Nov 26 2010 1:56pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Crossroads of Twilight, Part 4

Crossroads of Twilight by Robert JordanHappy post-Turkey Day, WOTers! I hereby invite (the American portion of) y’all to drag yourselves out of your leftovers-induced food coma long enough to enjoy a brand-new Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 1 of Crossroads of Twilight, because I’m still recovering a bit from my own food coma, and therefore only have so much brain to spare at the moment.

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general, including the newest release, Towers of Midnight.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 13, Towers of Midnight. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

Chapter 1: Time to Be Gone

What Happens
Wheel, Ages, legend, myth, wind, beginning. The wind blows across Altara to Ebou Dar, where scores of wrecked and charred ships litter the harbor in the wake of a massive battle with the One Power six days earlier. Mat sits on the bank of the river Eldar a mile south of the city and feels exposed, even though Ebou Dar is not visible from his vantage point. Noal, who had come along with him to the river, asks how long Mat intends to stay there, but Mat only glares in response. He watches a rowboat crew in the river hauling a corpse out of the water, and winces, thinking of the Sea Folk he’d heard hanged en masse in the Rahad for rebellion, aside from all those who’d died in the harbor battle.

Freeing the Sea Folk Windfinders had been the right thing to do, the only thing he could do, but aside from the hangings, hundreds and hundreds of bodies had been fished out of the harbor in the last five days, and the Light only knew how many had washed out to sea with the tides. The gravediggers labored from sunup to sundown, and the graveyards were filled with weeping women and children. Men, too. More than a few of those dead had been Atha’an Miere, with no one to weep while they were dumped into mass graves, and he wanted some idea of the number he had saved to balance his bleak suspicions of the number he had killed.

His calculations are mostly futile, but he suddenly realizes something else, and comments aloud to Noal that the Seanchan do not have enough ships left to take them all back home. Behind him, a female Seanchan voice drawls that they already are home, and Mat almost flings a knife before recognizing Egeanin, wearing a dress and a long wig. She had been extremely upset about Mat’s insistence that she shave her head to get rid of her distinctive hairstyle; Mat knows that baldness is reserved for members of the Imperial family only, on pain of death, but thinks she’s making a little much of it considering she’s already under the death penalty for much more serious crimes. He gets up, pretending his hip isn’t hurting him, and asks if she is sure the Windfinders who were recaptured wouldn’t be permanently harmed; he’s heard talk of cutting off hands and feet. Egeanin answers dismissively that people who can’t control their property without mutilation are sei’mosiev anyway, and hardly anyone has done it in the last few hundred years. Privately Mat is of the opinion that people who would deliberately cut off a woman’s hand can’t have much shame to be sei’mosiev with, and asks if Suroth is one of those. Egeanin snaps back that Suroth couldn’t even if she wanted to, as all the Windfinders are Imperial property.

“I’ll try to put this in terms you can understand. If your dog runs away, you don’t maim it. You switch the dog so it knows not to do that again, and you put it back in the kennel. Besides, damane are just too—”

“Too valuable,” Mat finished for her dryly. He had heard that till he was sick of it.

Egeanin reminisces sadly about her damane Serissa, who she’d left in Cantorin, and then informs Mat that’d she’d given orders that no one was to leave the wagons. Mat grins as insolently as possible and ignores this, but she ignores him in turn, so he puts an arm around her. When she knocks it away, he reminds her that they are supposed to be lovers and “Leilwin” needs to play the part. She gives him a warning stare, and Mat is incredulous that she thinks he’s enjoying this.

Burn me, I’ll never understand these Seanchan, he thought. Not that he wanted to. The only thing was, he had to.

They head back, Mat trying not to lean on Egeanin for support as his hip pains him more and more, and he thinks back to the night of their escape. It was raining when they reached the gate, and Mat was far less worried about the guards than he was about the sul’dam and damane inspecting the party; the sul’dam passed them without comment, but the dice had started rolling in his head again. Tuon was draped over his saddle, bundled in a wall hanging from the Palace, and he kept waiting for either her or Selucia to raise the alarm despite the unsheathed knife in his hand, but neither of them made a sound. The officer in charge of the gate invited Egeanin in to have tea while her damane’s exit from the city was recorded, but trumpets sounded before she could accept the invitation.

The officer of the guard hesitated at the sound of the trumpets, but suddenly a bell pealed loudly in the city itself, then another, and then it seemed hundreds were clanging alarm in the night as the black sky split with more lightning than any storm had ever birthed, silver-blue streaks stabbing down inside the walls. They bathed the tunnel in flickering light. That was when the shouting started, amid the explosions back in the city, and the screaming.

Mat realized the dice in his head had stopped. The officer hastily shooed Egeanin’s party on its way with no further ado, and they galloped out into the night. Now, six days later, Mat hopes that the worst is over. He doesn’t think there is anything more than a coincidence of timing to connect his own departure with Egeanin’s, or either of them with Tuon’s disappearance, but he is extremely uneasy about the apparent complete lack of an uproar over Tuon’s vanishing from the Palace. Egeanin has told him that such a thing would not be made public, and any search for her would be clandestine, but Mat is not sure he believes her. They reach the road, and Mat chastises Egeanin for glaring at a company of Seanchan soldiers passing by. Noal comments on one man with dark skin but blue eyes, wondering where he’d seen that before and seeming upset that he can’t remember; Mat gets his attention and tells him they’re going back to the show now.

“I told you that,” Egeanin said with a sharp nod.

Mat groaned, but there was nothing for it but to keep walking. Oh, it was way past time to be gone. He only hoped he had not left it too late.

This is all very vague in my head and possibly I imagined it entirely, but I seem to recall that someone said somewhere that Jordan had at some point expressed surprise at the general lack of fan reaction to the revelation of how many people, mostly Sea Folk, had died during the Windfinders’ attempted jailbreak. Meaning, I suppose, that he’d noticed it wasn’t something that tended to come up in reviews, discussions or questions surrounding COT in general.

And on the one hand, he was right, it didn’t. But on the other, well, I’m not really sure that that is implying what Jordan seemed to be, er, implying that it was implying. Assuming I’m right that he ever implied it in the first place, of course. Which I may not be.

I’m just not sure an implicit accusation of callousness can really apply here, or at least, not an accusation of callousness above and beyond what any normal person would feel. Yes, of course it’s terrible that hundreds or thousands of people died in the battle but, first of all, that’s hardly the first time this has happened in this series, and given that we’ve been steering toward an alternate version of Armageddon from the get-go, I’m feeling pretty safe in assuming we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Furthermore, well, we’re honestly given no reason to care about this battle in particular. Like it or not, a million is a statistic, and that page sums it up quite well: psychologically, proximity is more important than magnitude in terms of how strongly an audience reacts to the death of fictional characters. The way the battle at Ebou Dar was presented to us (which is to say, hardly at all), there was no incentive for the reader to have any kind of emotional attachment to or investment in the victims; hell, we didn’t even get to see the battle, much less meet anyone involved and have a chance to care about what happened to them.

And while it would of course be wonderful if we as human beings could care just as deeply about the deaths of total strangers as we do about the deaths of people we know and/or love, unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. And the tendency is only magnified when the “people” you are talking about are fictional characters.

So it is that while the news of the death toll here is sad to me, I was far more horrified at the conversation Mat and Egeanin have about whether it’s likely that any recaptured Windfinders will have their extremities lopped off, because Jesus H. (Just when I thought this damane thing couldn’t get any worse!) And, it’s worth noting that the one person involved in the battle who we did meet is the Windfinder damane Mat freed at the end of WH (who ergo was also the one who got the whole ball rolling on the thing in the first place). I think it’s safe to say that she is the only person who I would be interested to know whether she survived and/or escaped the battle (or, if she was recaptured, if she escaped freakin’ mutilation, God), because she is the only character I know.

And, naturally, this is something that we are decidedly not told. I hope that we find out what happened to her in KOD—I’m having a vague memory of Harine and a bunch of other Sea Folk meeting up and doing… something—but I’m honestly not sure. It’s rather annoying, if not.

Also, the Seanchan are still culturally disgusting, and I would rather like to punch Egeanin in the mouth right about now. Film At Eleven.

Mat’s flashback to their escape from the city is interesting, in that I don’t think I quite twigged to what that business was about Mat’s dice rolling until I had to actually recap the scene. Which is, that the dice were rolling up until the start of the battle diverted the gate guard from recording the passage of Egeanin’s damane out of the city; it was only when the guards let them go without officially noting them that the dice stopped. I’m pretty sure the implication is that Mat’s escape plans would not have worked nearly as well if that information had been properly recorded.

Though, I have to wonder if I’m supposed to buy into Mat’s hopes that no one’s connected him and Egeanin and Tuon together, or if I’m supposed to recognize it as the utterly silly load of wishful thinking I’m pretty sure it turns out to be. I mean, only a coincidence of timing? Does he really think they need any more than that to at least follow it up? This is what Mat gets for not keeping up on his Law & Order reruns, I swear.

And, I swear that I have nothing else useful to say, and so have the right to fall silent! Enjoy the weekend, me buckos, and I’ll catch you next week!

Janet Hopkins
2. JanDSedai
I was one of the ones that expected Mat & co. to high-tail it out of Ebou Dar, and was surprised to see him still on the outskirts. But I was glad to see Mat; after he went missing in book 8, the fans checked him out for sure. If only Perrin had been left out of this book...

As far as commenting on the number of Sea Folk that died in the uprising, there is not a lot to be said. While I'm sorry people had to die, I'm also sure that these people would rather have died that live in slavery. As the old saying goes, you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
Brandon Daggerhart
3. BDaggerhart
Glad to see you posted, Leigh, wasn't sure if you'd take a holiday break.

RJ had a lot of times when he seemed ... 'disturbed' (for lack of a better word)... by fans' reactions or non-reactions, as the case may be. I remember he said something similar when some people weren't aware which moment in KoD was the 'gasp' moment he mentioned in interviews. Which, really, there are a couple scenes in that book that could be gasp-worthy - the mentioning of the mass suicide on the Ayamar islands, Rand losing his hand, Perrin killing that Aiel dude who wasn't an entire dick - and probably more I'm forgetting. I think he can speak from that point of view because he actually was in that battle (in his head anyway), and was in many real battles, and knows what battles and the magnitude of death due to fighting, explotions, etcetera are really like. But I don't think that makes someone less of a human being because they don't have the same reaction he would have.

On the re-read at hand, man, talk about a boring and uneventful first chapter...

Re- Mat's dice . One thing I've never understood is, why are those dice even there? Are they litterally like alarm bells that something might be about to happen, and that he can have a hand in making the correct thing happen, or are they just there to be like, "Yeah dude, something important just happened, but you don't need to know what it was." Have we ever seen a situation in which Mat made a decision, the dice started rolling, and then he thought his way around why they were rolling, and what his best opportunity would be to get them to stop rolling again? Not generalities, but specific thoughts from Mat about
how to use the dice-rolling to his advantage?

edit - meh, was going to link to my blog, but guess doesn't like that...
4. Kadere
RJ was expression shock at the lack of reaction to the mass suicide of the Amayar which is currently happening in CoT but is revealed to us in KoD. He was talking about KoD. He never said anything about our reaction to the deaths of the Sea Folk here. And it's well established that the woman Mat rescued died in the escape.
Maiane Bakroeva
5. Isilel
I remember nearly screaming in frustration when this chapter revealed that Mat was _still_ hanging around Ebu Dar. I don't love Mat as much as many here and I was getting increasingly impatient for him to finally get out of Altara and hopefully to the Tower of Genji. Now, the escape from Ebu Dar chapter in WH was cool of course, but most of the stuff preceding and following it was just a drag for me. And I liked the Circus the first time around too!

Also, really, given the alternatives, should we feel sorry for the dead Sea Folk? At least, they have escaped slavery and managed to help their compatriots to freedom. IIRC, RJ's quote was about the mass suicide of Amayar anyway, where we had even less connection to them than to the Sea Folk proper.

Oh, and Egeanin, what happened to you? You used to be cool, back in Tanchico :(.
Bonnie Andrews
6. misfortuona
Well would you look at that, a post, and a Mat chapter at that.

Thanks Leigh, I'm actually one of those who likes the Mat and Tuon chapters coming up. So YAY!
Seanchan, yep they suck, but it isn't like we should be surprised that a society that would embrace slavery in the first place would be willing to use drastic measures to ensure that their property didn't run off.

And is it callousness to feel less for the death of strangers than for that of friends and family? I don't think so, more like a necessity in my opinion. Can you imagine the state of the world if news of every person who died ripped us up like it was Grandma Anne.
Of course if it did, I'd bet we'd have a lot less people dying by the hand of another person. So maybe there was a point to RJ's wondering afterall.

Mis- oh the thinks I can think
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
Re Sea Folk dead - my guess is that there are also large numbers of Seanchan dead, which is why they keep dragging bodies out. "More than a few were Atha'an Miere..." implying that most were Seanchan or Ebou Dari. Power battles with channelers on both sides are bloody. No big surprises there.

Noal and the man with dark skin and blue eye - WTF is that supposed to be? Ideas?

I've always been surprised Serissa hasn't made an appearance at some point in the series.

Sara H
8. LadyBelaine

"And it's well established that the woman Mat rescued died in the escape. "

No, no it's not - unless you have some information , or read something I am not remembering?

That Windfinder was Nestelle din Sakura South Star and both the Encyclopedia WoT and the WoT Wiki make no mention of her after her encounter with Mat in the, err... kennels. I like to assume she escaped. It makes me happy and warm inside.
Stefan Mitev
9. Bergmaniac
 I have to say Mat's chapters in CoT  and firt half of KoD (until they left the circus) are certainly my least favorites from his PoV in the whole series. Very little happens (whole chapters can be summed in a sentence or two),  and the fact that we had to visit the circus again felt like pointless rehashing.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the circus the first time, but the second time it was way less funny (no Nynaeve, who was hilarious back in TFOH, Luca was much more boring, etc). Not to mention that I really couldn't understand the logic of Mat's group moving with incredibly slow pace with the circus instead of going on the run on their own. Is there some sort of Randland conventional wisdom that circuses are the best place to hide or something? 

 BTW, since it was mentioned, I have to say I was one of those who didn't care at all about Amayar's mass suicide. Why should I care about fictional people which have never featured in the story except for like a quarter of a page during the Cleansing?
Tricia Irish
10. Tektonica
Hey Leigh! I wasnt expecting a post today, so this is a great treat. Thank you! Apologies in advance for my lack of commas...Im on a foreign computer and havent been able to find it in 6 days. No asterisks either?

I hope you are all recovering from your triptophan hangovers, but trust that the goodies were worth it!

Like Mis--waves--, I like this Mat-Tuon thread. (The rest of the book can go hang.....Perrin, cough cough.) I was very frustrated that they were still in bloody Ebou Dar, and Egeanin has become insufferable....along with her soon to be seen future husband, both of whom I used to like. Sigh.

As stated by Leigh and others above, its hard to care about people when they are just statistics. Of course its sad when thousands die, but giving as good as you get has its rewards. Ill bet that the freed damane were all too happy to let a few Seanchan have it for what was done to them. btw, That might have been a very cool battle to have seen on screen. A taste of things to come, so to speak.

And who was that guy with dark skin and light blue eyes that Noal mentions? Why was he brought up? Not a truth seeker, was he? Wasnt that guy blond?

Anyway...thanks for the post!
Lannis .
11. Lannis
Wow... I can remember reading this chapter and being a little dissapointed in Egeanin's lack of sympathy for the recaptured damane... I mean, I know she's thinking of all her Seanchan patriots and the fact that her own ass is grass if they're discovered with Tuon, but Egeanin had been making so much social progress with the Supergirls way back when... meh.

Thanks for the post, Leigh! Have a great weekend!
Heidi Byrd
12. sweetlilflower
@ Leigh
except Alice :)

Yeah, that's pretty much all I have to say. Except I seem to remember a movie, perhaps Wag the Dog, where one of the characters comments that a single death is often more impacting than thousands of deaths. Especially when the "audience" has some kind of personal connection to that person. I did feel sad at the mass suicide of the Amayar, simply b/c they were a peace-loving society, and I would have liked for a few more of them to have survived.
On WoT, it is rather sad that Egeanin becomes such an unlikeable charatcer. I do think it makes sense that Mat and co are staying with the circus. Yes, we as fans would have liked them high-tail it out ASAP, but we get Mat's reasoning in a few chapters, and I agree with it. Would write more, but the two-year-old is demanding my attention. Sorry for errors. :)
James Jones
13. jamesedjones
Re: Lack of Reaction

Just speaking for myself, I couldn't gather any real emotion for all of the Sea Folk deaths because, well, they were Sea Folk deaths. I don't like them as characters or as a people. If I found out a bunch of politicians died, I doubt I'd have any more reaction.
Captain Hammer
14. Randalator
As some already said: RJ's (actually less implicit and more straightforwardly stated) implication of callousness was about the big horrifying *GASP*-moment in KoD. The Amayar mass suicide, to be precise.

Which, yeah, different construction site (as Germans put it) but completely identical comment. Statistic, show don't tell, proximity vs. magnitude, asoasf.

And the Seanchan make me want to take a shower. Gah.
j p
15. sps49
This is what rebellions (and wars) entail. It should be worthwhile; you are putting your life at risk- and those of bystanders.

The Amayar? I don't understand why they did it, it doesn't appear related to the main story, and they aren't real people anyway. There isn't even one named Amayar character to become emotionally invested in.

Back to the game. War Eagle!
Captain Hammer
16. Randalator
sps49 @15

There isn't even one named Amayar character to become emotionally invested in.

Well, there is a named Amayar character (Timna) in WH, ch. 35 at least. But emotional investment? Yep, not so much...
Rob Munnelly
17. RobMRobM
Egeanin is aggravating in this plot line but she is a Seanchan and can carry a sword and is heading to Tar Valon, so I'm expecting an Egwene rescue by her in the first third of AMOL to fulfill the earlier prophecy.
18. AndrewB
RobMRobM @17: FWIIW, I think the Seanchan with the sword that who will assist Egwene (and thus fulfill Egwene's dream) is Lieutenant-General Tylee Khirgan.

In TGS, she questions whether the Seanchan should seek alies amongst the peoples of Randland. By the end of ToM, Egeanin/Leilwin does not have a sword. Further, as an exiled Seanchan, she does not have the ear of Fortuona.

I agree with the sentiments expressed above -- I also thought that Mat would have high-tailed it out of the area. I guess the pattern needed him to stay around the area so that the Suroth could organize the bounty on Tuon's head.

Thanks for reading my musings.
Birgit F
19. birgit
Though, I have to wonder if I’m supposed to buy into Mat’s hopes that no one’s connected him and Egeanin and Tuon together, or if I’m supposed to recognize it as the utterly silly load of wishful thinking I’m pretty sure it turns out to be.

The Seeker suspects Egeanin anyway, he will inform Karede of his conspiracy theory and Karede will go after Tuon. Mat is dismissed as unimportant.

Noal and the man with dark skin and blue eye - WTF is that supposed to be?

He says that the dark skin reminds him of Sharans. Maybe the blue eyes spark a memory of Moridin (did he only know Ishy or did Moridin play with him, too?).
Scientist, Father
20. Silvertip
Interesting discussion, Leigh. I have been rereading "Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn" recently. One thing I've noticed that Tad Williams actually does extremely well at a number of points is show us enough of a sympathetic minor character that we care about what happens to them. Then, in a battle scene a little later, that character is depicted, sometimes in just a few lines, as suffering some horrible fate. It's done in such a way as to not only bring the carnage to a really personal level, but I find it actually lets the reader project that personal horror across the big statistics of casualties or "collateral damage." I'm sure other authors (including RJ in other instances) do this also, but I've really noted it being done effectively in MST.

Alice Arneson
21. Wetlandernw
...Excepting Alice.... (and sweetlilflower beat me to it.)

Mat. Man, that must be hard. You couldn't have left the Windfinders as slaves, but letting them out caused a whole lot of deaths in the resulting battle. So you can't wish you hadn't, but you can't be glad you did, either.

I think what bugged me about this book on the first read was that I was all pumped about the Cleansing and was expecting to see all manner of cool results, and we... didn't. We got what seemed like 300 pages of Mat thinking back over the last 6 days to catch us up to the same time, and I was rather miffed. Now, I realize there's all manner of good stuff in these chapters, and I have come to really like the book as a whole. No, it doesn't move many plot lines forward very far, but it catches everyone up to the same point (at least for a few pages) and gives us all manner of set-up for the remaining books. Good stuff.

As others have said, the Amayar mass suicide was probably what Leigh was thinking. For reference, here are the relevant quotes from RJ's September 2005 blog posts:

For those who have read the book and believe you have identified the “gasp” moment, congratulations. For those who have read the book and still don’t know what the “gasp” moment is, my sympathies. I mean that in all truth. You failed to see something that really should have made you gasp. I think I am fairly hardened, but occasionally something happens that makes me mutter, “Where are you, God? Are you sleeping? Are you blind?” This is fiction, but even so, I had to pause a couple of times in writing about it. Of course, I get deeply immersed in my work so that it becomes real to me while I am writing, but I hope to pull the reader into that level of realness, too. Either I failed completely in this instance, or some of you have become way too hardened. Too much on the evening news, I suppose. It’s just today’s hurricane, today’s tsunami, today’s Armageddon. I wonder what’s coming up at eleven?

And a few days later:
I didn’t put the whole onus for failing to see the gasp moment on the fans. If you read my post, I said that either I had failed completely in making you have the same sense of realness in the books that I do when writing or else….I do think there is a hardening to many people, though, through being inundated with images of hurricane victims, tsunami victims, people starving because of famines, suicide bombing sites etc. There was a time that the splattered blood of a suicide bomb site would have been considered too graphic and violent for the evening news. Now, it is an appropriate thing to show while people are having dinner. It won’t spoil too many appetites. I noticed one or two posts of comments to spoiler reviews where the gasp moment was revealed and some people seemed to find it funny. That’s somebody who probably makes Darfur jokes.

I suspect that for those of us who haven't seen first-hand the reality of hundreds or thousands of dead bodies as the result of a single incident, it's easier to shrug it off as "a bunch of people I don't know." For someone who's been there, digging people out of the rubble, looking for survivors or just trying to identify the bodies, it's not so easy to shrug. In a very real sense, we ought to be more horrified by these things, at least in real life. I find it rather sad that we can so readily dismiss it, even in fiction, by saying "Well, I wasn't given any reason to care about those people." Whether it's the Sea Folk here or the Amayar there, a whole lot of people - people with lives, and friends, and hopes, and fears, people not so different from us - died that night, and it should be sad, at least, if not shocking. Any cost in human lives should be terrible to us, even if the cause is worth the price.
Tricia Irish
22. Tektonica
I think RJ had the right of it when he said there was just too much on the evening news. People do become innured to it. Numb. Its protective. I dont watch the news anymore because its full of death and morally reprehensible behavior...ditto many daytime talk shows. People start to think its normal. Ill read my news thank you, and I do.

As for the Amanyar...that was truly they were peace loving, and lost hope.
Thomas Keith
23. insectoid
Yay, new post! Great as always Leigh. :)

Poor Windfinders. I actually feel sorry for them, sort of. Maybe someone should ask BWS if Nestelle din Sakura South Star survived.

I agree that Egeanin is infuriating!

Can't wait for Mat to get awesome again...

Captain Hammer
24. Randalator
Tektonica @22

As for the Amanyar...that was truly they were peace loving, and lost hope.

Um, no. They didn't lose hope or anything, they had a prophecy that required them to commit suicide. They were happy that their prophecy had come to pass.

All thoughts of the Atha'an Miere gone, Timna gathered her cloak and sat down on the ground, smiling to think that she might see the fulfillment of prophecy and the end of Illusion.

(WH, ch. 35)
Probably something that was garbled over the millennia, like the Song the Tinkers keep searching or the Aiel refusing to touch swords, know...worse. They were after all another remnant of the original Aiel, so likely some point about "waking from the dream" was corrupted over time into the fateful "wake from the illusion if X happens".

I was one of those, by the way, who were like "Oh, so they're dead. Sucks, I guess...?" when reading the sequence. That doesn't mean that I'm inundated, though. Seeing or reading something about the Holocaust makes me sick to my stomach and I still have a hard time watching documentaries about 9/11...

In this instance RJ just failed to give that revelation meaning, I'm afraid. Just mentioning the Amayar twice, giving one of them an obscure two-paragraph POV and then having someone say "They's dead, yo!" is a little thin. That's kinda like telling someone that human population was down to ~1-10.000 individuals following the eruption of the Toba supervolcano 70.000 BC and then expect us to go "*GASP* Those poor souls! How horrible!".

He wrote about a part of the world he created, something that HE had a personal connection with because he had detailed them much more than what he eventually revealed in the books. So obviously to him the Amayar suicide was horrible. But he didn't remember that we didn't have the same knowledge he had and failed to provide us with an emotional connection beforehand. So when he dropped the *GASP* most of us were either like "Wait...who?" or "Uh...okay? Thanks for the info, or whatever."...
Claire de Trafford
25. Booksnhorses
I guess Egeanin has totally adopted the belief system of the blood with her elevation resulting in her general suckiness along with the rest of the Seanchan society. She seems to be very slowly coming back to herself (maybe) in the later books.

What is it with the hair in their society also? Why the baldness? The forsaken must have really been having a ball with them. You know, 'you'll never guess what I've got them doing now!'.

Anyhow, hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.
Tess Laird
26. thewindrose
So glancing through chapter 1 made me think about how the Noal = Jain was resolved in ToM. Unless I missed something(which I may have from my first read of ToM - super fast - I am now doing a slow reread of it) I don't think we ever find out in the story what his deal was all about.
I am pretty sure that it was Noal/Jain that we 'saw' at Graendal's abode way back in tFoH's Prologue. We also are told a couple of times how he was used like a fool by Ishamael. And there are numerous instances of strange behavior that would indicate that he is still under some type of mind control by either Ishamael or Graendal. This seems unresolved.
In ToM we did get the equation of Noal = Jain confirmed:
ToM Chapter 55 The One Left Behind - "If you ever meet a Malkieri," Noal said, "you tell him Jain Farstrider died clean."
I will, Jain," Mat said. "May the light hold you."

So any thoughts on if we will get any more info? I am thinking it will be something covered in the Encyclopedia when it comes out - that thing is going to be huge!

Another interesting thing pointed out by Mat in this chapter:
"They don't have enough ships," he muttered. The Seanchan had even more in Tanchico than had come here, but the losses here were sufficient to make the difference.{...}Mat shook his head. "They don't have enough ships left to take them all back home."

I thought this went well with his earlier observation when all the Seachan commoners were getting off the ships in Ebou Dar and had wagons filled with their belongings going off to settle the land. That there would be no way to send all the Seanchan back, that they were in Randland for good.

27. peachy
Count me as another who enjoys the upcoming Mat arc. It's not my favourite in the series, or anything like that, but Mat's a favourite and I'm a sucker for the "hero and posse hit the open road" sequences. They dominated the early books but became rather rarer as our heroes & heroines climbed the ladder from precocious young 'uns to Very Seriously Important People Who Only Travel Surrounded by Regiments of Flunkies. It's a necessary progression for this kind of story, but VSIPWOTSRF just aren't as much fun, dammit! (You'll note that Jordan did his level best to omit the Regiments of Flunkies as often as possible, but once your protagonists get to that stage there's a limit to often you can pull that trick.)
Sandy Brewer
28. ShaggyBella
Oh, I think that Mat will have some kind of payback for releasing the WF Damane. They owe him big time. I think it will definately come around and will be significant.

"Who are you?" she whispered. "I'm called Mat Cauthon, if it makes a difference."
"I am Nestelle din Sakura South Star. Mat Cauthon." He heard her spit, and knew what she was doing. He spat on his own palm and their two hands found each other in the darkness. Hers was as callused as his, her grip strong. "I will wait,"she said. " And I will remember you. You are a great and good man."
"I'm just a gambler," He told her....

also @25.ClairedeT

What is it with the hair in their society also? Why the baldness? The forsaken must have really been having a ball with them. You know,'you'll never guess what I've got them doing now!'.
Yep, I am sure they all had a great laugh over the hair and the looong fingernails, too.
29. bradandest
Leigh, thank you so much for doing this re-read. A while ago I thought that I'd skip ahead amd I got through WH, but I couldn't force myself to plough through the boringness that is Perrin in CoT
Jonathan Levy
30. JonathanLevy
20. Silvertip
Ah, Tad Williams and MST - good books, good books.
Can't say all that much for the rest of his writing, I'm afraid.
Otherland is slower than the Plotline of Doom.
Shadowmarch just seemed to be a rehash of MST.

26. thewindrose
I don't see the necessity for a connection between Jain and Graendal. After Ishamael compelled him, and he crawled to the stedding, there isn't any use for him. He probably just wandered off to Ebou Dar without anyone else taking any notice of him.

28. ShaggyBella
Oh, I think that Mat will have some kind of payback for releasing the WF Damane. They owe him big time. I think it will definately come around and will be significant.

Yeah, he'll probably neutralize some other bargain with the Sea Folk. Either that or as payback he'll ask them to behave like decent normal people... and watch them implode from the effort.
James Hogan
31. Sonofthunder
Yayy new post!! Thanks Leigh - lovely reading, as always!

I did so love this chapter; I understand what a lot of people are saying about how the lack of storyline progression in CoT and about how Mat is just chilling with the circus, not really doing *anything*, but that doesn't bother me overmuch. Mostly because Mat's POVs are just so much fun to read!! Unlike some people...*glares at Perrin* Mat's boring sitting-around, ruminating POVs are still more fun than 95% of any one else's POV. I enjoy Mat, what can I say?

And Tek, I agree with you on the point that the deluge of horrors we're presented with on the impersonal TV has tended to immunize us from shock when we hear of "lots of people from far away dying". I also don't watch the evening news for that reason. Tragically true - like you mentioned, mis, if we empathized deeply with every person as if they were our mother...and felt the heart-tearing pain every day, well, we wouldn't survive. When I read about the Amayar dying, well, the Sea Folk were sure ripped up. But I think my feelings echoed those of most of you on here...I didn't feel much.
Wiebke Brammer
32. Little Shadow
Randalator @24

I think the Amayar missinterpreted their prophecy.
Apparently they thought the illusion (probably the world) would end soon after the sphere of the female Choedan Kal did glow and was destroyed during the Cleansing.
But later Rand nearly destroyed the world in TGS when he was only connected to the male Choedan Kal. And after he decided not to destroy the world he destroyed this Choedan Kal instead.

Therefore I think the prophecy of the Amayar describes an either-or possibility: Either the illusion would end or the Choedan Kal would be destroyed, so that no human could completely destroy the world any longer. And the Amayar watched the wrong Choedan Kal.
John Massey
33. subwoofer
Whew! Been crazy busy or I'da been all over this thing like a cheap suit.

Yay Mat! Pity your hip is still bothering you. Pity you almost threw the knife. I don't want Lelwin dead necessarily per se, but maybe winging her? Nicking her ear with a blade, just a little blood? One woman would give you a little less grief. Just sayin'.

The Sea Folk. Well, Mat did what he had to do. Maybe if he organized the Folk using his awesome generalling skill, more woulda lived, but Mat had other stuff to do and there is the Tuon thing... Bottom line, at some point Mat is going to have a reunion with the Folk and they will surprise the $h^! out of everyone because there will be bowing and worshiping and mentioning of debts to Mat that cannot be repaid. This I Dreamed.

Maiane Bakroeva
34. Isilel
I disagree that our lack of reaction to Amayar means that we are hardened - it is one thing to feel for real people whom we see on TV.
It is quite another when people in question are fictional, existing in entirely fictional universe - some details are needed there, otherwise it is way too abstract.
I had no problem feeling for Aiel and others during the Breaking, Borderlanders/Domani in the path of Shadowspawn invasion or everybody on the losing side in Aviendha's visions.
And, may Jordan forgive me, but it is cheap to provide peoples that we have a reason to care about with nearly impregnable plot armor and then expect us to have a strong emotional reaction when something bad happened to a group that we barely heard about. Show, don't tell and all that.

IMHO, Egeanin's abrupt character change for the worse is very counter-intuitive. She never felt like her elevation could truly last and Bayle was around to remind her of the things that she had learned through her contact to Randlanders. IMHO, it was yet another case of dumbing down a character to supposedly make one of the heroes - in this case Mat, look even more superior by comparison. Usually, various AS/nobles are such designed foils... well I guess that Egeanin's short stint as the nobility doomed her. I have to say that this ploy, which is used quite often in WoT, tends to annoy me and actually diminish the character that it aims to elevate, at least in my eyes.

Anyway, did somebody else feel a bit disappointed that we didn't see Elayne's meetings with Egeanin or Aludra in ToM? I still feel a faint hope for it happening with Cerandin. It could be very funny.
Anyway, why on earth didn't Egeanin try to meet one of her first Randlander friends, one who was so instrumental in changes of her wolrdview/life? Why did she go to Tar Valon instead? Or didn't she realize that Elayne was in fact the very same AS whom she met in Tanchico?
Stefan Mitev
35. Bergmaniac
 Isilel@34 - maybe Egeanin felt guilty about not throwing the Sad Bracelets in the ocean. That's the only reason I can think of for her not trying to meet with Elayne. 

 Totally agree with you about the Amayar. We as readers just weren't given a reason to care about those people. 
Alice Arneson
36. Wetlandernw
Another reason for Egeanin not to try to meet with Elayne, if she even knew it was the same person, is that Elayne is now Queen. It's not the same as asking to meet with the Empress, but in a Seanchan view, the nobility are very much apart and above the rest of humanity. She probably would have been shocked to her toes about Mat writing a letter to Elayne; for her to trying to meet Elayne as "an old friend" just wouldn't fit with her cultural attitudes.
Sydo Zandstra
37. Fiddler
In my mind I always call this one the 'weevil book'.

I agree with Wet when she says that in a reread, it's not as bad as it first seemed. I had the same with PoD BTW.

And like a few people who posted before me, I really started disconnecting with Egeanin and Bayle Domon. They were cool in the earlier books, and at this point they have become irritating. Why were they dragged along in the storyline at this point anyway? The whole Leilwin-Mat lover scheme wasn't necessary in the first place. Egeanin and Domon could probably easily have gone their own way...

I guess this means that Egeanin is going to be Egwene's Seanchan saviour after all.
Maiane Bakroeva
38. Isilel
Bergmaniac @35:

maybe Egeanin felt guilty about not throwing the Sad Bracelets in the ocean.

But shouldn't it have given her an even stronger motivation to warn and to apologize? Otherwise, why not just stay with Aludra and become an artillery officer? She already has the math down pat and she was eagerly helping Aludra in her labors in TGS...

In fact, now that I think about it, that's probably why she is going
to Tar Valon - she didn't connect the Queen of Andor with the young AS with whom she has raided the Panarch's palace and wants to look for her/Nynaeve in the most logical place from her PoV.

We still should have seen the meeting between Elayne and Aludra, though!
39. SoonerFan
I think that this "hardening" to death is one thing that RJ was trying to illustrate in the WoT. Remember Rand through a lot of the series, has been hurt by the mere thought of people dying for him. This is what led him to decide to become hard. He wanted to become "hardened" to death so that losing people he didn't even know (and especially those he did know) would no longer hurt. RJ, through BS, made it clear in ToM that even though its really hard for Rand to watch "his" people get hurt, it was unhealthy to make himself not care about it.
Tess Laird
40. thewindrose
I found it weird that Egeanin and Bayle didn't stay with Aludra as well. While they were with the circus and afterwards, Egeanin and Bayle were always helping Aludra out. Egeanin even snaps at Mat to show Aludra more respect for all of her innovations.
Aludra does meet up with Elayne though - to show off her Dragons and get the resources to build them. She also calls Birgitte Maerion, which is the name she used at Luca's show.

Stefan Mitev
41. Bergmaniac
Thom said at the end of TSR while Egeanin was present "You will make a fine Queen one day, Elayne of Andor".

Before that, when Egeanin first met the Supergirls:

"You are nobly born. Nynaeve spoke of your mother’s palace.”

“Such things do not count for very much in the White Tower,” Elayne told her ruefully, hastily brushing cake crumbs from her chin. It was very spicy cake; almost sharp. “If a queen went there to learn, she would have to scrub floors like any other novice and jump when she was told.”

Egeanin nodded slowly. “So that is how you rule. By ruling the rulers. Do . . . many . . . queens go to be trained so?”

“None that I know of.” Elayne laughed. “Though it is our tradition in Andor for the Daughter-Heir to go."

So Egeanin definitely should be able to connect the current Queen of Andor with the Aes Sedai she met in Tanchico. Unless she forgot all that, of course.
42. BiggMann
No disrespect intended, but do you think that RJ realized that these novels and stories of battles, killings, and murder contribute to any hardness he's complaining of?

...just saying...

ShaggyBela @ 28:
Regarding the payback to Mat for freeing the Sea Folk, I took it that you meant that the Seanchan found out it was him and that the payback would be their's, not something that would positively affect things later down the road with the Sea Folk.

Maybe Nesta was captured and tortured before she eventually told, a sul'dam found out through the a'dam link, or Tuon put 2 and 2 together regarding Mat's disappearance at that time.

Call me a black hole for being dense, but I don't remember Egeanin deciding to head for Tar Valon or even what reason she would have for doing so.
Jay Dauro
43. J.Dauro
Nesta died before the escape.

It is possible one of the Windfinders was told, and was recaptured. Or, as you say, Tuon may have figured it out. And yes, the Seanchen would probably take a dim view of Mat's participation.

But I think most of us believe that Mat will meet the Seafolk in the future, and they will know he helped their people escape. We see that the Windfinders and Seafolk managed to make off with dozens and dozens of Seanchen ships (KOD-22) and that it is referred to as the "Escape". So yes, the Seafolk owe Mat big.

TOM -17
"Leilwin," he replied. "You're leaving?"
"I always intended to make my way to the White Tower," she continued. "I set my mind there the day I left Ebou Dar. If the Aes Sedai are leaving, I will go with them. ..."

So we don't really have a reason, but she has planned this since joining the circus at the start of COT.
Wesley Parish
44. Aladdin_Sane
I had a little chuckle in this re-read, at Tuon bundled in the wall hanging. A Cleopatra she is not!

Seriously, are the Amayar another Aiel offshoot, like the Tuatha aka the Tinkers? This is the first time I've read about that - I don't remember reading that the the Big Book of Bad Pictures ... or in any of the glossaries ...

Speaking about suicide bombing, etc, I do admit the suicide bomber who took Rajiv Gandhi out, did shake me up - I had expected that to happen to Indira, but not to Rajiv.
James Jones
45. jamesedjones
Re: The 'Gasp' moment

Hate to do this folks, but I've got to place the blame on this on RJ for presenting it to us from the SF point of view, who then tried to use the news to weasel out of their responsibilities to the Bargain and feeding Arad Domon. "Our tragedy is soooo much more important than ya'lls." Never mind that they want to neglect feeding starving people to turn their attention to dead people, who can't be helped. This is something that could very well have been altruistic for the SF. But it would have been the first compasionate thing they had done in about 6 books (10 years). I wasn't willing to buy it.

My only thought of pity for the Amayar was for their children. Can you imagine someone's parents feeding them poison? Those parents immediately loose any and all sympathy from me as a viewer or reader. If you're willing to poison your kids, I'm glad you're gone. I just wish someone else could have gotten around to killing you before your zealotry slaughtered innocent children.
46. Shard
I think alot of people have it right, we just didn't get attached to the Sea Folk, frankly I can't stand any of them and can only recall Harine as a character and I don't even know her fate. The Amayar are a footnote at best, now had it been the actual Tinkers or Ogier commiting mass suicide your right that I would feel horrified because we've gotten the opportunity to really attach to those groups.
47. normalphil
What happenned with the Amayar made me suspect historic influence of darkfriends twisting cultures. What good is a pacifist Amayar darkfriend cabal? Two thousand years on, you get a mass suicide in what would otherwise be a Way of the Leaf element with cultural continuity going back to the Breaking. What good are Sea Folk darkfriends? Two thousand years on you've got a culture that has such a conception of "The Bargain" and what the propper approach to it ought to be, you get the Bowl of the Winds debacle and later events.
48. normalphil
Thing of it being, you can't predetermine whether people will be individually "good" or "evil" and predict their actions that way, but if you can predetermine their ideology, then you can make pretty good guesses on what they'll do. Ideology being the big indicator of action.

We've had sympathetic Seanchan characters in spades, most of them are outright good people, but they are still primed to overrun the setting and enslave or kill the saviors of the world, because their given-to-them ideology says this is good and propper behavior and they need to do it to save the world. Something like that.
Richard Boye
49. sarcastro
BigMann@42, JDauro@43,

re: Nesta/Nestelle

Nesta and Nestelle are two different people:

Nesta din Reas Two Moons was the Sea Folk... Mistress of Ships (gar... the Sea Folk ranking nomenclature is soooo annoying. Seriously, Mr. J., we digested and groked a whole host of made-up words in the 'Old Tongue,' we wouldn't have minded if you made up a name for the Sea Folk leaders. Really, we wouldn't have).

Nesta is captured and executed, and her head is displayed on a pike in Ebou Dar.

Nestella din Sakura South Star is the Windfinder that Mat set free. As far as I know, we never lear n her fate.
Alice Arneson
50. Wetlandernw
Aladdin_Sane @44 - I don't think we know for sure that the Amayar were an offshoot of the Aiel; it's just sort of logical based on the similarities between the Way of the Leaf and the Water Way. The Aiel "life is a dream from which all must wake" and the Amayar "the time of Illusion is at an end" are pretty similar. Physically, the Amayar are "short and fair" while the Aiel are "tall and fair" and the Tinkers don't seem to have specific coloring due to intermarriage with other cultures.
51. Rand al'Todd
RE: The big GASP - Sorry, when I read this, it was just a rip of the Jim Jones Cult Church of Kool-Aid sucides. Those were real. (For those too young to remember, hit wiki with "Jonestown"- 1978, over 900 died, parents poisoned thenselves and their children, and church members killed a Congressman there to investigate the cult. The investatation apparently sparked the decision to suicide. ) Those caused me to GASP.

As others have said, RJ gave insufficient time/detail given to invest the reader emotionally in Amayar. Same with some of the random "bubble of evil" events. RJ gave some specific details of some of those in order to get some Reader involvement, but he also threw in random mention of many more, just so we could recognize the scope.

As to Nestella and the debt owed to Mat, I suspect that the dividend there was probably intended for the outrigger adventures rather than aMoL. If Mat and Tuon would have needed to transport a large chunk of her army back to Senchan to reclaim her empire, then this chapter establishes that the Seafarer ships could have been a necessity. (I know, gateways are also possible but I'm not sure that RJ would want it to be practical to make a large gate that far. Makes the whole invasion much too easy if you have travelling and Tuon has no good reason to be sending folks to teach the rebels back home how to travel.)
Kimani Rogers
52. KiManiak
I hope all of those who celebrated it had a good Thanksgiving weekend, with a good blend of food, family, football and fun (and any other “f” words applicable).

And a new post, as well. Good ol’ Matrim Cauthon. Even so-so Mat chapters are still good, because they are Mat chapters, after all.

So Seanchan, bad; Mat and Noal, good; Egeanin, not her finest hour…. As for the Sea Folk, Amayar (and other) dead, I think its okay to acknowledge that they died without feeling that emotionally attached. We don’t know at this time if anybody we met on-camera was killed (I hope the Windfinder escaped) in Ebou Dar and we only briefly met one Amayar person, so I think its okay to think “Wow, that sucks” and move on. I do agree that reading about those deaths could affect those who have seen massive amounts of dead people first hand more strongly than those who have not experienced it; I think both perspectives are valid. And a whole lot of you said what I was feeling much better and with a lot more eloquence, so I’ll just add an “I agree.”

Not much else to add for this chapter.

And to honor a very funny man who (hopefully) made us all laugh:

"Surely you can't be serious!"
"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."
RIP Leslie Nielsen
j p
53. sps49
Pfft. If this book is less bad on repeat readings, it is likely because we now know not to expect cool plot resolutions, people finally meeting up and communicating, and an end to new plot threads. Without the anticipation, the disappointment is less sharp.

I am SO glad that the RJ/ BWS books rock on the level of the early volumes.

Speaking of which- Phase 1 of Christmas shopping is done, back to The Way of Kings wrapped in it's Michael Whelan goodness for a while. Happy holidays, all!
James Hogan
54. Sonofthunder
Since it appears that CoT is keeping up its record of mediocrity(53 posts in 3 days???), hopefully no one minds if I have an off-topic question: I want to get my sister(a new WoT fan; on her first read through the series and she's loving it - dressed as Nynaeve for Halloween!!) a Aes Sedai serpent ring...any of you bought one before? Found some online(Amazon and Badali Jewelry), but thought I'd check with y'all first. Y'know, since I trust you and all...mostly. ;)

Also, just so I can something sort of on topic...I'm also sad that Egeanin's not as cool as she used to be. She was awesome in Tanchico. Radical for a Seanchan! Now, she's just...grumpy all the time? Why?? Because she's shipless?
Thomas Keith
55. insectoid
SOT @54: Badali is indeed the way to go, whether through Amazon,'s Store, or elsewhere. I have an Asha'man Sword pin I got from them, as well as a (silver) Dragon pin I got at Comic-Con. (Which I will add to my budget costume if I ever attend JordanCon, the Light willing.)

Abdel Masdoua
56. TheDarkOne
Bought one on Badali five years ago and it still looks fantastic:
I never leave home without it!
Steven Pattingale
57. Pattingale
Continuing OT ... visited the Badali website and wow those are cool! :D

It's one way for WoTers to spot each other too! hehe
Daniel Smith
58. Smittyphi
SOT @54

I just assumed Thanksgiving was here. With the holidays and pink eye running amok in the family, I've only had time to read it now. When I read about the Ayamar mass suicide, I couldn't equate it to anything in the real world or care much about it because of a lack of emotional investment into the people. Darfur and the Tsunami victims are REAL people and people who would and do make fun of them should be strung up by their toes.

I loved CoT when I first read it and I look forward to rereading the entire series starting next year in anticipation for AMoL. Thanks Leigh for the wonderful job you do with this.
Marcus W
59. toryx
Wow, a post Thanksgiving post. I'm impressed. I'd had no idea that Leigh would have the motivation to do one. Well done.

The Ayamar mass suicide shocked me. I remember being so stunned upon first reading it that I had to take a break for a while. Of course, I'm not remotely insensitive to terrible things happening to people I don't know anything about either. When I hear about people drowning in Pakistan or getting stoned to death in Iran I react in an emotional manner regardless of how far removed those deaths are from my day to day life.

I was likewise horrified at how many people died when the Sea Folk escaped.

I recognize that I'm unusual in this. There's a reason they call people like me bleeding hearts. :)
Barry T
60. blindillusion
Nothing to add to the discussion, other than I'm happy this portion of Mat's storyline is beginning. So many great moments.

I really just wanted to say: Guess who won a free, SIGNED copy of both tGS and ToM.

How awesome is that.
Chris R
61. up2stuff

My gasp was not so much due to sadness over their deaths, as to the perspective of what I saw as the Ta'veren balance. Maybe I am looking at the wrong side of this, but here is what I mean.

So many events swirling around Rand have been extreme, but on a small scale. One man trips walking down the street and dies, another gets run over with an oxcart or something and is fine.

Next level, I remember hearing that there were more weddings in one week than in a whole year in one village, and the next over, half the houses burn down or something. That kind of thing. I know, I am talking about a village or so, but still...

Now Rand performs the cleansing. A BIG positive event, but the Ta'veren COST is the lives of an entire people. Everyone of them, everywhere! NO survivors! Again, I wasn't really sad, but I WAS shocked as that sank in. Some of RJ's interview material says that society seemed rather callous to this episode of this many people dying while not embroiled in a war; Maybe it is.

I just remember being shocked at the ruthlessness of the pattern.
62. Freelancer
Yes indeed, the Pattern has no ruth. The Pattern is mindless, and yet forces certain causalities as though by Design. The Pattern is non-judgemental, and yet "demands balance". The Pattern is the essence of chaos, and yet is the wellspring of order.
All the framework of a divine construct without the "unpleasant" connotations of a personal divinity.
63. MadCow21
I hardly think that a mass suicide is really in the same category as massive casualties due to terrorist attacks, wars, or natural disasters that RJ seems to bundle it in with. To me that falls under the category of tragically stupid rather than simply tragic, and thus my *gasp* is reserved for persons more deserving of my sympathy than those who would choose to end their own lives (fictional or otherwise).
64. hamstercheeks
toryx@59: The Amayar mass suicide was upsetting to me, too, because of how the Sea Folk took it--they were wailing and keening in grief, and Zaida (was it Zaida?) ordered an immediate trip to the Amayar island(s) to see if some could be saved, only to be stopped by Logain. Reading about it really drove home the fact that the world is ending.

blindillusion@60: Argh. Congratulations. Jealousy contained.

Leigh: "Wheel, Ages, legend, myth, wind, beginning." Excellent summary. I love your re-reads. :) Can't wait for the next one!
65. Seamus1602
Re: Amayar mass suicide

Hey, Amayar, I've known you for half a page and the SF revere you. Then you decided to all kill yourself (the only external result of The Cleansing we've seen to this point, though we're not told of the mass suicide until KoD). Why should I be shocked (GASP!) at this? They all killed themselves because Rand and Nyn did something awesome. They're a combo of everything I hate about Tinker culture (rote pacifism) and Ogier culture (Book of Translation/leave this world), plus the SF revere them!

Maybe I am callous, but I say good riddance. Plus, Zaida's desire to go find survivors/mourn them in KoD only made me hate them more, b/c she sucks. I cheered when Logain pretty much says, "F that. You're doing this 'cause The Coramoor said so. No discussion."

P.S. I'm still waiting for a SF-Mat meeting so he gets credit for The Escape. Though I think it's been stated, I see no evidence that the WF he freed is dead, so I'm hoping she got word out about his awesomeness.
Vincent Lane
66. Aegnor
The reason why it is a part of the human psychie that a single death is a tragedy and a million deaths is a statistic, is that if it were not that way, humans would go insane. It is a mental defense mechanism. Many thousands of people die in disasters (natural and man-made) every year. If we cared about them all proportionally to their numbers, that we would be paralized with grief on a permenent basis.
William Fettes
67. Wolfmage
Re: the Amayar mass suicide

I think when I first read that passage I did have a reaction to the scale of the tragedy, but it’s never really registered as a particularly powerful scene with me. There are a number of reasons for this, many of which have already been touched on above. However, I don’t think desensitisation comes into it for me and I kind of resent the accusation when more obvious explanations are at hand.

The first point I would make is that the Amayar weren’t sufficiently developed as a culture for it to *really* matter beyond the abstract tragedy of such a large death toll. They were characterised as peace-loving, rural, isolationist and the real makers of Sea Folk porcelain, but we really don’t know much about them beyond that.

With real life tragedies in far-away places, our comfort zone obscures those experiences from our consciousness. But we needn’t be in a similar position of ignorance about the beset culture from the outset, and there’s nothing stopping any of us from gaining post-hoc factual information and choosing to help in some form or another. And don’t kid yourself that it’s just limited to the geographic distance of the third world – it’s a fundamentally an in-group out-group dynamic which works at multiple levels. It's the same reason stories about missing white blondes dominant our media headlines whilst other missing persons languish in obscurity.

So, I do think it’s a bit rich comparing such an under-developed fictional culture to a real situation of human suffering with real history, real culture and real individuals affected. Obviously the tragedy would have had more emotional purchase if we spent more time with the Amayar.

Now RJ obviously tried to bridge this distance via the super-pathos mourning of the Sea Folk. However, I think that failed for me because it relied too much on telling us how tragic it was rather than showing it, and also, if I’m completely honest, the Sea Folk are basically so tedious and utterly unsympathetic at this stage of the series that their cares don’t exactly move mountains.

The other reason is a bit more political to be forthright about it. I’ll just come right out and say it – I have a strong distaste for dispensationalist theology and eschatological obsession with the end times. Now, we don’t exactly know whether the Time of Illusions deal is a prophesy proper, or more a cultural thing, but I don’t have to like it either way. Fatalism so extreme that it constitutes opting out of life, sabotaging any potential for human agency and rooting for the apocalypse is utterly alien to me and I don’t find anything morally worthy or respectable about it. Accordingly, mass suicide like this is more an act of collective lunacy, than some kind of pure faith, and it certainly doesn't compare with a real natural disaster. Accordingly, I feel the most pity for the children brainwashed into such a culture - forced to die for their parents idiotic beliefs.
Ron Garrison
68. Man-0-Manetheran
Re. apocalypse: Wolfmage, I couldn't have said it better than you did in your last paragraph. Living life as if there is no tomorrow is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Alice Arneson
69. Wetlandernw
Well, well. I will now confess to a little perverse curiosity as to what kind of stink could be stirred up regarding attitudes toward the Sea Folk/Seanchan battle toll, and the Amayar mass suicide. Turns out to be a fine stink stirred up from the depths, indeed. I will also admit to a few surprises in the comments, but mostly it was about what I (cynically) expected. Oh well.

I'm still surprised that so few made any note of the effect on Mat. He sits there on the bank of the river, as he apparently has for several days, watching them pulling corpses out of the water: "he wanted some idea of the number he had saved to balance his bleak suspicions of the number he had killed." I realize that hardly any of the characters around him have any comprehension of his inner turmoil, but we as readers know him better than this particular bunch, anyway. The man is feeling awful, because in a very real way he is responsible for all those deaths. No, he didn't kill them himself, and certainly others bear a lot of blame, but from his perspective, his action started it. He chose to free the leashed Windfinders, and because of that choice, hundreds of people are dead.

From a birds-eye view, we can of course say that the blame lies more with others: with Nestelle din Sakura South Star, who didn't wait the full three hours; with the Seanchan who leashed them in the first place; with the Windfinders who chose to fight their way out rather than live leashed; with the Sea Folk in the Rahad who joined in the "rebellion" of their own free will; with the sul'dam who turned the power of the damane on those attempting to escape; and the list goes on. Many of those who died, did so as a result of their own choices, and we know that. Mat does too, in a way, but it still comes back to his choice to take off that one leash and show that one woman how to work the clasp.

Freeing the Sea Folk Windfinders had been the right thing to do, the only thing he could do, but aside from the hangings, hundreds and hundreds of bodies had been fished out of the harbor in the last five days, and the Light only knew how many had washed out to sea with the tides.

I nearly weep for him when I read this, because his heart aches in a way no one around him can see, and he can't (or won't) let them see it because... well, because he's Mat. But did you notice?

...he wanted some idea of the number he had saved to balance his bleak suspicions of the number he had killed.

What a thing to have on your mind, along with everything else he's got just now. On my last reread, one of the things I most appreciated about this book was the insight into the deeper layers of these maturing characters; in particular (and maybe this was Jordan's purpose), the depth of character that they develop in extremely difficult situations.
Lee VanDyke
70. Cloric
Not much to say about this chapter really, since in most ways it was a catch up chapter, but one point RE: Mat and Nestelle's Bargain...

She didn't hold up her end. The Bargain was that Mat free her, and in return Nestelle agreed to wait 3 hours to begin The Escape, as near as she could. There was no other qualifying statement made, such as "3 hours, near as I can, unless something happens that makes me take my opportunity sooner."

Mat's pov here makes it fairly clear that MUCH less than 3 hours has passed. Given the Sea Folk outward belief that the Bargain is King (or maybe Mistress), I'm gonna guess that breaking it will leave Nestelle, and due to the importance of the events in question, the SF as a whole, with a HUGE Debt of Honor to Mat, seperate, and perhaps above, the debt for giving them the opportunity in the first place.

On the other discussions in the Thread...

RE: Egeanin meeting with Elayne in ToM... There are some important facts here. First, Queen Elayne of Andor would have little, likely none, reason to meat with Leilwin Shipless. Egeanin is no more, and Leilwin has her own pride. I doubt she would be willing to request an audience with such a high level person, even were she still Egeanin Tamarath, though. In most hierarchy based societies, meetings such as that could only be initated by the higher ranking person, especially where the difference in rank is as wide as it would be here.

As to feeling guilty about the Sad Bracelets, why would she? No one in Mat's party has any idea about the attempted collaring of the Dragon Reborn, and it is never made clear if Nyneave ever bothered to inform Elayne about what happened. Besides, she thinks they might actually have to be used, due to corrupted Prophecies in Seanchan. You don't feel guilty about being a patriot. You rationalize it.

RE: the Amayar... Yes, Jonestown is still a living memory to many people, but the cultural parallel I most connected it to was Masada.

Now, those people were dedicated to their beliefs, only 1 person out of almost a thousand is actually guilty of suicide. And there are still conflicting reports, I believe, on the number of women and children involved.

Edit: Wow, that post turned out to be MUCH longer than I intended. LOL
Jonathan Levy
71. JonathanLevy
69. Wetlandernw
Very interesting insights. IMHO, much more worthy of consideration and discussion than the mass suicide of the Amayar. Amanyar? Manyanar? Whatever.
Alice Arneson
72. Wetlandernw
Jonathan Levy @71 - I agree. That's why I think it's odd no one has commented on it, particularly in view of the number of people who felt it necessary to state and defend their indifference to the Amayar suicide (and, to a significantly lesser extent, the dead we actually see in this chapter). I yanked the chain on purpose, but have to say I was a little... bemused by the resulting flush. I mean, does anyone really care what I think about the Amayar suicide?


Nope. I didn't think so, which is just as well, because I'm not telling. Right now, I'm far more interested in the new depth I'm seeing in Mat here.

Interestingly enough, earlier today I was reading in KoD, "A Hell in Maderin." When Tuon asks Mat why he almost let that last one kill him, he replies, "I promised myself I'd never kill another woman." Some things run deep in our Two Rivers boys, like taking full responsibility for the tough decisions even when it would be easy enough to shift the blame to someone else. But... that's probably a discussion for another time, too.
Tricia Irish
73. Tektonica
Wolfmage@67: Bravo. Well said.

Wetlander@68: Thanks for the focus shift.....
Great insights on Mat, well stated, as usual! The depth of his heartache at the battle and deaths that he indirectly caused is one of the reason we love him. He's a rogue, he's flip, he's a battle leader, but he has incredible empathy and compassion. He is a good man. No wonder his Band will follow him anywhere. He cares deeply about them and all people. There's just so much substance to Mat. Thank you for pointing it out!

In this instance, he is simply the one who gave the boulder the initial push down hill. And although he mourns for all the death, he knows it was the right thing. A lot to carry around inside, indeed. Big shoulders.
Jonathan Levy
74. JonathanLevy
72. Wetlandernw
You know, that chapter (A Hell in Maderin) always felt a bit wrong to me, because the reason Tuon gives ("I wanna see a fight! I wanna see a fight!") just felt so obviously lame/fake. When we finally learned of Lydia's foretelling, I thought again about this scene to see if the new knowledge shed any light upon it, but I couldn't see anything.

I had to make do with the conclusion that at the time she still saw Mat as a useless dandy, and hoped getting him into a fight would either prove him a man or get him killed - proving that he's not her destined husband.

Perhaps someone can shed some light on something I missed?
James Hogan
75. Sonofthunder
Maybe I just saw things differently, JL, but I always thought that she was being genuine there(she seems to let her true feelings/emotions out pretty much only when she's with Mat!). She never has been in a "rough" inn before so I think her curiosity makes sense. Also, of course, she wants to make sure "her man" can handle himself. I thought Tuon was being cute and playful(last time I ever use those words to describe her) in her desire to visit a hell.

And is Perrin the only one of the Trio to never have directly killed a woman? I don't think he has. One of my most vivid memories of the series is Mat giving the order to gun down the sul'dam(Bethamin? Seta? Whatever her name was). Heartbreaking scene. Oh Mat.
Captain Hammer
76. Randalator
Sonofthunder @75

And is Perrin the only one of the Trio to never have directly killed a woman?

He spanked one. That is much much worse... *ducks*
Valentin M
77. ValMar
Come on lads and lasses, lets push this baby to a 100!

About the Amayar, personally I was intellectually moved by their (especially the trully innocent children) tragedy. But emotionally, due to reasons mentioned already, not really. It will one of a number of tragic events we will witness before the end of the series.

Re Mat, good call Wetlander. But I think the line of thought taken by Mat is a bit uncharacteristic, Perrin/Rand-like. I'm not saying Mat is too callous to feel his remorse.
Mat has a lot of memories of wars and battles. He is a general and already experienced one. He is a good guy and hates the deaths in warfare but is also pragmatic, as is inevitable for a good commander. His emotions for the Ebou Dar battle aren't really pragmatic. Chances were that there were going to be many deaths in the "Escape". His thoughts after the number of bloody fights in which he commanded were very different.

An explanation for this may be 1) many women, on both sides, were involved, 2) Mat started it but wasn't in control and could not affect the outcome.

J Levy @ 74
Maybe it was to show that in some ways Tuon was totaly lacking experience and knowledge. Basically showing another side of her character. Up to know we've seen only one side of her, whether in the palace or circus. Also it was necessary to move the plot.

I agree with Sonofthunder.

Randalator @ 76
James Hogan
78. Sonofthunder
Randalator @76, brilliant.

...wait a Rand the only one of the Trio not to have spanked a woman?? He needs to get on that, stat. I mean...*runs*
Stefan Mitev
79. Bergmaniac
Perrin killed some Shaido Maidens during Dumai's Wells battle, IIRC. He couldn't be sure whether he was fighting a man or a woman due to the veils and was thus able to overcome the mental block even when the height made it likely that it was a woman.
Bill Reamy
80. BillinHI
Re Amayar suicide: While I agree that we don't really know enough about the Amayar to feel much empathy for them, I did react to the SF reaction to their suicide. As much as I dislike (heartily!) at least 98% of SF actions, this scene really resonated with me.

However, the suicide was not a balance to the Cleansing! None of the balanced taveren effects mentioned in all the books are caused by any direct action of Rand's. They are merely the pattern's reactions to his presence. The cleansing was a positive (very positive!) action on Rand's part and not just part of his taveren-ness. I believe the Amayar were another off-shoot of the true Aiel and had their own (slightly twisted) idea of waking from the Illusion that is life.
John Massey
81. subwoofer
Well, allow me to offer up my two cents. Was going to do so yesterday but I have these lame issues with my d-link firewall. Satan's spawn, it is.

Ahem, about Mat. As I have said previously, he was walking a very fine line. On the one hand, he was leaving because of the gholam and it was the best time to flee. Everything seemed to fall into place. OTOH, what else could Mat do? Stay and fight? Sometimes you have to make hard decisions and live with the consequences. By that same token, Mat could not just leave and do nothing. Mat is dealing with the grief in his own way. Don't forgot, not all the bodies were Sea Folk, there were quite a few Seanchan corpses floating around too. I think at the end of the day, Mat can still be viewed as a hero as he gave a people a fighting chance. That is all anyone can ask.

John Massey
82. subwoofer
Amayar- interesting story. I was trying to wrap my head around it in terms of how the Wheel turns. At some point will these series of events happen again? If so, does that mean the CK will be rebuilt? If we are going on the premise that the passing of the next age will have another battle between the Dragon and the DO, - the Herid Fel theory, then will all events play out similar or will certain things be cast aside?

In order for the Amayar to fortell the melting of the globe they had to know that there would be a higher purpose for the use. I am not sure about the conclusion of going for mass suicide when the female CK melts. I do not understand the logic behind it. Is it a case where the Amayar fear the end of the world? Or is their dying supposed to achieve a purpose? I must have missed something.

The Sea Folk response to this was interesting too. In this particular case, they are shown to be human and very caring. On the face of it, the Amayar got the best of the Bargain they made with the Sea Folk. The SF have to do all the taxiing around on the open seas and cannot refuse passage. The Amayar were basically homeless and, as far as I can tell, helpless. I can't pretend to understand the culture based on the little bit of text, but I think there are some Dreamer skills untapped on Tremalking.

I am on the cusp of something that I will puzzle out... more to follow.

Jonathan Levy
83. JonathanLevy
78. Sonofthunder

If Lews Therin spanked Mierin, does that count for Rand?
84. OldWizard
I hartily agree with most of you, about the masive killings and not reacting with horror at the numbers of unknown, slaughtered people. But I feel I can understand Mr. Jordan's reaction as well. I write fictional stories, fantasy and sci fi mostly, and when I write all my characters are as real to me as my parents, sister or friends. In my mind they ARE alive and kicking.
So, as Jordan lives with his huge creation, working patiently on each book until it is a work of art, don't you think he has lived with those numbers, carefully adjusting them, thinking up names for some in the early morning before he gets up to write. To him I feel, at least from personal experience, these people are also real to him, and are shocked that no one (wo has read the book once or twice) react strongly to the horror of the slayghter or suicide. We can't mourn for a throusand people killed a million miles away, or we would do nothing else, fiction OR real. But I think I understand Jordan too.
Or I might not make sense at all. Have your own opinion, this my my two cents worth. :)

Old is the world, but the Wizard is older
Chris Chaplain
85. chaplainchris1
Wetlander (and Tektonika), and others I'm sure: thanks for the insights on Mat. I have to admit, prior to the re-read, Mat was by far my least favorite character to read about. (Emo-Perrin and Elayne in this book occasionally challenging him.) I just didn't resonate with his character. The gambler/wastrel/fun-seeker thing doesn't mesh well with my view of the world. I was able to appreciate his good qualities - smacking down Galad and Gawyn, absolute fidelity to his word, being the type who'd run into a burning building - and his risking everything to free the Windfinders always resonated with me. But his real nobility and compassion and, here, his grief and sense of (of all things) responsibility...well, they'd always escaped me. His growth as a character is one thing that the re-read has really brought out for me, so thanks all. (Leigh's explanation of him as the flip side of Nynaeve helped me, too - because she was an early favorite and I'd completely missed their similarities until she pointed them out.)

As a result, I find (whether in the re-read or in TOM - not so much in TGS where he felt less on than he does in TOM) that I enjoy Mat *much* more, and I find the humor of him much funnier and much more endearing.

That said, Wetlander, I do think it's valid to debate the Amayar a bit (and despite your caveat, I would have been interested in your opinion). In the first place I agree that RJ really didn't help us feel for them. But I also agree that the SF's grief was really pretty poignant. The whole thing really seemed out of left-field for me, though. I'd expected the Amayar's "end of illusion" to mean they were now going to volunteer as a people to help with the Last Battle, while still following the Water Way. Perhaps they'd be hospitallers or the like. Perhaps *they* knew the Song. Instead, their reaction to the coming Last Battle is...mass suicide. I'm sorry, but...what a waste. What a cop-out. Have you no sense of responsibility to the world or to others? I expected more courage from a group brave enough to be devoted to pacifism. Courage like the Tinkers/Tu'athan, not flight like the Aiel consumed by the Bleakness.

Sorry to be all judgmental, imaginary Amayar. But then, I tend to react poorly to any belief system that teaches that the world/evil & suffering/passion etc. is illusion. The world, and life, are precious, and both suffering and joy are real and deserve respect.

End sermon.

Jonathan Levy, I see Tuon in Maderrin simply showing her youth and immaturity. She's only 19ish, and in some ways has led a very sheltered life. Well...not sheltered, but a very...responsible life. She never had a childhood, and had to be aware of assassins from the time she was a toddler/first-grader. This is probably the most responsibility-free time of her life, and her indulgence of a childish whim or two can be forgiven under the circumstances. It reminds me of early Elayne's desire for adventures. These princesses want to experience a little before settling back down to queendom.
Chris Chaplain
86. chaplainchris1
Forgoing the Amayar and returning to the aftermath of the SF battle - this is another thing that had little impact on me, but irl that would be really different. As it is, fiction-reader-me is pleased that some SF got away (the Windfinder's speech to Mat when he asked what she'd do if he freed her and she declared that she'd been reminded who she was and would never surrender? Tiny MOA.). And pleased that those who died took some of those slave-owning, damane-maiming, women-kenneling sobs down with them. Give me liberty or give me death.

The book, describing the aftermath, with no/few characters we know involved, no real "conseqeuence" to the story, etc., creates enough distance to not bother me nearly so much as in RL, as I say, where I'd be much more the deaths on both sides.
Alice Arneson
87. Wetlandernw
chris @85 - I carefully did not attempt to give my opinion re: Amayar because it would be a huge (even for me!) wall of text with very little resolution. I see far too many sides to the situation to make a simple statement on what I think is a very complex issue. I have occasionally been called intolerant because I have strong beliefs regarding right and wrong and am willing to state those beliefs unequivocally when I think it's appropriate. I was saddened to see the number of people (including some who would label me intolerant) who were so ready to condemn the Amayar beliefs based on only this event, with no attempt to understand (or even apparent curiosity regarding) what those beliefs really were, much less "tolerance" for beliefs which do not fit with their own.

It reminds me far too much of those who label all conscientious objectors as "cowards" with no attempt to understand why they would take that position, what they might have to suffer to maintain it, or what they might be willing to do as an alternative to violating their belief.
88. Phonos
I know I'm late to the party, but my thought on the dark skinned man with blue eyes is that it reminds me of Lan, and hence Isam/Slayer. Did Noal see Isam? He has definitely been to the borderlands and was messed about by Ishamael, just like Isam. The passage quoted above from TOM Ch 55 "If you ever meet a Malkieri," Noal said, "you tell him Jain Farstrider died clean." makes me think that perhaps this is the case. Maybe Mat will turn Slayer to the light side in AMOL if he can get Isam to remember...
89. Avendesora
I'm also late to the party, but no one else brought this up, so I thought I would.

Leilwin was the name of a Taraboner noblewoman mistaken for a sul'dam by Floran Gelb in TSR, when Egeanin had him and his buddies searching for sul'dam. Egeanin had her sold to the Blood as a da'covale. So this is how she learned of her new name.

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