Jan 11 2011 1:44pm
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Crossroads of Twilight, Part 13

Greetings, WOT constituents! Thanks for meeting me for this town hall, er, meeting. Remember, a vote for the Wheel of Time Re-read is a vote for progress.

Today’s entry covers Chapters 18 and 19 of Crossroads of Twilight, where in a shocking (shocking!) turn of events, Congress decides to discuss letting saidin channelers serve openly for the Light. As long as they don’t say they’re saidin channelers, of course. Or something like that.

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 totally non-political post!

Chapter 18: A Chat With Siuan

What Happens
Novices scurry fearfully out of Egwene’s way as she heads through camp, and she is chagrined to think that being forced to punish some of the Two Rivers novices for impropriety has earned her a reputation for having as bad or worse a temper than Sereille Bagand herself. She enters her study tent to find both Siuan and Halima there. Siuan had tried to send Halima away, and tells Egwene so, making a snide remark about Halima’s less-than-stellar reputation that only seems to amuse Halima. Halima says she thought Egwene might want to talk out her worries, suggesting she wouldn’t get so many headaches if she did; Egwene is tempted, but gently dismisses Halima until later. Halima is clearly annoyed, and with “remarkable timing,” Egwene feels the start of a headache as she leaves. Siuan remarks that Halima’s been heard actually screaming at Delana, and doesn’t understand why a Sitter would put up with that; plus Siuan is convinced Halima somehow managed to break a man’s arm. Egwene tells her wearily to leave off Halima, and tells her about what happened at the river bank earlier, which results in a lot of cursing from Siuan.

“I suppose you’re right letting it go forward,” she muttered once her invective ran down. “The talk will spread, now it’s begun, and this way, you gain a jump on it. Beonin shouldn’t surprise me, I suppose. Beonin’s ambitious, but I always thought she’d have gone scurrying back to Elaida if Sheriam and the others hadn’t stiffened her backbone.”

Siuan tells Egwene she’d found a partial list of new Tower Sitters in Tel’aran’rhiod which proves that Elaida’s Hall is experiencing the same odd pattern as the Rebel Hall. Egwene sighs, and tries to think through her headache what it could mean, but can’t come up with anything. She tells Siuan to keep working on it, and moves on to the reports. Leane reports that Tar Valon is experiencing skyrocketing crime ever since the Tower Guard stopped patrolling the streets and the Tower closed itself off from the city. Egwene is alarmed by a rumor that Gareth Bryne is going to appear from nowhere inside the city with an army, but Siuan hastens to defend Bryne by pointing out that there is no actual mention of gateways or using the Power. Amused, Egwene reflects that Siuan clearly has no more idea how to deal with being in love than “a duck had about shearing sheep,” but then darkly muses that she has no room to talk.

She was in love, too, but she did not even know where in the world Gawyn was, or what to do if she learned. He had his duty to Andor, and she hers to the Tower. And the one way to bridge that chasm, bonding him, might lead to his death. Better to let him go, forget him entirely. As easy as forgetting her own name. And she would bond him. She knew that. Of course, she could not bond the man without knowing where he was, without having her hands on him, so it all came full circle. Men were… a bother!

Moving on, Egwene is dismayed by the reports that the people under Seanchan rule are largely accepting it, and that Arad Doman is in a state of near-anarchy. The Greens are concerned with the Borderlander army in Andor, but no one is willing to interfere because of the report that “fifty to a hundred” Aes Sedai are already accompanying them, and Andor in general is being left alone for fear of stirring up the Asha’man. Siuan opines that won’t last, though, and eventually the truth of the Kin and Elayne’s bargain with the Sea Folk will come out.

“My eyes-and-ears haven’t picked up a glimmer, yet, but somebody’s will, as sure as certain. You can’t delay much longer, or we’ll find ourselves wading through a school of silverpike.”

“One of these days,” Egwene muttered, “I’ll have to see these silverpike you’re always talking about.”

This segues into an argument over Egwene’s plan re: the Kin, which is to have Aes Sedai nearing the age of three hundred unswear the Oaths and retire into the Kin. Siuan is highly skeptical of the notion (as well as the veracity of how long Kin live), and Egwene is aware that it will cause an uproar in the Hall, but she reassures Siuan that she will go slowly with it. Egwene’s interest is arrested by a report from the Grays that Merana Ambrey had been seen coming out of the currently-besieged Stone of Tear and going to a meeting with High Lord Tedosian and High Lady Estanda, chief among the besiegers. Siuan thinks Merana might do some good as long as Tedosian and Estanda don’t find out who she’s really working for, and Egwene wants to know how she can be so blasé at this first real proof that there really are sisters sworn to Rand when no one can imagine why they would do such a thing.

No one had mentioned Compulsion aloud that Egwene knew of, but they had to be thinking it.

Siuan is not so calm about the possibility as she tries to appear, but points out that it at least puts paid to the notion that Rand has submitted to Elaida, which might calm that fear among the rebels. Egwene asks about Cadsuane, and Siuan can only confirm that she had still been in Cairhien a week after Rand left; Siuan still doesn’t know if Cadsuane is Black or not.

Squeezing her eyes shut, Egwene pressed the heels of her palms against her lids. That hardly seemed to affect the pulsing needle in her head. Maybe Rand was in company with a Black sister, or had been. Maybe he had used Compulsion on Aes Sedai. Bad enough on anyone, but somehow worse used on Aes Sedai, more ominous. What was dared against Aes Sedai was ten times, a hundred times, as likely to be used against those who could not defend themselves. Eventually they would have to deal with him, somehow. She had grown up with Rand, yet she could not allow that to influence her. He was the Dragon Reborn, now, the hope of the world and at the same time maybe the single greatest threat the world faced. Maybe? The Seanchan could not do as much damage as the Dragon Reborn. And she was going to use the possibility that he had Compelled sisters. The Amyrlin Seat really was a different woman from that innkeeper’s daughter.

They are interrupted by Anaiya and then Morvrin (with Myrelle), who report that Akarrin’s party, and Escaralde (Sitter, Brown) and Malind (Sitter, Green), respectively, have returned, and Moria (Sitter, Blue) has called for the Hall to be convened to hear their reports. Morvrin doesn’t know what Akarrin found, but thinks Escaralde et al plan to use it to goad the Hall into doing something. Egwene sighs.

The novices being terrified of Egwene is kind of amusing and mildly disappointing at the same time. Machiavelli said “it is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both,” and I certainly think being feared is better than being held in contempt, but it still must not be the nicest sensation to feel that people are scared of you.

Unless you’re the type of person who gets off on that kind of thing, of course, in which case you suck. Fortunately Egwene does not suck. Not about that, anyway.

She does kind of suck in her character judging abilities, of course—at least when it comes to Halima. I mostly skipped over Egwene’s fond thoughts of Halima’s earthy downhome straightforwardness or whatever in this chapter because it made me want to hit things, but there’s a fair amount of it, trust me. While it’s a moot point by KOD (and really moot now that Aran’gar’s gone to that big skanky bordello in the sky as of ToM), her total blindness on the subject of Halima was always one of the more frustrating aspects of Egwene’s storyline to me.

Of course, this was because I was frantically convinced that Halima was eventually going to do something horrible to Egwene. And then, she… didn’t. At all. Yes, yes, Dream interference (and, probably, plain old-fashioned espionage too), but… yeah. I still cannot decide whether Halima’s total failure to Do Something while ensconced in the Rebel camp is a relief from a rooting-for-the-Good-Guys perspective, or a severe irritation from a critiquing-the-narrative viewpoint. Both, I suppose.

I’ve also never been able to decide whether I believe the theory that Egwene’s cluelessness re: Halima was the result of mild, just-a-nudge Compulsion. Simply because it just begs the question again of why she didn’t do more than that. Ergh. Well, whatever. Moot point, moving on.

As for Gawyn, I don’t agree with Egwene that all men are a bother, but I certainly agree that Gawyn is one. Gah. How this ties in with my observations re: Egwene’s people-judging skillz I leave as an exercise for the reader.

My brain’s a bit muddled at the moment, but I think this is the first time we hear about Egwene’s plan re: the Kin and having the Aes Sedai retire into them. And I have to say, while it’s a very clever solution in theory, I tend to agree with Siuan about its chances of working in practice, politically. Plus, I note that there’s no guarantee it would actually work physiologically either—for someone really nearing the upper age limit, I mean. Sure, I can buy erasing twenty years’ worth of aging, but three hundred? It just seems too much like cheating, hitting the reset button that close to the finish line, if that makes any sense.

Rand: I would say that Egwene’s thoughts on Rand are another proof of her inability to judge character, except that until his Jesusing in TGS Rand got reeeeally close to slipping over the line where he would totally do such things. He never actually does Compel anyone (at least not that I can recall), but… yeah. That said, it still made me sad to see Egwene even partially believe that he would go there.

On a random note, it’s a shame Siuan’s fish icon hadn’t been invented yet by COT, because this would have been a perfect chapter to use it. (Also, Egwene’s mutter about silverpike highly amused me. I wonder if that’s the fish in Siuan’s icon, or is it just a random stylized fish?)


Chapter 19: Surprises

What Happens
Egwene sends Siuan to find Sheriam so she can be properly announced in the Hall, and Anaiya, Myrelle, and Morvrin pass the time by speculating on what Moria’s response will be to Akarrin’s report from the site of the huge channeling event (whatever that report turns out to be). Anaiya, assuming the event signals the Forsaken finally moving openly, thinks Moria will advocate an immediate assault on the Tower; Anaiya thinks Moria’s reasoning would be “better a wounded Tower that’s whole than a Tower divided” in the face of such a threat. Myrelle thinks they should be more concerned about Malind’s constant worry about the likelihood of Tar Valon being a target, and opines that Malind will push instead that they abandon the siege and flee. Morvrin points out that they don’t know for sure the Forsaken were behind the event at all, but offers no opinion as to the rest. Either possibility thrills Egwene not at all, and she shuts them up by leaving the tent and heading to the Hall, the others on her heels. Outside the Hall, she waits impatiently for Sheriam, watching Akarrin’s team and noting how uneasy they all appear. Finally Sheriam dashes up, breathless and flustered, and announces her formally; Egwene enters the Hall, which is only a third full, and immediately notices that Malind and Escaralde have chosen to sit in the back even though they were obviously among the first to arrive. (Because Lelaine and Romanda’s status as the oldest Sitters dictates they sit in the front, Moria perforce is sitting with Lelaine.) She also notes that the session has not been closed to the Hall, as other sisters are gathering at the edges of the tent to watch. She reflects on matters as the other Sitters trickle in:

Inside the Hall, the Amyrlin Seat was still the Amyrlin Seat, but a little less so than outside it. Inside the Hall, Sitters felt their power. In a way, the Amyrlin could be said to be only the first among equals, inside the Hall. Well, perhaps a little more than that, but not by much. Siuan said as many Amyrlins had failed by believing the Sitters were fully her equals as by believing the difference was wider than really existed. It was like running along the top of a narrow wall with fierce mastiffs on either side. You maintained a careful balance and tried to watch your feet more than the dogs. But you were always aware of the dogs.

Romanda doesn’t wait for all the Sitters to arrive before standing and proposing they get started, and Lelaine cuts in to comment coolly that apparently talks with Elaida have been sanctioned, without the Hall’s approval, and she thinks they should talk about that. Egwene notes from various surprised reactions (including Sheriam’s, who looks like she’s going to throw up) that the rumor had not spread as quickly as she’d hoped, but is more interested in the odd reactions of those who Delana had said first spoke of it (Varilin, Takima, Magla, Faiselle and Saroiya).

It was very strange. Surely by now Beonin had informed all of them what Egwene had said, yet except for Varilin, they seemed upset. They could not possibly have thought they might really negotiate an end. Every woman sitting in this Hall risked stilling and execution just by being there. If there ever had been any path back except to remove Elaida, it had washed away months ago, when this Hall was chosen. There was no going back from that.

Moria jumps up and derails this line of discussion by insisting they do what the Hall was convened for, which is to hear Akarrin’s report. All the Sitters have arrived (an out-of-breath Delana was last) by the time Akarrin and her party are escorted in, and Moria asks for their report. Akarrin tells them they found a roughly circular crater in the ground, approximately three miles across and a mile and a half deep, which she thinks may have been more perfectly round (“shaped like half of a ball”) before some of the sides collapsed and the bottom filled up with water.

“In any event, we were able to ascertain our exact location without too much difficulty, and we are prepared to say that the hole is located where the city called Shadar Logoth once stood.” She fell silent, and for a long moment the only sound was the rustle of skirts as Aes Sedai shifted uneasily.

Egwene wanted to shift, too. Light, a hole that size would cover half of Tar Valon!

Egwene asks if they discovered how the crater was created, and Akarrin yields the floor to another of her team, Nisain, who is the most skilled at reading residues. Nisain reports that the residue of saidar at the site showed traces of weaves so “alien” to her that she (nervously) opines they may not have been woven by a woman. She says they also tested for saidin resonance, which showed that for all the huge amounts of saidar used at the site, it was dwarfed by the amount of saidin used. Her report causes everyone to fall silent a moment. Akarrin’s party steps down, and Romanda asks Moria if she thinks the news really changes anything for them. In answer, Moria asks Malind if the contingency defenses the Rebel camp has in place against an attack from the Forsaken (forming as many circles of thirteen as possible) would be sufficient to withstand what Akarrin’s party described; Malind answers firmly that they cannot, to the consternation of all listening. Lelaine asks Moria angrily what she expects them to do about it, and Moria smiles and answers that obviously, then, they must find a way to make their circles stronger. She yields the floor to Escaralde, who tells them that the ancient literature makes it clear that the only way to increase the size (and strength) of a circle is to include men who can channel. Amid a rising tide of murmurs, Magla suddenly calls for the Hall to go into a closed sitting, but Moria declares it is already too late for that.

“I do put before the Hall the proposal that we do enter into an agreement with the Black Tower, that we may bring men into our circles at need.” If she sounded a trifle strangled at the end, it was no wonder. Few Aes Sedai could say that name without emotion, disgust if not outright hatred. It struck against the buzz of voices—and produced absolute silence for the space of three heartbeats.

“That is madness!” Sheriam’s shriek shattered the stillness in more ways than one.

Varilin, Takima, Faiselle and Saroiya all leap up, shouting vehement refutations of the notion; Magla adds that “only a Darkfriend” would suggest such a thing. Livid, Moria heads for Magla as though to physically confront her, and the rest of the Hall dissolves into a screaming match, except for Romanda and Lelaine, who stare at each other silently. Sheriam begins to cry. Egwene isn’t sure where she stands on the idea, but shocks everyone into silence by weaving her voice into a thunderous boom, calling them back to protocol. Moria presents her case, pointing out that while they should have stopped and gentled the Asha’man long ago, all their information suggests that it is now too late to do so, and so they may as well use the Asha’man to expand their circles against this new threat, and perhaps gain some control over the Asha’man at the same time.

[…] Romanda sighed heavily. “Perhaps we can expand the circles enough to counter the Forsaken,” she said in a quiet voice. In a way, that gave her words more weight than if she had shouted. “Perhaps we can control the Asha’man. A thin word, perhaps, in either context.”

“When you do be drowning,” Moria replied, equally quiet, “you do grab at whatever branch floats by, even when you can no be sure it will support your weight until you have hold. The water has no closed over our heads yet, Romanda, but we be drowning. We do be drowning.”

There is silence a moment, then Egwene asks who stands against the proposal. Varilin, Takima, Magla, Faiselle and Saroiya all make speeches amounting to the same thing, reminding them all of the dangers the Asha’man present, men doomed to go mad channeling tainted saidin, and how men like them had broken the world. Egwene then asks who stands for it, and Takima is shocked when Janya stands immediately, followed quickly by eight more Sitters; after a tense moment, Romanda stands too.

“Sometimes,” she said, looking straight at Lelaine, “we must do things we would rather not.”

Lelaine met the gray-haired Yellow’s eyes without blinking.

Her face might have been cast in porcelain. Her chin rose by slow increments. And suddenly, she stood, glancing down impatiently at Lyrelle, who gaped at her a moment before coming to her feet.

Everyone stared. No one made a sound. It was done.

Egwene finally gets Sheriam’s attention, and Sheriam stops weeping long enough to make the ritual announcement that having gained the lesser consensus, she asks for the greater consensus to stand. Delana stands uncertainly, but no one else joins her, and Egwene shocks everyone again by asking if anyone wants to resign her chair over this. No one takes her up on the offer, and Egwene announces carefully that then they will go forward.

“Surprises,” indeed.

I really didn’t see where this was going, first time around. When Moria made her proposal I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open a bit in amazement, mostly because I would never have thought that any of the Rebel Hall would have had that much sense.

Of course, this is highly ironic in light of what we learn later on about the players involved. The knowledge we now have—that both Moria and Sheriam are (or were) Black Ajah—puts a totally different spin on this entire scene. And it’s not like it didn’t have enough spin to be going on with in the first place! I believe the operative phrase is “like whoa, y’all.”

First of all, it makes absolutely crystal clear that none of the Black sisters in this scene (Sheriam, Moria, and Delana) were working together at all, or indeed had any idea who the others even were. This doesn’t exactly shock me, given what we know about the extreme need-to-know-only nature of the hierarchy of the Black Ajah, but it does put a glaring spotlight on how thoroughly their policy of utter secrecy within their own ranks has hamstrung them. “Working at cross-purposes” isn’t even in it. Not that I’m complaining about this, but damn. (Why exactly Halima never bothered to tell Sheriam and Delana about each other is… well, it’s something. “Stupid,” probably. But whatever.)

Secondly (and relatedly), the scene points up how very wide the gaps can be between what any given Darkfriend considers an effective Evil Plan and what isn’t. I have to suppose that Moria either knew somehow about Taim’s true allegiances and hoped to use a détente between the Rebels and the Black Tower to get more Shadowside channelers on board, or she simply believed that trying to get the Aes Sedai and Asha’man working together would blow up in everyone’s faces (literally) regardless of whose side everyone was on, and either way chaos would be served. Whereas Sheriam clearly really really didn’t agree. (And of course wishy-washy Delana is all, um, I guess I agree? Heh.)

Meanwhile here I was thinking this is the best idea the Rebel Hall’s come up with in, like, ever. Granted, I had the advantage of knowing that the main point of opposition used by the Obstructionist Five (Varilin, Takima, Magla, Faiselle and Saroiya, and man am I tired of typing those names), the existence of tainted saidin, is no longer an issue, which they didn’t. But then again, I also knew (or, well, strongly suspected at this point, but c’mon) that the guy actually running the Black Tower was a big ol’ honkin’ Darkfriend, which should have given me more pause than it did. Certainly it gives me a hell of a lot more pause now, post-ToM. (Eeek)

So this puts me in the ironic position of acknowledging that the Obstructionist Five (who I’ve always as a matter of principle wanted to smack into next week even before I knew for sure what their agenda was) were possibly quite right to oppose this idea, even if they were doing so for the completely wrong reasons. Maybe. Sort of. I mean, good did come of it all, if nothing else than the ousting of Halima, but I think the final outcome of it all for good or ill kind of hangs on what happens in AMoL—specifically, whether Androl and Pevara get their shit together and figure out what’s going on at the Black Tower in time to stop it.

But I still don’t know how to feel about the fact that the best idea, in my opinion, to ever come out of either Hall in the entire series thus far was masterminded by a Darkfriend. That’s… uh. Hmm.

So, there’s all that. An interesting thing to consider is how differently this commentary would have gone if I’d gotten to this chapter before TGS or ToM came out. But what we learn, we can never unlearn, grasshopper. That’s glory for you!

In other notes, I largely elided it from the summary but there is a LOT of name-checking of the Rebel Hall in this chapter, which I had to smile at, because it definitely said to me that Jordan had decided to quell the long-standing complaints among the fandom that we still didn’t know who all the Sitters were in the two Halls, and finally give us all their damn names already—in the Rebel Hall, at least. There were still two unidentified Sitters in the Tower Hall even after COT, and in fact even as of ToM I’m pretty sure we’ve never found out who the third pre-schism Blue Sitter was (the one Moria replaced in Salidar), though a lot of fans have speculated she may have been Cabriana Mecandes (the sister Semirhage tortured for info in LOC so Halima could infiltrate the Rebels).

(The other unnamed Tower Sitter was finally identified in KOD as Evanellein (Gray), and yes, I had to look that up. I love me some Encyclopedia WOT.)

Also, nice little moment with Lelaine and Romanda here, in which they prove that, as ass-chafingly obnoxious as they can be sometimes, they can pull their heads out and do the right thing when necessary, even if it means (oh horrors!) actually agreeing with each other. Certain governmental bodies could take a few lessons from them, if you nome sane.

Speaking of which, something else I’ve said before (in the last post, actually) but really need to mention again in light of this chapter is how wonderfully real all this politicking and intrigue feels to me as a reader. Part of the joy of getting into thick, plotty, complicated written series such as this is the space it allows the author to build and expand and explicate the fictional world within it, and therefore the amount of understanding of and investment in that world the readers can enjoy as a result.

A friend and I discussed this general topic over the holidays, and we agreed that this is a large part of what makes it so difficult to make really good science fiction movies, because unlike in a novel (or series of novels), you generally just don’t have time in the film medium to build up the world to the point where it feels real despite whatever fantastical elements have been introduced. And it takes more skill (or understanding of this fundamental point) than most screenwriters or directors seem to have to successfully imply that complexity (the next best thing, and sometimes even a better thing, especially in visual media) without making the viewer feel like an info-dumptruck has just been upended on their heads.

There are examples of it being done right, but they tend to be few and far between. Regardless of the utter crapitude of the prequels, I will say that this, at least, is one thing the Star Wars trilogy got deeply, deeply right, and I firmly believe that is a large part of why they caught hold of the public imagination (and adoration) as strongly as they did.

(That, and lightsabers. Lightsabers are cool. Unless you hold the business end, of course. Then it’s less “cool” and more OHGODOHGODMYHANDISGONEAAAAAAHHHH)

And, yeah. No tangents here! But my point is, sometimes it is yay for thick plotty novel serieseses, because only here would you ever get (or be able to appreciate) a chapter like this, where the politics are chewy and nutritious, and the background and implications and the nuances and twists are fully appreciated. Awesome.

And on that high note, here’s where the hanging chad stops! Have a lovely rest of the week, kids, and provided I have not frozen to death in the MOARSNOWOMG predicted for this inexplicably-unprepared-for-winter-weather city o’ mine, I’ll see you Friday!

F Shelley
1. FSS
Re: Egwene's people judging skills.

Well, it's not a yes/no answer. Maybe her skills don't extend to Forsaken in disguise, but ANY idiot can see that Gawayn is grade A douche...
F Shelley
2. FSS
Oh - and I thought Minority Report got politics right in a much better way than most SciFi films...
3. elenilote
I agree with you Leigh, all this politicking feels very real and well-thought out!
COT has long been the least favourite of the series, too much time talking and planning and not enough moving-forward-with-things!
Sim Tambem
4. Daedos
Come for the Lightsabers; stay for the politics?

I say come for the Lightsabers and stay for the Lightsabers.

And I agree with elenilote - COD dragged, but at least it was well written draggage.
Mike McCaffrey
5. earlgrey
Re: The Kin Plan

Thank you Leigh for your way with words. The idea that the AS could creep up to the edge of death and then jump back with cries of triumph just be unswearing has always bothered me. Your "reset button" finally allowed me to understand why. Thank you.
Kerwin Miller
6. tamyrlink
IMO, COT has always been one of my favorites. as for me, i simply love all the WT/AS politics. its so realistic. when the sisters are acting dumb and petty or awesome or whatever its just so real.
7. AndrewB
Every time the SAS talk about Aes Sedai who serve Rand, I cannot understand why nobody thinks that the Aes Sedai follow Rand due to the effects of tav'renness (sp?). Suian, especially, knows how strong Rand's tav'rn thingy is.

I must say that after Moria's drowning speach, I never would have pegged her as Black.

Is Malind a Black sister?

Thanks for reading my musings.
8. hamstercheeks
Leigh, I love your highly creative spelling (e.g. "nome sane").

Also, Egwene clearly had a girl-crush on Halima. Come on, it's obvious. Everyone's like, "That woman is so suspicious, look, I just saw her bosom fall out," and Egwene's response is, "Me likey." I'm just saying. Although technically it's not a girl-crush. Uh, I don't know what it is, actually.

Who was pulling Moria's strings? Or was she acting independently, based on overarching orders like "counteract all measures in the Hall," which prompted her to be (gasp!) reasonable? Do we know?

I think Hall politics should be determined via lightsaber battles. They can have their Warders do it, if they don't have the skillz. But it'll go:

"The motion stands before the Hall to X. All in favor of Y, you must defeat the proponents of X. Begin!"


"We will now have a five-minute break to reattach some limbs. Will someone please get Nynaeve?"
James Hogan
9. Sonofthunder
hamstercheeks @8...lightsaber politics? I approve.

Don't have time for much here, but just wanted to say that Moria's speech here, especially "...we be drowning. We do be drowning." is one of my favorite sets of lines in the whole series(is this true of ANYONE else? If so, please let me know so I don't feel so silly here) I'm really not sure why(maybe partially an AS being reasonable in acknowledging their weakness? maybe her fetching Illianer accent?), but on my last read-through, I got really excited seeing this part come up. Just for the sake of Moria's lines. And then we got to TGS. I always liked Moria...
Jay Dauro
10. J.Dauro

I always did love that line, but I heard it before I read it. Kate Reading does an amazing job with it.
Lannis .
11. Lannis
Re: The growing Seanchan empire and the general public's acceptance of their rule... the scariest part of the Seanchan takeover (aside from the slavery, of course) was that everyone just seemed to accept it... ::shudder::

Re: Sheriam shrieking/crying in the Hall. Sheriam's composure has fallen a long way from when she was first introduced in tGH... Black Ajah and whatnot aside, this bothers me that no one seems to notice it. It goes along with the whole de-mystifying of the Aes Sedai (yes, they're human too, we get it), but for whatever reason the fact that it's Sheriam who's rattled consistently bugs me... I get the whole character arc downward spiral stuff... it just... I dunno... I feel cheated. I did so love her in the beginning... ::sigh::

Re: Lightsabers and the Hall. Because that won't mean the only people left standing are Black. Oh, wait... they're not very effective team players either, are they? Okay, so nobody's coming out of that session meeting alive...

Thanks for the recap Leigh! :)
Benjamin Moldovan
12. benpmoldovan
I had to wonder, as I was reading the summary, what exactly the BAs were up to. Leigh is right that there clearly was no coordinated plan among them. As for Halima, she apparently didn’t even know about Moria being a DF. Presumably Mesaana told her about Sheriam.

It is indeed interesting, as Leigh said, that one of the best things to come from either Tower in a very long time was proposed by a DF. You do have to wonder what she was up to. That said, I wouldn’t always assume that everything any given BA does is (necessarily) of nefarious purposes. Obviously they could be. The possibility certainly shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. However, every one of them is different. They have different levels of evilness, dedication, competence, etc. They’re human, and have human concerns, such as survival. (And being DFs, one of their key attributes is selfishness, after all.) Also, they’re still AS, and while they may obey orders, that doesn’t mean they’re all necessarily happy about doing things to break the Tower, for example. (And the Tower is what gives them their prestige, wealth, and their power to an extent, after all)

Moria, I think, was trying to cause dissention in the rebels (who, if anyone, told her to is anyone’s guess). Sheriam was, IMO, expressing normal AS concerns. And Delana is, well, Delana.

13. iamnotspam
Well there was some compulsion just done by Verin not Rand.
14. Megaduck
"The water has no closed over our heads yet, Romanda, but we be drowning. We do be drowning.”

Well someone finally noticed how bad things are getting... and it's a dark friend... ok...

I mean, this is probably the single wisest line anyone has spoken in like 3 books and it's part of a proposal to get everyone together and chat a little bit.

On that note, the entire world-unraveling-in-your-face thing happening in TOM might be one of the best things that's happened to team light because it's finally got them to start noticing that some really bad stuff is going down.

Except for Egs. Who for some reason has been promoted to denyer in cheif. Does she have any plan at all or is she just going to advacate doing nothing and hopping the last seals hold?
15. boquaz
It's precicely that almost nothing good seems to come out of deliberative bodies that makes them believable. (I said "almost.") If anything, they still move too fast, are too nice to eachother and have too simplistic rules. That even this scenario is "ass-chafingly obnoxious" shows how tough politics really is.

That the bad guys are the ones moving things forward is not all that surprising. They have an incentive to just carry out orders, while others have to think more carefully about the implications of their decisions.

I will be using that phrase "ass-chafingly obnoxious" as often as possible now.
16. Megaduck
@9 Sonofthunder

Posted same time as you did but yes, that is awesome line because someone is finally acknowledging that it's the end of the bloody world here and the good guys are losing.
Benjamin Moldovan
17. benpmoldovan
Also, another of the more annoying aspects of The Return is that you really have no good options to fix things. It's really a lose-lose situation. Leave all those people here, and let them take over your countries. Or you try to send them all back where they came from, something like that. Can you say ethnic cleansing? Yikes.
James Jones
18. jamesedjones
Just want to cast my vote in favor of lightsaber politics.

... and go back to voting "present".
19. KiManiak
Thanks for the post, Leigh.

Based on the first chapter, there’s a chance this might evolve into another Egwene discussion (Was she Compelled? Why does she seem to have such poor judgment in regards to men she either previously or currently loves? What does she think a silverpike looks like) even though we just had a really good one last post. And a few posts ago. And a few weeks before that (I’ll tell you, I think discussing either Egwene or Elayne’s viewpoints and actions will almost always lead to major discussions and polarizing viewpoints amongst fans. Kudos to RJ for creating such “interesting” characters!) But I’d like to echo your complaint about Halima, and instead focus on her.

Aside from whether/not Halima messed with Egwene’s mind, Halima’s actions while with the SAS were just lame. She is (in theory) the perfect infiltrator for this situation: a “woman” who can channel saidin surrounded by women who can only channel/sense saidar. My God, the (subtle and mysterious) damage she could have done! Even if the Forsaken view the current Aes Sedai as “children,” they still have to admit that these children could be a threat to the ease of their Great Lord’s triumph.

Why not take measures to diminish the threat? She could better coordinate the various Black Ajah to spread dissent. Have at least one DF infiltrate Lelaine and Romanda’s factions, since she had Sheriam placed next to Egwene. Oh, and she should have fricken known that Sheriam and the others were sworn to Egwene, making Egwene a bigger threat than the average SAS considered her to be. In fact, with Sheriam and Halima placed so close, all of the Black SAS should’ve been aware of, and been able to counteract, any and all of Egwene’s actions. Halima never had to give out specifics (like who's who) to the various hearts of BA in the SAS. She could’ve found ways to protect their anonymity while still disseminating out information and directions. But, no…

Finally, when her cover is blown, why doesn’t Halima leave with a bang? A few Blossoms of Fire (inverted, if necessary so that they may be less visible) set in the middle of the AS camp right before she and Delana walk through their Gateway to escape, would have caused massive damage and chaos. And that’s just a web that we’ve seen onscreen. For all we know, Halima knew multiple AoL webs that could have done significant damage. But she failed to really exploit the ability to cause major damage either mentally, physically or emotionally to the SAS. LAME!

Interesting (as Leigh notes) that Moria was the one to suggest bonding Ashaman. Also interesting that Sheriam was strongly opposed to it. And that Delana only stood for it once it had already passed the lower consensus. Again, if Halima had the Black SAS working together (like Leigh noted), they could’ve really done some sh!+… uh, stuff. Or, Halima could have prevented Moria’s proposal (I can’t remember, do we ever see proof that Moria gets “punished” later on in the book for submitting this proposal?), since Halima would need to worry about male channelers in camp, possibly detecting her using saidin.

Anyway, if Moria’s motion was a plot to destabilize the SAS, it’s funny that this may ultimately blow up in the DF’s faces, since (I’m assuming) Myrelle and the other SAS who Traveled to bond the Ashaman will probably play a big role in helping to liberate the Black Tower.

I should probably read the comments now; some of this might have already been said, and probably far better than I just did.
Jay Dauro
20. J.Dauro
Do we know that Halima knows of any Black Ajah other than Delana and Sheriam? Does s/he know that Moria is Black?

And does Halima want to damage/destroy the SAS? Wouldn't that just be uniting the White Tower under Eliada?

I believe the plan at that point is still to keep the fight going.
Noneo Yourbusiness
21. Longtimefan
I think the conflict with Moria, Sheriam and Delana is possibly a conflict between the Forsaken.

Mesaana may have split the tower and sent orders to the black sisters amongst the Rebel Aes Sedai but Halima'gar seems to have taken control even if it is just to stall them and sow discord much in a similar vein with the Tower Aes Sedai.

If one assumes that Demandred may have some connection to the Black Tower and if not then possibly Mordin because of Taim's ominous new color scheme of red and black then there may be a possible Malesaken who wants to sow some chaos and interfere with some Femsaken plans. Stealing some channeling women to make into dread lords (dread ladies?) undercuts Hamlima'gar' aquisition of more dark friends directly and Mesaana's ability to do so at a later date.
If the Black tower is doing the 13 + 13 trick to twist up a darker more unpleasant version of the channeling people they are holding then it could have been a posibility that the fractured tower participents may have been turned in the smaller, uncertain and unhappy groups that they were becoming.
Dispair, frustration and anger seem to be rest stops on the highway to dark side town so a few more weeks of tower splittage and Mesanna and Halima'gar may have been gathering a few newly turned Dredfolk for their personal armies.

Could Moria have proposed the plan to ally with the Black Tower both from fear of the unknown (at the time) use of the power for the Cleansing and from Malesaken encouragement to throw a wrench in a rather stalled plan to break the Aes Sedai into smaller, easy to pick off bunches.
Sheriam being under Halima'gar completely would not know of this and may even see how this would put her in conflict under a third Forsaken plan (since it can be suspected that Mesaana sent her out to control the rebels and then Halima'gar shows up as the new Forsaken on the block) Since Halima'gar does not have the delicate detante that Demandred, Semirahge and Mesaana share her command of the Rebel Aes Sedai may be undercutting Mesaana's plans as well as using them to sow chaos. This may explain why as a Forsaken and in all respects thereof a BIG BAD there is some huffing and a little puffing but no ones house is about to fall down. It may be that there was something Halima'gar was planning which would both secure a higher position in the Forsaken landscape and undo Mesaana at the same time. This is just speculation as there is nothing I can think of in the text that would hint at what this plan may have been or if it even was far enough along to be visible.

With Moria not being under Halima'gar she would have no idea that adding male channelers to the mix would undermine the unusual position of being a woman who channels Sadin. Her patron Forsaken may have known this. It may have even been Mesaana if she wants to gain control over the Rebels again.

In the books it is mentioned several times that the Forsaken are not only not above a little infighting but are so hot for it that back stabbing should be considered their form of handshake. Under that kind of work environment it is possible to see where Sheriam would just break down and cry in the Hall while two other black sisters seem to not understand the full ramification of their actions.

Or blah blah blah.

Just some speculations.
Stefan Mitev
22. Bergmaniac
I remember when I read Ch. 19 for the first time. I was like "Wow, something huge just happened, finally some cooperation between Asha'man and Aes Sedai organisation". But now we are 3 books later, and almost nothing had come out of this, which is quite disappointing.
The reasoning Moria used was somewhat weak though - even a full circle of 72 would be like a candle to a bonfire compared to the Power of Choedan Kal, so if their goal was jsut to stop an eventual attack of that magnitude, it still fails.

The plan for the Aes Sedai to retire into the Kin was already mentioned in WH, in the Supergirls meeting in TAR.

BTW, I still don't get why Nynaeve didn't tell Egwene ASAP that saidin is cleansed and she participated in it, and instead avoided all contact with her or Elayne for months. Those three were pretty much the only characters in the series who kept regular communication between them, and now when Nynaeve had such huge news to share, she decided to keep the others in the dark, even though she surely knew how crucial this news was for Egwene especially to help her as Amyrlin.
23. hamstercheeks
Bergmaniac@22: Nynaeve avoided Egwene because she disobeyed Egwene's last standing order -- stay put while Egwene figures out how to deal with the Sea Folk bargain -- when she went with Rand.

Leigh and KiManiak@19: Agree that Halima'gar turned out to be super lame. I'm hoping there's a hidden kill switch in Egwene something, if only for narrative redemption.
Tricia Irish
24. Tektonica

First, my apologies if I misread your gender in the earlier post. :-/

Secondly, I share your view of Halima here...LAME. It really struck me on this reread what a powerful and influential position she was in and how little she (apparently) did with it.

In fact, as many have pointed out above, the structure of the BA hearts, while efficient at keeping themselves hidden, did not facilitate the implementation of any kind of Plan. The right hand did not know what the left was up to, or any of the fingers for that matter either.

I know this a personal preference, but I don't much care for all the political machinations. Some, sure. It creates a believable world and helps us understand several key characters, but I'd much rather have seen more of the Dark Side plots and plans than the extended AS wrangling both in the Tower and within the SAS. I just think the Dark would've been much more menacing had we seen more action from them.

More Lightsaber politics for me!

Longtimefan@120: You have a great way with words!
Captain Hammer
25. Randalator
re: Halima lameness

Granted, she didn't do anything spectacular but I don't think that that's necessarily a bad thing. Narrative-ly speaking.

First and foremost her goal was to status the freakin' quo out of the Tower division. And the way things were going that didn't need a lot of pushing. All she had to do was to place herself near Egwene to intervene when necessary and keep the dissent in the hall cooking.

I mean, she couldn't nudge Egwene towards stepping down, obviously, but at the same time couldn't Compel her to do anything drastic because that would have led to war and a diminished but unified Tower. Any erratic behavior would have gotten Egwene deposed very quickly so that's not an option either. So what kind of scheming would you have expected, exactely? The rift between TAS and SAS was as big and insurmountable as ever and she was in the perfect strategic position for intervention should the need arise.

Btw. what if the supposed colliding BA schemes really were all on Halima's orders? Keeps the dissent among the SAS high, no risk of them suddenly taking action and pressing for reunification one way or another.

That might look boring but it's way more effective than, for example, Rahvin taking over Andor all black hat wearing and mustache twirling and getting balefired in the face as a result...

Edit: as for the "why note just nuke the SAS before escaping?"

Do that and it might very well unite the Aes Sedai against a common foe. Egwene gets killed, everyone flees back to the Tower. Kill enough and Egwene might decide that a unified Tower is more important than herself (she contemplated it before). Or if Egwene kept adamant, the SAS might depose here because, again, unified Tower more important.
John Mann
26. jcmnyu
Re: The Kin Plan

I've been kicking around Egwene's idea and I'm pretty sure the aging thing is logical, so I tried out some arbitrary numbers to see if I could figure out what might happen in certain scenerios. See if this makes sense to you:

If we allow for the following round numbers as averages:
Normal person has a life expectancy of 80 years
Normal Aes Sedai has a life expectancy of 300 years
Normal non Aes Sedai channeler has a life expectancy of 600

The Aes Sedai has about the following life:
First 20 years ages normally
Next 10 years (after slowing starts) aged at 1/10 rate. So at 30 they appear 21. Next 270 years after the oath rod, they age at a 1/5 rate. So the first 20 years count as 20, the next 10 count as 1, and the final 270 count as 54 for an effective life of 75. Close to our goal of 80.

A Normal Non Aes Sedai Channeler ages:
First 20 years normal
Next 580 years at 1/10 rate
So the effective life is 20 + 58 for 78.

So how does that fit into our known scenerios?

First 20 years normal
Next 10 years at 1/10 rate = 21
Next 10 years at 1/5 rate = 23
Stilled at about age 40, she reverts to looking like she is in her mid 20's.
Lives for a year stilled. = 24
Restored to channeling, oaths removed for a year. = 24.25
Oathes retaken. Lives for another 250 years. Total life 290 because of the year stilled.

First 67 years normal.
Starts Channeling. Next 10 years is 1/10 rate. Effective age 68.
Oath rod changes rate to 1/5. 12*5=60. She will live to about 137.

If a Kin was raised to Aes Sedai at age 400:
First 20 years normal.
Next 380 years at 1/10 rate. Effective age 58.
Raised which changes rate to 1/5. 22 effective years left. Lives for 110 years as Aes Sedai. Total life 510 years.

Egwene's plan, Aes Sedai joins kin at 270:
First 20 years is normal.
Next 10 is at 1/10 rate. Effectively 21.
Next 240 years is at 1/5. Effectively 69.
Next 110 years is at 1/10. Total life is 380.

Conclusions. Kin who join Aes Sedai won't fall over and die when taking the oaths. They will start aging faster. Old people who start chenneling won't regress to their 20's. The will look younger and age much slower. Aes Sedai who are stilled lose the ageless look and pick up normal aging at their effective age.
Thomas Keith
27. insectoid
Great post, Leigh!

Remarkable timing: Eggy should have figured this out by now. Being with Halima = headache. Oh well.

I wanna see one of those silverpike, too...

Egwene's plan for the Kin was first mentioned in Winter's Heart ch. 10. (I know someone will beat me to this, but oh well. ::waves at Bergmaniac::)

It certainly is interesting/enlightening to read the meeting of the Hall when we now know 3 of the AS are Black Ajah...
Lightsaber politics: LOL.

Bergmaniac @22: Re: Nynaeve... It might have something to do with the fact that she was totally exhausted after the Cleansing. But even so, after recuperating she should have said something.

jcmnyu @26: Nice analysis!

Roger Powell
28. forkroot
OK for all of those who missed it last time ... How could you be surprised that M-O-R-I-A was black ajah? I suppose you were also surprised that the little kid down the block named "Beelzebub" turned out to be so evil?
Noneo Yourbusiness
29. Longtimefan
Mo-ri-a! Mo-ri-ahhh! I just met a girl named MORIA!

Somewhere there will be a place for her. Sadly it was not a good place.
Janet Hopkins
30. JanDSedai
Wow! We just barely averted the Sideways Path in the first ten posts! But give some of these people some time to think about 'light-saber politics', and we'll be sideways for sure!

I concur with jcmnyu's analysis. The plan for Aes Sedai retiring into the Kin is sound.

I was a little concerned that Leigh would not be able to post because of the snow, but I guess she doesn't physically have to go to the MacMillan building. Or the next layer of snow hasn't hit yet. Who else is snowed in? And how is your area handling it?
Stefan Mitev
31. Bergmaniac
"Nynaeve avoided Egwene because she disobeyed Egwene's last standing order -- stay put while Egwene figures out how to deal with the Sea Folk bargain -- when she went with Rand."
Maybe, but I am still not convinced. Even if she disobeyed an order, it led to something really good for Team Light, so she can expect to be forgiven. Just giving Egwene this crucial news quickly should be a reason to be forgiven such a minor infraction.

If she was worried about Egwene's reaction, she could've at least sent a message to her in some way, through Elayne for example.

This is one of the things which irritate me about books 9-12 - all kinds of important stuff happen with Rand (saidin cleansing, the loss of the arm, Semirhage capture) and Nynaeve knows it, yet she never attempted to contact the other two SGs and tell them what's going on. Until then they've been sharing pretty much everything.
Sorcha O
32. sushisushi
On the whole politicking, I have to come down on the side of absolutely loving these chapters, even if they are not the speediest in the series. I'm fascinated by things like Siuan's Sitters' Puzzle, as well as the realistic depiction of the dynamics of a closed society like the Aes Sedai. I've spent some time around academic politics, and the dynamics of the Hall rings *really* true. I've seen senior lecturers behave exactly like Lelaine and Romanda, and could only imagine the depth of the rivalries after a couple of hundred years, when the 20 or 30 year old rifts I've witnessed have been nasty enough! The meetings of the Hall could easily be modelled on a university with seven (or six) faculties, complete with non-stop jockeying for position, scheming, back-biting, occasional tantrums and constant back-biting. Make you dizzy trying to keep track of it :)

On Moria and the Black Tower, I could never understand how she thought they would work mixed gender circles on a practical basis. I mean, the SAS didn't seem to be able to organize female-only circles of 13 with any efficiency and mixed-gender circles have all these built-in limits about the balance between the genders, which I'm not sure the present day Aes Sedai even know about. Hmmn, does anyone remember whether our knowledge about mixed-gender circles comes from a AoL viewpoint (like one of the Forsaken or the BBoBA?) or whether it's common knowledge among the AS? I would be really surprised if any of the SAS do, given the historical antipathy to doing anything with male channelers other than gentling them. Never mind the general panic at the thought of male-channeler cooties hanging around their camp...

jcmnynj@29 That's a really great analysis - it makes a whole load of sense that Kin who swear on the Oath rod wouldn't just keel over and die, but start aging more slowly, but it's really useful to have it quantified.

On Sheriam, I kind of felt sorry for her here, despite her blackness (yes, yes, tool of evil, I know). As has been mentioned before, she's really caught between a rock and a hard place, particularly if any of these male channelers wandering around spot Halima'gar beating her up. This is particularly because of one of her later viewpoints, where we find out she basically went to the dark side in order to gain rewards that she couldn't through the AS ranking system. My pet theory is that Sheriam is really an Ooh-Ooh Girl gone bad - always wanting to be top of the class, but never being quite good enough to get there by herself, so she made a very questionable decision (to say the least!) and joined the Black in order to get the promotions she thought she should. Which did work, mind you, she was Mistress of Novices in her 40s (if she's about the same age as Siuan) and Keeper of the Chronicles ten years later. If only there wasn't that inconvenient purge...
Roger Powell
33. forkroot
Your analysis of Sheriam is spot-on IMO

Meanwhile ... a general comment on COT. The book doesn't suck , but given the fact that one of the books in the WoT had to be the weakest - I nominate this one. I am very grateful that RJ lived to finish another because KoD is so much better. He went out on a good note.
34. ScoundrelTheToy
See, I would argue that Egwene's plan for the Kin is backwards. Egwene would have the most experienced sisters retiring into the Kin and doing services for the people, while the rest of Aes Sedai are sitting in the tower playing politics. This all assumes that an Aes Sedai's true purpose is to actually be a servant, but yeah.

Elayne's plan for the Kin, while troublesome in some ways (pitting nations against each other and will have other nations scrambling to secure channeling forces of their own) is what Aes Sedai should be doing: Setting up stations in cities to heal people, provide traveling and just be seen amoung the people in general. So yeah, Egwene's plan would have Aes Sedai, the most experienced ones, 'retiring' into the Kin and when they retire into the Kin, then they will actually become true servants, while the ones claiming to be servants are all sitting in a Tower accomplishing nothing *rolls eyes*. It's really funny and ironic if you think about it.
35. ScoundrelTheToy
I'll try to explain my reasoning a little more. So think about it this way. Egwene's plan is to have the youngest sisters (the majority of them) immediately after being raised (Nynaeve for example) sitting in a Tower doing whatever it is they do ie: not much, not much at all. When the best thing Egwene could do would be to 'integrate' them into what the Kin does for their first 10-50? years of service as an Aes Sedai being doing what Elayne has planned for the Kin. It's just don't do it just for Andor obviously, Egwene would have to offer these services to every nation.

After being raised Aes Sedai and putting in their time being servants (what Elayne's plan for the Kin currently is) for say 10-50 years (after so many years they have the option of 'retiring' into the Tower and then playing politics, but only after actually serving) then they could actually become a full fledged Aes Sedai that has put in her due so to speak and can then be 'ready' for politics.

It's also funny that throughout the series, particuraly after being raised Amyrlin, Egwene is worried that Nynaeve is the one that she needs to keep in line when in reality the one she needed a tighter 'leash' on was Elayne. How happy is Egwene going to be when she finds out what Elayne is doing with the Kin? Not happy, not happy at all. It will probably get pushed aside in the greater scheme of things (Last Battle starting) but if this series were to be stretched out, Elayne would be the one in serious trouble, contrary to what Egwene's believed and not Nynaeve.

On that note, it's a good thing that the Tower has Elayne and Nynaeve since their views are more in line with what an Aes Sedai should be doing. Egwene shouldn't be trying to increase Aes Sedai's power through politics, but increase the Tower's power through serving ( a key distinction and the main reason Aes Sedai in AOL had the status they did). Elayne and Nynaeve's views (Elayne with the Kin, and Nynaeve's thoughts after her raising in TOM) are more in line with where Aes Sedai should be taking themselves. Egwene has some of it right, but for it all to fall into place is going to require Elayne and Nynaeve to set their course on a more correct path so to speak. This is the real war Aes Sedai lost, that of the people. Thom very clearly points this out to Mat on their way to the Hell in Maedrin in KOD. People don't care to oppose to the Seanchan because all they do (in their eyes) is leash channelers and the common person goes their whole life without encountering a channeler (unless they're a family member as Thom states) so why should they stand up for Aes Sedai against the Seanchan when they do nothing for them? After all, in the common people's opinion, their lives are better under Seanchan rule. So they don't and won't raise arms for channelers (Aes Sedai's biggest failure mind), as evidenced by how easy the Seanchan has had it thus far.
j p
36. sps49
Lightsaber rules would liven this book up. I'm sorry, and I readily acknowledge Leigh's sacrifice currently, but there are Too Many Plot Threads Not Being Resolved, or at least Advanced, lately. No matter how well written it is.

How can Egwene believe all the crap attributed to Rand, anyway? Sure, he has some serious crap to deal with- including the black thorns in his brain- that is affecting him, but Egwene doesn't know about that. All she hears are rumors that Rand has done such-and-such, and she believes them. It's like she never grew up with him at all.
Stacy Berger
37. anIceFan
I was yay for the bonding of the Aha'man at this point because I assumed that Rand was going to go back and play with this big weapon that he ordered to be constructed.

I don't buy the whole, Naeneave afraid to go talk to Egwene because she disobeyed her thingy. That is like a kid who sets their room on fire, but doesn't tell mom and dad because they were on time out. Some things are just too important. They should have been shouting that Saidin had been cleansed. That is probably one of the most important things that has happened in any of these peoples lifetimes, not counting armageddon coming up and all.
William Fettes
38. Wolfmage
Nice work as usual Leigh.

Yes, the plot with Halima plot would have been so more realistic and terrifying if Halima had any kind of end game. If, as we must assume, the plan went no further than inducing headaches to disrupt her dreams and give Halima further access to Egwene, then that is just lame and truly a wasted opportunity.

I just don't buy this idea that Halima doing nothing beyond headaches equates with "I've got you right where I want you". It was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate some unseen insidious weave, or at the very least a deft use of compulsion to plant private orders or subtly change opinions to create all kind of mischief. So much for letting the Lord of Chaos rule.

As for the compulsion thing - for the record, Rand not only never uses compulsion, he never even gets close to using it during his darkest hour AFAIK. Sure, he completely goes off the rails in terms of threatening to kill people and playing brinksmanship with his ta'veren effect - but he never actually subverts a person's agency with channelling. Given that even at his worst Rand is not doing this, I think that's a pretty telling indictment of how casually Egwene assumes it must be the case. Talk about a total failure of imagination, not to mention a shitty friend and former girlfriend!

Also, as I've said before, RJ's blog post which attempts to exonerate Egwene's uncharitable leap of logic simply does not wash. She knows Rand's ta'veren effect at this point from dozens of examples as well as personal experience. She would also have reports of all the miraculous things that go on when Rand is in the city. She even cites his ta'veren effect as an excuse to doubt other characters in the future and nothing changes between now and then.
Stacy Berger
39. anIceFan
Regarding Halima, is it really that far fetched that she didn't have some great plan. Yes she is forsaken and so uber channeler and stuff, but...(looking at the FAQ) Balthamel was more of a spyer than a doer. I don't know much about what he did pre being sealed, but after being released his actions weren't the brightest. Maybe just maybe he/she just wasn't that smart and felt that just watching Egwene and interfering a little was enough.
Andrew Chute
40. AlmenBunt
Harping back to Halima's lack of doing anything...I had always assumed that Halima was very effective at undermining the fabric of the SAS. I always credited her with the near-idiocy that the SHall spouted for the better part of three books. Granted, almost all of the discussions and deliberations of the SAS happened off-screen, even after their resurgence of screen-time in COT. We miss an entire month of what they are up to, near enough, as they get ready to Travel to TV, including the complete resturcturing of their initiate-level organization. Sharina's organizing of the novices would have been a major structural change to the WT as on organization, changing the very bureaucracy of a 3000 year old institution. Sorry, rambling...

Regardless, from the time the SAS leave Salidar, we only have a few quick looks into what is actually going on in the camp. And at every turn, we find a reference to Delana. We all know that Delana really means Halima'gar, who's not scary for the fact that she can secretly channel saidin so much as she has a direct line, as it were, to the Dark One himself. What we know is that Delana is constantly distracting the SAS with 'issues' that aren't really important, and which (at least, every time we get a peek) are always serving to keep the SAS from unifying and figuring out a good way to go about their business. Petty infighting aside, the Aes Sedai are, and have been, the best thing going against the Darkness for the past three thousand years. I'm pretty sure Siuan even pointed out that the reason why people remember the Dark One exists is because of the Tower.

Halima keeping them all sorts of messed up seems like she's been doing pretty well. Not only that, but keeping Egwene in tired and in enough pain for her not to be operating at 100% ain't too shabby either. Shaidar Haran thought Egwene enough of a threat to assign her her very own Forsaken, and it's only after Egwene gets out from under Halima that she is able to assemble herself and reach her maximum potential and the realization of her Will during her imprisonment in the Tower. In this I say that Halima was an incredibly successful bad guy who only failed because Moridin commanded her/him to go to Shadar Logoth where s/he could be spotted by someone who could see what was what.

By the by, does anyone know, is Halima Balthamel? Dashiva was Aginor, right? Please correct me if I'm wrong, I haven't looked into it elsewhere yet, but that was just what I deduced from reading the series.

As for the BA getting in each others' way in the SAS camp, I was always of the mind that they were simply under orders from too many masters. We know that Mesaana and Halima are giving orders in the camp, and in all likelihood Demandred (the whole Black Tower connection?), Sammael (he doesn't seem to be dead, after all, and so what else is he up to), and Moridin, cuz he's everywhere now. So it would stand to reason that Moria, Sheriam, and Delana are getting in each others' way cause they're each working on someone else's plan. Mesaana has Sheriam, Halima has Delana (in so many ways, apparently), Moria seems to have been taking orders from someone else. It just goes to show that the bad guys are in as desperate need of cell phones with conference calling as the good guys.

Sorry, my two cents always seem to ramble on towards forty cents, but thanks for listening.
JOhn Johnson
41. smileyman
When I first started reading Wheel of Time way back when the politicking bored me to death. As I got older I found it more and more interesting--probably relating to my interest in real life politics.

re: Halima--she's just another example of the pathetic excuses for bad guys that the Forsaken are (other than Ishy/Moridin). I actually think this is a strong point in favor of Wheel of Time. Bad guys aren't inherently more competent than good guys. They're basically just selfish people with immense amounts of strength in the Power and no idea how to navigate the world they've found themselves in.

re: Egwene and the Compelling issue. I always thought she was compelled. The headaches are the obvious indicator here, but the way she reacts to Rand in Towers of Midnight is very revealing. Yeah, it's in character for her, but the most effective Compulsion is that Compulsion that makes the person do that which they're already inclined to do. Full spoilers for all the books ahead:

Egwene's rise to the Amrylin seat was one of the best plot arcs in the book. I grew to admire her as a person and her desire to not rule by fiat and basically do things the exact opposite of how they'd been done before. However, in TofM when Rand comes to the Hall she does an about face and treats him as an enemy to be conquered. In my opinion this is because she was Compulsed to view him with great suspicion and to abhor the idea of working with him. What better victory for the DO than to have the Aes Sedai held out of the Last Battle because the Amyrlin is feuding with the Dragon Reborn?
Scott Terrio
42. Renegade248
AlmenBunt @ 40

RJ is quoted as saying that 'Sammeal is toast'. I do not believe he is still around after that quote. Also, yes Halima is Aran'gar/Balthamel.

I also believe Halima was very effective with Egwene and the SAS. You have to look at Belthamel in that he was a good spy, so I do not believe Halima would do anything too drastic with the SAS and just be like a covert spy and instigator with them. I also do not think Belthamel was that good at compulsion, maybe a little, but I do not believe it will have any lasting effect on Egwene if she was compelled.

I believe that Egwene in ToM when Rand was saying he was going to break the seals, she was genuinely scared of it. After all, wouldn't you be worried if someone told you the same thing and your convinced that that will mean the dark one is free. I am sure once Rand explains everything in the next book, we will finally see some good interaction between them. I believe Rand wanted her to do the exact same thing she did and form an alliance of all countries and he will explain what is going on.
Andrew Chute
43. AlmenBunt
re renegade @248- I didn't realise that 'the Maker' himself had spoken on Sammael. This changes my entire perspective on the scads of Trollocs that died most ludicruously in KoD. Interesting, then who's been pretending to be Sammael....damn, now I have to rethink things while trying to install drywall all day tomorrow. Curses.....

Thanks for the clarifications, I've re-read the series every time a new book came out since EotW, but until very recently have read almost no related material. It is interesting to hear from people who have followed RJ's actual interviews and who have kept up with the vast amount of ancilliary information.

I agree with your assessment that Egwene is genuinely concerned that Rand wants to break the seals. I mean, she doesn't understand yet how completely messianic he has become, and he just happened to mention that he's going to free (so far as she knows) the Dark One. I'd have soiled myself four times over by that point, but then, I'm not Amyrlin.

I'm not convinced that Halima's strategy required Compulsion. I think her task was to keep everyone unsteady on their feet, to keep the Aes Sedai from remembering that they are a force to be reckoned with. I just don't see that Halima would need to Compel Egwene, she has Egwene's trust (to a certain extent), and we don't see any inclination of Egwene to dwell on Halima. Morgase quite pointedly dwells on Rahvin, despite knowing for fact, finally, that he was Forsaken. Egwene shows none of this, in fact, she kinda just says, 'Forsaken, really, bitch'- and moves right on. All that Halima needed to do was keep Egwene reacting to the Hall, keep her unwilling/able to resolve the Tower split, tag-teaming with Mesaana when necessary, and why Compel someone who's under her thumb anyway. We are also told that the subtlest forms of Compulsion are really Graendal's domain. Compulsion just seems unlikely, in this case to me.
44. hamstercheeks
Bermaniac@31, anIceFan@37: I don't think we actually get insight into Nynaeve's reasons for avoiding Egwene, so I posited what I believed was the most reasonable explanation. I could definitely be wrong.

Also, this lack of communication was out of character for Nynaeve and Egwene. Whatever Nynaeve's reasons for avoiding Egwene, the Amyrlin could have yanked Ny into T'A'R (in the most extreme case), or ordered Elayne to pass a message to her. So Egwene herself wasn't too proactive about keeping in touch . It could be something as simple as they both got swept up in events -- Nynaeve needed to recover after cleansing the taint, then had to watch Alivia, help fight off Trollocs and Heal the wounded, send Lan off to Saldaea, etc; and Egwene was trying to unify the Tower by manipulating sisters. Would this have left either of them too busy/occupied to sleep and have a little T'A'R chat? Nope. It's a mutually reinforcing avoidance: avoid, enable, avoid, enable.

Er, so my wall of text really boils down to: I'm really not sure.
45. Alfvaen
I was never sure why people were so deathly afraid of the seals being broken, that it would mean the Dark One's ultimate victory and everything. Because for the whole War of the Shadow, the Bore was unsealed, and the world didn't end. Okay, bad stuff was going on, the Dark One touching the world, blah blah blah, but that's been starting to happen anyway. And now Fisher Rand has began to counteract it. (Hmmm...Rand's unhealing wound == Bore? Not sure.)

I always pictured silverpike as looking something between a piranha and a barracuda, myself.
William Fettes
46. Wolfmage
I can entirely understand the concern with breaking the seals. However, simply automatically assuming that breaking the seals will make the Dark One free and unecumbered to consume the world bespeaks a lack of serious engagement with the issues and general thoughtfulness.

Of course, it's entirely possible the DO has enlarged the original bore in his prison over the intervening years, which would make his agency more potent and dangerous. But that involves some serious conjecture, and you need to make that case if you're going to rely on it, rather than just assuming it. All things being equal, it makes just as much sense that the DO would be about as limited as he was during the War of the Shadow when there was no seal at all.

That's the problem, we get no access to Egwene's internal thoughts on these matters and it appears that she has not even turned her mind to this.
Liz J
47. Ellisande
I don't think Egwene has sat down and thought about the history of the last war at all. Does she even know there was a gap in time between the Bore and the Breaking? To her it might be all one event-- Bore, War, Breaking, Taint -- right after another without pause.

Whereas both Rand and Min have been studying the war and know differently (and of course Rand remembers it now, too). Hopefully Min will explain it to everyone else when they start panicking over Rand's plan.

(Also, hi! I've been enjoying the re-read and comments for awhile now, though my books are put away so it's hard to actually read along.)
Kimani Rogers
48. KiManiak
Lightsabers. That would be a cool addition. The Black Ajah could already do the “strangle via force-grip” maneuver. Hmm. The Emperor vs Moridin. Aren’t there comparisons out there between Moiraine and Obi Wan Kenobi, and between Rand and Luke?
What if Moiraine were Obi Wan, but the part of Luke was played by Egwene? :-) That could make Rand Princess Leia (his mom was a “princess,” after all). Princess Rand. My God, that would make Elayne Han Solo, the scoundrel who often thinks before he acts! It all fits! (Wait a minute, would that make Birgitte Chewbaca?)

Anyway, let’s see…

J.Dauro@20 – re: Does Halima know of Moria or the other BA: A good question. Let me spitball a little here: To my recollection, there was no proof that Halima knew any DF initially. But, she was sent to the SAS camp and knew to find Delana, a DF Sitter. Moria is another DF Sitter in SAS. Moridin and/or Shaidar Haran gave her the directive to sow chaos amongst the SAS, and (we assume) to handle Egwene (or whoever you decide to interpret her “charge ‘’ that she has pinned down to be). It’s more likely that Moridin/Shaidar Haran would give her information on the most influential DFs in camp (Delana, Sheriam and Moria) then that they would only tell her about one or two. The Forsaken may act selfishly and withhold info with the intent to deceive amongst themselves, but why would Shaidar Haran or Moridin not give Halima knowledge of all of the tools at her disposal?

Tek@24 – No, you were right, was what (I thought) I said last post. No apologies necessary at all. I’m a guy; you once referred to me as “sir,” which means you obviously don’t know me that well :-) but is what members of my gender are sometimes called.

jcmnyu@26 – Wow! Nice work. So Sharina won’t be around for another 300+ years to keep Egwene on her toes?

forkroot@28 – re: Moria: ::slaps forehead:: Nice catch! Another homage to Tolkien.

scoundrelthetoy@34&35 – re: the plan for the Kin: I like it in theory. It would mean major changes to the way the Tower operates, and how the “common” man/woman would view the Aes Sedai. Good luck convincing Egwene :)

renegade248@42 – re: Balthamel and Compulsion – I’ve seen this argument before, but it doesn’t wash with me. Without getting into specifics about who Halima may/not have compelled in this particular post, I assume you are suggesting either: a) Balthamel probably wasn’t good at Compulsion and so therefore any webs Halima spun on others weren’t strong and didn’t work or they dissipated over time; b) Halima’s Compulsion must have dissipated after her death. My answer to that is a)Verin and b) Verin.

EDIT: to add c) Compulsion doesn't fade after caster's death. See birgit@52's post. Thanks Birgit!

Verin cobbled together how to do Compulsion-lite from (if I remember correctly) what she heard/learned about multiple wilders’ tricks and other sources. An AoL trained Forsaken, even one who was poor at Compulsion, should still do better than Verin (no matter how amazing/incredible she is). As for dissipation of Compulsion after death, that doesn’t appear to have happened with all of the AS Verin Compelled while they were da’tsang in the Aiel camps. Why should we expect Halima’s to? Also, why would we expect a web that changes how someone‘s brain operates to change the brain back and fade away after the Compeller's death? Wouldn't neurochemical changes be permanent (unless Healed by Nynaeve)?

Btw, I set the over/under for “Number of Times before the reread even gets to ToM that we will discuss Egwene, Compulsion, and her interaction with Rand in ToM,” at 10. Who's got some action?

Of course, knowing me, I’ll probably contribute to that total a couple of times :)

Spent a coupla hours writing this while watching TV. Gotta see what folks wrote in the interim...
Jonathan Levy
49. JonathanLevy
Some thoughts re: Halima.

48. KiManiak
Why does Halima not use compulsion? It might be just a question of modus operandi. Some Forsaken use it, some don't. It's not necessarily a question of ability or knowledge. Halima doesn't use compulsion on Delana (preferring to shout at her, and boss her around). Halima doesn't use compulsion on Sheriam, preferring to beat her. Maybe it's just how s/he works.

@several re: Halima's ineffectiveness.

Before judging her ineffective, we must ask: what was her mission? Her job seems to have been:
1) Keep the tower schism alive.
2) Gather information.
3) Stay hidden so as to strike at a critical moment.

Her job was not to cause maximum disruption to the SAS faction. Halima is not bulletproof. There are Aes Sedai who can detect residues of Saidin. Halima killed off a few people who knew Cabriana, to prevent them from exposing her - but even that raised suspicions. Using Saidin more would have compromised her mission. It's like getting checkmated in chess because you were too busy grabbing pawns to defend your king.

Was Halima successful? Task #1 was done well, though we can't give her sole credit for it. Task #2 was only partially effective. Task #3 was a failure, because she was exposed too soon. She was exposed while spying on the hall (Task #2), and also because of other activities of hers.
Kimani Rogers
50. KiManiak
Couple of more points:

Re: Halima and Compulsion – the “Morgase dwells on Rahvin post Compulsion” defense:

So the "anyone Halima Compelled should be fixated on Halima like Morgase was fixated on Rahvin" argument. Again, my main rebuttal to this would be Verin’s Compulsion-lite of the captured Aes Sedai. We’ve seen into a couple of the Compelled-lite’s minds (Sarene in WH and Elza in WH, and maybe Sashalle, I’m not sure) and there has been no fixation on Verin, thoughts always returning back to Verin, etc. Verin set the Compulsion to (we assume) make sure the Dragon makes it to the Last Battle and support his efforts to reach the LB in whatever way they could. So if Halima set a Compulsion-like web on someone (I’m trying really hard to not say the name and “go there”) to work for/against someone (let’s say the Dragon, for arguments sake), why would anyone expect that someone to continue to dwell on/fawn over/obsess about Halima?

I would argue that Morgase isn’t a valid comparison in this case. The TAS that Verin Compelled-lite are.

Ellisande@47 – Welcome from a relatively-still-newbie! (I’m assuming that although you’ve been following for awhile, you’re also saying that this is your first post?)

Um, my response to your point would be that when someone takes the effort to educate themselves about something (like Rand and Min), they tend to learn things (shocking, I know!). But, IMHO, when someone: a) forms an opinion about “action X” based upon things they think they know; and then b) refuses to make the effort to learn more about "action X," the history of what led to "action X," or whether “action X” may possibly be a logical course of action; and c) actively works against the execution of “action X;” then that person has opened themselves up to challenges and attacks on their opinion. From their friends and confidantes hopefully; but also from us, the readers.

"You shouldn't do that because I said so," or something to that effect, is a good argument if you're a parent talking to your kid; but probably isn't the way one adult should convince the other that there way is the best way. Do research, prepare your arguments, assess the possible validity of the other side's argument (and counterarguments to their main points, of course), and then come with your argument. Unless you're goal is purely to win the argument, and even considering whether the other argument may have merit doesn't interest you at all.

Anyway, stepping down from my soapbox now... :)
Kimani Rogers
51. KiManiak
JL@49 - re: Halima's modus operandi not including Compulsion:

I believe you’re bringing up a different point then the ones I was responding to. If we are to discuss various Forsaken’s MO, then I would suggest that we probably haven’t been given a full look into all of the tools in each Forsaken’s toolbox (and probably won't until maybe when the WoT Encyclopedia is published by Harriet). I would challenge your assumption that Halima’s actions towards Delana and Sheriam have given us a complete picture into what Halima (or any Forsaken) is capable of.

Moghedien used members of the “13 Tower-escapee” Black Ajah for her purposes, but didn’t Compel them. Even when they all challenged her, or when Liandrin tried to strike at her after Moghedien was injured by Birgitte's arrow, Moghedien didn't Compel all of them to obey her (although I think she did Compel Liandrin to live after tying the shield on her, if I remember correctly; too tired and lazy to look that up. But that doesn't negate my point, it just shows she used it sparingly). Later, we see her quite adept at using Compulsion when she first meets Elayne and Nynaeve in Tanchico.

Ishamel apparently has some form of Compulsion abilities (his influence over Artur Hawkwing while serving as his advisor that he brags about in TEotW, I believe), but we haven’t really seen him use Compulsion on screen during the series (I think; I could be wrong on that. Regardless, it does not appear to be one of his major methods).

Semhirage was supposed to be one of the greatest Healers of her time, but we never see her use that Talent onscreen during the series (Again, I think; if she did, it was a very rare occasion).

Just because we haven’t seen a Forsaken use a particular method onscreen, doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of doing it; just that we haven’t seen it yet.

Shoot, we didn’t even find out that Delana had been trained in Compulsion until ToM (I wonder who taught her, btw. Graendal had to ask Aran’gar if Delana knew it, so that excludes Graendal as teacher. And unless Aran’gar linked with Delana and showed her how to use Saidar to spin/weave Compulsion, that means that someone else must have taught her. Who? When?). Or that Neald could use Saidin to make power-wrought weapons (not even a hint). Or that being able to Travel wasn’t just linked to strength in the Power (witness Androl, weak in the Power but able to create Gateways of multiple sizes). Etc, etc…

So, I think its possible that Halima was able and willing to use Compulsion as one of her tools, if the situation called for it. She just didn't ever use it on screen.

Anyway, it's late and I might not be making my point well (explaining all of the "I thinks" above). I may have to follow up on some of these points later.
52. birgit
Hmmn, does anyone remember whether our knowledge about mixed-gender circles comes from a AoL viewpoint (like one of the Forsaken or the BBoBA?) or whether it's common knowledge among the AS?

"The ancient literature is quite clear, though little studied, I fear. It gathers dust rather than readers. Writings collected in the earliest years of the Tower make it plain that circles were not limited to thirteen, in the Age of Legends. The precise mechanism - I should say, the precise balance - is unknown, but it should not be too difficult to work out. For those of you who have not spent the time you should have in the Tower library, the manner of increasing the size of a circle involves ..." For the first time, she faltered, and visibly forced herself to continue. "... involves the inclusion of men who can channel."

CoT ch. 19
That is what present AS now about it. The exact numbers are explained in the BBoBA.

Lightsabers. That would be a cool addition.

Is Rand's OP sword a lightsaber?

why would Shaidar Haran or Moridin not give Halima knowledge of all of the tools at her disposal?

Do they know who all the BA are or does only Alviarin know?

As for dissipation of Compulsion after death, that doesn’t appear to have happened with all of the AS Verin Compelled while they were da’tsang in the Aiel camps.

In TGS the Compulsion disappeared because the balefire made it never happen, not just because the Compeller died.
John Mann
53. jcmnyu
Best guess is that Sharina could be around for another 120 years if she wasn't bound. But if we go by Egwene's current plan, she'll probably be training for 10 years, and then be raised and bound by the oath rod which will shorten it to about 70. The training could be significantly shortned like Nynaeve's was which would shorten her life even more. Let's say like Nynaeve, she is raised in 3 years. That would shorten her life by about 5-6 years.
54. hamstercheeks
birgit@52: IIRC, only Alviarin knows every single member of the BA. As of ToM, she's still at large, right? Right?

I have to repeat Leigh's comment: OMGMOARSNOW. It's raging blizzard outside my window. I just saw three people on cross-country skis out in the streets.
John Mann
55. jcmnyu

We actually do get the information from an AoL viewpoint. Mesaana's POV provides the first details of how circles work. It is in the prologue to LoC at the meeting with Demandred, Semirhage, and Graendal. I remember that when the prologue was released early, several people thought the information was too on the nose because we at that point had no information on how mixed circles work.

Each was stronger than any of these half-trained children who call themselves Aes Sedai today, but enough half-trained children linked together could crush them all. Except, of course, that they no longer knew how, and no longer had the means in any case. Men were needed to take a link beyond thirteen, more than one to go beyond twenty-seven. In truth, those girls - the oldest seemed girls to her; she had lived over three hundred years, quite aside from her time sealed in the Bore, and had only been just into her middle years - those girls were no real danger, but that did not lessen the desire of anyone here for angreal, or better yet the more powerful sa'angreal.
56. DebDye
Wow!!! Love,love,love this re-read!!!
Just found this and wondering can I get all these re-reads sofar (all books all chapters on e-book ((Sony)). I am a mom who loves these WOT books, no time to read with 2 boys, hubby, pets, work, house stuff...uuuhhhhggg, and no time to read, accept in bed at night for 15 minutes before I fall asleep on my e-book. Can't get the computer in bed and too bug eyed to see at this point! I would love to reread all the books but that darn time!...Any place to get these on ebook???? PLEASE!
Stacy Berger
57. anIceFan
hamstercheeks @44 I actually agree with your assessment of why Nynaeve avoided Egwene. I guess what I was commenting more on, was her reasoning. That probably was not clear. It is totally in character for her to avoid Egwene because she thinks she will get scolded and her ego can't take that. Not sure, but we might even get a Nynaeve POV that supports this.
Bill Reamy
58. BillinHI
DebDye @ 56: Welcome to the sanitarium! And yes, the inmates (all of us!) are in charge. Well, except for Leigh trying to keep us in line at times.

As for e-books: Amazon at least has all the WoT books available for the Kindle (except the latest, TofM, which comes out Jan. 31) so I have to assume that other sellers have them as well. Audiobooks from Audible.com are also a good alternative. Audible's membership program lets you get books for much less than their regular prices, but you have to wait a while to accrue the points.

Edit to add: Wedding cake in the bunker (two kinds, and NOT mine, that would be too old to even contemplate!) from a nice wedding yesterday at a very nice beach house in Makaha. 1/1/11 was part of the reason for the date, but as it turned out, it is likely to be the only good weather we have this week. Lots of rain before and it's raining again today (Wednesday) and likely to continue for a while. Oh well, at least it's not snow (sorry about that, all you East Coasters).
59. sushisushi
birgit@52 and jcmnyu@55 Thanks for that info, that's much more precise that what I was able to remember, not being near my books at the time. If the precise info about the smaller and larger circles comes from the BBoBA, and the current AS have a very rudimentary knowledge, that leaves a very large margin for some very nerve-wracking experiments among the AS and Asha'man, particularly considering all the constraints about the gender balance within a circle, which gender can lead in what circumstances, etc. I could see a lot of them being very nervous about such experiments. I don't think it's ever been explained what happens if you try to, for example, pass the control of a 72 member circle to a female channeller - do all involved wake up with a headache and burnt out, or does it just not work? Given what we've seen of female-only circles, I would suspect the latter, but I wouldn't be keen on volunteering for the trial run, myself. Although, I suspect that the Black Ajah and Black Asha'men may not get the choice, if they're holed up in a Dreadlord Training Camp, taking lessons from the remaining Forsaken...

forkroot@33 As they say, if you can't be a Good Example, you can always be a Horrible Warning!
Roger Powell
60. forkroot
DebDye - I'll add to Bill's greeting but note that it's more likely Torie who keeps us in line.

This is a great forum because the discussions stay very civil (almost always). We're a diverse crowd for sure, and it's a lot of fun to open up to other's viewpoints.

On those rare occasions where someone gets out of line, they usually get a polite (first) warning from Torie and that's usually enough to keep the lid on.

Bill noted the availability of the books themselves - but were you asking specifically about getting Leigh's re-read posts in eBook format?
Liz J
61. Ellisande
KiManiak (@51)

Thanks for the welcome!

I want to emphasize that I'm certainly not saying no one should criticize Egwene for not looking into the Seals/last war more. I wish she would be less dogmatic about things, myself. But it seems unfair to me to expect her to research esoteric questions about whether her childhood catechism is actually historical fact or not, while she's trying to wrangle a herd of fractious elephants.

Which isn't to say that some Brown who HAS this information shouldn't be coming forward her own self and talking about this. I can't believe no Aes Sedai never noticed it before (well, except for that whole thing about the Dragon and Saidin and the Breaking in general kind of cause hives in all Aes Sedai, so maybe that's silly of me).

But it does make me wonder how many people actually know that the war lasted many years without Insta-Doom, and could tell Egwene, even if she asked. Given what we know about the state of knowledge about the end of the Age of Legends, I'm guessing not too many.
Scott Terrio
62. Renegade248
OMG we got Snow here in the Boston area. Almost 2 feet and the drifts go as high as 3 feet. Anyone wanna help me shovel out. :) My car is buried in the driveway.
63. AlmenBunt
Sorry folks, I ramble again. Not too many people around me that I can think aloud about WOT with, so I'm kinda dumping onto the collective.
re KiManiak @50- I agree with your point that not all Compusion would necessarily have left the victim with a sense of lingering affinity for the Compellor after separation, Verin being an excellent example, Nyn and Elayne also being good examples. I suppose that I was surmising that if Halima did Compel Egwene (for the record, I don't think she did, or at least, I've never gotten that impression), the only evidence that I could see for it would have been Egwene's insistence that Halima was not as bad as Everyone else seemed to think. So far in the series, we've seen three forms of Compulsion (not including Liandrin's wannabe trick): Love-Me Compulsion, Obey-Me Compulsion, and Verin's Maybe-You-Could-See-Your-Way-To-Thinking-Like-This Compulsion. Curiously enough, I would be interested to see if Nynaeve could detect Verin's Weave (Verin being an excellent Delver). Of the versions we've seen, Halima making Egwene not see her for the trollop that she is smacks to me of Love-Me brand. The only other substantial example of this that we've seen has been Morgase.
Egwene may have been Obey-Me'd, but I see no evidence of that whatsoever. The after-effects of that seem to just be memory loss, strange feelings of deja-vu, and a lingering desire to do whatever it is that you were told.
I am willing to be persuaded to the contrary, if someone could convince that Egwene had been Compelled in the first place, but I don't really see either scenario.

also re 51: "Just because we haven’t seen a Forsaken use a particular method onscreen, doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of doing it; just that we haven’t seen it yet."

I absolutely agree with this statement, but aside from some cool bad-guy weaves, I don't know that we're going to find new Talents from the Forsaken, they are the ones who seem surprised by the Talents that are appearing now. In regards to Talents, such as what abilities the Forsaken have, Androl's gateways, etc. I think that it is safe to say that every channeler can and cannot do some things (Healing being a recurring example). Channelers with Talents, though can take a normal weave (Healing, Traveling) or ability (Aviendha's ter'anrgraffinity or residue reading, Elayne's making) and do all sorts of fun things with them. Or not, I suppose. But it would seem that Power has little to do with Talents, Garenia's shield was super-strong even though she wasn't. Sorry, I'm digressing again. I have always been under the assumption that each channeler had a kinda list of weaves that they were Great, Okay, and Mediocre with. It would stand to reason that the Forsaken fall into that sort of framework as well. If that is the case (and anyone who has more insight into this should feel free to correct me), then I feel it should be relatively safe to assume that powers and Talents that the Forsaken have yet to show at this point would simply fall into the Okay and Mediocre categories, with a few exceptions that will make me say 'wicked!' when they bust em out on team Light in the final showdown. I think I'm drifting away from my original thought, so I'll wrap this up.
Sorry by the way if it seems as though I'm harping on you at the moment, it's just that your last couple of posts have made my synapses go fzzt, so I'm rambling on about points you've made, not criticizing them in particular.
64. sushisushi
I have a sneaky suspicion that a long consultation with Adeleas and Vandene would have been very useful to Egwene on this front. Here's hoping that Moiraine's subconscious has had a good chance to work some things out while was in the Tower of Ghenjei.
Tricia Irish
65. Tektonica

The AS going out and actually serving in the world is one of my keenest desires. I like the way you put the service into a time frame.....kind of like medical school.
1. You pass Med.school (become an AS)
2. You do your internship (study with the Aiel or the Kin)
3. Your residency, where you specialize in your particular talent (the AS goes out into the world to Serve!)

After x many years, you can choose to retire to the Tower and play politics, pursue research, write, serve the AS itself, or you can continue in the World. This would go a very very long way to making people like, respect and even revere the AS. Thus negating the need for the foul and destructive 3 Oaths!

Various: re: Halima:

While the killing of Egwene, or any SAS would've perhaps have helped to unite the Tower, thus negating the effects the DO desires for chaos, I think Halima could've been much more diabolical.

She had Egwene alone a lot, slept in her tent, had her hands on her head! She could've planted all sorts of compulsions and she, or we, would never have known about it. I would've loved a few more Forsaken povs.

Smileyman@41: I think it' a real possibility that Halima planted some seeds of distrust in Egwene re: Rand. (see the above)

Ellisande and Debdye: Welcome! The more the merrier!

BillinHI: Thanks for the cake in the Bunker!

Sorry to hear about your nor'easter today...again! Enough already.
Tricia Irish
66. Tektonica
Edit: To delete double post.
john massey
67. subwoofer
Weeeeee! Was gonna do a post yesterday, but shovelling snow took wayyy too long. Baby and nap time instead.

And if anyone hasn't figured it out- the "no parking- snow route" signs means get your car off the flipping road or suffer having it burried by the plows. You have been warned. Go forth and sin no more.

@Forkroot- civilized? Speak for yourself. I prefer to think of us as monkey's flinging poo at the bars:P

Hammy Halima... well, we were just talking about Egwene's blind spots yesterday- small wonder Halima is off Egwene's radar. Maybe if Maseena wore low cut dresses and was more... "earthy" Egwene would have let Maseena pet her instead of the mind crush thingy. Then I would have been spared from that tacky speech. Yeah... headaches that "magically" disappear when the slutty country girl gets her mits on me. No reason to suspect anything there...

Darth's death grip could be simulated by weaving Air. Heck, Lanfear does as much to Rand when he gets naughty and goes for the forebidden sword when he finally clues in to who the prettiest girl in the world is.

And I like the residency idea too. The Aes Sedai need to serve more. The world would be a better place and the relationship with the White Tower would be much better if people could have an easier way to relate to the Sisters. It would go a long way to help the Tower be less insular.

William Fettes
68. Wolfmage
AlmenBunt @ 63

I’m not sure I agree with that summary of weaves versus talents, although the basic contours of it are right.

Many weaves, like those used in the test for the shawl, can be executed by any channeller with sufficient practice. The weaves that compose the test are many and varied, so if it were generally true that each individual had a set of null shortfalls, then a whole bunch of Accepted would never obtain the rank of Aes Sedai. We can also surmise from what we know about the complexity of those test weaves, that practice can generally overcome innate limitations like weakness with the power and lack of deftness. As a general rule, if you have sufficient strength to perform a weave you can.

Now, that’s just the baseline mechanic which is appropriately modified by a channeller’s innate affinity or lack of affinity for certain weaves.

For example, those who have a particular affinity with gateways, such as Androl need comparative less power to make them, whilst those with an impediment or block, such as Aviendha, need comparative more. However, generally we can safely say making a gateway has a general strength prerequisite (averaged across the channelling population) and if you meet it you can most likely make one all things being equal.

Other weaves such as healing and weather are more tricky cases, as they seem particularly prone to more extreme manifestations of affinity variance. Lots of Aes Sedai and Ashaman can’t heal a lick, for instance. In fact, that variance seems so strong that extra power cannot overcome the affinity deficit.

However, I think that’s quite a bit different to proper talents like Berowin’s special bubble shield, Foretelling, Dreaming and seeing ta’veren. We can suppose that affinity with healing and weather probably still roughly fit a bell curve distribution across the population, whereas you either have proper talents or you don’t and they are comparatively rare. This is obscured a bit in the text, because the Randlander channellers sometimes use talent to refer to their particular skill with a weave - but I would argue that's a bit misleading.

Where does compulsion fit in this picture? I would argue it’s pretty obviously not a proper talent if it’s fairly common for wilder novices to come to the Tower with "tricks" that approximate a crude form of it, and also given the fact that Verin can piece together those tricks into a solid minor variant of it. It’s comparative rarity can be explained on account of it being a forbidden weave, rather than it being a rare talent.

Of course, compulsion does have natural variation, and obviously Graendal is the best at it living, but that variation is most likely just like any other weave. Indeed, we don’t even have a good reason to believe it is as varied as healing and weather weaves appear to be. It also fits a hedonistic pervert like Balthamel like a glove.
Tess Laird
69. thewindrose
It is hard to reconcile this Egwene from the one who went through the Acceptatron(The Dragon Reborn - Chapter 23 Sealed):
"Is that all there is for me?" she demanded. "To abandon him again and again. To betray him, fail him, again and again? Is that what there is for me?"

It may be a good thing that Nynaeve is by Egwene's side at the end of ToM. Halima'gar may very well have nudged Egwene here and there to take a 'no I will not listen to you - you are wrong Rand' stance. Maybe she will say something strange in front of Nynaeve, and Nynaeve will delve and find some time bomb ticking inside of Egwene? It would be interesting - yes?:)

I think most of us agree that the Aes Sedai need to get out more;)

William Fettes
70. Wolfmage
thewindrose @ 69

Yes, that Acceptatron passage has always struck a powerful chord with me. Whenever I re-read it in light of subsequent events, I'm struck by a feeling of strong disappointment that Egwene never again shows anything like that level of self-consciousness and commitment regarding Rand.

It would be nice to think that Halima's maladministrations did have some role in accentuating the deteriorating dynamic between Rand and herself. It would add a much needed end game to Halima's access to Egwene -- giving it a real insidious quality that would hold up on re-reads. Because but for Halima’s untimely exit, Egwene may very well have become so cynical about Rand that the world would be doomed. It would also put Egwene in a much more favourable light.

However, I tend to think that some of this blinkered thinking precedes Salidar, and it doesn't explain the blinkered thinking about other characters and issues.
71. Freelancer
The "real" feel of the shenanigans (far more emotional than political, but I'm not taking another step in the direction that might lead) such as the SAS Hall chapters give us, is prototypical of Jordan's ability to craft chaos. This is where many fantasy writers fall short, their stories have too many characters making too many just-right decisions at the just-right times. Almost nobody in WoT makes consistently good decisions, and very often, when they make what should seem to be the most honorable, effective, and correct decision given the information in their possession, it goes completely sideways and blows up in their face. That's REAL. It makes the story four dimensional, rather than two (time being the fourth). I say this because in so many other cases, the timing of the plot can be nearly set to music, it is so consistent. Upbeat, beat, beat, downbeat, beat, beat. That sort of writing tugs at any chance of a suspension of disbelief until it fails completely.

No such worry in Jordan's case. As Leigh pointed out, it's nearly the last thing any Aes Sedai would have been expected to bring up, linking with ::gasp:: Men Who Can Channel
™ ::shudder:: And then, in the midst of everybody going bananas over the lunacy of the idea, it passes. (If only fewer truly loony ideas hadn't been passed by a less coherent body recently referenced by our loverly hostess) Oh, uh, hi Torie. Nothing to see here...
Roger Powell
72. forkroot
Freelancer ... you saw it too @41 and said nothing... No more tweaking me for ignoring "loose" (instead of lose) now, y'hear?
Alice Arneson
73. Wetlandernw
Just a quick question, since I don't have time to comment on anything tonight. Does anyone know whether the Forsaken have some ability (like Rand's new mesmer stare) to identify Darkfriends? Or do they have to rely on intel from other DFs? More specifically, is there a way for a Forsaken to know an AS is BA, without getting the info from the BA Supreme Council?
Joseph Blaidd
74. SteelBlaidd
Fain can, Ishidin( I think), every one else has to get told.
75. birgit
Fades and some darkfriends could sense the Dagger. Fades can probably also sense people who have been marked by the Shadow like Alviarin.

I felt the evil of it {the Dagger} when I laid eyes on him, the touch of Mashadar, but a Fade could sense it for miles. Even though he would not know exactly where, he would know it was near, and Mashadar would draw his spirit while his bones remembered that this same evil swallowed an army - Dreadlords, Fades, Trollocs, and all. Some Darkfriends could probably feel it, too. Those who have truly given away their souls. There could not help but be those who would wonder at suddenly feeling this, as if the very air around them itched. They would be compelled to seek it. It should have drawn them to it as a magnet draws iron filings."

EotW ch. 41
Many AS seem to know how to test for residues of saidin. Couldn't they use that to feel a man channeling instead of just where a man has channeled?
Jonathan Levy
76. JonathanLevy
75. birgit

Remember how Moghedien fooled Nynaeve and Elayne with a weave that was supposed to detect a man channeling but only gave them headaches? That suggests that the Aes Sedai don't have any way to detect a man channeling - or at least, not one that is common knowledge.
Jonathan Levy
77. JonathanLevy
Boy, did I get a funny error message when (successfully) posting my last comment! Much better than the usual 'failed to delete folder'.

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78. ClintACK
Re: Halima and Egwene...

For me, the biggest hint that Egwene may be acting under some subtle compulsion wasn't anything to do with her interactions with Rand -- it was her interaction with Perrin in ToM.

She bumps into him in TAR, while battling Mesaana and the Black Ajah. Her reaction is to tie him up with ropes and say that she'll be back for him. (ToM 37, pp. 580-81)

If I squint, I can see what she might have been thinking, but even with the most favorable spin I can imagine, she still thought she would be leaving Perrin helpless in the middle of a battlefield -- and she tried it *after* he'd already demonstrated that he wasn't helpless against the One Power.

Perhaps she's under a mild, subtle compulsion that prevents her from trusting or working with any of the three Ta'veren boys? The Forsaken certainly consider Mat and Perrin to be important enough.

If you think about it, the whole battle in Tar Valon was a huge triumph for the Light that resulted from Egwene and Perrin working together -- entirely accidentally. His showing up with the dreamspike at exactly the right time messed up Mesana's carefully planned trap, and his reminder to her that weaves, even balefire, aren't real in TAR unless you let them be was the key to Egwene's victory.

Imagine what the ta'veren and the wondergirls could accomplish if they would just work together intentionally.
Stefan Mitev
79. Bergmaniac
The Aes Sedai discovered a weave to detect a man channelling in KoD, it was shown during the meeting of the Rebels Hall when Jahar and Merise announced saidin was cleansed.

Funnily enough, the Aes Sedai who discovered this weave turned out to be a Black Ajah in TGS.
Vincent Lane
80. Aegnor
Interesting idea DebDye. I'd like that, but I'm not sure if it is going to happen. I know there is a way to transfer stuff to an e-reader manually, but I haven't looked into it.

Regarding CoT, my problem with it has never been what is in it. It is all very well written. My problem is what is missing. It is all setup but no payoff. Every other book in the series contains significant plot movement along several story lines and contains an exiting climax. The only thing this book has along those lines is Egwene's capture at the end. And while that was good, it is not near enough to hold up the book on its own.

The Matt storyline should have been moved much further along (the split from the show should have happened in this book), the Perrin line should have moved much further along (maybe even as far as the rescue of Faile), Elayne should have captured the throne in this book. This kind of thing is what should have happened in this book. Instead of that, if you think of the major plot points that happened in this book, the ONLY thing you can come up with is Egwene getting captured.
Chris Chaplain
81. chaplainchris1
Fair warning - this is a Wall of Text, but I think it’s interesting – particularly the bits at the end about the probability that Moridin/Ishamael is pulling Moria’s strings and setting up the Aes Sedai/Ashaman alliance. Brrr.

More on that in a bit. Hi, Leigh! Here's a vote from me for best reread post of the New Year. Well, and ok, it’s a really good post for any time in any year. Maybe I’ve been out of it lately b/c COT has been such a snoozefest, or maybe I just had a hard time being engaged over the holidays.

But I love this post, mostly because "that big skanky bordello in the sky" is now my new favorite phrase. I'm only sad because I doubt I will have much call to, you know, use my new favorite phrase in conversation.

Honorable mentions for things that amused me in this reread post go to “I don’t agree with Egwene that all men are a bother, but I certainly agree that Gawyn is one,” and (of course) to the, um, picturesque description of Lelaine and Romanda’s chafing obnoxiousness!

I really appreciate Leigh’s thoughts on Moria and the Hall. I’ve mentioned before how shocked I was to find that Moria was Black Ajah – because this scene read to me as a Moment of Awesome for her. I too was totally convinced this was one of the best ideas EVER out of any Hall, and it was both shocking and gratifying to see it come from a rank-and-file sister rather than one of Our Heroes. It seemed Moria defied the rather caricature-like behavior of many Aes Sedai to insist that truth must be what they want it to be (like Elaida laughing off the Seanchan threat, anyone?). Instead she could look reality square in the face, and then take effective action to deal with that reality.

Moria here shows that she’s an effective politician. Egwene had, seemingly, been leading these hundreds-of-years-old-supposedly-smart-and-educated women around by the noses. Here we suddenly see Moria with 1) a good idea, 2) a coalition working in concert, across Ajah lines, even, 3) good rhetorical skills, 4) the political savvy to formulate this strategy and form her coalition, under the noses of Egwene, Romanda, Lelaine, and the Ob5 – nobody knows what she’s planning, and that surprise is key to her success; and 5) a will of her own – she’s not Lelaine’s puppet.

As with Egwene manipulating the War vote, Moria manipulates this vote, with great effectiveness. I suppose it’s (icky term, but) competency porn.

(For the same reason, I find some redemptive value in the annoying and skeevy Ob5. They manage to hide their true agenda from Romanda, Lelaine, *and* Egwene, and to effectively manipulate at least Romanda and Lelaine. So they clearly have *some* skillz.)

Moria as Black Ajah rewrites all of that, and I still don’t know what to think. I suppose it hadn’t occurred to me (since I’d not actually re-read this scene since TGS) that Sheriam, Moria, and Delana don’t recognize each other as Blacks. As you say, it’s obvious now, but what also strikes me is that they’re not just ignorant of each other, but they also clearly have different goals. That makes me wonder if Arangar/Halima knew who and what Moria was, either.

Sheriam’s dismay at the Black Tower alliance must, I assume, be because Arangar’s disguise would be threatened by having Ashaman around, thus making her likely to be angry. (Indeed, it’s an Ashaman, Narishma, who leads to Halima’s unmasking.) That would indicate that Moria’s not known to Arangar, when you might reasonably assume that a Forsaken placed in the camp would be given charge of the Black Ajah there.

But we’ve seen before that some Forsaken have wider contacts with Darkfriends than others. We’ve also seen Mesaana trying to exert some authority over Arangar’s efforts, based on *her* position in the Tower and her access to the Black Ajah’s head, Alviarin. Does this mean that Moria’s receiving her orders from some other Forsaken than Arangar? If so, who? Mesaana via Alviarin is possible, but I don’t know of any evidence to show that Mesaana sought links between the Black Tower and the White.

A more likely culprit is Moridin, I’m afraid, given the influence he seems to have over any and all Darkfriends he chooses, and the control he seems to exercise at the Tower. And that thought – that Moridin is behind the alliance - is really, *really* chilling, even without the horrifying scenes from TOM showing the results of 13x13 mindsucking. If Moridin is behind this – setting up a situation where DF Aes Sedai and DF Ashaman can work together openly, under the pretenses of forming defenses against the Shadow? Well…there’s a reason the guy was originally called Betrayer of Hope. What a way to make this whole, seemingly hopeful, chapter blow up in our faces.

Does it make me nerdy that I’m sort of getting goose bumps thinking about it? Whatever we say about the dearth of competent villains in this series, Moridin is scarily competent. He corrupted 20% of the Aes Sedai, possibly is behind the Three Oaths, caused the Trolloc Wars, set Artur Hawkwing and the AS at odds, set up false Dragons, corrupted Seanchan and set humankind’s armies at war with each other just in time for the Last Battle, and apparently dominated the Black Tower perhaps even more than he did the White. And that’s just off the top of my head, and we *still* don’t understand half of what his ultimate objectives are.

I’m worried for Our Heroes, y’all.

Ok, that’s it for me – on to the comments!
Liz J
82. Ellisande
HA! thewindrose @69 proves there must be some sort of collective WOT hivemind, because I was just now coming here to mention that, after poking around in the TDR re-read last night and re-reading the Egwene Accepted test. If she's not compelled, she certainly got over her fear of failing/betraying Rand in the wrong way. Especially if Halimangar is working on the plan of sowing discord between the good guys, that shouldn't be just between AS, it should be between the AS and Rand, and the AS and the Light-side Asha'man. (edit: by which I mean, I think a fully competent aran'gar should also have been trying to sow discord between the sisters and Rand, not just between sisters. You want to sow discord between all your enemies, not just some, after all).

It's fun to go back, by the way, after TOM, and see how different some of it (both books and comments) looks now. But it also makes me aware that we have only one more book before theories will be pretty much wrong or right. These books made me the compulsive canon-theorizer I am today (with LOST, for example), and I'm going to be sad when it's all over.
Chris Chaplain
83. chaplainchris1
Lots of good comments and discussions, just a couple of things I'd like to add:

hamstercheeks @8 re: lightsaber politics – bwah hah hah!

ClintACK @ 78 re: “Imagine what the ta'veren and the wondergirls could accomplish if they would just work together intentionally.” Hey, I know! Maybe they could cleanse the Taint from saidin! Or maybe take out Rahvin!

Yep, Nynaeve and Rand seem to be an effective team. Here’s hoping the rest get on board.

However, @various regarding Egwene’s attitude toward Rand, I still think folks tend to make too much of the Egwene/Rand interaction in TOM. In TGS Egwene clearly shows empathy for Rand (realizing for example how much more terrible his experience in the AS-box was than even her imprisonment in the Tower), and she defends his actions and the need to let him “run free” to the other AS. But in TOM, Rand announces he’s gonna break the seals and gives no explanation whatsoever. He clearly and obviously WANTS Egwene to distrust him, and therefore it’s no surprise that he gets that result. Even so, she trusts him enough to let him go and to trust that he’ll meet her in a month where and when he says he will. She doesn’t, for example, insist that he stay, or take observers, or otherwise try to constrain or control him. She doesn’t even worry that he’ll break his word and destroy the seals before the month is out.

So I see no real evidence that Egwene’s been magically made to distrust Rand.
gwern branwen
84. gwern0@gmail.com
"Japanese films are interesting to us because they were made by a culture for itself.The problem that George [Lucas] and I found with science fiction films that we saw is that they felt that they had to explain these strange rituals to you, whereas a Japanese film would just have the ritual and you'd have to figure it out for yourself."

-- Walter Murch; quoted in Marcus Hearn's _The Cinema of George Lucas_, pg 37
Chin Bawambi
85. bawambi
I think people mis-read Eggs a little bit. Her main character flaw imho is that she gets all uppity in an "I'm AesSedai I'm better than you" way which actually goes all the way back to EoTW. If you read her that way her interaction with Perrin in T'AR isn't sinister at all she's actually trying to be protective of him not realizing she's being dismissive. At least that's how I read it.
Noneo Yourbusiness
86. Longtimefan
Another little thought about Halima'gar and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad plan to disrupt the Salidar Aes Sedai (who are no longer in Salidar and in open rebellion against Elaida so that would make them the Rebel Aes Sedai and tratiors to the Empire) is that somewhere close to this timeline Moridin (obviously the male version of Moria) is closing his fist of oppresive Nae'blisness (Nae'blisostiy?) as illustrated in a conversation he has with Graendal in the Path of Daggers where he lets her know that the time of going her own way has passed.

If Graendal, who was puttering away doing the Dark Lord's bidding without inconveniently stumbling across her own death at the hands of one of the good guys (and yet not having any deaths pinned to her strieth's hem) must follow the beat of Moridin's drum then it may be possible that Halima'gar's second chance may have had some restrictions and perhaps even some very direct (yet unknown to the reader) instructions.

One does not just lose track of one's own body and expect to be allowed to be as careless with a new one even if it is a newer model with special features heretofore unknown to the driver.

The "inneffectiveness" of Halima's sojourn with the Rebel Alliance, uh, Aes Sedai may have been intentional place holding on the Dark Lord's behalf to both secure the separation of the largest unified (ish) force of channeling women who were not only aware that the big showdown was on its way but had an entire sub group dedicated to the concept of fighting in it (even if they were woefully underprepared) and to create friction within the group to break them into even smaller groups which would be easier to turn or take down before the Big Day.

Halima'gar may not have been sowing chaos until peoples lungs burst from it but considering that little Miss Second Chance at the Dance could have been under much more constrained orders due to previous evil mismanagement it could be said that it was not a lack of Forsakenawesity on her part but more a limitation of what would be allowed for someone stuffed into an exciting new body and then named after a poisonus dagger.

A purpose not of big explosions and fire in the sky shock and awe but a few careful cuts in the dark that seep and ooze and cause a general malaise if not a long and ugly death.

It is often thought that a direct death is fairly evil in its own way and the direct murder of Egwene's maids and the Aes Sedai that are adept at Ceundillar (names escape me for the nonce) happen in the story it is clear they are evil.

But it is infinitly more cruel (and therefore eviler) to make your vicitms suffer and lapse into a sense of dispair and frustraion. (try arguing with a teen ager if you doubt me, there is no more wretched hive (raising argument) of um, and whatever-illany) Halima'gar is a poison dagger. Her work is only partially done when she and Delana flee and who knows what kind of long term goals the Shadow had for the Tower split.

My opinion is that the dark side is interested in having as many people who can channel turned before the last battle as possible. Trollocs and Fades are frightening but people who can channel stand a much better chance against them than ordinary folks. The more One Power wielders the dark side can field in a battle the quicker the Dark One can get to the end game. (universal unraveling or some such) I think that had Halima and Mesaana been allowed to fully develop their evil plotting it would have resulted in more living Aes Sedai turning by choice or by force to the Dark Side.

An unfortunate situation for the Light Side forces but a much more effective outcome for Team Dark than just killing a bunch of people who can channel. There are hints that this is a plan favored by Team Dark Black Tower Edition so it could be leapt to (conclusionally) that a similar plan was in the works for the White Tower Team but the fractious nature was undone before the next step could be implimented. We as readers knew that the unification would happen but in book characters were not 100% in the know the way a reader can be.

Could Mesaana have misunderstood Eliada's Fortelling about the tower being whole as an inevitable outcome but with many less sisters so there would still be the ones cast out and scorned to pick up for the Dark Lord's 13 + 13 cotillion? It is possible. Did Mesaana even report the Fortelling to Moridin? I do not know if there is any in book proof that the information was passed on to see if plans needed to be adjusted.

And just another thought the Forsaken scheme against eachother. Halima'gar's "inneffectiveness" may have been a way of undermining either Mesaana's plans (she started the Tower schism) or doing the minimum amount to assert herself against being controlled while still participating to keep from losing out on this thin second chance the Dark Lord so graciously granted.

Graendal muses to herself that Moridin is Nae'blis for now. I would think that she could not be the only Forsaken who has that thought flitting across her devious mind. Halima'gar may have thought the same thing and was only going through the evil motions until an advantage came along to rise above.

I apologize for calling this a little thought. Apparently it grew abit before I put the shoes on it.

well it is walking on its own now.
Noneo Yourbusiness
87. Longtimefan
Also, parallelogramatcially, Dashiva'gar may have started out at Taim's fun time dreadlord factory as a plant to keep a direct eye on Sadin wielding folk but when he was Rand-omly chosen to hang out with the savior of the world he jumped into the Iscariot chariot and rode it for all it was worth.

But was it worth it?

Was Dashiva'gar any more effective than Halima'gar? In the Blacker Tower plan we the readers have very little to go on that would directly connect him to the corruption and coersion that Taim seems to be spreading around quite well on his own.

As to keeping Rand off balance. Well Rand was doing crazy his own bad self quite well without the assist for the extra point from Dashiva'gar. Becoming Rand's Frienemy did not move him towards the Seanchan Battle Debacle, I believe that would have happened on its own although it is possible that Dashiva'gar nudged. He could not have used compulsion as there are several other male channelers present around Rand and then there is Rand himself all suspicious and Asha'man wary. Even if Dashiva'gar was deft at compusion weaves using Sadin around Rand and most especially at Rand was a bad idea on a good day and there were so very few good days over there in not quite yet crazy town.

While it is true that Dashiva'gar was forced to join Rands Asha'mantorage (how could one say no?) I do not believe that was job one on his second chance plan. Again there is the whole posion dagger thing since he and Halima'gar are two sides of the same bad penny. Bad, stabby penny.

If I chose to follow my theory (and I chose, most certainly chose to) then Dashiva'gar was sent to further Emblacken the Blacker Tower not by getting Taim set up to press and fold a hot new dreadlords at the one stop Sadin shop but possibly to keep the friction between Taim the Arrogant Ass and Logain the Noble from splitting off a group that was not interested in attending some special lessons.

Separation is good for undoing the White Tower because Saidar is clean and there is kind of an anti apocolypse policy in place so that needs to be fretted out a bit.

Black Tower? It may be under the auspices of the Dragon Reborn but the firm hand of upper management is all Taim all the Time. A few of them might buy into the cause of the Light but they are dealing with the specter of the Taint pre-cleansing and the residues of any affects already ingrained post-cleansing so there is a certain emotional vulnerabilty that can be exploited for gaining new dreadlords and unbridled arrogance is only half the pie.

Had Dashiva'gar stayed he could have built an anti-Taim movement that may have been Logain neutral if not Logain friendly. Not that there is an insignificant number of twisted misters over at the Frankentaim place but my theory, which is mine and no one else's, is along the lines that Team Dark would benifit from turning as many channeling people as possible instead of just killing them. It is much more evil to have living, power mad, distructo Sedai than to have a wide swathe of corpses no matter how smelly that may be.

The battle between good and evil is not a Democratic, slight majority win vote. i is a knock down, drag out fight to the end (or THE END) where no one is going to just let bygones be bygones and try to live in harmony with eachother while tolerating the differences that divide them. (Destroying the universe verses wanting to live in the universe is a difficult difference to break bread over.)

I think that both Halima'gar and Dashiva'gar had very specific and possibly restricted orders to do similar things which would be to sow dissention and dispar until the channeling groups they were placed with could be turned to the Dark Side in smaller groups with the goal of converting as many as possible before the big splashy showdown at the end of the series, I mean world.

Both of them were interupted in the process of these plans and subsequently the Aes Sedai retained a large number of their Light Side channelers while killing a few Team Dark members and letting a few get away. The Asha'men are a bit more under the Dark influence for the moment but Logain needs to get his Glory Aura on ASAP to shake out some of the darkness and bring in the light for the Black Tower folk before it is all Daved Hanlon up in there.
88. Freelancer
forkroot @72

Two things, bro. First, with you there I don't feel the need to play that game much, so if you missed it, shame on you. Second, I didn't read a single comment before commenting @71, since I had almost no time, and the only thing I had to say was an independent observation, only loosely connected to Leigh's similar commentary. So no, I gave myself no opportunity to spot grammatical errata. ::shrug::

Jonathan Levy @77

There's a personal message for you buried somewhere in there. And since only you could possibly decipher it, please let us know what it is once you've unlocked its secret.
Thomas Keith
89. insectoid
Kind of quiet here today. Oh well... at least there's a few Walls o' Text to read!

JLevy @77: o_O ...I think the server needs a glass of water or three. ;)

LTF @86,87: Interesting thoughts! As a side note, you certainly are making up creative words! "Parallelogrammatically"? ROFL!!

edit: Hmm... where'd that extra 'm' come from? Maybe I picked it up from Freelancer's comment.

Noneo Yourbusiness
90. Longtimefan
Thanks Insectoid! It has been a bit slow but I guess it is a good thing since it means there is no fussing or fighting. :)

I have been away for a while and I guess I am making up for lost time.

the shortest post of the day! (for me)
Alice Arneson
91. Wetlandernw
Thanks for the responses re: whether Forsaken have any means of recognizing Darkfriends or Black Ajah. My musings on the subject were along the lines of why the three BA in the top ranks seemed to be in conflict, and with the confirmation you gave me, here's the thing: Moria she may be going on "old information" - whatever her instructions were at the time she left the Tower. There's no real reason to assume that anyone at all is giving her specific orders here. Given the heart structure, it's readily believable that many of the links between the hearts were broken with the Tower split. (If you only know three others, all it takes is for those three to have stayed in the Tower, and you're cut off. Or maybe one of your others came, but you're the only one she knows. Easily possible.) With no way to pass info back and forth, and strict rules not to try to break the secrecy of the cells, it's quite possible that Moria was cut off from anyone who was getting new instructions.

Of course, if she'd wanted to, Mesaana could have given Halima, Delana or Sheriam a full list of the BA so they could identify every one in the SAS camp and reorganize their hearts, or she could have done it herself. Mesaana, though, tends to have a low opinion of the Aes Sedai in general and may not have thought it worth the effort to get the SAS BA organized. This is one of those cases, I suspect, where the Forsaken's contempt for the modern-day AS has been rather a liability to Team Dark; they could probably have been more effective among the SAS if they were on the same page, but I can't say I'm sorry. :)

chaplainchris1 @83 - Excellent point re: Egwene & Rand, and I totally agree. Interestingly enough, even the readers are divided on whether Rand's plan to destroy the seals is a good thing; in-world, each person has to decide what they think on the (significantly less than we have!) information they have available.

Incidentally, I went back and read that section in ToM with Egwene & Perrin in TAR. That particular interaction proves nothing about Egwene, and it looks to me like there have been a lot of biased attacks made on her by readers because of it. All we know is that she tried to snag Perrin with Air. When that didn't work, she imagined ropes around him, but they lasted all of a second or so. We don't know what she would have done with him. Lots of people have accused her of "tying him up to leave him helpless in the middle of a battlefield," but we have no evidence of that. She was going to tie him up and... what? Weave some kind of protective screen around him? Make him blend in with the wall like Bair did with herself? Transport him away? Turn your imagination loose a little and forget that you don't like Egwene, and you can think of hundreds of things she might have had in mind that would have kept him perfectly safe. She never got a chance to do any of it, because he dumped the ropes, and before she could say more than "How-" one of the BA popped up and tried to balefire them. He stopped it, incidentally giving her a completely stunning and amazingly useful lesson in TAR-management. Accusing her of callousness toward Perrin is unfounded. Certainly she had no idea that he would be so well-trained in TAR - but then, he had no idea that she'd been trained in TAR either, so that knife cuts both ways.

AlmenBunt @43 - FWIW, BWS seems to have confirmed that the FS impersonating Sammael was one of the women. Just to add to the things to think about... :)

And... May I just say here that the term "competency porn" annoys me beyond description? I know what's meant by it, but if pornography is the highest form of thrill, excitement and awesomeness you can imagine, I pity you. It is so lame as a description that I honestly don't understand how anyone can use it with a straight face, at least not about anything they really liked. I guess it fits with the popular notion that you have to be vulgar to express strong feeling, which is also pretty lame IMO. (Some people seem to think it's the only way to express anything.) Can someone please explain why, with thousands upon thousands of excellent words in the English language, so many people fall back on one of a half-dozen vulgarities every time they want to emphasize something? Limited vocabulary? Too lazy to think of the right word? I dunno...
92. birgit
Just found this and wondering can I get all these re-reads sofar (all books all chapters on e-book ((Sony)).

If your e-reader can read PDF, you could save the HTML, open it in OpenOffice, then save it as PDF and import it in the e-reader.
john massey
93. subwoofer
@Wet- Randland seems to be founded on the axiom- "we shall not communicate", why should the baddies be any different. Seems to me they are not only hoarding information, but also spreading disinformation so that oneupmanship can take place.

Point with Eggy is that she did think she knew best. She gave some speech about not having time to deal with him, but just assumes that Perrin is a gormless mog. Whatever. Doesn't matter, Perrin could not be bothered with her either so fair was fair.

I have no idea what Birgit just said, but why not just reread the posts on your computer... that way you can actually comment on the comments... which is half the fun.

Tess Laird
94. thewindrose
We have been slipping with the commenting for awhile haven't we ::looks at post number:: only 94! (I include myself, as I haven't been able to spend as much time - but I still read all the comments.)
I think we have some interesting speculation going on. So we have the rebodied Forsaken, that are named after:
It was during this time that such brutal sports as sha’je dueling came briefly into vogue. Sha’je duels, held at Qual, involved the use of left- and right-hand daggers, called respectively osan’gar and aran’gar, tipped with slow poison… In some parts of the world, in the years immediately preceding the final collapse into war, murder, rape and even torture became regular parts of many spectator sports.

- The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time

A slow poison, so maybe there is more we shall see of their plots and plans in aMoL even though they are out if the picture permently.

Linda at 13d has a great artical on Egwene and Halima.

Also of interest to perhaps give them a boost up on the effective meter is a quote from RJ himself from here:
When you started writing the series, were Osan'gar and Aran'gar in the original plotline, or were they added in as you went along?

They were in the original plot line.

tempest ™
95. hamstercheeks
chaplainchris@83: A very good point -- Rand + Nynaeve = awesome.

Longtimefan@86: I lol'd at "little Miss Second Chance at the Dance." As for channelers turning to the Dark right before TG, let's see what we've got (sorry, don't have exact numbers):

1. White Tower = hundreds of AS, now BA-free

2. Black Tower = Taim's faction vs Logain's Team Light = was "several hundred" at last count, so 200 vs 200-ish?

3. Rand = dozens of AS, likely BA-free (otherwise he would've noticed)

4. Wise Ones = several thousand across the clans

5. Seanchan = a bajillion damane and sul'dam

6. Sea Folk = numbers unknown, but I'd say a low estimate is a thousand channelers

7. The Kin = approx two thousand at last count (c.f. Sareitha)

Of course, some of these groups don't have much offensive capability with channeling, but maybe super quick battlefield lessons from the AS (stop booing!) will help?

I think we're gonna have all the Light channelers crawling out of the woodwork (including the Seanchan), with the Dark channelers' slightly inferior numbers compensated by all manner of new Shadowspawn nasties. Also: Padan Fain. Let's see what the crazy does.

Anyone else tear up when reading the last pages of ToM, with Lan's speech and death charge? AMoL will probably be like that. Must stockpile tissues for 2012...
96. CorDarei
Is it me or does anyone else see the coincidence that the world is supposed to end in 2012 and the Last Battle will also occur then...

just me? ... :goes back to lurker's hole:
Lynn McDonald
97. meal6225
How did Perrin know how to stop balefire in TAR? I dont remember Hopper's lessons involving channeling. Is it just all "mind over matter" is rule number #1,2,3,4,5....

Will bring some nice comforting HOT sloppy joe to the bunker,so tired of being cold!
Chris Chaplain
98. chaplainchris1
@ 91 Wetlander:

I completely agree with your comments about the odious term - at least I did criticize it when I used it. I suppose it was laziness to use it - but language is shorthand for thoughts, and that text wall was quite long, and I gave in and used a shorthand term that I know this community of readers is familiar with and would understand.

Perhaps you can suggest an alternative shorthand? Competency smorgasboard? Cornucopia?

Excellent point re: the possibility (or even probability) of hearts and other lines of communications being frayed or destroyed for the dark side, too. We may never know which DFs (Aes Sedai or otherwise) were being manipulated by which Forsaken, and which were semi-free agents. (I note here that, even while we know Shiane was under Moridin's direct control, we still really have no idea what her agenda in Caemlyn was.) Unfortunately that makes it very possible that we'll remain in the, um, dark, re: what Moria's goals here were.

It is strange, though, with Moridin taking control of the Forsaken, that there would not have been more (apparent) cooperation between Arangar/Delana, Moria, and Sheriam. But then, despite needing to be transmigrated to new bodies, Arangar and Osangar don't seem to have been in the disfavor with the Dark that Cyndane was, or that Moghedien, Mesaana, Semirhage, and Graendal worked themselves into. So maybe Moridin didn't exercise the tight control over Arangar that he tries to over some of the others. If Moridin *had* tightly controlled Arangar, I would expect Arangar to likewise be coordinating the Black Ajah in the camp.

Re: the Forsaken's contempt of modern Aes Sedai being a liability for the dark, I completely agree. Mesaana seems never to have bothered to learn the identities of the Black Ajah, for example, leaving that up to Alviarin. What if Alviarin had died randomly in some accident - would Mesaana have even known who to contact to continue her plotting? Though her interaction with Sheriam in TGS and her leading the troops against Egwene in TOM seems to indicate that she may have been taking a more and more direct hand in events.

Not that it matters now, I suppose.

Re: Egwene and Perrin - Egwene can be forgiven for assuming Perrin knows nothing of TAR, I think, since almost the whole world knows nothing of it. Since she herself began training, her teachers' emphasis has been the dangers of the World of Dreams, and the risk of death and worse to novices. Her attempt to restrain and protect him (and I agree with Wetlander - we've no reason to suggest that she would've left him tied up and helpless in the midst of the battle) must be viewed in that light. Had Egwene encountered Perrin before his intense tutorial under Hopper (i.e. at any time over the entire rest of the series and halfway through TOM as well), she'd have been quite right.
Noneo Yourbusiness
99. Longtimefan
Hello Hamstercheeks,

It is true that the Light Side will have (we hope) considerably more people who can channel fighting at the Last Battle

My thoughts were more along the lines that there may have been a plan to turn more before the battle by dispair or 13 +13 (since channeling has that unfortuneate weakness and apparently turning people was a tactic used in the War of the Shadow so why change strategies 3000 years later?)

It is true that the White Tower is Black Ajah free and the Black Tower will soon be White Asha'man free (I see it more as a Logain and company leaving more than a Taim and friends being forced out but you never know.)

Rand brand shadow senseing has shown itself to be an effective way to mark out the darkfriends around him. This would make the surviving Aes Sedai and Wise Ones around him more likely than not to be on the Light side (which is the Right side).

As we get to the Other Wise Ones there is a strong reader feeling that the Aiel are all Light all the time even with the Curious Case of Melindhra Shaido. Could she have been the only Darkfriend Aiel? Could any Wise One ever consider being a Darkfriend? It is difficult to say because while the readership may want to believe in a noble and honorable group of people it makes for a much more shocking reveal if one or two of those people turn out to be not so nice (besides Therava who may not be a Darkfriend but is no basket of kittens).

In many Good v Evil storylines Evil does not enter into an open conflict with Good until it appears that Evil is certain of attaining its goals, mostly world domination or some such but we have been told that the Dark Lord's plans may not be the plans people think they are. In any case it seems to be a reasonable idea that Shai'tan is not expanding his reach to touch the world just to have his hand slapped back by an overwhelming force of Light side Ladies and their pew pew magic powers.

So, in theory, there is a possibilty that some Wise Ones may have been susceptable to Dark Side propaganda. A difficult line to walk but from the angle that "when a Wise One says it is so then it is so" it is a culture that has some protection for a person with secrets if they also have power.

The Seanchan. Well, at the time of the last book many of their channelers were otherwise occupied in the civil war that has engulfed the Seanchan mainland. Also I think it was mentioned that the Last Battle is focused on Rand and therefore focused in the Westlands. As for the Seanchan in the Westlands and their channelers. It is not a matter of damane being darkfriends but a matter of sul'dam being darkfriends, which is entirely possible.

As to the Sea Folk it is known from the Great Hunt prolouge that there are Sea Folk Darkfriends as there is one at the Darkfriend gathering. (it says there were 100, I wonder if we have see 100 darkfriends on page and if they could be guessed at having been at the social). Therefore there are probably Sea Folk channelers who have seagull tattoos that look suspiciously like ravens. If I was the Dark Lord and I knew about the Isle of Mad Men I would be de tainting and dreadlording the heck out of those guys (ditto on the Aiel sent to the Blight)

As for the Kin it is assumed that they are all team light because of the fact that the Black Ajah was sent to collect the stash of Ter'angreal and they did not know where to look. It is quite possible they are 100% pure but even Ivory soap is not and are you saying that the Kin is better than Ivory soap? are you?!

Probably not. anywhoo...

Chances are that Team Dark was interested in recruiting as many people as they could and those plans have gone flooey the way plans have done for both sides. I do think that it will not be much of an epic battle of Light v Dark if there are not a number of surprises and unfortuneatly I think we are all going to be, well surprised may be a word but annoyed may be more accurate, dishartened as to how many dreadfolk show up to oppose those foolish enough to want to live.

I know, right? What is with all this "I like to eat food that is not spoiled and full of weevils" and the "I would like to not die a stabbity stabbity death"? Sheesh, there is no pleasing some people.
Noneo Yourbusiness
100. Longtimefan
Also, Hi Wetlandernw! I totally agree that useing the word as a suffix is unpleasant.

It seems to be a trend and perhaps we will all be lucky enough for this trend to fall out of fashion soon.

I have always felt that it was a bit lazy but that it also indicated that the person using it was acknowledging that the action it suffixed fulfilled its required definition but achieved that goal in a somewhat lazy way. Not that I am saying it is a worthy term but that I can understand how it gained applicable acceptance. (there are other factors but this is really not the place to write that book nor do I think you would be that interested in why since it would be better if it went away) :)

On a completely unrelated note about competence and film and things that are enjoyable I would ask if you had seen "the Kings Speech"? I just saw it and it was terrific. It is somewhat topic related as the movie has Kings and the threat of a great War in it and so does the Wheel of Time series. :)

Edit: 100 tee hee!
101. hamstercheeks
Longtimefan@99: No, I am not saying that the Kin is better than Ivory soap. Consider me chastened.
Tricia Irish
102. Tektonica
longtimefan@various: My, you have a way with words. Good concepts and a very amusing read!

Competency Porn: I assume using the term "Porn" connotes something that excites people. In it's most pervasive form in our culture, it is disgusting to me, but attaching it to the word "Competence" is so incongruous, that it makes me laugh. How ironic is it that we can be "thrilled" by mere "competence" amongst the AS? We make up words here all the time. I think it was a very creative use of the language and very descriptive.
Alice Arneson
103. Wetlandernw
chaplainchris @98 - Yes, I noted your criticism of the term, which was part of why I said what I did. My comments were intended by way of support rather than criticism (of you in particular), and one of those rhetorical question to anyone else who might care. How about moment of competence (MOC), or even moment of awesome competence (MOAC). They'd be easier to type, too.

Longtimefan @99 - I'm not going to look it up unless someone insists, but at some point Suroth is contemplating making Liandrin a damane instead of da'covale, wishing she could find a Darkfriend sul'dam. She thinks that "for some reason sul'dam rarely choose to serve the Great Lord." Something to that effect, anyway, so it seems that, for whatever reason, there is a lower percentage of DF among the sul'dam.

About the DF social - IIRC, the answer is that there were several specific characters there that we were supposed to be able to I.D. eventually, but a lot of them were just... there. So, probably not identifiable. According to the Encyclopaedia WoT, there were 27 named DFs as of the end of KoD, as well as 26 BA. More BA were revealed in TGS, but the Encyclopaedia doesn't list them so as not to spoil it. Not sure if more DFs were revealed in TGS or ToM, but I'm pretty sure we're nowhere near 100 named or identifiable.

also @100 - No, I haven't yet seen The King's Speech, but I'd sure like to. I usually enjoy Colin Firth's movies anyway, and the subject is one I find interesting as well. So... thanks for the recommendation! It's on my list, and just moved up a notch or several. :)

Tektonica @102 - It's not a battle I'm going to fight here, both because these terms rarely originate here (as this did not) and because it is endemic to our culture. I grant that its (only) humor is in the incongruity, but... the idea that the most exciting and thrilling metaphor one can find is pornography? As I said, I think it's lame (not to say pitiable), and the humor doesn't balance that for me. Porn is generally recognized as exciting and thrilling in large part because of the "guilty pleasure" aspect; I see no guilt in enjoying an unexpected flash of competence.

Well, that's more than enough said. I just wanted to say it once and get it over with.
Noneo Yourbusiness
104. Longtimefan
Wetlandernw, I remember the scene now and you are correct there seems to be a dearth of Dark sul'dam.

If people who channel can be turned by 13+13 does this also include non active channelers? As the reader knows the sul'dam are women who can learn how to but will not channel without training. Does the ability to channel make them convertible or do they have to touch the source before they could have their darkness hightened?

with only one book to go I doubt it will be an answered query but it is just something I thought of.
William Fettes
105. Wolfmage
I'm a bit late to the party here, but here's my two cents on appending the word porn to different words to denote different tropes.

I think a distinction can be made between rhetorically valid usage, which actually harnesses some of the connotations of porn, and lazy usage which does not. For example, I would argue that the reason “competency porn” fails the smell test is because the phenomenon that is being exhibited is ordinarily classified as a virtue. Accordingly, the role of the “porn” modifier is simply to the grade the intensity and frequency of the competency. So we know it's intended to be titillating but not much else. More specifically, we don't know whether the titillation is done in a relatively effective way, or whether it's done in a crass way, such as with Mary Sue fanfic. In other words it's a shortcut that doesn't shortcut much at all.

“Description porn” and other neutral or virtue variants would appear to suffer from the same flaw.

However, not all usage is like this. For example, I would argue “torture porn” and “disaster porn” are two variants of this convention that are rhetorically useful. Disaster porn is a term that is typically used in relation to a 24/7 parade of images and video that result after journalistic vultures descend on a disaster area in an effort to provide the most spectacular coverage of an event. Torture porn, likewise, applies to television and film which exhibits a saturated overuse of violence, that’s usually not in service to any broader moral purpose, plot, or character development.

In both cases, I would argue the porn suffix actually fulfils a valid literary purpose because it conveys the exploitative and voyeuristic quality of the content itself and presumably the content makers, not just the fact that it is intended to be titillating.
106. Freelancer

The use of "porn" in otherwise incongruous ways is not new:


Never eat yellow snow, and never go up against a two-tailed 'Cat.

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