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]
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.
Semirhage: CREEPY EW BAD TOUCH
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!