Aug 10 2009 12:12pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Lord of Chaos, Part 2

Hey hey hey, it’s Wheel of Time Re-read!

Pull up a chair and get comfy, as we, at last, pantingly and with a stitch in our side, arrive at the end of the second half of the Prologue of Lord of Chaos. I gotta get those special marathon runner shoes, don’t I? Whew.

Previous entries are here. Please note that this and all other posts contain spoilers for all currently published novels in the Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, don’t read.

A note before we get started: I’ve noticed that some of you are asking about the timing of this re-read with regard to the upcoming release of The Gathering Storm. As “Wetlandernw” and others have pointed out, I covered this back in March when I initially made the decision to slow down the pace. That intro pretty much sums it up.

Though I am, like some of you, mildly disappointed that we won’t be caught up when TGS comes out (the estimate that we will be somewhere in the middle of A Crown of Swords sounds about right to me), I cannot regret the decision. I think that the quality of the commentary (which is the whole point, after all) has improved as a result, and even more awesome, I am mostly not dead of exhaustion and carpal tunnel syndrome. This is something I perhaps selfishly define as “a win”. And besides, there will still be more to come after TGS, and y’all will want something to fill your time waiting for the two after that, wontcha?

That’s what I thought!

So, then, let’s get to it, shall we?

Prologue: The First Message [Part 2]

What Happens
Faile ni Bashere t’Aybara holds court in the still-unfinished manor in Emond’s Field, irritated that her husband Perrin is not here to deal with some of the more ridiculous petitions that are brought to them. He avoids audiences like the plague, and disappears like “a wolf in fog” every time unless she corners him. Faile acidly dismisses two women fighting over Wil al’Seen for wasting her time, and then deftly shuts down Cenn Buie’s complaints about the influx of outsiders (and competition for his business) by pointing out that Cenn still hasn’t finished their roof, and maybe she should consider getting a tiled roof instead of thatched after all. She contemplates Perrin’s stubbornness over accepting the trappings and duties of a lord’s station.

Faile knew those things exactly, as the eldest surviving child of Davram t’Ghaline Bashere, Lord of Bashere, Tyr and Sidona, Guardian of the Blightborder, Defender of the Heartland, Marshal-General to Queen Tenobia of Saldaea. True, she had run away to become a Hunter for the Horn—and then given that up for a husband, which sometimes still stunned her—but she remembered. Perrin listened when she explained, and even nodded his head in the proper places, but trying to make him actually do any of it was like trying to make a horse dance the sa’sara.

After Cenn, she deals with a few more petitions, and then the four Wisdoms from each village enter together. Daise Congar tells her three more “boys” have run off, including Ewin Finngar, and Faile deflects this by asking if they want Perrin to speak to them about it, knowing the effect he has on them. Daise demurs, and quickly moves on to their real worry – the weather. It hasn’t rained in months. Faile points out that Perrin has ordered more wells dug (though he had only suggested it, actually), and the irrigation system she had shown them how to construct will be finished soon, but the youngest of the Wisdoms, Milla al’Azar from Taren Ferry, blurts that none of them can listen to the wind, but they all know this heat is unnatural; it should have been snowing by now, and they are frightened. The others are not pleased with her for being so open, but they do not refute it.

Part of the compact between noble and commoner, ingrained in Faile from her birth, was that nobles provided safety and security. And a part of giving security was to remind people that evil times were not forever. If today was bad, then tomorrow would be better, and if not tomorrow, then the day after. She wished she could be certain of that herself, but she had been taught to give those under her strength even when she had none herself, to soothe their fears, not infect them with her own.

She suits words to her thoughts, telling them that she has been amazed since coming here of the Two Rivers folk’s ability to pick up and move on no matter what disaster may befall them. She cannot tell them what the weather will be, but she promises that she and Perrin will do whatever needs to be done, and she knows they will do the same. The Wisdoms are embarrassed that she realized they wanted reassuring, and swiftly begin arguing over which village should have the privilege of making Lady Faile’s dresses; Faile gets rid of them politely. She goes to look for Perrin, and finds him on the third floor balcony, watching Tam and Aram spar down below; Aram is getting very good. She contemplates all the changes in the Two Rivers since they came here, especially of the two flags flying over the Green, one a wolf’s head and the other the crimson eagle of Manetheren, and thinks they have no notion of how big a change that was. She rebukes Perrin for treating their servants as drinking companions instead of servants.

“You have a duty to these people, Perrin. However hard it is, however much you want not to, you have to do your duty.”

“I know,” he said softly. “I can feel him tugging at me.”

His voice was so strange that she reached up to grip his short beard and make him look down at her. His golden eyes, still as strange and mysterious to her as ever, looked sad. “What do you mean? You might think fondly of Gwil, but he—”

“It’s Rand, Faile. He needs me.”

Faile had dreaded this, but knew it would happen, married to a ta’veren bound to a stronger ta’veren. She asks what he will do, and he replies that he will go to him, tonight after everyone is asleep. Faile replies that they can’t leave as quickly as that, they’ll need to organize an entourage; startled, Perrin starts to exclaim that it will be too dangerous for her to go, but hastily alters this to an argument that one of them needs to stay behind and attend to matters here. Faile replies mildly that they will do what he thinks best, to Perrin’s surprise.

Now it was only necessary to make him see what really was best. At least he had not said right out she could not go. Once he dug in his heels, she could as easily shift a grain barn with her hands as shift him, but with care it could be avoided. Usually.

She throws her arms around him, and wonders why the Dragon Reborn suddenly needs Perrin so badly that he feels it hundreds of leagues away, and shivers.

Gawyn Trakand circulates among the Younglings’ sentry groups surrounding the hill where the party of six Aes Sedai were camped, thinking that only Aes Sedai would wait until the last minute to tell a man what was planned for today. One of his men asks if this is really necessary, and Gawyn hurls a rock into a nearby shrub, showing there is an Aiel scout hidden in it, though he still doesn’t show himself.

“An Aiel, Hal, can hide in a fold in the ground you wouldn’t even stumble over.” Not that Gawyn knew any more of Aiel than he read in books, but he had read every book he could find in the White Tower’s library by any man who had actually fought them, every book by any soldier who seemed to know what he was talking about. A man had to ready himself for the future, and it seemed the world’s future was war. “But if the Light pleases, there won’t be any fighting today.”

Another Youngling alerts them to the approach of three Aiel women, dressed in bulky skirts and white blouses; Gawyn notes the one in the lead is much younger than the other two, and has her blouse unlaced to show “considerable” cleavage, but her eyes are hard. He watches them climb the hill to the Aes Sedai’s camp, and then resumes his circuit, musing about his contradictory actions during the coup, and his deep distrust of all Aes Sedai despite his decision to stay at the Tower.

Even with that, Gawyn had chosen to stay, because his mother had always supported the Tower, because his sister wanted to be Aes Sedai. And because another woman wanted to. Egwene al’Vere. He had no right to even think of her, but abandoning the Tower would be abandoning her. For such flimsy reasons did a man choose his fate. Knowing they were flimsy did not change them, though.

Coiren Sedai had finally told him they were on their way to Cairhien to ask the Dragon Reborn to accompany them to the Tower, and Gawyn is amazed at the apparent implication that the Tower intends to support al’Thor, especially considering how much Elaida (and all the Reds) loathed the notion of a man who could channel. Gawyn can hardly believe, either, that the frightened farmboy he’d met and liked in Caemlyn could have become the man who rumor said had hanged lords in Tear and ravaged Cairhien. He notices a peddler approach, and goes to meet him; Gawyn asks if he isn’t afraid of Aiel, but the peddler (Mil Tesen) answers that Aiel never bother peddlers. Gawyn asks him for news from the south. Tesen answers that there are “big doings” in the south; the Dragon has taken Andor, and their queen’s dead. Gawyn grabs the man’s lapels and demands to know if he’s sure; frightened, Tesen replies that’s what he’s heard, and that the Dragon killed her. Gawyn asks if he’s heard anything about the Daughter-Heir, and Tesen replies that some say she’s dead too, maybe killed by the Dragon as well.

Gawyn nodded slowly. Thought seemed to be drifting up from the bottom of a well. My blood shed before hers; my life given before hers. “Thank you, Master Tesen. I... ” My blood shed before hers... that was the oath he had taken when barely tall enough to peer into Elayne’s cradle.

He walks away, trying to tell himself it’s only a rumor, but thinking that rumors have a way of turning out to be true. He realizes he’s gripping his sword hilt.

Coiren and the others meant to take Rand al’Thor to Tar Valon, but if his mother was dead... Elayne. If they were dead, he would see whether the Dragon Reborn could live with a sword through his heart!

Katerine Alruddin (Red) watches Coiren (Gray) conclude their talks with the Aiel women, disdaining them as utter savages. Their leader, Sevanna, says the Shaido will ally with the Tower, as long as she gets to “see his face”, and have him see her, when he is defeated. Coiren non-answers that their service “deserves what [they] ask”; one of the other Aiel narrows her eyes, but Sevanna evidently hears what she wanted to hear, and Coiren escorts them out of the tent and to the foot of the hill with Erian (Green) and Nesune (Brown). Katerine follows them partway, and observes Gawyn staring off across the grasslands. She reflects that Elaida had sent him with the party merely to get him and his “pack of young wolves” away from her and Tar Valon, and Elaida’s further intimation that perhaps the Shaido could be prevailed upon to “eliminate the problem”. Katerine is joined by Galina Casban, who makes a joke that she should be Green if she’s going to stare at a man that way. Katerine is angry, but carefully doesn’t show it to Galina, who is the head of her Ajah, a fact not known outside the Reds. She asks if Galina thinks al’Thor will come willingly, and Galina thinks perhaps. Katerine points out that Sevanna will kill him if she gets the chance.

“Then she must not be given a chance.” Galina’s voice was cold, her plump mouth tight. “The Amyrlin Seat will not be pleased to have her plans disrupted. And you and I will have days to scream in the dark before we die.”

Katerine shivers, and thinks how she had only learned the morning they left Tar Valon that Galina, like herself, was Black Ajah as well as Red. She also thinks their orders to keep the Dragon alive make no sense, and asks Galina why. Galina warns her of the folly of asking questions, and Katerine drops it, but that doesn’t keep her from wondering.

Therava growls to Sevanna and Desaine about the disrespectful way they were treated by the Aes Sedai, but Sevanna answers that they agreed, and that was enough for now. Desaine is unhappy with the whole situation, saying that Wise Ones have always stayed away from Aes Sedai, and Sevanna thinks of how Desaine had spoken against Sevanna becoming a Wise One just because she had never been to Rhuidean. She thinks it is a shame Desaine has too many supporters to be “safely done away with”. Therava begins muttering about the old tales of failing Aes Sedai and being destroyed, but Sevanna doesn’t think she believes those stories anymore. She says sharply that it is time for changes, and the Shaido are no longer bound to the Three-fold Land. Desaine wants to know what they’re going to do with Rand al’Thor even if they do manage to get him away from the Aes Sedai, and Sevanna thinks that once she has the so-called Car’a’carn chained before her “like a vicious dog”, then this land would truly belong to the Shaido.

And to her. She had known that even before the strange wetlander man somehow found her in the mountains these people called Kinslayer’s Dagger. He had given her a small cube of some hard stone, intricately carved in strange patterns, and told her what to do with it, with the aid of a Wise One who could channel, once al’Thor was in her hands.

So far, though, Sevanna has not told anyone else about the cube, nor decided what to do with it. She walks on.

Morgase sits in a withering garden with Ailron, King of Amadicia, and pretends to admire the horrible topiary creations until Ailron takes his leave, promising to discuss her “dreadful problems” in the evening. She heads back into her apartments, followed by Tallanvor, who tells her they should have gone to Ghealdan, calling her “Morgase”. She whirls to confront him.

“On our journey, certain discretions were necessary, but those around us now know who I am. You will remember that too, and show proper respect for your Queen. On your knees!”

To her shock, he did not move. “Are you my Queen, Morgase?” At least he lowered his voice so the servant could not overhear and spread it about, but his eyes... she very nearly backed away from the stark desire there. And the anger.

He continues that he will never abandon her, but she abandoned Andor to Gaebril; when she regains it, he will kneel to her, but until then, they should have gone to Jehannah. Morgase thinks that she could ask Ailron for Tallanvor’s head on a platter, and receive it with no questions asked, but she could not afford to owe Ailron any more favors, and besides she owes Tallanvor a debt for getting her away from Gaebril. They arrive back at her rooms, where she bypasses Basel Gill and Lamgwin in the hall to slam the door in Tallanvor’s face. She opines inside that the world would be a better place without men; Lini concedes that it would be emptier, at least, and advises Morgase not to fret over Ailron or Tallanvor, as it “makes [her] face blotchy”. Morgase tells her and Breane that she thinks she will get a pledge of military support from Ailron in a couple of days.

“ ‘A slow horse does not always reach the end of the journey,’ ” Lini quoted, still intent on her embroidery. She was very fond of old sayings, some of which Morgase suspected her of making up on the spot.

Morgase answers that this one will, and asks Breane for some punch, but the woman doesn’t move until she adds “if you please”. Lini tries to return to the subject of Tallanvor, but Morgase snaps at her; Breane then interjects that she doesn’t understand what the problem is. If Morgase wants him, she should have him; Tallanvor certainly wouldn’t say no. Morgase is about to order her out of the room when the door opens and a white-haired but hard-looking Whitecloak walks in. He introduces himself as Pedron Niall, Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light, and reassures Morgase that he is not here to arrest her. Morgase asks on what charge? She cannot channel. She then curses herself for bringing it up; Niall points out that being Tower trained is forbidden as well, but says he is here to offer help. He sits down and tells her Ailron will never give her the help she wants; he’ll keep stringing her along, hoping that she will eventually decide “a certain sacrifice” might make him give in, but between the Prophet’s mobs and the civil war in Tarabon, he has no soldiers to spare. But Niall can give her five thousand Children to ride with her to Caemlyn. Morgase is stunned, and asks why he would help her oust Gaebril, and Niall tells her Gaebril is dead; the false Dragon Rand al’Thor now holds Caemlyn.

Gaebril dead? He had gulled her, turned her into his doxy, usurped her authority, oppressed the land in her name, and finally named himself King of Andor, which had never had a king. How, after all that, could there possibly be this faint regret that she would never feel his hands again? It was madness; if she had not known it was impossible, she would have believed he had used the One Power on her in some way.

She remembers al’Thor as a frightened country boy, but remembers his heronmark blade, and the fact that Elaida had been wary of him. She asks why Niall calls him a false Dragon, when he has fulfilled the prophecies, and even the High Lords of Tear name him the Dragon Reborn. Niall answers that he is always in the company of Aes Sedai, and he believes they do all his channeling for him, and of course the High Lords proclaimed him, after he had hung enough of them and let the Aiel loot the Stone. He asks if she knows that she is supposed to be dead, and that some Andoran Houses believe al’Thor killed her. Al’Thor has sat on the Lion Throne, though now he doesn’t, it being too small for a man. There is talk of Dyelin succeeding, but al’Thor holds Caemlyn in “an iron fist”; does Morgase think he will just give it back to her if she asks? Morgase is further stunned, for Dyelin would only be next in line for the throne if Elayne dies without issue, and she hopes desperately that Elayne is still safe in the Tower. She cautions herself that Niall may be lying, and she needs to try and verify the things he’s told her. She asks Niall for time to think about it, and Niall agrees smoothly. He tells her he will return in a day or two, and in the meantime he’s taken the liberty of posting some Whitecloaks here at the palace. He leaves, and Breane and Morgase dart for the doors to check on the men outside, but they come in first.

“Morgase,” Tallanvor breathed, trying to absorb her with his eyes. “I was afraid—”

“Afraid?” she said contemptuously. It was too much; he would not learn. “Is this how you protect me? A boy could have done as much! But then, a boy did.”

That smoldering gaze remained on her a moment longer; then he turned and pushed his way past Basel and Lamgwin.

Basel tells her that there were at least thirty of them, and they clubbed Tallanvor over the head when he fought anyway. He apologizes for failing her, and Lini murmurs to Morgase about “sulky tantrums”. Morgase knows she is right, and tells Basel that he did not fail her, and asks him to bring Tallanvor back in so she can apologize.

“The best way to apologize to a man,” Breane said, “is to trip him in a secluded part of the garden.”

Something snapped in Morgase. Before she knew it she had hurled her goblet at the woman, spraying punch across the carpet. “Get out!” she shrieked. “All of you, get out! You can deliver my apologies to Tallanvor, Master Gill.”

They all leave, and Morgase paces, debating whether the difficulty of ousting the Whitecloaks later would be worth accepting Niall’s offer now, until she is interrupted by a young, grinning boy in servant’s livery bringing in wine, and to her surprise kneels before her, calling her “my Queen”. He introduces himself as Paitr Conel, from Market Sheran in Andor, and says that he and his uncle heard that she was here, and thought she might need help in escaping. She asks if he can help her escape, and he replies that their plan is ruined now that there are Whitecloaks everywhere, but they’ll think of something. Morgase asks if he has news from Andor; Paitr tries to say he has to leave to avoid suspicion, but she insists.

Arriving in the Fortress of Light, Niall is very pleased with himself for handling Morgase so well and not even having to lie to do it. He is sure he’s right that Rand al’Thor is a false Dragon.

The Last Battle would not be some titanic struggle between the Dark One and a Dragon Reborn, a mere man. The Creator had abandoned mankind to its own devices long ago.

He thinks Tarmon Gai’don will be like the Trolloc Wars, and means to make sure the world is united to face it when it happens. Heading to his chambers, he ignores his secretary Balwer to focus on Jaichim Carridin, who Niall notes looks a little more stressed than previously, after his failures on Almoth Plain and in Tanchico. He asks if Carridin knows why Niall sent for him, and Carridin supposes it must be to wipe out the large gathering of Tar Valon witches practically right on their doorstep. Niall tells him the Children are not going anywhere near Salidar, and notes that Carridin seems strangely relieved even as he protests the decision. Niall believes that there is no Tower split, but that the “rebels” in Altara are merely so they can declare their support for al’Thor while allowing the Tower itself to disavow all responsibility, and he does not mean to turn this into a fight between the Children and the Tower; it’s a fight against al’Thor. He thinks that he had originally intended to use al’Thor as a goad to unite the nations under Niall against him, but al’Thor had moved far faster than he would have believed possible.

He had meant to let a rabid lion roam the streets long enough to frighten everyone, but the lion had become a giant that moved like lightning.

Yet all was not lost; he had to keep reminding himself. More than a thousand years ago, Guaire Amalasan had named himself the Dragon Reborn, a false Dragon who could channel. Amalasan had conquered more land than al’Thor now held, before a young king named Artur Paendrag Tanreall took the field against him and began his own climb to empire. Niall did not consider himself another Artur Hawkwing, but he was what the world had. He would not give up while he lived.

He smiles, thinking of his new plan, and tells Carridin that Altara and Murandy are about to be inundated by “a plague of Dragonsworn.”

In a chamber in Tel’aran’rhiod, Mesaana builds a domino tower to avoid talking to Semirhage, who is calmly doing embroidery, and wonders why Semirhage always makes her uncomfortable despite their being fairly evenly matched in the Power. Her dominoes collapse, and Mesaana irritably demands to know where Demandred is; it’s been seventeen days since he went to Shayol Ghul. She has gone twice herself, but the Great Lord appeared neither time, and there was only a too-tall Fade which would not speak to her. Semirhage replies calmly that he will come when he comes. Mesaana starts to say she is leaving, when Demandred arrives.

His hawk-nosed profile was handsome enough, though not quite the sort to make every woman’s heart beat faster. In a way, “almost” and “not quite” had been the story of Demandred’s life. He had had the misfortune to be born one day after Lews Therin Telamon, who would become the Dragon, while Barid Bel Medar, as he was then, spent years almost matching Lews Therin’s accomplishments, not quite matching Lews Therin’s fame. Without Lews Therin, he would have been the most acclaimed man of the Age.

Mesaana reflects that Demandred had despised the Dragon, and now had transferred that hatred to al’Thor. Graendal arrives moments later, and Mesaana reminds herself not to take the woman’s careless, foolish mannerisms for truth. Demandred asks if Sammael is coming, and Graendal airily replies that Sammael doesn’t trust them, and is busy marshalling his armies in Illian, and searching for useable angreal or sa’angreal. They all look at Mesaana, who replies that the Tower has wards and guards on all their storerooms, and count everything four times a day, and the Great Hold in Tear is warded by something too nasty to allow her past it, and she suspects it is warded against men too. Cairhien and Rhuidean might have something, but both are full of women who can channel, and that leaves only something buried in ruins, unless someone’s found a stasis box.

Graendal’s smile was all sweetness. “I always thought you should be a teacher. Oh, I am sorry. I forgot.”

Mesaana’s face darkened. Her road to the Great Lord began when she was denied a place in the Collam Daan all those years ago. Unsuited for research, they had told her, but she could still teach. Well, she had taught, until she found how to teach them all!

Semirhage murmurs that she is waiting to hear what the Great Lord said, and Mesaana asks if they are to kill al’Thor; she points out that in two or three months he should be helpless and within her reach. Graendal wonders aloud where Mesaana has hidden herself, but thinks it sounds a good a plan as any. Demandred gazes at Mesaana and Semirhage and wonders how much the Great Lord knows, considering where they have placed themselves. He says that this is to be kept among them; since Sammael didn’t show, he learns nothing.

The first part of the Great Lord’s message was simple. ‘Let the Lord of Chaos rule.’ His words, exact.” The corners of his mouth twitched, as close to a smile as Mesaana had ever seen from him.

He tells them the rest, and Mesaana thinks the plan could deliver them everything, but is apprehensive about how much of it depends on luck. Lews Therin had always been lucky, and al’Thor looked to follow suit. But she is even more frightened by the idea that the Great Lord had another plan beyond this one.

In a room with no windows or doors, a beautiful woman paces in rage and disbelief. The man with her examines his own face, younger than the one he had worn on first waking from “the long sleep”, and hates how ordinary it is. His old name is gone, and he has been given a new one, Osan’gar; the woman’s new name is Aran’gar. The names come from the twin poisoned knives used in a form of dueling popular for a while just after the Bore had been opened. Suddenly a Myrrdraal taller than any he’d seen before is in the room with them, and Aran’gar immediately demands to know why this has been done to her. The Fade answers that they were given the best that could be found in the Borderlands, and it is better than the alternative. Osan’gar sees she is about to do something stupid, and reaches for saidin to stop her, only to find there is nothing there, shocking him to the core. Aran’gar shrieks and launches herself at the Fade, but it catches her by the throat and lifts her off the floor. As she chokes, it looks at Osan’gar and tells him he has not been severed, but may not channel here without permission. It says its name is Shaidar Haran.

Osan’gar tried to swallow, but his mouth was dust. Surely the creature had nothing to do with whatever had been done to him. Myrddraal had powers of a sort, but not that. Yet it knew. He had never liked Halfmen. He had helped make the Trollocs, blending human and animal stock—he was proud of that, of the skill involved, the difficulty—but these occasional throwback offspring made him uneasy at the best of times.

Shaidar Haran tells Aran’gar that she will adapt, and Osan’gar demands that it put her down, thinking it had to obey one of the Chosen, but the Fade answers that it obeys the Great Lord, and no other. It asks if Aran’gar submits; she rasps agreement, and it lets her go. Osan’gar thinks her new body is “a fine joke”, and hastens to assure the Fade that they are grateful for a second chance. It tells them no one knows they live except itself and the Great Lord, and it is sure they will not fail him again, and smiles.

Good GOD that was long.

Perrin ‘n Faile: Hey, kids, welcome back! Long time no see!

And, well, um. Other than to reintroduce them to the narrative, there’s not a whole lot worth getting into in this vignette, except to note that now that they are mostly-blissfully married, the war of cultural misunderstanding between Perrin and Faile has moved to a slightly different front, that of whether and how to embrace Perrin’s lordening. I gotta say that while I can sympathize with Perrin’s issues, Faile’s got my vote on this one. But then, I’m in favor of anything that gains the Superboys an advantage, political or otherwise, so I suppose I could be considered biased.

Gawyn: Well, at least he acknowledges that his behavior is messed up. I still think it takes some seriously twisted logic to decide that your loyalty to your sister and your crush means you have to support someone you know they worked against (Elaida), but Gawyn’s engine isn’t exactly running on logic gasoline these days.

Also, the rumor-mongering continues, making everything worse. It’s funny how people’s minds work; even as Gawyn (and numerous others throughout this novel) tell themselves not to necessarily believe everything they hear, they still all go right on behaving as if everything they’ve heard is true. This is not a criticism, since as far as I can tell this is remarkably true to the nature of gossip in the real world. Which is why it can be so insidious and damaging. It’s actually scary how easily people’s lives can be ruined by one false rumor.

Katerine: Exposition exposition. Which would all be very interesting if I didn’t already know what’s going to happen. As it is, the only thing worth pointing out here is that Elaida may not be Black Ajah (and she isn’t), but between the “kidnapping Rand” thing and the casual way she would be happy to have a member of the Andoran royal family get conveniently killed, the only thing I can say is: bitch is cold. Sheesh.

Sevanna: is annoying. And has a cube. The End.

Morgase: Ah, jeez. It is so incredibly difficult for me to not hate her for the utterly insane way she behaves, both in her political decisions and in the way she treats Tallanvor and the rest of her party. But there are a couple of things that have to be kept in mind.

The first is that while all that business with “on your knees” and getting pissed that she has to say “please” to Breane and so forth strikes my modern sensibilities as being the most rudely high-handed petulant crap ever, Morgase is a queen, in a society in which disrespect to the ruler of a nation equates to insult to the nation itself. In that context, Tallanvor and Breane’s behavior is actually bordering on the equivalent of treason. It may seem ridiculous to me, but it’s a deadly serious matter to Morgase, and the fact that she is unable to do anything about their lack of deference represents a serious erosion of her authority, in a situation where she is already feeling helpless. People often behave badly when they feel cornered, and it has to be ten times worse for someone who has spent their whole life believing that their word is law.

The second and far more important fact to remember is that Morgase is a seriously traumatized human being. She has been repeatedly raped, even if she only realizes it subconsciously, and she has been subject to possibly mentally damaging brain-washing for months. In that context, her furious rejection of Tallanvor is owing to a cause far more serious than a concern over their age difference; that’s just an excuse. In light of what’s happened to her, the idea that she could approach Tallanvor’s interest in her with anything other than masked terror, manifesting as irrational anger, is actually unrealistic. And now I have to stop talking about this because it’s making me too angry.

All that being said, God I wish this storyline had gone differently.

Lion Throne: That “too small for a man” thing always kind of bugged me. I guess it’s taken as a given that none of the Queens of Andor will ever be fat, huh? Of course, as in most fantasy series (most popular fictional series of any kind, really) hardly anyone in WOT is even overweight, much less fat, except innkeepers and “motherly” types. Eh. Well, at least Jordan’s never done the fat, slovenly “slob villain” stereotype, not that I recall, anyway.

Paitr Conel: The Law of Character Conservation rears its frugal head! You may recall that Paitr was the twitchy Darkfriend whose nose Mat broke waaay back in TEOTW on the way to Caemlyn. And for all that, I almost wish Morgase had been able to escape with him, ‘cause it probably still would have turned out better than what actually happened. Sigh.

Niall: I would like to hit him. A lot. Though I suppose he is an excellent example of villains written right, following the truism that no one really considers themselves the bad guy in their own minds. As far as Niall’s concerned, he’s doing the right thing. And it’s also interesting that his thoughts strongly imply that, ironically for the guy in charge of what is essentially a mobile theocracy, Niall has lost his faith, which is a nice little bit of character development.

But that does not change the fact that I would like to hit him. A lot.

Forsaken Symposium of Evil Plotting, Take Three: Enter (at long last) Mesaana, who has the dubious honor of having the single most cheesetastic Evil Mwhahaha Line of the entire series thus far. I mean, holy crap. I burst out laughing the first time I read that. I don’t know what’s worse, the moustache-twirliness of the line or the terrible groan-inducing pun. Oy.


By far, the most shiver-inducing of the Forsaken, in my opinion anyway. She freaked me right the hell out from the moment she appears here, and she hasn’t even done anything yet!

Demandred: What a sad, small reason to turn to the Dark Side, dude. Not that this doesn’t mean it’s unrealistic.

“Let the Lord of Chaos rule”: As others have pointed out, here and elsewhere, the meaning of this line (and the plan accompanying it) has never been explicitly explained, which means of course that even today fans are still wrangling over it. However, I think that it’s clear that the plan involved, at the least, two things: one, that Rand was not to be killed (at least not by the Forsaken and their minions), and two, that the aim was instead to generate as much confusion and mayhem among Rand’s allies as possible. This at minimum definitely included the attack on Demira Sedai and the framing of Rand’s Aiel for it, to which we will be coming soon. (Well. Soonish.)

It has to be said, going by the rest of LOC, that in general terms this is by far the most successfully executed Evil Plot in the entire series thus far. “Chaos”? Shit. Understatement of the apocalypse, if you ask me. It is also a plan that (other than the not killing Rand part), seems to be more or less still in effect as of KOD. Unless Taim was just talking out of his ass, of course, but somehow I doubt it.

As far as who the actual “Lord of Chaos” is, well, there are a lot of theories on that. The two most popular, as I recall, was that it’s either the Dark One, or Rand himself. I don’t think either of these work, personally. The Dark One already has a title; he’s the Lord of the Grave. And while Rand may of necessity be the epicenter of all the chaos in question, he certainly doesn’t generate it (at least, no more than numerous other characters, and significantly less than some), so calling him the Lord of Chaos is really not very fitting in my book.

My theory is that no one person is literally the Lord of Chaos. I think it’s a concept, rather than a person; a personification of an abstract. Like Lady Luck, for example. I have no idea if anyone agrees with me or not. (Guess I’ll find out!)

Aran’gar and Osan’gar: I honestly cannot remember if I figured out that they were Aginor and Balthamel reincarnated by myself, or if I found it out from the online fandom afterwards. I’d like to think I was that smart, but I couldn’t swear to it in court that I was, so, yeah. There are enough clues to figure it out just in this passage, but only if the reader is paying really close attention, and additionally has recently re-read The Eye of the World. As I was charging straight through the novels up till A Crown of Swords, I probably did not make the connection immediately. Ah, well.

As for the reincarnating of Forsaken in general, I have to say I’m not a fan, especially not of these two. Bringing back Lanfear and Ishamael I can see, but Aginor and Balthamel? Bah. We have too many bad guys as it is! Streamline!

Aaaand I’m spent. Holy moly. Y’all have fun with this avalanche, and I’ll see you Wednesday with Moar. Laters!

John Fitzingo
1. Xandar01
Were medieval royalty fat? Interesting thought on the throne of Andor. As for fat characters, there is always Vanin, the best of the worst. :)
Greg Bloom
2. MuleHeadedLummox
"Sevanna: is annoying. And has a cube. The End."

Best Summery Ever. (The End.)

As for Morgase's denial of Tallanvor, I've always thought that this is some leftover bits of Rahvin's compulsion. It seems likely to me that he added some sort of 'you will not find other men attractive' command onto his compulsion. If she was just dismissing the idea to others, it might seem different to me, but even in her own thoughts she always comes up with some excuse to dismiss him as soon as the subject comes up. That always just felt like remnants of compulsion to me.
3. Lsana
I first ran across the "teach them all!" line when I was reading a summary of the characters, and I figured that it was some fan's sarcastic comment on Messana. I remember wincing when I realized it was actually in the book. I have never been able to take Messana seriously because of it.

I was really sad to see what had happened to the Two Rivers in this chapter. Yes, Perrin is a great guy, yes, him getting power is probably a good thing because he will use it for the right things (at least until a certain plot comes in at the end of book 8...), but I still don't like it. Our tough, independent-minded Duopotamians have turned into a bunch of wimps and sycophants incapable making any decision without Lord Perrin or Lady Faile holding their hands. I can't be happy about that.

I think I figured out who the 'gars had to be on my first read, just because a) Nobody except Forsaken is likely to be resurrected and b) Only Aginor and Balthamel were a pair. And yes, given the number of unresolved plot lines that the series had even at this point, resurrecting one that had been resolved by brining back two characters no one cared about in the first place was rather annoying.
Pete Pratt
4. PeteP
Gawyn appears to be suffering from lingering effects of compulsion, just like his mother. But Gawyn was not under as much compulsion as Morgase (nor was he raped or have his throne stolen).

Morgase is the most tragic figure in the series. I know a lot of people dislike her story arc, but I feel said for her every time.

"The Lord of Chaos" is most likely randomness in disorder in general. Though Rand's name could be short for Random.
Helen Peters
5. Helen
I don't have any problem with Breane requiring a 'please' from Morgase. Surely with her position she should be polite, mainly coz being nasty or snidey when no-one has the choice of saying 'no' is really mean and petty. I know you don't have to say please to your servants, but Breane's not a servant.

I really like Niall, I didn't want him killed off. Don't know why though.

And, no, I never figured out who the 'gars were. Well I figured out they were forsaken, but for some reason I thought they were Asmo and Lanfear, being most recently dead, with both of them in the wrong sex body, then Cyndane came along and I probably lost it. Which is probably why I found my original copy of KoD today, but have no recollection of reading it, even all the bits you guys write about on here, still not a clue.
6. MikeDeepo
"but between the “kidnapping Rand” thing and the casual way she would be happy to have a member of the Andoran royal family get conveniently killed, the only thing I can say is: bitch is cold."

A comment Elaida's Red Ajah blindness. She has afortelling that the Andoran Royal Line will be key to winning the Last Battle. Since she doesn't know Rand's parentage, this means it will depend upon Morgase, Elayne, Gawyn, or (arguably) Galad. She goes through YEARS of work to get close to Morgase and is seriously concerned over Elayne being out of her hands. And not only does it never into her mind that the one member of the Andoran royal family she can reach might be the one in the fortelling, she actively tries to get him killed.

The complete-lack-of-self-awareness-thing is almost as irritating to me as the whole not-sharing-information thing.
Marcus W
7. toryx
I'm not a fan of bringing anyone back from the dead, much less the Forsaken, but I do admire how those first two were handled, particularly putting one in a female body.

Now if only they'd be killed again.
8. Rand Al'Todd
Faile speaks of "trying to make a horse dance the sa’sara."

Bela has a great many skills. Dancing the sa'sara is only one of them.

Go Bela!!!
Bryan Schenk
9. Damplander
Wonderful recap and commentary as always Leigh! If only you could clone yourself and cover twice as much:).

I have always seen the statement of "let the Lord of Chaos reign" as being a non-literal statement just like "Lady Luck" so I agree with you on that.

Finally I just love how since the AoL was basically without evil as we know it the reasons for the Forsaken turning bad are so mundane. Come on we have a teacher, a musician, and a doctor, and a trader(Moggy) along with a bunch of envious(mostly men) people who all learned to fight against the Dark One then turned to his side when they couldn't measure up to Lews Therin.

How funny yet believable is that? mark one of for the great RJ!
Lannis .
10. Lannis
Sevanna: is annoying. And has a cube. The End.

BAHAhahahaha! Nicely succinct!

Mesaana's whole "I'll teach them all!" is a little too cliché and bitter, for me, but at the same time not unbelievable... just, strangely (awkwardly?) put, and it pulls me out of the narrative every time, laughing, picturing Messana's face lit from below and an evil cackle... oh well... "Cheesetastic" yes, excellent word for it.

Aginor and Balthamel... yeah, I agree with you there, Leigh... maybe it's their lack of screen time up until now, or perhaps the fact that they bit it early on in the series (and when Rand was fumbling in the dark compared to what he knows by this point), but I really don't feel they're worthy of fearing. Really, they're more like the thugs of the Forsaken crew...

Thanks again, Leigh! :)
Luke M
11. lmelior
I love these re-reads, but man, the seeds of all these subplots being sown here are really making me dread what is to come.

Also, before you gave your theory on the Lord of Chaos I was going to submit the very same one, except I was thinking of Mother Nature as an example.
12. WinespringBrother
There is a mention of the Lord/Lady of Chaos in the appendix of the BWB, where on a holiday called the Feast of Fools, the biggest fool of all is nominated as Lord/Lady and everyone has to obey their orders, no matter how crazy they are. For example, let's raise this half-trained accepted as our Amyrlin-in-Exile LOL
Antoni Ivanov
13. tonka
There is a mention of the Lord/Lady of Chaos in the appendix of the BWB, where on a holiday called the Feast of Fools, the biggest fool of all is nominated as Lord/Lady and everyone has to obey their orders, no matter how crazy they are. For example, let's raise this half-trained accepted as our Amyrlin-in-Exile LOL

And let's give her one of the most skilled and known manipulators as close advisor but otherwise we'll be pulling the strings.
James Jones
14. jamesedjones
Gotta say it. Favorite book, right here! TGH is a close second, but when you realize how many storylines are dangling out there, the fact that he is able to introduce the TAS and Shaido evil plot and resolve it in the same book is so much more impressive. Then he introduces the BT leader, the BT, and makes it a certified player in the world; again, all in the same book. (yeah, I know. I just use semicolons when I feel like it)

Let the Lord of Chaos rule. With all of the introduction and near-resolution in this book (I honestly would have been fine with the idea that the Shaido ran home to the waste after their beat down), it seems like the line from the quote at the end: "Order burns to clear his path" was identifying the Lord of Chaos. The forsaken might believe that they can still earn the title, but the line was from the fourth age. So it wasn't yet available to anyone but us. Seems like it would be the most reliable source for info. But that's just me.

And as for Elaida's blindness. Maybe she just puts too much faith in her own ability. She finds out that the Royal line of Andor is the key to defeating the DO. Great. Now she just needs to eliminate everyone in the royal line that she does not want to deal with. Pretty simple.

Nah, just kidding. This woman is not blind, but she's not willing to look beyond her eyelids. :)

Edit: for punctuation, because I care. :P
Tess Laird
15. thewindrose
I think you also have to look at Elaida from the perspective that she only thinks women are capable of ruling/pulling the strings. (And really, only those women who listen to her and of course herself;)
16. Lsana
@13 tonka,

I understand why the Aes Sedai are willing to let Suian work with Egwene. You have to realize that they actually believe their own propaganda. Therefore:

"Suian, one of the strongest channellers" = "Powerful political player, capable of manipulating any situation."

"Suian, the stilled ex-Aes Sedai" = "Completely helpless child who rides the short bus to school."

They really think that Suian lost her mind when she was stilled. I don't think it's even capable of penetrating their minds that Suian, who can't channel at all, might manipulate full Aes Sedai. Stupid? Yes. But stupid in a predictable way.
Joseph Blaidd
17. SteelBlaidd
I've always apreciated the way this prolouge gets us in to the heads of several of teh chracters that, I think, get unjustly dumped on.

Faile: Knows the job and does it and does her best to help Perrin get through the shift from non-entity to noble. She understands his duty to Rand and the world but I think she is uncomfortabel because Rand and Perrin dont have a formal relationship of fealty. In otherwords Theres no protections from Rand draining Perrin dry and leaving the Two Rivers unprotected.

Perrin's problem is that he's been droped at home where hes adjusting too new relationships with literaly everyone he grew up with and no new peer group to move into. A problem that won't realy get resolved until Faile's kidnaping, which gives him a ledership task that he cares about more than he is uncomfortable with his new social position.

Morgase: As frustratiung as it is to watch her self-destruct I have spent the last eight years dealing with similar emotional fallout from my wife's HS boyfriend. It's bad enough when youknow what happened and are getting the proper suport. Morgase is having to work through this with every one including herself thinking that she just has a problem with falling for jerks.

Gwayne: I keep seeing him as being in the same position as the poor Imp Sec Capitan told off to hold Miles's leash in the last half of The Vor Game.

It seems to me that Gawyne is having the same problem with dealing with Elayne and Egwene that Rand has with women in general. I.E. they are to be be protected and kept "safe" whatever they want. unlike Rand and Mat and Perrin and Lan, Gwayne has the least amoutnt of oppourtunity to discuss what his job consists of with anyway anyone, not his protecties and not anyone with proper experiance to temper and direct his decision making.
Antoni Ivanov
18. tonka

I know that, Lsana. I was just pointing out the irony.
19. JWezy
One good thing about the reincarnation of Aginor and Balthamel - their replacements have much more to do and produce more interesting results. At least they were improved in the process.

Can't say the same for Cyndane, though.

And Moridin? Well, we see more, we know more, but we are still waiting for the outcome.
20. SN00
Silly question prompted by @14:

This has probably been discussed already / elsewhere, but just to make sure there's a consensus:

The little lines / prophesies / lyrics that come from the "Fourth Age" (and the opening wind that some people would have called from an age long past) - does the fact that there even is a fourth age guarantee to the reader (all the fantasy tropes already guaranteeing this notwithstanding) that all ends at least reasonably well for this epicycle of the WOT world?

(By "reasonably well" I mean only this: the wheel of time doesn't break, dark one doesn't break entirely free and destroy everything, blah, blah, whatever the doomsday scenario is supposed to be that people who somehow mange to simultaneously believe in circular time AND feel threatened by the end of time are so worked up about in the series.)

I get that it's not supposed to be exactly eternal recurrence (and, in some way i don't get, isn't "guaranteed" to keep on circling through), but if there are indications within the novels themselves that wheel keeps on whirling around long after Rand & Co. bite the big one / retire into dream_world_village, doesn't that take some of the suspense out of the whole Dark One About to Break Free! worry, which I take it I'm supposed to feel at various points? Or would my forced lack of concern about the end of WOT days be due to my (non-WOT) linear conception of time? (In which case, why should the characters in the novel be worried about the doomsday scenario, given their ever repeated commitment to the turning and returning of the Wheel?)

Um..maybe it's just nap time.
21. Katiya
I rather think that Rand COULD fill the "Lord of Chaos" title, although I am more inclined to believe in the abstract idea thing. But anyway, the DO COULD have been referring to Rand, because I mean, how many people throughout the series, as Leigh pointed out, believe in these rumors? Every one, or nearly every one, of these crazy plots ends up being Rand's fault in the minds of someone at some point, which further breeds distrust. Even Rand, with his uber annoying penchant for blaming EVERYTHING on himself, believes that he is responsible for Morgase's death, for example, and eventually ends up blaming himself for his capture by reasoning that he wasn't "hard" or "smart" enough to see it coming. So yeah, I can see where the DO might have meant Rand as a literal fulfillment of that title.

In addition, the "Lord of Fools" tie-in works nicely too, because Rand ends up giving some pretty ludicrous orders based on events orchestrated here, and everyone goes along, even when they know, (way deep down, I'm sure), that it's stupid. Go figure.
Tess Laird
22. thewindrose
When I read about Aran’gar and Osan’gar on my first read, I had to go back and research because they sounded familiar. After I figured out who they had been I wondered why bring them back, but thought how they were brought back was funny. Also we have this from RJ:
(about the DO)
But he also operates under a constraint that did not exist in the Age of Legends. At that time, about 3% of the population could learn to channel to some extent, though not all chose to -- the training program took time, and being able to channel carried with it certain obligations that not everyone wanted to undertake -- but that still meant there were, at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of people in the world who could channel, and more likely millions. A large pool of possible recruits. Break a tool or decide it isn't working right and throw it out, because there is an endless supply of similar tools waiting on the shelf. That might be said to have been his attitude. In the here-and-now of the books, that figure is about 1%, and of that 1%, very, very few have any idea that they could learn to channel, much less have any training at all. Here-and-now, the pool of possible recruits is tiny.
Greg Hollingsworth
23. artifex
Thanks for another great post. I’ve finally caught up, woohoo.

Re: Lord of Chaos, I agree with Leigh. To me it is a "concept" used to distract the light side rather than a specific person. Though, when beginning the first read many years ago I thought it referred the DO.
John Massey
24. subwoofer
ahem Hi Leigh- not sure if that was an ode to Fat Albert- but I'll take what I can get these days.

And if I haven't mentioned it, I do have a thing for tall women. ;)

New female Forsaken is a knob.

Incidentally, Dark friend or no, Isendre gets a raw deal by the Maidens and I don't see many tears shed for her treatment- And Galina gets whooped pretty good too.
j p
25. sps49
The DO needs to recycle as many Forsaken as he can; he should realize their strength and skill is needed (although he probably doesn't). So-

Cyndane- I still like the suggestion that she was severed & restored by saidar.

Osan'gar- Unless he was balefired, he should be restored, somewhere. I know he was cautioned against failing the DO again, but he tried harder than most at the Cleansing.

Sammael- I know RJ said he was "toast", but does getting killed by Mashadar preclude resurrection? Is he hiding somewhere? Perhaps it was no impostor that sent Trollocs to the manor house.

And yes, I did read the March post re: pacing. I even alluded to it while referring to the upcoming books. I did not communicate my thoughts as I intended to everyone else, I'm sorry, but now I'm feeling picked on. (Is that the waaahmbulance siren I hear coming for me?)
Marcus W
26. toryx
SNoo @ 20:

I've pretty much accepted that the excerpts from the 4th Age are proof that Rand is successful enough that the Wheel of Time isn't broken, yes. I've actually used that as a sort of weak justification for the lack of risk I feel whenever I read about one of the main characters being in danger. It dulls the blade for me in a sense, but I just accept that not only are they going to succeed but that until the last book, at least, any dangerous situation the main characters get into will likely be resolved without their deaths.

It makes the series a little more fluffy bunnyish, but I'm still resolved to enjoy it.
27. SN00
@26 -

Ok, good, glad it isn't just me. (Small quibble: the main characters still might die in the end, but it won't be truly tragic or in vain - the mission ultimately succeeds, time keeps chugging around.)

Your ability to will yourself to enjoy it all nonetheless is admirable. Plus, I mean, come on, does anyone really believe that the final scene RJ dreamed up oh so many years ago that has been driving this whole series along is really the renting of the Wheel and complete destruction of the WOT cosmos? Naw. It might be a dark/sad ending, but I doubt even he has the stomach to end on THAT big a downer. So maybe it won't be TOO fluffy-bunnyish..only a couple rainbows and puppies at the end. Small ones. And slightly ill-shaped (for grit).
James Jones
28. jamesedjones
20 SNoo and 26 toryx

Well, red herrings aside, I was convinced by RJ's expressed idea of a follow-up book to tell the story of Mat and Tuon returning to Seanchan to fix the mess over there.
Marcus W
29. toryx
jamesedjones @ 28:

I've been pretty shocked that RJ ever actually admitted to planning something like the Outrigger stories and didn't believe it for the longest time. I've still never bothered to confirm if it's true because I really don't want to know.

SNoo @ 27:

I started reading WoT when EotW was first published and I was young and inexperienced enough with Fantasy that it never crossed my mind that Rand might not be successful. I always assumed that he would end, even before the 4th Age excerpts and the disappointing realization that no one that significant was likely to get killed.

RJ has said that not everyone would survive the final battle but I've always believed that Rand, Mat and most likely Perrin will make it.

It's only after reading other fantasy and seeing situations where things don't always work out in the end and that in some novels, *gasp* people die, that I started feeling a little bit disappointed with WoT in comparison.

Ultimately, I enjoy the world of WoT and most of the characters fighting to preserve it enough to be patient through all the books and occasional disappointments. I decided years ago that I'd stick it through, if only because I'd already devoted so much of my life to it.

Having said that, when RJ died I also grieved for the characters and the story we'll never get. For a while I seriously considered not reading any remaining books published by someone else.

I have more faith in Brandon Sanderson now than I used to but I still grieve for the book(s) we'll never get to read.
Anthony Pero
30. anthonypero
@4th Age Quotes:

Really? There's REALLY people on here that honestly think a fantasy novel would end with the good guys losing, the Wheel being broken, and the DO triumphing, completely, if it wasn't for some 4th Age quotes, because, dudes, that's the ONLY way there wouldn't be a fourth age.

Even the Disaster of the end of the AoL left room for a 3rd Age.
Anthony Pero
31. anthonypero
RE: Let the Lord of Chaos Rule...

I always assumed the Lord of Chaos was a reference to Jordan's distain for an outline. Yeah, let the plot write itself and see what happens... in 20 years. ;)
32. SN00
@30 -

It's one thing to know (via experience, intuition, all sorts of extra-book sources) that of course he's not writing some grotesque tragedy.

It's another matter for an author to mention in the first paragraph of the first chapter of...many..books on the subject states something that tells the reader that, yes indeed, all ends at least mildly well for this world. Any angst you might try to muster, I the author assure you at the outset, is entirely in vain.

*Of course* I never doubted it - but it's still odd that the *author himself* would directly bring about my inability to suspend disbelief on this point in the first non-prologue sentence. (Imagine Tolkien starting out by saying something like (or which entails), "Well, we all know this world-threatening power comes to nothing the end, but, anywho, ever heard of a hobbit? Well!")
James Jones
33. jamesedjones
32 SNoo

"Well, we all know this world-threatening power comes to nothing the end, but, anywho, ever heard of a hobbit? Well!"

OMG I'm laughing so hard, I'm sitting here with tears rolling down my face at work. Mainly because, yeah, I'd be thinking "WTF? A Hobbit?" and be sitting down with the book and a bag of m&ms. :D
Alice Arneson
34. Wetlandernw
Leigh, I just had to say (even before reading the comments) that as I read through the commentary I kept going "yeah, I'm with you there" "so right" "I for one agree" and so on. As far as I'm concerned, you hit a lot of nails squarely on their little heads with this one.

Gotta say, too, that I REALLY don't envy you trying to recap this beast (the prologue). Lots and lots and lots of words, and while not much actually happens, it's tough to condense all the info. Better you than me! Appreciate your efforts.
Anthony Pero
35. anthonypero

Funny, but my point still stands... there's no need to suspend your disbelief in regards to the world going on. What would be the point of writing that book?

The point isn't "do the good guys win." We all know they do. Pretending anything else is just... wierd. The question is, "At what cost?"

The 4th Age quotes do nothing to lesson the tension of that question.
John Pigott
36. AbEnd
As long as it doesn't end with an Ewok picnic!
Anthony Pero
37. anthonypero
lol, the partying at the end of the '97 rerelease is worse.
38. Herr_Flick

Didn't she in fact "teach them all"?

I think she corrupted a whole generation of children or something.
Haven't got the big book etc with me.
Alice Arneson
39. Wetlandernw
anthonypero @35

The point isn't "do the good guys win." We all know they do. Pretending anything else is just... wierd. The question is, "At what cost?"

Thank you for making that point. I've always found the question of "do the good guys win" a very strange one for a work of fiction. I know it's a vogue-y thing right now to be grim and kill off the good guys left right and center, but it always seems so self-concious to me. "Everyone assumes that the good guys win and survive the ending, so I have to be different and moody and emo and kill off as many as I can." Bleah.

Personally, I read for a) entertainment b) information or c) food for thought. Once in a while a book contains all three, but that's really pretty rare. When I pick up a work of fiction, I'm mostly after a) and maybe c). So call me shallow, but I don't find grim, dark and gloomy all that entertaining. If that's what I wanted, I could just watch the evening news and go stick my head in the toilet afterwards. What makes a work of fiction worth the read is the journey to answer that question: "at what cost?"

More on this later, I hope, in a more specifically WoT-related context... Right now I have a small boy who's been playing in the wet grass and needs some dry duds. Oh, boy.
Anthony Pero
40. anthonypero
Well, I still think main characters can die left and right... everything you know can be tipped over and poured out... but in the end, the main characters need to accomplish their objective, or a story is rudderless.

In more complex stories, the main character can misunderstand his or her objective, thereby not completing it, but in that case, the point of the story is the growth of the character, and the "internal" journey that they embark on. The point is, in a story like the WoT, there's really no question about what the objective of the story is: save the world from the DO.

So, how could anyone think for even one minute that that is not going to happen? It's the price of that success that adds suspense to the plot. And in the WoT, the very first prolouge shows what the price was the LAST time the DO got free.

So that's the set-up for the suspense. What horrible thing will go wrong for the main characters this time around? Hopefully not mad channelers killing everyone and breaking the world beyond recognition, destroying societies, and throwing everyone back to the Dark Ages.
Jason Lyman
41. jlyman
@35 anthonypero

The question is, "At what cost?"

And "How?" That's mostly why I read. The "how" is usually more interesting than the "if." We all knew Anakin would become Darth Vader, so why did we all pay our hard-earned cash to see the movies? It's the how that gets us. Even if sometimes it doesn't agree with what we have already imagined.

@36. AbEnd

As long as it doesn't end with an Ewok picnic!

Who would eat one of those cute Ewoks? That's just gross!

@39. Wetlandernw

Maiane Bakroeva
42. Isilel
OK, I have to say that the whole disempowerment of Dupotamians and subservience to "Lord and Lady" rubs me wrong.
I am not one of those people who want to see a revolution in any fantasy book with feudal system, but come on - Two Rivers has a strong tradition of a functioning self-government. All they need is slightly more organization and a good militia. Hey, it worked for the Swiss, right? So, yea, I have no sympathy for Faile here.

Also, IRL if a noble wanted to do something menial, they did, without everybody fainting around them or preventing them. So, poor Perrin who has to deal with all this aggravation for nothing.
And what about all those famous Roman leaders who saved the Republic and then went back to growing turnips?

Gawyn: I really hope that Mesaana Compulsed the heck out of him, cause his motivations make no sense. Yep.

Elaida: sheesh, woman, you have watched Gawyn being _born_. You were almost a member of the family and a mentor. You owe the kid your stole and likely your head.
And the Foretelling is about a House - not any one person, so there is a good reason to think that all/most of them could be involved.
Being a Red isn't an excuse for this complete dastardy and idiocy either, as we will soon see.

Sevanna - she edges even Elaida out for my most hated evil but not DF female character. And yet both of them are quite realistic, sadly...

Morgase - yes, I have the greatest sympathy for her. She can't really trust herself anymore as from all that she knows the whole mess she and Andor are in is completely her own fault.
Pretty confidence-destroying and it and possibly also after-effects of Compulsion do damage her decision-making drastically.
Still, her lengthy and depressing storyline had no real payoff so far, IMHO.
Anthony Pero
43. anthonypero
The Two Rivers folks are being forced to join the Wider World now, with the influx of refugees, and all the new trade stuff they are going to have.

Not to mention the big huge war about to descend on everyone.

Their current system of government is not exactly suited to the kind of rapid societal development they are about to go through. It would be too unwieldy on a large scale, and wouldn't be able to respond quickly enough to the changes that are being thrown at it.
Maiane Bakroeva
44. Isilel
@43 - the Swiss or for that matter ancient Rome managed all these things without having an autocratic ruler. That would have been a more natural development for TR, IMHO.
Anthony Pero
45. anthonypero
It's the speed that's the factor, here, Isilel. They are going to have to change in a matter of months and years, not develop over decades and centuries.
46. mityorkie
Also like the to-the-point Sevanna summary.

Would this style be too much to ask for re: the ultra-slo-mo chase that is to come?
"Berelain flirts. Perrin stews. Random DO influence is seen."
Anthony Pero
47. anthonypero
Aparently no one really wants to talk about this prolouge very much, lol... or else WoTers have more of a life than we're given credit for ;) Well, not me, but y'all!
Joseph Blaidd
48. SteelBlaidd
Regarding TR political structure. One of th main reasons Perren is effectively declared Lord of the TR by acclaim is that it is a Political structure that the Duopotamians are familiar with, at least by hear say. Nowhere in the last 300 years is there record of a republic of any kind so they don't have a model of democracy on a beyond the village scale. And they have no ideological attachment to it so they have no reason to try to extend the theoretical frame work. Especial not in the midst of a shooting war.

In fact one could wonder why there isn't an already resident Lord in the area. To which I would answer that the Crown has been very careful to keep any one with ideas in that direction from becoming such. They are to close to the mMajor mining area of Baerlon and it would be far to easy for a TRs Lord to decide to be King of his own little kingdom.
Rikka Cordin
49. Rikka
I actually don't mind Niall anywhere as near as much as some of the other Whitecloaks and I think they could have done a much worse job in choosing a leader. Course, as they represent half of the fanatics in this series, (other half being the followers of Masema) it feels a bit wrong to admit that any of them have any decent qualities. The whole... willful ignorance thing is always difficult to get around.

There is a mention of the Lord/Lady of Chaos in the appendix of the BWB, where on a holiday called the Feast of Fools, the biggest fool of all is nominated as Lord/Lady and everyone has to obey their orders, no matter how crazy they are.

Sounds a bit like choosing a Lord of Misrule on Xmas, which comes from the Roman celebration of Saturnalia where slaves and servants would switch positions with their masters for a day and everyone would get stone drunk. Sounds like a party...

anyway, classics geekout moment over.
craig thrift
50. gagecreedlives
Seriously Faile all your man wants to do is have an ale and a smoke with some old friends and you have to be all nag nag nag.

I really did enjoy reading Nialls PoV. It’s a pity he died I would of really loved to have seen one of the great captains go against the seanchan. And I know we did KoD but that was only brief.
Pete Pratt
51. PeteP
Isilel @42. Wow, you and I actually agree on a number of points. Oh, well, on to disagreements:

Romans only had their "Republic" until they expanded their power. Once they expanded, it effectively became an oligarchy (though it was largely ruled by the aristocracy from the beginning -- hence patricians and plebes and the rise of the tribunes as a counterbalancing force).

For the last 100 years or so of the Republic (from time of the Punic Wars really), it had largely ceased to be a functioning republic, but merely a battle between elite factions. The death of the Gracchi was one of the examples of the failure to change the system.

The elites did not go back to raise turnips -- they had slaves to do it. Armies were no longer citizen-gentlemen, hence the reward for 25 years service of land.

For a nice series of this period, see Colleen McCollough's First Man in Rome series. It is long and detailed (not a problem for any WoT fan), but really gives a nice fictional version of the events leading to the rise of Augustus.
John Massey
52. subwoofer
Forgot that this was prologue part deux day otherwise would of gone off on chapter one but ah well. Dems da breaks.

A few things grabbed me right off.

Sevanna is so not Aiel. Flashing cleavage, bangles and generally being vain is very non-Aiel and non-Wise Oneish. What on God's green earth was her husband thinking when he married her.

Therava is very Aiel like and Wise Oneish, even for a Shaido.

Galina-douche. Scary douche, but a douche none the less. In my first read of this series I glossed over the whole Galina being highest of the Reds, and hot $#!t of the BA- go figure, there are books out there not as long as this prologue. My second go around, knowing her doucheness, I clued in right away- yeee! Gives me the hebbie jebbies seeing her name in print for the first time in this book.

Niall- has the intentions- just going to hell for it and his mindset about AS.

He does bring up an interesting point about Hawkwing. No trust with AS and is a man of legend and united the world to a level not seen since. Maybe he had something there. For all of this and going through the series, does Rand ever get the backing of the Tower? Either side? Openly? He makes random AS swear and oath of fetalty to him, but is he looking for anything beyond that? Or is his distrust of AS so great now that he is like Hawkwing?

edit- just read a few posts about Ewok picnics. LOL. Reminds me of an acronym for an old army buddy of mine- MIKE- My Intestines Kill Ewoks. Ahhhh memories...

edit... some more... Thought the Lion Throne had no bearing on fat women. Thought it had more to do with the lion part of the throne. The head or something stuck out and made it seriously uncomfortable for a man- who is traditionally taller- to sit without scarring his scalp.
John Massey
53. subwoofer
@lmelior- I agree I remember back at book four-TSR- reading the prologue- and realizing with all this stuff spun out that there is not way RJ was finishing this by the end of the book- same went for the next book. Whipped through and thought there would be an end but this book with this prologue and with RJ's famous -write until they put the nails on my coffin- bit I figured we were in for 20. With each prologue came more threads to wrap up, no resolution in sight. Poopy.

edit- Let the Lord of Chaos Rule- saw that and really didn't think much of it. There are all sorts of battle cries and such, I figured it was like Baby needs a new pair of shoes or some such. There is no kid and they don't need shoes but there you have it. The Dark One rolled craps.

-@wetlandernw- did you make your husband change his clothes?;)
54. Freelancer
RE: Two Rivers folk taking a Lord

Realize that this started with Perrin talking the folks on isolated farms into leaving those homes and gathering in the larger villages. Certainly a ta'veren influence was involved, but that was the foundation. After saving the Luhans and Cauthons from the whitecloaks, and taking the young men Trolloc hunting, those farmfolk realized that Perrin's decisions saved many lives.

Another tipping point is that the whitecloaks want Perrin hanged as a Darkfriend and a murderer. The locals aren't about to allow it for many reasons, not least of which is that he's currently the biggest hero they know, as well as in sympathy for the loss of his entire family. They rally around Perrin in support, adding to the growing momentum to accept him as their leader.

Instantly the villages have more than doubled in size, and moreso once the refugees begin arriving. Having four separate and similar sets of village councils and women's circles isn't adequate to manage things.

Faile cannot be left out of the equation. She stirs the pot in all the right places, her courtly acumen having its desired affect on the people.

Oh, and lest we forget, Moiraine's empassioned story about Manetheren, King Aemon, and Queen Ellisande probably planted a seed as well.

So the local hero, the man of action, is the logical as well as emotional choice to be the leader of this revised and enlarged region. They can't call him mayor, each village already has one. They can't call him governor, it isn't appropriate. But the history of this land knows what a local lord is, and it fits.

The people of the land feel no desire nor demand to consult with the national ruler on the matter, as they have been left to their own ways, their own troubles and their own solutions for decades, and hardly consider themselves subject to Caemlyn's authority.

Sorry, Perrin, but TAG!, you're it.
Anthony Pero
55. anthonypero
Ok, not sure why I said this was my favorite book in the series, so far it's been 20 pages of awesome and 300 pages B-O-R-I-N-G.

I think the good parts are all in the last 300 pages. I hope. They better be.
James Jones
56. jamesedjones
55 Anthonypero

Just wait until we get to Mat.

...and Olver!
John Massey
57. subwoofer
I dunno, I think Perrin has to learn the art of getting his wife to lower her expectations. He's a newlywed. Faile is thinking that Perrin's Ta'vereness and wolfness is such hot stuff, she wants to give him a honeydo list a mile long. Give her some space, drink and putz around with some of the locals. Be a regular guy. In a bit when Faile realizes that her husband is a simple guy she won't be so demanding. Then when Perrin does something special, Faile will be that much more impressed...

Er, this is just a theory mind you. Not that I actually subscribe to this philosophy in real life myself...

-the Mat and Salidar thing was grinding- so many demanding and imperious AS- When they get to ED Mat lights it up.

edit- Woof.
Abraham Park
58. Abe

You can also add this bit provided by Lord Bashere,

"Boy, the Creator never made the Houses. Some forget it, but go far enough back in any House, and you'll find a commoner who showed uncommon courage or kept his head and took charge when everybody else was running around like plucked geese."

lanyo lanyo
59. lanyo
I think I hate to read about Morgase simply because she is so pitiable. You can't not feel sorry for her, but I don't want to feel bad for her. I want to read the exciting and funny parts. Her sad and ruined life kinda spoils my fun, which I refuse to feel bad about, cuz she's not real.

I would eat ewoks. I'm the only vegetarian I know who'll try anything once.
john mullen
60. johntheirishmongol
Can someone please kill Gawyn so that I don't have to read about him anymore. Not only is he stupid, he isn't even consistent. Jeez, what a doof.

Next, why the heck isn't it being announced who the Forsaken are as soon as they are identified?? How much busier would it keep Sammael if it was announced that he was in Illian??? He would have to keep an eye on his back all the time cuz everyone knows that the Forsaken are the bad guys. Or why not announce that Gaebril was actually Rahvin? Then Rand doesn't get the blame for killing Morgase but credit for being the Dragon. Who the heck is doing the publicity here anyway????

Nice timing on Perrins part to head out to where he can rescue Rand.

Morgase..why do we even bother with her POV? She's a nonentity and only peripherally involved in anything.

Oh well, I'm sure there is more to comment about but its midnite here and I have to work tomorrow
j p
61. sps49
Yep, tell Illianers that Sammael is really in charge. Will you be believed? And will it help? It is common knowledge to those around Rand, no?

Still wondering if Sammy has been resurrected from death.
62. Katiya

The thing I seem to remember about Hawkwing is that he didn't distrust AS so badly until Ishy got free and pretended to be an "advisor", and that was what started all Hawkwing's distrust. It was on Ishy's advice that he dismissed his AS and started the whole TV siege, and also on his advice that he sent his armies across the ocean, sending his Forsaken-induced mistrust with his son and creating the basis for the lovely damane system of enslavement. Either way, it all points to the idea that without total support and unity, failure is certain.
Tony Zbaraschuk
63. tonyz
I like Davram Bashere; he's got the all-too-rare virtue in this series of common sense. (Admittedly, it's an uncommon time with strange things happening, but he seems to know what he's doing and what other people can and can't do.)

Niall is sort of the anti-Bashere -- clever, and a good general, indeed a Great Captain, but just a little bit too obsessed with his own cleverness and not quite enough with practicality. I thought his POVs were some of the better-done parts of the series, and wish we could have seen him going up against Mat (or besides him), but the Whitecloaks seem to have some internal discipline problems. (And he's been tampered with by Padan Fain, too.)

Elaida... remember Jordan's habit of little subtle clues? Her Foretelling about the Royal Line of Andor being the key to defeating the DO in the Last Battle happened back when she was Accepted. Which means that it was about the then Royal Line, meaning the then Daughter-Heir Tigraine and her forthcoming son, Rand al'Thor. Elaida's whole long quest to insinuate herself into the position of Aes Sedai advisor to Morgase Trakand, the new Queen of Andor, and the consequent last two decades of her life have all been pretty much a total waste. Randomly tossing Gawyn, and Galad, and Morgase, into the Let's-Ignore-Them-Bucket, in favor of thinking Elayne is the one she needs to get her hand on is just icing on the cake of her gross stupidity.
Gregory Werner
64. wernergh
Out of all the characters in Randland I would love to give a good thrashing to none comes to mind better than Elaida. She is the most arrogant power hungry b**** that I have ever seen. I mean she never believes any of the information coming back to her to be true and always believes that her Aes Sedai can always win without the help of others. I was so glad that her forces took a thrashing by the Asha'man, they deserve it for her stupidity. And come on a palace that's even greater than the white tower all for her that's just way to gaudy in my eyes and she could have been doing much more helpful/useful stuff than that. Well as they say "Pride comes first before the fall" and I hope that the fall for her is the greatest that any has experienced. I could at least stand Suian as the Amyrlin. And Gawyn if only he had decided to not be a bamf during the coup and kill two blademasters. Oh well I guess it had to happen so that the pesky aes sedai learn to dance to the dragon's tune as Moiraine said.
Lord Haart
65. LordHaart
For some reason, I sympathise much more with Elaida and Niall than most WoT fans. In their favour, they see RandLand for the broken thing it currently is, and are pretty spot on about the level of political manipulation taking place (just wrong about who is doing it). They are representative of those people who know what is right, and fight for it, but have become too disillusioned with the world to trust others, and hence work against them.

Gawyn on the other hand is just crazier than the Joker. And Morgase? While I understand her character, I have no idea to this day why Jordan wanted us to see her like that. I guess that on the plus side, that will make her eventual return a little less cheesy (she ain't dead, but she ain't queen material no more). Actually, one of my pet theories is that just before the reunion, she actually WILL die, which is all the more harsh for us readers seeing her survive for so long and nearly make it back. On top of all of that, she is probably the oldest character we have a consistent POV from, which means that Jordan is likely trying to get in touch with older readers.

All that said, I think that it's pretty clear that the Trakands as a family are just Jordan's way of showing just how harmful inbreeding is.

As for Aran'gar, I personally hated the character until KoD, when he/she began to start moving on his/her own accord. When you consider the irony of putting a lecher in a female body, it's rather humourous (at least until she starts misusing it).

As a final point, while I found KoD to be the best book of the series, it was LoC where I first decided that WoT was firmly above and beyond the realms of general fantasy, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the re-read. Dumai Wells FTW!
66. Stone Dog
For me, Pedron Niall is the most sinister character in the series. He thinks he is 'Doing The Right Thing To Save The World' - a trait that he has in common with Elaida, but there is a fundamental difference.

Elaida's actions are flawed because of her narrow-minded world view and her own conceit. Niall is far more intelligent, but he has fallen into the Leninist trap of thinking that the ends justify the means, and is prepared to authorise evil deeds in the expectation that a greater good will eventuate.

I was a bit disappointed to see him killed off in a whitecloak power struggle, would rather have seen him defeated and brought to justice.
67. Freelancer

True enough about Bashere's comment. However, I was enumerating factors that drove the "Perrin becomes Lord of the Two Rivers" thing. Bashere confirmed that nobility needn't come only through blood or royal confirmation, but it is well after the fact.

People need to get up off Gawyn's nads. His first duty is to his sister, as he sees it. The best chance of getting her safely home is by hanging around Tar Valon and continuing to serve the Tower, as he sees it. His infatuation with Egwene is additional kindling for the fire that keeps him there. Now that he has heard, and believed, that his Mother the Queen has been slain by the Dragon Reborn, who holds Caemlyn, he can't very well go there, further limiting his options as he sees it. In his POV here, he admits that his reasons for staying are flimsy,
but abandoning the Tower would be abandoning her.
As he sees it, he's doing that most right thing that he can. He has never been Compelled, and his decision making isn't damaged by lingering after-effects of Compulsion.


In past threads, the whole business of Elaida's misinterpretation of her own Foretellings has been hammered into the mud. Basically, her batting average for understanding the future she glimpses is .000, but her pride and ambition run flat over any reasoning skill she may possess, and she hears/understands only what she wants to.


The Bible passage reads:
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall
I too had heard it wrongly for ages until I began studying the source.
68. Freelancer

RE: Morgase
On top of all of that, she is probably the oldest character we have a consistent POV from, which means that Jordan is likely trying to get in touch with older readers.

Thom has quite a number of years on Morgase, and many more POVs. You can be sure that Jordan's work needs no vehicle such as your analysis suggests to "get in touch with older readers". The embedded mythology, the level of detail, intrigue, and cultural variety in the story will take care of that all by itself.

All that said, I think that it's pretty clear that the Trakands as a family are just Jordan's way of showing just how harmful inbreeding is.

Even nuttier than the previous line. Inbreeding how? Mantear and Damodred have no other remotely close relations. The seeming need to view every action or decision made by Elayne, Gawyn, or Morgase as the result of brain damage is ludicrous in its face. Each responds to extraordinary and unforeseeable events with completely rational decisions, given the information and resources available to them at the time. Monday morning quarterbacking by readers, exclaiming that obviously this or that move was stupid or a mistake, is hindsight and presupposes information that the subject did not have to hand.

Both Pedron Niall and Elaida a'Roihan deserve such derision for misinterpreting events through filters of their own design, arriving at completely invalid conclusions in spite of having valid information to work with. The same judgement cannot reasonably be applied to Morgase or Gawyn. Or Elayne, but the hatred for her is too great for many to even consider that she has a clue.
Antoni Ivanov
69. tonka
I agree with Freelancer.
Robert Jordan built his characters in this way that they always try to make the best decisions with the information they have, often the information is not sufficient or is misinterpreted , but in any case they must make the decision. They will make mistakes sometimes , some more often than other. But they cannot wait.

Here is related to what I said quote from Robert Jordan (Dragon Con 2005):
One of the themes I have running through the books is that whatever you think you know, some of it is almost certainly wrong, and it may even be the most crucial bit that is wrong. But even when you are aware that some of your information may be wrong you still have to go ahead and make a decision. cannot afford the luxury of saying, well I don't know everything and some of what I know may be wrong, so I am not going to do anything, I am just going to sit here and wait and see if I can find out some more, because that only leads to sitting still forever.
Maiane Bakroeva
70. Isilel
I have to agree that Niall was even more repugnantly evil than Elaida. I mean, for all her faults Elaida never sent undercover death squads to perpetuate slaughter on the innocents so that she could then blame it on somebody else.
And the fact that Niall was much more intelligent makes his villainy even more damning, IMHO.

Re: older POVs, Siuan is a couple of years older than Morgase, IIRC. And I am not entirely sure how depicting older characters being constantly pummeled and humiliated and failing at everything could "resonate"?

Re: Gawyn - I still don't see the logic of him supporting Elaida when he knows for a fact that women who he cares about so much oppose her. And his friends and and mentors among the Warders ditto (so he up and killed them).And it isn't like he admires Elaida on her own merits either.
As to him taking rumors from a _peddler_ as the sacred truth?! No comment. Sigh.
Kerwin Miller
71. tamyrlink
totally off subject but:

in my reread i just started ACoS. im in the prologue. and elaida tells alviarin to send Toveine to the tower because the other two red sisters are basically nerveless wrecks and were broken by their exile. but when we see tsutama rath (spellcheck) later she is anything but a broken woman. she's got a mouth to make a wagon driver wince. she's highest of the red ajah after galina and she sends the other reds to the black tower.

1. we know forsaken can make a weave to make them appear less strong than they actually are
2. sending sisters to the black tower should help promote chaos
3. her personality re-reversal is unexplained

omg its early in the morning - i cant think of my other reasons

so basically im saying that Messaana is hiding in the white tower as Tsutsama Rath (spellcheck) the Sitter exiled for the vileness 15 yrs ago.

Danelle is a red herring and youre all falling for it! dont be fooled lol.
John Massey
72. subwoofer
@62 Katiya- First off, thanks for commenting- sniff, so beautiful. Yes, even the Forsaken can be traced to Artur's distrust. More's the pity though because an AS could of healed him and kept him around to keep his empire intact for a time instead of all the resulting squabbling and division. Only the good die young.

Yes, unity is what Randland needs. Everybody together on the same page fighting the Shadow and not each other. Sometimes that is what you need.

Pete Pratt
73. PeteP
Freelancer @ 67

Since there are a great many of us in the Gawyn-compulsed-during-the-coup-because-nothing-else-makes-sense camp, and be we have no evidence to dispute this (this wacked out POV only reinforces the after effects issue), you really need to more careful than to write "he has never been Compelled".

Gawyn was an intelligent and bright young man who has since become mentally unstable. We know (from Forsaken POVs and Morgase's experience) that Compulsion can have serious after effects.

Therefore, if anything, we have more [i][b]proof[/b] that he was Compelled, then we have that he was not. His very weak attempts to rationalize his own behavior notwithstanding.
Antoni Ivanov
74. tonka

As to him taking rumors from a _peddler_ as the sacred truth?! No comment. Sigh.

He was doubtful of the truthfulness of this rumour now but later he is sure that Rand killed Morgase that is because almost everyone thinks it was Rand who killed her, he must've heard later ("off screen") from much more people to be so sure.

As to why he follows Elaida, well, she is Amyrlin, the lawful Amyrlin as he sees it,the others are pity rebels to be crushed soon, as he sees it.He doesn't know that Egwene is Amyrlin by the Prologue of COT. And he didn't know where Egwene or Elayne were until much later in this book(LOC) as to why he continues to follow Elaida later , maybe he has no choice. I don't know it seems illogical to me but even in real life many people make illogical choices. Or sometimes what seems illogical to one is logical to another.In any case I am not going to lose my sleep over that.

I do not think that Gawyn was Compelled though.

As to Niall being "more repugnantly evil than Elaida". I am not sure I agree. Not on the account you said.Elaida just ordered the murder of the all Younglings and she is not shy of killing off her opponents.

As for this even Suian propose to Egwene to arrange Nicola and her friend to meet with "accident" just because they may turn to be a bit or more inconvenient to Egwene. Does that make Siuan evil ?
James Jones
75. jamesedjones
74 Tonka

"Elaida just ordered the murder of the all Younglings and she is not shy of killing off her opponents."

I can see where you're going with it, but I can't agree with the similarity.

Nial had no idea - and didn't care - who the crazy dragonsworn he was generating would kill or terrorize.

In Elaida's case, she knew Gawyn. And in her tiny, narrow view of the world, he was a supporter that was no longer fully supporting. Or he was a rabid dog that needed to be put down.

It's more along the lines of Perrin putting the dragonsworn in the path of fleeing Aiel. With the only difference being that one was totally, awesomely right, and the other was unbelievably, headdeskingly wrong (if you are in the silly camp that likes Gawyn). :)
Antoni Ivanov
76. tonka
I can see your point , jamesedjones. But I kinda think that Elaida wouldn't be shy of doing as Nial did if she thought she needed to do something like this. Both Elaida and Nial seem to me like people who think that the results justify the means whatever they are.
James Jones
77. jamesedjones
Oh yeah, they're both scummy.

I wonder if Elaida is going to off it in a way that reflects Nial's.

Nial was focusing on the Seanchan threat, and was killed by an insider for ignoring the witches.

Elaida is focusing on the dragon, and might be offed (or pulled down, bleh) for ignoring the Seanchan.

Edit: LOL trying to work and post at the same time. Meant to say Elaida is focusing on the rebels/'witches', and will be offed by an insider or BA for ignoring the Seanchan. :)
78. Freelancer

When I have solid evidence about an event, theory, etc., I bring it. Obviously, since not every heartbeat of Gawyn's life is in text, it cannot be proven that he has never been Compelled. But at the end of the day (or the story), if the author has never given the nod to one activity as being responsible for another, then there's no there there. So I say, from my own POV, he has never been Compelled.

The argument that his behavior smacks of Compulsion because it doesn't make sense to a reader, is a circular one. I'm as displeased by his conflicted position at the tower coup as anyone, but there are rational decision points all along the way, given what he knows and doesn't know. So as he sees it, he's making the most rational choice available to do his duty, with no evidence that those are not the choices he'd make in any case.
Lord Haart
79. LordHaart
(FWIW, the inbreeding comment was a joke, if a bad one. If people took it as anything other than nutty, I'd be worried).

"Thom has quite a number of years on Morgase, and many more POVs. You can be sure that Jordan's work needs no vehicle such as your analysis suggests to "get in touch with older readers". The embedded mythology, the level of detail, intrigue, and cultural variety in the story will take care of that all by itself."

Firstly, Morgase has more POV segments than Thom. Secondly, she's the oldest POV'ed female who isn't {AS/Darkfriend/Seanchan}.

I'm talking purely about Jordan writing from the POV of older characters. In my re-read, I noticed that there are very, very few mainstream characters (non-channeling, non-Aiel, non-Seanchan) who are both older and who are portrayed as Good Guys. Thom is pretty much the only one, so it's hardly surprising Jordan included a female in this role. As for her trials and tribulations, remember that in EotW she was portrayed as a wise and merciful queen, held in high esteem by Andor. If she's fallen from then, it took a Forsaken to make that happen, and I'm sure she'll make a comeback (once she figures that she can trust Faile at least). Remember also that Thom too had a bad phase where he tried to avoid Rand & Co, even though his own nephew was haunting him.

As for good/evil characters, Niall is more of a hero who lost his way; in NS he was viewed by Lan as a wise commander who avoided bloodshed when he could, and I still think his ultimate flaw was self-reliance and over-confidence: something which Rand of all people shares. In many ways, the paranoia and desperation shown in Niall are merely pale echos of what the Dragon Reborn has been acting upon.

Elaida's an interesting character, but I still can't completely hate her given how she was used by Alvairin. In many ways, she was no different from Morgase; if not Compelled, she was still blackmailed. As for the original uprising, NS gives a few insights into her thoughts on Siuan and on Tower Law; she may indeed have been partly motivated by jealously, but the overbearing emotion would be that she felt betrayed by her Amyrlin due to the secrets being kept about Rand - even Suian knew that this could bring her down with or without Elaida pushing.

Thom of all people has shown flaws too; while most people would claim that King Galldrian deserved death, his act of regicide in TGH threw Cairhien into civil war, which is really just "The End (Galldrian's death) justifies the Means (assassination, thereby setting a torch to the entire country). The resulting chaos lasts until the Shaido arrive, IIRC.

In short, the series definitely seems to favour youth & enterprise over age & wisdom, with the only exception I can think of being Cadsuane, who hasn't yet got a bad rep to my knowledge. I think that the storylines of Morgase, and indeed of Thom (and maybe Noal, we have yet to see how badly Ishy messed with him) are Jordan's way of showing that old dogs can learn new tricks (aka go through a deep and meaningful process of self-rediscovery as represented by their adventures).

I am also very, very sorry for the length of this post.
James Jones
80. jamesedjones
79 LordHaart

Don't worry about the length of the post. I had dueling banjos going in my head from your first line.

FYI If people are missing your jokes, try sneaking in a few rickrolls. ;)
Marcus W
81. toryx
PeteP @ 73:

Your logic strikes me as pretty shaky.

Gawyn was an intelligent and bright young man who has since become mentally unstable.

There's nothing unusual about that. It happens all the time to people in the real world without them ever experiencing the kind of stress that Gawyn's been through.

We know (from Forsaken POVs and Morgase's experience) that Compulsion can have serious after effects.

Yes. But in every one of those cases we have actual evidence that someone has been Compelled. A witness, a scene describing the Compulsion or an outright statement by a Forsaken.

Therefore, if anything, we have more proof that he was Compelled, then we have that he was not. His very weak attempts to rationalize his own behavior notwithstanding.

Because Gawyn is suddenly erratic and unstable? That's like saying:

That dog has a thick coat.
Ticks hide under dog fur.
Therefore, that dog has ticks.

In Morgase's case, she'd endured months of Compulsion and we still have no proof that her poor choices are a direct result of that Compulsion. All we know for sure is that Ravin used Compulsion on her whenever it suited him and it was difficult for her to break free of it.

When was Gawyn Compelled? For how long or often? Has anything in Gawyn's pov or anyone else's pov hint that he might have run into someone who Compelled him? I'm not aware of any. In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that Gawyn has evern been Compelled.

Here's what we do know:

Gawyn has been under a considerable amount of stress for months, if not more than a year, as a result of Egwene and Elayne's disappearances. We know he's witnessed his own mother's fear and anger as a result of the Tower's evasiveness. We know that he was aware that Siuan Sanche was hiding something about Elayne and Egwene. We know that he's based his entire purpose in life on the belief that he must protect Elayne at all cost.

We also know that Gawyn greatly respected Galad for saving his life. Galad, who always did the right thing and left the Tower because he believed that it was corrupt under Siuan. We know that Siuan was lawfully (though only barely so) deposed (even Cadsuane's said as much). We know that his teachers taught Gawyn not only how to fight but to obey tower law broke said law in order to free a lawfully deposed traitor.

We also know that Gawyn was raised by Gareth Bryne and Morgase, both of whom instilled in him the importance of adhering to the law. We know that Gawyn was very close to Elayne and that he knew how badly Elayne wanted to be Aes Sedai.

Given all these things, is it really that great a leap to think that Gawyn would act as he has, and that the consequences of those actions would have such a high cost on his ability to reason in the future?

Well obviously, many people (perhaps even a majority) think it is. But I have yet to see any concrete evidence whatsoever to suggest that anyone Compelled Gawyn and plenty of evidence to suggest why he would act the way he has without it.

In the end, just because many people believe a thing, doesn't make it true.
Ryan Maguire
82. SonOfBattles
I didn't see if Leigh made an announcement or not, but her podcast is up over at the dragonmount site.
83. Lsana
On Perrin's Lordship:

It isn't the fact that Perrin became a lord per se that bothers me, it's the characterization of the Two River's folk afterwards. Yeah, things were changing quickly, yeah, they needed some new fellow on top of things to coordinate all the villages and the farm folk, yeah, a feudal lord is the one who usually takes that role in Randland. All that makes sense.

What I don't like, however, is the fact that these once independent folk are now incapable of making their own decisions. I don't like that people are asking the Lord and his Lady to make all their decisions for them. I don't like the village Wisdoms, powerful leaders in their own right, running to a little girl for comfort. That's why I'm unhappy with the whole Two Rivers plot. It isn't politics; it's the wussification of formerly strong characters.
Jason Lyman
84. jlyman
@59. lanyo

I would eat ewoks. I'm the only vegetarian I know who'll try anything once.

You have to get past their formidable fighting skills though. I hear they are better than Nyneave at hitting people over the head with sticks. And it doesn't matter if you're wearing a helmet either!

@83. Lsana

Just my thoughts, so take it for what it's worth (maybe a half a copper?). I think that the Duopotamians are trying to find their way in dealing with a "Lord." For a very long time the only dealing they ever had with lords is through reading about them in stories, hearing rumors, etc. They don't know from their own experience how to deal with them. So, from what they have heard they know that the Lord is in charge and so that makes them go to Perrin, or Faile the new and beloved Lady of the Two Rivers, to get advice on things that they very well know the answer to. But they feel like that's how things should be done with a Lord and Lady. That's all they know at the moment.

While it does seem out of character for them I feel that it's understandable.
85. Lsana
@84 jlyman,

I didn't say it wasn't understandable. I said I didn't like it. Yes, this is an understandable way they might deal with having a Lord, but I think there are other, equally understandable ways that wouldn't have involved turning them all into infants.
Lannis .
86. Lannis
LordHaart @ 65:

Actually, one of my pet theories is that just before the reunion, she actually WILL die, which is all the more harsh for us readers seeing her survive for so long and nearly make it back.

Not a bad line of thought... I can see it: Jordan showing us this angsty pseudo-relationship between Tallanvor and Morgase, only to gun her down (and possibly him), just before the highly anticipated Trakand reunion, and probably just at the culmination of the Morgase-Tallanvor romance... a total tragedy all around.

I totally buy it. :)

Re: Gawyn... FWIW, I agree with Freelancer @ 78... unless and until we have some hard evidence to the contrary (NOT simply speculation), we can't conclude there's been any Compulsion at work. That's like saying someone with sloppy social skills and obnoxious behaviour was walking by the beer store, so he must be a drunk--totally explains the behaviour! So it must be so!

Uh, and on that note... didn't we kill the Gawyn horse a few threads ago? Just wondering... ;)

EDIT: Though I wish Gawyn were being Compelled, because frankly, kid's got issues if not...
Jason Lyman
87. jlyman
@85. Lsana

Understandable and unlikable. Understood! :-)
Anthony Pero
88. anthonypero

Perrin and Faile agree with you, that's why Faile said what she said, to stiffen their backbone.

Allowing someone else to be responsible for and take control of all your problems is very tempting. Look at what we in the US are doing right now.

*ducks and covers*
Marcus W
89. toryx
I would totally dig it if Morgase and Tallanvor got killed just before the reunion. I don't think that'll happen but it'd be awesome if it did.

LordHaart @ 79:

In short, the series definitely seems to favour youth & enterprise over age & wisdom, with the only exception I can think of being Cadsuane, who hasn't yet got a bad rep to my knowledge.

I think you're absolutely right. When I first started reading these books as a teenager that didn't bother me at all. Now that I'm in my 30's it irritates me a lot more. It hit me really strongly during an Elayne POV in CoS where she thinks about only being 18. I realized right then and there that part of what irritates me about the Aes Sedai so much is that for all their power, age, and supposed wisdom they actually act like a group of high schoolers in Honors Society.

This is probably one of the the most frustrating thing about the series. All the people who ought to know better due to their age and experience simply don't, and it's the young people who shouldn't know better that do.

Moiraine started out as the older and wiser leader type but by tDR she becomes so caught up in who and what she is that she completely refuses to be reasonable until FoH. Thom was a good balance of wisdom and knowledge until he gets co-opted into keeping an eye on the girls and suddenly becomes a comedy foil. Morgase was a wise and powerful ruler who becomes a besotted girl who can't control her emotions or make intelligent decisions despite herself, even after throwing off the compulsion that messed her up in the first place.

I wonder why RJ chose to do that?
j p
90. sps49
Elaida and Niall share at least two traits-

Their vision of what is best for the world happens to track neatly with increased power for themselves, and

They are part of the problem without realizing it- just like most of their predecessors.

And like most of the older characters, they don't see that anything needs to change. Maybe that is part of the portrayal of the young'uns, that they are reacting to what are really world-changing events faster than most older characters.
Alice Arneson
91. Wetlandernw
88. anthonypero - Too true.

86. Lannis - With you on Gawyn. Yes, we beat the horse quite mercilessly a while back, but obviously it's not quite dead yet. ;) I too WISH he had been Compelled, because I really used to like him, but after this he made me want to slap him upside the head. Whoever said it, I have to admit he's working with the only info he has. (And I don't think anyone has given him any particular reason to distrust Elaida at this point, although we all know she's an arrogant, selfish, power-hungry control freak who shouldn't be trusted with a goldfish.) He just makes a lot of wrong decisions because he's pretty much gotten the mushroom treatment for the last year or so. *sigh*

What really burns me (jumping ahead) is that Egwene didn't make the logical move of telling him about the day (just past, for us) when Rand learned of Morgase's "death" and what happened over the next 24 hours. I mean, she was there with Rand when he got the news, she knew who "Gaebril" really was; with that, she knew as much as anyone about what had actually happened, and more than most. Why didn't she just tell Gawyn the whole of the events of those two days? If he believed her first-person telling of those events, he'd know Rand didn't kill his mother, but rather avenged her supposed death, and he could get on with figuring out how to best help Elayne. Instead, she makes him promise not to try to kill Rand while she finds "proof". Argh. I cannot understand why RJ wrote it this way. It's not like Egwene had any reason, either logical or due to personality, to keep this info from him.

Okay, rant over. It's one of the few things I really wish RJ had written differently, along with the Morgase storyline. Well, based on Jason's "review", I'm assuming we may learn more about the narrative necessity in November. I sure hope there turns out to be a plot-need for all this!
Marcus W
92. toryx
wetlandernw @ 91:

Yeah, every time I read Egwene's reunion with Gawyn it's painful to read her rationale. If she'd just told him what she knew it'd have made things so much easier.

The only rationale plotwise I can see is that if she'd been able to convince Gawyn that Rand was actually the good guy in this scenario, he wouldn't have gone along so much with the capture and Dumai's Wells might not have happened as it did.
Anthony Pero
93. anthonypero

Yeah, but making one of your leads, and your smartest female character suddenly irrationally and uncharacteristically stupid in order to advance the plot? That's just too sloppy for a book that took two years to write. It's not like Jordan rushed these to press.

Maybe her memory of the situation is sketchy because of Lanfear, or maybe it's a combination of the headache, and the fact that she just wanted to get his clothes off for real and wasn't thinking straight.

Although that sounds suspiciously masculine to me, and maybe not in character for Egwene. Just my male projection, I guess, lol. Um... that could have been phrased better, sorry!
Maggie M
94. Eswana
I'm not a Gawyn hater by any means, but I have never empathized with his story nor understood why he was so important to Egwene. Granted, romance development is one of RJ's weaknesses, and we really have to just take it on suspended disbelief that most of the couples fall in love, Gawyn & Egwene included. I guess if I believed someone had harmed one of my sisters or my mother I would be angry, too, but I'd like to think that I'd try to do a little more fact-checking before declaring undying hatred for the person who was rumoured to do it.

I do really like Morgase, though, but I can't for the life of me understand why she went to Amadacia. That would be like the Prime Minister of any Arabian country fleeing to Israel and expecting help, no strings attached. No gonna happen. Why didn't she go to the Borderlands, or Tear, or even Cairhein?
Anthony Pero
95. anthonypero
Borderlands: Wouldn't help her. To that point, they never left the borderlands except the Aiel War. Not to mention she tried to rally her nobles first, whom are all to the south of Caemlyn. There's nothing north of Caemlyn till you get to Tar Valon. The roads all go south, to Ghealdan and the southern nations.

Tear: Um, Dragon Reborn, anyone? And their Army is already in Cairhien. That's been that way for 8 months before Morgase fled, so she'd know about it.

Cairhein: In the midst of a Civil War, and practically at War with Andor to begin with. Who would help her?

Where else would she go? llian? Maybe. She doesn't know about Sammael, so it's possible. Murandy? What army? Altara? Barely controls a hundred miles surrounding Ebou Dar. Arad Doman and Tarabon? Chaos, Civil War, and Dragonsworn. Same for Ghealdan.

Who else is there other than Amadicia? Morgase had heard rumors that the Whitecloaks ran the country, but her POV shows that she somewhat doubted it until she saw it first-hand.
James Jones
96. jamesedjones
94 & 95

Let's not forget that Tear and Illian were about as tied up as the Borderlands, and for almost as long. All the sitting rulers knew that if either side committed more than 5 armsmen to anything other than their own protection, the other side would take it as the perfect excuse to attack their bitter rival during the rare period of "advantage".
Marcus W
97. toryx

I don't agree that Egwene is one of the smartest characters, personally, but otherwise I agree Egwene's lack of communication was a poor plot device, if that's all it was.

I do think that all Morgase's choices were bad ones, but she should have known better than to go to Amadicia. Going to the Borderlands would have made more sense for asylum until she was able to re-establish contacts that might allow her to borrow or build an army. I personally think that the most logical choice would have been Saldea(sp?). She probably would have had a far better shot finally an ally with a fellow queen rather than Ailron.
Pete Pratt
98. PeteP
So Gawyn's otherwise completely irrational behavior comes about due to a little bit of stress????

Gawyn, a high-educated and capable character, comes about engaged in crazy behavior on his own accord.

So, Mesaana (or any of the Red Ajah, or any of the Forsaken) could easily have Compelled Gawyn. But we are to believe his complete stupidity (demonstrated again here) is completely natural.

Again, the proof is evident. The irrational behavior, the ongoing confusion, etc. Like his mother (whose behavior and story arc annoys so many of you).

And, no, there is no logical pattern based upon Gareth's training, loyalty to the White Tower, concern about Siuan, etc.

It is more illogical that Gawyn would lead a fight against his teachers, killing two of them [b][i]whom he considered his good friends[/i], due to these supposed reasons. He was out of his right mind during the coup. And that was before he killed his friends...

This is a very old debate on the net(going back to tSR's publication). I doubt anyone is going to change sides anytime soon. Then again, back then, there were a lot of folks in the old days who claimed that the Black Ajah had no role in the Coup.

As to Egwene, remember she did not trust Rand anyway. Eg was so wrapped up in her own lies and arrogance that she believed the worst about Rand. It is no wonder she gives Gawyn her weak answer about Rand.
Maiane Bakroeva
99. Isilel
Toryx @89:

Moiraine started out as the older and wiser leader type but by tDR she becomes so caught up in who and what she is that she completely refuses to be reasonable until FoH.

Well, Moiraine is my favorite character, so I disagree vehemently ;). IMHO, she was awesome throughout, but human enough to make mistakes as well as at the disadvantage of being the target of Rand's railing against his DRhood.

He knew rationally that it wasn't her fault and the the things would have been worse without her interference, but nevertheless both he and the other 2 boys chose to subconsciously blame Moiraine for the events that drove them into the wide world. And her unnecessary over-mysteriousness and the general prejudice against AS didn't help, naturally.

Re: Elaida versus Niall - Younglings are fighters, dastardly as her actions versus them were. In fact, didn't even Siuan admit that Elaida only harms people whom she considers dangerous?
Niall ordered mass murders of civilians, including children. And it had a very practiced, routine feel. He was clearly the more evil. And a hero?

Seriously, it belongs much more to heroism than being a bad-ass fighter or a talented general. He was clearly quite steeped in villainy, though not of the DF kind.

Re: Morgase, it has been mentioned that "Gaebril" was sending loyal Queen's Guards to fight against Cahirien. That's where I expected her to go when she first escaped.
100. Valan
Ok, have to ask because I've seen it too much now. What does FTW stand for?
Maggie M
101. Eswana
This just in from Dragonmount: tGS release date moved UP a week!!!!

October 27 baby!!!
102. Freelancer
For The Win

It's a net-geeks term which, to get a picture of its usage, imagine saying it at the end of a phrase as if you were on Jeopardy, but usually with a strongly ironic twist:

"Silly Acronyms for $200, Alex."

"Misunderstood Royalty in Randland, FTW!"

Something like that.
103. Freelancer

Woohoo! If you look at it just right, it's in a whole earlier month that's only two months from now.

Yeah, those weeks will go by just so much quicker by thinking of it like that...
Jay Dauro
104. J.Dauro
Now that's a birthday present I can love (yours truly was born on the 27th of October.)

Wetlandernw @91

Yes, it gripes me that Egwene doesn't communicate well to Gawayn. But isn't that one of the main themes we see all of the time in Randland? Seriously, almost everyone withholds information that would have been better to tell, for all sorts of reasons.
James Jones
105. jamesedjones
101 Eswana


Now I have to reschedule my vacation! :(

Or maybe I'll just take a few more days off in October. ;)
106. Freelancer
Toryx@89 & Isilel@99

Moiraine has spent the previous twenty years hunting for a baby/boy/young man, with a singular goal in mind: Win Tar'mon Gai'don. To do that, she and Siuan formed their Master Plan (TM): Find the Dragon Reborn, bring him to Tar Valon where he can be trained, protected and guided to accomplish his purpose and save the world.

Imagine yourself in her slippers. You've finally done it, you've found the Prophesied One. Or, you're very sure that one of three youngsters is him. The Winternight attack perversely confirms it. You must protect them, and when you discover which is he, you must protect him.

This has been her purpose, her search, for almost half her lifetime. Those original, simplistic plans she and Siuan made before being raised Aes Sedai are very hard to let go of, even after it becomes evident that all of their assumptions of how to manage the Dragon Reborn are faulty.

Now add in the prejudice, fear, and mistrust of her kind that is natural of country folk, thanks to legend, distance, and some truth, and nothing is easy. As to the three boys blaming Moiraine for their circumstances, add Nynaeve's displeasure and bias to that formula.

I don't agree that Moiraine refuses to become reasonable. There's blame on both sides in that account. She is sticking to her guns that nothing matters more than Rand preparing the land for Tar'mon Gai'don. She just takes longer than she should to stop attempting to push him along the path she believes best. There is cause. He is unworldly and ignorant before this, she is an educated royal, an Aes Sedai, and has been around long enough to know what's what. The hard part for her is how little that matters where three ta'veren are involved.

Oh, don't forget that just when Moiraine begins her search, she and Siuan come face-to-face with the Black Ajah. To protect the boy, to protect themselves, they don't tell anyone anything. That's a hard habit to break.
Alice Arneson
107. Wetlandernw
J.Dauro @104

It's rather a theme, yes. Most of the time it doesn't bug me. Yes, I sit here and tell the characters what they should tell each other, but I can usually see some reason for not telling: they've promised not to tell anyone; they think it will do more harm than good; they don't realize the other doesn't know; it just doesn't occur to them to mention it; and several other "valid" reasons - valid from the character perspective, anyway. But in this case, she doesn't even give him the evidence of her own observation; she just says she needs time to prove that Rand didn't kill Morgase, and thinks "How under the Light could she? Rand's word would not be enough." Gah. RJ generally wasn't careless enough to forget what Egwene had actually seen; on the other hand, he generally didn't have characters do things this stupid without some "valid" reason. So... I REALLY REALLY hope we see some (plot-driven) reason that Gawyn had to be left in the dark. Even so, I'll be a little irritated that he didn't back it up better. Alternatively, my irritation with this aspect might just get lost in the grand scheme... :)
Maiane Bakroeva
108. Isilel
Freelancer @106:

Couldn't agree more. In addition to everything else ta'veren aren't always right. Sometimes they are being tugged by the Pattern and sometimes they bend the Pattern around them, but sometimes normal human logic and causality applies and mistakes can be made. And as Rand learns eventually, even when he rides ta'veren surge, he often still can make adjustments.

But which is which? How can an observer tell? A properly nightmarish situation for Moiraine, particularly since Rand _is_ very ignorant to begin with and isn't as sophisticated and brilliant as he thinks even in KoD.

I still think that Moiraine overplayed the mystery and manipulation card when trust and cooperation would have worked better - but given her history and boys' anti-AS prejudice it is such an understandable mistake to make.

And IMHO, Moiraine also knew that Siuan's back was to the wall and that further major unpredictability could be fatal both to her best friend and to WT's ability to accept the DR/ preparedness for TG. So, yea.
Joseph Blaidd
109. SteelBlaidd
wetlander @ 91
I'm sorry but you can't put this one on Egwene.

As soon as Gwayne mentions that he thinks Rand killed his mother she immediately denyes it. His immediate response is "Can you swear it? Were you there?" Any answer that began "No, but..." would be insufficient. I doubt she could articulate that Rand is constitutionally incapable of killing a woman or ordering one killed, even if she knew. Saying that she was there when he got the news wont cut it cause he can obviously pop back and forth when ever he wants, and Gabril is so far off Gawayne's radar that saying he did it is likely to get a "who?". Following that by explaining that a forsaken was pretending to be his moms lover while controlling her with the one power gets "pull the other one its got bells on."
Alice Arneson
110. Wetlandernw
No, I'm not saying it's Egwene's fault; I'm just wondering why RJ wrote it so that she didn't at least try to tell him what she knew. What she could have told him first-person should at least have been enough to make him consider that the rumors might be less than 100% true. But RJ didn't write it that way; he wrote it so that she didn't bring up any of that, and with no apparent reason for not doing so. It's one of the very few things that I can't make sense of in the writing, so it bugs me. Believe me, I can make a case for almost ANYTHING in these books; I have to sit on my hands sometimes not to play DA every time someone complains about a perceived inconsistency. That's why I'm in the top ten verbosity count. :) But this one I can't sort. *sigh*
Joseph Blaidd
111. SteelBlaidd
Because she recognized almost immediately that without some corroborating evidence he wouldn't believe her and pressing the point was likely to make it worse.
Anthony Pero
112. anthonypero
I just got to that part of the story, and I have to agree with SteelBlaidd.

Egwene got sidetracked because Gawyn cut her off as she started to tell him, and then he started talking about Elayne being dead too. She assured him she knew for a fact that Elayne was alive, but she couldn't tell him where she was... Then Gawyn said he used to dream about being her warder, and Egwene went all mushy for the next half a page. Mushy in the head, no doubt!

When she finally brought the conversation back around to Rand, she didn't want Gawyn to have to just take her at her word, increasing his internal conflict:

"I have a second favor to ask. Rand did not kill your mother." How could she word this to put the least strain on him?* Strain or no, she had to. "Promise me you will not raise a hand against Rand until I can prove he didn't."

*emphasis mine

I read this as she didn't want to put to much strain on him based on what she was asking of him, since part of it would force him to--somewhat--betray the Aes Sedai he was currently serving.

I still think she shouldn't have worried about it, and just told him what she knew, but at least I can rationalize it now, and hopefully something will come of it plot-wise down the road.
William Fettes
113. Wolfmage
PeteP @ 98

“So Gawyn's otherwise completely irrational behavior comes about due to a little bit of stress????

Gawyn, a high-educated and capable character, comes about engaged in crazy behavior on his own accord.”

There’s another way to react to this, and that is to revise our opinion of Gawyn. I admit that I too had a generally favourable impression of him based on our initial encounters with him in the royal palace meeting Rand and through Elayne’s accounts. However, if I really go back and scrutinise those impressions, IMO they’re a pretty thin reed to hang a bulletproof vest on in the face of his subsequent actions. I say these first impressions must be labelled incomplete and overly charitable/credulous and thus give way to new information. He was never that smart or capable.

anthonypero @ 88

“Allowing someone else to be responsible for and take control of all your problems is very tempting. Look at what we in the US are doing right now.”

Yeah, with those damn tax-and-spend lieberals in charge, the whole country is going to the dogs with cradle-to-grave welfare AM I RITE?

Blerg to lazy caricatures.

Toryx @ 97

“I don't agree that Egwene is one of the smartest characters, personally”

Agreed. IMO Egwene isn’t anywhere near the smartest female in the series. Arguably that title belongs to Siuan.

SteelBlaidd @109

“ can't put this one on Egwene.”

I would agree it’s not all on Egwene; Gawyn must take the lion's share of the blame for his own views and being unamenable to persuasion and logic. But I still fault her a bit for doing such a poor job of defence counsel / advocate.

“As soon as Gwayne mentions that he thinks Rand killed his mother she immediately denyes it. His immediate response is "Can you swear it? Were you there?" Any answer that began "No, but..." would be insufficient.”

Whether it would be insufficient isn’t really the point. Obviously RJ wrote the scene in a way to preclude a quick resolution. Such a major plot point is beyond the scope of the discussion. The point is, and I think this is what Wetlandernw is arguing as well, is given the way it is written, can we say Egwene did enough to make it a reasonably competent effort at changing his mind? Did she exhaust or go near to exhausting the avenues open to her, including providing all the relevant facts she knew or leveraging Gawyn’s special feelings for her? The answer is clearly no.

Remember, according to the laws of dream suckage, which Egwene knows, the strength of Gawyn’s feelings make his love something like a one-in-a-million amongst dreamwalkers at least. So if he cannot even give his one true love enough credit to cause pause about his chronic bout of false certainty, it starts to go beyond a gullible reaction to rumours and starts becoming wilful blindness.

The problem with Egwene’s actions is that she does such a tepid job of it and she lets herself become distracted by the romance. The way it is written basically makes it sound like she has no plausible evidence, and that her only basis for believing Rand didn’t do it is that she knows him in her heart of hearts. But this is utterly wrong, she is actually his alibi for the entire time he is in the Waste, and she was there when he received news of Morgase’s death, and she watched him go after Rahvin in complete anguish and rage. She knows about Rahvin as Gabriel and other Forsaken released in Randland, including having been attacked by Lanfear herself. That is substantial first-hand evidence, which must surely count a lot more than rumour to any rational observer.
Anthony Pero
114. anthonypero
wolfmage@113: Yeah, with those damn tax-and-spend lieberals in charge, the whole country is going to the dogs with cradle-to-grave welfare AM I RITE?

Blerg to lazy caricatures.

Hence the *duck and cover*

sandi vogel
115. sinfulcashew
"she is probably the oldest character we have a consistent POV from, which means that Jordan is likely trying to get in touch with older readers."


"You can be sure that Jordan's work needs no vehicle such as your analysis suggests to "get in touch with older readers". The embedded mythology, the level of detail, intrigue, and cultural variety in the story will take care of that all by itself."

You ~go~ guy!

Just how old are you Haart? It sounds like you are talking down to kids?
And I became a fan before all the "old" people appeared! Unless you count Rand's dad.

(Sorry to be late on this topic, but grandaughter likes to play games. She just went home.)
j p
116. sps49
Egwene could have tried.

"Rand loves your little sister, and when we heard Morgase was dead he dashed off to kill Rahvin. Yeah, the Forsaken Rahvin. You hadn't heard of this Gaebril and wondered where he came from?"

I know, artificial conflict must be extended, but....
117. isriam
Have tried two times to post reply to Haart @ 65 but my post keeps getting ate. I am a grandmother to a 19 year old grandson, and I need no "old" POV's to love the books. Been a loyal fan since 94, and can't wait for the new book.
118. drewoftherushes
Maybe someone already said this, but I don't think the "Lord of Chaos" was a generalization. Why would the DO preface his grand scheme by saying, "Let the Lord of Chaos rule," which in general terms would be the equivalent of, "Be bad," or worse, "Don't stop bad things from happening." It doesn't make any sense.

It has to be Rand, in a very specific way. That must be the thesis of his plan, let Rand live, do some very specific things, then kill, trap, or turn Rand to the dark side at some point. More than once they call this a PLAN, not a RULE OF THUMB.

If the DO has to tell his Forsaken to sow chaos, he didn't train them very well to begin with.

Joseph Blaidd
119. SteelBlaidd

Except he would hear "the Anti-Christ loves your sister..." so, yeah

Regarding Gawayn's competence I would grant him high stats in arms and military tactics, but I would judge that early in the series he has a distinct lack of political acumen, though he is learning.
William Fettes
120. Wolfmage
I loving that tv tropes site too SteelBlaidd. I agree with your assessment about Gawyn also. He is definitely very good at arms and tactics to be able to defeat his Warder instructors and hold the Younglings together for so long under assault by Aiel.
Hurin Smells
121. HurinSmells
Ok, I don't think it's been mentioned here yet, but based on Herid Fels comments, chaos in general is what is weakening the seals on the Dark One's prison. I've always read "Let the Loard of Chaos rule" as a generalization for causing chaos in the world so the seals will weaken and break.

Also, the seals on the Dark One's prison weren't created until well over a century after the Bore was created. So based on that if the seals break, that doesn't mean the DO automatically gets released and ends time. There has to be some other criteria for the DO to be able to win right? anyone got any ideas on what?
122. ammbd
@ SN00 re: silliness question

suspect "the Wheel etc." is some horrid Sisyphean test from hell. would prefer to opt out or even kirk out but haven't figured out how.
Antoni Ivanov
123. tonka
Here is what Robert Jordan says regarding Egwene's believe that Rand used compulsion: RJ's Blog

[quote][i] Various people have commented on Egwene being dumb with Rand, in particular contrasting how Pevara leaped immediately to a conclusion that he was ta’veren where the same information took Egwene to possible Compulsion. Pevara has a clean slate regarding Rand. Insofar as Compulsion goes, to her it is a forbidden weave, suppressed so effectively among women who come to the Tower that despite the fact that many wilders have some form of it as their first weaving, by the time the White Tower is done with them many of those same women can no longer make the weave nor, in some cases, even recall how to. How, then, does this young man come by Compulsion? Much more possible, however unlikely, that he is ta’veren. Egwene, on the other hand, grew up with Rand. She largely evaded the training that would have set the same thoughts regarding Compulsion in her head that Pevara has. Whatever Egwene has learned about Rand and now knows intellectually, there is a core of her that says he is Rand al’Thor rather the Dragon Reborn, or least before being the Dragon Reborn, and if Rand were in any way ta’veren, surely she would have noticed it during their years growing up. On the other hand, he has surprised her, and others, with abilities and knowledge of weaves, such as Traveling, that they didn’t expect. If he is pulling strange weaves out of nowhere, who is to say that Compulsion isn’t among them? It would certainly fit the information, after all. [/i]
Antoni Ivanov
124. tonka
And this is Robert Jordan take on lack of communication . RJ's Blog

Now as to communications and the lack thereof, these things are not commentaries on any sort of technologies. They are a commentary on the human navel. Do you really know anybody who actually tells everything he or she knows to everybody? Even when they really need to know? Maybe especially when they really need to know. Do you really trust people who think they always know what other people really need to know? May I postulate that this person has few close friends, those quite quiet when around him or her? There are a thousand reasons why we don’t tell everything to everybody, including often things that we should tell. Maybe the information puts us in a bad light, so we withhold information, or perhaps shade the truth a bit. That’s one of the most common. Or maybe we think the other person must already know because it is so obvious. Which can add the factor that we don’t want to appear foolish for pointing out that the sky seems to be blue today. Or maybe we just didn’t bloody well think of it. It has always struck me how unrealistic, how incredibly fortuitous — you think ta’veren are centers of unrealistic coincidence? Huh! — books are where almost everybody learns everything they need to know as soon as they need to know it, where almost nobody of any note or importance ever has to make decisions based on incomplete information, information that the reader may know is at least partly wrong. Lord, even when they just learn almost everything they need to know exactly when they need to know it, matters seem just too far-fetched. No, it isn’t a commentary on technology. Just people.
Roger Powell
125. forkroot
So increasing chaos is the key to weakening the seals? No problem! Let's send to Recluce and get a few Ordermages to help out. Anyone seen a black lorken tree? I need to go make a new staff.
William Fettes
126. Wolfmage
tonka @ 123

Gotta say tonka that I find that to be an exceedingly unsatisfying answer, unlike most of RJ's posts, including the communication one you just posted.

Egwene just isn't written as having such an obvious blind spot about Rand's ta'veren effect as RJ implies. She might have a predisposition to that effect, especially where her own personal affairs are concerned, but she's seen all the weird accidents and coincidences that happen around him as much as anyone, her chief mentor, Moiraine, has provided a full account to her of his unique status as bigger than Hawkwing, and she even notices perceptible tugs on her own actions around him on a couple of occasions - let alone his bigger tugs on others. As I recall, she almost spills the beans to him about Salidar in spite of a conscious effort not to at one point. Short of a sledgehammer hitting her over the head - there's not much more you can do to remind her that he's ta'veren.

So, I'd say she is as fully equipped as one can be to make the obvious conclusion, rather than the insidious one, involving a hidden power, which goes against his nature. Indeed, the answer RJ provides is in tension with itself there - either Rand is just the boy Egwene grew up with from the Two Rivers - a known quantity - or he isn't. Why would he be 'just Rand' and not ta'veren, but somehow he's wielding compulsion like it's nothing. The girls reflexively regard compulsion as evil, not based on training or Aes Sedai indoctrination, but because of their moral intuition. Why would Rand, from the same village, be any different?

Let's face it, Egwene at a couple of points through the series does jump the shark where Rand is concerned.
Antoni Ivanov
127. tonka
Oh but it seems logical , Egwene always comes to the worst conclusion about Rand. Why Rand is so hard , because he has a swelled head. Why Rand throw Lords as if they are a sack of grain because he has a swelled head , etc. I really dislike this part of Egwene's personality but it fits why she thinks Rand compelled sisters.

And she sees him changed. He threatens High Lords with dead if they didn't follow his orders(the farm boy she knows wouldn't do such thing), she doesn't realize that he doesn't have a choice, so how much further is for him to use a compulsion if he can treat people this way. That's how she thinks. She is being stupid. I like Egwene . She is doing many good things and in many things she have good opinion and believe but the way she regards Rand is not one of these, to put it mildly.

I thought that when she became Amyrlin she will understand Rand better, now that she is in similar position. But maybe the positions are not similar. She knows that if she orders something it will be obeyed. She is careful in the begining because she knows she can be deposed but still she is Amyrlin and Amyrlin's word is a law. Once she managed to grab authority every her order is obeyed. That's not really with Rand he must be hard , he must show he is in power ,or either they will go behind his back and continue to do what they want.
Maiane Bakroeva
128. Isilel
Tonka @127:

Oh, but Rand does have a swelled head. Isn't it his problem - that he is unable to find a proper equilibrium between his duty, his power and his humanity? Even his relentless self-castigation is incredibly arrogant deep down, as by blaming himself he often refuses other people their right to self-autonomy and personal responsibility.

Even Mat and Perrin don't see him as the old Rand and are afraid of him. Well, Egwene never was. She wanted to keep Rand grounded and to keep the old Rand alive. And it was a good thing, even if Egs was rather clumsy about it. Frankly, I found Rands: "OMG, she is becoming an AS!" attitude equally annoying.

Re: Compulsion, I don't remember at what point they received the news and in what sequence. Did they hear about the embassy, the TAS kidnapping commando and the forcibly bonded AS at once? Because, ironically, some of that _was_ Compulsion, though not Rand's of course.

I also found that Rand demanding fealty from the SAS embassy was a very dubious action by itself, but we should probably wait until the relevant chapter.

Re: Egwene being obeyed - LOL. People are sneaking behind her back as much as they do behind Rand's and the last we saw of her she was betrayed into the hands of her enemies and all the SAS secrets ditto. It is true that the non-DF AS are somewhat constrained by the 3 oaths in their defiance, but it doesn't seem to slow them down all that much. It was Elaida's unrelenting attitude more than anything else that kept the rebellion going.
Lord Haart
129. LordHaart
Just how old are you Haart? It sounds like you are talking down to kids?

Not at all, I'm probably close to Rand's age. And as I said in a later post, this has nothing to do with Jordan writing characters who are older in order to draw older readers. It's about Jordan using older characters as a vehicle for meaning. Many of the older characters in the books are represented in a negative way (the powerful ones at least), so I think that Jordan may have written more POVs from older characters in order to attempt to explain why they act the way they do. As a result, we have Elaida, Niall, Morgase, and probably others, who have all had ups and downs. Viewed from the eyes of the younger Randlanders, Elaida and Niall could be labelled darkfriends, and Morgase a coward, but because of the POVs we know this isn't true.

I think my second post explained things best, I know it was a long read, but the one line that puts it well is: "... the series definitely seems to favour youth & enterprise over age & wisdom...". There are not many counter-examples (Caduane is the only one I can think of, and she's too far gone into Hero status to be counted with the general population). I think that Jordan was pointing out that while in real life, many older & powerful people exploit or misuse their power, they rarely do so out of malice. Similarly, when they appear weak or cowardly, there is a backstory. Humans are great at taking the actions of others at face value, but the truth is that nothing exists in a vacuum.
Kurt Lorey
130. Shimrod
@129 LordHaart.

These books tend to be from a young person's perspective. In that context, it's little wonder that older characters may be viewed somewhat askance.

I cannot agree with your conclusions that RJ is sending some kind of message that favors youth & enterprise over age and wisdom. If anything, he is simply reflecting upon the way that persons of a certain stage of maturity view the world around them. And, there are examples galore for that point of view.
Antoni Ivanov
131. tonka

Did they hear about the embassy, the TAS kidnapping commando and the forcibly bonded AS at once? Because, ironically, some of that _was_ Compulsion, though not Rand's of course.

They don't know about the 51 sisters being bonded until KOD where Egwene finds out while captured and the Salidar Hall by Jahar and Merise. Neither they know about Dumai's Wells (Egwene finds out while captured, and I guess the Hall will know from Egwene sooner or later). All they know is that some Aes Sedai from both fractions(Salidar and Tower) are following Rand.

I also found that Rand demanding fealty from the SAS embassy was a very dubious action by itself, but we should probably wait until the relevant chapter.

That was the logical thing to do. They disobey his wishes , they brought nine, they want to be on equal footing with the tower emissaries , well kneel and all that .

Frankly, I found Rands: "OMG, she is becoming an AS!" attitude equally annoying.

Yes, I competely agree with you.It's annoying. What is more it's amazing how men forget that Aes Sedai are humans too with human feelings and all. Aes Sedai are not One Power channeling robots!

Re: Egwene being obeyed - LOL. People are sneaking behind her back as much as they do behind Rand's and the last we saw of her she was betrayed into the hands of her enemies and all the SAS secrets ditto.

You don't see it. I don't mean just the 3 oaths, I am talking about 3000 years customs which tell that Amyrlin's word is a law. If you don't obey you reject Egwene as Amyrlin and you may as well go to Elaida or you reject being Aes Sedai all together. There is no budge , there is no if, it's a law and you obey.

Rand just came in the scene, and people who were accustomed to order everyone and everything now must obey - High Lords, High Ladies, Kings, Queens,etc, they must obey the Dragon Reborn, and they don't like it, if Rand didn't stiffen their back , there were going to completely disobey him. There is no custom or law to hold them , it's only their fear of disobeying that makes them obey.That's why Rand seems all high and mighty- swelled head.
He must be hard and strong- harder and stronger than anyone but he forgets that he must be human too. He wants to forgo this part and that's wrong and that's what Cadsuane must teach him, I guess.
Marcus W
132. toryx
Freelancer @ 106:

I don't agree that Moiraine refuses to become reasonable. There's blame on both sides in that account.

I (for one) never intended to suggest that Rand is blameless. In every relationship within the books there tends to be responsibility on both sides.

I'm only arguing that Moiraine, given her age and experience, should have known better than to treat Rand the way that she did from TDR onwards. In the case of many of the Aes Sedai, excuses can be made for their antisocial behavior because they've locked themselves away from society for so long.

Moiraine, on the other hand, has not. She's been in the world, dealing with people both common and high. She's cultivated relationships as an Aes Sedai and as a historian (and whatever other role she played over the years).

Rand certainly didn't make it easy for her. But she had been dealing with Two Rivers folk for almost a year by the time Rand decided to take off for Tear. She should have understood that the worst thing she could do was head butt with someone as stubborn as he by then. And in the end, despite all her training, knowledge and experience, Rand was able to see things that she couldn't. He was right to go to Tear and take the Stone. He was right to avoid the war with Illian and go to the Aiel Waste instead. Moiraine fought him every step of the way until she surrendered in Rhuidean.

That's a common theme throughout all the novels: the younger, less experienced people are more successful and more often make the correct choices than the older, wiser, more experienced ones. And frankly, it bothers me, because I think people who are older and more experienced should know more than rank amateurs.
133. Freelancer

I wasn't debating with you, I was amplifying on your theme, that's the idea behind saying there's blame on both sides. What you refer to in your last paragraph is commonly called The Dinosaur Effect, represented as a greater resistance to change on the part of more "mature" people, juxtaposed against a greater flexibility on the part of younger. Moiraine, through several forms of conditioning both external and internal, has set her paradigm regarding the Dragon Reborn in concrete, and has had twenty years, all of Rand's life, for it to harden and settle. It isn't until enough chips and cracks have been beaten into said paradigm that she surrenders, gives up the filters she has been looking through, and sees more clearly.

Rand, on the other hand, faced with what to him is a horrific reality, and feeling utterly alone inside himself about how to deal with it, is forced to accept that massive change is upon him, and that he must figure it out as he goes along. Whatever paradigms he had about the world were obliterated, leaving him much more freedom to see things in terms of what must be done, what should be done, what can be done.

That you are bothered by the young exceeding the results of the older and more experienced is perfectly understandable. When I play sports against people half my age, who are near their peak of physical ability, my favorite taunt is Old age and treachery beats youth and exuberance, every single time.

But fantasy fiction is just that, and the young, inexperienced character is the most sympathetic type, pulling the reader along wondering from problem to problem how our neophyte hero is going to avoiding destruction this time. There are extremely few adventure fantasy sagas featuring older heros. The Frodos, the Drizzts, the Pugs, the Lukes, the Vins, and the Pauls are much more common.
Anthony Pero
134. anthonypero
@Toryx and Freelancer:

This is a fascinating conversation, but is it not always the young, not the old, who change the world? I guess it depends on your definition of young. Probably not as young as Rand, normally.

Please note that changing the world doesn't always mean doing the right thing.

I think, as stated above, the reason that youth succeeds over experience in this story, is that the premise of the story is that change, very, very bad change, is inevitable. Those who adapt, survive. And that is far and away more likely to be the young. Change is especially difficult for those older who are in authority over others, because the way things have always been is what led them to power in the first place.

I really don't see this as a fantasy trope. I think this is accurate IRL, as well.

It's curious that RJ initially tried to write this story with Rand as an older character, in midlife. And he couldn't get it going.

I think that's pretty telling.
Lord Haart
135. LordHaart
@132 toryx
"That's a common theme throughout all the novels: the younger, less experienced people are more successful and more often make the correct choices than the older, wiser, more experienced ones. And frankly, it bothers me, because I think people who are older and more experienced should know more than rank amateurs."

Very nicely put, that's exactly the feeling that I've been getting, hence my posts. There are few characters that break that mold, almost all of them compromised in some way:

Cadsuane: Certainly wise, yet she has a tendency to bully and for Jordan to say that age only counts after ~600 odd years is unlikely imo. She's a Hero, but not a role model, because who can become like her?

Morgase: In EotW, she was awesome, but was later reduced to nothing. Her minor heroic role in KoD was almost laughable imo, so while she did save the day, she has definitely fallen a long way. That said, she might be a character readers look to when they have fallen far and need to work their way back up.

Thom: Awesome for the first half of the series, then reduced to a comic foil (fail?) as said earlier. KoD hinted that he may be on the rise again though.

Noal: So messed up with memory loss/Compulsion that we honestly don't even know if he's a lightfriend.

Eagnin, Domon: These two are a bit better imo, though the whole Seanchan servitude thing was over the top imo, ruined one of WoT's first not-special-but-still-pretty-cool characters. I mean, running away from an empire and then letting said empire chose your name? Gah.

Suian & Moraine: Perhaps they are old now, but they acted like supergirls in NS, and still take on that role more so than the role of wise elder.

Amys, Bair & Co: The WO's were pretty cool, though the fact that a few dozen seem like positive "old & wise" stereotypes is somewhat overridden by something like 400 Shaido WO's being complete and utter tools. They also have a very limited world view (ie the Aiel only).

Dyelin: No need to mention her, we all know she's evil and essentially playing the Alviarin role of making Elayne Queen Goomba so she can either pull the strings from behind, or replace her later on (she figures that Rand will go insane and kill her if she's anything other than openly supportive for now).

Verin: She plays the Wise role every now and then, problem is that half the time, her advice comes in the form of a potion-assisted Compulsion. Her being Black Ajah hasn't been ruled out, which is saying alot given the amount of POV we've had of her.

Lan: Probably the most messed up of any single Randlander aside from Rand himself. Definitely more of a boy (with notions of "honour" to rival Weiramon).

Niall & Elaida: these guys are basically reincarnations of Denethor from LotR.

Setalle Anan: Good to see that your average innkeeper can actually have heaps of common sense... oh wait she's spent 100's of years as an AS.

Bashere: Probably the only major character who seems to be old & have common sense, but then again he took thousands of soldiers away from the Blight and then spent 6 books failing to return. Surely he could go AROUND the borderland army?

That pretty much concludes the list. Aside from the above, all other major characters are either outright evil or outright dumb.


Ok, to be fair, most of the younger major characters aren't THAT young (ie not as bad as Harry Potter where teenagers save the world). But I still mentally move most of them to around the 25 year old mark. I don't really have a huge problem with the ageism in the story (as we see in today's world, huge conflicts and troubles are borne out of the inability/unwillingness of elders to accept the initiatives and cultures of the youths. Not to say that one is right and the other wrong, but Jordan clearly seems to be saying "out with the old, in with the new").

Again, apologies for the long post. I should really blog these elsewhere and just link to them. :P


EDIT: @130, I'm basing my views not on the young'uns views of older characters, but on the POV chapters written from their perspective. So the only sources of bias are the character's (which we can usually see through), Jordan's (which we can guess at) and our own (so of course, I could be entirely wrong, this is just the conclusion I've come to).

I should add that younger characters are also represented in a problematic light, especially their inexperience. But they are often given silver bullets to deal with things like that (Mat's memories, Rand's LTT voice, Egwene's training from Siuan, Elayne's lifelong training to be queen). These all act as ways of giving them the experience of age, possibly without as much of the bias and cynicism (though they seem to get that from other sources). Flawed characters is what makes this book great imo, so I guess I can't really fault Jordan for making ALL characters (even the oldies who should know better) act irrationally at times.
Marcus W
136. toryx
I don't have any real issues with the notion that the young bring change. I certainly can buy the concept that it's the younger generation that will change the world and I agree that this does fit pretty well with reality.

I just don't like seeing the older generations making so many foolish, even childish mistakes.

Then again, I think anthonypero @ 134 is right in that change is the central theme of the story. And that right there does answer the initial question I posed way back @89.

Thanks for the insights, anthonypero and freelancer.
Pete Pratt
137. PeteP
Moiraine and Siuan may appear old, but both are very young for Aes Sedai, as is Elaida, for that matter.

As Siuan points out, very few Sitters have been AS for less than 100 years, which is why she is so distrubed by the mystery of young Sitters.

Siuan and Moiraine were the youngest AS ever, at the age of 22 or so. They are only in their 40s now (which for AS is very young). Many AS spent twice as much as time as Novice and Accepted, so many finally became AS about 35 or so.

Oh, LordHaart -- why do you think Dyelin is evil?
Lord Haart
138. LordHaart
^Just a gut feeling. I'm not saying she's a darkfriend, just evil in the sense that she wants the throne as is merely smart enough to see that the only way to get there is to appease Elayne (and thereby Rand).

I'd actually consider it a brilliant move by Jordan if it turns out that she isn't self-serving. I guess she might see Elayne as something of a daughter/nephew, but I see no other reason for her to support Elayne aside from fear of Rand. She could easily have taken the throne imo, back when most of the other candidates were either her prisoners or supporters.
Alice Arneson
140. Wetlandernw

You beat me to it. I was going to say "has it ever occured to you that Dyelin just plain doesn't want the job?" :) She'd take it as her duty if she thought she was the only suitable person available, but she thinks Elayne will make a good queen, so there's no need to take a job she doesn't want.
141. AlphaShard
I have to say that this chapter illustrates the "grey character" on the good side with Faile. If she had it her way she'd stay in Emond's Field with Perrin for the rest of her life. This is a woman TRAINED to guard the Borderlands and possibly fight Tarmon Gaiden. Yet she seems to see this as a get out of jail ticket or something. She honestly seemed to not care at all about the Last Battle.

I honestly don't hate Nynaeve, in fact I think I like her which is why I get angry with her in CoS. Faile on other hand doesn't appreciate at all what she has and acts like a spoiled child half the time.

So what line of Messana's was so horrible?

Gawyn is insane as far as I am concerned, Elayne picked the wrong brother to back.
142. Freelancer

What Verin did was NOT compulsion. It did not permit Verin to order her subject to do something they would not otherwise do. It opened them up and made them more pliable to her suggestions, but not in opposition to their own conscience. Much as a hypnotist not being able to order someone under their control to commit suicide. Just saying, those sisters all had their own reasons for deciding to bow to Rand, Verin was simply a facilitator (a sneaky, sneaky one).

Rand doesn't have a swelled head. He berates himself anytime he does something which he thinks was due to a swelled head, he is his own worst critic. And we've already had the debate about one person's choices stealing another's. Pffft.

Rand was a tad out of sorts when he commanded the Salidar embassy members to kneel. It wasn't a good day, and as he sees it, they disobeyed his limit of how many sisters could be sent to him. So he flared up a little. Like Vesuvius, Pinatubo, and St. Helens all together. Sisters had just kindapped and beaten him senseless for many days, then these other sisters disregarded his rules. I give him a bit of slack on that one.

RE: Dyelin

Evil? Hmmm, no. The Dyelin debate has been had, and will surely return to full force later in the re-read, but even when Elayne offers her the throne she refuses. Now, Rand wouldn't have gone on a rampage if Elayne willingly gave up rule to someone more experienced, especially Dyelin, whom Rand trusted greatly while he was in Caemlyn running things. Well, we'll see that in the upcoming chapters. Most significantly, she was nowhere to be seen while Gaebril had Caemlyn.

RE: Lan as Weiramon-light

Weiramon is a narrow-minded fool and a darkfriend. Lan is the uncrowned king of a dead nation. His sense of honor is nothing like Weiramon's. It is bred into him from birth, and through training from the last Malkieri warriors. It's a mountain, remember? Who in all the story would you rather have fighting at your side than Aan'Allein?
143. Alphashard
I also wanted to add that I like the idea of the Lord of Chaos being an abstract concept. Sort of like an overall strategy like saying "Cloak and Dagger".
Maiane Bakroeva
144. Isilel
What Verin did was NOT compulsion.

According to Verin herself it was morally close enough as to make no difference and to be eminently stilling-worthy. It just doesn't work quite as well.

Re: Rand's swelled head - he does have it, IMHO. It is not a vainglorious swelling, but his inability to delegate, his conviction that he needs to _force_ people because they can never be convinced to follow or ally apart from a couple of close friends, even his women thing are all signs of huge arrogance. And Min and Cadsuane are working at checking it, with some success. Just as Moiraine, Egs and Avi were trying to do earlier.
Anthony Pero
145. anthonypero
Yep, Isilel, if every Type A personality in the world has a swelled head, then your examples definitively prove that Rand has a swelled head. Because Type A's never act like that.
146. Lateralus`
Ok, extremely late comment i know. I've read and reread the summary (well just the comments because i know the story so well i can tell after the first sentence what part is being summarised) a couple times and an error in this one has always bothered me.

It wasn't Mat that broke the darkfriends nose in tEotW, it was Rand. at the time Mat was still practically blind from Rand's lightning bolt.
147. whitewingedship
Extremely late to the party.

It strains credulity that Morgase could both be a capable ruler of a large nation and not know who really pulls the strings in another nation. That's just not possible. It's just not the kind of secret you can keep on a continent with, like, twelve nations. Especially when Jordan goes so far as to demonstrate how much Elayne and other royals are educated about other regimes...this is a definite plot fail. This is the first time in the series that I noticed Jordan fail to create a credible political world.

And yeah, she should've gone to Cairhien or the Borderlands...and should've seen through Ailron right away.

The whole thing about Morgase's subplot is that she actually seems too together from moment to moment to be making such astoundingly stupid decisions over and over again. There's only so much you can pin on Compulsion trauma...her POV shows she's not quite on the verge of the mental breakdown you'd think she must be having, based on the quality of her decisions. She's supposed to be a wise ruler, and here, she's clearly the point where everything about the scene is less believable. Not the series' finest moment.
148. Laural
I think the bit where Faile misunderstood Perrin, that it was Gwil tugging on Perrin, is the first ref to gay men in the series.

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