got a character named Neysa who's a unicorn.

That makes the description of Neysa Ayellin as "horse-faced" rather ironic...
Derek Leeson
110. sprinter
@32: great catch on the gholam. nice trivia! And verin is right about the sa'angreal- "As for logain, it would have taken all his strength to simply keep from being burnt to a cinder" This is what happened to Rand as well. interestingly, she says there are a number of women who could handle the flows though.... does that mean she thinks Moirane is stronger than Logain? or that the male statue is more powerful than the female?

Rand's Aiel Outburst.... "he refused to give in, reached deep inside himself....reached for the core of who he was, the core of what he was.....touched stone, hot from a pitless sun, cold from a merciless night"

His core is Aiel, and so no mystery about the aiel warcry, although it took 6 reads to spot this plainly written in the text.

Siuan says to Moiraine that no one can respect a stilled amyrlin who's scrubbing pots... hee hee.

Finally, there are millions of points in books one and two where Rand is already taling to a voice in his head, and asking himself if he's going mad. He also does crazy things and goes through from happy to angry to sad to weird every couple of minutes in others viewpoints. I think he's already pretty bat crazy by chapter one of TGH.....




@56 "I wonder how many other key plot points are laid right out in the open in such ways that we don't understand/recognize them yet?" Hee Hee!!!! :-) My favorite is right on the back cover of the Great Hunt..."But the quest for the Horn of Valere is only the beginning of Rand`s long (oh so verry verry long!!!) journey of discovery"

Another one is when Leane says that is Rand is supposed to be a shepherd, then "the Blacksmith shall wear a crown and sing in high chant!" (Perrin to find the seed song and replant and repopulate the waste....)
Alrin Kharr
111. feistyferret
Haven't had time to read comments so don't know if anyone else said this but...
I find the marriage conversation in Ch35 perticularly funny knowing how Mat ends up married.
Alrin Kharr
112. Rand Trussell
The interactions in Chapter 31 On The Scent is the stuff I really like. When the young villagers are noticing the changes in each other and in themselves (though to a much lesser degree) is just awesome stuff. Rand automatically taking charge (because it is what he was created to do) then apologizing; his buddies looking at him and seeing the change. Very cool stuff.
Alrin Kharr
113. Ltw
I find this passage a bit hard to take

“One by itself is powerful enough, but I can think of few women strong
enough to survive the flow through the one on Tremalking. The Amyrlin,
of course. Moiraine, and Elaida. Perhaps one or two others. And three
still in training."

Leaving aside the the fact that "proper" sa'angreal are supposed to be buffered, etc - I'm willing to believe the access keys do that, and this is a different case, whatever - but aren't Egwene and Elayne meant to outstrip others in the One Power, and Nyneave is an order of magnitude ahead of them? If the word is Logain couldn't handle his end (and he's pretty damn strong, to the point where Nyneave struggles to hold a shield on him *while* maintaining it), I can't see Siuan cutting it even at full strength. A more accurate statement perhaps would be no current Tower initiate can handle it.

Also, the complacent 'no one can handle that much, so chill, bro' sort of falls apart in face of Alivia. Queen of Tremalking, anyone?

Leigh, the re-read posts are so much better than doing it myself! After reading AMOL I had resigned myself to slogging through the whole thing one day. Thankfully, someone has done it for me. Looking forward to the end :)

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