Jul 16 2010 2:15pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Winter’s Heart, Part 2

Oi, mates! This here’s a Wheel of Time Re-read, and don’t you forget it!

Today’s entry covers Part 2 of the Prologue for Winter’s Heart, in which I assiduously avoid even the merest hint of controversy, totally, because I would Nevah!

*adjusts halo*

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, in which you can find links to news, reviews, and all manner of information regarding the newest release, The Gathering Storm, and for WOT-related stuff in general.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 12, The Gathering Storm. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

Prologue: Snow [Part 2]

What Happens
Elayne had been expecting this summons, and knows that it must be obeyed instantly. She stands as Nadere walks in, ignoring the Asha’man completely (to Taim’s astonishment). Dyelin tries to put her off, but Elayne tells her it can’t wait. She is going to send everyone away first, but Nadere tells her “a child waiting to be born” doesn’t have time to send people away, and holds out a thick cloak, asking if she should tell Aviendha Elayne’s modesty is greater than her desire for a sister. Elayne releases saidar, turns her back to Taim, and asks an appalled Dyelin to help her with her buttons. One of the Asha’man snickers; Taim commands them to turn around, but she doesn’t know if he did too. The other women, even Zaida and Renaile, join ranks to form a somewhat inadequate wall between her and the men.

Focus, she told herself. I am composed, I am tranquil. I am . . . I’m stripping naked in a room full of people is what I am!

She finishes undressing and wraps the cloak around herself, sure she feels Taim watching her, and forces herself to give Reene, Dyelin, and Birgitte instructions calmly before walking out. Outside, she says to Nadere that the timing was on purpose, wasn’t it, to make sure she wanted this badly enough, which Nadere acknowledges.

“Those men, turning their backs, and those women, guarding you. I would have put a stop to it if the man in the embroidered coat had not kept looking over his shoulder to admire your hips. And if your blushes had not said you knew.”

Elayne missed a step and stumbled. The cloak flared, losing the little body warmth it had trapped before she could snatch it closed again. “That filthy pig-kisser!” she growled. “I’ll… I’ll… !” Burn her, what could she do? Tell Rand? Let him deal with Taim? Never in life!

Nadere eyed her quizzically. “Most men enjoy looking at a woman’s bottom. Stop thinking about men, and start thinking about the woman you want for a sister.”

They reach a room with a dozen Wise Ones and Aviendha, who is also naked. She and Elayne smile at each other nervously. Amys is there, having Traveled from Caemlyn; Elayne says she had hoped Melaine would be there, but another Wise One, Monaelle, tells her that Melaine can’t be there, as it might kill her unborn children if the weaves brush them, or make them part of the bond. Elayne hadn’t realized that saidar would be used in this ceremony; she’d thought it was just a ritual. She asks hesitantly what will happen with her Warder bond with Birgitte, but Monaelle assures her it will have a negligible effect. The Wise Ones gather in a circle, and Monaelle begins the ceremony by asking if Elayne and Aviendha’s mothers are present. Viendre and Tamela offer to stand in, and kneel behind Elayne and Aviendha (who are also kneeling).

“Who will suffer the pangs of birth for them?” Monaelle asked, and Amys stepped forward.

Two others came with her, a fiery redhead named Shyanda, whom Elayne had seen with Melaine, and a graying woman she did not know. They helped Amys strip to her skin. Proud in her nakedness, Amys faced Monaelle and slapped her taut belly. “I have borne children. I have given suck,” she said, cupping breasts that looked as if she had done nothing of the kind. “I offer myself.”

She kneels as well, and every woman in the room except for Amys, Elayne and Aviendha embraces saidar. Monaelle tells them she will ask them questions, and if they refuse to answer, or lie, they will be sent away and never allowed this chance again. She first asks each of them what is the best they know of the other, and weaves saidar so that their answers come together.

“Aviendha is so confident, so proud. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks she should do, or be; she is who she wants to be,” Elayne heard her own voice say, while Aviendha’s words suddenly were audible at the same time. “Even when Elayne is so afraid that her mouth dries, her spirit will not bend. She is braver than anyone I have ever known.”

Elayne stared at her friend. Aviendha thought she was brave? Light, she was no coward, but brave? Strangely, Aviendha was staring at her in disbelief.

Viendre tells Elayne that courage will leave her one day, and Tamela tells Aviendha that ji’e’toh means that she will care “to her bones” what others think of her; both Elayne and Aviendha nod impatiently, accepting these. Next Monaelle asks for the worst of the other.

“Aviendha…” Elayne’s voice said suddenly, hesitantly. “She… she thinks violence is always the answer. At times, she won’t think beyond her belt knife. At times, she’s like a boy who won’t grow up!”

“Elayne knows that…” Aviendha’s voice began, then gulped and went on in a rush. “She knows she is beautiful, knows the power it gives her over men. She exposes half her bosom sometimes, in the open air, and she smiles to make men do what she wants.”

Elayne is astounded by this, and they frown at each other. Tamela tells Aviendha that she knows she is beautiful too, and has used her beauty to influence men, and that her skill and strength will leave her in time, while Viendre exhorts Elayne to admit that she has been violent as well, and to warn her that beauty flees. Monaelle asks for the most childish thing of the other (Aviendha won’t learn to swim; Elayne gobbles sweets), and then for the thing they are most jealous of in the other.

“Aviendha has lain in the arms of the man I love. I never have; I may never, and I could weep over it!”

“Elayne has the love of Rand al’Th . . . of Rand. My heart is dust for wanting him to love me, but I do not know if he ever will.”

Elayne peered into Aviendha’s unreadable face. She was jealous of her over Rand? When the man avoided Elayne Trakand as if she had scabies?

Monaelle commands each of them to slap the other, twice, which they do hard enough to send the other sprawling. Then she tells them they can leave now if they want, but if they love each other enough to continue, to embrace. Elayne and Aviendha hug fiercely, whispering apologies.

Monaelle was standing over them, now. “You will know anger at one another again, you will speak harsh words, but you will always remember that you have already struck her. And for no better reason than you were told to. Let those blows pass for all you might wish to give. You have toh toward one another, toh you cannot repay and will not try to, for every woman is always in her first-sister’s debt. You will be born again.”

The feel of saidar in the room was changing, but Elayne had no chance to see how even had she thought of it. The light dwindled as if the lamps were being put out. The feel of Aviendha’s hug dwindled. Sound dwindled. The last thing she heard was Monaelle’s voice. “You will be born again.” Everything faded. She faded. She ceased to exist.

Elayne experiences being in the womb again, and being born, but this time with Aviendha as her twin. When they come out of it, resting on Amys, she and Aviendha weep and embrace.

“This is my daughter Aviendha,” Amys said, “and this is my daughter Elayne, born on the same day, within the same hour. May they always guard one another, support one another, love one another.” She laughed softly, tiredly, fondly. “And now will someone bring us garments before my new daughters and I all freeze to death?”

Elayne did not care at that moment if she did freeze to death. She clung to Aviendha in laughter and tears. She had found her sister. Light, she had found her sister!

Toveine Gazal wakes from a pleasant dream of strangling Elaida, and is forced by Logain’s orders to get up immediately. She curses the man and his “filthy bond,” and vows to escape somehow so she really can kill Elaida. The other sisters in the building glare at her or turn their backs, as they all blame Toveine for what had happened; Toveine is further angered that she owes Logain for stopping them taking their revenge on her the first night, and walks out proudly. The size of the village outside amazes her anew, and the wall the Asha’man are building (eight miles in circumference) indicates how many more than the current five hundred members they expect to eventually have.

Made using the Power. The male half of the Power. When she thought of that black wall, she saw an implacable force that could not be stopped, an avalanche of black stone sliding down to bury the White Tower. Impossible, of course. Impossible, but when she did not dream of strangling Elaida, she dreamed of that.

She sees a party on horseback approaching, Queen’s Guards escorting two blonde women, one of whom Toveine sees is wearing a coat fashioned like that of the Captain-General of the Guard, which makes no sense to Toveine. She hides herself automatically, and almost weeps when she realizes she’d just obeyed Logain’s orders to do so without even thinking about it. The Asha’man in the lead is commenting to “Lady Elayne” about how they can make anything they need, and Toveine jerks, wondering if that was Elayne Trakand, and silently hopes she is very careful not to fall into Elaida’s hands, since that would mean Elaida getting something she wanted. Then she realizes through the bond that Logain is getting up, and is compelled to run to his house; on the way she is attacked by dogs, and is (to her surprise) rescued by a group of women, who shoo the dogs off her.

“Go on with you, Aes Sedai,” a skinny, graying woman told her, slicing at a spotted dog with a switch. “They won’t bother you more. I’d like a nice cat, myself, but cats won’t abide the husband now. Go on.”

Toveine hadn’t realized the women knew too, but thinks they clearly wouldn’t help her escape, then, and runs on to Logain’s surprisingly modest house, where a group of Dedicated (including Vinchova, Sandomere, Genhald, and Kurin) are waiting outside patiently, as every morning. The door opens, but instead of Logain, it is Gabrelle, the Brown sister also bonded to Logain. Toveine is disgusted; she’d known through the bond what Logain had been doing the night before, but had never thought it was Gabrelle. Gabrelle seems completely unashamed, and Toveine yanks her aside and tells her they may be captives, but that is no reason to surrender to Logain’s “vile lusts”; then she hesitates and asks if Logain had “ordered” her to do it, but Gabrelle replies that it took her four days to convince Logain to go to bed with her, as she considered it a good way to get him to “gossip.” She then wonders if “it” is like that for ordinary women; Toveine doesn’t understand.

That musing expression never left the other’s face. “I felt… helpless. Oh, he was gentle, but I never really thought before on how strong a man’s arms are, and me unable to channel a whisker. He was… in charge, I suppose, though that isn’t quite right. Just… stronger, and I knew it. It felt… strangely exhilarating.”

Toveine decides Gabrelle is insane. Logain comes out of the house and smiles at Gabrelle (who smiles back), and takes reports from the men. Genhald reports that there are two interested in the “new kind” of Healing Logain had told them about, but it’s not going well so far; Toveine notes the mention of the Accepted Nynaeve al’Meara, though she doesn’t understand what they’re talking about. Vinchova is upset about the Two Rivers recruits, opining that some are far too young; Logain shakes his head and tells them to look out for them where they can, as he doesn’t think the Lord Dragon will appreciate it if they “kill too many” from his district. Another man mutters that he doesn’t think the Dragon cares at all, from what he can see, but Logain rebukes him, which he accepts meekly. Toveine thinks that she’s not so sure al’Thor has turned his back on his home, and wonders why Gabrelle is watching her.

“Last night,” Sandomere said after a moment, “I learned that Mishraile is having private lessons from the M’Hael.” He stroked his pointed beard with satisfaction, as if he had produced a gem of great price.

Perhaps he had, but Toveine could not say what kind. Logain nodded slowly.

Toveine is frustrated at this cryptic news. They are interrupted by Welyn Kajima (who has bonded Jenare), running up to tell them that the M’Hael is back, and has posted seven unbelievable names on the Traitor’s Tree; Genhald repeats the names Rochaid, Kisman, Torval, and Gedwyn in disbelief, wondering why they would desert when the M’Hael gave them “everything a king would want,” and Sandomere can’t believe it of Flinn, Hopwil, or Narishma either, though Dashiva always “had his head in the clouds.” An Andoran man (Canler) spits and remarks that maybe they were less enthused after “the butcher’s yard” that was the Seanchan campaign. Logain asks if Canler is worried about the butcher’s yard, and Canler shrugs and replies they’re all headed there, one way or the other.

“As long as you’re there on the day,” Logain said quietly. He addressed the man called Canler, but several of the others nodded.

Logain tells Gabrelle and Toveine to go inside and have some tea until he gets back, frustrating Toveine’s hopes to wander around and reconnoiter. The men leave and she and Gabrelle go inside, where Gabrelle tells her she’s learned that Logain is the only full Asha’man to live in the village; the others all live in Taim’s “palace.” She also mentions that Logain found Toveine’s lapdesk; Toveine is horrified, thinking of the order it had contained from Elaida, to gentle and execute every man they caught without a trial—an order that could have gotten them all stilled and hanged themselves if it got out—but then Gabrelle tells her he burned it. Toveine relaxes, and downplays the contents to Gabrelle (only Toveine had known of the order) but asks why he would do them any favors. Gabrelle replies that he is no more a villain than most men, but maybe it was just because he didn’t want to experience their executions through the bond. Gabrelle, however, suspects what the order actually was, and speculates that the real reason is that they are more valuable to the Black Tower alive than dead, as a way to stay Elaida’s hand for a while. She goes on that the Black Tower is splintered into factions; Taim’s and Logain’s, and possibly more, and fifty-one Aes Sedai ought to be able to do something with that even with the bonds. Toveine considers, and says that if they do manage to splinter the Asha’man, they’ll have dozens of bands of channeling men roving across the land, which could rip the world apart like a new Breaking; but if they don’t break them up, she’s not certain even the entire reunited Tower would be able to destroy the place. Gabrelle agrees, and then argues that she and Toveine must submit themselves to Lemai and Desandre’s authority, who stand highest among the sisters here, as it is the only chance of keeping them all united. Toveine agrees, but doesn’t tell Gabrelle about the plan she has started to form on her own.

Before Logain and Taim and the rest were destroyed, they would help Toveine Gazal bring down Elaida.

From a window at the Academy of Cairhien, Rand watches the crowds gathering to look at the wrecked wing of the Sun Palace and wonders if it was a mistake to come back so soon, but thinks he hadn’t had time to prepare anything. Min is rummaging through Herid Fel’s books, deciding what to take, and Dobraine reports to Rand while Rand watches men in the courtyard below labor over a bizarre metal contraption on a wagon. Dobraine tells him there is no consensus on who attacked Rand or whether he survived the attempt, or whether he’s gone mad and did it himself. Rand implies that he did, but this doesn’t seem to faze either Dobraine or Idrien, who is also in the room. He asks if anyone has left or gone missing, and Dobraine answers that Ailil Riatin and “some high Sea Folk official” have been missing since the attack, and the Wavemistresses are raising hell about it; Flinn, Hopwil, and Narishma are still in the Palace, making everyone nervous. Rand dismisses the Asha’man, and replies that Ailil and Shalon didn’t flee, but are with Cadsuane in Lady Arilyn’s palace, to add (he thinks) to her collection of nobles with valid claims to royalty (with Caraline Damodred and Darlin Sisnera). He wonders if this means she’s not focused on him after all, and tries to be relieved about it.

Perhaps Cadsuane was directing her meddling elsewhere. Min had seen Sisnera wearing a strange crown; Rand had thought a great deal on that viewing of hers. He did not want to think of other things she had seen, concerning himself and the Green sister. Could it be as simple as Cadsuane thinking she could decide who would rule both Tear and Cairhien?

He thinks she’ll have to be disabused of that notion, if so, but then pauses in astonishment as the men below pull a lever on the contraption, making it lurch slowly across the courtyard, without horses. Idrien is disdainful of Mervin Poel’s “steamwagon,” which breaks down constantly, and then complains about the useless bunch of “dreamers and wastrels” she has trying to make sense of ancient manuscripts that are probably nonsense, talking about “people with their eyes in their bellies” and so on. Rand asks what they’re making, and Idrien grumbles about Kin Tovere’s telescope and Maryl Harke’s huge kites she calls gliders, and Jander Parentakis “riverboats with waterwheels off a mill”. She also mentions Ryn Anhara, who “traps lightning in big jars”; Rand spins around at this, scaring her, but she hastily reassures him it’s nothing like that.

“It is a thing of wires and wheels and big clay jars and the Light knows what. He calls it lightning, and I saw a rat jump down on one of the jars once, on the metal rods sticking out of the top. It certainly looked struck by lightning.” A hopeful tone entered her voice. “I can make him stop, if you wish.”

Rand tells her to let them go on; who knows, maybe one of their inventions will turn out to be important. Dobraine and Idrien look doubtful, and Rand thinks to himself how badly he wants to build something to leave behind, to help the world survive the next Breaking.

I thought I could build, Lews Therin murmured in his head. I was wrong. We are not builders, not you, or I, or the other one. We are destroyers. Destroyers.

Rand shivered, and scrubbed his hands through his hair. The other one? At times, the voice sounded sanest when it was the most mad.

He pulls out two packets and hands them to Dobraine; one names Dobraine Rand’s steward in Cairhien, and Rand tells him to use his judgment, and to throw his full support behind Elayne when she claims the Sun Throne. The addressee of the other packet he tells Dobraine to “pry out,” and decide by what he says whether to give it to him or not. Dobraine is surprised by the name on the packet, but only bows and agrees, commenting that it sounds like Rand intends to be gone for a while. Rand shrugs, and Min comes staggering up with three sacks full of books, and makes a grinning joke to Rand about fitting him for a packsaddle that shocks Idrien but makes Dobraine smile. Rand dismisses them, and goes to pick up one of the scrips when a wave of dizziness hits him.

Knees turning to water, he stumbled. A shimmering face he could not make out flashed through his head. With an effort, he caught himself, forced his legs straight. And the whirling sensation vanished. Lews Therin panted hoarsely in the shadows. Could the face be his?

Min makes light of his stumble, but grows angry when Rand tries to bring up again the issue of her staying behind; Rand backs down, and curses himself for being too weak to make her safe. He weaves a gateway to where they had left their horses, and Min comments that she is not blind, bringing up the way he had gone to Rhuidean and asked endless questions about Shara, and then gone to Tear and asked questions about Chachin, and that it is obvious he’s trying to throw everyone off his trail so no one will know where he is. Rand replies that he thinks he needs to lay more false trails, but Min thinks he should just do whatever it is he’s planning with that sa’angreal in his bag and worry about false trails later. Rand is amazed she figured out that much, and Min asks what is his plan, other than killing Dashiva and the rest.

“I’m going to cleanse the male half of the source,” he said in a flat voice. A momentous announcement. A grand scheme, more than grand. Grandiose, most would say. He might have said he intended to take an afternoon stroll, for all of Min’s reaction. She simply looked at him, hands folded on the pommel of her saddle, until he went on.

“I don’t know how long it will take, and once I start, I think everyone within a thousand miles of me who can channel will know something is happening. I doubt I’ll be able to just stop if Dashiva and the rest, or the Forsaken, suddenly appear to see what it is. The Forsaken, I can’t do anything about, but with luck, I can finish the others.”

Min accepts this calmly, to Rand’s further amazement, and comments that maybe she can think of a better way. Rand doesn’t tell her that the real reason to go after Dashiva et al first is because he hopes it will give him time to get over this new sickness that happens every time he wields the Power now.

If not, he was not sure the two ter’angreal riding behind his saddle were going to be any use at all.

While the sister-bonding ceremony is not my favorite scene in WH, I think it was brilliantly done, not least because it was so much more profound an event than what I (and Elayne) had expected it to be. Very much a “whoa” reaction on first reading, for me. Of necessity, I rather short-changed the description of the actual rebirth bit in the summary, but it’s well worth reading for the imagery, which Jordan is still good at, it turns out.

Not everyone shares my reaction to this scene, of course. I have read several sharp criticisms of the sister-bonding ritual (both here in the comments and elsewhere), which vary in what particularly they object to, but generally tend to agree that the overall effect was sexist and exploitative, whether it was intended that way or not. These criticisms are not without their merit, especially those that point out that there exists in WOT the same disparity with ritual nudity as there is with homosexuality; which is to say, the women have both, and the men have neither. This is an extremely valid point, which I do agree reflects the author’s personal… not quite “prejudices,” because I think that has an overly negative connotation, but rather blind spots.

All that being said, I hesitate to agree fully with this interpretation, and in fact my inclination is to reject it—at least in regards to this scene specifically. Explaining why is a bit of a philosophical minefield, but I’ll give it a shot.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is both a brilliantly written near-future dystopia, and a seminal work of feminist speculative fiction. And one of the reasons why it was so important in the latter sense is because Atwood was just as sharply critical of the flaws in the feminist movement of the time (the 1980s) as she was of its opponents. In particular, Atwood was scathing (if you read between the lines) in her contempt for the line of thinking that led some feminists to join forces with right-wing hard-liners in their crusade against pornography, which is one of those boggle-worthy situations that proves that logic and politics are, more often than not, mortal enemies. “Strange bedfellows,” indeed.

In general what you’ve got here is a fundamental conflict between, on the one hand, the desire to throw off the stigma which dictates that the human body, in particular the female body, is an object of shame and inherent immorality, and on the other, the desire to condemn practices which promote the objectification and exploitation of women via their bodies. It’s not difficult to see how the two objectives at some point inevitably end up at cross-purposes with one another.

To say this is an ethical quagmire of epic proportions is probably the understatement of the geological age, and it is certainly not one I propose to solve or even delve into more than is absolutely necessary in this venue. But it is relevant to our discussion here in that this conflict is, essentially, the source of the argument over what exactly this scene is portraying.

To put it baldly: is the sister-bonding ceremony a celebration of femininity, or is it, well, porn?

What tips the balance for me against the latter is a combination of factors. One, I am wary of the slippery slope which leads to the conclusion that because some depictions of female nudity are exploitative and degrading (and these certainly exist) that it follows that all depictions of female nudity are so. Two, I am even more leery of the semi-unspoken implication in many of these kinds of criticisms that female nudity cannot be depicted by a straight male writer, at all, without being exploitative by definition, which seems to me to be a tinfoil-wrapped express ticket to Reverse Sexism Crazytown.

And third, I have to wonder how much of the criticism directed against this scene is about what Jordan’s intentions were in writing it, and how much is about our own culturally ingrained discomfort with a scene that is so richly and unabashedly female in content.

Especially with its emphasis on childbirth, which historically has been an event fraught with hysterical (pun intended) and often blatantly misogynistic superstitions, sometimes horrific in their consequences, the effects of which still linger today in the reflexive “ew” reaction so many people seem to have to discussions or depictions of menstruation, the birthing process, breastfeeding, etc. Icky female stuff, dontcha know. And I’m including women as much as men here in that kneejerk reaction; sexism, ironically, knows no gender bounds, especially the subtler forms of it.

I say this because I often find I have to fight that ingrained reaction in my own self. No one on this earth is completely free of bias, and no one on earth can completely free themselves of the cultural blind spots they grew up with. What we can do is learn to recognize them when they happen, by examining our own reactions to things and trying to determine why we reacted the way we did—especially when that reaction is a negative one.

I’m starting to slip off target here, so let me sum up by saying: yes, the criticisms leveled against this scene, and the depiction of nudity in general in WOT, have validity. That said, sometimes you just have to make a decision about what side of the coin you’re going to choose to turn up, and what I got out of the sister-bonding ceremony when I read it, initially and now, is not that it was being exploitative, but rather that it was celebrating, in a very SF way, the wonderful mystery of the way we all come into the world, and what it means to be born—or reborn—and be frail, and naked, and human, and yet miraculously not alone.

*shrug* That’s how I see it. Take it for what it’s worth.


Toveine: I appreciated her POV mostly for the all-too-rare glimpse it gives of the Black Tower in a slice-of-life sense, which I enjoyed even with having to filter it through her (somewhat understandable, perhaps) prejudices on the subject. Also, her categorizing a dream of strangling Elaida as “pleasant” was pretty funny.

Lots of reinforcement of Logain’s Good Guy-ness here (his protection of Toveine, his admonishment of Canler) which pleased me as a (sometimes inexplicable) Logain fan. I remember I was startled to realize the implications of Logain’s conversation with his followers, which was that other than the men Rand promoted offsite and Logain himself, every single full Asha’man at the Black Tower is, essentially, a Darkfriend. I mean, I’m not 100% certain this is the case, but that certainly seems to be the logical conclusion to draw here—now, anyway, that I’m positive Taim really is a Darkfriend himself. In which case Eek doesn’t seem to quite cover it.

Also, am confused: which of the eight names brought up (Kisman, Torval, Rochaid, Gedwyn, Flinn, Hopwil, Narishma, and Dashiva) is not on the Traitor’s Tree, which Kajima said only had seven? I’m not sure if that’s a gaffe, or what, unless it indicates that Taim knew Dashiva’s real identity and thus left him off the list. However, I’m under the impression that we find out later Taim never knew who Dashiva really was. Or maybe it’s just that Kisman et al never knew? Argh, I can’t remember. I might come back to this later.

Dogs and cats: Not living together, I guess! This always seemed to me to be one of the more random yin-yang emphasizers in WOT, that dogs like male channelers and hate female channelers, while cats do the opposite. I suppose this guarantees I can’t channel, since I am a dog person. (I don’t mind cats, but dogs are much more fun. And less likely to attack you in your sleep.)

Gabrelle: *headdesk*

Lord. Look, all I’m gonna say is, if you swing that way that is super A-OK for you, sweetie, but let’s not speak for the whole gender on that score, mmmkay?

Moving on.

Rand: Sees Moridin’s face here even before seizing the Source, so I guess that blows my previous theory about what triggers it out of the water. I don’t have a lot else to say about it at this time, other than that I am very leery of where all this is going.

More fun cusp-of-Industrial-Revolution stuff here, with Rand essentially watching the first horseless carriage being invented under his nose. And electricity, too! Which is maybe jumping the gun a little, but hey.

I confess, though, I have absolutely no idea what is supposed to be meant by Idrien’s comment about “people with eyes in their bellies.” Seriously, the hell?

And I really don’t have a lot else to say about Rand, except that it’s completely obvious even here that his plan for cleansing saidin has holes you can drive a steamwagon through, at least in the sense of not getting immediately killed a lot the moment he begins. Which means, Cadsuane. Sigh. We’ll get to it.

Aaaaand I am so, so done. Have yourselves a merry little weekend, my peeps, play nice in the comments, and I’ll see you next week!

3. Megaduck
"I confess, though, I have absolutely no idea what is supposed to be meant by Idrien’s comment about “people with eyes in their bellies.” Seriously, the hell?"

In European descriptions of Africa around the turn of the 16th century there were notes about people with no neck and their faces were in their chest.

My first reaction was that the "Old Documents" they were looking at predated the Age and Legends and were actually First age documents.
Marcus W
4. toryx
I for one, as a male feminist who definitely notes the absence of male homosexuality and the lessened amount of male nudity but doesn't really care about it, found the rebirth ritual to be rather touching.

Okay, more than touching. I was fairly awed by how emotional the scene made me, particularly when it was a marriage between a favorite character and a most hated one.

So I was certainly impressed with it. RJ did a great job.
5. alreadymadwithfraud
It is a common problem with some of the early writer-explorers who actually turned out to be frauds. They write of all these fantastic things found in far off lands that they've never really visited.
6. earlgrey
re: "I confess, though, I have absolutely no idea what is supposed to be meant by Idrien’s comment about “people with eyes in their bellies.” This is mentioned in one of Noal's stories. Jain Farstrider has seen them.
Tom Burton
7. Conky
Thanks for the new post, Leigh.

Also, Dobraine isn't Rand's steward of Illian. He's the steward of Cairhien. It's Friday though, so you're forgiven.
Jason Kuhlmann
8. BrowncoatJayson
re: "I confess, though, I have absolutely no idea what is supposed to be meant by Idrien’s comment about “people with eyes in their bellies.”

This is also one of the sightings said to be reported by Marco Polo and John Mandeville, prior to Columbus' trips: Google Books

Black Ashamen: Yeah, does not bode well for Rand et al. Does explain how Moradin got his Travelling boy in TGS, tho. Really looking forward to Logain putting the hurt on Taim...
Tom Burton
9. Conky
re: female nudity

I'm thankful it's female nudity and not male.

nude female = beautiful
nude male = gross

note - This post is written by a straight male and was written tongue in cheek. However, feel free to flame away if you so desire.
9. pro_star
Whoo! I'm in the top ten!!
(been lurking for quite a while) Leigh, keep up the good work! I heart your readthroughs!!!

Also, maybe I'm odd, but I was never struck by the sister ceremony as being sexist..I just saw it playing off the modesty of Elayne and seeing how serious she was about it. *shrug*

TGIF everyone!
James Jones
10. jamesedjones
I confess, though, I have absolutely no idea what is supposed to be meant by Idrien’s comment about “people with eyes in their bellies.” Seriously, the hell?
Could just be a messed up translation from someone describing a canabalistic belief of taking someone's knowledge. I still remember translating the Illiad in AP Latin. Some of the garbage we came up with makes that look like a perfectly comprehensible idea.

Edit: It may have been the Aeneid. Too long ago, and never really cared for it anyway. :P
Scientist, Father
11. Silvertip
I tend to agree with you about the sister-bonding rite, Leigh. The imagery really does invoke childbirth and newbornhood (if that's a word) rather than picturing the participants as some kind of sex objects. I at least do have somewhat twitchy antennae about things like this being titillation under a false flag, just because of so many examples in pop culture that are sold as being "a woman expressing her power" when what that power is being used for is to fulfill male fantasies. Bleh. I really don't think that's what's going on here, though. It's a bit like breastfeeding in public: If you find that pushing your "this has to do with sex" buttons, it's probably cause to question your own mindset rather than taking a negative view of the mother involved. The actual reason this scene falls short for me is that I just can't buy the connection between two adults adopting each other as siblings and all the rebirth imagery. IMHO, it's a well-done set piece that has only a tenuous reason to be where it is in the story, but was kept in because it's such a cool bit of writing when taken alone. Not that that ever happens.

Ritual female nudity is absolutely more common than male in WoT, but am I right in thinking of at least two counterexamples: male and female gai'shain on equal footing after Dumai's Wells, and Rand's embarrassment in the sweat baths in Shienar? OK, those aren't precisely "rites," but still.

OTOH, every last one of the named characters that gets captured with Faile and carried naked through the snow is female. In most individual cases there's reason in the story for it, but as a whole, hmmph. Imagine the different feeling if, say, Basel Gill was one of the captives.

j p
14. sps49
Cameras on a neck strap?

I found the ceremony touching.

I've mentioned it before, but society in general appears to like/ tolerate female (and female + female), less so male (and male + male) images, especially in certain areas. Magazines aimed at men sell better with attractive females on the cover, but magazines aimed at women also sell better with attractive females on the cover. Exceptions include "Sexiest Man" issues and huntin' magazines.

Before anyone yells at me, please check out the racks at your grocery checkout line.

The Black Tower is getting a lot of eeevil buildup. The payoff needs to be big, too.

Why is Gabrelle watching Toveine closely?

And don't tell me a dream of strangling Elaida wouldn't be pleasant.
Samuel Walker
15. lambada
"I suppose this guarantees I can’t channel, since I am a dog person."

Or you have been transmigrated by the DO and can actually channel Saidin!
Tomas Gerst
16. IamnotSpam
Sorry the First Sister Ritual was always a moment of awsomeness for both of them to me. It was the biggest first step in the relationship between Rand and his girls that made some future "whatever is going to happen" possible.
Tricia Irish
17. Tektonica
Great post, Leigh. I really appreciate your explications on Feminism. You seem very involved and attentive to the issues, while seeing both sides of every coin.

The post:

She clung to Aviendha in laughter and tears.
Is this a deliberate use of Cads favorite phrase? Does this laughter and tears have anything to do with what the AM and Rand must be taught? Being reborn "human" perhaps?

Gabrelle tells Toviene that Logain is the only full AM to live in the village...all the rest live in Taim's Palace. I guess Leigh got to this.....Logain truly needs to set up his own bailiwick inside the BT. Very scary that all the full AM are Taims.

Idrien is a strange person to be running Rand's academy, as she seems to disdain what everyone there is doing and inventing. I'm just saying.....

And poor Rand.....I feel so bad for him! Rand thinks to himself how badly he wants to build something to leave behind, to help the world survive the next Breaking. (His breaking.) He wants to leave something of value for the future. What an admirable desire. I like this guy!
18. Megaduck
sps49 @14 Why is Gabrelle watching Toveine closely?

I always thought that Gabrelle doesn't really trust Toveine and is in the middle of changing her alliances. She's worried that Toveine might try and hurt to DR through his attachment to his home district.
Noneo Yourbusiness
19. Longtimefan
Honestly I never had any problem with the sister bonding scene. I always thought it was interesting.

It emphasized the importance of what the two people involved were doing and it related to how people are born.

Sure they are all naked (well the prinicpal players) but it would have been stranger to discribe people dressed in some sort of ceremonial garments for the sake of modesty.

What baby is born delicatly clad in the most modest of robes?

If anything I think we should be glad they were only glistening in sweat afterwards.

I am going to assume however that this first sibling bonding ceremony is available to both women (obviously) and men (not shown). This may not be true since there is the precedent for one cheif to have two wives so they may chose before hand or afterward to become first sisters as well.

Still, first sisters do not have to marry the same man (I suspect) since the bond is between two people who want to strengthen the relationship between eachother as siblings not as romantic partners.

I personally find it kind of silly to think that the first sister ceremony could be argued as sexist based on the fact that the women had to be naked.

If they were told to "learn the curve and dimple of your sister's skin" in some elaborate soft core massage sequence then yes it would be sexist.

If the personal reveal section was littered with comments such as "Elayne's best quality is helping me pick out the finest silks and combing my hair so it shines like copper fire." then yes it would be sexist.

Honestly though if "gobbling sweets" is the worst thing you can say about someone you want as your power bonded first sister for total and for true then you are getting a pretty good deal because it is better than saying she is an unrepentant flip skirt who is constantly chasing your man....

oh wait... never mind.

Let's just call that Berelain and why she and Faile will never be first sisters. :)

As for Gabrelle and her "study" (she is a brown you know) on being helpless in the arms of a man, quite a man, what a man, blah blah blah, it does not really help the argument that the all nude revue just a few pages back is the most upstanding and forthright (even though it is, seriously how else are you going to re-birth people? Wrap them in a blanket and force them to struggle thier way out while you crush them from the outside.... oh wait.. um... anyway).

In a way it is a plausible, personal revelation for an individual who is intersted in studying things and who has been generally the most powerful person in any encounter with all men and most women (not ment "THAT" way but yeah, that applies also). Pacing wise it might have been better further along in the book so it did not shade the perception of the ceremony by such quick association.

Oddly I like Toveine and wanted more from her in this book. As quickly sketched as her personality was there was something engaging about her to me.

I never liked the dog/cat dichotomy because it was more of a whimsical stereotype than a naturally occuring behavior but this is only fiction...based on the concept of a future/past earth where people apparently speak English and have cats and dogs but in a completely unrelated and entirely fictional way. :)

It probably has something to do with being able to channel but does that only count for people who have started to channel or can cats and dogs tell the difference between channelers and non-channelers if they are dormant.

If this were true then the White Tower could just send Sisters out with a cat and see which young women have the lap a cat would like to nap upon. Unfortunately they could not use dogs to find men who can channel since the dogs would be attacking the Sisters.

But not Merillin Gemalphin who was healing stray cats and dogs in Caemlyn. Maybe the dogs did not attack her because they were sick. Maybe being Black Ajah gives some sort of animal neutrality (like an evil Swiss Snow White). Maybe it is just as story and I should really just relax.

Well now that the prolouge is done I guess that means we are half way through the book. :)

Within the first 20. whoo hoo! To be fair when I started writing this there were only 6 posts. I write slow.
20. JElrod
On Taim taking all the full AM...I always got the impression that Taim took care of the boys that were loyal to them. Not that they were any stronger or advanced in the power than lower ranking AM but if they are loayal to Taim first and Rand, Logain second then he gives them special treatment over the others.

OTOH that doesnt make them all darkfriends (Not that the idea is far fetched I am just eternally optomistic) I have seen many times good people get manipulated by evil minds. It is easy to get caught up in other peoples beleifs if you are the one with a weaker will. I really hope that Min's vision of Logain returning to glory wasn't just the reversed stilling, and that he and his boys get to lay the smack down on Taim and his yes men.
Maiane Bakroeva
21. Isilel
Well, Leigh's commentary mostly summed my feelings, but that won't stop me, Mwaha-ha :) :

This is yet another instance of a captive/enslaved woman and it is pretty chilling how all-encompassing the Compulsion that they are under is. I really hope that it will turn out that it can be broken by the bondee eventually, because otherwise it seems to be a cheap and accessible version of cour'sourva, almost, and ripe for misuse.

So according to Gabrelle the AS need to be properly dominated for romantic fulfillment? Blergh. She could have taught Logain to mute the bond too, rather than broadcast everything to Toveine.

Still no mention of the Warders that some sisters must have had, too.

I hate the whole sudden cats-and-dogs stuff - didn't Marillin Gemalphin love _both_ back then and vice-versa?

I wish we had more glimpses of the Black Tower, too.

Re: Elayne, if I was an Andoran, I'd wonder at the ceremony and whether it would give Aviendha some claims or whatnot. OTOH, it clearly cemented Elayne's standing with the Aiel, so...

And yeah, Rand's plan re: Cleansing is totally headdesky and the event itself should have recieved much more gradual buildup, IMHO.
That's why people becoming indignant at various characters daring to think that they know better than Rand bemuse me so much - Rand clearly has some very dumb ideas once in a while ;).
Tom Burton
22. Conky
Tektonica @17:

And poor Rand.....I feel so bad for him! Rand thinks to himself how badly he wants to build something to leave behind, to help the world survive the next Breaking. (His breaking.) He wants to leave something of value for the future. What an admirable desire. I like this guy!

I agree. I really liked Rand's thoughts in this prologue. You can't help but feel for the guy.

Longtimefan @19:

I personally find it kind of silly to think that the first sister ceremony could be argued as sexist based on the fact that the women had to be naked.

Agreed. I always just got the impression that the Aiel were much more comfortable being nude. I just took this as another cultural thing that a Randland westerner was uncomfortable with. Just like sweat-tents, gai'shain, and taking a nude jog to Rhuidean.
Joseph Blaidd
23. SteelBlaidd
Coun me as one of thoughs who always found this to be a wonderfull expression of femininity. It has, if anything, grown in that respect with the birth of my two children as we have grown more knowildgeable about birth and the distortions introduced into that proccess by modern medical practice(a long rant which I don't have time for at this moment but in short the birth of my first child resembled an assault more than anything else.)

I've always admired Jordan for his deft understanding of ceremony and ritual. As to why ther is more female nudity, 90% of the rituals in WoT are female centered reflecting the inversion of the Fall and consiquent exclusion of men from the "Priesthood."

Also Logain rocks.
Chris Greenland
24. greenland
So, this didn't even occur to me until this re-read reminded me that Elayne and Taim have met, but...I wonder if Elayne will end up being the one who takes care of the Black Tower? Her succession storyline is mostly wrapped up and Sanderson has said she shows up in ToM...
Jason German
25. naillin
I'm somewhat curious what a first-brother ceremony (if it exists) would be like.

This is the first time I've made the connection of dogs liking male channelers and cats liking female channeler swith Perrin and the wolves being so protective of Rand.

I've always wondered if it might not be Moridin touching one of the Sources instead. Or if the bond had grown to the point that even thinking about touching the Source spurred it on.
26. Hari Coplin
Besides, on the sex part, it is clear the first-sister ceremony is the same of men, well for first-brothers then. I do think they should, as hinted in the text (men usually "walk out" then, which happens if one is not immediately ready to go on), considering the hitting part: have two men to twice hit each other in the face as hard as they can without the other bracing for it, and first of all, they may not be able to physically go through the rest despite the best of will, and secondly it may be difficult to immediately think straight.
James Jones
27. jamesedjones
21 Isilel
Re: Elayne, if I was an Andoran, I'd wonder at the ceremony and whether it would give Aviendha some claims or whatnot.
Lol. I guess we have to wonder "how many lines to Ishara" she has. :D
28. Freelancer
First-sister ceremony. So not sexist. Natural. Emotional. Primal. Human. Oh sure, a man can't write anything about femaleness without being hammered for it. Too bad there wasn't a female on hand who might have helped with the occasional insight, without having to reference Friedan. Hi, Harriet!

Rand has been working on the concept of cleansing saidin since he went through the redstone doorway in the Great Holding of the Stone and asked the Aelfinn how to do it. He has been pondering it for a very long time. He interrogated Asmodean about the concept (no help, Asmodean figured it was a doomed venture, and had nothing to offer). Rand conversed with Herid Fel about it.

That's a significant buildup by any standard. 7 book of story time. Oh, not many details presented in text. Still, it was nothing like a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Conky, check out the little blue link at the top of the comment entry box, and it will show you how to use the bbCodes for quotes, links, italics/bold/underline.
Jennifer McBride
29. vegetathalas
I always wanted to know what they did to make Aviendha embarrassed. I'm not sure I've ever seen an embarrassed Aiel, except for when she's discomfited around Rand.
30. EarthandIce
Thanks for the post, Leigh.

Conky @22

"Agreed. I always just got the impression that the Aiel were much more comfortable being nude. I just took this as another cultural thing that a Randland westerner was uncomfortable with. Just like sweat-tents, gai'shain, and taking a nude jog to Rhuidean."

This is how I read it, as a part of their culture. Granted, I read quite a bit on Anthropology and have made the decision to accept individual cultures 'as is'. If I remember correctly, the Japanese had a similar approach to nudity, it was seen but not seen.

Gabrelle has her own way of dealing with her capture and bonding, granted I do not think that would be my way of doing it, but everyone has their own way of coping.

If I remember correctly from the first read of the series (I purchased the first I think 5 books at once in paperback in 1997 ??) I always wondered about Taim. The character always reminded me of Gode from Four Kings for some reason. That and the way he always treated the 'students' and the attitudes when they encountered Rand at the Farm.
Scientist, Father
31. Silvertip
@ 26 Hari Coplin: (men usually "walk out" then, which happens if one is not immediately ready to go on)

Right! I had missed that detail ... so a "first-brothers" ceremony obviously exists, and is very similar. Just not seen in the series (yet).

32. swampyd
They are interrupted by Welyn Kajima (who has bonded Jenare), running up to tell them that the M’Hael is back, and has posted seven unbelievable names on the Traitor’s Tree; Genhald repeats the names Rochaid, Kisman, Torval, and Gedwyn in disbelief, wondering why they would desert when the M’Hael gave them “everything a king would want,” and Sandomere can’t believe it of Flinn, Hopwil, or Narishma either, though Dashiva always “had his head in the clouds.”

This seems to say that there were 8 names, but only 7 of them were unbelievable, and that he totally could believe that Dashiva was up there. That's how I read it, at least.
Leigh Butler
33. leighdb
Conky @ 7:

Oops. I'll have to fix that, thanks.
Alice Arneson
34. Wetlandernw
Sister-bonding: It's funny. A lot of people seem to have very strong feelings about this scene, but I really... don't. I got a chuckle out of the simultaneous answers business, and thought it was well-constructed as a ritual. (Oh, and the bit where Nadere came to get Elayne in front of a whole bunch of people was priceless, although I was a little irritated (at least the first time around) that it had to be those particular people, who really didn't need any more amunition against Elayne.) The birthing scene? Meh. Whatever. I don't know, it just didn't hit me hard either way. FWIW, my husband's reaction to the birth of our first child was that "it's probably the... .... ... earthiest ... thing I've ever witnessed."

Just in case anyone cares, I nearly threw The Handmaid's Tale across the room. It's one of the few books that I started and just refused to finish. The only thing that saved it from throwing was the fact that it was a library book, and I have this ingrained need to take care of things I borrow.

I got a big charge out of Toveine's feelings toward Elaida. Dreams of strangling her, hoping Elayne can stay clear just because she's something Elaida wants, and Before Logain and Taim and the rest were destroyed, they would help Toveine Gazal bring down Elaida. Obviously not a Foretelling, that one... Still, I found it entertaining to read. :)

And see? We all need Cadsuane in our lives. ;p

Now I'll go read the comments.
Noneo Yourbusiness
35. Longtimefan
@ 11 Silvertip.

The Aiel who captured Falie and company killed every man there. I do not know if even Master Gill would have been spared.

Partially I suspect it is because the men with them were soldiers and would continue fighting so the nobles they were protecting could escape.

Would Basel Gill, or even Aram for that matter, stopped fighting the Aiel who attacked the hawking party? I am not sure but it would seem reasonable that with their loyalty they may fight to the end.

That being said there are people who have a self preservational instinct and would have tried to surrender or flee when they saw that they were the only people standing as those around them were dead or dying. This happens in the story in several other situations but not in that one.

Apparently Sevanna wanted more servants but only female servants. I do not know if that was something the Shaido and Brotherless knew going after the hawking party or if it just worked out that way.

Killing all the men becauase they are fighting back, noble. Killing all the men because they are men just so you do not have to write a scene of them being led through the snow naked, sexist. :)

I am doubting that the latter was the reason.

But that is not about this prolouge so it is niether here or there.

but in speaking of the Shaido in general leads back to Cairhien and speaking of Cairhien leads to Dobraine who is a pretty good character and who has "bra" in his name making him a supporter of women's rights (and lefts)

Invisible Cheese
36. MatOdin
If this hasn't been said already, I think I remember reading that men seldom get past the 'hit each other' part. I think this may be due to RJ's statement earlier on: Men Forget, but never forgive, and Women forgive, but never forget.

We men seem to have a harder time forming close attachments (In our own gender) than women, and I don't mean to offend anyone.

For instance, oh, let's go back: In childhood, which friends seem less self conscious about hugging? Friends who are both female. In adult males, there are the infamous 'man hugs' but those are often between two adult men who are confident about their sexuality.

Sorry if I offend, but frankly I'm standing by my opinions.
diane heath
37. jadelollipop
Meant to mention this earlier when I first read today's post. Melanie (?) not there because weaves could harm babies. Elayne ?? effect of Warder bond with Birgitte on sister bond. Should have had no effect. E/B bond causes mirroring effect which was a surprise to all...Made me wonder if Min's comments about Aviendha's 4 babes at once having something odd about them could be due to all the weaves involved.
Idea clearer in my head than on paper.
Lots going on here so will check back later :)
john mullen
38. johntheirishmongol
So the ceremony was nice. I got rebirth out of it as well.

Rand has started a few things to hopefully carry on in the past. Wasn't that what the school was all about?

I thought the logain thing was interesting, but figured that it would get some commentary.
Thomas Keith
39. insectoid
Yay, new post! Thanks Leigh!!

I actually don't have a lot to say about it, although the slice-of-life bits were interesting (like the miniature Industrial Revolution going on in Cairhien). I did enjoy the first-sister ceremony; like some people I thought it rather touching.

(I don’t mind cats, but dogs are much more fun. And less likely to attack you in your sleep.)
I LOVE that video. My mom sent it to me a couple years ago; it's become sort of a household joke now to say "Meow" and point in our mouths. ROFL!

Conky @9/22: I agree; after all, as sps49 @14 mentions, it's ingrained in our society, more or less. And, likewise, immodesty in Aiel culture. That is all I'll say on the subject.

EDIT: Comment 0w30 FTW! ;)

Brandon D
40. Ishmayl
Rand: Sees Moridin’s face here even before seizing the Source, so I guess that blows my previous theory about what triggers it out of the water. I don’t have a lot else to say about it at this time, other than that I am very leery of where all this is going.

I was under the assumption that this happened because Moridin had seized the Source, during the time when Morrie was still figuring out that he could no longer use Saidin anymore without getting the heaves.
Kurt Lorey
41. Shimrod
Regarding the nudity thing. While I appreciate the concerns, would we be having the same discussion if we were all West Europeans? How would the discussion differ if we were Hindi, Muslim, East European, South American or non-Muslim African?

I think this just shows that Americans (on both sides of the X-X/X-Y fenceline) just seem to have some continuing issues with nudity (and sexual orientation).

Regarding Gabrelle. IMO, she just decided she needed to observe Logain closely and decided upon a certain methodology to accomplish that task. She isn't coping or surrendering. She's improvising and adapting.

Her amazement at not being the "in charge" and liking it shouldn't be too surprising, as she likely had never experienced feelings like those before. She found something new tittilating. So what?

Taim didn't know who Dashiva was. That is somewhat odd, considering who many think is teaching him, but there you have it.
Bridget McGovern
42. BMcGovern
Conky@7--You're right about Cairhien. We should have caught that earlier, sorry! I just made the appropriate edit; thanks :)
Lannis .
43. Lannis
I can remember having no idea what this first-sister ceremony would entail, and being completely satisfied with the concept that Jordan brought out. Especially the "you've already hit her and for no other reason than you were told to do so" thing.

Re: female nudity as porn... to say I find this concept problematic would be an understatement. Really now, using the example we have at hand, the first-sister ceremony was not sexual (to me) in any way and therefore was not anywhere near porn.

Perhaps that's just me...

Re: Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale... I've had to study it twice, and both times it literally gave me nightmares. ::shudder::

That said it's the only Atwood book I've been able to finish (but I know why you couldn't, Wetlander... trust me--ugh)... everything else she's written bores me to tears.

Thanks Leigh!
Don Barkauskas
44. bad_platypus
Isilel @21:
So according to Gabrelle the AS need to be properly dominated for romantic fulfillment? Blergh.
Nope. According to Gabrelle, she personally found this encounter exhilarating. Nowhere in the speech does she even suggest that Toveine (or any other Aes Sedai, for that matter) should try it, too. There are people who get a thrill out of being dominated sexually; I personally find that disturbing, but perhaps Gabrelle is one of them.
I hate the whole sudden cats-and-dogs stuff - didn't Marillin Gemalphin love _both_ back then and vice-versa?
It's not sudden. There are indications going back to tEotW of cats having an affinity for Aes Sedai; and the only mention of dogs in relation to Marillin is in LoC, Chapter 10, where there's a rumor of an Aes Sedai in Caemlyn Healing cats and dogs. That rumor is later amended to include just cats in LoC, Chapter 42, so the earlier rumor was probably partially wrong. Marillin is consistently shown as loving cats, not dogs.
Dustin Call
45. swelmo3
Knees turning to water, he stumbled. A shimmering face he could not make out flashed through his head. With an effort, he caught himself, forced his legs straight. And the whirling sensation vanished. Lews Therin panted hoarsely in the shadows. Could the face be his?

Rand: Sees Moridin’s face here even before seizing the Source, so I guess that blows my previous theory about what triggers it out of the water.

Uhh, you missed it. Moridin seizes either the Source or the True Power. Moridin probably has the same reaction when Rand seizes the Source.
46. shadar
re: Gabrelle.

The whole submitting to a higher power thing is a theme being explored from all sides. Ashaman bonding sisters, Sisters bonding ashaman, Tylin and Mat, Graendal, Nynaeve and Lan, etc..

But one happy thought - assuming the future King and Queen of Malkier live through the LB -- guess who gets to command in public?
47. Lsana
I thought the birthing scene was well done, gave some interesting character development, and was not in the least sexist.

That being said, I did kind of roll my eyes when I realized we were doing this in the nude. Another important female ritual where the participants had to be naked? That I think is what makes people think of this as sexist: not the fact that they have to be nude for this particular ritual but the fact that just about all female rituals from extremely diverse cultures all require them to be naked. This one isn't bad, just another link in a pattern.

@17 Tektonica,

I wonder if, in order to really learn laughter and tears, Rand is going to have to go through the First Brother ceremony with Mat and Perrin.
Alice Arneson
48. Wetlandernw
Lannis - Glad to know someone understands and agrees. :) I wasn't being forced to study it, fortunately, though I might have gone in and thrown it at the professor's head if I'd had to buy it for a class! My book group was reading it, so I had no problem going to the meeting and saying "Sorry, no way was I finishing this stupid thing!" If it wasn't sufficiently compelling before it got sufficiently infuriating, well, her bad, says I! And I didn't find it compelling (or even very interesting) in terms of either story or quality of writing, so... back to the library it went! Then again, I found her prejudices so blatant and her political agenda so obvious, even in the first few chapters, that I was rolling my eyes well before I got to the book-throwing stage.

Back to WoT... I've always thought RJ did a pretty good job with the nudity stuff. In certain cultures it's perfectly acceptable in certain places, and there's a fair bit of humor involved in the discomfort it causes to those of a different culture. I've also gotten a huge chuckle over different cultural views of dress - like in this scene (and others), where Aviendha finds Elayne's low-cut gowns almost scandalous; at the same time being naked in a sweat tent with men is no big deal to her. And the other way, of course; Elayne finds nothing wrong with her dresses, but the notion of the sweat tent is mind-boggling.

FWIW, there's plenty of implied male nudity in the books; RJ just never really describes much of it. And someone up there ^ made a good point - most of the female nudity we've seen (other than baths) has been in ritual form, and we simply haven't seen male rituals (formal ones, I mean). Most of them have been in connection with the WT, where without too much stretch you can see the validity. The BT hasn't been around long enough to develop much in the way of rituals. We haven't seen inside much of the Aiel men's traditions, but we still have the sweat tent thing and the gai'shain thing. And of course the Sheinaran thing with communal baths. And by the way, we did "see" all the boys, and Lan, bathing. Fairly extensively, in fact; we also have several episodes of Rand in the bath when women (usually Maidens) walk in on him. So... RJ doesn't give us much in the way of description, but the male nudity is there. Does anybody actually want the description? Really?

Oh, yeah. Gabrelle. Does it not occur to anyone that, as this was her first sexual encounter while unable to channel it just might be the first time she's thought of herself as having a completely different kind of power? Logain is obviously physically stronger than Gabrelle, and in this situation he could channel if he wished and she could not. So she had to get him to sleep with her by the same means "ordinary women" use - and it was kinda fun to realize that she could do it. I'm not sure that's what she's thinking, the text doesn't really give much, but there are many reasons to find it "strangely exhilarating" without it necessarily being some sort of perverted sexual-domination thing. If nothing else, as a Brown she's interested in new understandings, and that's the first time she's experienced that kind of powerlessness, which in itself could be exhilarating for a Brown.

Okay, I didn't say that very well, but I don't have 20 minutes to rework it into better sense. Sorry.... I may try again later. :)
Lannis .
49. Lannis
@ Wet: I dunno, that made perfect sense to me. :)
John Massey
50. subwoofer
Yeah baby! 5.0! 50 cal... happy dance follows:)

Soooo... the sister scene, well I'm bucking the deck here and saying what I took out of it were chuckles.

"I can't smack her! Wait! Wha?"


"I gobble sweets do I?"

The rest I skimmed over. Sorry.

My knee jerk reactions to meno and other stuff. It's like this, sure it's natural and hooray for nature and all that good stuff, but if I don't like something I'm not going to endure it because we have to make it a societal norm. When my wife delivers she wants me to be "part of the process". Me, I'd happily do my part pacing in the waiting area. I think I would do less harm there, there is no mercy for father's that pass out. I didn't see "Passion of the Christ" either, does that make me a heathen? Nah.

Incidentally- great business idea- sports bar in hospital? You are right there- I mean, I've visited sick family and stuff in the place and I've needed a round after... just sayin'.

Rand- road to hell...

Good guy, just has an uphill battle and he has to enlist the Dark Forces of Annoying, aka Cranky Pants. At least it is warm there this time o' year.

51. Hari Coplin
Yea, Wet, agree completely. Neither do we have the female bodies described while nude, other than Aviendha describing Elayne to Rand, though I seem to recall Sorilea describing several male specimens to Egwene etc. They just are nude, whether the reader thinks about it or not, and I for one am happy to have thought of both men and women nude in nearly all books as far as I can recall. ;)

And yea, new experiences don't immediately amount of hardcore S&M ;).
Roberto Burtoni
52. MadCardigan
I actually think the Commentary on gabrelle has been somewhat misguided. The response needs to be viewed through the character's emotional makeup, societal role, and past experience. Physical domination is not explicitly stated - it is the feeling gabrelle has of not relying or having the inherent power of channelling that she finds exhilarating. She has to accept that she could be dominated (which is never implied to have happened) and is a new experience.

As with most poorly construed arguements regarding power roles in wot - switch the genders. Still have a problem?

Nice post Leigh! Spot on with the commentary on sister bonding.
Tess Laird
53. thewindrose
I loved the first sister ritual. I am an only child and it seemed very cool to me. I do wonder what they did to Aviendha that would have been embarrassing. Maybe something with her former group of maidens of the spear, or of course there is always ji'e'toh:)

Gabrelle found the situation she was in herself to be exhilarating, I don't think she was trying to get all the rest of the sisters to bed their Asha'man? Her idea was to submit to to Lemai and Desandre since they were strongest and they would decide what to do.

Remember that all the sisters that went to the Black Tower were not Black - Alviarin had made sure of that. And they are bonded by Logains lot, who also seems to be pro-light, so that is good at least.

James Jones
54. jamesedjones
50 subwoofer
I didn't see "Passion of the Christ" either, does that make me a heathen? Nah.
I didn't see it either. I read the book.
55. Freelancer

Who is the single most sexually objectified individual in WoT?
56. Hari Coplin
@ Freelancer, must be Berelain ie aside from Tylin the most competent ruler we've seen.

Or perhaps Galad.
John Massey
57. subwoofer
Bela- everybody wants to ride her...

58. Mndrew
I confess, though, I have absolutely no idea what is supposed to be meant by Idrien’s comment about “people with eyes in their bellies.” Seriously, the hell?

Obviously, this is a Beholder from a D&D manual which survived the ages. The most precious of treasures.
Tricia Irish
59. Tektonica

I'm so glad you mentioned your ambivalence towards the "sister ceremony" scene. I was hesitant, since so many were going gaga over it. Meh. It was well done but I just thought it was kind of overdone. I enjoyed the humor in the scene where they come to get Elayne though! Uncomfortable all the way around. The first time through, I was ticked at the Aiel for choosing that time, in front of Taim, to make Elayne disrobe....part of their constant testing.

(I'm with you on the Handmaid's Tale too...terrible, infuriating...couldn't read it.)


I think you've hit a nail right on the head. We puritanical Americans have some "issues" with nudity. I think if it weren't such a "forbidden" thing, it wouldn't be construed as pornographic. It would lose it's power to titillate to a great extent.

Cats and dogs: Perhaps I should've figured out why the Aes Sedai parts of these books make me the most crazy....I'm a dog person.

Lsana@47: I'd love to read THAT scene!! Not gonna happen. They'd probably go out and shoot longbows and get a tatoo, or do some "activity".

Sub@50: My husband would've been happy in the lobby (or sports bar) too. He was green around the retrospect, I think he was glad he was there.
John Massey
61. subwoofer
Yea- and in case I forgot to mention it...(dramatic pause)...

I'm a dog person.

62. Shard
To put it baldly: is the sister-bonding ceremony a celebration of femininity, or is it, well, porn?

This is and always will be to me, Celebration of Femininity. No where in the text is a single body part even described, you want literary book form porn? Go read Anne Rice's Mayfair books. SHE write's porn, not Jordan.

When I read this scene I do not get all hot and bothered nor feel akward. I thought it was a lovely scene of Elyane and Aviendha becoming spiritual sisters. It makes me wish one COULD do this at how touching I thought scene. The fact that anyone finds this sexist or luaghbly exploitive is just over sensitive.

Jordan doesn't write porn, soft core *maybe* but no where like Anne Rice or Stephen King have done. They describe actual genatalia. Saying someone is naked doesn't consitute porn in my mind. When you see a movie and someone is taking a shower, is that porn? No not onless they are partaking of sexual activity.

Jordan's intent was to show a scene of two women bonding spiritually. No where in this scene is there any sexual tones.
Bill Reamy
63. BillinHI
Lsana @47: Really big WHOA on your last to Tektonica re Rand learning laughter and tears. Given their respective mindsets at this time (and after TGS), I don't know that it would be possible for all three of them to get fully involved in what the ceremony entails, but it would be pure AWESOME if it happens (at least as long as it ends well).
Ron Garrison
64. Man-0-Manetheran
Everytime we get into these "was RJ sexist" style discussions, I have to sigh. Harriet, the love of his life, was also his editor. And from everything I've been able to see, she was no "whatever you say dear" woman. She was an active part of the creation of WoT.

Could we get Nynaeve over here to do some deep healing on Bela? The poor thing has been beaten nearly to death.
Marcus W
66. toryx
Tektonica @ 60:

I totally agree. Mat is definitely the most sexually objectified character in my mind, with Berelain as the second.

Re The nudity issue:

I'm inclined to agree with those that suggests much of the negativity about all the nudity is influenced by American-centric values. And someone (was that you, Wetlandernw?) made an excellent point that the men have their moments too, even though it's not so ritualized. That's very true now that I think about it.

The nudity never really caught my notice until I saw people complaining about it all the time, and then I only recognized the point that the women have ritualized it in a way that isn't reflected on the male half of the conundrum. But I don't really see why that's a big deal either. On the other hand, nudity isn't at all a taboo in my personal worldview so I'm not likely to be affected by it one way or another.
67. WindfinderInAKayak
On Idrien's "people with eyes in their bellies" - I guess I would have taken it to mean the dreamers and wastrels (i.e. the proto-engineers and scientists) themselves; a way of saying navel-gazing.
Derek Barolet
68. Derek.barolet
@subwoofer 57
Again you cause seat, falling out of, hilariousness.

@LTF 19

I agree completely

I love the sister bonding scene, I always have thought it was one of the most unique, dare i use cool?, scenes i have ever read.

I do not however see how anyone could see sexism in it. Or pornography. That is like saying when a woman gives birth its sexist because she isnt wearing pants but the dad is. Or saying the birth of a child is porn. That is essentially what happened here, two girls born again to the same mother. To label it as porn or degrading is labelling childbirth as porn.

I also dont see why people have such a problem with the nudity being female as a bigger percentage. One, RJ was a straight male, I'm pretty sure he avoided picturing naked Mats and Perrins in his head, if not purposefully then subconsciencly. (by the way i am a horible spellur and dont bother corekting it, suk it up)
Two, and I am prolly going to get flamed like a torch here, from my observations women tend to be more comfortable naked around eachother then men. Its only natural that there wouldnt be alot of male nudity around other guys.
Three, Mat Perrin and Rand have all had naked scenes with others, Mat has had a few.

I can not believe we spent most of our time on this scene talking about sexism, it ruins and cheapens what would otherwise be an incredible scene.


Jonathan Levy
69. JonathanLevy
I was under the assumption that this happened because Moridin had seized the Source, during the time when Morrie was still figuring out that he could no longer use Saidin anymore without getting the heaves.

It's also my understanding that this instance of dizziness happened because Moridin was channeling.

However, I don't think we've ever seen Moridin channel Saidin. I think he was seizing the True Power here.
Jonathan Levy
70. JonathanLevy

the only mention of dogs in relation to Marillin is in LoC, Chapter 10, where there's a rumor of an Aes Sedai in Caemlyn Healing cats and dogs. That rumor is later amended to include just cats in LoC, Chapter 42, so the earlier rumor was probably partially wrong. Marillin is consistently shown as loving cats, not dogs.

Took the words right out of my mouth. I'd just like to elaborate on the stay in Tanchico (no exact references though, sorry). One of the BA thinks to herself that if Marillin ever found out that (one of the other BA) was the reason the stray cats she adopted kept vanishing, there would be trouble.

Also, one of the maids gets angry that Marillin gives cream to her cats, but she gets punished for taking some for herself.

Edit to add: My point was to stress that no dogs are mentioned.
Jonathan Levy
71. JonathanLevy
Re: People with eyes in their bellies.

I remember reading a book by Umberto Eco (Baudolino) which had some people traveling to the mythical kingdom of Prester John (in India) where there were all sorts of strange people, including some with their faces in their bellies.

I think Umberto was basing his story on older Christian mythology about the kingdom of Prester John, and that Jordan has planted a reference to those same myths.

It's been a while since I read that book, so I may be mistaken. Perhaps someone can confirm or correct my recollections.
72. Freelancer

Mat doesn't quite qualify. Clearly Tylin's treatment of Mat isn't equitable, and it did not begin as something comfortable for him. However, she does indeed care for him as more than her plaything. Aside from that, there are no examples of females (or others) drooling over him every time his shirt is off (or on), or every time he is exercising (or breathing). No, it isn't Mat. But it is a male.

Of course it's Galad. Half the White Tower, females of ages 20 to perhaps 200, come around to stare at him, drool and sigh. Not a one of them cares the least bit what he is like as a person. None are interested in his ancestry, or his skills, or his education, or his feelings. The sexism, she is not a one-way street in WoTville.




Yep, it's a simple fact of nature and chemistry. Some hormones are more homo-compatible than others. Estrogen is, Testosterone is not. That makes it more unlikely that males can evade a sense of competition amongst themselves, and the less common (therefore more stressful) a situation, the more pronounced the difference. I have no trouble at all considering the Aiel First-sibling ritual to be more common among females, and with a greater completion rate as well. That isn't sexist, and it isn't because the males have less integrity or lesser wish for comradeship. I would imagine that the reasons for avoiding the presentation of a First-brother ceremony in the text are numerous, but first among them would be the necessity of mixed company, since channeling is required. Shienaran baths are one thing, this personal an event quite another, and if even a feminist wonders if the all-female version is not slightly sexual in nature, what would be the response in this case? Better to be told that it can happen, and not be shown. That way danger lies.

Besides, modesty is a good thing.
Yehuda Porath
73. Yehuda
It never occurred to me that the sister-bonding might be seen as porn or gratuitous. I thought it was great and very bonding-y. We, male or female, come into the world with nothing and the fact that they mention that the same ceremony is done for men solves exclusivity problems for me.

Re: female nudity and ritual - I think the point about most of the female rituals we've seen being WT related, and saidar-user related in general, is key. The WT and the Wise Ones are exclusively female, for very good in-Randland historical reasons, and apparently used some of these rituals as a safeguard of that.

What few male rituals we've seen are combat/oath related - the warder ways Lan teaches Rand, other warder stuff, Whitecloaks, etc. Nudity would be inappropriate in combat or training rituals that involve weapons. I do think that the BT, even if it survives long enough and stops being run be darkfriends, is unlikely to develop nudity related rituals. I think that's an offshoot of the militarism that's built in. In the BT we've seen, making yourself vulnerable probably means you'll get hit. It somewhat mirrors what has happened to Rand - which gives me a slight hope that Min was right and the Asha'man will unbend at least a little.

Re: "Eyes in their bellies" - I'm sure there are other sources but I remember that from Herodotus - the Acephali who have no heads and have eyes in their bellies. I think this is more leftovers from our Age, like the Mercedes sign in the museum.
a a-p
74. lostinshadow
I enjoyed the sister ceremony. The whole scene is anthropologically very well constructed; I could completely imagine reading about a ceremony like this in my anthro classes back in the day.

Until this reread, I had no conception that the scene could be interpreted as anything other than an interesting (or moving) ritual.

I would have to agree with various commentators above that some possible discomfort may be rooted to a general American dislike/discomfort with all kinds of nudity. I actually had a Dutch friend who was almost expelled from her university somewhere in one of the Carolinas when she sunbathed topless at the university quad. The poor girl couldn't figure out where she'd gone wrong.

Regarding Elayne being forced to strip in front of a crowd - I thought it was funny and assumed that the Aiel had done this on purpose; there are multiple instances where Aiel observe and make use of non Aiel discomfort with nudity. I think the idea is that this is a very important ritual and you have to be willing to take on anything to go through with it. And in Elayne's case she had to strip in her throne room in front of some of her enemies and vassals. I too wonder what they made Avi do? swim across a lake with former Maiden buddies watching?

And re A Handmaid's Tale - I had to read that in high school and cannot remember a single thing about that story other than having been so foaming at the mouth offended by it that I (me the full time nerd with a perfect GPA) told my teacher she could just give me a 0 because nothing could induce me to write a paper on it. (oh and was that the one with the brilliant pen is envy line in it?)
John Massey
75. subwoofer
@Tek -well of course, you have to see it from your husband's POV too. I mean there is all the yelling, screaming, swearing and agony going on, and then there is you having a kid on top of it all... didn't somebody say something about absence making the heart grow fonder?

Toveine- heck, I'd cheerfully strangle Elaida too. Back in New Spring she needed beats, nothing has really changed in the 20 years since. I am thinking that this may be RJ's commentary about certain types of people making a power grab and the catastrophic results if not kept in check. Power hungry people vs duty bound people, Elaida vs. Egwene.

Rand and his new "sickness". I don't know about anybody else, but I'd be having a cow if somebody told me to go build a house, but hey, you can't use a hammer. Rand's #1 tool against fighting the DO, tapping Sadin, is kinda knocked onto queer street for him. That has to have him seriously worried and yet we see him trying to mask it- another weakness- and soldier on. To me, this is one of the things that makes him human, but also something that in his mind, makes himself seem weak. This is another example of the flaw in his "I must be hard like frying pan" mentality.

Gabrelle- makes Logain seem more and more like Fabio. Flowing dark hair, broad shoulders, big powerful arms, huge teeth, sharp claws... run Red Riding Hood, run!

Tricia Irish
76. Tektonica

Hi Lost! **waves** How's summer over there?

I think it was me that mentioned American's puritanical discomfort with nudity. As a midwestern college student bumming around Europe in my early 20's, the Europeans made me realize Americans' funny discomfort with our own bodies, Topless beaches! No one cared. After a few days, you didn't even see it.

I saw absolutely no sexuality in the bonding scene either. It was very personal and spiritual. I think people may see what they're looking for.

You are absolutely right about Galad. Other than the fact that he always does what's right, and he is beautiful, we know Zero about him. No Galad POV's either, I don't believe. He is a bit of a cipher. An object of desire. (But I'll take Mat, because he has a great personality!)

Edit: Sub....I will forever see Logain as Fabio now....thanks! Argh.
77. peachy
Galad has a POV in the KoD prologue - which shows him to be exactly as advertised in the previous ten books. No hidden depths to that boyo.
a a-p
78. lostinshadow
**waves back @Tek**

summer is hot and muggy and feels more like St. Louis in August than a city surrounded by water. Heading back to summerhouse, this time sans husband, for some solo R&R next week.

and Sub, seriously I'm not quite sure how I imagined Logain looked before but I am afraid he is now permanently burned into my brain as Fabio. (bleh-) *** wanders into bunker to rummage for enough alcohol to get rid of that image ***

re presence of husbands during childbirth - just visited friends who recently had a baby and not only was husband in the room, he felt the need to hire a professional photographer to document the event (which was a c-section) and now forces all unwary guests to look through the book (which is I kid you not heavier than the hardback tGS). (wayyy tooo much sharing)
S Diller
79. CuenDiller
I think I actually had tears in my eyes when reading the sister ceremony
Rob Munnelly
80. RobMRobM
Been out of pocket at a conference all week. Newport was lovely except for the torrential rain that cut short the golf tournament I played in on Wednesday. Ah well. Onward....

Re Gabrelle - not a headdesk at all. She's a Brown for goodness sake. Possibility of knowledge during pillow talk of interesting doings with Logain and his men versus Taim and his men - priceless. Possibility of knowledge of what happens during whoopie between a channeling man and a channeling woman to whom he is bonded - cherry on top.

Re bonding ceremony - there are nude men scenes in baths dating back to Baerlon in EOTW. Also note how freaked out the boys were in Shienar during TGH when they were bathing and nude women jumped in with them and started chatting amiably. And tons and tons of nudity among the Aiel. Nudity is not a big deal in certain parts of Randland. Not gratuitous "porn" at all. (I am fascinated by the question raised above about what they would have done to catch Avi at an embarrassing time. Nudity wouldn't bother her. Must have been something else. Perhaps she was looking through the silk dresses in her closet)

Re the second packet given to Dobraine that he was supposed to "pry out" - perhaps I missed it but whose name was there? Darlin?

Tricia Irish
81. Tektonica

Can I join you at the beach house? Geez, how I wish for Traveling, with a capital "T". Florida is boiling too, but there is a sea breeze. It was 87 at 7AM today. ug.

Childbirth: You know it's a very moving and amazing experience.....if it's YOURS!
No sharing please. Groan.

RobM: I thought it was Darlin. I can't remember any other packets he left? They had the discussion about where to find him Cads' place with the lost Windfinder.
Tony Zbaraschuk
82. tonyz
I loved the first-sister ceremony, beginning to end. Very well-done ritual, enormous amounts of insight into the characters, and Elayne is getting politically smart enough to realize that there's a real purpose beyond just irritating her in having the summons show up at the precise moment it did.

We probably should remember from the end of the last book that Toveine likes being in control during sex herself, so I think one should take Gabrelle's reveal as definitely more of a "wow, this really floats my boat" moment than "everyone should do it this way." And, yes, the slice-of-life is good.

The thing about Rand's Grand Plan is that I would have liked a _little_ more foreshadowing of how he got there and what he was thinking about doing before it happened. We had more of that during the whole plot to trap Asmodean.
Birgit F
83. birgit
[quote]Herodotus, Histories 4. 191. 3 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"For the eastern region of Libya [i.e. North Africa], which the nomads inhabit, is low-lying and sandy as far as the Triton river; but the land west of this, where the farmers live, is exceedingly mountainous and wooded and full of wild beasts. In that country are the huge snakes and the lions, and the elephants and bears and asps, the horned asses, the Dog-Headed (kynokephaloi) and the Headless (akephaloi) men that have their eyes in their chests, as the Libyans say, and the wild men and women, besides many other creatures not fabulous.",

a man named Mordeth became a councilor in Aridhol, and couseled the rule that to win, to survive, Aridhol must be harder than the Shadow, more cruel than the Shadow, less trusting. Slowly they made it so, until in the end, Aridhol became, if not blacker than the Shadow, as black.
LOC ch. 21

That sounds like dark Rand. Was Mordeth a champion of the Light who went over to the Shadow?

However, I don't think we've ever seen Moridin channel Saidin. I think he was seizing the True Power here.

Moridin probably stopped channeling saidin because of the problems he had here.
84. peachy
Mordeth is the spirit in Shadar Logoth (ie, the former Aridhol) who, um, "possesses" Fain. It's the darkfriend + touch of DO + Mordeth as incarnation of Shadar Logoth combination that makes Fain such a very unpleasant fellow.
Sydo Zandstra
85. Fiddler
I think it was me that mentioned American's puritanical discomfort with nudity. As a midwestern college student bumming around Europe in my early 20's, the Europeans made me realize Americans' funny discomfort with our own bodies, Topless beaches! No one cared. After a few days, you didn't even see it.

I saw absolutely no sexuality in the bonding scene either. It was very personal and spiritual. I think people may see what they're looking for.

I, too, never saw anything wrong with the nudity in the bonding scene. Then again, I live in Western Europe ;-) Seriously, with those kind of scenes in WoT I just read them, shrug and read on.

In relation to RJ writing his nudity scenes and sex scenes as he did, I think we should be thankful he learned from his earlier experience in that area.

Which I noted since I am currently rereading his Fallon books, where every sex scene is making me go *rolleyed*. Probably because 90% of those involves an experienced man doing a virgin, and he describes them in detail.

About Gabrelle bedding Logain, I can see the logic in her approach.
Noneo Yourbusiness
86. Longtimefan
@ 72 Freelancer,

"Yep, it's a simple fact of nature and chemistry. Some hormones are more homo-compatible than others. Estrogen is, Testosterone is not. That makes it more unlikely that males can evade a sense of competition amongst themselves, and the less common (therefore more stressful) a situation, the more pronounced the difference."

I am going to differ with you somewhat here because it is not quite so "simple".

It is however an excellent way to reinforce a stereotype that will burden the future.

People are not as basic as their hormones (although they can be and everyone is delighted by that behavior)

People have hormones and the level of hormones are different and varied between men and women, indeed they are varied even amongst individuals to a lesser extent.

However, People have something that is often will and is expected to guide if not overcome hormones and that is socialized behavior.

People can get along if they are taught how to see each other as people. There will still be a few conflicts there may be some awkward moments but there are hundreds of cultures around the world that show people do not all have the same cultural biases for or against certain behaviors.

Giving in to a cultural bias and saying that men will always be competitive and women will always get along does not one any good service.

Not all women get along with each other and not all men want to fight all the time.

To suggest that it is a simple fact of nature and chemistry for one group of people to get along and another group unlikely to do so pushes any people aside who do not fall into such a basic category and keeps people from trying to evolve socially.

People can be better than their chemical reactions. That is why they are educated.

The chemical reactions are not always as severe as society has educated people to believe.

It remains a stereotype because there is a cycle not because there is a reality.

Failure is a perpetual motion machine.
87. Hari Coplin
On the last, I would comment, that testosterone also is not as straightforward as that. I think a Swiss study for instance, performed on women, showed that an increase in testosterone levels entails an increase in striving for social betterment, however it is perceived, not in risk-taking.

Not sure, but I think a very high level of testosterone will likely induce more homosexual behaviour (I have no idea where I have read that).

But of course things are complex, what does testosterone do together with adrenaline, for instance?
Lannis .
88. Lannis
lostinshadow @ 74: re: Handmaid's Tale quote. Yes. Pen Is Envy.

John Massey
89. subwoofer
Well- seeing as I have only scarred a couple of people for life... Logian

John Massey
91. subwoofer

C'mon- it's okay... I have some candy...

Edit- or how about this?

It's good stuff- honest!

92. alreadymadwithdarlin
RobMRobM @80 & Tektonica @81
Could only have been Darlin. Rand is effectively ruler of two nations. Before he goes away, he has to ensure both Cairhien and Tear are in good hands. The first letter is Dobraine's appointment as official steward of Cairhien. The second one was for the stewardship of Tear. Dobraine was to pry out Darlin from under Cadsuane's clutches, then evaluate his fitness to be steward of Tear. By TGS, we learn Dobraine has been successful, and Darlin is in fact already in charge of Tear.
a a-p
93. lostinshadow
Tek@81, sure Travel on down, bring your Malazan books too.

I would have to say that the men are competitive women are compatible generalization may be culture specific or even "media generated" (by which I mean this is how men and women seem to be typically portrayed in various entertainment mediums). I've lived in multiple cultures and my personal observation is that as a general rule men compete openly and cleanly while women are a lot more subtle and quite frankly vicious about it.

Men may let the testosterone take over and fight/compete over the apparently most trivial things which on the surface might make it appear as if men are less likely to have solid friendships but honestly in my experience it's the women friends you gotta watch out for.

Simple example: I pretty much grew up as a tomboy and didn't have many female friends so I spent my teenage years as the sole girl among guys and was privy to some pretty male-centric behavior and never once did I ever see one guy move on his mate's girlfriend.

On the other hand, pretty much every single female I know has either made a move on her friend's man or had a friend make a move on her man. that's compatibility?

I will also say that personally I believe a lot of the perceived difference between men and women are cultural constructs ingrained in us by parents, society, tv and environment in general so any kind of generalization about men/women is an iffy prospect really.
Maiane Bakroeva
94. Isilel

Sure, the Cleansing was foreshadowed, but IMHO it still needed a lot more on-screen build-up. Maybe Rand musing on the actual Finn riddle, condulting with Min, etc. Figuring out the mixed link was supposed to be a big deal too and learning to weave the opposite half of OP an even bigger one, since nearly all the channeler's instincts ought to be wrong in this situation.

I have no trouble at all considering the Aiel First-sibling ritual to be more common among females, and with a greater completion rate as well.

And yet, historically "adopted siblinghood" rituals and indeed such close lifelong sibling/friend relationships were much more common among men, for obvious social reasons. It is only relatively recently that stuff like that became something suspect.
Ditto communal nakedness - men used to be much more relaxed about that too.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with the first-sister ritual per se, though mention of how nice Amys's figure is, was somewhat out of place ;) - it is just that nearly all female rituals in WoT require nakedness, while the male ones or those involving men (like prospective clan chiefs going to Rhidean), conspiciously don't.
Which really doesn't make a lot of sense, since men in WoT are much less repressed clothing-wise than women (which also doesn't make sense, given the equality of genders) - i.e. go shirtless, etc.

Fiddler @85:

Probably because 90% of those involves an experienced man doing a virgin

Well, RJ mostly stuck to the formula for the main pairings of WoT too, but thankfully didn't go into detail ;).
Rob Munnelly
95. RobMRobM
Alreadymad - thanks. That makes sense. Rob
96. Hari Coplin
Ok, to recap my thought on the subject of gender equality on the ceremony:

-- And I thought the scene very touching, I would love to have the same as a male( I know several buddies I would do this with and totally honour it)--

I think they should not have men hitting each other, that is too much, it goes against the 'rules'. Men when hit men, especially repeatedly, those hit will either fight back, or have sex, or explode some other way. Too much testosterone and adrenaline or whatever. However, this is a ritual made by women perhaps for women, not perhaps taking into account male nature. Otherwise, I think there would be no restraint, there is much male kinship even in our time in the western culture (and moreso outside the puritanical).

In the Wheel of Time, the Third Age, it as been the women who have made all the rituals.
Sydo Zandstra
97. Fiddler

Only Mat and Lan would fit that bill, I guess. And possibly Bryne in the future.

But yes, let's be thankful he didn't go into detail.

Because those detailed scenes in the Fallon books are awfully written. ;-)
Alice Arneson
98. Wetlandernw
Just a couple of thoughts... We don't actually know if the first-brother ritual is exactly the same, although we can assume that certainly the mothers and birthing would be the same. The questions and punching part might be different for men.

Also... we don't know if women are required to be naked to go to Rhuidean the second time, do we? Might find out, if we see Aviendha do her trip through the columns. The first time, going through the ring ter'angreal, seems to be so similar to the Acceptatron that it wouldn't be much of a stretch to assume that something about both ter'angreal renders clothing either superfluous or an interference. (For example, whether you're dressed or not going in, you come out naked; in that case, it would be a waste of perfectly good clothing to go in dressed, and you'd still have to go back in the buff. Alternatively, certain items might render the ter'angreal ineffective or dangerous, and the simplest solution is not to risk it. In either case, the reasons may have been lost in time but the practice has not. See what kind of reasons you can come up with.) Anyway, it's quite possible that a woman on her second trip, to go through the columns, can go in fully clothed though presumably weaponless.

Fiddler, you've confirmed my decision not to read RJ's other stuff, not that I'd had much inclination to do so. Thanks again.

Once again, I have to chuckle at the comment about historically "adopted siblinghood" rituals... (or nakedness). What does our history have to do with it? These are culturally distinct rituals which most of Randland finds mind-boggling. Why shouldn't it be different from our "historically" engendered expectations as well?
Sydo Zandstra
99. Fiddler

You're welcome. I only reread the books because they're historical novels, and are set in the historical period I studied (I studied History). I'm not interested in his Conan books at all.

IIRC, Rand wasn't naked when he traveled the columns, so why should Aviendha be?

So make that a certainty that Aviendha will not go in naked. :-)

Speaking of Aviendha entering the glass columns, I would like to read that scene and see HER experiences, and then a scene with her and Rand talking about it.
Sydo Zandstra
100. Fiddler
And here's a tribute to subwoofer...

Edit: for those going 'huh?' it's because this is #100
John Massey
101. subwoofer
Shucks, ::sniff, sniff::

Its so beautiful...

No one has ever done something so nice...

Talk amongst yourselves while I regain my composure.

woof ::sniff, sniff:: Woof™.
102. Hari Coplin
"Just a couple of thoughts... We don't actually know if the first-brother ritual is exactly the same, although we can assume that certainly the mothers and birthing would be the same. The questions and punching part might be different for men. "

It seems, if you read the text, that it is the exact same for men as it is for women!
Jennifer B
103. JennB
I would like to preface this by saying that I have read the re-read and Leigh's comments but have not had time to read the 102 user comments. I decided to post anyways (Something I try not to do) since I do not know when I will have time to catch up.

First off, I really don't like the dog and cat thing. I don't think that it is necessary and RJ should have left it out.

Second, the steamwagon always left me with a bad feeling. The last thing I want to see is my beloved WOT world go through an industrial revolution and turn into here and now. Wish RJ had left that out too. I hope that after Tarmon Gaidon we don't end up with fossil fuel based economy. Soot, smog, greenhouse gases, acid rain, and oil spills, not the ending I want to see in my fantasy world.

Plus LTT references Moridin. Does he recognize him as his old nemisis Ishamael?

As far as Leigh's comment on the birth scene goes, uh wow... people actually think this scene exploits women? I don't get it. My step mom often goes on about how music videos where scantly clad women are suggestivly dancing with a fully clothed man are exploitive. While I am much less offended by this than she is, I agree with her arguement. But I cannot see how this WOT scene is exploitive in any way. The characters are naked. So what?

Menstration, sex, childbirth, and lactation are all completly natural things. It is ridiculous that they are all such taboo topics in our culture. Last post, when everyone was going on about the oath "Mother's milk in a cup," I wrote about how it was strange reading everyone's thoughts on the subject since I was doing all of my reading while my baby was eating. I deleted the comment before posting because I decided nobody would want to hear about that. After Leigh's comment about people's reactions to "icky female stuff," I changed my mind so here it is.
( I unashamedly breastfeed in public too, including parks, restaurants, lobbies, even stores if I need too and I even make eye contact with the people passing by. So there, people who are embarrassed by "icky female stuff". ;-) )

As far as nakedness in WOT goes, I do remember Rand, Mat, and Perrin getting naked for some bath scenes in TEotW. I think Lan and Thom might have been involved too. Not ritual nakedness, but still naked. Rand gets naked for a bath scene in the last book too. The ritual nakedness probably just involves women so far in WOT simply because we have only seen women's rituals.

My response to people who complain about female nudity in the media is to say that the real problem is lack of male nudity.

edit to add a lost "s"
John Massey
104. subwoofer
@JennB- Er, yes... not that I am paying attention to these things, but now that you have commented on it, I do believe that it has been established that all the boys have nice bums... well Mat and Rand anyways. We still have to see Perrin's bum in a scene. IIRC there was a chapter titled about Rand taking a bath. There was also a scene where Mat was having a well deserved massage... naked... that is to say, he was clothingly challenged, anyways, there was a comment about good muscle being back there or some such.

Not that I notice these things, just passing along a few tidbits... heh.

Edit- wait a tic- now that I think on it, when Perrin was shot with an arrow I do believe there was a point where he lost his pants recovering from the wound and Faile might have been around there too. Hmmmmmmm.

Edit- er... I mean that Faile was in the room when Perrin was recovering, not that she was around where Perrin's pants weren't... or something like that.

105. Hari Coplin
But sub, you can have the same by male, and moreso, if you but allow it;)

Ah, if men could only (and kill those who can't) (nevermind the women) to do what they will!

I want and will and am going to do so many things in life, and no-one's gonna convince me otherwise!
106. Hari Coplin
Sorry, but I thought for a while some would understadn what I wrote there last (I can't at the moment) . Drunk too much, anyway, the previous things, and the last thing if understood, I meant.

Perhaps I can translate in the morrow. ;)
107. Hari Coplin
Well say something, you can't leave me all embarressed. O read accounts on the Spartans, them versus the Atheineans, and compare those with the ancient Mongolian and Japanese customs... Is that enough. Well, go through the tribal African, not forgetting South American, customs. ;)
Sydo Zandstra
108. Fiddler
@Hari Coplin:

1. Get registered. (gives editing possibilities)

2. General advice: never post while being drunk.

That's all I have to say. Please don't take this the wrong way. Just saying.
109. chaplainchris1
Three quick thoughts are all I got time for! :(

1. Yay reread post yay go Leigh yay.
2. Agreed that the ceremony for first-brothers is, on the evidence, identical to what we saw for first-sisters - except that the candidates would be naked men surrounded by women instead of naked women surrounded by women. Since it's the same, the first-sister ceremony hardly seems sexist. And they would still be "birthed" by a naked woman, of course, not a man. I wonder if the awkwardness of it, for men, contributes to their lesser willingness to endure the rite? Probably not, given Aiel attitudes. (And yes, I do think it'd be awkward - maybe standing naked in a room full of women is some guys' thing, but not mine.)

Still, though we're told first-brothers happens more rarely (which is, first, sexist in itself, and second, probably an accurate portrayal of the relative shallowness of male bonding - in U.S. culture and WOT-Randland culture, anyway), it does happen. And it happens in the same way as for women. Q.E.D., non-sexist?

*That* wasn't a quick thought. And it included some of the longest sentences since St. Paul.

3. Rand's intent to cleanse saidin using the Choedan Kal had lots of foreshadowing - including lots in TPOD, which we just re-read! Remember his murmuring about cleansing saidin in front of the Ashaman? And how distressed he was to learn of the flaw in Callandor, which meant he'd have to risk using the Choedan Kal? The actual *mechanics* of the cleansing might have been foreshadowed only very subtly (but then, I don't quite get the mechanics even after it happened, so it's a wash). But the intent and the *basic* means has been building for a long time.
110. Hari Coplin
I don't, very rarely do I do anything wrong drunk. Suppose why I did now was because of no registered name hanging on it. Anyway, I trust, people will understand what I wrote, or I will say it tomorrow. (I had a meaning)

Thanks for the right way, and for posting (I am still perplexed so I will return to it tomorrow, as I hope no one has hard feelings of the last 2 or the correcting last post.)

Well, I'll save my greater points there, as I am sure I am sure I will remember even more them then. Hope I not insult the FAQ keeper ;).

Well, sorry, I have no idea what I meant there, I have no experienced this in the last 10 years. Does mentally flay himself 50 times ;). I still wonder why.
Great post, Leigh. Very much looking forward to the Awesome Moments that await.

Why, oh, why the hell do we see so little of the Black Tower? Very frustrating, it is. Especially now when their numbers are becoming quite considerable. Eight miles of land? Whoa. These guys could make the most bangin' construction company ever, yo. I could kick Rand in the freakin' head for ignoring them for so long....that is, if he weren't half a step away from schitzophrenia and capable of burning me out of existence. Still, I too am happy for these dribbles of info into some of the inner workings of what will be one of the most powerful and prestigious organizations one would want to be a part of.

You go, Logain. Handle this. And that. Don't forget that other thing too! Would ANYBODY ever guess this dude was dancing the only jig for the Rebels? Yea, I guess we all talk pretty tough without a gag of Air in our mouths.... I like 'im.

I also think the 'birthing' scene with Elayne and Aviendha was well written. Hell, I could have been going through the womb, the way Jordan went in on the description. (Mom, God bless ya... we should all call our mothers and kiss their asses, just for literally birthing us). Plus, they slapped the shit out of each other....twice! Who doesn't love a catfight between sisters? Lol. (I'm kidding!)

Yea, this volume is a contender. Can't wait for more, and keep up the great work.
John Massey
112. subwoofer
Snap! Loose it! This is time # 3 for posting!



Ahem, anyways- @ Hari- dude, s'up? Listen, etiquette says you have to share if you are D&P'ing. So pass the dang bottle already, I need one after this horrendous time.

@lotsofshade- yes, I hear you, heck, I live it.

Working with guys- pretty open. If there is something going down, you can see it coming a mile off. There is blustering, fronting, cussin', and then maybe a scuffle breaks out. After work everyone more or less gets along as they head to the local watering hole where they all take turns hitting on the first female they have seen all day.

Back in university, I worked in a female dominated field while going through classes. Man it blew goats! The ladies were merciless in the break room. They would take turns throwing fellow staff under the bus during gossip sessions and woe unto the person that scoops a commission. Meow! Surviving that tour was harder than the time spent on a front line in the army. It was like walking through a mine field not knowing what'll go off.

Much prefer the simpleness of what guys do. It is brutal, but way more easy to predict. Nothing flys at you from left field.

113. Hari Coplin
Thank guys!

Well, I thought of something, but better say it tomorrow or monday ;)
114. Hari Coplin
However, I wonder what would happen, if Rand decided Dobraine become king of Cairhien? Why does he not, that would be more natural. As far as claims go, Elayne with a full Andor at her back will go a long way, but why still from Rand. I think Dobraine deserves Cairhien, and his House is high enough, even without the Dragon pulling strings.
Heidi Byrd
115. sweetlilflower
@Sub: I agree with you. Perhaps b/c of the cultural conditioning we are all subjected to on a regular basis women are more likely to attack with subtlety while men go for the more direct approach. If we go back thousands of years, there is some biological basis for this dichotomy to occur. The men went out and hunted together (because they were more expendable) and, as any good soldier can tell you, when your life depends on the people around you, you try not to hold grudges and just air out the problems as they occur. The women would have stayed together for safety, but without that constant danger would have probably swallowed the little things until they just exploded. (Married men can attest to this cycle happening) Incidentally, my above comments actually have something to do with the post. Yeah!
I am not sure how to correctly write my ideas w/o causing offense through misunderstanding... (that is directed at you, Freelancer =) ) Randland is, essentially, the equivalent to the 16th and 17th centuries where the men mostly do the fighting and the women mostly do stuff close to the home. Again, this split is b/c of the relative expendability of men vs women. Any group that spends THAT MUCH TIME together needs those reinforcing rituals and ceremonies in order to help keep the peace and foster a sense of togetherness. It is human nature to form two groups in the mind: Us and Them (scientifically proven). These bonding ceremonies help to solidify the "Us" and keep those "little things" from becoming BIG things.
OK, did any of that make sense to anyone else?
Scientist, Father
116. Silvertip
@86 longtimefan: Extremely well said. Biology is not destiny, at least for rational animals living in a civilized society.

@103 JennB: Keep on rockin' with the breastfeeding attitude! As I said somewhere up there ^, anybody who gives you grief is just telling us something about their own mindset, which I would argue is in need of some adjustment.

Alice Arneson
117. Wetlandernw
Hmmm. I begin to consider the possibility that this illustrious band may have jumped the shark.
Jonathan Levy
118. JonathanLevy
It seems to me that from a literary perspective, the first-sister ceremony (like Gaul) is composed of three parts:

1) The answers to the questions.
2) The drama and hand-waving of the ceremony.
3) The nakedness.

The answers are the most interesting parts, because they reveal so much of the characters. The ritual itself I found to be too melodramatic, and I did not enjoy reading it at all. "I have given suck". Come on! But almost everyone else seems to have liked it very much, so I'll skip over this - it is a question of taste, after all.

The nakedness is a trivial, wretched, and unimportant detail, which has characteristically elicited most of the attention of the audience. Especially since it is criminally unbalanced by identical male nakedness. Grrrr.

Perhaps we could devote some more attention to the answers, as in them Jordan is summarizing and sealing the friendship between Elayne and Aviendha. This relationship started inauspiciously way back in LoC, and much of the long journey to Caemlyn was devoted to developing it.

First, it's interesting to note that Jordan has spent so much time on it. It's long been foreshadowed that Rand will have 3 women, and the mechanics by which this comes about have been cleverly contrived (Rand gets time alone with Elayne in Tear, with Aviendha in the waste & on the way to Cairhien, and alone with Min once Aviendha goes to Elayne to meet her toh).

But Jordan arranges not only the foreshadowing, and the relationships between the Rand and each of the girls, but he also goes out of his way to build up the relationship between the girls themselves. Min and Elayne become friends quickly in the tower in tGH, and Elayne and Aviendha on the way to Caemlyn. Of course, Aviendha and Min are far from good friends yet, and we see tension between them in one scene in tGS. However, some ground has been prepared, in that Min has earned the respect of the Aiel Wise Ones. It will be interesting to see whether the last leg of this tetrahedron is resolved like the others, becomes fraught with tension, or is quietly ignored by the new author.

As for the answers themselves. First, I consider the 'childish' question to be less significant than the others, and suspect it is a device of the author's to introduce the last question - Elayne is so irritated by Aviendha's answer that she tells the truth about Rand.

As for the main questions, it's interesting to see how the answers mirror each other. Elayne respects Aviendha's self-confidence, Aviendha respects her courage. Each is blind to her own qualities. This is the basis of their friendship.

In the second question, the flaws they cite are ones which the author has consistently exposed since the characters were introduced. For example, in TDR Elayne tries to charm Mat into taking a letter to her mother, and Aviendha's first reaction to learning about Min is to combine with Elayne to do her in. However, there is no mirroring here.

The last question also has a beautiful parallel; Rand has slept with Aviendha, but (as far as Aviendha knows) loves Elayne, and no-one else. I especially liked this question for what it revealed of Aviendha: She desperately wants Rand to love her, but has no reason to think he does. During all their time together in the waste, he consistently courted her precisely the way an Aiel man should court a woman, without having any idea what he was doing (he sent her Segade blossoms, gave her an interest-gift (the bracelet), got the approval of the Maidens, and then gave her the scabbard of Laman's sword (another interest-gift)). She was painfully aware that everything he did was unintentional ("You truly know nothing, do you?" at the carpet-beating scene in TSR? tFoH?). Much of this is because Rand himself had no idea he was in love with her.

Yes, he slept with her, but that was foreordained. Yes, he proposed to her, but (she thinks) that was because they slept together. Since then, he's been avoiding her.

But now we get a window into her heart. She wants to know that he loves her. We see this again during the bonding ceremony, when Aviendha's first reaction is an exclamation of relief at discovering that Rand does love her after all.

All in all, a great scene for what it reveals of the characters. Oh yes, and they were naked! Naked Naked Naked Naked Naked! Naked!!
Lannis .
119. Lannis
JennB @ 103: re: icky female stuff. Good for you--I hated getting glares when breastfeeding in public... my favourite retort was always, "did you want to hear the kid scream? I didn't think so."

Wetlander @ 117: re: Jumping the shark... BAHAhahahaa! (Yeah, maybe just a little?)

Jonathan Levy @ 118: re: the beautiful parallel. Well said. There's definitely wistful pain in Aviendha's words. What Rand and Aviendha have is something akin to those teenage fledgling relationships with misconstrued events, significance-laden words and (uh-ho, here it comes:) Lack of Communication... their back and forth in TSR and FoH screams PAINFULLY AWKWARD!

Wow, that last bit was actually WoT-related... :O
120. chaplainchris1
Jonathan Levy @ 118 - well said all the way through, I couldn't agree more.
Jonathan Levy
121. JonathanLevy
Lannis@119: re: teenage relationships - You forgot to mention the unprotected sex! :)

I actually loved re-reading the beginning of Rand and Aviendha's relationship, not so much for the teenage awkwardness, but for the subtlety of the writing. I think it's Jordan at his finest.

For example, he never says that Rand has jealousy fits over Aviendha. But he keeps wondering who gave her her necklace, and gets annoyed when she won't tell him (it was Egwene, I believe).

The flowers he sends her are another example. It's a puzzle with half a dozen pieces.
- Rand recalls picking flowers off a thorny cactus and pricking himself, until he thinks to use Saidin.
- Egwene recalls seeing Aviendha looking over some white flowers, and Aviendha gives them to her saying she picked them for her.
- Egwene sees Aviendha was switched, and is told that Aviendha asked to be switched for telling two lies (one was to Egwene about the flowers, one to Rand that she hated him)
- We are told that an Aiel woman gives a man a wreath of flowers when she wants to marry him.
- Later we hear a Wise One saying about Rand should be delighted to have such a pretty Maiden with him, and could be expected to start sending her flowers for her wreath.
- Late in tFoH we learn that different flowers have different meanings, and Segade blossoms mean the woman has a prickly nature and expects to keep it.
- At some point we learn that Segade blossoms are large and white.

There are also other examples, such as the explanations about the modesty expected of a man, the anger Rand expresses towards Aviendha for having killed a dangerous snake with a knife, rather than the Power, etc.

I think it's really well done. It's what makes Jordan stand out above the rest. And it makes each re-read a delight, because each time I notice something which I missed the previous times.
Lannis .
122. Lannis
@ Jonathan Levy:

Unprotected sex... BAHAhahaha!

And I agree, Avi and Rand's relationship is full of those subtly significant moments that are delicious... I love it, too. Probably because it rings true with all that AWKWARD!

Perhaps paranoia and low self-esteem are easy to identify with? Erm... am I alone here? It's just me? Okay...

Hmm... not sure I like what that says about me...

Lookit! ::rummages through the bunker's pantry:: I found cookies! XD

::munches:: Yeah, so my teenage relationship years were a little embarrassing and awkward... whose weren't? ;)
Sydo Zandstra
123. Fiddler

Yeah, so my teenage relationship years were a little embarrassing and awkward... whose weren't? ;)

Galad's ;)
Tricia Irish
124. Tektonica
lostinshadow@93: FYI: We had a survey back in LOC querying how many of Our Ladies of TOR (sounds like an Catholic Order) were Tomboys vs. Girly Girls growing digressed into how many of us loved maps as well. Stats were:

Women Only
Tomboys - 22
Girly Girls – 2
Fence Sitters – 3

Men & Women
Rural or Suburban Outdoorsy – 25
Urban Indoorsy – 5
Didn’t mention it – 8

Loves Maps
14 Mentions
The map thing didn’t come up until part way through the responses, so it may not accurately reflect our collective affinity for maps.

In other words, we, OLoT, have great Male affinity. I think this group rather defies your observations, which in my experience, are right on the money.

JennB@103: Thank you! Keep up the good work on behalf of all the "icky female stuff", which is totally natural and human. Honestly. I was once in a restaurant with a friend and her newborn. It was time for a feeding and my friend modestly covered her shoulder and most of herself with a baby blanket so as not to display herself to everyone seated. One WOMAN had the nerve to come over to our table and inform us that breast feeding in public was not appropriate behavior. This was about 25 years ago, and I hope we have progressed since then.

HariCoplin@105-107: Waiting for a translation today.;-)

Sweetlilflower@115: It made A LOT of sense.

JonathanLevy@118: Beautiful and accurate. Avi and Rand both seem to have no idea how to deal with each other and their emotions. It's as if neither of them had ever had a relationship before, and perhaps they hadn't. They are really young. And of course, as Lannis pointed out.....lack of communication is a main theme of these books.
Valentin M
125. ValMar
J Levy @118

Totaly agree! By far the most interesting aspect of the bonding for me was the "interview" part. The nudity never made any impression to me (though I did note the comment on Amys' physique).
I was very surpised by what Leigh said, re: how much impression has the nudity in the scene made. Even considering that it might be porn! Bloody hell! Someone's looking for a calf under the bull.

From a position of an outsider, I have an overall impression of a strong prudish streak running through the American society. More so than here in Europe, as some people have said already.
I recall a few years ago, in a superbowl or something, there was a "wardrobe malfunction" and for a second one could see a bit of grimy breast. The hysteria that followed was incredible.
Valentin M
127. ValMar
On Gabrelle, I believe some are being too sensitive. As others have noted, it is not about fetish and women in general. It is about an AS who for the 1st time in decades or more finds herself without the Power in the arms of a man, in intimate circumstances.
I am not surprised that people would find the urge to feel outraged by Gab's situation impossible to resist. Just remember that this outrage is on behalf of Gabrelle Aes Sedai from the WOT universe, not ordinary chaste maiden. She is 3-5 times older than us at least, and until recently a powerful mystical sorceress to any man she slept with. And them men, probably, little more than harmless objects to her.

About sexually objectified, I think it's Berelain. We know she has extensive statesmanship qualities. Galad, so far we know much less about whether it's all looks or not. Mat hasn't been sexually objectified in general.
128. Freelancer

I'll keep this as simple as I can. Note the word "unlikely" in my comment. I never said anything about chemistry forcing a universally applied behavior. In decrying that my comments are too much about stereotype, you make the exact mistake of which you accuse me, about having "given in" to a cultural stereotype which will "burden the future".

Of course every individual is different. But if you are going to suggest that hormones do not have a major influence on both behavior and interpersonal reactions, you are simply mistaken.


I also did not say that biology was destiny, nor did a single word of my comment suggest such.

And BTW, none of that has anything to do with which gender is more or less vicious, more or less sneaky, more or less knife-in-the-back. To think that would have been the less dangerous area of discussion. ::shakes head:: When I was but Rand's age, I worked in a place where the only other male was the 62 year old senior manager. I received quite the baptism into feminine office politics. And still, I am just as comfortable in a roomful of only women as I am in a roomful of only men. Because when none of them is my wife, none of them is different from each other in a romantic regard. They all rate a zero.

Jonathan Levy,

Thanks, you brought to mind a thought I had a while back, which was reinforced by this part of the Winter's Heart Prologue. Elayne is the one of Rand's three ladies who is more true to him. (I can hear it now, "as if he hasn't stirred enough of a pot today") I say this because the other two came to a relationship with him virtually "by force" of the Pattern. Min from her viewing, Aviendha from the rings in Rhuidean. Both were reluctant, both made regular comments about how much they wanted to hurt something or someone about this unrequested destiny. (Throughout Min's POVs in TGH, she speaks of how much the Pattern has to answer for). Elayne only, of the three, chooses Rand freely. I know that Min is the one who has stayed by Rand's side the most, but that is a purely logistical matter. She has no larger responsibilities, such as training to be a Wise One, or trying to prevent a nation from descending into civil war.

There is no guessing how the story will play out for these four in the "family" sense, except that we know Aviendha will be seeing Rand alone at least once more. What we do know is that Elayne, when she chooses to get close to Rand, is defying everyone to do so. She is sure that her mother would not approve. She is sure that her nation wouldn't be as pleased with her choosing a "commoner" than a politically beneficial consort. She doesn't care, because she cares for Rand. Oh wait, that's perfectly in character for her, right, because she's thoughtlessly selfish. ::eyeroll::


Berelain has used her "assets" for her own political ends. That is not being objectified. The very fact that we know little about Galad doesn't help one way or another regarding if he is or is not objectified. The fact that those women who are swooning over him don't know anything about him proves that he is being objectified. They view him as nothing more than his beauty, and are obviously only interested in the physical attraction at that point. That is pretty much a definition of sexual objectification. It's also why I'm not the least bit interested in detailed presentations of intimate relations in text, or on the screen. I don't care about the physical activities of people to whom I'm not married, and don't want to see it.
Jennifer B
129. JennB
Your feelings on the sister bonding scene echo mine. (Or my feelings echo yours since you are the one who actually made the effort to write them down. I'm lazy that way. :-) )

Since we are labeling ourselves, I'm a cat person. Our family has four of them.

Thank you. I have been trying to remember who wrote about the people with eyes in their bellies since yesterday, but all I could remember was the guy was Greek.

re nudity
We Americans just need to get over it. Come to Oregon and hit the hot springs. You'll figure out pretty quickly that nobody cares.

Re husbands in the birthing room
I cannot imagine having to go through childbirth without my husband there holding my hand. The moral support is so necessary.

Haha. I clicked on your link. Fabio is funny looking.

Here is a personal rant I have on American attitudes towards "nudity". One day my cousin in law and I were at the ball park. An overweight woman walked by wearing shorts and a jog bra. My cousin commented that the woman had no business dressing like that. The basic attitude being that because the woman was not physically appealing by my heterosexual, female cousin's standards, she should be restricted on what she should be allowed to wear on a hot day. In my opinion, the woman should be applauded for having the confidence to wear what she was wearing.

The idea that nudity = sex is just plain silly. We americans need to get over it. The idea that a person's choice of clothing or lack there of should be made solely with the intent to please others is ridiculous.

Okay. Rant done. On to other things.

The ones I think are funny are the people who smile down at you and then suddenly frown, look away, and say "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize he was eating."

Yay. I'm finally caught up.
John Massey
130. subwoofer
@Free- agreed. I have no issues being in a room full of women as none of them are my sweet baboo.

I see we are back to the Nature vs. Nurture debate. All I will say is that you can't ignore genetic dispositions and biology. We are not Vulcans after all.

Breast feeding in public. On this particular topic I will reiterate what I tell my staff that bring doughnuts and coffee to work. Is there some for the rest of us?

::Flees to safety of bunker::

Jennifer B
131. JennB
My little one has not learned to share. :)
132. MasterAlThor
I have not read all the comments, but i will say that from about 98 guys are crazy.

Have fun...I will be back soon.

133. alreadymadwithrandandavi
Jonathan Levy @121
That's way too many pieces for me. LOL. I never got the thing about the two lies.

Tektonica @124
Rand and Aviendha have never had to deal with having relationships before. Up until she was recruited to be a Wise One apprentice(kicking and screaming all the way, might I add), all she wanted was to dance the spears. Up until he left the Two Rivers, Rand never had to concern himself with the intricacies of acquiring a partner. He could have done nothing and he'd still have ended up with Egwene. Marin Al'Vere would have taken care of that.
Jay Dauro
134. J.Dauro

I don't know that we can say that the pattern has nothing to do with Elayne choosing Rand. You are right, in that she is not aware of it, if it does push her that way. But I don't think we can say for sure that it doesn't push her.

Look at Birgitte and Gaidal Cain, when they are in their human lives. They do not know of their love, but they always seem to find themselves together. I think the pattern can act like a club (such as with Min and Aviendha), or it can be quite subtle.
Heidi Byrd
135. sweetlilflower
@J.Dauro: I think Freelancer's point is that SHE doesn't know that the pattern wants her and Rand together while both Avi and Min do.

Edit: Yes, I see you have acknowledged this point already. I just wanted the chance to defend him since he agreed with me on Galad being the most sexually objectified person in WOT.
Alice Arneson
136. Wetlandernw
Well, if it matters, I agree with Galad being the sex-object primo. My first thought was actually Rand, but I quickly discarded that. I also considered Berelain and Sevanna, but if they are considered "sex objects" by anyone, they deliberately started it. Since Freelancer's question was clearly after the idea of "who has been made a sex object by others in the book" rather than "who do the readers think is the sexiest" I was pretty sure both Berelain and Sevanna (oh, and Someryn, since she tries so hard) were disqualified. The only other possibility was Mat, and that sure isn't "mostly" anything - only Tylin treated him that way. So... that clearly leaves Galad who, without a word or a thought, makes every woman in sight (except his mother and sister) start drooling over his lovely face and body, and not a word or thought from them about who he might be as a person. Just "oh, my, isn't he beautiful."

That's enough to make me dislike him, right there! Gah.
Sydo Zandstra
137. Fiddler

That's not Galad's fault, so give him some slack ;)
138. Freelancer

I didn't say that the Pattern didn't create the circumstances for Elayne and Rand to become romantically entwined. Sweetlilflower has it right. Elayne made a choice which was entirely of free will as far as she knew. Now, that the Pattern, or "destiny", or whatever expected it to happen is beside the point. The other two were shown that Rand was their future, and they started out quite unhappy about it. And in case anybody thinks I'm just trying to give props to Elayne because so many dislike her, well, perhaps.


Yes, well, it was my pop-quiz, and Galad was the right answer all along, so I'd say you were agreeing with me. See, being a male, I'm all competitive and stuff. ;-{)>
Joseph Blaidd
139. SteelBlaidd
Nice Little LLL meeting we got going here :D
We we're at a nurse-in on Mothers-day at the mall play area and found it very ironic that just around the corner was a Bath and Body Works with an ad featuring a twice life size nekid woman. American's is cofuzzed.

(Aside:Sweet Three hankie birth video at this link

A couple of things occurred to me this time around. First, that this bonding happens between the Maiden and Mother, the two fertile faces of the Goddess.
Second I think it's interesting that Rand has been running around with the Crone, who is the only one of the three actively trying to not get pregnant, and that she represents the future. Rand has been running from his past and hardening himself against present emotion while desperately trying to "build something" with the schools , protect the future by cleansing Saidin, and figure out how to get through Tarmon Gaidon alive.( When he gives up on the future in tGS he stops spending so much time with Min).

Regarding Gabrelle and Logain, I think what she is having trouble articulating is a something that i saw demonstrated in a set of Paranormal Romances I read this last week. The male lead is a werewolf and the female lead is not so she doesn't have the super-strength and healing as icing on the cake she was rather brutally raped about a week before they finally formalize(note not consumate) their relationship. What this all means is that he has a lot of power to hurt her both physically and emotionally which he chose not to use because he loves her and dosn't want her hurt. In the same way Gabrelle is becoming aware of what it's like to be treated gently by someone who doesn't have too. Logain could indulge his worst impulses if he wanted to without consequence but he chooses not too. Previous to this any encounter's she might have had would have been influenced by her having the power in the relationship. Shee's finding that she likes knowing that her partner is being tender by his own choice not because he fears retribution.

I sure hope some of that made sense.
Sydo Zandstra
140. Fiddler

We never saw what the Acceptatron showed Elayne.

I admit that this is not a valid argument, since it is stuff we haven't seen. It is also not shown in Elayne's thoughts.

But then again, apart from Egwene we haven't seen that much experiences from the Acceptatron showing up in others' thoughts.
141. Freelancer

Nor do we "see" what Aviendha experienced in Rhuidean, and are only sure of certain parts by strong implication. Also, do you imagine that if Elayne had been shown something about her and Rand in her Accepted test, we wouldn't have been let in on it? Not a legally valid argument via absentia, but logically valid.

Speaking of communication, there is one party to this crazy relationship who has never been told that it was foretold.
Jonathan Levy
142. JonathanLevy
Even considering that it might be porn! Bloody hell! Someone's looking for a calf under the bull.

LOL - Looking for a calf under the bull? I've never heard that expression before, but I love it!

On Gabrelle, I believe some are being too sensitive. As others have noted, it is not about fetish and women in general. It is about an AS who for the 1st time in decades or more finds herself without the Power in the arms of a man, in intimate circumstances.

I agree 100%. I'd also add that perhaps Gabrelle is being set up as a contrast with Toveine herself. In the scene where the Aes Sedai get captured, Toveine thinks to herself that Logain is nothing like the young, pliable, grateful boys she liked to toy with. I don't recall anyone getting into a fit about the sexual-objectification of men, or shrieking about the implicit approval of the statutory rape of male minors. What's that? You're saying there's no basis whatsoever for that in the text? I know - that's precisely my point. Sigh.


Ah, well done, finding the original reference. I salute you.


Elayne is the one of Rand's three ladies who is more true to him. (I can hear it now, "as if he hasn't stirred enough of a pot today") I say this because the other two came to a relationship with him virtually "by force" of the Pattern.

Wow, I hadn't considered that aspect. That's a very interesting distinction. If you will forgive me for attempting to restate your observation, I would say that all three girls equally fell in love with Rand by force of the pattern, but Elayne was the only one who did it without foreknowledge of her fate, and therefore, from her point of view, , by an act of free will.

Of course, it's an open question how much free will a person has on that point after Min has viewed them - one could argue that Elayne had no more free will than Aviendha, but was just more ignorant. That's not an argument I want to get into. :)

Let me try to formulate a counter-argument to your insightful observation. Contrast Min's reaction to Aviendha's. Both know they will love Rand - Aviendha rebels, Min accepts. Now compare Min with Elayne. Perhaps accepting an inevitable fate to love a man who may not love you back is a greater act of love than falling in love at first sight with a stranger? Many people have fallen in love at first sight; how many of them have instantly and unhesitantly accepted the dictates of an unstoppable force? I'm not sure what I would have done if on my first date with my future wife she had had a big glowing sign above her head saying "This is the woman you're going to marry".

The most human instinct is to rebel. Aviendha does. But Min doesn't. She grumbles, but she doesn't rebel. Would Elayne have chosen Rand if a minute earlier Morgase and Elaida had shown her his picture and dictated to her she would marry him? One can doubt.

Counter-counter argument: Of course, Min already knows that there's no point in rebelling. She understands her viewings better than anyone. I think I've talked myself into agreeing with you. Oh well, worse things have happened. :)


Admittedly, it took me 5 or 6 re-reads. At least.
Sydo Zandstra
143. Fiddler

As you stated, prophecy showed us Min's and Aviendha's fate when concerning Rand.

I fully agree with you. Just offering a 'maybe'.
Derek Barolet
144. Derek.barolet
Re: Subwoofer@all

I read these posts just for you...ok maybe not but close.
Valentin M
145. ValMar
J Levy@142

Glad you loved it. The direct translation should be "ox" instead of a bull but I thought "bull" will make it clearer.

Very good point on Toveine. I was thinking of her when considering what kind of "relationships" an AS may have. Particularly some of the ehm... colder/more ruthless AS we've seen.
Also, very nice talk you had with yourself. Thanks for not editing and leaving the counter-arguments to your eventual conclusion.

I personally made my decision that Berelain is the most sexually objectified character (even if incouraged, initially, be herself) solely on the basis of what other characters in the books think of her.
But it is very close between her and Galad. Overall, it's very subjective contest so we might as well drop it for good...
Jonathan Levy
146. JonathanLevy

The direct translation should be "ox" instead of a bull but I thought "bull" will make it clearer.

Translation? Would you indulge me and quote the original?
147. Stromgard
What I find interesting about the way RJ has made his characters is that some of them are having contradictary aspects of generic arcetypes.

That sounds more complex that it is, let me exemplify.

Mat is an awesome military genious, a secret-agent type of guy that would make James Bond blush and retire in shame if compared, great with women, and in melee he eats myrdraal and gray men for breakfast... and he is the #1 comic relief character in the series!

Nynaeve is by far (sorry, Egwene, you are awesome at what you do and as a leader, but Nyn comes out ahead for just being more multi-purpose, still like you more, huggles) the most competent Aes Sedai in the books, and she isn't (?) 30 yet and have been with the AS for only a few years, still awesomer than the lot, and she is the best healer ever and one of the few most powerful channelers known (Sharina and Alivia are about the same strength). I mean, seriously, the girl solo-defeat Forsaken on a regular basis. She _1on1_ the FORSAKEN! And wins! It's just... well awesome. (Ok, Moiraine did so too, but she had the advantage of surprise (Be'lal didn't know she could balefire) and precognition (she knew Lanfear would depend on the bracelet.) Anyway (and yes, Moiraine is awesome too) Nyn is just WHOA! Aaaaaaaand..... she is the series #2 comic relief!

And that leads me to Elayne. She is a political genious, and she is the best there is in another way too, she is excellent into not only researching Angreals but copying them and (likely upcoming) making new ones. Also this amazingly intelligent woman... is also a bit of an airhead. It's just... it's like RJ took contradictory standard characters and merged them.

I don't know if he did it on purpose, but either way, it's awesome.
Tricia Irish
148. Tektonica
I agree with Free's assessment of Elayne "choosing" Rand, more than the others did, although, I don't think it makes her love for him any more "true". The fact that both Min and Avi were told by the "pattern" that they would love him, and didn't want to, but couldn't help it anyway, it convinces me of that. Elayne may be just as much a victim of the pattern as Min and Avi, albeit, unaware of it.


As for Galad....he didn't "choose" to be beautiful and sexy! But disliking him for it....not fair! He won the gene pool lottery. A gorgeous man isn't everyone's cup of tea, see Birgit, but it's a good "hook". It remains to be seen if there's any substance behind that gorgeous facade. I, myself, would love to know!


Good point about Rand and Min (as the "crone"/future)!

And you finally stated what I think everyone was trying to get to with the Gabrelle/Logain sexing thing. Thank you!

Free@141: I believe you mean Rand is in the dark. But Min does tell him at some point that she was destined to love him, I think...oh I'm going to have to go search. I know Avi makes remarks either to one of her sister-wives or to herself about not wanting to love him. She makes some aside remark....But I don't think it was to Rand. Elayne seems to just "be in love" because she wants to, although I suspect the Pattern dictated this too. During the Big Bonding Ceremony does any of this come out? I guess we'll see soon....
Valentin M
150. ValMar
I finally had a comment blocked! Apparently it was spam.

J Levy@146
It's your fault ;) I suspect it's because I tried to quote in cyrillic letters. Anyway:
"You are looking for a calf under the ox."

Most applicable in contesting unreasonable conspiracy theories, or subjective arguments based on little or no evidence. E.g. that Tolkien was racist because all the good guys were white. Or that quoting from foreign alphabet is spam.
Marcus W
151. toryx
Tektonica @ 76:

Yeah, the European beach experience is definitely an interesting one. Even I was surprised at how quickly I became nonchalant about the whole thing. By and large, social taboos tend to become less shocking and extreme once it's brought into the light.

lostinshadow @ 78:

That childbirth photo album you were talking about reminded me of something. I once had one of my cameras loaned out without my being aware of it. Several weeks later I went to get the photos developed (yeah, it was more than ten years ago) and was flipping through the customary vacation photos when I was suddenly stopped dead by a picture of a baby's head crowning.

It didn't bother me in the slightest but for a moment there I was certainly pretty surprised. I don't see anything wrong with it, but I still kind of think it's the sort of intimate experience that might be best kept in the family. :)

Re: The Sister bonding - I've been noticing something interesting. It seems to me that by and large, the women on the forum have considered the whole thing to be kind of "ho-hum, whatever" whereas the men tended to find it more touching. Is that true, or am I just seeing it wrong? I kind of wonder what that says, if anything.

Anyone Want to do a poll?

First Sister Bonding

Me: Male and found it touching.
Sydo Zandstra
152. Fiddler
For toryx's poll:

Me: Male and feeling indifferent towards it.
James Hogan
153. Sonofthunder
I think this is my first post in a while(had work training all last week and had minimal access to a computer - I think I've finally caught up on the last couple posts and comments!) but wanted to vote in the poll. And express my thoughts.

Me: Male and indifferent, as well.

I liked the questions and answers part - it was hilarious to see what they thought of each other. But the actual ceremony, while well-written, no doubt, just didn't do much for me. I enjoyed it, but no big emotional reaction either. I also have never had children, so maybe that's part of it?
154. Freelancer
Jonathan Levy@142

You are correct that Min resigned herself to her viewing. That doesn't mean she so simply acquiesced. I requote the bit from TGH where Min is keeping Rand warm after finding him behind a random house in Falme, following the fight in the sky:
"I like older men," she told him. "I like men with education, and wit. I have no interest in farms, or sheep, or shepherds. Especially boy shepherds."

She is resigned, but she isn't pleased. When she moments later makes her comments to Egwene about picking him up if she's going to toss him aside, this is min doing what she always does in deflecting others from awareness of her viewings.(BTW, the specification of boy in that quote is absolutely in contrast to men, not even remotely intimating that she would be interested in female shepherds. Please.)


I have intense appreciation for the First-sister scene. I started to say that I love it, but with where Leigh chose to take her commentary, that would not have been wise. It is touching, and female, and natural (in a paranormal sort of way). But I think I've said most of that before.

Edit: Spelling
Lucas Vollmer
155. aspeo
Ok wow, I go away for a weekend and I miss everything! lol

So here are my thoughts after reading through the comments.

Elayne and Avi's first sister ceremony was interesting. It certainly didn't strike me as pornographic or exploitive. I was more interested in the questions and answers that occurred during the ceremony than anything. It's not often that we are given an insight into exactly what one character thinks of another. I found it very intriguing. My only thought about the nudity that I really had was that if they were to ever make a movie about WOT, this scene would be extremely hard to do tastefully IMO.

As for the BT situation with the captured AS. I'll admit to chuckling when Toveine said she was having a rather pleasant dream about strangling Elaida. :)
I will also agree with a lot of people above in saying that I didn't have any problem with Gabrelle sleeping with Logain and liking not being in control. I can see how someone who is used to being a dominant person can revel in knowing they are the weaker of a pair, but are also being treated gently and kindly. Stuff like that may even open the Sisters' eyes about men not being bruising thoughtless louts that a lot of women in tWOT seem to think they are.
As far as the names being put up on the traitors tree, why did Flynn, Hopwill, and Narishma get put up there. Did Taim just not want to advertise that his minions tried to kill Rand?

I also really liked the visit to the academy by Rand and Min. I think it's very interesting to see all of the ideas that people are coming up with now that Rand has given them the chance. I also think that it's extremely amusing that someone who can do almost anything he wants because of channeling looks on in amazement at a wagon moving by itself with no horses pulling it.
I also got a big grin out of Min coming in with three bags full of books and saying Rand should be fitted for a packsaddle. I love how she treats Rand in such a down to earth way. It really contrasts with the stiff formality that everyone else seems to show him. I hate to think how bad Rand would have been without Min there with him. Perhaps even, too far gone to fight the dark one?

I was going to ask about who the other packet was for, but that got answered in the comments already, so yay!

As per the poll: I'm male and found it more interesting than touching or indifference-causing.

I think I'm going to stop now, so I'll return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast...
Jennifer B
156. JennB
poll time!
female - pretty indifferent, though I loved the questions and answers part
Sydo Zandstra
157. Fiddler

As far as the names being put up on the traitors tree, why did Flynn, Hopwill, and Narishma get put up there. Did Taim just not want to advertise that his minions tried to kill Rand?

I think he put them up there so they would be killed on sight, in case any Asha'man would encounter one of them.

All that to weaken Rand's party/cause. (Taim is a DF after all)
Bill Reamy
158. BillinHI
Poll: Male and found it touching, especially the questions and answers.

Re: Traitors Tree: I would imagine Taim has probably given orders to his (other) minions that they are _not_ to kill Rochaid, Kisman, Torval and Gedwyn, but he would definitely like to see Flinn, Narishma and Hopwil killed.
a a-p
159. lostinshadow

your poll: female and somewhere between indifferent and anthropologically interesting.

re my friend's album: I have nothing against the concept and artistically speaking it was beautifully done, but I personally would have rather been given the option to not see the c-section in graphic detail. So I was protesting their need to share with all regardless of what the viewee may wish rather than the concept of photographing the birth.

and I shall now crawl back to the bunker to nurse my migraine.
Valentin M
160. ValMar
male and indifferent (sounds harsher than I feel), but really like the Q&A part.
Julian Augustus
161. Alisonwonderland
Freelancer @128:
Elayne is the one of Rand's three ladies who is more true to him. (I can hear it now, "as if he hasn't stirred enough of a pot today") I say this because the other two came to a relationship with him virtually "by force" of the Pattern. Min from her viewing, Aviendha from the rings in Rhuidean.

Twelve years ago I wrote a theory on my web site that Elayne's similarity in name and hair colour to Ilyena is a red-herring RJ is dangling in front of us, and that if you ignore those obvious very superficial pointers a close reading of the books suggests it is Min, not Elayne, who is most likely to be Ilyena reborn. I'll dig up that theory when I go home this evening and post it.
Hilde Sørensen
162. edlihs
Female, liked questions and answers part of ceremony best. Ignored the naked part.

Agrees about Taim wanting the loyal men dead!
D.I. Rock
163. FeatherDancer
First Sister Ceremony

Me: Female and feeling mostly indifferent towards it. I actually thought it was odd and nothing I could ever picture myself wanting to do with any friend I’ve ever had - male or female – no matter how close.

From last re read – swearing in WOT

Well they do but it’s in The Old Tongue so we have no idea what it really means. In Lord of Chaos, Chapter 7: Threads Woven of Shadow, there is a conversation between Sammael and Graendal where Sammael is uttering "obscenities". One of them is tsag and the other is bajad drovja. Sammael makes note he normally does not speak so coarsely and he is upset with himself for letting Graendal get under his skin
Tina Pierce
164. scissorrunner
First Sister bonding poll:
female. found it rather amazing. esp the part with Amys being willing to "suffer the pangs of birth for them". been there, done that, not sure if I'd volunteer to do it again.
the Q & A El & Avi needed to go through was probably the best part
Tess Laird
165. thewindrose
A survey!
Fembot, and I enjoyed the ceremony. I do have a couple of close female friends who are like sisters - friends being the family you can chose:) I would do the ceremony with them in a heartbeat.

Taim wants Flinn, Narishma and Hopwil dead - D-E-D!!

FeatherDancer - Sammael also called someone a choss-hauler, and hilarity ensued on that LOC reread when we used choss as a filler for many of the swear words of today. (Or at least I was having fun **shrug**).

Freelancer -
Who is the single most sexually objectified individual in WoT?
Most definitely Galad.

And I am totaly a dog person. My Chinese Zodiac animal is even the dog:)

Alice Arneson
166. Wetlandernw
Tektonica @148 - :) I know it's not fair. I'm just jealous. But he does occasionally make use of it. After multiple rereads (and possibly some maturity?) I find it more amusing than annoying, I must admit - particularly when Nynaeve is obviously affected by it and doesn't change her mind one bit about what she just told him to do. In any case, that one instance is the only one we see. Berelain and Sevanna, on the other hand, deliberately dress, move, speak and act in such a way as to use their... attributes to gain both personal and political power. And they do it frequently, habitually almost, and with such clear purpose that I can't consider them "objectified" in any but the most superficial sense. (Sorry, Tektonica, that last bit was more for ValMar than for you.)

ValMar @150 - I just have to say that in current (American) idiom, using "bull" gives it a particularly juicy double meaning that "ox" doesn't quite carry; a meaning probably not intended in the original, but it does add a level of humor... (or maybe "depth" of humor?). In any case, I like it.

toryx @151 - You reminded me of something with the comment that "it's the sort of intimate experience that might be best kept in the family." We tend to think of "obscene" as meaning lewd or offensive, and that's the definition that you'll now find in the dictionaries. IIRC, the original meaning was that it was something that ought to take place "off scene" as it were - things that are best done privately. I agree - childbirth is pretty intimate and I'd prefer it to be private (though definitely not solo!). Same goes for using the restroom, though in a very different sense, and definitely solo except when potty-training children. "Obscene" used to just refer to things which shouldn't be done in public; now it refers to anything intended to be offensive. *sigh*

For the poll:

Female, and I think I'm going to change my mind and say touching, or at least "of vital interest."

Here's why I changed my mind. Due to some reflection caused by the discussion here, I now think that including the birthing in the bonding ritual is far more important than I used to think. From the internal perspective (i.e. Aviendha and Elayne) they have the memory of sharing a womb with one another, going through pain, loss and restoration during that birth. In addition to the enforced honesty in their opinions of one another, the "hit her as hard as you can, and you'll never need to hit her again" thing, and the weavings that bind them with the OP, they have a very deep bond created by a never-before-experienced intimacy (sharing the womb), separation (one is born before the other) and restoration. And they can remember it afterward, with adult memory, rather than forgetting everything the way an infant does. I would say it's a deeper emotional bond, but it seems to me that it goes deeper than emotion. No wonder first-sisters-by-choice are so close.

So does the reader need to see that part of the ritual? I think so. Without it, the ritual is just another ritual and OP-bond, sort of like the Warder bond but with greater equality between the bonded pair. With it, if we see the depth of intimacy created by the entire process, we can begin to understand the bond between Elayne and Aviendha. Elayne even thinks this: "But there was something more to her, now. Not like the Warder bond, but like it in a way. Fainter, but more magnificent." (Incidentally, we can go back and look at Bain and Chiad a little differently as well, including their interactions with Gaul.) I intend to watch for the effects in the upcoming chapters, trying to read with the first-sister-bond in the back of my head, to see if it affects my understanding of their interactions. Anyone else?
Birgit F
167. birgit
I'm female and liked the first-sister ceremony. I never thought there might be anything pornographic about it. Maybe the Americans should meet in a Finnish sauna or Japanese onsen to discuss Shienaran baths.

Sammael's curses sound more like Trolloc tongue than Old Tongue.

I discovered more Aiel Darkfriends: In LOC ch. 22 Aiel attack Mat's tent in the middle of his army and he later finds a bush cut by a gateway.
Tricia Irish
168. Tektonica
Poll: Female. Bonding ceremony, meh. I like the idea of it, and the questions, and the intention, but the birthing business just seemed kind of like ritualistic nonsense to me.

In defense of it, Avi and Elayne have not known each other that long, so have not had years of shared history and secrets to build trust. That's what it really takes to build a deep and lifelong friendship; history together, trials and tribulations, and deep loss shared and supported through it. This was an excellent way to create a bond that Time would normally create naturally....if it was to be at all.

They have had a few good adventures together, however, and have had each others' back completely.
Hugh Arai
169. HArai
Poll: Male and interesting more than touching.

It seems to me that finding something like that pornographic is much the same as finding polar bear eats cute seal, or wolf eats cute deer shockingly violent or sad. You can attach those labels to those events but you're really missing the point.

Birgit@167: I seem to have missed the start of this Aiel Darkfriend hunt. Was there some claim that they were rare or something? I thought the Maiden that tried to kill Mat was a bit of a giveaway...
Kurt Lorey
170. Shimrod
Male. Never thought it was voyeuristic, pornographic or even mildly titillating. Interested by the backlash over it.

I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned that becoming First Sisters in this sense (the Aiel way) is also like acquiring a fraternal twin. But, I suppose there aren't any twins lurking here. Deeper connection than with just a non-twinned sibling.

I'm also getting the sense that most here are projecting some kind of reflection of their own perceptions and experiences out of this.

Same with Freelancer's poll (which was a darn good one, too).
Karen Fox
171. thepupxpert
JL @ 70 -The only dogs I remember reading about in the books that were not "slat-ribbed" and "cringing" half feral alley muts were the Tinkers' mastiffs and the spit dogs in the kitchens. Unfortunately the mastiffs are all killed, but luckily the spit dogs appear to be lively, well-fed and happy. I've noticed that unlike horses, which are active participants in the WOT world, dogs are pretty much nonexistent. We have more insight into wolves than any dogs in the series so far, and being a dog person, that really stood out to me.

Well, I'm a cat person too... but that's beside the point!
172. Freelancer

I'd have no quarrel with the idea of Min turning out to be Ilyena reborn. I think that Jordan had more fun keeping his readers guessing than anything else, so it's really a tossup whether Elayne's physical similarities are a red herring or straight up clues. ::shrug:: Curious to see the content of your theory.

BillinHI@158 has it regarding Taim putting Rand's Asha'man on the traitor's list.


Indeed, Load of Choss induced a fair few chuckles.


I should have known you'd bring up the one time Galad goes nose to nose with a woman expecting her to melt. Too bad for him it was Nynaeve in one of her usual moods. I see that as an Easter Egg that he and Berelain are a match. He does know how his appearance affects the ladies, he just doesn't normally make use of it for gain, because that wouldn't be RIGHT.


Can we be sure of shadowrunners there? Hasn't Sammael been dealing with the Shaido already at this point? Perhaps they just wanted the chance to kill the man who killed Couladin? Or else you're correct, but it is still most likely Shaido, and it's reasonable that with their lack of Aiel integrity they are more prone to produce shadowrunners.
Tricia Irish
173. Tektonica

Good point....are there any twins lurking here that could shed some light on this bonding thing? Some people seem so moved and touched by it? I'm an only child, so perhaps that's why I don't get all the fuss. My best friend and I have known each other for forty years. She's an only too, and we have been through it all together, including the deaths of our parents. It is an "earned" bond.....I'm afraid that's all I'll ever know, but I can't imagine anything could be more profound, except parent/child.

thepupxpert@171: We've forgotten about the Dark they count? ;-))
Alice Arneson
174. Wetlandernw
Freelancer @172 - I think the Galad episode I referenced stands out in part because it's the only time he obviously attempted to make use of his attractiveness. So far as we know, he doesn't use it for his own advantage; even in this case, he tried to sway Nynaeve so that she would allow him to get on with doing what he thinks is right - i.e. protecting Elayne. So, yeah. If it wouldn't be right, he wouldn't do it.

Trying to point out a specific and immediately-recognizable-to-all-readers parallel event with Berelain would take a lot more details regarding who, what, where and when, because with her it's used any time, on any man who might be susceptible, if it might gain her the advantage she wants. It's still a matter of using the tools you have to your advantage, but in light of the original question, well, yeah. If anyone has made a sex object of Berelain, it's herself.
Lannis .
175. Lannis
Nothing kills the between-posts drag like a poll!

Female and thought the ceremony was well done--emotionally revealing but not sexual in any way.

Wetlander @ 174:
If anyone has made a sex object of Berelain, it's herself.

Exactly. Though her seamstress might have had a little to do with it, too... ;)
Karen Fox
176. thepupxpert
sub @ 130 - I just spit coffee all over my keyboard.
177. up2stuff
Hey Leigh and all. Long time listener, first time, reader/poster... whatever. Love the re-reads. My wife is not in to much of the same material as I and lots of the posts, quotes, etc are jokes I KNOW she would not get. Great to see it here.

I was wondering why there is not a male-to-male bonding ceremony that is similar on ANY level to the fist sister...thingy. I do not recall anything, but in one of the more recent posts, I recall someone being called Rand's "Near Brother". Obviously a best buddy kind of referral, but nothing so intimate.

Is this because RJ was afraid of getting into homosexual male stuff, or because the taint on Saidin kept men from developing this kind of thing?

The first sister thing did not seem to tie them together like a warder bond, and the asha'man have their "wife" bond, but this does not give a sense of the other, kind of thing. Just the shared memories.

Since it uses Saidar, it is obviously "safe" while something done with Saidin might not be and Aiel men suicide when they discover the ability.

I know some seem to think it was due to a small amount of sexism, but I wonder if it occured to RJ as a concious choice, too and is a reason that was overlooked.

I am admittedly a gigantic amateur here, and it has probably been discussed before, but I felt like bringing it up.
Karen Fox
178. thepupxpert
toryx @ 151 - I'm female and I loved it, thought it was beautifully written and did not exploit.
Jennifer B
179. JennB
I don't think any of Rand's three are Ilyena reborn. I think that two souls linked through incarnations is rare and the only romantic* example in the book is Brigitte and Gaidal Cain. The linking is part of the pattern and not related to the depth of their love for eachother. For example, LTT's love for Ilyena was just as great as Brigitte's love for Gaidal, the pattern just has no reason to link LTT and Ilyena.

*Other non romantic examples would be the twins that herald the end of the age (Elayne's babies) and according to Ishamael, he and Rand are linked.
Valentin M
180. ValMar

I assure you there is no "juicy" meaning in this saying, but feel free to modify it if you wish to be so naughty ;)

Your point on Berelain etc, of encouraging this particular view of her is very valid. Plus, Berelain's character qualities have been well acknowledged already by the WO. Not much so for Galad. So, for what is worth, I am ready to concede Galad is ahead in that score.
But, like Galad, Berelain does it also for "good", for Mayene. Even her persuit of Perrin probably begun as an attempt to keep close to Rand, for Mayene's good.
Thomas Keith
181. insectoid
Sub @many: You're a riot! ;D

Poll: Already answered... ::points up::


Karen Fox
182. thepupxpert
Tek @ 173 - Hi Tek, I didn't think of them! I don't know if I would include them, to me they are more like Trollocs since aren't they the twisted souls of wolves? But we do get a lot of horsey personality traits, one trying to nip at the other, patient patient Bela, etc. It still seems like a big gap to me that there aren't any dogs serving in positions other than alley mutt or spit dog. Oh and the occasional farmer's dog chasing the boys off their land...
Lannis .
183. Lannis
Welcome up2stuff @ 177! We're always happy to have new commenters! Glad to see we haven't scared you away!

Re: first brother ceremony... I don't think they would have bothered with saidin (and you've already pointed out the lack of Aiel male channelers). I got the impression the request for the ceremony would be put forward to the Wise Ones the same way a pair of women would request the first sister ceremony, and it follows logically that saidar would be used to complete the ceremony for first-brothers. I think it's just a case of not getting to see a first-brother ceremony on-screen.

IIRC, we don't really have a pair of men with the same bond (and cultural validity) to see the first brother ceremony on screen, at all.

Hmm... I wonder if there's ever a male-female combo for the first brother/sister ceremony... I've had a few close male friends. I'm sure close platonic male-female relationships exist in Aiel culture, too... thoughts?

Oooh, another thought... I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the participants in the first-brother/sister bondings are most likely members of the same warrior society... which would kind of axe the male-female mix, wouldn't it?

Does it say anywhere whether the first sister/brother bonding is a token of warrior societies only, or acceptable for all of Aiel culture? I thought of sister-wives, but that's different...

Geez, no wonder Rand started tuning out Aviendha... XD

EDIT: For clarity. Some days I wish we could edit life... XD
Alice Arneson
184. Wetlandernw
up2stuff @177 - I was wondering why there is not a male-to-male bonding ceremony that is similar on ANY level to the fist sister...thingy. We just don't see it "on screen" - we've been told that there is a first-brother ceremony that's essentially the same thing, but we don't have any characters that want to show us. :) FWIW, it does not require the ability to channel; Bain and Chiad went through the same ceremony, and neither of them can channel an iota. Some will certainly call it sexist, but I for one have no problem with the lack of an on-screen first-brother ceremony. There are only so many characters, and doing another round (to say nothing of setting up the necessity) just for the sake of "balancing the sexes" would be silly.

ValMar @180 - Didn't have anything particularly naughty in mind. With "ox" you've got the "wrong gender" play. When you make it "bull" you've got the added layer of shoveling manure to find the poor calf. In the wrong place. Just saying.
Alice Arneson
185. Wetlandernw
By the way... for those of you who get frustrated when you type a bunch of stuff and then lose it when you try to preview, have you ever tried using your "back button" to retrieve it? It usually works for me - I mostly have to go back two times to find my post still in the comment box. Has anyone else used this? If no, someone please try it next time your post disappears in the ether.

(It wouldn't work, of course, for a post that got flagged as spam.)
Tricia Irish
186. Tektonica

I was really kidding about the Dark Hounds being dogs...they are not really alive even, are they? Very "other". ;-)


LOL. If you learn how to "edit life" let me know.....please!


After several near catastrophes of laptop throwing, I discovered the back button works well. I also try to to "copy" my text before I preview, just in case, so I can always "paste" it back into the comment box in case of a ghost in the Tor machine.

PS: "Quotes" are my new favorite punctuation marks, right after commas.
Lannis .
187. Lannis
@ Tek: I'll keep you posted, but don't hold your breath! ;)

re: Losing comments... erm, I open a text file on my desktop to begin my comment, then copy and paste it into the comment box when I'm finished. S'easier than scrolling back and forth through the post and everyone's comments... and well, if things magically disappear, I still have the text file. :D
188. alreadymadwithRandsloves
Tektonica @148
I'm pretty sure Min tells Elayne of her viewing in Salidar. I'm a bit more fuzzy on whether she tells Rand.

Lannis @183
Not likely. Women join only Far Dareis Mai. And Far Dareis Mai only has female members. So no mixed sibling genders in a single society can occur.
Alice Arneson
189. Wetlandernw
alreadymad @188 - Yeah, that's what she said. Although to the best of my knowledge we have no insight as to cross-societal first-bonding, nor such bonds outside of the warrior societies. For all we know, it could happen fairly frequently in the "civilian" population, both same- and cross-gender. For all we know, it could happen across warrior societies all the time. (That seems a stretch, because a first-sibling bond would have been entered because you want to be together, which wouldn't happen so much if you were in different societies. Still, we don't know.) If anyone recalls reading more about it, by all means let us know! I don't think we can really do much more than make semi-educated guesses about who can be involved.
John Massey
190. subwoofer

Love 'em!

Great for swinging on, dancing around, hanging... all that good stuff. If you are really creative, you can even hang a flag from one. IIRC there are some unique cultural occasions where it is a focal point...


What were we talking about?

Losing comments? Yeah, happens all the time. Tried hitting the back button but then my computer laughs at me evilly and then gives me the raspberry.

On a side note, I don't live in Seattle, or on any coast for that matter and it has been coming down over here fairly convincingly. Some may even say Biblical. Like the animals are starting to pair up. There is a crazy person down the road build a big wooden boat. Says a voice in the sky "speaks to him"... stuff is happening.

Just sayin'.

Alice Arneson
191. Wetlandernw
By the way, in the process of scrounging around on the topic, I noticed that wives of the same husband are called sister-wives; they may or may not be natural or adopted first-sisters.

subwoofer - welcome to the Wetlands. At least it's not the Blight! (maybe)
Julian Augustus
193. Alisonwonderland
Okay, here's the theory. Recall that I wrote this on July 2, 1998 (12 years ago) according to the file date, and we know a whole lot more now than then. Hope you find it amusing


There is a great deal of speculation among WoT fans about which of Rand's girls is Ilyena reborn. For my money, Min, not Elayne, is Ilyena. I know Elayne has exactly the same color hair as Ilyena, and her name is almost an anagram of Ilyena's. But I don't believe that RJ would set up such obvious parallels and leave that as the answer. Knowing how he enjoys burying such insights deep, I think we should look deeper in the books for the clues buried there. Here's what I found.

The Shadow Impersonating Min Hurts Rand the Most

One the first hints RJ gives us about how really special Min is to Rand occurs in (tDR, Chapter 32, "The First Ship"). Rand is on his way to Tear. Several attempts have been made to kill him, by shadowspawn taking on the appearances of his friends and family, including Tam, Kari, Mat, Perrin, etc. Rand is particularly incensed that one of the killers had taken on the appearance of Min. This is his PoV:

Min had walked his dreams one night and tried to plant a knife in his back. He was still surprised at how much that had pained him (emphasis mine). He had been careless, let her come close, let down his guard. Around Min, he had not felt any need to be on his guard for so long, despite the things she sees when looked at him. Being with her had been like having balm soothed into his wounds (emphasis mine).

And then she tried to kill me! (emphasis in the original). The music rose to a discordant screech, but he pulled it back to softness. Not her. Shadowspawn with her face. Least of them all will Min hurt me. He could not understand why he thought that, but he was sure it was true.

Isn't it remarkable that the shadow using the face of Min, at that time a comparative stranger, hurt Rand more than the impersonation of his father, his mother, and his two boyhood friends? What about the extraordinary calming effect Min's presence has on him? And why is he so sure that Min would be the last person to hurt him, even though he doesn't know why? If we recall that Artur Hawkwing and the heroes of the horn recognized Rand at once as Lews Therin, even though he looked completely different, we find a reasonable answer. I submit that what is happening here is his subconscious mind, Lews Therin, has recognized Min as Ilyena, but his conscious mind, Rand, is not aware of the fact, only that he can trust her above all others.

Rand's Feelings For Each of the Girls

While Rand was with Elayne in tDR and with Aviendha in tSR, tFoH, and LoC, RJ kept on reminding us each time the subject came up that Rand wasn't really sure what he felt for the girls. Even after he went all the way with Aviendha (tFoH, Chapter 31, The Far Snows) and asked her to marry him, RJ tells us he made the proposal more out of a sense of duty than out of love.

"Aviendha, we just ... the two of us ... light, we have to marry now. Not that I'm doing it because I have to," he added hastily. "I want to." He was not sure of that at all, really. He thought he might love her, but he thought he might love Elayne, too. And for some reason, Min kept creeping in. You are just as big a lecher as Mat. But for once he could do what was right because it was right.

RJ constantly reminded us that Rand is not sure if he loves either Elayne or Aviendha. In (tFoH, Chapter 50, To Teach and Learn), Elayne and Nynaeve have arrived in Salidar. Elayne quickly seeks out Min and questions her about her (Min's) viewing concerning Rand and her (Elayne):

"Min, you had a viewing about Rand and me, didn't you?" She went two steps before she realized the other woman had stopped.

"Yes." It was a wary word.

"You saw that we were going to fall in love."

"Not exactly. I saw you'd fall in love with him. I don't know what he feels for you, only that he's tied to you in some way."

Since we know that Min is never wrong when a viewing is involved, I think RJ is here giving us a hint that Elayne is not exactly the love of Rand's life, which she definitely would have been if she were Ilyena.

When Min took her turn to be with him in LoC, RJ began dropping hints that this time the relationship might be different. For example, why did he tell us that Rand tended to snap at people and was generally short tempered when Min chose to spend some time with the Wise Ones and away from him? (LoC, Chapter 50, "Threads"). Those are the classic symptoms of a lovesick person. Despite RJ muddying the waters somewhat by making Min think to herself (just before she and Rand "comfort" each other, aCoS, Chapter 19, "Diamonds and Stars"), that she was "in love with ... a man she was sure was in love with her. And with Elayne and Aviendha, too...", he is careful not to ascribe those thoughts to Rand himself.

RJ finally came straight out and clarified Rand's feelings, making him (aCoS, Chapter 33, A Bath) declare, for the first time, his love for Min (or any of the three, for that matter). In this scene, Min upbraids him for even thinking of sending her away from him, ending with:

"You dare! You let the Maidens face any risk they want and you want to send me away like a child?"

"I don't love the Maidens." Floating deep in the emotionless Void, he heard these words spring from his tongue, and shock shattered the emptiness and sent saidin flying.

"Well," Min said, straightening. A small smile added more curve to her lips. "That's out of the way." And she sat down on his lap.

It seems to me that RJ here finally showed his hand by making Rand verbalize his love for Min, feelings he was not even sure he had for Elayne or Aviendha. True, he told Min that he loved Elayne and Aviendha too, but then notice that he said it to Min, not to them, and RJ makes it clear he wanted to shock Min with that declaration.

The Clincher?

(LOC, Chapter 41, Threat). Min has just appeared in Caemlyn; Rand escorts her to his rooms, and almost immediately she hands him Elayne's letter, which he reads. He then rambles on about how both Elayne and Aviendha are both so beautiful, and yet confuse him so about his feelings for them. He notices that Min is not amused by his praise of two other women, and apologizes. He then goes on to make this extraordinary statement:

Its just that I feel comfortable with you. It doesn't matter if I look like a fool with you. I can say things to you I wouldn't say to anybody else, not even Mat or Perrin. When I am around you, all the knots unwind, all the tightness in my shoulders I don't even feel till it goes.

Rand is here indicating that he feels closer to Mat and Perrin than everybody else, including Elayne and Aviendha, yet he feels even closer to Min. If we recall that he and Mat and Perrin have been friends since they were all babies, it casts a new light on his kinship with Min. Can it be that his relationship with Min predates his rebirth? Perhaps as LTT and Ilyena?

What makes this statement even more remarkable is that he made it within a few minutes of her arrival in Caemlyn. Prior to this meeting, they had been together only twice: the first time, very briefly, when the Emond's Field party stopped at Baerlon during their flight from the Two Rivers (tEotW, Chapter 15, Strangers and Friends); the second time after the Battle in the Clouds with Ishamael (tGH, Chapter 48, The Claiming) and during the subsequent retreat for the winter at the beginning of tDR. During both these times there is no indication that they spent much time together by themselves. Yet, only a few minutes after meeting her for the third time, he is declaring that, in effect, she puts his soul at peace. The conclusion is inescapable: when she came to him in Caemlyn, Rand had no other pressing matters (such as him fleeing for his life, or recovering from death's door and declaring himself the Dragon) to distract his attention, and he immediately recognized her as his "soulmate". Recall that by this time Rand's subconscious personality, Lews Therin, had grown increasingly active and was sharing more and more of the Lews Therin thoughts and memories with his conscious personality, Rand.

In Conclusion

I believe RJ wants us to look beyond the superficial resemblance of hair color and names, and look more closely at Rand's relationship with the three girls, to find Ilyena. I believe Elayne's hair color and name are a red herring. After all, Lews Therin had brown hair, while Rand's is red; and their names have nothing in common. So why should we assume Ilyena reborn would retain the same her color and (almost) the same name?

Of course it is entirely possible that none of the three girls is Ilyena; the pattern has merely found three girls who, together, are going to do for Rand what Ilyena did for LTT. After all, considering the catastrophic end of the Dragon's last incarnation, and the suffering he is undergoing in this one, the creator may feel that he owes his champion one (or three !). But if any of the three is Ilyena, it has to be Min.

Comment by Richard Gelmorn

IMHO, I think you are reaching here. I think that Min's soothing of Rand has much to do with the fact that Min is well aware that there will be 3 women in his life and since she knows its a fact just gets on with it. She is also "normal" whereas Elayne and Aviendha are not only AS (or equiv) but rather wrapped up in the fact. Hardly the kind of relaxed atmosphere that Rand needs and Min provides..... Avi and Elayne are also too intimately entwined with his position rather than himself....

My Response to Gelmorn's Comment

This observation in fact partly reinforces my conclusion that it is Min, not Elayne, who is Ilyena (that is assuming any of the three is Ilyena). In part, I selected Min because of the remarkable speed with which he came to the conclusion that he could trust her even above his boyhood friends. By every available evidence, both Elayne and Aviendha had spent much more intimate moments with him, in the case of Aviendha over a considerably longer period. Yet, he wasn't even sure if he really loved them. Would he have been so ambivalent if either of them was Ilyena?

I would think the real Ilyena would immediately strike a deep cord within him; the LTT part of his mind would recognize her (just as the heroes of the horn recognized Rand as LTT) and much of the ambivalence he shows about his feelings for Elayne and Aviendha would not be present. The only one for whom he shows the kind of soul-to-soul connection I would expect between LTT/Rand and Ilyena/??? is Min. Second, as mentioned in the comment, both Elayne and Aviendha appear more wrapped up in his position and helping him in his fight against the shadow than as a man who needs the love and sustenance they could provide. Would the real Ilyena have such mixed-up priorities? It seems to me that Min is the one who cares most for him as a man and not as the Dragon or the Car'a'carn, which is the right priority I expect the reborn Ilyena to have.
Tricia Irish
194. Tektonica

Bravo! As a card carrying member of the Min is the Best club, Yeah!

Seriously well done....even twelve years ago your arguments were rock solid! If in fact there is an Ilyena reborn at all, it must be Min. Especially in light of Rand nearly killing her (again?) in TGS. That he didn't, by whatever means he found (using the TP), I think bodes well for the outcome of the epic.

I also find it rather ironic that in tEotW prologue, it's Ishy who removes the madness so that LTT can know what he has done, causing LTT to kill himself. Here in tGS, Rand takes the TP from Ishydin to SAVE Min, no killing. The act of taking the TP from Moridan, nearly killing Min, getting very dark, pushes him to Dragonmount and his revelation/integration.

This time around the Wheel, the near murder of the love of his life has the opposite effect. Min as Ilyena as the crux.

I'm not sure I said that very clearly, but I hope you see the connection.
Thanks for posting that!
Ron Garrison
195. Man-0-Manetheran
Thanks Alison for that. Very well researched and reasoned. And Tek, good to point out how significantly Rand nearly killing Min in tGS reinforces Alison's argument!
diane heath
196. jadelollipop
Haven't finished all the posts but re: poll
Female and enjoyed the sister ceremony. Never Ever thought of it re: porn..

I am currently reading the Otherland series by Tad Williams. I keep thinking of "Otherland" as Telaranrhiod (sp?) that a sign I have been re reading too much of WOT? :)
Thomas Keith
197. insectoid
Sub @190: You continue to be hilarious! XD Almost to 200 now...

Jade @196: that a sign I have been re reading too much of WOT?
Join the club... we have T-shirts. ;)

a a-p
198. lostinshadow
Tek@194 - totally agree with your interpretation of how tGS plays into it.

still not sure Ilyena has been reborn in any of the gals - I think I'd rather she hadn't been - but Aliceinwonderland, well argued for Min.

Min is definitely the best of the girlfriends.
Heidi Byrd
199. sweetlilflower
I am female and enjoyed the first-sister ceremony.
201. Freelancer

Welcome to the weirding. It was Melindhra who referred to Mat as Rand's near-brother. Also, Amys refers to Perrin as Rand's near-brother. More importantly, and in the same chapter as Amys' comment, Sulin calls Rand her first-brother, upon realizing that he has been kidnapped. That leaves us to wonder if someone can consider another a first-sibling without the ceremony, or if Rand is just a special case, being the only known son of a Maiden.


Very nice work. Now will you be very angry with me if I say that none of them are Ilyena Sunhair?
Birgit F
203. birgit
I also use the back button to retrieve lost posts. It also works for "spam", but if you post it again, it is still "spam" (changing it before posting again sometimes works).

If you learn how to "edit life" let me know.....please!

Might not be a good idea.

Trying to write about the spam filter seems to trigger it.
Jonathan Levy
204. JonathanLevy

I wanted to know from which language the original expression comes - I'm sorry, I didn't make myself clear. Is it Russian, then?
Maiane Bakroeva
205. Isilel
Alisonwonderland @193:

IMHO, the conclusion that Min is somehow more loved by Rand than his other 2 gals requires some creative editing ;). And also, of course Min can afford to be wholly focused on Rand - she has nothing else to do. Whether one likes her more or less because of it is very much an YMMV.

Also, Min can't be Ilyena because according to RJ Ilyena was a channeler and according to him channelers are always reborn as such (though in most cases their potential goes undiscovered). Yea, I don't like it either that apparently the majority of souls can never have a crack at channeling in any of their reincarnations, but there you have it.

Speaking of the first-sister ceremony, I am female and I was indifferent to it. I wasn't disturbed by nakedness per se (Euro-commie here, so why would I be?), but it was yet another situation where women had to chuck their clothes, even though it made more sense here than in all previous ones, where it felt gratuitous to me. RJ's comment on Amys's figure was a bit out of place, IMHO.
206. alreadymadwiththereborn
Freelancer @201
Mat and Perrin are both considered Rand's near-brothers due to their closeness. Rand's relationships to the Maidens are a bit more varied. Rand has commented on it once himself. Maidens' treatment of him run the gamut from, long lost son to long lost brother(younger AND older depending on the individual Maiden).

Re: the Ilyena reincarnation thingy
What's the point? Is there any way to tell for sure any one of them is Ilyena reborn? Ilyena is not bound to the Wheel the same way LTT is.
Jonathan Levy
207. JonathanLevy

(Wall-o-Text warning)

A thoughtful, well-researched theory. I think you've correctly identified several cases where Rand expresses feelings for Min which are quite unexpected at this stage, but I differ with you completely on their interpretation. I will try to express my thoughts as clearly as you did yours.

Robert Jordan has a problem. He wants to create a Love Tetrahedron between Rand and Min/Elayne/Aviendha. He also wants it to be balanced, otherwise it's not plausible.

The problem is in the balance. Rand spends about 15 total minutes talking to Min in Baerlon. They don't even kiss. There's no hint of romance. Even at the end of TGH and the start of TDR she makes no progress. But Rand spends several days smooching with Elayne in TSR, and goes all the way with Aviendha in TFOH. Min doesn't get to develop a relationship with Rand until LoC. At that point, Else Grinwell has had more romance time with Rand than Min!

If Rand and Min hook up in LoC, it will not be credible. It would be as silly as if Else Grinwell showed up and Rand wanted to marry her. Or if Rand took up with one of the silly girls Colavaere sends him.

So how does Jordan avoid this? From TGH to LOC, he consistently foreshadows a relationship with Min by pushing in her name every time Rand thinks of loving a woman. For example, TSR:50, Rand is dreaming:
Shaking the water out of his eyes, he found Elayne and Min smiling at him from either side... He could not love both of them. Love? Why had that popped into his head?

Whenever Rand thinks about Aviendha and Elayne, Jordan pushes Min's name into his dilemma. The quote from TFOH:31 which you provided is a perfect example:

He thought he might love her, but he thought he might love Elayne, too. And for some reason, Min kept creeping in.

There is no reaon for Min to creep in, any more than Else Grinwell. The "some reason" is that Jordan has to foreshadow Rand's love for Min so it will be credible in ACOS, not that Min is the incarnation of Ilyena.

Once Min reaches Rand in LoC, Jordan starts to establish their relationship. Of course, Rand doesn't realize that he loves Min, just as he didn't realize that he loved Aviendha. So just as in TSR & TFOH Rand got jealous of Aviendha's necklace without acknowledging that he loved her, here he gets all wound up when Min is gone (LoC:50 which you quoted) without realizing why. These are the classic symptoms of a lovesick person, just as you said - but the same was true with Aviendha in TSR/TFOH. This is proof that Rand loves Min, but not that Min is Ilyena reborn.

The same goes for LOC:41. Jordan is telling the readers that Rand loves Min even if he doesn't realize it yet. No more than that. This is just like in TFOH:31 when he is holding Aviendha before she regains consciousness, he says:
"You will not have to come near me again. In fact, if you do, I . . . I’ll send you away. Why hesitate on that?"
The hesitation is how Jordan tells us that Rand loves her, even if he hasn't admitted it yet to himself.

As for ACOS:33, Rand acknowledges that he loves Min. But Rand acknowledges that he loves all 3 girls during the triple bonding. Yes, Min heard the words first. She deserves to get *something* first, doesn't she? Elayne got the first kiss, and Aviendha the first... well, you know. It just puts Min on equal footing with the other girls.

In conclusion: I think that there *are* many unexpected hints of Rand's feelings towards Min which are not justified by the short amount of time they spent together, but that this is sufficiently explained by the need to foreshadow Rand's love for Min much more than the other relationships, because Min gets in on the action much later. This seems to me to be the simplest explanation.

You may say that Jordan knew that he would need more foreshadowing for Min, and therefore deliberately made her Ilyena reborn. But in that case, I think he would have given Min the golden hair and the anagram name, to reinforce the connection, rather than disguise it. There's no reason for Jordan to disguise who is Ilyena reborn. It's not like the misidentification of Ilyena's soul is even a plot element. At this stage, anyway.

As an aside, I read an interesting article (13th depository maybe?) which makes a strong case that Taim's relationship with Rand parallels Demandred's relationship with Lews Therin, including Demandred's desire for Ilyena (explicitly mentioned by Lews Therin to Rand). If we accept that thesis, we must note that it also supports the Elayne = Ilyena interpretation.

So in short, I think Elayne is probably Ilyena reborn because of the appearance and the name, and the parallel with Demandred. Also, this has no relevance to the plot or to Rand's love for the girls, and is just part of the rich tapestry Jordan wove for us.
Maiane Bakroeva
208. Isilel
IMHO, none of Rand's harem is Ilyena. There is no reason to suppose that they are tied together as lovers through all eternity like Brigitte and Gaidal. There would have been no harem in such a case, just the 2 of them.
Most likely, Ilyena isn't alive at the time of the series, or nobody significant. If she is an important character (which I doubt), she is probably Egwene, because some sort of connection between the 2 of them was strongly foreshadowed in the early volumes, and their tie this time around is not romantic.
Jonathan Levy
209. JonathanLevy

Re: the Ilyena reincarnation thingy
What's the point?

It's symbolic of our struggle against oppression!
Tricia Irish
210. Tektonica
Much as I love Min, and I do think there are parallels between Rand's actions with Min in tGS and LTT's with Ilenya in the prologue to tEotW, I don't think any of the girls are Ilenya reborn. The circumstances of Rand's birth, education, rise to Dragondom and triple love interest is just too different from LTTs.

There's no reason one of them has to be Ilenya. On DM at the end of tGS, Rand is calmed by the revelation that Ilenya will live again and that is enough for him. He makes no connection to any one of the ladies.

I think Terez articles on Dragonmount about what the three represent in myth is a much more compelling explanation of what these three women represent. I'd link it, but then I'd be bounced as Spam.

BTW: Terez, where are you? We so enjoyed your input here! Come back!

Let the *twitching* begin!
John Massey
211. subwoofer
@Wet- shucks, thanks:) I forgot all about your namesake-*headsmack*- which brings up a point as you are a trained expert- how do you get rid of fairy rings? Er... not the fantasy type but more so the mushroom thingys killing my lawn in horrible lucky-charm-horse-shoe shapes. There has to be a way, beyond digging everything up and putting down new dirt and sod.

You know, it really did bug me when Min chats with Rand for such a short period of time and then it is-pwang "I'm in love". Totally came out of left field.

Elayne = Ilyena? I dunno, but I can feel Elvis rolling over in his grave at the thought. Somebody may have answered this in a massive wall-o text, but my ADHD prohibits me from scaling such things so I'm just going to put it out there- was Ilyena bound to the Wheel? Birgit and Gaidal are both Heroes of the Horn. While Ileyna Sunhair is LTT's OG love of his life, does that guarantee her a spot in the Wheel/Resident Evil rebirth plan?

Things that make me go ewwwwww.

Tess Laird
212. thewindrose
subwoofer - Do you have the Voice? If so, you will just need to find some Ogier and a Nym and you can have a blight free lawn;)

Are you saying Ileyna = Milla Jovovich? **Whistles**

Valentin M
213. ValMar
J Levy@204

It's Bulgarian. The problem with spam here and the alphabet would've been the same with Russian.
Marcus W
214. toryx
Wetlandernw @ 166

You made some good points about the use of "obscene" in modern palance. For me, the most telling aspect of it is how often something is termed "obscene" by people who generally prefer it to be private. Particularly since the act itself is usually done by just about everyone, including the people who are offended by it. They just like to keep it hidden away and pretend it doesn't happen except when it does.

Which also makes me wonder how much shame plays a part in it. There's nothing unnatural about breastfeeding, yet it's shunned by a lot of people. Coincidentally, there was a poll done on Yahoo yesterday, the results of which were posted today (on The Starting Point) asking if people are offended by public breastfeeding. 78% actually said no but what really interests me is that it turns out (though it's not posted there) that the majority of the naysayers were male.

Anyway, I'm fascinated by the whole idea of "obscenity" and embarrassment and shame for natural things like that, but I could go on for far too long about it so I'll just shut up right now.

Tektonica @ 173:

I'm an only child, so perhaps that's why I don't get all the fuss. My best friend and I have known each other for forty years. She's an only too, and we have been through it all together, including the deaths of our parents. It is an "earned" bond.....I'm afraid that's all I'll ever know, but I can't imagine anything could be more profound, except parent/child.

Now I wish I'd added parameters to the poll! I'm not an only child. What's more, I've never had that sort of close friendship, which may be why the whole thing was so touching to me. On the other hand, I never really bought how close the two girls came in the first place, so my emotional reaction is actually kind of contradictory.

What the hell, I'm just a sap.

Lannis @ 187:

re: Losing comments... erm, I open a text file on my desktop to begin my comment, then copy and paste it into the comment box when I'm finished. S'easier than scrolling back and forth through the post and everyone's comments... and well, if things magically disappear, I still have the text file. :D

Same here. In fact, that's where I'm typing at this very moment!

I also don't like to post links so I've never been censored as spam.

As far as my little poll goes, I'm recording everyone's responses and will post the final results at noon EST. So far, my thought that gender has an impact on the response to the scene has not been bearing out too well.
Marcus W
215. toryx
And the Poll results are as follows:

25 responses, 14 women and 11 men.

# of people who were Touched/ Amazed or Really Liked the First Sister Ritual:
13 - 8 women and 5 men

# of people who thuoght the ritual was Interesting:
4 - 1 woman and 3 men

# of people who were Indifferent to the ritual:
7 - 4 women and 3 men

As an aside, 5 people really liked the Question and Answer portion without being particularly impressed by the ritual itself. That includes 3 women and 2 men.

All told, it seems like there is little significance one way or another to how and why people felt about the scene. Oh well.

Edited to include Blocksmith.
James Hogan
216. Sonofthunder
Yep, very much not statistically significant! I still enjoyed the scene as much as I enjoy most of RJ's writing - it just wasn't amazing(for me).

And one other side comment, being a 23-year-old male, I can definitely state that all the disrobing in this passage didn't pique my interest in the least. In a ceremony signifying childbirth, it seems quite natural, although if I were in the room with them, I'd probably be embarrassed. But more for the fact that I'm a guy and it'd be who-knows-how-many women. *blush*

Oh and.

Alice Arneson
218. Wetlandernw
Just have to say, in regard to "RJ's comment on Amys's figure" - after having read the scene multiple times, so I know what's coming, I find it rather amusing - the extremely flat belly, and the breasts that don't look like she'd ever nursed a baby (meaning... what? nearly as flat as her stomach? or.... I ran out of ideas on what that was supposed to mean, really fast) - and she's the one who's going to "give birth" to this two grown women. I just find the mental images rather funny.

subwoofer - I'm not sure there is a good way to get rid of fairy rings. They tend to center on dying trees, old stumps, or places where stumps used to be, because there's a rotting source of nourishment there, but that doesn't help much. Problem is, the fungus spreads underground and then the shrooms come up around the edges of where it spread. There are some fungicides that may or may not work... but short of digging everything down about a foot and hauling it away, there aren't any great solutions. I like the suggestion of getting the Ogier and Nym to sing them away, though... Anyone seen Loial lately?

toryx @214 - In modern parlance, "obscene" gets used for almost everything we find offensive for almost any reason. And those who desire to offend will find anything they think someone else might find offensive and do their best to turn it into an obscenity if they can. As for things which should be done in private... Well, obviously different people have different ideas about it, based on their own background, experiences and cultural training. I think most of us would agree that we prefer to have a little privacy for certain things, but that doesn't necessarily mean we want to pretend they don't happen. (I will readily concede that there have been times in the not-so-distant past when that was the case, of course. If I wanted to write a really long essay, I could tie it in with prohibition and a few similar things... which have left some really wierd side effects on our culture even though they officially aren't part of our culture anymore. But that's quite an essay!) For example, I don't mind excusing myself to use the restroom, so I'm not pretending about what I'm going to do, but I prefer to go in, close the door and be alone until I'm done! I have two children, so it's fairly obvious that my husband and I enjoy making use of our bed for something besides sleeping. That doesn't mean I want an audience - including my children! Some people feel the same way about breastfeeding; I wonder if that is somehow tied to the movement in the previous century toward using formula-and-bottles instead of nursing. (The big question would be, which is the cause and which the effect? But that's another big essay.) For myself, I didn't mind feeding my babies wherever I could be comfortable, but since I've never been one to enjoy the discomfiture of innocent passers-by, I used a blanket. MY CHOICE. (In fact, I often used a blanket at home as well, because it kept the baby from getting distracted.) And... I think I'll stop there.
Matthew Smith
219. blocksmith
New post up so I will jump there shortly.

Just caught up.

Not much to add so...

On the Poll...

Male and thought the first-sister ritual was amazing. So well written, so thought provoking. Just amazing. With regards to child birth...I was glad I was there for all three(four). Suffice to say when offered to cut the cord, I told the doctor that I went to school for 7 years to learn how to build things, he went to school for 7 years to learn how to deliver babies. I told him he was more qualified.
Jonathan Levy
220. JonathanLevy

Bulgarian was my next guess, I swear!

Thanks for providing the info :)
Karen Fox
221. thepupxpert
Alice @ 197 – That was very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I do agree with Jonathan @ 207’s assessment that Min is not Ilyena reborn. Sorry to say this to all the Min lovers out there but she is my least favorite of the 3 SG’s because my impression of her up to this point is that she is only there as a female companion to Rand.

Throughout the series Min has reluctantly taken part in several plans because she was forced to do so. She does whatever Siuan says, whatever the WO’s say, whatever SWMNBN says, but her one goal is to be at Rand’s side. She has been forced into a supporting position and keeps kicking herself and beating herself up about how she wasn’t going to let any man change her, but she’s convinced herself that she is hopelessly in love with Rand because her visions foretold it.

I know her visions are never wrong and she is highly regarded by the WO’s, but IMHO compared with what the other two SG’s have accomplished throughout the series, up to this point I’ve been a little bit disappointed with the development of her character. I really want to see her have an incredible MOA and take it up a notch!

I am also in the “none of the 3 are Ilyena” camp. I kicked around the idea that all 3 were Ilyena but it doesn’t seem to be possible given what we know about how the Pattern works, so therefore I’m throwing in with the “Elayne is Ilyena” contingent and have high hopes that she’ll have a MOA that will cement her status as “the one”.

I do think that Ilyena is tied to the wheel and is spun out when LTT is much in the same way Brigette and Gaidal are. Perhaps Ilyena is one of Elayne’s babies?

Wet @ 218 – I took the refrences to Amys’ body to mean that she was so completely buff from all that running around through the Waste that you couldn’t tell she’d had any children.
Marcus W
222. toryx
Since thepupxpert @ 221 went through all the trouble to respond I'll just post back.

I kind of understand what you mean about Min but she's still my favorite of the three loves. She always strikes me as the most honest and true companion to Rand. Elayne's way too flighty and emotional (like any normal teenager, really) and Aviendha has too many control issues. Min is just Min and I love her for that.

Besides, she's also brilliant and I find that far more interesting than being powerful in the One Power.

I do agree with the general supposition that none of them are Ilyena reborn but even if one was, the physical resemblance would be, to me, a total red herring. After all, Rand's only resemblance to LTT is his height. Otherwise he doesn't look at all the same. Why would Ilyena look at all like she did before?

Incidently, the references to Amys body makes perfect sense to me. I've yet to know a woman who didn't notice how quickly another woman bounced back from pregnancy without any sign of her former weight gain. Women can notice other women's bodies just as readily as men do (in many cases, I'm not so arrogant as to say all women do) if for entirely different reasons.
224. Matt(rim)
Regarding the Traitors' Tree discrepancy, the passage is as follows (Kajima has just listed the eight deserters):

"Dedicated have deserted before," the Cairhienin muttered when Kajima was done, "but never a full Asha'man. And now seven at once?"

I read this as seven full Asha'man and one Soldier/Dedicated. I could be wrong but I don't think Narishma is full Asha'man at this point?

P.S. Hi! Been reading these posts for a while, finally caught up to Winter's Heart! Great job, Leigh, really helps to keep a handle on who's who and discover things I missed along the way!
226. VandalThor
I liked the birthing of the sister's part. Especially when Amys said "I have givin suck"cupping her breast. If there is gonna be nudity at least it was a serious attempt at an empowering scene for women so I don't feel dirty enjoying it.
John Massey
227. subwoofer
@Vandal... sounds like you need to spend some quality time in a sweat tent with Berelain to get over those feelings of awkwardness. It's freeing, it's natural, and it is not like the um... letters segments in certain periodicals, this is all on the up and up.

228. seomensnowlocke

That is interesting that you point out that there is no male nudity scenes in these books. You're right! I always thought Jordan was a little crazy with his repetitive women nuded-up scenes, but I never realized that he fails to have the same types of rituals for the men.

Definitely some straight male bias, there. Even for me, given that I am a straight male and never noticed it. It shows that we white, male power brokers only notice social issues when it challenges our pre-conceived notions of "why the world is alright when we're on top." (I don't know why "white" got thrown in there, but I think you get my point.) Great comment, Leigh.

I was always surprised that Jordan thought men couldn't handle this ceremony. I do not think that is the case. While getting bitch-slapped by my best pal would probably rank pretty low on my list of things to do today, I 've gotten into full-out fist fights with guys who are still my best friends in the world. I couldn't imagine a few tough honest words and a ceremonial smack-down would stop me from going through this ceremony.

Sometimes I wonder if Jordan had any really close male friends as a young man. For example, his notion that men wouldn't go through this ceremony for each other. Also, Jordan often makes Rand, Mat and Perrin's relationship seems like it is not really friendship at all. For example, if my best bud when I was 20 turned up crazy (i.e. a man who can channel), I sure as hell wouldn't have been standoffish and fearful of him. I would have moved heaven and earth to get the dude some help. And if it turned out that he had to be crazy to save the world...well, you've gotta have your boy's back.

Now that I am married and have kids to think about, etc., I may not make the same decision. But as a young unattached man, the pinnacle of social relationships was hangin' out with the guys. There is no way I would have turned my back on a friend because I had little that was more important in my life until I had a wife and children (who are undoubtedly more important, both each as individuals and all as a family, than all of my friends combined). And even now, the boyz still come in second behind the wife and kids, but (hopefully) ahead of any selfishness (or, rather, lack of selflessness).

But, Jordan often writes these male characters as either turning their backs on friends, or as if they are about to turn their backs on friends. As much as I like Mat, I've never been able to like the way he was willing to distance himself from Rand when Rand needed him most. Not cool, in my book.

The women, however, are not written in the same way. Their friendships seem strong and selfless.

A reflection of the author? Dunno.


P.S. BTW - in reaction to the mention of childbirth, menstruation, etc., let me just say - yeeeuuuck. Come on now, Leigh. While it is cool to point out the foibles of sexist notions of what is or is not disgusting, we all must remember this simple cross-cultural truth:

That girl stuff is just gross. ;-)
Edward Phippen
230. Grimwanderer
Re: First sister ceremony

While I don't find the first sister ceremony "sexist", I am less impressed by it than others here. The whole Amys part in particular. To be honest, it felt clunky to me and the ceremony overly literal.

From the "I'll bear the pain of child birth", to Elayne thinking Amys breasts looked great, to the they're-Aiel-so-there-must-be-violence bit, to the IMHO unnecessary rebirth imagery, to "coming to" on Amys's breasts like newborns... My reaction was just "Meh".

The scene just seemed overdone to me... But I understand that YMMV.

- Grim
William McDaniel
231. willmcd
I thought it was interesting that Leigh implied that there was a segment of WoT fandom offended by the first-sister ceremony, who thought it was sexist and pronographic, and then in 220-some comments we had zero people who felt that way. Guess it must have been a bigger issue back in the old newsgroup days (I had long stopped lurking there by the time WH came out, so have no knowledge on that point).

Noticed a couple of things about the Black Tower scene on the front of color symbolism. Toveine's dress is described as "an unadorned red so dark it seemed nearly black"; she immediately draws a parallel between the blackness of an Asha'man's soul, but RJ used similar language to describe Duhara's skirts back in TPoD Ch25. Seems there are a lot of Red AS who are "nearly black". I also noticed that Toveine's egomaniacal rant ("No one got away with pushing down Toveine Gazal! . . . she would show them all!") echoed Mesaana's mustache-twirling villain line from the LoC prologue (until she found a way to teach them all!!!!). I don't think Toveine is ever revealed as BA but she certainly has some dark associations.

Also, I noticed that RJ mentions at least three times that Logain's house has a red door. What's he getting at?

Lastly, in the Rand section, I noticed that in my book (which is a first printing hardcover), LTT actually speaks, rather than just thinking in italics, when he whispers "You won't survive . . . none of us will survive". Is this a typo corrected in later editions, or seomthing RJ deliberately did to show us Rand's growing perception of LTT's reality?

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