Feb 23 2009 12:58pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Great Hunt, Part 7

Greetings, salutations, and what up: Welcome to Part 7 of The Great Hunt, part of your on-going Wheel of Time Re-read blog serieseseses.

Today’s post covers Chapters 37-40; previous entries can be found here.

Beware, there are spoilers lurking behind every corner. Just like zombies. Stupid zombies. I should probably also warn you that this post contains melodramatic posturing, personal anecdotes, and Dirty Language.

I mean, more than usually. Y’all Hush.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Chapter 37: What Might Be


What Happens
Alar leads them to the Portal Stone, and after remarking that she does not think Tarmon Gai’don will pass the Ogier by, she wishes them luck and leaves. Verin calls Rand over to the Stone, and explains to him that she cannot channel nearly enough of the Power to handle a Portal Stone, so he will have to do it. Rand says he doesn’t see the symbol for their world Selene showed him, and Verin tells him of course he doesn’t, they’re already in that world. She shows him the symbol for a Stone she saw on Toman Head, and other symbols she knows indicate other worlds; however, she doesn’t know what any of those worlds are like, and supposedly there are worlds where the air can kill you, or which are barely real enough to hold together. She tells him he must choose one of them, and hope it’s a good choice. Rand asks why she’s willing to risk so much on his random choice, and Verin replies that he is the Dragon Reborn, and she does not think the Pattern will let him die until it is done with him. Rand growls a denial, but Verin tells him, choose or watch his friend die, it’s up to him. Rand grinds his teeth, and picks one of the symbols at random. Verin tells the others to gather close, and pretends to be the one doing something with the Stone. Rand seizes saidin successfully, and channels into the symbol he’s chosen.

“Something is happening,” Verin said. “Something . . . ”

The world flickered.

Trollocs burst into the farmhouse on Winternight, and kill both Tam and Rand. As Rand dies, he hears a voice whisper, I have won again, Lews Therin.


Rand marries Egwene, and she becomes Wisdom. They live happily except for Rand’s black moods and strange rotting sickness. They hear news of the outside world—Artur Hawkwing’s armies returned, the Aes Sedai destroyed—but none of it affects them, until Rand is old and gray-haired, and the army of Trollocs that had defeated the Hawkwing conquerors come to the Two Rivers. He rides out with all the other villagers, wearing a sword he found after Tam’s death even though he has no idea how to use it, and dies on the bank of the river Taren, run through by a Trolloc. As Rand dies, he hears a voice whisper, I have won again, Lews Therin.


Egwene gets sick and dies screaming a week before she and Rand were to marry, and Rand decides to leave the Two Rivers. Tam gives him a heron-mark sword and teaches him how to use it, and Rand ends up in Caemlyn in the Queen’s Guards. He has a dark and violent reputation, and some say that he is mad, but Rand has learned he can channel, and uses it secretly to rise through the ranks until he leads a thousand men against the Seanchan. They lose, and Rand returns to Caemlyn and defends Queen Elayne as Andor is overrun, until Caemlyn is taken and a lightning bolt throws him from the Palace wall. As Rand dies, he hears a voice whisper, I have won again, Lews Therin.


Rand tries to hold the void, and Verin screams something is wrong.

Flicker. Flicker. Flicker. Flicker. Flicker. Flicker.

He was a soldier. He was a shepherd. He was a beggar, and a king. He was farmer, gleeman, sailor, carpenter. He was born, lived, and died an Aiel. He died mad, he died rotting, he died of sickness, accident, age. He was executed, and multitudes cheered his death. He proclaimed himself the Dragon Reborn and flung his banner across the sky; he ran from the Power and hid; he lived and died never knowing. He held off the madness and the sickness for years; he succumbed between two winters. Sometimes Moiraine came and took him away from the Two Rivers, alone or with those of his friends who had survived Winternight; sometimes she did not. Sometimes other Aes Sedai came for him. Sometimes the Red Ajah. Egwene married him; Egwene, stern-faced in the stole of the Amyrlin Seat, led the Aes Sedai who gentled him; Egwene, with tears in her eyes, plunged a dagger into his heart, and he thanked her as he died. He loved other women, married other women. Elayne, and Min, and a fair-haired farmer’s daughter met on the road to Caemlyn, and women he had never seen before he lived those lives. A hundred lives. More. So many he could not count them. And at the end of every life, as he lay dying, as he drew his final breath, a voice whispered in his ear, I have won again, Lews Therin.

Flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker flicker.

Rand finally loses saidin, and falls. The rest of the party is down, too; Uno vomits, Masema is crying, Mat is huddled into a ball, and Perrin has his nails dug into his face. Rand asks what happened; Verin says shakily it was a surge of the One Power, and that he must learn to control it. Rand tries to explain what he saw, and Verin says it stands to reason that they were born and lived in many of the Worlds That Might Be, and that they would go very differently from this one. The important thing is, they are here, though not as they had hoped. Rand asks where “here” is, and Verin tells him they are on Toman Head, but instead of gaining time, they have lost it. She estimates by the weather that they’ve been gone for four months. She starts going around to the others, checking them, and Rand goes to his friends. Mat grabs his coat and begs him to believe that he would never betray him; Rand says that he does believe it. Perrin only says that no matter what they do, some things are almost always the same. Verin announces that all the major towns are to the west, and after Rand refuses to accept Healing from her, they mount up and set out.

In the summer of 1969, when my mother was still in college, after she had met but long before she married my father, her family had a small vacation house in the woods on Henderson Point, Mississippi, which is a spit of land jutting out between the Gulf of Mexico and Bay St. Louis. My grandfather at the time had a strict policy that no TV or radio was allowed in the house, because it was “family” time, and the secluded nature of the property meant that they had no neighbors to speak of.

That August, the Gulf Coast was hit by Hurricane Camille, one of only three Category 5 hurricanes to ever make landfall on the U.S. mainland. Even today, Camille is still the strongest landfalling hurricane in recorded history, with sustained wind speeds of over 190 mph, outranking even Katrina (Katrina’s highest was 175 mph).

Now usually, the only good thing about hurricanes is how far in advance you can see them coming, and so get out of the way in time, assuming you have the means to do so, or at least to batten down the hatches and prepare to ride it out. However, my mother’s family, TV-and-radioless as they were, hadn’t heard a thing about Camille; they had no idea one of the most devastating hurricanes in history was headed straight for them.

In the end, the only reason my mother and her family found out in time was because a few hours before Camille made landfall, my grandmother sent my mother to the store to buy bread, and my mother heard about it on the radio in the car. They got out of Henderson Point barely an hour before the storm struck.

When they came back afterwards to assess the damage, my mother tells me, they found that the house was gone. Not damaged, not even wrecked, but gone. No trace of it remained. If they’d been there when Camille hit, my mother and all her family would almost certainly have died. If my grandmother hadn’t happened to run out of bread, if my mother hadn’t happened to have the radio on in the car, or if they had decided to try and ride out the hurricane at the house instead of getting out (which, my mother tells me, they very nearly did), I might not be sitting here writing this right now, because I might never have been born.

So, that was... a digression. Sorry. But, well, this is what I thought of when I read this scene.

I gave serious consideration to not even bothering to recap this chapter, and simply telling you guys to just go read it, because there was no way a summary was in any way going to do it justice. As it is, I was forced to quote the large chunk above to even come close. You should still go read it yourself anyway.

This is not one of the scenes I generally list as among my favorites in WOT, even though it is without question one of the best written passages in the series, if not the best. I think the reason it isn’t one of my faves is because while it is brilliant, it is also incredibly bleak, and the introspection it inspires is distinctly less than comfortable.

I’m sure everyone has a story similar to the one above, if not necessarily quite so dramatic, of a point where if things had happened differently or if a different choice had been made, their whole lives would have progressed in a vastly divergent manner from where it is now. Or, possibly, not have progressed at all.

That alone is a sobering thought. But the notion of having to experience every possible consequence of every possible choice you could make, good or bad, and every single way your life could come to an end... yeah, I’d be happy to give that one a miss. All death is certain, but having to go through it once is quite bad enough, thanks.

Chapter 38: Practice

What Happens
Egwene sits on her bed, playing with saidar-created balls of light, while Nynaeve paces angrily up and down and Min watches Egwene. She thinks to herself about how difficult it’s been to keep herself from channeling all the time these past thirteen weeks, and how scary that is, sometimes. Min teases Egwene about Galad, about how practically every woman in the Tower except the Reds manages to come down to the practice yard when he’s there; Egwene can hardly blame them, he is so pretty to look at. Min agrees; she feels the same, and she “can see what he is like”. Min adds that Galad asked about Egwene, though, and no one else. Elayne comes in, and tells them that Galldrian is dead, and there is civil war in Cairhien, as well as war on Toman Head and possibly in Tear as well. She adds that she just saw Logain, and he was crying. Egwene thinks that Logain always makes her think of Rand; she hasn’t dreamed of him in months, and she has the odd feeling that he is not there anymore to be dreamed about. Elayne then asks what Nynaeve’s so upset about, and Min tells her Nynaeve hit another Accepted and was sent to Sheriam’s study. Nynaeve growls at Min, and suddenly a gale wind blows through the door and slams open the door. Nynaeve looks stricken, and apologizes to Min; Min accepts readily, and says she should learn to watch her mouth. Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene discuss working with the One Power and how frightening it is, and how hard the Tower drives them all; Elayne asks Min to tell them what she sees, whether they make it to be Aes Sedai or not. Min is reluctant, saying she doesn’t like to read friends, but then squints at them and murmurs that that’s new.

“What?” Nynaeve asked sharply.

Min hesitated before answering. “Danger. You are all in some kind of danger. Or you will be, very soon. I can’t make it out, but it is danger.”

Elayne changes the subject uneasily, back to boys, but doesn’t get very far before the door opens again to reveal Liandrin. The others all scramble to their feet, surprised, and Liandrin orders Min and Elayne out. They leave with worried looks, and Liandrin asks Nynaeve and Egwene if they are the ones from the same village as the boys traveling with Moiraine. They ask Liandrin if she has any news of them, and she replies that they are in danger, but Nynaeve and Egwene may be able to help them. Nynaeve demands to know how Liandrin knows they are in trouble, and Liandrin replies tightly that Moiraine has sent letters to the Tower; the danger comes from Shayol Ghul. Will they help or not? Egwene says of course they will, but how? Liandrin tells them they must go to Toman Head. The girls are amazed, and Nynaeve wants to know what they can do that Liandrin or Moiraine cannot. Liandrin replies that they are connected to those boys in some way she does not understand. She wants them to meet her at the north end of the Ogier grove. They agree, and Liandrin warns them that the Black Ajah walks in the halls of the Tower, and they must tell no one what they are doing. Nynaeve and Egwene gasp, and Nynaeve says she thought Aes Sedai denied even the existence of the Black Ajah. Liandrin sneers and tells her Tarmon Gai’don approaches, and the time for denials is past. She repeats for them to tell no one, or they may not live to leave the Tower.

Liandrin exits, and Egwene asks worriedly if she might know about Rand. Nynaeve doesn’t think so, but can’t figure out why Moiraine would work with a Red on this, nevertheless. Elayne and Min burst back in and ask if they are really going; they had eavesdropped on the conversation from the next room. Egwene wonders nervously if they understood what she and Nynaeve had meant about Rand, and Nynaeve cautions them that they must keep quiet about this. Min replies, quiet, hell: she’s going with them. She’s been waiting for an excuse to leave the Tower anyway. Elayne informs them she will be going as well; she’s never had an adventure, and this might be her only chance. Nynaeve is aghast at this foolishness, and tries to talk Elayne out of it, but Min tells her she thinks Elayne has to come; she, too, is connected to the boys. Nynaeve gives up and begins planning what they should bring along; Egwene mentally implores Rand to hold on; they’ll help him somehow.

No, Supergirls! Don’t listen to her! Liandrin is evil and bitchy and Red/Black! She’s like a talking hemorrhoid! Don’t do it!

Nooooooooo! I run toward you in slow motion, my arm outstretched! There’s probably an explosion silhouetting me in the background! Heed my melodrama!

...Crap. I hate how fictional characters never listen to you, eighteen years after the fact. No respect, that’s what it is.

What? Oh, like you’ve never yelled at any of these idiots. I’m just doing it with style. Or at least with hyperbole. Whatever works.

Chapter 39: Flight from the White Tower

What Happens
Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne head through the halls, wearing silk dresses and trying to pass as petitioners waiting in the Tower to speak to Aes Sedai. Min follows behind, dressed like a manservant and carrying all their luggage; she had refused to let Egwene help, saying they have to maintain their cover. They almost run headlong into Takima, a Brown sister, and then an Accepted, but Nynaeve just turns at random each time until they are out of sight. Eventually they make it to the stable, where Nynaeve orders the stablehand to saddle their horses. The stablehand says he was only told to expect one Accepted and one novice, but Nynaeve threatens him until he agrees to saddle four. As they head out Elayne smiles warmly at the man and tosses him a coin to thank him. They ride out and soon reach the Ogier grove. Liandrin meets them there with a pack horse carrying pole lanterns, and is in a fury at Elayne and Min’s presence. Elayne quickly takes the blame on herself and Min, telling Liandrin that they overheard the conversation, and they want to help Rand and the others as well. Liandrin stares at them in silence for a moment, and finally remarks that she had made arrangements for Elayne and Min to be taken care of, but this will do as well, she supposes. Elayne asks what she means, and Liandrin replies that the Black Ajah surely knows of their association with Nynaeve and Egwene; she implies that she had taken precautions to protect them once the other two had been found missing.

Liandrin leads them deeper into the Grove until they come to a Waygate. Elayne and Min are shocked, Nynaeve and Egwene dismayed but resigned. Liandrin opens the gate and sends them through, then follows herself, closing the gate behind them. They light up the lanterns and set out, Liandrin consulting a parchment at each Guiding that she will not let them see. After a while Liandrin stops and tells them to eat and rest. As they do so, Egwene asks her what if they encounter the Black Wind. Liandrin tells them she will deal with it if it comes, and adds with a smile that Moiraine does not know as much as she thinks she does. The others turn to the subject of Rand, low enough that Liandrin cannot overhear; Elayne and Egwene discuss whether either of them will marry him if the other decides not to, and Egwene says sadly that she doesn’t think Rand will marry anyone, but cannot explain why. She ends up playing along with Elayne’s suggestion that she will be Green and have Rand as one of her Warders. Min and Nynaeve watch her thoughtfully. When they sleep, Egwene dreams again of the man with eyes of fire laughing at her, and is grateful when Liandrin wakes them and makes them move on. They travel a while longer, and then Liandrin turns off the Ways onto a white line leading to a Waygate, saying they have reached their destination.

Okay, so my outrage at the Girls’ stupidity is slightly—slightly—mollified by the fact that Elayne and Min would almost certainly have been murdered (assassinated, in Elayne’s case—royals get the automatic killin’ term upgrade, dontcha know) if they had stayed behind. Fine. BUT STILL.

I did kind of chuckle to see the first vestiges of Elayne and Nynaeve’s good cop-bad cop routine they’ll be polishing through most of the following books.

I’m curious about Liandrin’s confidence about being able to handle the Black Wind. I would say that she’s just bullshitting the Girls, but it seems here that she really believes she can do something about it. This combined with the Wind waiting for Rand all over the place really makes me wonder if this was ever addressed later on, because the implication is that despite what Moiraine thought, the Shadow does have some kind of control over the Black Wind, but I can’t remember whether this was ever confirmed or just left hanging once everyone stopped using the Ways anyway.

Oh, man. I am really not looking forward to the next chapter. Hokay. Here goes.

Chapter 40: Damane

What Happens
The girls and Liandrin emerge from the Waygate to find a large party of armored men waiting for them, with helmets shaped like insects’ heads. Egwene notices there are also women with the group, two in dark gray dresses and silver necklaces, and two in dresses embroidered with forked lightning bolts directly behind them, and one last richly-dressed woman reclining on a palanquin, with both sides of her head shaved and blue-lacquered fingernails. Liandrin asks this one if she is the High Lady Suroth, and Suroth nods fractionally. With distaste, she informs Liandrin that they must be done here quickly, as Suroth wants to get back to Falme before Turak knows she is gone. Nynaeve demands to know what they are talking about, and Liandrin pushes her and Egwene forward, saying these are the two they were told about, and that there is a third, the Daughter-Heir of Andor. The women with the lightning-embroidered dresses come forward, along with one of the soldiers, and the man grabs Elayne and Min by their necks. Someone screams, and the wind suddenly becomes a gale, and one of the women snaps something around Egwene’s neck.

Egwene tugs at the collar, but can’t get it off, and sees a silvery coil extending from the collar to a bracelet around the woman’s wrist. She punches the woman in the face, and falls to her knees, feeling as if a large man had struck her own face. When she recovers, the wind has died, and she sees Min on her hands and knees, the man who had grabbed her standing over her with his hand bleeding. Nynaeve and Elayne are gone, and so are one of the two pairs of women; Egwene sees now that the two who remain behind are linked by a bracelet-and-collar set like the one she has on. The woman she had punched bends over and says in a friendly tone that that was her first lesson.

“I will not punish you further this time, since I should have been on guard with a newly caught damane. Know this. You are a damane, a Leashed One, and I am a sul’dam, a Holder of the Leash. When damane and sul’dam are joined, whatever hurt the sul’dam feels, the damane feels twice over. Even to death. So you must remember that you may never strike at a sul’dam in any way, and you must protect your sul’dam even more than yourself. I am Renna. How are you called?”

Groggily, Egwene says she is not what Renna said she was, and asks Liandrin why she is doing this; Liandrin ignores her. Renna says she must learn to do what she is told without delay, and suddenly Egwene’s skin feels like it is on fire. She gasps and writhes; Renna tells her calmly that some sul’dam do not allow their damane to keep their own names, but Renna will allow it as long as she is not displeased any further. Egwene finally gasps out her name, and the burning stops.

“Egwene,” Renna said. “That is a good name.” And to Egwene’s horror, Renna patted her on the head as she would a dog.

That, she realized, was what she had detected in the woman’s voice—a certain good will for a dog in training, not quite the friendliness one might have toward another human being.

Egwene tries to ignore Renna, and asks Min if she’s all right; Min nods unconvincingly. Lightning crackles in the distance, and Egwene grins, thinking that Nynaeve at least was still free, and would save them if anyone could. Suroth and Liandrin face off about the botched capture; Liandrin says it is not her fault if Suroth can’t handle what she was given, and Suroth says perhaps she could get two damane after all. Liandrin embraces saidar, and Renna calls to Suroth that Liandrin stands ready. Suroth smiles and tells Liandrin that she would not dare defy their master so far as to attack, and Liandrin replies that Suroth fears him just as much as she does. A tree in the distance goes up in flame, and Suroth tells the soldier to recall the search. Liandrin insists that Nynaeve must be found and collared; she and Egwene both must go to the other side of the Aryth Ocean and stay there. Suroth sniffs and says she will waste no more time looking for the other; Liandrin says she’d better, or pay the price, and heads back to the Waygate.

The search party returns, not having found either Elayne or Nynaeve, and the soldier standing over Min asks permission of Suroth to kill her for making him bleed. Suroth assents, and Egwene screams No, and her skin burns again, but she continues to plead for Min’s life anyway. Suroth tells her that if Egwene will keep quiet and do as she’s told, she will spare Min’s life, but only as long as Egwene continues to behave. Egwene agrees, and they set off back to Falme. Renna begins punishing Egwene for daring to speak to a High Lady, ignoring Min’s protests. Finally she stops, and Egwene tells Min that it wasn’t her fault.

“It was your fault, Egwene,” Renna said. She sounded so patient, dealing so kindly with someone who was too dense to see the right, that Egwene wanted to scream. “When a damane is punished, it is always her fault, even if she does not know why. A damane must anticipate what her sul’dam wants.”

Egwene receives permission to ask a question, and asks who is the “master” Liandrin and Suroth were referring to. Renna replies that the affairs of the Blood are not for her to meddle in, lest she find her tongue or hands removed. Egwene tugs on her leash, and asks how anyone could have thought of something so horrible; Renna tells her the history of the a’dam, and the Aes Sedai named Deain who invented it and brought it to Luthair, son of Artur Hawkwing, to help him defeat the Armies of the Night, which he did, finally collaring Deain herself, as all marath’damane must be. She tells Egwene to try channeling at a distant tree, to see what she can do, and Egwene lies that she cannot. Renna knows she didn’t even try, though, and explains that after a while sul’dam develop an affinity that lets them tell when their damane are channeling or not. She begins punishing Egwene again, Min watching helplessly, and tells Egwene fondly that she will be one of the best.

Nynaeve sneaks among the trees, still not certain the Seanchan are gone. She’s lost contact with saidar, worry and fear overcoming her initial fury. She finally runs into Elayne, and they hug in relief. Nynaeve asks about Egwene and Min, and Elayne says she saw Min go down, and the woman put something around Egwene’s neck, but then she ran. She says she’s a coward and not fit to take the Lion Throne; Nynaeve snaps back that Elayne didn’t see her stick around to get collared, did she? Elayne asks what they are going to do to rescue the others; Nynaeve says she heard Suroth mention Falme, so they will go there and try to blend in, and figure out what to do next.

If you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the other Thing I Hate in TGH I mentioned a while back, look no further, for here it is.

I distinctly remember, the first time I read this, being surprised at the strength of my own reaction: I was LIVID. We’re talking full-on, no holds barred, needed-to-put-the-book-down-and-go-take-a-walk rage here.

If I had to put a finger on why exactly the damane thing stirred me up so badly, I would say it’s not just the “being captured” part or even the “being tortured” part, though that’s plenty bad enough on its own. No, I think it’s Renna’s perfectly sincere conviction that this institutionalized enslavement, brainwashing, and rape of these women—and it is rape, in every way that matters, a violation of their bodies, minds, and souls—is a fucking GOOD THING.

Words cannot describe; there just isn’t vocabulary profane enough to express what I think of people who think this way. It literally made me see red.

Still does, apparently.

Again, this isn’t to say I think this is bad writing, more like the complete opposite, but “incoherent fury” being rather far down on my list of Things I Like to Experience on a Regular Basis, you can see why I tended to avoid this book more than the others.

(And also why I will never watch a performance of The Crucible again if I can help it. Different pony, same ride. Think about it.)

Well! That was bracing, no? It only gets worse better from here, kids. Come back Wednesday for the penultimacy of Chapters 41-45. Laters!

2. Lsana
Ch. 37:
I just have a couple of thoughts on the Portal Stone chapter. The first is a question of whether or not what they saw in the portal stones was real or a product of their imaginations. What makes me wonder that is that in the thoughts of his life with Egwene, there doesn't seem to be an indication that either of them slowed, despite the fact that they are obviously channelers. It also seems highly unlikely that Rand could hold off the madness for even an ordinary lifetime, much less the extended lifetime that channelers have. If we assume that this lifetime was a real possibility, then neither of these things make sense. But if we assume that its all Rand's imagination of what might have been, well, he doesn't know about slowing, and he does believe that he can keep the taint at bay and only go a little crazy.

Second observation on this chapter: there seems to be a link here between what Rand sees and what Egwene sees in her accepted test. His vision of his life with Egwene could very easily be the same life that she sees in her first accepted test. The life where "Egwene stabbed him through the heart and he thanked her for it," could pretty easily be her second.

Ch 38:
Elayne is back and still a selfish b****. And an idiot to boot. Moments like these are why I can't buy the "Oh, but she's the daughter-heir, of course she's spoiled, give her a break" defense for Elayne. Elayne doesn't take her responsibility as daughter-heir seriously. Nynaeve, a peasant woman from an isolated village that never even knew they had a queen, grasps what's at stake far more than the princess who has supposedly spent her whole life preparing for this. Elayne has no excuse here for the dumb stunt she's about to pull. The fact that she does it again in book 3 only confirms that this is one of the dumbest, most self-centered characters in Randland.

I'm not sure whether to call Egwene and Nynaeve idiots for following Liandrin. On one hand, her manner practically screams, "I'm evil!" On the other, though, she is an Aes Sedai. The girls are a Novice and an Accepted. When an Aes Sedai tells them to do something, they are supposed to do it without question.

Ch. 39:
The same thing stood out to me here that stood out to Leigh--the fact that Liandrin is completely unconcerned by Machin Shin. Moiraine didn't seem to think she could do anything against it. It seems to me that there are three possibilities here: a) Verin and Moiraine are lying/mistaken, and Darkfriends can make deals with the Black Wind, b) While they can't negotiate with it, the Black Ajah does know some channeling tricks that they haven't shared with anyone else that can deflect the wind or shield people from it, or c) Liandrin and the girls are in just as much danger from Machin Shin as anyone else, but Liandrin is too stupid recognize it. I think (b) is unlikely, but I can't really be sure about (a) and (c); never underestimate the mistakes of the Aes Sedai or the capacity of Liandrin to be stupid.

Other than that, the way Egwene describes how she feels when she tries to reach for saidar in the ways seems to confirm that yes, the darkness = the taint. Also, it seems odd that Nynaeve and Egwene are the ones disconcerted by the Escher-geometry of the ways, rather than Elayne. It's like they completely forgot their previous trip through.

Ch. 40:
I reacted the exact same way as Leigh: these Seanchan are nasty. After re-reading this part, it is going to be awfully hard to like them when we get to the alliance part.

We find out here that the Empress makes her courtiers play Russian Roulette in order to entertain her (linking random men to the damane).

Also, when we meet Tuon, remember this: doing what they do to Egwene, the physical and psychological torture, is her idea of fun. She tells Mat that one of her hobbies is "training damane." If you remember what "training damane" entails, it's pretty hard to think of her as one of the heroines.
Kyle Bass
3. SherlockTomes
I agree regarding the Portal Stone of my favorite passages.

Watching/reading The Crucible makes me want to throw something at Wynona Ryder. Or maybe see if she can be made damane.
J Novak
4. Novak
Just a nitpick, but I think you mean, penultimacity.

Aside from that, I agree that the "flicker" scene was one of the awesomest in the whole series. It gave such a sense of depth to the world at so low an authorial cost. We really never need to see those worlds again, just a few continual reminders of the portal stones, to bring it all back to mind. It was also just plain good writing.

And I still think the Acceptance Ter'angreal (sorry, Boye) is tied into the same principles. I don't think it's a coincidence that they're introduced in the same book, and they really do seem to show the same types of things-- the results of different choices. Yes, the Acceptance Ter'angreal could be working on a different principle, but given the things it has shown that involve knowledge the characters in it could not plausibly have.... enh. The Wise One thingie, whose details presently escape me, seems related, too. (Not the history viewer. The other one.)

Now, as for the Seanchan, I mentioned before why I love to hate them, with the emphasis there being LOVE to hate them-- their cartoony insistence that a bunch of people they haven't seen in a thousand years are just going to bend knee and roll over for them. This part shows why I love to HATE them-- they're scum. My only comparable negative reaction was what was done to Morgase.

Still, at least with the Seanchan, there was an interesting philosophical question laying not very far beneath the surface. In the real world, human rights are based on the idea that, even if everyone isn't equal in ability, everyone is sufficiently close to equal that the fiction is still useful and provides beneficial results to everyone. Randland's structure makes complete mockery of that, as do many fantasy settings, but Jordan at least recognizes that. What would people do if given that situation to contend with for three thousand years? Jordan's answers lie on a west to east continuum where channelers go from being hated slaves, to begrudged meddlers, to respected political leaders, to absolute rulers in everything except name.

I really don't like Jordan's answers, but he at least addresses the issue. More, he incorporates the answers right into the setting. You can see something like that in Bakker's work, too, but Bakker comes along with his own great big basket of flaws.
Delos Rifenburgh
5. KaijuGamer
Leigh, I've been reading all the recaps since you started them, and I must say I like your candid writing style. I hav refrained from commenting on the other read-throughs, but now you are reaching some on my favorite chapters!

Chapter 37: My most favorite themes in sci-fi and fantasy are time travel and alternate realities. If a book contains either, I know I will enjoy it; and if they contain both - instant favorite. I liked seeing how Rand turned out in the other 'ifs'. This chapter, more than anything else, convinced me that Rand was the Dragon Reborn.

Chapter 40: My view of the Seanchan and their vile practice matches you 100%. There are very few Seanchan characters I like, and none of them number sul'dam. I want nothing more than to see the destruction of their entire culture. Considering how the later books turn out, I am both happy and upset about certain outcomes (and certain visions/foretellings).

Keep up the good work! I look forward to your recaps every week.
Joe Sherry
6. jsherry
The Portal Stone / Flicker - long time one of my favorites. It's the past lives / future lives / possible lives that in this series is always one of the things I like best (like Rand at Rhuidian).

Your disgust, Leigh, is something that I think we need to keep in mind when we start getting the Seanchan as more prominent characters - Egeanin, for example. When she gets humanized later and even rethinks the damane thing because the the sul'dame can be taught to channel, which means they are also "those who must be leashed" or whatever - she's only rethinking it because a) she's one, and b) she didn't know the truth about sul'dam.

NOT because it is morally offensive to leash and use women (or men, if they wouldn't go mad) little cattle.
Thomas Bounds
7. Boundzy
Ch. 39:
I always thought that the Black Wind followed Rand because part of Fain's Compulsion to follow Rand "rubbed off" on it.

Other Comments:
1. Based on feedback received at this blog, the Seanchan icon has been added to the Rorschach Inkblot Test. All responders in Wednesday's blog have been deemed psychotic.

2. Love the WOT Re-Read. Thank you for putting in the time and effort this project takes - I'm enjoying it immensely.

3. My audio "re-read" is progressing at a rate that will assure you will overtake me in TFOH, but I'll forgive you.

4. There is quite a difference between reading "flicker" 26 times and listening to the audio talent say it 26 times.
8. NanaD
I have always thought that a strong reaction to a book was what made it good. If that is the case this one is awesome.

Leigh, I couldn't agree more. There is no acceptable reason to deny anyone their right to free choice. Good or bad they are what makes us who we are. Hopefully we will choose the right path and make our lives count for something.

Love the books, love the re-read. Keep up the good work.
9. Tony Zbaraschuk
Liandrin mentioned Moiraine's letters. Does this mean that the Black Ajah is in charge of the Tower pigeon loft? It would certainly be a good place for them... (and it does explain why Siuan never seems to react to Moraine's discovery of the Black Ajah -- and why does Moraine immediately assume a warded Draghkar _means_ Black Ajah? She knows the Forsaken are getting loose, and there must be channelers among the Darkfriends...)
10. Sidetrack'd
I reacted the exact same way as Leigh: these Seanchan are nasty.

This being Suroth, a high-up darkfriend, makes this crew of Seanchan notably nastier than the ones we meet later - the one that partners with Perrin at least had some semblence of honor, and held her deal to assist against the Shaido, even though she did still buy into the damane thing.

Liandrin mentioning Moiraine's letters does sound to me like confirmation that the Black Ajah has been intercepting the mail - that Liandrin coulda pulled that fabrication out of thin air would be a long shot.
11. Gentled Ben
I am suddenly struck by how Nynaeve and the others almost walk into an Aes Sedai, Takima, yet she lets them pass--three incredibly strong young women in silks rather than novice white. Contrast this with the reaction of the Salidar Aes Sedai when they meet Aviendha...

I do not always agree with what you say, Leigh, but I love listening to you say it! You're a gem among WoT fans, and we're already a pretty sparkly bunch. :)
12. Sidetrack'd
Whoa - Renna. She is the one that a) Egwene leaves in her room, collared, b) Egeanin enlists in the escape from Ebou Dar, and c) the one Mat shoots/has shot after she skips out from Luca's menagerie - Law of Conservation of Characters in action. :)
13. toddywatts
Liandrin irritates the life out of me. Why do the bad guys never win? Because the smart bad guys are all fighting amongst themselves. It's so cliche. And here's Liandrin, with two of the strongest Aes-Sedai-in-training on the loose and instead of staying around to be sure they can't tell anyone about her, she just flicks her braids and heads off to the waygate.

It makes sense for Egeanin to view the damane/sul'dam reveal through her own experience. She's been thinking that they are the grolm crap on the bottom of her shoe, and now if she isn't careful she could end up one.

Boundzy@7 re: #4. That's hilarious! Makes me glad I had to return the audio book to the library before I got to that point.
14. lindal
Sidetrack'd@12 - yep. Same Renna. The only way I can re-read Egwene's captivity is by picturing Renna falling from her horse into a stream with an arrow in her back. Yay Mat!
15. hoping to be of the blood
I am thoroughly enjoying the re-read and the comments.
I am a bit surprised by your rage at the suldam/damane relationship. How societies handle the whole problem of magic wielders is a recurrent theme in the WOT series and in all fantasy, for that matter. Certainly, they can’t be allowed to roam free to manipulate normal people, torture, kill, break the world, and be a general plague on society.
The Aes Sedai oath solution is a poor one. At best, they are self-centered, elitist schemers and we are finding out that a substantial number are servants of the shadow. The Aiel have incorporated their magic wielders well into their society because they have been suppressed and are largely inactive. Wise Ones dream, foretell and meddle, but rarely channel, even for good things, such as healing. The Aiel, however, is a society based on a big lie, to which, all of the Rhuideanites are a party, and they are being destroyed by it.
The Kin have a workable system of rules and self-policing and seem to cause the least problems. But they are withdrawn from society and have little role. We don’t hear of it, but they must have some renegades that they deal harshly with.
The Sea Folk use their channelers well but only for wind and weather. While this is important for their trade, they have also suppressed other beneficial magic. In addition, they also have the most repressive, rigid hierarchy in Randland and the weak are at the mercy of the more powerfully placed.
The Seanchan have a very orderly and practical approach to this issue, as they have to nearly everything. Their magic wielders actually do some good for the people rather than run free, wreaking havoc. Sure, they are enslaved, but no more so than most of us in corporate America and they probably have better dental.
16. Rikka
Chpt 37:
I wish I had my books. I wish I had my books. I wish I had my books. I wish I had my books. Damn, damn, damn and damn, this is my favorite part of this book! :( EPIC scene. Absolutely epic. arrrgh >_sed here that the girls haven't yet learned the depths of Aes Sedai; they've been in the Tower for several months. While, as Accepted and Novice, they can't quite say no to Liandrin, you'd think they'd've learned to never trust an Aes Sedai at full value, especially at her vaguest. I do want to smack Elayne for wanting to come so she can go adventuring. That's the exact reason I wanted to smack Egwene a book ago and the only reason Egwene got away with it is that she could channel and 'needed' to get to the Tower.

Chpt 39:
Ahh, carrot and stick, the girls get disturbingly good at that eventually but every time I think to myself "you get more flies with honey" I'm reminded of . *sigh* Randall Munroe, you've ruined my life.

"taken care of"=mostoverusedeuphemismforkillingsomeoneever.

Also, I always thought assassination required political motive. Royalty could be murdered if he/she was killed for being a jackass (as opposed to someone wanting to take his/her place). proclaims me wrong, which is sad. :(

Chpt 40:
I share your intense dislike of the whole system of leashing among the Seanchan. I cannot, simply cannot, fathom Aes Sedai being willing to work with the Seanchan. I can't. It seems so counter-instinctual. I know Liandrin's Black and that Suroth is so deep in the whole darkness mess that Tide can't even get it out of her clothes but still, I don't like it. It's always rubbed me wrong. Perhaps because there are no women in the BA that I can even empathize with....

Also, that whole rushing thing that Siuan does with Egwene's ability, would one consider this a continuation of that as Egwene does discover her whole Earth affinity whilst leashed and being 'trained'...
17. Lsana
@6 jsherry, @ 13 toddywatts

I don't think there is ever any danger of Egeanin becoming a damane. We know, both from Elayne and the fact that she undergoes the a'dam test, that she doesn't have the spark. Elayne suggests that Egeanin may be one of those who can be taught, but I don't think Elayne is a particular expert on who can be taught and who can't, no one else expresses that opinion, and Egeanin is not a sul'dam (which while it may not get everyone who can be taught to channel, presumably gets quite a few). So any compassion that Egeanin develops for the damane is not based on her own fear of becoming one. Much as I hate to give any of the Seanchan credit, she deserves that much at least.

@10 Sidetrack'd

Suroth's bunch here is pretty nasty, but so is Egeanin when she takes Domon, and she's no darkfriend. Turak may not be nasty, exactly, but he still views Domon as a thing that can be used or discarded as he pleases. He wants Domon's company, so he will keep prisoner, with no thought about how Domon feels in the matter.

It's hard to know exactly how to judge an individual who is a good person by the standards of their nasty culture. However, it isn't hard at all to judge the culture, and however nice some of the Seanchan individuals might be, the Seanchan are nasty bastards.
18. Browncoat Jayson
Every time I read this section, I can't help but compare Renna capturing Egwene in WoT to Denna capturing Richard in the Sword of Truth series. Basically the same sick, twisted crap, except that the rape is SoT is physical as well.

I hate thinking that Rand has to let the Seanchan take half of Randland so he can win Tarmon Gaidon. Hopefully they go the way of the dodo during it.

In my previous re-reads, I didn't catch Liandrin's confidence in "handling" the Black Wind. Very interesting. I do wonder if it has links to the Dark One, rather than just to the taint.
Leigh Butler
19. leighdb
Commenter at #15:

I really hope you're kidding.
20. markp
Why did all Rands alternate lives have bad endings there must have been a few where he decided to drink tea rather than coffee but still end up winning the last battle. Maybe it is not possible and the final line of the last book will be "I have won again, Lews Therin".
The portal stone seems to be in there for two reasons, so that Rand etc. conveniently arrive after Egwene and the other girls, with out Mat dying on the way, and also show some of the possibilities Rands choices could make, in the same way Nynaeve test did for her.

Wouldn't it have been better for Liandrin to "take care of" them all, it seems simpler to murder all four rather than sell two into slavery and send them to the other side of the world. unless they were needed for something.

The a’dam etc is probably the most horrifying part of the series, more than all the Forsaken and Trollocs combined.
Even though you can kind of see why the Seanchan do what they do, It is pretty scary how normal people (not psychopaths etc) can believe it is right to torture women until they give up the will to think and act independently. Especially when you see the process though the eyes of someone its happening to.

I think there might come a time in aMoL where Tuon is forced to channel, leading to her changing her views and eventually the release of the damane (although she would have to change the beliefs of an entire empire somehow)
21. Belmont
First time commenting here.
Thanks for doing the re-cap. It's very interesting to revisit what's happened and also review it for the 12th novel.

The "flicker" scenes have always captured my attention. I wonder if the boys (and everyone else at the Portal stone when it happens)remember all those lives they might have led. I remember one of the Wise Ones speaking about the rings in Rhuidean saying something to the effect that it that a woman who knew everything that was going to happen in her life would live like a caged animal.

I also find that this section of the book is where Nynaeve comes into her own. She can be a pain in the neck but when the chips are down she's
ready to fight for other people regardless of her own personal safety. The upcoming scene where they walk into the building where the damanes are held is pretty scary to me.
Agnes Kormendi
22. tapsi

"Egeanin, for example. When she gets humanized later and even rethinks the damane thing because the the sul'dame can be taught to channel, which means they are also "those who must be leashed" or whatever - she's only rethinking it because a) she's one, and b) she didn't know the truth about sul'dam.

NOT because it is morally offensive to leash and use women (or men, if they wouldn't go mad) little cattle."

Egeanin is the captain of a ship, she's not a sul'dam, and she couldn't channel to save her life :) and in my reading she's rethinking the whole situation more because she met three brave women who can channel. Discovering that the a'dam works on sul'dam as well as marath'damane is just a last straw for her.

Btw much as I detest the seanchan's use of damane, they truly believe that it is for the greater good and that these women are dangerous - a lot like walking atomic bombs. I would even go as far as to say they think women born with the spark have the tendency to go mad or at least morally twisted, even if at a lesser degree than male channelers; they apparently think that the One Power corrupts irrespective of gender. They're like a more pragmatic version of the Whitecloacks in this respect. The way they treat damane is horrible and disgusting, but they think it serves the safety of ALL people, including the damane themselves (a lot like gentling on this side of the Aryth Ocean).
23. Mark-S
One of the things that surprised the most during my re-read (which finished about five days before I found out about this excellent one) was how short Egwene's captivity was - at least in terms of number of pages. If you asked me a few months ago, I would have said it dragged on for at least a book or two and I felt terrible remorse for her every minute of it. Yet the captivity was resolved in a few chapters. Compare and contrast with our yellow-eyed friend and his pet falcon. I think this is the number one reason why I preferred the earlier books. I felt the frustration of the character, but I wasn't frustrated myself by reading about it for 1000's of pages.
Kyle Bass
24. SherlockTomes
@Lsana 17

You beat me to the Egeanin issue, and almost verbatim, too.

@ 7 Boundzy

I'm with you 100%. My own re-listen is on pace to be overtaken...I'm thinking maybe during PoD (on LoC right now). With my commute, I can typically knock out at least an hour a day, but that's not enough to keep pace with this beast. Leigh is a machine!

Hmmm...maybe Leigh really is a machine. An android with a WoT hobby, perhaps.

In any case, Michael Kramer saying "Flicker" 20 or 30 times was enough to weird me out a little when I listed to TGH a few months ago.
25. Lsana
@ 15 hoping to be of the blood,

I agree that the Aes Sedai system doesn't really seem to work. However:

The Aiel have incorporated their magic wielders well into their society because they have been suppressed and are largely inactive. Wise Ones dream, foretell and meddle, but rarely channel, even for good things, such as healing.

Where do you get that idea? I never saw any hint that Amys or Melaine were hesitant to channel. They're certainly willing to throw around Couldain. They don't heal with the power, not because they are unwilling, but because not every channeler can heal and they happen to be two of those who can't.

The Kin have a workable system of rules and self-policing and seem to cause the least problems. But they are withdrawn from society and have little role. We don’t hear of it, but they must have some renegades that they deal harshly with.

So what's wrong with them? They help out each other as well as seemingly having a role similar to the Wisdoms in the Two Rivers. Unlike the Wisdoms, they don't meddle at all in the local politics. By the standards you set out, these would seem to be almost the perfect channelers.

The Sea Folk use their channelers well but only for wind and weather. While this is important for their trade, they have also suppressed other beneficial magic.

They have? Again, I don't see much evidence of this. They focus on weather magic, but I don't see any sign that they don't learn anything else, and in fact they seem very eager to learn from the supergirls.

The Seanchan have a very orderly and practical approach to this issue, as they have to nearly everything. Their magic wielders actually do some good for the people rather than run free, wreaking havoc. Sure, they are enslaved, but no more so than most of us in corporate America and they probably have better dental.

Um, no. The damane system is nothing like corporate America. Does your employer force you to sleep in a dog kennel while chained to the wall? If you fail to anticipate something that your boss wants, does he literally (not figuratively) force you to stand up to your neck in a cauldron of boiling water? If so, I think you need to find another job (McDonalds is usually hiring, and they don't torture employees). If not, then the comparison is insulting.

Second point, I see no more evidence that the damane are working for the good of the people then I do that the Windfinders are. The damane we see are all weapons of war, with the occasional pet of a High Lord or High Lady doing something for Master's amusement. It's possible that back in Seanchan, people regularly go to a damane for healing and the like, but there's no more evidence for it than any of your other assertions.
Agnes Kormendi
26. tapsi
Elayne wouldn't be saying this out loud, but I think it's quite obvious that (apart from adventures being cool) she's just sooo fascinated by Rand, the handsome ta'veren... and she's just a teenage girl, even if she's the Daughter Heir. And teenage girls in love do foolish things.
Kate Nepveu
27. katenepveu
Boundzy: There is quite a difference between reading "flicker" 26 times and listening to the audio talent say it 26 times.

Ah, the unforeseen downsides of audiobooks! => Too funny.

MadlyHatter, Leigh's not a machine, or if she is she's such a good imitation of a person that she could be making a living as an assassin or stunt actor or whatnot instead of slaving away at these posts for our collective enjoyment!

(Really, really must catch up on the re-read instead of just skimming the posts & comments . . . )
Kyle Bass
28. SherlockTomes
@ 27 katenepveu

How sure are you that she's not an assassin? This could just be her cover...we should watch closely to see what she has to say about Slayer when he shows up.
29. locosweetie
I think I recall Tuon saying she doesn't treat her damane the same way as most, and compares it to training horses. I don't know anything about horse training, but I have seen lots of westerns. It seems to me that only amatures break the horse's spirit, and the people who know what they are doing bend it into submission. This doesn't really clear her name though.

Do suldam slow? I don't think so, but has it ever been addressed?

Something that I just realized, do to someone above mentioning Mat shooting Renna. I can't believe I didn't think of it when I was reading that part, but both Mat and Rand keep a list of all the women they have killed/been responsible for their deaths. Mat's is less sophisticated than Rand's and he doesn't think of it nearly as often, but he still has the names of them in the back of his mind. Does Perrin have one too? I can't remember.

By the by, chpt. 37 is runner up for my favorite chapter in the whole series. First place goes to the one where Mat has been recently Healed and eats three chickens in record time :)

*loving every wot minute*
Kate Nepveu
30. katenepveu
MadlyHatter @ 28: Arrgh! Too many possible rejoinders! Cannot choose!

. . . not that _I'm_ a machine, or anything. Honest. Let me show you my cute baby!
31. Lsana
One other interesting thing that I caught on this re-read and forgot to mention in my earlier comment: the fact that there were Aes Sedai in Seanchan prior to the coming of Hawkwings armies. According to the story that Renna tells, the a'dam were first created by the Aes Sedai during Luthair Pandraegon's conquest of Seanchan, and since she also says that there were no channelers with Luthair, that must mean that Deain Sedai and her sisters were native to Seanchan. Also, apparently, they never lost the making of ter'angreal.

It makes me wonder what sort of organization the Aes Sedai in Seanchan had and whether they had a sort of "White Tower" before the invaders came. If so, what sort of stuff might be found in its ruins.
32. hoping to be of the blood
L #19
Much respect for your work.
Am kidding just a little.
I am looking at this as one of the ‘peeps.’ I have long realized that I will never be able to channel (not so long, actually.) “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (and Absolut has corrupted many young girls, but I digress.)
The little people have to be protected from the rich and powerful. A society will be judged on how well they do this.
I think Eggie is well on her way to figuring out a system for responsible magic use. After all, she has experience with all of them, maybe not so much with the Sea Folk. I am interested to see what her synthesis will be since I can’t see how to control the excesses of human nature even in the absence of magic.
33. Lsana
@29 locosweetie

I'll admit that I don't know the first thing about horses. I do know a little about training dogs, though, and your right that you don't need to torture a dog or break its spirit to train it. However, a dog is by nature a pack animal. It wants to be with the pack and follow the lead of the one in charge. Training largely consists of convincing the dog that you and he are a pack, and you're the alpha.

An Aes Sedai, however, is not a dog, and is not conditioned by either biology or society to accept submission. It's almost impossible for me to believe that Tuon could get an Aes Sedai to behave the way Mylie does without using what we would call torture.
34. tailspinner
I think the reason the seachan bother us so much is we have seen this kind of dehumanising in our own history, so we know that humans are capable of it, and that it still happens today. That scares the crap out of me.

I love the flicker scenes, but I got very confused whent hey happenned on the audiobook.

I love the re-read, Ia m bad and just read the encyclopedia wheel of time chapter summaries to follow along.!
35. happi
I said it before and I'll say it again - the Seanchen have big problems - but remember this - they do know how to run a government - the life of an average person under their rule is much better than all of the other rulers we see.
Herb Schaltegger
36. LameLefty
Lsana@33: Many prisoners and hostages become willing participants in their own captivity, even actively helping to keep their captors' secrets and demonstrating loyalty to them, often with no physical or overt psychological violence having been done to them at all. "Stockholm Syndrome" - google it.
37. Lsana

I'm well aware of Stockholm Syndrome. But I'm not aware of any cases of Stockholm Syndrome that did not involve violence or the threat of it, nor did a quick google search turn up any. Psychological trauma seems to be almost part of the definition of Stockholm Syndrome. I don't think that can be used as a defense for the sul'dam.


What data points are you using for comparison between the Seanchan and others?
38. Githraine
Sorry for the off topic comment, But I just hit one of the things I LOVE most about WOT (whether intentional or not). I am listening to a great translation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame (written circa 1830, set circa 1480-1520).
2 points made almost on top of each other.
1, the reference of a symbol, a Serpent biting its own tail, as a sign of Science (in this case Alchemy)
2, the Antagonist (the priest who raised Quasimodo the hunchback) at times looking at people with eyes of fire such that they felt the flames of an open furnace.

Wow. Intentional or not, I love finding nuggets like these!
Agnes Kormendi
39. tapsi

As far as I remember the Aes Sedai in Seanchan did not have a White Tower and were constantly squabbling and made a real mess of things (I have vague memories of thins being mentioned at one point, probably where Egwene and Siuan argue about the Oaths, but I'm not sure), and that probably added to the inherent dislike and distrust of female channelers that lead to them being leashed.
40. happi
Lsana - I can't pull up any quotes right now - but when we get to them I'll be sure to mention it. I just got the impression that with their maintenance of order, etc, the farmers that we see later are better off than their Randland counterparts. Of course, that might not be saying much!
Herb Schaltegger
41. LameLefty
Lsana@37 - Stockholm Syndrome (and psychological conditioning in general) can make people do pretty much anything, period. It makes us as a culture choose to shave body hair and facial hair for no good reason, it makes us choose to bathe far more often than pure hygiene needs require, it makes some of us require chocolate on specific holidays else we become cranky and feel unloved, it makes others stand and salute as bits of pretty clothe are marched by on a stick . . . I'm specifically replying to THIS quote of yours:

"An Aes Sedai, however, is not a dog, and is not conditioned by either biology or society to accept submission. It's almost impossible for me to believe that Tuon could get an Aes Sedai to behave the way Mylie does without using what we would call torture."

You have a very broad definition of "torture" then, if it includes merely capture and threat of violence upon escape. Because REALLY, that's all that's required to condition a prisoner if the captor is patient enough and offers/withholds the right types of trivial rewards. People are not nearly as strong/tough/determined/whatever as we all think we are.
42. Lsana

I'm skeptical. I know some pretty weird things can happen in psych experiments, and I can well believe that a lot of behaviors can be conditioned, but Mylie was an extreme case. There isn't anything left of the original personality there. I could be wrong, but I've never heard of a real case where that much happened just from holding someone and using trivial motivations.
43. LadyBelaine
"You have a very broad definition of "torture" then, if it includes merely capture and threat of violence upon escape. Because REALLY, that's all that's required to condition a prisoner if the captor is patient enough and offers/withholds the right types of trivial rewards. People are not nearly as strong/tough/determined/whatever as we all think we are"

You must have worked for the Bush Administation, right?
44. Rebecca Starr
Ch 37
Leigh, thank you for sharing such a powerful and profound story from your life... yes, we all do have those moments where one different choice would have set things on a whole different course, and I know I for one can't think about it without getting queasy.

on a more practical note, I have often wondered about Verin's knowledge of the Portal Stones - anyone have theories about why she only recognizes those 8 particular symbols, but not the others? I also would be curious to hear theories on the Number of Chaos!

I remember, on my first read, being shocked at the 4 month time leap here... even though now I know it was so Eg/El/Ny could conveniently have enough time to start training in the Tower, i still feel a sense of... loss when I read this part. I guess it would be sort of like going into a coma, right? And then learning you'd just lost 4 months of your life. ::shudder::

Ch 38
Leigh - your valiant attempt to save the Supergirls will be in my head every time I read this chapter for ever more :) Hilarious.

and poor Nynaeve: she's lost her best silver pin to a blueberry on that bet.
Kate Nepveu
45. katenepveu
Rebecca Starr, and thank you for reminding me that I'd meant to say the same about Leigh's chapter 37 comments and forgot.

Well done, Leigh.
Herb Schaltegger
46. LameLefty

"You must have worked for the Bush Administation, right?"

Far from it; I actively worked on kicking their asses to the curb. In fact, that's what is/was so wrong about Guantanamo and what happened there. None of it was necessary, let alone legal or moral. The information obtained would have been obtainable using other, more subtle and legal methods, even from some of the hardest cases out there in the Big Bad World, if the real experts on interrogation hadn't been told to shut up and do it Cheney and Rummy's way. All without violence, without inducing active terror, or mistreatment of any kind.

Fact is, people are NOT strong psychologically when separated from their homes, families, tribes, or society and culture. They break, and it doesn't take much to get them to break.

But of course, harsh treatment, threats and violence makes for better theater (which is really what BushCo. has been after since 9/11 anyway) and it makes for better reading - better to villainize the Bad Guys and to make us sympathize with the good.
47. tacoma
Hoping @15, Leigh:

NB: This post isn't actually to validate or invalidate either of your feelings because those are your own. Also, who am I? Really? No one of import. That said, here are my thoughts on the whole a'dam issue.

Perhaps oddly, I don't find the taking/leashing of the marath-damane to be that surprising a or particularly heinous practice (although I admit it isn't good) considering a number of factors we can translate from in the real world.

Totalitarian regimes usually stay in power through a variety of means, to include manipulation of history and education, control of media and other avenues for propagating propaganda (is it ok to use two 'p' words that close together?), and physical and emotional coercion of ethnic/racial/caste-like classes (among others).

Bear in mind, the Seanchan system parallels several Earth societies which, if I remember reading someplace, RJ fully acknowledged. With respect to cultural practices, nothing written in the WOT (beyond the obvious magic aspect) has not been done before to a greater or lesser degree.

Anyway, as to the Seanchan rationale for leashing, consider three (among many) cases: 1) The Holocaust; 2) American Indian/Small-Pox fitted sheet gift-sets and 3) Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima/Nagasaki as a backdrop for the Seanchan and Randland experience.

1) Without getting into a existential discussion, the attempted elimination of a people arguably has a significant impact on those that weather the storm, so to speak. At the risk of over-generalizing, Jewish Israelis think about the Holocaust a lot and it colors the foreign policies of Israel today and will for the foreseeable future.

2) Again, many rich societies were eliminated for a greater good, namely, that of class protection and expansion. I submit, however, that this is worse than the Holocaust because at least the Jews knew it was coming. And, despite certain nationalist aspirations, The Nations today are incapable of building thriving societies because their population numbers are too depressed and the system in the United States won't allow it.

3) Yes, I know that more people died in the fire-bombing campaigns over Tokyo, but those don't have nearly the psychological and emotional impact as does one atomic weapon detonation, let alone two. I'm willing to debate (offline) how much their current system was put in place by SCAP, but the fact remains that their entire society, domestic and foreign policies as well as current constitutional deliberations are colored by that traumatic event.

Back in Randland, the entire world went through a Holocaust, "biological warfare" and atomic bombing wrapped up in one years-long event: The Breaking. And, conventionally, who's fault was the Breaking? Channelers.

In the case of the Seanchan, as a continent-wide totalitarian regime, they preach the gospel of leashing as a preventative measure against future breakings. They also like to remain in power and use what means are available: A monopoly on channelers and some not-insignificant tools (Crystal Throne, potentially some of those Oath Rod things). As such, I don't find it surprising at all that leashing is practiced and condoned at all levels (except for captured AS and Novices), nor do I look down necessarily on a society that would do that when (at the risk of being labeled a Realist) it makes total sense.

Now, as will undoubtedly be pointed out, I've never been raped or significantly subjugated, I'm not Jewish or Japanese, although my Nation is well known for gambling and alcoholism. So it could be argued that I'm divorced enough from those situations to not have outrage over something that I equate to a situation that happens all the time today in the real world--people trafficking (mostly women, mostly sex industry or drug related).

Well the fact is, I do find it appalling and do my part to fight the system. But that is my individual reaction against those perpetrating and supporting it who are, in my opinion, morally bankrupt. Again, however, this is an individual reaction against individual preferences not against societal choices (that I do objectively understand) that ARE, in this case, caused by historical events beyond the scope of individual comprehension.

Bottom line, were I Seanchan and my family's well being was at stake, I know I'd do at least as much to protect my family if I believed the alternative was total destruction. My challenge to you both (and to anyone else that got this far--sorry for the length but I'm in paper writing mode) is to contemplate if you'd NOT do the same.

48. Randalator
Ch. 39:
I think Liandrin being confident about handling the Black Wind is just her bullshitting the girls or rather her being bullshitted by whoever gave her the orders.

If the shadow had control over Machin Shin, he wouldn't have had "a feast at the waygate to Manetheren" after Loial blocked it. And it wouldn't have been necessary to move Trollocs in small groups through the ways in order to avoid attracting the Black Wind in the first place.

Plan A was to get Nynaeve and Egwene to Seanchan (read: as weapons into the hands of Semiraghe eventually). Plan B would have been to let Machin Shin have them and Liandrin who is expendable herself. In both cases it would have looked like a Novice and an Accepted having run away. Only Plan C (killing them in the Tower) would have looked like the Shadow being involved and having agents in the Tower.

So the primary objective was to get them into the Ways by any means necessary. Liandrin was told to close her eyes if Machin Shin appeared because it can't see you if you can't see it and there you go...
49. dquix
There is a major problem with the whole idea of using the a'dam to control the women who can channel (in addition to it's being despicable). All they have done is transfer the risk to a second set of women, the sul'dam. They are just as much a risk (or even more) as they deliberately turn their damane into weapons. So this is not only a morally disgusting approach, it simply does not solve the problem. Even making the sul'dam into a priviliged class is not sufficient to ensure their unselfish loyalty (witness our own world history in which most rebellions have been lead by members of the privileged classes, who weren't satisfied with being followers.

While the Aes Sedai have become self centered and partially corrupt, that may simply be the inevitable result of their isolation from the rest of the world (due to the general fear of channelers), and the fact that the organization is losing strength and is being sabotaged from within. I believe the original structure had a lot going for it. The Kin, in particular, seem to be a force for good, and they are pretty much led (or at least strongly influenced) by former Aes Sedai who left the tower much earlier.

Damane do still. Later on we meet one (whose name escapes me now) who is several hundred years old, one of the most powerful ever and who has never lost her rage at being leashed. She is one of Rand's allies at the cleansing of Saiden and later in the confrontation with Semirhaage.
50. dquix
One other though on the slowing of damane. Since they are used in combat, and would certainly be a prime target, it may very well be that there are high casualty rates. At this point, we have only seen them in action against an unprepared opponent. Later on, as their opponents figure out what's going on, they become the first target in any skirmish.
51. VarnerV
The Seanchan are a hot topic today. The thing to realize is that when you are raised in a society like Egeanin was, how can you wake one day and be horrified by something you were raised knowing about? I don't think it is possible. The damane have been leashed as long as she has been alive, and for many many years before her birth. I see a lot of redemption in her even asking the questions, and in her friendship with the Supergirls. These things take time, and much like learning a new language, you have to process concepts that are alien to you.

I find it most disturbing that Jordan repetedly points out in the course of his storytelling (in later books), how the people conquered by the Seanchan seem not to care as long as they can continue to live their lives. I would MUCH prefer a reaction like Leigh's from all the people the Seanchan invaded, than the calm acceptance that is instead displayed....
52. AyRon

To be consistent under your theory, though, the Jews' response to the holocaust would have to be to chain the German people for hundreds of years to come for the sins of their forebears. Clearly that wouldn't be appropriate (or feasible, but I hope you see the point).

That's what is so galling about the Seanchan. Because of what "Aes Sedai" did 1,000 years ago, every female channeler, regardless of what her actions would be, must be leashed. It is retribution without end and it is abhorrent.

They have the means to control "criminal" Aes Sedai, yet they leash anyone who can channel and treat them like animals.
Agnes Kormendi
53. tapsi

In my reading, the seanchan consider anyone wielding the One Power "tainted" (much as the whitecloaks or Masema do) but think that as the sul'dam are not actively involved in channeling (not to their knowledge), they are free of this taint, and can be trusted. To a certain degree. But then we too have people working with weapons of mass destruction...
54. DutchBoy
Dear, dear Leigh

Some people feel good when they make others happy. Leigh, I hope you are you are one of these people - you really make me (and many others) happy with your summary and comments! I like your sense of humour and your writing is touching. And... not to forget, I love to read the other readers' comments too :-)

I have very fond memories of the first four books. I read them while travelling through Scandinavia by train. I read books two and three while hiking through Sweden, far to the north of the Pole Circle, in an area with beautiful nature and no roads or shops.

I am really surprised by Leigh's and others' strong negative feelings to the Seanchan. They are by no means nasty bastards, if you ask me. The Seanchan people live in a culture in which the One Power must be controlled. The One Power must be controled because using it can be very harmful indeed. And the Seanchan people, and I believe the Seanchan damane too (!), think this is the right thing to do.

You might disagree on whether controling the One Power (and the damane) is a good or bad thing, but other behavior of the Seanchan indicates that the Seanchan are a quite respectful bunch. For instance, they do not interfere too much with the countries they occupy.

I wonder why many of you react so strongly negative to the Seanchan. Is it caused by a nationality difference, perhaps? Perhaps Americans are more disturbed by any restrictions of free will or choice?

Mmm. What about a provocative metaphor? Consider nuclear weapons. Should all countries be free to develop nuclear weapons (i.e., the One Power)? Many people and governments apparently disagree, including the US government. So, also in our world we tend to restrict people/countries so that they cannot use/develop their power.

Another obvious example is guns. In most countries having guns is prohibited (except in special circumstances) so people cannot use them (because they do not have them)...

Anyway, I do not find the Seanchan disturbing at all. The Children of the Light, however, THEY are the bastards, if you ask me. What lame excuse do they have to hang children, when being brought up in the same world as all the other non-Seanchan people?

One final philosophical remark on Leigh's introductory anecdote on the hurricane in Chapter 37. I understand that the link between behavior (going out for bread or not, etc) and the possible outcome (escape or not) is very direct and visible. But all our behavior is linked with drastic events on the long run, although this link is almost never visible to us.

To give you one simple example. Imagine the time when you were conceived, but that your mother and father went to bed some seconds later, for whatever reason. Perhaps because your father chose to brush his teeth a bit longer. These few seconds are enough to let another sperm fertilize the egg of your mother, and yes, you would never see the world, but a brother or sister would.

Goodnight to all of you!
55. Garstzilla
Yes it is all despicable and horrendous and makes for a bankrupt culture. However remembering several things that have been talked about already or will be talked about in future books it is understandable. The Seanchan are the comglomeration of the forerunners and several other races that they either conquered or joined in the far continent. I forget where but I remember that there were no Aes Sedai that went with them as this was Artur Hawkwings armies that went over there and were cut off and left alone. They invaded a land where there were no rules on the channelers both men (of course men would eventually go crazy but that doesnt mean they would die right away) and women. There they fought for many years and were getting slapped around until some one gave them the ability to chain the women channelers who were beating them senseless. The basis for their whole attitude was born then. The enemy was killing them with the power but now they controlled the power as well and they started winning. It all reminds me of the Romans going down to Eygypt. They kicked butt because of their superior fighting methods and weapons but what if the Egyptians had had Aes Sedai to fight with. The story would have changed alot until the Romans got their own channelers. Do you think the Romans would have let that kind of power roam around freely esp if it had been kicking their ass. Second part the Seanchan have always reminded me of feudal Japan where the caste system was very ridgid and peasents, slaves lived solely on the whim of the lord of the land or High mucky-muck or who ever controlled things. Remember "Shogun". That system is very ridgid in society and only changes very slowly if at all. Which explains to me why once this system developed it stayed in control for the length of time it did. So there you have the Seanchan people. They were based off of armies with constant warfare to invade and then keep the land they stole. Opponents used the power to fight back and the slow insinuation of foreign ideas into their world view as they married into local population. The basis of slavery to deal with conquered peoples in their society and then the advent of channelers in slavery to literally power their industry.
Mix together and you get people who don't give slavery a second thought much less the slavery of people chosen ( in their view ) to be slaves by the creator giving them the ability to channel.

There is my two cents on the Seanchan except to mention this the only way such a system changes is with some sort of revolution by the people or they get their butt kicked by someone else who changes them. Can't wait on MOL to see who finally does it. Matt probably but I bet it will still be fun.
56. markp
Thanks DutchBoy, you just reminded me that when I first read the Eye of the World it was on a journey to and round New Zealand. Why didn't I remember that before? (Then I read the next 4 in about 3 weeks after I got home)

I think the sul'dam are less of a risk because they can only channel while attached to a Damane who seem to be shared between many Sul'dam and any who appeard untrustworthy would instantly loose there job(or life). I guess from time to time there might be a rogue Sul'dam but they probably wouldn't get too far.
There must have been a time when the empire knew that there wasn't much difference between sul'dam and damane, I wonder how long it was before they forgot.

VarnerV, Its not that disturbing, every day people are mostly fairly ignorant about Aes Sedai, so probably don't think about the what the Damane are in much detail.
Most people seem to be trying to get on with their lives, I guess one set of rulers seems much like another as long as life isn't too hard. But I am surprised there isn't much grumbling behind the Seanchan's backs especially from people who have had their daughters taken or lost out in other ways. (but this discussion is mostly for later in the series)
57. alreadymadwhensaidinwascleansed
@Boundzy 7
I agree about Machin Shin.

@Rikka 16
Yep. From here on in, Elayne starts getting worse as she gives her Mistress Snoot persona free rein.

@Browncoat Jayson 18
It's not actually half. More like... one fourth or so. The Seanchan don't really advance far past the coastal nations.

Not really surprising about Rand's alternate endings. Given that he is the Dragon Reborn, any other ending that does not have him proclaiming himself, leading the forces of the Light to fight, win and live through the Last Battle is categorically a bad ending. My main concern about this scene is what would have happened if Rand had let go sooner or later. Would they still be in the correct world? Was it ta'veren luck that had them in the correct world at the time that Rand finally couldn't help but let go of the Power?
At least one of the Forsaken wanted the girls alive but out of the way as a potential bargaining chip to be used on Rand. Maybe Semirhage, since she is revealed later to have holed up in the Seanchan court.

@Lsana 31
The Aes Sedai of Seandar did not have a White Tower as a unifying influence nor three oaths to restrain them. What Luthair found at his arrival were several factions and individual Aes Sedai taking control of various nations and waging endless wars. Some were less overt, shadow wars involving assassins and court intrigue, while others were open conflicts involving battles fought with the One Power. Yet in some ways they seem to have retained slightly more knowledge from the Age of Legends than those in the Westlands, including skills such as the making of ter'angreal and delving for ores.
IMHO it speaks of Luthair's character that he betrayed the Aes Sedai who helped him by collaring her and that his version of the Prophecies of the Dragon has the Dragon Reborn bowing to the Crystal Throne. Anal Retentive Control Freak.

@happi 35
I actually agree to this part about the Seanchan. Despite their slightly more vicious version of the Great Game, the common man was relatively better off than in other nations of the westlands. Compare this to Tear, where Lords seem to have a penchant for abusing peasants without a second thought. Or Cairhien where everybody, including commoners play at the Great Game. Or Murandy and Pre-Return Altara, where it's every Lord for himself and pity the commoner who gets caught in between. Seanchan commoners are shielded from the intrigues of the Blood. And harsh penalties for crime ensure the lands they control are secure and orderly, as attested to by the number of Tinkers settling there. This is of course, a parallel from Hawkwing's time when the entire Westlands was "pacified". Seanchan social philosophy calls for every one's station and position to be made plain. The Anal Retentive Control Freaks.
Brett Michie
58. bchurch

Liandrin is a talking hemorrhoid. Hahaha! Yes. Thanks for that, it made my day.
59. tacoma

Good point, and acknowledged. I suspect that had chaining been an option right out the chute, it would have been given some serious consideration. Fortunately that decision wasn't available to them. Unfortunately, we only gave them a shit-sandwich by trading one source of paranoia for another, and in my opinion, not really giving the Jews a chance to come to terms with the Germans on a personal level.

Your point about the galling nature of retribution without end is also taken, however I don't find the "without end" part overly abhorrent simply because the stakes for not leashing them (in the minds of the uninformed) are so high.

I also question the part about controlling "criminal" Aes Sedai for two reasons.

1. I doubt anyone would argue that AS broke the world and that was bad. That said, how can the layman know which AS did the breaking (i.e. which ones were the criminals)? In that light, isn't society better off having them all leashed, just in case? It's like saying "I know pornography when I see it" times a billion. When you finally find out that someone is bad it's way too late.

2. Having only some leashed and breaking them of their "evil ways" really only teaches the unleashed to be a lot more subtle in their evilness. Considering something bad had to have happened in order for the offending AS to be labeled criminal, those more subtle evil-deeds will probably have longer term societal impacts beyond just blowing up your local Circle K. Better off leashing them all.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Richard Boye
60. sarcastro

"I actually agree to this part about the Seanchan. Despite their slightly more vicious version of the Great Game, the common man was relatively better off than in other nations of the westlands."

I dunno about that -

It seems to be an orderly society (one might say, centrally planned, totalitarian state), but my god - these people have outright chattel slavery, which is inherited (Turak's family has owned Huan's since Luthair's Conquistadores landed), ritual suicide, and well, a really extreme version of chattel slavery.

I mean, remember the whole thing about the Seanchan rounding up all the women passengers on the ships they stop? How about all the local women who are screened and whisked away to be reduced to animals?

I know that the Aes Sedai are not a terribly sympathetic class, so some might have difficulty having pity when they are knocked from their societal station, but bear in mind what the Seanchan do is scour their populace and take a number of their citizens so as to reduce them into non-humans. All for accidents of birth.

Yes, the "trains might run on time," but I wonder if random Joe al'Schmoe would appreciate his wife being tested and swept away and stripped from the rolls of citizens if she "passed." Let alone what Jane al'Schmoe feels.

Seanchan commoners are shielded from the intrigues of the Blood.

Really? Are you so sure about that? Didn't General Karede refer to at least two major uprisings?

oh, and Novak@4, you're a spoilsport. Thbbbbt.
61. alreadymadwhensaidinwascleansed
Forgot to add that it's only in the dealings among the Blood and with channelers that things get really messy. I had that in my original draft but somehow missed it when I posted.
Two major uprisings were mentioned and possibly several minor ones. Plus the one that was ongoing when Aviendha accidentally Travelled there. However, bear in mind that the land had to be mostly stable to even dream, let alone execute such an ambitious undertaking as the Return. It would require a phenomenal amount of resources and manpower that an empire at war with itself would never be able to spare. Also we must bear in mind that within the timeline of the novel, Semirhage was already hiding in the Seanchan court. Her efforts to destabilize the Seandar would culminate in the massacre of the royal family and the eventual disintegration of the empire.
62. boquaz
Coming up soon (ok, in a few books), we have the Asha'man. Compared to people who are trained and emotionally beaten into weapons of incredible power, the Seanchan are only annoying. The damane do plenty of killing, but they're trained for multiple uses.

I had a similar reaction to leigh when we first met the Seanchan, but there is a twisted logic behind their slavery (the now-familiar "for the good of ALL the people"). The Asha'man are the real nuclear weapons in this series, instruments of mindless destruction. With a very few exceptions, they exist simply to explode people's heads.

There's a logic to having that too, but... Perhaps it's because I'm a physicist and have had to think hard about why we created nuclear weapons. You can never put the genie back in the bottle. The Seanchan make me angry, the Asha'man make me sick. I see their creation as a much greater crime against the people of Randland than the Seanchan slavery.
Robert Garza
63. FunBob
Awesome, Leigh, just awesome.

Chapter 37. More of the awesome. BTW, the "Number of Chaos" was a very interesting comment by Verin. I actually took an elective course in chaos theory in college, and chaos is defined as an aperiodically deterministic set of numbers greatly affected by its initial conditions. It appears random, but isn't. And that appears to be what happens to Rand and Co. as they move in a seemingly random pattern through their alternative lives (Ifs), only the time span and the distance are controlled by the Pattern, which seeks to put Rand (and Matt, Perrin, Hurin, and Ingtar)into the time and place it needs them, i.e. Falme. We all know what happens then - or we will, once Leigh gets us there on Friday. :)

It appears that the Brown Ajah, indeed, know their stuff.

BTW, if anyone wants another literary exploration of chaos theory, go read Jurassic Park. The movie did NOT do the book any justice.
64. AyRon
Dutchboy @54 said:

"You might disagree on whether controling the One Power (and the damane) is a good or bad thing, but other behavior of the Seanchan indicates that the Seanchan are a quite respectful bunch. For instance, they do not interfere too much with the countries they occupy.

I wonder why many of you react so strongly negative to the Seanchan. Is it caused by a nationality difference, perhaps? Perhaps Americans are more disturbed by any restrictions of free will or choice?"

Respectfully, where do I start?

Aside from slavery, which has already been addressed at length above, how about hereditary domination? We're not just talking about the lottery of having wealthy parents vs. poor parents, which is certainly prevalent in the U.S. (and worldwide), but if one is lowborn and in the presence of one of the Blood, you can be beaten for daring to make EYE CONTACT. The High Blood will even have a slave whose job is to be their Voice, so someone lower cannot even address them directly.

These stations are enforced violently. While it is possible to be "promoted" to the Blood, my understanding is that it's rare.

Even the da'covale can be hereditary. You are born into slavery (so, the slavery is beyond just the treatment of damane. How do we rationalize that part of Seanchan slavery? Everyone is addressing the abuse of the damane, but there is slavery beyond channelers).

I join Leigh in her reaction to the Seanchan. Perhaps it is cultural, but I find this totalitarian slave empire repugnant.

I love the irony that the source of their power is built on a fallacy (since the sul'dam can be trained to use the power).

Still, just the fact the RJ could write something that gets us all debating such significant issues again proves his brilliance as a writer, even if some want to dwell on his flaws. He is missed.

Leigh, I look forward to your posts every week. Thanks so much for doing this!! (I love all the commentary too, folks!)

65. AyRon
oh, and Sarcastro @ 60

"Joe al'Schmoe"

Awesome...that cracked me up.
66. alexonthemove
I didn't see how important the flicker scenes were until this re-read. While it's true that all the endings for Rand are defeat, he actually learns one important fact about all his possible lives: whether he proclaimed himself the Dragon Reborn or not, he never gave into the Dark One, and I think that realization is what keeps him going through the series.

This reread is great! Glad I picked up the books again. Keep up the great discussions everyone!
67. Viddles

Indeed. The fact that the books have the ability to spawn this kind of discussion is a testament to their worth.

Notice that Jordan's world, like ours, is not perfect. Good people have to work together with bad people sometimes. Alliances can change in the middle of a war, and former enemies have to learn to live with one another. Armies occupy territories, and the occupees' reactions can vary wildly. Note the Domani/Tarabon anti-Seanchan rebellions about to take place (I think they're about to, anyway; I don't recall any reference to them after CoT), and how this contrasts with the average farmers' attitude discussed above.

The reason I love this series so much, and the reason I trolled through even CoT is not because of the plot. The plot is often exciting, engaging, and full of twists. Occasionally it is about how to sift weevils out of grain. But what really kept me going is the feeling that there really is another World out there in those books, and it has real depth. And one of the reasons for this is that Jordan has created a world full of flaws, where no one nation or people are truly better than any other (except for the Two Rivers folk, of course...), and different civilisations react to the same problem in different ways.

The Last Battle done, but the world not done with Battle. In a temporally cyclical universe, the problems are never over. Some are resolved, but their place is soon taken by others. The Seanchan Empire may fall, but then so did Hawkwing's, and by all accounts that was a truly benevolent one. The damane may be freed and all female channelers may end up working together in perfect harmony, along with the Black Tower. But can you really see that happening? Jordan's World tries to be as deep and rich as our own. Do you think the aforementioned happy ending would happen in our World? I don't. So why expect it to happen in Jordan's?

BTW mad props to Leigh. But it's gotta be one of the best gigs in the world, having an official reason for reading the books again. I wish I could teach them in my classes; it'd give me an excuse to talk about them nonstop... :)
68. JimmyMac80
@ 2 Lsana Rand and Egwene don't slow because wilders don't slow until they actually gain control of their channeling. Otherwise nearly every Wisdom in the Two Rivers would live to be 500 to 900 years old, which I think someone would have commented on.

@ 20 markp As Empress Tuon wouldn't have to convince anyone of anything, though I doubt that she'll channel. I think it highly unlikely that she has spent enough time working with damane to be near to embracing the Source.

@ 42 Lsana Check out Patty Hearst, she was kidnapped, and brainwashed to pull a 180, with no evidence of torture, as far as I remember. Also, it's Mylen, not Mylie.

@ 51 VarnerV About people's calm acceptance, try and think about the upcoming chapters where Rand et al find a village where at the center there is a large black spot that causes Hurin to vomit when he gets close. Think about how bad whatever the Seanchan did and try to imagine if you would even think about trying to get rid of them as a common person.

@ 54 DutchBoy The Atom Bomb/channeler metaphor works, except for the fact that the channeler is still a human being. I think that underlies most people's reaction to the Seanchan. Not just that they chain their channelers but that they don't see them as humans. Their names are stricken from records and everyone who knows them pretends they never existed. They're treated as dogs, even put in "kennels," and no one cares.
69. IanGH
Sarcastro (@60), you spoke my mind.

One of the more disturbing things about this whole series is how (dare I admit it) Jordan manages to turn characters like Egeanin and Tuon (to a degree) into people we can sympathize with. I shared (almost) everybody's shock about the whole concept of the Seanchan society. It seems wrong on so many levels. And yet through the power of Jordan's characters, I couldn't help but cheer for Tuon at the end of (what book was it?) Knife of Dreams(?).

And I don't believe the Seanchan society can be described as anything but disgusting. Between slavery, wanton cruelty (Tower of Ravens?), and turning humans into dogs, it is a caricature of the justice of Artur Hawking's empire that Elyas Machera described to Egwene and Perrin in the Eye of the World. And what's incredible is that not a single Seanchan seems to question it (Egeanin excepted).

More proof? Fain had two entire villages of people, including women and children, killed and fed to the trollocs. Didn't get nearly as much press in this blog as a Seanchan giving Egwene a pretty silver necklace.
razor buck
70. razorbuck
As tarmon guidon is progressing, Rand finds himself hemmed in. Suddenly he is cut off from the source as Moridin, 13 mydrall and 13 black sisters stroll into the cavern he had been fighting in. With a smile, Moridin said, "I win again Lews Therin." Flicker, flicker, flicker

Rand awoke with a start and realized he had quite a headache. He felt like he did not sleep at all. What a crazy dream. His dad, Tam, says, "About time your were up, sleepy head. Bel tine waits for no man" Rand asks Tam with a start, "Why are you wearing that sword?" Tam said, "Its pretty silly to be scared of a dream, but there you have it." Rand notices the Heron on the scabbard.
71. JNatael (Bill)
Leigh, this is so awesome. So Awesome! A true blogging Action-Hero!

A few thoughts:

@alexonthemove 66

Good call that the flicker scenes show him he never goes over to the Dark. I hadn't seen that angle. However, I did see it as a reinforcement of "Rand, honey, you're the Dragon. Really. Not because Moiraine says so or because someone wants you to be. You just are. Deal."

I also connect the repeated "I win again Lews Therin" with a scrap we get from Verin(?) later. If Rand wins in one potential world, then the Dark One is defeated in all. If Rand is defeated in one potential world, then the Dark One wins in all. More fodder I suppose for thinking that Rand sees these lives through the lens of his own knowledge and experience (like Eg's and Nyn's Accepted tests). It occurs to me now that this experience may have imparted to our heroes and their companions the ability to "know" certain decisions, like what the Aiel Wise Ones have from their ter'angreal.

Also, I agree that this passage is, well yes, bleak. I misted up reading it here. ~deep breath~

re: Liandrin and Machin Shin

I'm in the Liandrin-is-clueless camp. She's acting on orders, i'm sure. Orders from someone who might not really care so much if Machin Shin takes her out of the picture entirely. Otoh, could someone remind me please why the forces of evil want to shuffle Eg and Nyn off to Seanchan? Semirhage wants some Two Rivers action? Ishy wants them alive but out of the Tower? Why?

re: Renna
Bitch. I never recognized that she was a Conservation character. Must have been either the thousands of intervening pages or my (ahem) distaste for sul'dam kept me from reading their plotline too closely. Only on my previous re-read did I really care about Bethamin, for example.

I really look forward to more installments of this re-read. Woohoo!
72. markerikson

The effects of the Wise One's ter'angreal sound pretty similar to what Rand goes through in Chapter 37. It apparently shows you all your possible futures.

However, those who see their futures in this ter'angreal apparently remember them a little better, and can act on those memories when moments of decision occur.

So why can't Rand and the other who suffered through the visions of the Portal Stone? I can only assume that they did not experience _all_ their possible lives, but just a random handful, all too far removed from their current lives to be of use.

It also makes me wonder what the use of the Acceptance ter'angreal was, back in the AoL? I can see the usefulness of the Wise One's ter'angreal, but the Acceptance one seems only designed to test people's ability to resist temptation - and to punish them pretty horribly if they can't. Doesn't really sound like the sort of thing that would be created in the AoL, when everything was roses.

Oh, and leigh, thanks again. This reread blog has brought my old WOT fandom back from the dead. I'm lucky my books are all packed in a box in the roof of my parents' garage, otherwise I'd be spending all my free time right now pouring over them.
73. sinfulcashew
I read the whole thing so fast and reached the last of it and thought.....what? it's over already?
Had to check back just to be sure!

Reading this series is so fascinating. I read all the descriptions of backgrounds and places. (I usually skip these parts in most books.....boring....get on with the story!)
But Jordan writes so 'fully'(is that a word?) it all goes together.

I love all the names he came up with. They flow.
I don't worry about 'what' or 'where', I just read and bite my nails waiting for the next book.
Who cares, when just the basic story HE wrote is so good!
I love the Aiel the best of all the different peoples in this. I guess I have a mean streak?

I only came up with one question asked by the friend that got me into this 9 or 10 years ago.
'Who was the man in black that helped Rand when they were in that city (Shadar Logoth SP?????) in the second? book?'
I think I finally decided that it was himself as 'Dragon' in black that somehow came back to help him?
Then there is the idea that one of the forsaken did just to further their own plans?

Well, as we all can tell, I am not one of the deeper readers, like most of you. I don't question too much, just enjoy!

The first time I read through each book, I would get upset because I wanted to see what Rand was up to and he was pretty much left out of a few books (I think), but now after my rereads, I find that it ALL gets my attention and I am following Mat and Perrin, Cadsuane, the new Tower, etc., etc., etc., even Elaida ,with the same passion(?) as the rest of the story.

It amazes me how deeply a person can get caught up in things like this.

Thanks for the chance to see how others peruse this series, Leigh!
Ofer Nave
74. odigity
Leigh - the way you feel about sul'dam is the way I feel about government.
75. Ron'al Doskam
I've waited specially until chapter 40 of TGH. It is the chapter that I really found out I was HOOKED.

Why? The capture of Egwene was breathtaking. In real life I mean. The way the scene translated to real emotions was a first time experience.

Since then read and re-read the books with a high pitched fever.

On the subject of the beggar vission of Min. I do believe that Ran in Winter's Heart enter the royal palace as a beggar and therefore fullfills the vission.
76. gagecreedlives
sinfulcashew@73 "'Who was the man in black that helped Rand when they were in that city (Shadar Logoth SP?????) in the second? book?'
I think I finally decided that it was himself as 'Dragon' in black that somehow came back to help him? "

Your not thinking of the bit when Rand is fighting Sammael in Shadar Logath and the wanderer helps him and they cross balefire streams (didnt ghostbusters teach these guys anything) Well the wanderer is Moridin.

Potentially more answers or complete misinterpretations when i sober up and come back
77. Randalator

The man in Shadar Logoth is Moridin a.k.a. Ishamael.

See for a detailed analysis.
Chris Cruthirds
78. seeks2win
Off topic - Leigh - I grew up and lived for 30 years in Gulfport until Katrina. I have very similar stories from my parents. Thanks for adding a personal touch.

47. tacoma

Your linkage of the Nazi-inflicted Holocaust which took the lives of six million innocent Jewish men, women and children, purely because they were Jews, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is worse than tragic. It cheapens the singularity of Hitler's dedication to the extermination of all Jews, their history, religion and culture.
The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not meant to eradicate the Japanese culture and people from the face of the earth. Though thousands died in those attacks, Japan was able to rebuild its cities, and its people rebuilt their lives to the extent that Japan is now an international economic superpower. Whole generations of Jews died in the Holocaust. For them, and their heirs, there was no rebuilding. A piece of Jewish history was summarily destroyed, never to be returned. For the Jews of Europe, there was no rebuilding or reaffirmation of life. For the six million, there was only death.
The atomic bombs were dropped after Japan's repeated refusals to sue for peace, Japan's continued atrocities perpetrated against prisoners-of-war and its intent to fight to the death to defend the home islands.

I guess I have one basic difference in opinion than many others in these posts. Aes Sedai did not break the world. The dark one broke the world by using Aes Sedai as his instrument.

We have a history from the Seanchan admittedly well edited to justify every action they ever took. Were the countries they were attempting to conquer breaking the world again? No they were squabbling like every other country on the other side of the ocean. The fact that they didn't have a unifying agency such as the White Tower caused many problems, but I don't think propaganda from the Seanchan should just be accepted to say they had no choice. It seems to me that the simplest answer is the best. They were getting their asses kicked and they needed a weapon. They had to justify enslaving these women, so over generations they instilled exactly what they wanted into their society. I don't believe they had any moral beliefs that they were helping, they just wanted to win a war. And they ruthlessly enslaved and brainwashed not only the Aes Sedai, but brainwashed their entire culture to cover it up.

Wow OK one more thing. In regard to why the portal stone didn't show Rand winning. I think that there is only one world where Rand won. I think a perfect set of circumstances and choices have to come to part for him to win. In other words, there are many ways you can screw something up when you're building it, but there's only one way to build it right.
79. birgit
Why is Logain crying?

Because he has been stilled.

Wouldn't it have been better for Liandrin to "take care of" them all, it seems simpler to murder all four rather than sell two into slavery and send them to the other side of the world. unless they were needed for something.

The Shadow wants to use Egwene and Nynaeve as hostages against Rand. They do not know that the other two girls have a connection to Rand, so they are expendable.
I also think that Liandrin doesn't really know how to deal with Machin Shin. Maybe she just thinks it will leave her alone because she is a darkfriend.

I also would be curious to hear theories on the Number of Chaos!

I saw this as an allusion to the Number of the Beast.

Second part the Seanchan have always reminded me of feudal Japan where the caste system was very ridgid and peasents, slaves lived solely on the whim of the lord of the land or High mucky-muck or who ever controlled things.

I think Seanchan is more like Huang Di's China. Huang Di is Luthair: he unified the kingdoms of China and introduced all kinds of standardizations (e. g. writing) and the bureaucratic system that lasted for centuries.

Between slavery, wanton cruelty (Tower of Ravens?), and turning humans into dogs, it is a caricature of the justice of Artur Hawking's empire that Elyas Machera described to Egwene and Perrin in the Eye of the World.

Elyas mentioned that it wasn't really that perfect. There was peace for the simple people, but everybody who disagreed with the system was persecuted.
Blake Engholm
80. UncrownedKing
Leigh just wanted to let you know that because these posts these past weeks, I have become a freak. I finished TGH in a day and a half, and TDR in about 2. I am now completely addicted. I debate whether to go to bed or stay up and read when I have work in the morning. I started TSR yesterday and I am about a quarter in. AHHH

Thanks for pulling me back into the series. Enjoying every word.
81. tacoma
seeks2win @78

1) I'm confused...

Let me understand your position:

> Your linkage of the Nazi-inflicted Holocaust
> which took the lives of six million innocent
> Jewish men, women and children, purely because
> they were Jews, and the bombing of Hiroshima and
> Nagasaki is worse than tragic. It cheapens the
> singularity of Hitler's dedication to the
> extermination of all Jews, their history,
> religion and culture.

Is this to say that you find value in Hitler's dedication?

2) ...and sorry for your confusion.

I probably didn't make this clear. I don't link the two together, all three examples I gave are distinct events, each horrible in it's own right.

If I had to make the connection, I'd suggest that each has had a long-term psychological effect on a group of people and, MAYBE that there is some temporal factor in the Holocaust/Atomic bombings since both are coincident with WWII.

WRT the psychological effects:
The Holocaust affected Jews, Germans, to a lesser degree John Q. World-Citizen
The Atomic Bombings affected Japanese, to a lesser degree...
Biological Warfare affected multiple Native American Nations

We can debate Japan's refusal to surrender at another time.

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the discussion.
82. Lsana
72. markerikson,

If anything, Rand and co. seem to remember more of their alternate lives than the Aiel, who we are told are fortunate enough to know very little; they remember a few things, and a few more come back to them at critical junctions. Rand seems to remember everything from many lives.

The reason it doesn't seem to be helpful to Rand is that at least in all of the lives that we got to see, what he saw diverged from his own life at earlier points; it doens't do Rand much good to know what choices he should have taken if he'd married Egwene and stayed in Emmond's Field. Whereas I would assume that the lives seen in the Aiel rings all diverge at some point in the future.

Also, let's not idealize the AOL Aes Sedai too much. We've only seen hints of the AOL, but even those hints suggest to me that they aren't a bunch of saints. They may very well have used the Acceptatron for a similar purpose at the the third age Aes Sedai.
83. VarnerV
sarcastro @ 60
Don't forget about the Questioners. An elite set of people who are the law, unknown and faceless in the population who have total say over whether you live, die, or are tortured indefinitely? Seriously scary.

boquaz @ 62
But Rand created the Asha'man to be a weapon. Much like a gun or rifle. And while they WERE created to be instruments of destruction, they also know healing and traveling, etc. They have a very specific purpose in the series - at least for their creation - and are used no differently than the damane under the Seanchan are.

AyRon @ 64
Agreed on all points....!

JimmyMac80 @ 68
Oh hey now - I am not saying they should revolt. They would likely be obliterated. I was just saying that their easy acceptance of being taken over by such a people makes me feel slightly ill. That they don't even question it.
Chris Cruthirds
84. seeks2win
Tacoma @81

My point was that he was a mad man dedicated to a mad purpose that had no value what so ever. The Seanchan knew exactly what they were doing dehumanizing the Aes Sedai, and coldly manipulated history to cover it up.

Sorry if I got a little carried away, or misunderstood, but it would not be the first time I've seen someone attempt to make those two events comparable. I also greatly enjoy the discussions.
85. Rossage
Do channelers that are not born with the spark, but that can learn, actually slow? I don't think they do, but I don't think that either option is ever actually stated. Opinions?
86. AyRon
IanGH @69 -

More proof? Fain had two entire villages of people, including women and children, killed and fed to the trollocs. Didn't get nearly as much press in this blog as a Seanchan giving Egwene a pretty silver necklace.

What a great point! I'd say that's because no one would suggest that Fain is anything other than pure dagnasty evil. The fact that the Seanchan think this is right and good is what gets everyone worked up.

I have to say what really impresses me is how civil everyone stays here. A lot of these things we've been talking about would become nuclear flame wars on a lot of discussion boards. {collectively pats everyone on the back}
Brett Michie
87. bchurch
ron al'doskam @ 75

I don't believe that Min's vision was fulfilled there. Perrin has the same vision of Rand as a beggar in rags and a rough cloak in tSR. He also has a bandage over his eyes in that vision, and we know that Rand's eyes were damaged at the same time he lost his hand to Semirhage in KoD. So I think this is a vision that is yet to come.

Rossage @ 86

Any channeler who works enough with the one power will slow. There are many examples among the AS where we here of a younger AS, new to the shawl who hasn't "worked with the power enough" to slow. I know much of this may come from the oath rod, but I also believe that just working with the power will slow a channeler.

Great discussions all, kudos!
88. Aneid
@ 87. bchurch

Any channeler who works enough with the one power will slow. There are many examples among the AS where we here of a younger AS, new to the shawl who hasn't "worked with the power enough" to slow. I know much of this may come from the oath rod, but I also believe that just working with the power will slow a channeler.

I agree, the Kin seem to be the best example of this. 400+ years and still going … move over energizer bunny. I think I remember in New Spring Mo stating that she could still feel the oath rod effects of tightening … I think the slowing is one thing … the ageless look is from the oath rod.


I forgot to pile on the accolades to you Leigh. Awesome job, I think you should get an invite to JordanCon, it would be great to meet you … however that might interfere with the blog postings … so strike that.
89. Rikka
Hasn't Nynaeve already started slowing?
Richard Fife
90. R.Fife
First, Rikka @ 89:
Yeah, I Nynaeve has started to slow, which is why she looks about the same age as Egwene, etc, while she is actually 6-ish years older. Perhaps the degree of the slowing has to do with how directly you use the Power. Wisdom style (blocked, no clue), slow a little, actually open to Saidar and use it, slow a lot.

I'm not dead! honest! I actually just finally got around to reading this and all the comments. Yay work...

On the Seanchan and Slavery: is taking away free will from any sentient creature a crime, yeah, I can get on my moral "never been in a position where others are born better than me" soapbox and say that. But, honestly, this is very similar to the world of X-Men. What stops nightcrawler from assassinating the president, or Prof. X from stealing people's Credit Card numbers.

I think we all would be in a hard position to say we cannot sympathize at all with the Seanchan world-view. Think of how our society right now would react if "Aes Sedai" suddenly manifested and started waging their own personal wars "above our heads."

Part of the problem is that there is no guarantee that the Aes Sedai would not suddenly view themselves as superior (Magneto style), and even the the good guys can think of themselves as "shepherds" trying to help the "poor, disadvantaged normal humans."

Am I saying we need to treat them like animals on principal? No, but I think how the first contact played out would have a lot to do with how the rest of us actually viewed them.
Blake Engholm
91. UncrownedKing
You may not like the way the Seanchanies handle their channelers, but you can understand their thought process a little bit. They view them as scary life threatening weapons with unlimited power. They immediately depersonify the channeler. Its wrong, we hate them, but RJ wanted that from us didn't he??

If the torment of Egwene was not in the book, if she was just forced to do what the sul'dam wanted and not tortured, we would not be getting in heated discussions about it (heated but still very calm suprisingly, as someone stated before). Instead, we would just think it was a different culture's way of dealing.

But that aside its pretty messed up what the sul'dam does to her. Real messed up.
92. a day late and a crown short
I love the posts Leigh, these are great review/renew/rejoice/reward/rehash discussions .

Re: Seanchan , yes repugnant , but not irredeemable. I think there are some characters you can feel for and even identify with. Tylee and the Deathwatch officers , essentially . I think the way Tuon has talked ( to Mat , Setalle Ann ),and Her POVs ,and the plot advances --Empress assainated,civil war etc---she will find herself more dependent on Mat than she thought possible. Her exposure to Setalle Ann etc. will lead her to reform Seanchan , I think. I think with time ,Tuon was easier to stomach. I even grew to like her. She has a lot of maturing and eye-opening to do. This has been a recurrent theme of WOT . The EFs were all immature and naive ,more or less .
Re; Aes Sedai . Its interesting the various nation/culture attitude towards AS. From reverence (borderlanders) to wariness (everyone, actually , LOL), mixed pos and neg(Andor) to fear and distaste (Tear) , and yes mad dog ,blind to all else hate (Whitecloaks, of course ).
93. Caine09
thanks for reminding me of the whole 'Other Worlds' thing were they see what might have been. What an amazing piece of writing.

Id love to know what Mat saw, that made him crawl to Rand begging him to believe that he wouldnt betray him. Must have been pretty serious....

On the Seanchan situation, I really really hate the way they collar the Aes Sedai, but the thing that really pisses me off is the way they are treated like animals and refered to as pets grrrrr!

But that being said it was the Aes Sedai's idea to collar themselves in the first place, how could they not expect the a'dam to be used against them:
'Hey here's a thing that will make us do whatever you want, please don't use it' come on how stupid can you get.

Looking forward to the next post :):):)
94. a day late and a crown short
yes rife , I was thinking that way too.(about how AS are viewed)
95. effervescent
I have to say, I'm getting reasonably irritated at the people who don't want to add to the discussion, but instead want to be the "first post" if there is a "prize" to being the first to see that the new discussion has been added. Perhaps it's just one ever called me rational.

I would have to agree that these chapters are probably the hardest to read in the first 6 books. Rape is a good way to describe the feelings Jordan creates in the reader...and disgust. Slavery of any kind is just hard to read, especially (in my opinion) for Americans, who have had to deal with the guilt of our country's past.

As a side not, I love the fact that Nyn and Elayne got away here...Nyn is still the "ringer" in regards to the one power amongst the lead characters.

In a way, this is the begining of the "chapters to skip" for me. I just cannot deal with the frustrations that Jordan's writing creates.
Blake Engholm
97. UncrownedKing
Dear effervescent,

Lighten up, hop off your horse, or what have you.


Someone who enjoyed goofing around once and now is grouped as "a non-contributor"

P.S. I believe I have done a fair share of contributing. Not trying to over post

On another note, I believe she shows no remorse or feelings because women are heartless ( o man I am in trouble).

She does not show remorse because she is too mad to see straight let alone feel anything
98. Aneid
I can’t help but wonder what the Land of Madmen do with/about channelers. They have no blight to contend with. Land of Madmen is probably the best name for a country I have ever read. Three Fold Land, that’s kinda sweet I guess.

Land of Dueling and Cleavage would have been great for Altra.

Can’t really think of any others at the time
99. Alfvaen
One thing that bothers me a little about Ch37 and the alternate realities is what it implies about the battle for the Wheel of Time. I mean, the Dark One wants to break the Wheel of Time, so that things never get "reset" and he can rule the world forever. In most of the alternate realities "Lews Therin" is defeated. But apparently that's not enough. So either:

1) The bad guys have to win in every single world that there is, including, one must surely consider, some where everything was stacked in the good guys' favour. You know, one where Mat never picked up the dagger in Shadar Logoth, Padan Fain got killed ignominiously in the first book by a Whitecloak, Elaida never split the tower, the Seanchan decided to wait a few more years for their attack (because Semirhage screwed up somehow), etc., etc. Or even one where the Bore was never made and the Age of Legends never ended. Or is there no such world? Is the world of the books, where, initially at least, the deck seems to be stacked heavily against our main characters, the best possible one?

2) Of course, it could also be that the other worlds don't "count" because they don't match the proper conditions. What are those conditions? Why, the Prophecies of the Dragon, of course. But surely in some alternate world other prophecies were made, weren't they? Or are the branchings more limited than those? That does make a little more sense in that the battle needs to be won here, in what is neither the best nor the worst of all possible worlds. But it still seems frickin' arbitrary in the context of infinity. Which is one reason not to think too hard about it, I guess.
101. Lsana
@ 99 Alfvaen,

I can't remember how this issue is handled in later books, but in this one, it is implied that Rand's world is the "real" world for more reasons than the fact that it happens to be the one Jordan is writing about. The other worlds that the portal stones can reach are "might-have-beens" with various probabilities. Hence the reason that the world he visits with Selene and Hurin seemed so wrong--distances were distorted, the water tasted flat, etc.--was because they were in a low-probability world; it wasn't real, and it had very little chance it every might have become real, and that became obvious from spending time there. So presumably the fact that the dark won there doesn't really count.

Of course, this may be contradicted by later books. I can't remember if Rand's pet scientist says something that implies the other worlds are equally real. I hate alternate dimensions.
103. Rebecca Starr
"On another note, I believe she shows no remorse or feelings because women are heartless ( o man I am in trouble).

She does not show remorse because she is too mad to see straight let alone feel anything"


I didn't say she was heartless! i give her points for practicality and bravery.
Chris Cruthirds
104. seeks2win
@ 99 Alfvaen

I think your second conclusion is probably closer. Not counting the fact that it's a plot device, but taking one of your examples for instance. If Mat had never picked up the dagger he would not have gone to Tar Valon to be healed, and therefore would not have been there to do any of the things that followed. First thing that comes to mind is saving the girls in Tear. (For all the bloody thanks he got for it). I still think it's simpler than that. Like a complex math equation, or an extremely diverse piece of computer code. You could mess it up in hundreds or even thousands of different places and not come up with the correct solution or end result, but there is only one correct answer to the equation, and only one way to arrive at that answer.
105. AyRon
Rebecca Star @ 96:

I still don't think it's the Shadow that has control over machin shin, but rather Padan Fain/Mordeth

That's what I thought also. Liandrin almost acts like she's aware of this control over Machin Shin. Does anyone know if the Dark knew they had lost control of Fain yet? I can't see that Fain would have informed any agents of the dark about what he did. Perhaps if one of the few remaining Darkfriends communicated it to Ba'alzamon in a dream (presumably that's how he checks up on his agents)?

Picture this. Balzy appears to one of the harried darkfriends and "extracts" info from them (I'd think he wouldn't simply ask...that would denote weakness). They may have seen insane-in-the-brain Fain laughing about setting Machin Shin to follow Rand. Balzy would probably find this problematic and something to ponder, but he would be in a position to instruct Liandrin (or whoever instructs her...Alviarin?) to use the Ways and assures her that she will arrive safely (probably even making her think it's his power that controls machin shin).

Lots of speculation, but it passes the time until Leigh's next post!.

(of course, now I'm wondering if Fain even had any remaining Darkfriends by the time he went though the Ways. He seems to be alone by the time he visits Turok).
Richard Fife
106. R.Fife
Fain left his darkfriends and trollocs in the hills on Toman Head, then sic'd the Seanchan on them. His whole "I'm being persued by darkfriends." Thing. I very definately believe the shadow has no control over Machin Shin. As mentioned above, in TSR, lots and lots of shadowspawn die to it. As to fain, I think he has more of a "mutual understanding" with it. Honor amongst whores, style.

Fain: "Hey, we are both cast off red headed step-kids of Shia'tan, let's be friends!"
Machin Shin: "BEST FREINDS!"
Fain and Machin Shin starts skipping down a bridge.
107. Wetlander
I've been pondering this whole "place in society of women who channel" thing. Seems to me there are four basic situations: two in which said channellers are bound (Seanchan a'dam or Aes Sedai oath rod) and two in which they are not (Atha'an Miere Windfinders and Aiel Wise Ones.) I'm discounting the Kin and the Wisdom-types, because society as a whole doesn't know they channel.

So in the case of the Sea Folk and the Aiel, those who channel are pretty much integrated into society and treated as trusted members of that society. They hold a position of authority, but not ultimate authority, and they are restricted only by their own laws, customs and traditions. Furthermore, probably because they are so integral to the daily life of their whole society, they find pretty much all the girls who can channel and almost never lose one to channeling sickness or burn-out. Oh, and I don't recall hearing of any situations where they are punished by stilling.

For the other two... The Seanchan, against a background (1000 years ago) of Aes Sedai with virtually no restrictions and apparently unlimited arrogance, pretty much find every girl who can channel also, but with a very different result. The "sparkies" promptly become animals (in society's eyes) and those who can learn become sul'dam, The damane never have any choice about how they are treated or how their abilities are used; the sul'dam, while they control the power of the damane, rarely have much to say about how they are used either. (Question: are the sul'dam property, or independent employees? I seem to recall people talking about buying a damane, but do they then hire the sul'dam?)

Then there are the Randland AS: bound by the Three Oaths (like criminals, according to one of the Forsaken), they are more or less tolerated, but (as someone pointed out earlier) society in general regards them with anything from deep respect to deepest hatred, and even where they are more or less respected they aren't really quite trusted. They have a fair amount of power and authority, and in general access to a lot more history and obscure knowledge than anyone else, but... Since they mostly stay in their precious White Tower, don't get involved in society other than at the "power" levels, and don't do any active recruiting (why on earth not???) they miss a VERY large number of girls who can channel, and their numbers dwindle perilously. (For all their vaunted "wisdom," why have they not made any connection there? Sheriam has this theory about culling the ability by gentling all the men who can channel, but they never seem to seriously go out looking for girls. Just look what comes out of the woodwork when Egwene declares the novice book open.)

I suppose it's just a writer's conservation thing, but in my current re-read I've enjoyed seeing how each culture has it's own unique contribution to the preparation for TG. The Windfinders and their weather affinity make it possible to break the DO's hold on the weather, and maybe a couple of other cool things. The Wise Ones and their dreamwalking make a HUGE difference in the ability of the "good guys" (or gals, anyway) to communicate, and inadvertently lead to the rediscovery of Traveling for women. The AS, of course have all their documentation and studies to draw on, and a fair few ter'-, sa'- and plain ol' angreal at their disposal. Even the Seanchan - not much yet, but I expect to see it at TG - have a special something: I LOVE the bit in WH where Alivia confronts Lanfear/Cyndane at the Cleansing... Four-hundred-year-old "knows just about every way there is to destroy something with the Power." Oh, yeah. Run, Lannie, run!

Sorry this got so long, but now that I've written it all, I'm gonna post it anyway!
108. michaelt
@99 (and others)
I think Ishy's statement that he was going to break the wheel of time yada yada yada, was, like the rest of his propaganda in the Dreams, 8 parts lie, 1 part boasting, and 1 part truth. Just like there are a whole bunch of wickets that Rand has to go through to get the "best" outcome, there are a whole bunch of wickets Ishy has to go through to get the "worst" outcome, i.e., break the Wheel of Time and remake the Pattern in his image. If the conditions aren't met for either, it's business as usual, and we try again in several more ages.

I believe that in the "best" and "worst" outcomes the Wheel of Time is broken. After all, Rand is destined to break the world again. If Rand wins, the Pattern gets remade in a good way, but if the DO wins, it gets made over in a bad way. Thus, the Last Battle, if won or lost in a certain way, could actually *be* the last battle.

On a side note, can anybody give the actual quote from the prophecies that say he will break the world again? I only remember folks saying, essentially, that since LTT broke the world, of course the DR would, too. Unless someone can show me the passage, I'm inclined to think that the DR breaking the world again is one of the false myths that are so prevalent.
109. boquaz

This is why I wanted more face time for crazy Ishy. I feel like he had a handle on this stuff. Hopefully Moradin loses some of his cool and we can get back to crazy rants which can be dissected for nuggets of deep backstory.
110. Wetlander

The Great Hunt, header prophecy, says in part:

Yet one shall be born to face the Shadow...and there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth at his rebirth. In sackcloth and ashes shall he clothe the people, and he shall break the world again by his coming, tearing apart all ties that bind. Like the unfettered dawn shall he blind us, and burn us, yet shall the Dragon Reborn confront the Shadow at the Last Battle, and his blood shall give us the Light. Let tears flow, O ye people of the world. Weep for your salvation.
Richard Boye
111. sarcastro
Rossage@85 asks:

Do channelers that are not born with the spark, but that can learn, actually slow? I don't think they do, but I don't think that either option is ever actually stated. Opinions?

Basically it I think it seems to be a little like this -

The Learners (as opposed to the Sparkers) only Slow once they start working with the OP. The Sparkers have this 'channeling node,' if you will (will you?), that is ready to flare automatically at the right age. These people tend to be Wilders in Randland since their ability flared up willing or not. Over in Seanchan, these are the poor souls who get snagged by the a'dam on that Collaring and Culling Feastday event they have.

However, the Learners appear to have some teeny-tiny, nascent little node that needs to be coaxed and cultivated to the point where they can sense and/or channel the OP.

There is definitely a threshold of development here - the undeveloped 'node' is present in the sul'dam (Learners), but isn't significant enough to trigger the a'dam initially (or else the Seanchan would make no distinction). Over time, being exposed to the OP their 'node' has been developed to the point where it will trigger the a'dam, plus bringing online other low-level channeler abilities (sense the OP being used , actually see the weaves sul'dam that Elayne was trying to 're-educate' in Caemlyn] etc...).

It would therefore flow that once Learner's 'node' has reached that low level of development the Slowing commences.

However, if a Learner never, well, learns, then I would think that she would just age and die like a normal woman.

But here's a question: - do the long-term sul'dam, who are essentially very untrained full-fledged channelers, Slow to the same degree as a fully-trained channeling woman of the same degree of strength?

MetaPoint - the intricacy and logical consistency of the whole Aes Sedai-Learner/Sparker-a'dam/sul'dam/damane concept is one of RJ's most excellent ideas and was very well executed, IMHO.
Richard Boye
112. sarcastro
To respond to myself -

I think that a senior sul'dam DOES NOT Slow to the same degree as a fully trained channeling woman of the same degree of (potential) strength or else the Seanchan might eventually notice that all the der'sul'dam seem to live, really, really long.
Richard Fife
113. R.Fife
Just a point of interest I thought of reading Sacrastro's grand unification theroy of spark plugs:

At the "test people" festivals in Seanchan, young girls are taken before a damane and "sensed" if they can channel. They do not actually collar every girl to see if are damane. Girls then put on a braclet to see if they can feel the damane, thus indicating they can become Sul'dam. This is why the learners are not caught, as the a'dam would instantly bind on any girl who can learn or has the spark (least, I think that is why RJ had it that way via Renna's desc.)
114. michaelt
Wetlander @110
Thanks for the memory jogger.

"... he shall break the world again by his coming, tearing apart all ties that bind."

Now, I'm not a linguist (like some of you), but the sentence structure here seems to imply that he will break the world again *by* tearing apart all ties that bind. Using the mathematical transitive property (which I know doesn't work the same in English) we could reword the prophecy (dangerous, I know) to say "... he shall break the world by his coming, tearing apart all ties that bind, again." My point is, is that while the physical upheaval of the Breaking of the World was extreme, the true loss was the destruction of the civilization and culture that bound the people to work together. The locals get their shorts all up in a twist thinking the DR will rearrage oceans and mountain ranges, but I think all the prophecy says is that the civilization and nations existing now will be radically changed and something new (better?) will be initiated. I see this as already in progress with the overhauls in the legal system taking place in areas Rand controls.
115. MattTwoTone
Just a thought on the damane/Seanchan...

I always thought it remarkable that, while most of us are horribly disgusted by the "leashing" of channelers, the damane themselves typically want to be leashed. Throughout the course of the series, RJ has shown us (more than once, I believe) that a damane freed from her collar is more likely to turn in her liberator than anything else. The damane themselves think they need to be leashed in order for the world to be safe.

Much along the same lines, male channelers in Randland have been gentled since the Breaking, for the safety of the world. I find it curious that a fate considered by female channelers to be worse than death is standard operating procedure for males, and that the argument by Aes Sedai for gentling of males is remarkably similar to that of Seanchan for leashing of damane.
Richard Boye
116. sarcastro
R.Fife -

Off hand, do you recall where Renna's description was? Is this the part in tGH?

I think my understanding must have been backwards, then.

I thought they collared everyone - then the ones who got 'snagged' are the Sparkers (and they are herded off and stricken from the rolls, yadda yadda). Then they take the remainder and place the bracelet on them - those who can sense the damane are the Learners who are taken away and trained as sul'dam.

Everyone else, who are neither incapacitated by the collar, or able to work the bracelet, is a Normal.

They rinse, lather and repeat this process until the subject class of women tested pass through a range of years.

...wait a second....

Here is the passage:

"Renna thought she was being friendly telling me about it. It is apparently a feastday in Seanchan villages when the sul'dam come to test the girls. They want to find any like you and me and leash them, but they let all the others(emphasis added) put on a bracelet to see if they can feel what the poor woman in the collar feels. Those who can are taken away to be trained as sul'dam. Those are the women who could be taught.

tGH: Chapter 46: To Come Out of the Shadow

Is there another version of the testing festival, or as I shall hence refer to it, the Seanchan Testival?
Melissa Miracle
117. elteescat
MatttwoTone: the damane are horribly brainwashed!!!! NO one in their right mind would want to stay in a collar like an animal!!
118. Aaron Bergman
I always thought it was pretty clear that using the One Power causes the slowing. Sul'dam and learners don't slow because they don't use the One Power. Blocked wilders slow a bit because they use some power. Aes Sedai have this process short circuited by the oath rod, but it seems to get stored up and released if they're released from the oaths. The Kin live a long time because they've had some training and use small amounts of the one power often. What's her name, the Damane, (Alivia?) lived a really long time because she was extremely powerful and used the One Power a lot. Also note that I think Aginor becomes younger as he uses the One Power in The Eye of the World.
Abdel Masdoua
119. TheDarkOne
Just a quick post to tell you guys that in my European timeline, it's 7:25AM and I just spent part of my night going through all the posts and various discussions going on here and I really enjoyed your insights (as well as yours Leigh, it goes without saying! Sharp as ever! ^^ ).

However, I don't think I can come up with anything to say for the moment because my brain needs to sleeps! *shame*

I'll try to do better next time!

Just a thought on the Seanchan though: you may hate them in the beginning and despise their way of dealing with channelers (which was my first opinion of them) but somehow - I can't tell exactly how or when, probably around WH and COT the first time I read them - I started to have weird mixed feeling about them 'til in the end I couldn't follow along that all firt-impression-of-disgust-when-thinking about-them thing!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm crazy about them, and they still got their flaws in my mind, but I've got to say that I see them firmly anchored in the good guys side.

Anyway, that's how I come to terms with the upcoming alliance part...

O.K, that was not a quick thought... ^^
craig miller
120. craigpmiller
Once again, Leigh, you have made fresh the memories.


In all this talk of a'dams and no mention of the nasty dual linked men's version that Domon should have consigned to the deep. (Slacker!)

Collaring is an ugly business. What may have begun as a "humane" way to deal with Channellers running wild, has become a travesty. From protecting the common folk to being used as a tool to maintain power. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Did I hear any complaints about Moghedien being "shackled" by Egwene's wi-fi version?

So evil is only evil sometimes?

I'm not sure, but don't all damane ultimately belong to the empress? So "owning" a damane/sul'dam would be more a lend/lease arraignment?

Man oh man, there are so many things I should be doing. :-)

But I'd much rather be here.

Cheers all.
121. gagecreedlives
I don’t like the seanchan’s culture but I find it hard to hate everyone in it. Everyone involved believes it is a fact that women that can channel need to be leashed. They have been taught this all their lives, so have their parent and their grand parents etc. And up until now there hasn’t been any external agencies to show them that they are wrong. And its not like the damane could rebel.

And as much as they have and will change the nature of Randland I believe their culture is going to be in for an even bigger change. Tuon the highest authority that’s left for the seanchan has the latent ability to channel and the world will find that out. I don’t think the aes sedai are going to be quiet about that fact. And her darling husband is about to go on a rescue mission to get Moraine and is childhood buddies with the amrylin seat.
I wonder how much influence Ishy had in establishing the Seanchan empire. He claimed to have sent Hawkwings army across the ocean.

Ron'al Doskam@75 “On the subject of the beggar vission of Min. I do believe that Ran in Winter's Heart enter the royal palace as a beggar and therefore fullfills the vission.”

I don’t remember him being a beggar just very ugly.

Rebecca Starr@96 “am I right to remember that a man dies screaming if he's attached to the a'dam if he's a guy who could learn to channel (I guess what would be a male sul'dam)?”

Yep that would be correct. Apparently the empress of Seanchan does that kind of stuff for shits and giggles.

Michaelt@114 I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in regards to the way Rand will break the world.
122. sinfulcasheew
76. gagecreedlive
77. Randalator

Thanks for the answer you two. Now it seems that that sounds familiar.

I am reading the last two books of the series.
I find that my most favoritist part is one with sweet, gentle Perrin.
I was horrified and awed by him in this part.
I know it is waaaaay ahead of where we are, but if it struck anyone like it did me, you will know just what I am talking about.
123. birgit
I also would be curious to hear theories on the Number of Chaos!

I saw this as an allusion to the Number of the Beast.

I looked at my German version again, and it has "die Zahl des Tieres" (the Number of the Beast). So it was the translator who made that connection for me. (I really should get this book in English, too. It's the only one I have only in German.)

"... he shall break the world again by his coming, tearing apart all ties that bind."

Some people (especially Dragonsworn) in Randland interpret this as a permission to break old oaths and follow Rand instead.

I'm not sure, but don't all damane ultimately belong to the empress? So "owning" a damane/sul'dam would be more a lend/lease arraignment?

Doesn't Egeanin say to Domon when they first meet that few people who are not of the Blood own damane, so she is proud that she has one?
124. RobMRobM
Leigh and all - I can't understand why so many in this thread are wigged out by the concept of damane. RJ has lots of incredibly troubling concepts littered throughout the WOT, including Aiel gaishin slaves (where it is clear they can be sexually abused in that role), Aiel despised slaves (who are forced to do endless pointless tasks), Seanchan diacovale (sp) slaves -- even Nyneave and the Women's Council physically beating men into submission in a traditional culture that prevents them from fighting back. At least damane culture, through dreadful, serves the purpose of controlling the ability of woman channnelers to destroy Seanchan society and its citizens. Not significantly worse than sending Galina and Suroth to lifetimes of abuse.


P.s. I've been on vacation, so I've only been reading and not posting.
125. Don, Iowa
@99 regarding the alternate worlds. I do have a question regarding them. In the first one Rand goes to, there is nothing alive there. We learn Hawking lost to the shadow in this realm and that some Grolam appear (while Lanfear is there, shocker).

My questions are: are there other human beings living in these alternate worlds? Grolam were there (I believe Lanfear did something to summon them myself), so there's a chance humans / aes sedai could be there also maybe? Finally last thought, if people were there, couldn't they use the portal stones to warp between worlds and venture into Randland?

@120 As much as I detest the Seanchan and what they do, you bring up a very interesting point. Slavery/rape is detestable, infuriating (as we've read above) and should not be allowed. UNLESS you are one of the supergirls and you are slaving & raping an evil person, a person who can do much harm to everyone around them, a person who shouldn't be trusted, a person with far superior abilities and could kill you before you moved.... Funny thing is the Seanchan did the EXACT same thing, yet we persecute them and put Egwene (capturer/raper/slaver), Nynaeve (torturer/raper/slaver) & Elayne (torturer/raper/slaver) up on pedistals and cheer them on later & wish them nothing but the best.

Double-standard anyone?
126. hoping to be of the blood
Don @125
Ah, the problem of magic in a world where good and evil exist. I’ll be real bummed if one result of the Last Battle is the eradication of channeling. Many fantasy authors have a final confrontation between the good and evil magic wielders, resulting in the elimination of magic from the world. I find it unsatisfying and a bit of a cop out. It would be much better to find a solution in which magic users co-exist with society and even serve. Probably unrealistic on my part, but it is my fantasy.
127. seanie
ID :
I disagree (mostly) . I think you have an interesting point but I don't think it is an accurate comparison . I don't think they have an easy situation (the supergirls , I mean)The ends justify the means ? No, I don't agree with that either . This is comparable to Siuan and Moiraine 's decision to go it alone pursuing the Dragon alone , who can they truly trust ? Moghedien is one of the Forsaken, by her own admission . They cannot easily turn her in , who can they trust ? And good they don't , seeing as several powerful AS in th council are Black (Delana, Sheriam) . She has it in for them personally , they lives are forfeit if she gets away . They don't 'torture' her like the Seanchan do . The Seanchan collar anyone that can channel innocent and evil alike automatically . Mo should be executed 10 times over for her many crimes . It would be better to turn her over but I don't see that as realistic . Distasteful as it is , I don't see a better option for them . And since they are in danger holding her , yes learn what they can .
What will happen to Semirage ?They don't have to worry as much of turning her over to the Black , Rand is the authority. A council of wise ones ? Cadsuane is not soft , but can she be trusted ? As with Asmodean , she has a chance at redemption . She is too horrible to take it , I think but , "no one is so lost that they don't have a chance to return to the light ". What can they learn from her ? Fantastic healing ...I think the Seanchan started off less evilly . The original collared were not very nice by what little we know of them . But they turned it into something else besides a harsh form of justice , they turned it into a source of power and control . *deep breath*
Wow - went from a simple statement into a philosophical abstract-- The full paper can be viewed at LOL *winkwinknodnod*
Yay , post day !
Arjan Brand
128. fikkie77
There's no proof of Sheriam being black. There's some kind of fog around her, but we just don't know whether she's black.
129. Dr. Morganstien
Funny thing is the Seanchan did the EXACT same thing, yet we persecute them and put Egwene (capturer/raper/slaver), Nynaeve (torturer/raper/slaver) & Elayne (torturer/raper/slaver) up on pedistals and cheer them on later & wish them nothing but the best.
The difference with the Supergirls is that they are directly defending themselves and capturing a proven criminal. While the Seanchan may have been doing that at the very beginning, they clearly are not now, since they take girls away regardless of their standing in society or the legal system. If they only "trained" people who abuse the one power thats a different story, but that isn't the case.

Thats my thought on the matter anyway.
130. Egglie
C37; Love this chapter. I would be really interested to know what Mat and Perrin experienced. I also think its significant that Verin has experienced the Portal stone lives. Some of her rather odd behavior later could be influenced by her visions here?

C38; Yes, this is Elayne at her most irritating. OK so she fancies Rand - no excuse!!!

C39; Its interesting that, other than the ambiguous Machin Shin issue, Liandrin never lies. She is black Ajah she could just make stuff up to convince the girls she is alright but instead she uses twisty Aes Sedai language which gives it all away to us the reader, isn't that nice of her.
I go with the concept that she is aware that Machin Shin is tied up guarding the waygates near Chairien and that she is also overconfident.

C40; I like that although this is a good v evil story there are other "baddies" who are not evil for evils sake. I agree that the concept of damane is horrible but I don't have such a strong reaction as some of you. I think the creepiest part is the way that someone who was a human being a moment ago is suddenly a powerless animal. Putting yourself into Egwene's position is a pretty scary thought.

I was kind of disappointed that the Seanchan have not fulfilled all the scary prospects I had imagined for them in the later story. I want to see them attacking the white tower and Egwene using her experiences to save the AS (as hinted Egs dreams) but its never come to pass and there is so much to get through in aMoL.

Semirage would make sense as the orchestrator of this little plan to send the two rivers girls to seanchan, but both Liandrin and Suroth refer to a Master so I guess it was Ishy.
131. Aneid
@ 130

Semirage would make sense as the orchestrator of this little plan to send the two rivers girls to seanchan, but both Liandrin and Suroth refer to a Master so I guess it was Ishy.

I too have thought about the decision to capture and use Eg and Nyn as bait for Rand. Ishy and the rest of the Forsaken are supposed to be the most capable of the Dark One’s legions. They have to know Rand is ta’veren and the pattern moves for his needs. I wonder if Ishy or whomever the Master is thought of that. You would think that dealing with the pattern itself is part of your over all tactical planning when dealing with the Dragon Reborn.

I do not think, if you are a forsaken, you walk away from confronting the Dragon, but it seems to me that the most successful Forsaken so far have been those that have respected the power of the Dragon Reborn and have schemed and attacked him via proxy.

I guess we chalk this up to keystone cop bad guys, which a lot of Fantasy Fiction practices. None of them are as dumb as all of them.
132. Lsana
@ 125 Don, Iowa:

I won't speak for anyone else, but I'm certainly not putting the supergirls on a pedestal. I am pretty horrified by all of the "slavery" institutions in the books, though the Seanchan seem to have the worst of it (and not just with the damane either). I don't like what happened to Galina and Suroth, despite the fact that they are evil. But there is plenty of time to talk about all that when we get there.

Moggy is a more difficult case: she's a forsaken, she needs to be removed from circulation, and there are a limited number of ways you can do that. No normal prison will hold her, keeping her shielded has a risk of one of the holders failing at a critical moment, and if you kill her, the DO can re-incarnate her. They don't seem to use the collar for torture, she actually has a reasonable amount of freedom to move around the camp. But again, we'll discuss it endlessly when the time comes.

@126 hoping to be of the blood:

Channeling has to go sometime. Not necessarily at this battle, but since Randland is our world in the future/past, sooner or later the ability to channel has to be lost.
133. aFinn
Couple of thoughts,

First is in the parallel worlds, the lives where rand just lives out his life happily, could he have been born without the ability to channel, or some other significant handicap in his ability to fulfill the prophecies?

I also noted the similarities with egwene's accepted test, and I wonder if what Rand see's is what the Egwene of that world would have done (actually killing or stilling him) where the Egwene of this world, having different experinences, made different decisions.

Finally a quick note on the Seanchan issue, Ishy influenced Hawkwing to hate Aes Sedai, which probably started many of those aspects to Seanchan culture. He might have even been responsible for ensuring they had an incorrect version of the prophecies and that they came back to cause trouble in Randland at the correct time, (signs that Ishy might have had Semi fulfill?). The point to this thought is that the seanchan culture is evil, yes, but most likely cause it was influenced by evil at it's founding.
Brett Michie
134. bchurch
fikkie77 @ 128

True, we don't know for sure that Sheriam is BA. There is enough evidence for strong suspicion, but not enough for outright knowledge. We know someone is using her, and if she isn't BA, they must have something powerful to compel her to do as they wish without turning them in. In all likelihood, she is BA, but we just don't know. The only Sheriam PoV I could find was in PoD and is just a half page at the end of a chapter, "Unexpected Absences". Anyone out there know of others?
Agnes Kormendi
135. tapsi
"Its interesting that, other than the ambiguous Machin Shin issue, Liandrin never lies. She is black Ajah she could just make stuff up to convince the girls she is alright but instead she uses twisty Aes Sedai language which gives it all away to us the reader, isn't that nice of her."

I suppose that's a habit partly born out of self-preservation. If she didn't continuously use the old AS technique of half-truths and omissions, it'd only take one careless lie and she'd be done for (remember how Pevara & friends try to track down the Black ajah looking for sisters who lie).

"and if you kill her, the DO can re-incarnate her"

Oh sure, but the Supergirls don't know that. They admittedly don't kill her because they want her to teach them, and that's all. (At least all three of them are disgusted with themselves about that.)
136. Lsana
@135 tapsi,

You're right, of course. The supergirls don't know that the DO is re-incarnating the forsaken at the time that they catch Moggy (partly because he hasn't done any of it yet). It's slightly off-topic, but have the good guys figured that out as of book 11? I had thought they had, but maybe that's just because the reader has heard so much about the new forsaken. Trying to remember, I can't think how they would. It's not like anyone is going to walk up to Rand and say, "Hey Lews Therin! My name's Aran'gar. I'm actually Bathamel re-born. This whole re-incarnation thing is weird, you want to talk about it over beers?"
Arjan Brand
137. fikkie77
No, they haven't figured that out. They might know there are new Forsaken, because of the Forsaken respons during the cleansing of saidin. They also know that one of them is a woman channeling saidin.

Would you have figured that out if it wasn't mentioned straightforward when Aran'gar and Osan'gar are instructed?
138. Don, Iowa
torture in itself does not exactly mean physical harm. You can torture someone by making them think you'll do unspeakable things to them if they don't comply, this type of torture did happen and was enforced by all of the supergirls.

Do I agree they did what they needed to to Mog? Yes in a way, they really had no choice in the matter other than just killing her, although they don't know she will be brought back by the DO, so the argument that she will just be brought back doesn't hold in this situation in their eyes. So they collared her so she could be held to trial at a later day (plus torture her for information and eventually claim they have re-discovered usages of the power lost since the AoL)

In the beginning the Seanchan did enslave the Aes Sedai and any other woman who could channel for the good of the empire as they were a threat. There is no easy and sure-fire way to link the collaring of Mog to what the Seanchan did as exactly the same thing due to the 'evil' factor.

If the ends justify the means, then Mog should have been collared no doubt. But seeing how the Seanchan empire, by eliminating the threat of another breaking (collaring Aes Sedai), may have saved all of their people and their empire. How much is one person's life worth? Would you enslave 500 people to save 500,000? This is how they look at it, and through their eyes the ends justify the means.

Personally I still hate them.
139. AyRon
RobMRobM @ 124

"RJ has lots of incredibly troubling concepts littered throughout the WOT, including Aiel gaishin slaves (where it is clear they can be sexually abused in that role),"

I thought sexually abusing a gai'shain is considered hugely shameful. I don't recall the exact quote, I think the abuser would lose all honor. I actually find the concept of gai'shain is a pretty interesting societal way to keep from losing tons of warriors in battle...honor is not lost from becoming gai'shain as opposed to dying. Therefore the Aiel don't have excessive population depletion from tribal battles. I don't see it as the same kind of involuntary servitude of the damane and da'covale (especially b/c it's not life-long, normally). It's also surely much better than most POWs are treated in our world.

It's already been said, but I think the difference b/t Seanchan slavery and the Supergirls leashing Moghedien is fairly clear. In less mystical terms, it would be the difference between jailing a whole class of innocent people because of what some among them might do (i.e., saying a whole culture are potential terrorists when the vast majority are peaceful) vs. jailing someone who has committed mass murder.

Unfortunately, I think the reason all of this strikes a chord is because we can absolutely see how easy it would be to slide down that slippery slope (people have already mentioned guantanamo). Plus, this has already happened many times in human history, not just recently.
140. Iracurt
Re: Fain & Machin Shin

Machin Shin reminds me of unadulterated madness, Fain reminds me of pure evil, you can't drive evil crazy, evil is already chaos by definition. Machin Shin probably caught Fain, realized there wasn't anything to drive crazy and got scared? Maybe learned about Rand from Fain, it sounds like Fain was obsessed with Rand during that entire chase, and subsequently Fain influenced Machin Shin to seek out Rand because of the overwhelming force of Fain's convinction to find Rand.

Could explain why Rand has trouble using the Ways later.

I see it more as Machin Shin is afraid of Fain or at least uncomfortable about him.
141. Egglie
a footnote about Renna;

The supergirls leave Renna and Seta with A'dams round their necks. A short while later Bethamin comes in and sees them, she doesn't rescue them but freaks out and runs away from falme entirely. After that another sul'dam (alwhin?) comes in and discovers them. She takes it to Suroth who decides it would be better if this was not widely known and promotes Alwhin to the position of her voice by way of a thankyou. (she is later killed by Liandrin in a misguided attempt to suck up to Suroth). Renna and Seta go back to being sul'dam but at the bottom of the pecking order.

Egeanin captures Bethamin in Tanchico and con-incidentally tries to restrain her with the a'dam thereby discovering for herself that sul'dam can be held by it. She eventually lets Bethamin go and becomes curious about how channeling works in randland as opposed to seanchan which is why she tries to get to know Elayne and Nyneave.

In Ebu dar Egeanin is able to blackmail bethamin into helping her and mat rescue the captures AS and Bethamin is able to blackmail Renna and Seta into helping too. Renna obviously overcomes her fear of being outed as marath damane and tries to run back to the seanchan which is when she gets shot.

So she would not even be in a position for mat to kill her except for the direct consequences of events in this book.

I think this is a very cool part of WoT where there is a big plot arc for a tiny character which takes 10 books to resolve.

Its not like Breane who as far as I can tell could be any high ranking cairienin noble woman who discovers that true love with a street tough is worth more than all the political achievements of the great game. She didn't have to be someone we have met before chatting up rand at a party. I wonder if the fact that Thom obviously knows some juicy gossip about her will become significant at some point?

phew. long post about a small issue!
142. Miximixi
‘My questions are: are there other human beings
living in these alternate worlds? Grolam were
there (I believe Lanfear did something to summon
them myself), so there's a chance humans / aes
sedai could be there also maybe? Finally last
thought, if people were there, couldn't they use
the portal stones to warp between worlds and
venture into Randland?‘

I think these other worlds are all shadows of the Randworld and have shadow people living out the possible outcomes, but because they are shadows they can not
1) know that they are shadows but can only like the other Rands feel that there should be more,
2) channel ‘real’ power to use the stones.

Loving the re-read and all the comments! Thanx Leigh!
143. jafco
Wow. Great story and the comments!

Still, not one "Oh, sorry 'bout that, Logain" in all the furor over the institutionalization of subservience of women who can channel in Seanchan. The channeling/sparking men in Randland and Seanchan (and everywhere else, I suppose) might as well be subject to the faerie meaning of "the great hunt", yet that doesn't seem to bother anyone here. (Hey they're just these guys, you know?)

Yes the men might do great harm, but so might the women. In fact they do, but it's not by means of insane outbursts of power, it's by insidiously undermining or overturning every leader and state in Randland.

Meanwhile the men - at least in Randland - are violated at least as badly as a damane in Seanchan (the Aiel men do it differently, but then they have different legends about their fate).

My point is, what's bad for the gander is bad for the goose.
144. Erdrick
Wetlander @ 107 said: "I LOVE the bit in WH where Alivia confronts Lanfear/Cyndane at the Cleansing... Four-hundred-year-old 'knows just about every way there is to destroy something with the Power.' Oh, yeah. Run, Lannie, run!"
Yes, Alivia was more powerful, with an arsenal of *angreal, but remember how things ended. Lanfear not only survived the encounter, but we also learn that Alivia's arm was "broken as well as seared to the bone." I'll admit it's not stated explicitly that her injury resulted from that encounter, but....

boquaz @62,
You say the Asha'man are "a much greater crime against the people of Randland than the Seanchan slavery." I'm not saying Asha'man training is all it should be (not even close), but the fact that the men sign up for this makes the comparison to damane nowhere near the same thing.

Don @ 125,
"Double-standard?" Seriously? Thanks AyRon (@ 139) for the great response comparing it to jailing people. Throwing an innocent child in prison for no fault of her own is absolute injustice. Does that mean I hold a double-standard if I feel murderers should be in prison?

Egglie @ 141,
Thanks for the excellent summary about the path taken by Renna and Seta. It makes it clear that (in this case at least) RJ was not just arbitrarily recycling characters. Great post.
John Massey
145. subwoofer
S'ok.........hurricanes.....I could of been married to a "massage parlor therapist" with kids from 2 different dads etc etc... then I would be enjoying the series from prison- resulting from me either going on a junkie spree or offing the wife- in between visits from my room mate bubba.
John Massey
146. subwoofer
Damane thingy.....the whole bondage thing really makes this book dark...reading through Wizard's First Rule series.... same kind of stuff... torture with no end in sight.... stuff that could drive a person crazy.
147. wsean
Late to this one, but there's an interesting parallel to real life I just noticed in the whole Seanchan conquering/collaring thing.

When settlers first came to America, various Indian tribes allied with them against other Indian tribes that they had grudges against. If the tribes had banded together, they could easily have wiped out the settlers, but instead they slowly killed each other off and got pushed west.

Similar to the Aes Sedai of Seanchan allying with Hawkwing's armies against one another.

Also, it's crazy how far-reaching were the implications of Ishy instilling a hatred of Aes Sedai/channelers in Hawkwing.
148. jaidee
with all the debate about the reactions to the leaching of channelers and its comparison to present day no one has mentioned people of black decent and the period of slavery and even present day. When I first read this chapter what came to mind is the reaction of an African as he was grabbed, chained and dragged onto a ship and taken from his home to some strange place where he was told that he was less than a dog. That if he obeyed and was a "good boy" he wouldn't be punished. My reaction was the same as Leigh. It's funny how folks can gloss over that and discuss the plight of the Jewish and others. The crazy thing is, there are still those in the western world, right now as I type, that still think black should be "leached"

Your reaction to the leaching in the WoT should be the same to dehumanizing of any group in history or present-day be they Jews, Blacks or Aes Sadai
149. Owners.Inc
Er, I haven't read all the comments, but the a'dam didn't affect me much. To be frank, I actually felt Egwene deserved it - she was really annoying, and this got her to shut up for a while. Not for long, unfortunately. I know this whole comment sounds flippant, but I seriously doubt slavery or any form of abuse will ever make me react as violently as it did to the Leigh.
150. Jenny Creed
Usually when I get angry at fictional characters, I think up arguments I'd like to have with them if I were their antagonists. So for your entertainment, my rant against sul'dam:

Please, tell yourself that you own me. Tell yourself that I believe that you own me. You have as much of me as you can take, for as long as you can hold me. And then when I'm free we'll see if you think you can take something for nothing.
151. Hicopno
This is my first comment, but i just wanted to say that the seanchen doesn't reduce channelers to animals.They think they are animals from the beginning, and they use them as such.When you have a horse, you ride it.When you have a cow, you milk it. And when you have a damane, you make her shoot fireballs at people.
152. gwencrist
lol its my policy not to comment when i am so far behind but i just had to add my 2 cents.

First, about 3/4 down the page I had a realization. I totally agree about the horribleness of slavery and everything but I wasn't so angry at the Seanchan as some people here.
But then I realized that the damane have absolutely no one to stick up for them. And that just made the whole thing much worse. I'm used to a modern world where every celebrity has a cause and every person suffering in the world pretty much has someone fighting for them.
The damane can't even do anything for themselves cause theyre so messed up.
And also, there can be no uprising and revolt of the damane. So basically if the Return never happened, there would be no end to the slavery. It would just go on forever. That realization might really make me hate the Seanchan, if i dwell on it a little more.

And lastly, about #148. Thats just scary. Comparing this slavery just makes it much too real. It makes me think that even if the damane are released, there will still be centuries of discrimination and horrible stuff going on. It would be like the damane could never escape from their slavery.
153. scott_swampy
As far as Ch40 gose i 100% agree. i am a guy and it still makes me sick, and i am on my 4 reread. this is one resone i have trouble with mats latter plot. Toun is of the same fram of mind!!!!!!!!!!
154. papertiger
Don't forget that this doesn't stop Egwene or the other Supergirls from leashing Moghedien for the sole purpose of gathering information on how to use the Power. All of a sudden the a'dam becomes a practical solution to a problem, so then it's okay? They have reservations, of course, but it doesn't stop them.

I know that wasn't the point of your post on the subject. You were saying that the institution is unforgivable for the conclusions it has reached. But remember that the a'dam--the technology responsible for the institution--was invented by a scheming rogue channeler. In that sense, the irony is magnificent.
John Morgan
155. MatrimBloody
I know I'm so far behind it isn't funny, except to everyone else, but I'm just going to keep plodding through this and comment as it occurs to me, rather than waiting until the end and unloading a pent up blob of stream of consciousness. Besides that I'm betting few glance backwards. Anyway.

What's with all the supergirl-bashing? Sheesh, folks seem to want perfection and complete consistency in all their characters, as if they have to fit some mold! If Elayne wants to go on an adventure, even though all her upbringing says she shouldn't, leave her be! Not to mention the Pattern is probably tugging her away from getting killed by Liandrin's other plot(s). I know people are commenting about her future escapades where people get killed - but to actually imply they're her fault, or that she should've known. I mean, really! That's blaming the vicitm if ever I saw, put the blame where it belongs. Now Elayne's story sometimes bores me later with all the seccession stuff, but it doesn't make me dislike her as a character. Try seeing her through Aviendha's eyes. Of course, the way the girls treat Mat (and many other men) is deplorable. Societal issue there.

On the a'dam slavery thing - torture and jailkeeper's methods aside as optional in both cases, is it really that different than a sophisticated jail? Are we as a society all rapers/slavers/other-incendirary-descriptions because we put criminals in jail? The things that matter morally are whether the captive is there because of some crime they commited, and what methods the captor is willing and able to use as a means of punishing captives. With those guidelines, as others have said: jailing Mogh via a'dam is a good and prudent thing, jailing "innocent" channellers because of what they might do is on shaky ground at best.
156. Mattman
I've been rereading the books myself, and I think I'm in the same boat as the poster right above me. I'll catch up, though! I think, anyway. I've been rereading at a faster rate than what the suggested rereading time is.

Anyway, I'm really here just to comment on the commentary of 40. I can definitely see what you're saying, and I'm definitely not an advocate of rape/slavery or anything, but by this point in the books, I really REALLY didn't like Egwene, Nynaeve, or Elayne. But let's focus on Egwene as she's the one enslaved. Through the first book, she was learning to channel, and what little she did, she used to pick on Rand. Rand, who had never been anything but good to her. And when they're apart, Egwene has an "affair" with Aram, but Rand does nothing of the sort with any other woman. The first woman Rand shows any interest in in that fashion is Selene/Lanfear, and it's unclear, but relatively assured that she's coercing him through a use of the power (we read that he feels really cold and goosebumps when she touches him).

So, to me, I think this particular event is good for Egwene. It definitely adds a firmer edge to her character, but at the same time, it also makes her less prone to torturing men just because she CAN. I think that's a lesson that most/all Aes Sedai could stand to learn.
157. gleeman
I'm surprised nobody mentioned the Towers of Midnight reference.

When Renna tells Egwene the history of the a’dam, and the Aes Sedai named Deain who invented it and brought it to Luthair, son of Artur Hawkwing, to help him defeat the Armies of the Night. She says that when Deain was collared her screams shook the Towers of Midnight.

Curious since that is reportedly the title of the next book following The Gathering Storm.
158. Felix Velarius Bos
Chapter 38
Oh, I yell at characters all the time. 'Specially in the Wheel of Time. Almost all the characters need quite alot of yelling at.

And for the entirement of Egwene's life as a damane I was also seeing red. It was just so heartbreaking, and I wanted to throw a fucking BUILDING at all the Seanchan for even THINKING that it was a good thing.
Stuart Wall
159. stuartalive
I must protest the standards of this re-read; how can a professional publishing house such as TOR Books allow their staff to include offensive swear words in their writings? It's bad enough that no such standards exist to moderate the posters, but for the staff? Unacceptable!
160. audiogasmic
No, I feel you on the damane chapter. I was so inexplicably, completely, overwhelmingly shocked and angry that I nearly threw the book across the room. It's proof of Jordan's good writing though, that he invokes such strong emotion with such an excellent reflection of reality.

And to comment to #159, oh calm down. Honestly, it's not that big of a deal.
161. Arila
I am just now reading all of this. I wasn't going to comment, but I'll adopt MattMan @156's philosophy. Others are late comers!! Also, reading all of these theories with two more books' worth of knowledge is funny. Verin as BA and who Morgase ends up with LOL!!

I see the damane thing as one of what I call (to myself) a Great Moral Debate. As in Minority Report, and other works I can't think of right now, the theme is to ask the question: Is it better to wait for someone to commit a crime against innocents and THEN do something, or if there was a way for you to determine their future guilt/intent/propensity/ability or even liklihood, and act on it BEFORE the harm was done, what is the moral obligation? Especially if this were magnified to the extent when you consider how many thousands/hundreds of thousands of people could be affected by a channeler's actions.

In nearly everything else, we endeavor to be proactive rather than reactionary. Build a levy instead of saving the money to recover from the flood, etc. However, when you take the same approach with other people you bump up against our feelings about individual rights.
William McDaniel
162. willmcd
Very well-stated and thought-provoking discussion on the question of "How shall we deal with the super(wo)men among us?" which many speculative fiction series leave relatively undeveloped. Superpowers are more than just a plot device to allow our heroes to solve every problem presented to them (q.v. Eddings, David); they have huge ramifications for society that are difficult to map onto anything present in the real world, where ultimate power derives from systems of authority, rather than genetics. And I echo the thoughts of others who were impressed that this didn't devolve into a flame war (though Godwin's Law did apply).

One tidbit that I didn't see anyone mention: I noted that in one of Rand's alternate realities (the one where he eventually became a queen's guard in Caemlyn), Egwene was noted to have died suddenly shortly before they were to be married. I read this as Egwene being one of those seldom-seen "3 out of 4" wilders who die because they channel unknowingly and can't control the power.
163. DougL
Heh, with what we discover about Verin later, I would think, no matter what Rand, Mat or Perrin experienced here, her and Ingtar had the worst time at the Portal Stone hehe
164. Rand Trussell
I totally agree with you here Leigh: The Seanchan need to be wiped off the face of the world. Any society that bases itself on the owning of other people needs to be ended.
165. Amy Farmer
I've been going over this reread because I love your Read of Ice and Fire and because I love WoT. I have 2 comments on this post.
First, after Hurricane Camille, my father was in the Army Corps of Engineers and was part of the government's response to that storm, so it is also a part of my family history as well.
Second, I also have that strong visceral reaction to the damane, sul'dams, and all the rest of the Seanchan nonsense. I hate the idea of collarring human beings. Grrrrrr!!!!!!!

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