Jan 21 2011 2:11pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Crossroads of Twilight, Part 16

Crossroads of Twilight by Robert JordanGreetings, Wheel of Timers! Shall we have a Re-read?

Today’s entry covers Chapters 23 and 24 of Crossroads of Twilight, in which we contemplate Significant Jewelry, unexpected implied personal revelations, and whether we wouldn’t prefer a nice game of chess.

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

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

And now, the post!

Chapter 23: Ornaments

What Happens
Cadsuane looks out the window of Lord Algarin’s manor house and wonders if it had been too easy to convince the boy to come to Tear. Verin enters to report that she had delivered the Sea Folk to the capital without going near the Stone, though she’d managed to hear that Astoril has thrown in with Darlin, and that Harine had dashed straight to the harbor, convinced she would be named Mistress of the Ships immediately. Min bursts in at this, protesting that she had told Harine that she would be punished first. Cadsuane chastises her for rudeness; Min flushes, but only says that Rand has asked for Cadsuane. Cadsuane dismisses her firmly, and Verin laughs.

“She’s in love with the young man, Cadsuane, and she’s tucked her heart in his pocket. She’ll follow that before her head, whatever you say or do. I think she’s afraid he almost died on her, and you know how that can make a woman determined to hang on.”

Cadsuane’s lips thinned. Verin knew more about that sort of relations with men than she did—she had never believed in indulging with her own Warders, as some Greens did, and other men had always been out of the question—but the Brown had hit close to a truth without knowing. At least, Cadsuane did not think the other sister knew Min was bonded to the al’Thor boy. She herself only knew because the girl had let too much slip in a careless moment.

Verin begins nattering about Tear, clearly wanting to know why she had been instructed to avoid the sisters there, but Cadsuane uses Rand’s summoning as an excuse and leaves. Verin follows her, but gets diverted by Nesune, who traps her in a conversation about snakes.

It was a remarkable sight, and troubling in a way. Nesune was loyal to Elaida, or had been, while Verin was one of those who wanted to pull Elaida down. Or had been. Now they talked amiably about snakes. That both had sworn fealty to the al’Thor boy could be laid to his being ta’veren, winding the Pattern around himself unconsciously, but was that oath sufficient to make them ignore their opposition over who held the Amyrlin Seat? Or were they affected by having a ta’veren in close proximity? She would have liked very much to know that. None of her ornaments protected against ta’veren. Of course, she did not know what two of the fish and one of the moons did, but it seemed unlikely they did that.

Cadsuane comes upon Beldeine and Merise on a colonnade overlooking the courtyard, watching the Warders below, where Jahar is sparring with (and repeatedly losing against) Lan. Beldeine gives Cadsuane a frosty stare and leaves; Merise smiles and comments that Beldeine is getting worried about her lack of a Warder, and is considering finding an Asha’man to be one. Cadsuane notes that her eight-pointed star ornament is vibrating, as it always does in the presence of a man who can channel. Cadsuane asks after Daigian, and Merise answers that she is doing better than expected. She remarks that the Asha’man mourn their own the same way Warders do.

“I did not intrude, of course, but I watched them drink in memory of Daigian’s young Eben. They never mentioned his name, but they had a full winecup sitting for him. Bassane and Nethan, they know they can die on any day, and they accept that. Jahar expects to die; every day he expects it. To him, every hour is most assuredly his last.”

Cadsuane asks if Merise thinks al’Thor really succeeded in cleansing the taint; Merise thinks it feels cleaner than it did, but saidin is so chaotic and alien to her that she can’t be sure. Cadsuane notes Nynaeve down in the yard as well, and thinks her a frivolous girl, though she admits Nynaeve has a brain when she chooses to use it. She’s more concerned about the set of jewelry Nynaeve wears, which includes an angreal stronger than Cadsuane’s shrike ornament.

The others were much like her own decorations, too, ter’angreal and plainly made at the same time, during the Breaking of the World, when an Aes Sedai might find many hands turned against her, most especially those of men who could channel. Strange to think that they had been called Aes Sedai, too. It would be like meeting a man called Cadsuane.

The question—her morning seemed filled with questions, and the sun not halfway to noon yet—the question was, did the girl wear her jewelry because of the al’Thor boy, or the Asha’man? Or because of Cadsuane Melaidhrin?

Merise suddenly comments that Jahar has gotten stronger in the Power, and she is not sure how strong he will become; Cadsuane knows that she is worried he will become stronger than she, and replies that Jahar seems content, but Merise tells her that he is very upset that Merise took away the Dragon pin al’Thor gave him, and asks if Cadsuane thinks she should give it back. Cadsuane is astounded that Merise is actually asking for advice on how to handle a Warder, and disturbed at this evidence that bonding men who can channel is changing the power balance between Aes Sedai and Warders. She goes on to al’Thor’s rooms, where Elza jealously tries to bar her from entering, until Alivia points out that Rand sent for Cadsuane. Elza reluctantly goes in to announce Cadsuane, and Alivia apologizes for Elza, remarking that Elza isn’t sure how to serve anyone.

“Aes Sedai keep their word,” Cadsuane replied dryly. The woman made her feel as if her own way of talking were as quick and crisp as a Cairhienin’s! “We must.”

“I think you do. Just so you know, I keep my word, too. I owe him anything he wants of me.”

Cadsuane is fascinated by this comment, but then Elza comes back out with Lord Algarin, and Cadsuane perforce enters. Inside, Rand offers her wine politely, and she notes that his eyes are even colder than before Shadar Logoth; he staggers once, and she knows it is from weariness, rather than from seizing saidin. He mentions that Algarin had a brother who could channel, and Cadsuane acknowledges that she had been the one to bring him to Tar Valon to be gentled, though she doesn’t mention that Algarin had been grateful that his brother survived ten years afterward, after Cadsuane had helped reconcile him to it. Rand comments that Algarin has asked to be tested, but Cadsuane refuses to rise to the bait, which Rand acknowledges ruefully. They discuss the Seanchan, and their well-deserved reputation for never losing a war. Cadsuane asks if he’s considering the possibility that he can’t defeat them; Rand answers irritably that he can eventually, but before he can elaborate they are interrupted by Erian and Sarene physically pushing a protesting Elza into the room, to report that their Warders they had left behind in Cairhien are suddenly much closer, obviously via gateway. Elza reluctantly admits then that her Warder is coming too, and Cadsuane wonders if she would have mentioned it if the others hadn’t.

“I didn’t expect it so soon,” the boy said softly. Softly, but there was steel in his voice. “But I shouldn’t have expected events to wait on me, should I, Cadsuane?”

“Events never wait on anyone,” she said, standing. […] What had brought those Warders from Cairhien, and who had Traveled with them, might be problems enough to go on with, but she thought she had gotten another answer from the boy, and she was going to have to consider very carefully how to advise him on it. Sometimes, the answers were thornier than the questions.

So this is yet another chapter where really nothing much happens, but even so I rather liked it. Cadsuane frequently pisses me off where Rand is concerned, but I’ve generally rather enjoyed her observations about other characters. Which is basically all this chapter is: Cadsuane assessing the state of everyone in the party post-Cleansing. It wasn’t particularly plot-movement-oriented, but it was interesting. It’s also a more subtle example of one of Jordan’s “themelet” chapters, using the revelations about what more of Cadsuane’s hair ornaments do as segues and/or excuses to muse about the larger situation.

Though I have to say, the thing that most sharply caught my attention about this chapter, contained in the first bit I quoted, is utterly trivial, and yet, whoa. When I realized the (probable) implications, I won’t lie, my eyebrows shot up.

‘Cause… um. So… if Cadsuane refused to have sex with her Warders, and other men were “out of the question,” then… Wow. Really? In almost four hundred years, never? Never ever? That’s… wow.

Of course, this doesn’t mean she’s never had sex ever, just that she’s (apparently) never had sex with a man. Given the way Jordan’s set up the Aes Sedai social system, well, let’s just say I highly doubt Cadsuane is actually a virgin. Which is fine, empirically, but… sigh. Especially because it automatically and prejudicially invites a lot of uncomplimentary speculation on her attitude toward men in general, which I resist strenuously because of how easily it slides into judging someone for their sexual choices, which is just shitty and stupid.

Celibacy is (obviously) not for everyone (and a good thing too, owing to that whole “propagating the species” thing), but it is just as legitimate a choice as any other, and I’ve personally never been a fan of the school of thought which seems to insist that sexual experience is directly proportional to life wisdom or whatever, which is (in an odd way) kind of like insisting that someone who doesn’t cook is not allowed to have an opinion about food. Which is just silly. I mean, some people may believe that, but some people are, frankly, snobs.


“Strange to think that [men] had been called Aes Sedai, too”: I have nothing to say here, I’m just chortling wickedly at my copy of ToM. Heh.

Oh, and Cadsuane? Don’t kid yourself. Nynaeve is totally wearing her *greal jewelry set because of you.

Merise: I honestly DO NOT GET the Jahar/Merise thing, at all. I just don’t understand how anyone could be so devoted to someone who snaps and points them around like a servant, and takes away their most prized possessions just because they didn’t come from her! Seriously, WHAT THE HELL, Merise. Give Jahar back his damn Dragon pin, Jesus. Just—agh.

And you know, while I’m happy that Merise and the others seem to be moving toward a sort-of more egalitarian balance of power with their Asha’Warders, the fact that the impetus to do so (for Merise, anyway) is due to consideration of Jahar’s strength in the Power makes me want to beat my head against a wall. That goddamn strength-based hierarchy, I swear. Also, really not a good idea for the Aes Sedai in general, considering that men are generally stronger in the Power than women are. Maybe we should base it on something else, guys! Like, oh, I don’t know, mutual respect and human dignity?

No? Yeah, ha ha, right? Me so crazy, I know. What’s that sound? Oh, nothing, just my teeth grinding. Don’t mind me!

Alivia: I still think she’s a rather shoehorned-in character, but nevertheless I’m as intrigued by her comment here as Cadsuane was. I mean, the reason for her devotion to Rand is obvious (he freed her), and yet it seems oddly insufficient, or something. Even though it isn’t. I don’t know, she’s just weird. Have we ever been in her head? I don’t think so. I’d like to see that, really.

Elza: GRR LEIGH SMASH. That is all.


Chapter 24: A Strengthening Storm

What Happens
Rand lies on his bed with Min and tries to figure out how to keep her and Elayne and Aviendha safe. Lews Therin tells him just to hope he isn’t the one who kills them, and Rand wonders again if he could dare to tell Cadsuane about him.

Trust no one, Lews Therin murmured, then gave a wry laugh. Including me.

Min punches him for being melancholy, and gets up before he can start something, asking him what he’s going to do about “them,” or Cadsuane, but Rand doesn’t know. He thinks he had never anticipated Bashere showing up with some half-dozen Asha’man—including Logain, who Rand is amazed is a full Asha’man. Even more surprising is the eight Aes Sedai with them, seemingly voluntarily, which Logain had been reluctant to explain about in front of Bashere. He doesn’t know what Cadsuane will do about any of it; Lews Therin suggests that Alivia would be willing to get rid of her, but Rand reminds him that he can’t afford for Cadsuane to die before she teaches him whatever she’s going to teach him.

“You have to do something,” Min muttered, folding her arms beneath her breasts. “Logain’s aura still speaks of glory, stronger than ever. Maybe he still thinks he’s the real Dragon Reborn. And there’s something… dark… in the images I saw around Lord Davram. If he turns against you, or dies… I heard one of the soldiers say Lord Dobraine might die. Losing even one of them would be a blow. Lose all three, and it might take you a year to recover.”

Rand thinks of Mat for a moment and sees color swirls and a momentary image of a man on a wagon seat, different from the other face he sees sometimes. Elza enters and tells them the Ogier has arrived, and Min gleefully rushes into the outer room to greet Loial, followed by a peevish Elza. Only when alone does Rand seize saidin, fighting the nausea and dizziness that follows; Lews Therin murmurs that it is clean again, which it is, and Rand doesn’t understand why he’s still getting sick from it. He fights off Lews Therin’s attempt to take saidin from him and goes into the outer room, where he spins a web against eavesdropping and knots it so he can release saidin again.

Suddenly it struck him that he had thought of what he had done as spinning a web. That was how Lews Therin would put it. That sort of thing happened too often, the other man’s turns of phrase drifting into his head, the other man’s memories mingling with his. He was Rand al’Thor, not Lews Therin Telamon. He had woven a ward and tied off the weave, not spun a web and knotted it. But the one came to him as easily as the other.

After some small talk, Rand asks Loial what the Elders said, and after some rambling Loial tells him that he and Karldin visited every stedding except Shangtai, and while some did not believe his message, most agreed to guard the Waygates near them; Rand calculates that that leaves nine Waygates unguarded. Loial also tells him that the Ogier have called The Great Stump in Shangtai, for the first time in a thousand years, but no one would tell him what it was called for. Rand notices how tired Loial looks, and suggests that he go back to Shangtai and rest, but Loial is terrified of running into his mother and Erith. Min asks why, since she knows Loial wants to marry Erith.

“Erith will expect me to settle down and stay home. Wives never let a husband go anywhere or do anything, if it means leaving the stedding for more than a few days. I have my book to finish, and how can I do that if I don’t see everything Rand does? I’m sure he’s done all sorts of things since I left Cairhien, and I know I’ll never get it all down right. Erith just wouldn’t understand.”

Rand is disgusted with himself for thinking he could still use Loial outside the stedding, and excuses himself to go talk with Bashere and Logain, but Loial stops him and says there’s something he needs to know about the Aes Sedai who came with them.

I told you to kill them all when you had the chance, Lews Therin laughed. I told you.

Barely holding to calm, Cadsuane asks Samitsu if she’s sure Toveine and the others have been bonded. Samitsu answers that no one’s said so outright, but it’s clear both Toveine and Gabrelle are with Logain, and she thinks Gabrelle is bedding him to boot; if there’s bonding involved, Samitsu is sure that it’s the men who’ve done it, not the sisters.

“Turnabout,” Cadsuane muttered into her tea. Some said that turnabout was fair play, but she had never believed in fighting fair. Either you fought, or you did not, and it was never a game. Fairness was for people standing safely to one side, talking while others bled.

Cadsuane tells Samitsu that she is to go back to Cairhien, but Samitsu tells her bitterly that Sashalle has taken over completely there, and no one listens to her anymore, but Cadsuane tells her she wants her to watch Sashalle along with the other Dragonsworn sisters. Samitsu asks what al’Thor intends to do, and Cadsuane replies that he intends to do something very dangerous; to herself, she thinks she doesn’t know whether to stop him.

Enraged, Rand shouts at Logain that the bonding has to stop; he will not risk a war with the White Tower. Calmly, Logain asks if he means that they must release the Aes Sedai, and whether the Aes Sedai who have bonded Asha’man will do the same. Sourly, Rand answers no, thinking of how shocked Merise had been at the mere suggestion of releasing Narishma, and how he was sure Flinn would refuse to be unbonded from Corele in any case, as they seem to have a thing for each other. He points out, though, that this will make Elaida more determined than ever to exterminate the Asha’man, and Egwene might demand that the disparity be evened up at the very least, even if she doesn’t feel the same as Elaida. Logain is not pleased to be dressed down like this in front of Loial and Bashere, but counters that Taim ordered it, and Logain assumed the order came from Rand. He tells Rand that Flinn and Narishma and Manfor are all on the deserters’ list, and every full Asha’man at the Black Tower except Logain himself is part of Taim’s privately trained “coterie.” He urges Rand to turn his attention to the Black Tower before Taim splits it worse than the White Tower is, for more Asha’man will be loyal to Taim than to Rand if that happens. Rand irritably thinks that Logain wouldn’t even believe that Rand was responsible for cleansing the taint from saidin.

Did he think the Creator had decided to stretch out a merciful hand after three thousand years of suffering? The Creator had made the world and then left humankind to make of it what they would, a heaven or the Pit of Doom by their choosing. The Creator had made many worlds, watched each flower or die, and gone on to make endless worlds beyond. A gardener did not weep for each blossom that fell.

For an instant, he thought those must have been Lews Therin’s reflections. He had never gone on that way about the Creator or anything else that he recalled. But he could feel Lews Therin nodding in approval, a man listening to someone else. Still, it was not the kind of thing he would have considered before Lews Therin. How much space remained between them?

He tells Logain that Taim will have to wait, and asks Bashere why he’s here. Bashere tells him about the men who ransacked his tent, and the similar attack on Dobraine in Cairhien, and that both incidents were obviously attempts to steal the three unbroken seals known to be in Rand’s forces’ possession. Loial points out the obvious of what will happen if all the seals on the Dark One’s prison are broken; Rand wonders where the seventh seal is and whether or not it is broken too, and whether this signals the opening move of the Last Battle.

“You told me something once, Bashere. If your enemy offers you two targets…”

“Strike at a third,” Bashere finished promptly, and Rand nodded. He had already decided, anyway. Thunder rattled the windows till the casements shook. The storm was strengthening.

“I can’t fight the Shadow and the Seanchan at the same time. I am sending the three of you to arrange a truce with the Seanchan.”

Bashere and Logain seemed stunned into silence. Until they began to argue, one on top of the other. Loial just looked ready to faint.

Elza listens to her Warder Fearil’s report, and finally reassures him that he did right to come along with the other Warders to Tear to avoid suspicion. Fearil is deeply relieved that she is not going to punish him. She regrets that Fera (White), who she had discovered in Cairhien was also Black Ajah, had not been able to come along. She tells Fearil that she thinks a few people will have to die soon, but in the meantime he will kill anyone who threatens the Dragon Reborn.

After all, it had become perfectly clear to her, while she herself was a captive of the savages. The Dragon Reborn had to reach Tarmon Gai’don, or how could the Great Lord defeat him there?

Stunna! No one expects the Spanish Inquisition a truce with the Seanchan!

Especially not me. Because I kind of hate them, for one, but also because taking the non-belligerent route is practically out of character for Rand at this point. I don’t mean that as a compliment, either. Even though I kind of hate the Seanchan. Never let it be said I am not a complicated person. Or a fickle person, whatever, shut up.

On fighting fair: I gotta say, I’m with Cadsuane on this one. “Fighting fair” is a concept that only makes sense to people who’ve never been in a real fight. Which ties in, really, with Rand’s decision to seek a truce instead, despite what I just said above about not liking it much. If you can’t commit to a fight, because you know it would be disastrous to do so, the only winning move is not to play. Of course, we have yet to see how well that will (or won’t) go, ultimately; Rand almost jumping off the cliff of Crazy in TGS botched things but good, and Tuon’s thoughts in ToM on the subject do not bode well, to say the least.

So, new theories on both Min’s viewings in this chapter. Logain’s glory is totally going to be connected in him bringing down Taim and his Dreadlord assembly line, for one. As for Bashere, I used to think her viewing of him here meant that he was going to die, along with Tenobia, thus making Faile ‘n Perrin the new rulers of Saldaea, but given what happens between them and Elayne in ToM, I really didn’t get the vibe that Perrin was going to allow himself to be separated from the Two Rivers under any circumstances. Maybe the “broken crown” viewing Min had of him waaaay back in TEOTW only meant he was going to hook up with a member of the Saldaean royal family—which he has—rather than that he was going to end up actually wearing the crown himself. Although, I’m pretty sure Faile would be the one actually crowned even if they do end up in Saldaea, so. *shrug* We’ll see.

I remember I was a wee bit disappointed that we were kind of shortchanged on Rand and Logain’s first meeting, in that the narrative pretty much skipped it entirely. I had rather looked forward to seeing one of them assessing his first impression of the other, alas. And OF COURSE Rand doesn’t listen to Logain about Taim here, because he never listens to anyone about that, and grr.

And where is that damn seventh seal, y’all? I think we still don’t know!

Reading Rand’s thoughts here about Lews Therin leakage is a very different experience post-ToM: a bit sad-making, but also much less ominous. Now I find myself wanting him to just get over it and merge already, when on first reading I was all yikes at the notion. And yes, I know I said I wasn’t entirely a fan of post-merging Jedi Master Rand in ToM, but still, better than Psycho Murderous Rand, sez me. I can be fickle complicated about many things, so neener!

Ogier marriage customs continue to suck, owing to how much they resemble the gender-flipped version of what marriage used to be like in the real world back in the day. And now I have this utterly bizarre image of Loial as a plucky-and-free-spirited-and-yet-also-somehow-perfectly-proper Regency heroine sneaking off to have adventures and write about the Napoleonic Wars on the big bad Continent before, somewhat disappointingly, going home and marrying the dark-and-mysterious-and-kind-of-bitchy-and-mean-and-yet-also-somehow-soooo-dreamy Lord Barkleschnark of Widdershins or whatever, and man my brain is messed up.

Elza: GRR LEIGH SMASH. That is all.

And also, that is all for this post! Have an entirely Global Thermonuclear War-free weekend, people, and I’ll see you again on Tuesday!

Marcus W
1. toryx
The whole "broken crown" thing has come up over and over again over the last couple of years, but after reading ToM I kind of think that it's an allusion to there no longer being enough people for Saldaea to even have a crown when the Last Battle is done. In that sense, the crown actually will be broken.

But I could be completely wrong.

Oh, and I dig the War Games references. :)
2. beerdestroyer
oops! first post and first post!
3. hamstercheeks
Thanks, Leigh!

Er, isn't Nynaeve wearing all her jewelry due to Alivia, not Cadsuane?
4. hamstercheeks
And as for the 300+ years of probable abstinence, well, isn't the One Power better than sex? Eh? Eh?
5. AndrewB
These chapters are emblomatic of why I did not like CoT. I lot of words on the page but relatively no character movement.

That is all I have to say on these chapters. Thanks for reading my musings.


edit: I am No. 5. Do I get a stcker for that?
Daniel Goss
6. Beren
No, number 5 is alive. You don't get a sticker; you get a slapstick robot comedy.

These chapters . . . About the only thing that sticks out, to me, is the 'dark' aura around Bashere. Do we ever get any indication of what that might mean?

7. iamnotspam
Men and women viewpoints. Dragonpin a sign of divided loyalties to Merise. Dragonpin a sign of accomplishment and respect to Jahar. She doesn't get that to the Asha’man the pin is as important at the Aes Sedai rings.
8. RanchoUnicorno
Sure, it's a little passe to be postulating on the Rand/BT issue, but I wonder if there is any reason why the Moridin stream mesh may not be responsible for ignoring Taim. That is, Rand would have dealt with the mess, but because of the Moridin influence in the back of his mind, the thought gets pushed away from him before he can act.

Or, I'm making this up as I go along.
Heidi Byrd
9. sweetlilflower
You mentioned that Cadsuane has apparently never had sex, but what I found funnier was the implication that Verin has been getting around a lot :-)
10. Joebuu
Concerning the 7th seal, that was the one that Nynaeve found in Tanchico. Rand can account for 6 seals but not all seven, but we as the reader know what happened to it. It makes me wish the characters would communicate just a little more often on the important topics, you know, since Nynaeve just happens to be with Rand.

When I first read CoT this was the part of the book I sped through to find. I couldn't wait to get Rand's perspective post-Cleansing. His small bit of philosphy on the nature of the Creator was the 2nd best part of the book for me after the scene where Perrin gets rid of his axe. I think it is very telling of the philopshy in the entire series.
Marcus W
11. toryx
sweetlilflower @ 9: That's a good point about Verin knowing more of those kinds of relations than Cadsuane does. I'd never quite noticed it before and it is kind of funny.
12. Congars&Coplies
I find it interesting that the comments about the Creator being a gardener who doesn't weep over a fallen blossom is followed by "...but he feel could Lews Therin nodding in approval, a man listening to someone else."
Does this mean that the blossom comments are from Moridin, the 'third man' in Rand's crowded cranium? I think such existentialist musings would fit well with an Ishy philosophy.
Brandon Daggerhart
13. BDaggerhart
I hate that Logain hasn't gotten the respect he deserves from Rand at this point - the dude is in a pretty harsh spot.

It's also a shame that the whole 'who-bonded-who-now-why-and-when-huh?" shenanigans has to take such a dark overtone. I think it is likely that eventually, Aes Sedai and Asha'Man will bond each other all the time, which really makes more sense than standard warrior-Warders anyway. Why? Because standard non-channeling Warders don't live to be 300+ years old. This gives the bonded couple much greater time to develop trust and respect, and also gets rid of the whole (sad) prospect of "retraining" a Warder once your first one dies of old age.
14. Kadere
The seals Rand knows about are

1) the broken seal at the Eye.

2 and 3) broke at Falme.

4) Found in the Stone of Tear. Rand has it, gave it away to be protected.

5) Found in Rhuidean. Rand has it, gave it away to be protected.

6) Given to Rand by Taim. Rand has it, gave it away to be protected.

The seventh seal Nynaeve found in Tanchico. Broke on the journey to Salidar, for some totally crazy reason she refuses to mention this to anyone, including Rand.
Jody Liner
15. LightBlindedFool
I thought the Broken Crown was the name of the Saldaean diadem (like the Rose Crown in Andor or the former Laurel Crown in Illian).
Lannis .
16. Lannis
I appreciate that Cadsuane realizes Nynaeve "has a brain when she chooses to use it." Granted, Nynaeve has been acting more and more Aes Sedai-esque as the series goes on... or, well, until her test for the shawl (re: choosing to help others over the Tower).

And I'm totally with sweetlilflower @ 9: Sounds like Verin knows a few tricks... that sneaky sneaky Verin, always surprising us!

Thanks, Leigh!
Liz J
17. Ellisande
yay, new post! Thanks, Leigh.

I have vague memories of reading a discussion on this part about the "attempt" to find the Seals gets made, and I remember agreeing that it was sort of a half-hearted effort by the Dark (ransacking a tent? Really?). But I don't recall the rationale for it. Or if anything comes out of it. Anyone?

Rand and the BT. sigh He knows it's a giant whirlpool of Dark Suck on some level, I think, so he's avoiding dealing with it, especially when his channeling remains difficult and inconsistent. But maybe it isn't only avoidance but the Pattern itself, making him stay away. I've been re-reading a bit of WH and how Mat dallied around just long enough for Tuon to show up - all for perfectly good reasons - and it made me think about how there's always something slightly more pressing for Rand to deal with than the BT (which, okay, authorial fiat, but ignoring that). Or in other words, maybe Rand isn't supposed to deal with the BT? It's Logain's job to step up. Logain is basically Egwene in a way (head of the rebel faction of a broken branch of the AS). It was never Rand's job to 'fix' the White Tower, though if he'd integrated with LTT much earlier he could've at least made the argument that it was. So maybe, by analogy, it's not his place to fix the BT either. Which, Pattern-wise, makes sense -- these insitutions should both outlast the Dragon Reborn, and they need to be reshaped by the people who will, presumably, be around in the aftermath.

And I think I've led myself to the theory that Gawyn should learn to channel, so Egwene and Logain can both have channelling Warders for symmetry. I better stop.
Eigor Maldonado
18. e-mann
Crazy theory about Rand and his channeling sickness, now we all know that Nynaeve, as ToM, has a new ability to look into someone’s mental constitution, and consequently “heals” an Ashaman from his mental illness. Would it be so farfetched that Rand’s problem sickness with the Power is an affect of his lingering madness causing him to believe that every time he tries to wield the Power he is going to be sick? In ToM the Ashaman healed by Nynaeve was adamant that he saw shadow spawn in the shadows until he was healed. We also know that when Nynaeve delved Rand for his madness his entire mind was covered in that black madness.
Just a theory
Brian Vrolyk
20. vyskol
The Seven Seals: Status Report @ Dragonmount. TOR won't let me post the URL, but it's in the FAQ, section 2.3.14.

As others have pointed out, Nynaeve found the 7th (6th) seal, already broken, and hasn't bothered to inform Rand.
Torie Atkinson
21. Torie
Okay guys, you can stop flagging beerdestroyer @ 2. I think the new low he or she reached of shouting first without actually being first speaks more volume than any cat picture could.
22. deebee
Cadsuane`s musing that Verin knows more about "that sort of relations with men than she did" reminds me of our Two Rivers trio always being convinced that the other two are more successful with girls than they are, maybe she`s making assumptions here? (or maybe I just can`t get my head round foxyVerin...)

As for Merise and Jahar, the scene where she discusses taking his pin away always makes me think about someone training a puppy-take his toy away till he learns what "drop it!" means.
Tricia Irish
23. Tektonica
Hi Leigh! How's the snow going? Geez you guys have had a lot this winter, already!

Good thought on Moridan perhaps influencing Rand to ignore Logains' warnings @8. That continues to be a big area of frustration, even after ToM. Argh.

The whole kerfluffle about the bonding AS to AM and AM to AS is a great beginning of what should become common place in the next age. I am so hopeful that one of the major victories in MoL will be respect, communication and cooperation between the sexes!! It's really one of the biggest parts of WoT and the cause of much grief.

And yeah, I did chortle here thinking about Rand telling Cads in ToM to call him Rand Sedai! Love it!

Why is it so creepy to think of Verin in the sack? Ewwww.
(Cads would be much worse!)
Nathaniel Gulick
24. PresN
@20 - I don't quite rmember, but doesn't Rand or Egwene or somebody say that there are three seals left in ToM? Implying that she told somebody. I guess she told people at the rebel Aes Sedai camp, so if it was Egwene then there's no proof that Rand would know. It seemed like Nynaeve told Rand a lot off-screen in the last few books, though, so maybe he does know anyway.
Daniel Goss
25. Beren
e-mann @ 18

That's an interesting idea. The only issue with that theory may be the abundance of evidence that his sickness is related to his encounter with Moridin in Shadar Logoth. It didn't start until after that, and several times when it happened he 'saw' Moridin's face. In fact, I think that once it even said that he "seemed to be almost touching" him. With those statements, I feel fairly safe in concluding that the sickness was brought on by the crossing of the balefire streams. In fact, don't we see Moridin experiencing something similar at one point in TGS? The real question here, then, is why don't we see it effecting him anymore?

j p
26. sps49
Why did Narishma let his pin be taken? Not even a "my precious, it's mine"? Stupid childish Aes Sedai. This calls back my dislike for the Warder bond in the first place- why does the Warder have to be subservient?

I hope the bonding scene doesn't get the New Spring cover.

Why is Logain disbelieving Rand about the Cleansing? I had liked him okay, but wtf?

Go Verin!

I dunno about Cadsuane, but I have the impression that most non-Green White Tower initiates shun heterosex the way nuns do (and continue the analogy...).

Can't wait for the Black Tower purge!
Stefan Mitev
27. Bergmaniac
Tektonika @23 - "The whole kerfluffle about the bonding AS to AM and AM to AS is a great beginning of what should become common place in the next age. I am so hopeful that one of the major victories in MoL will be respect, communication and cooperation between the sexes!!"

Unless both sides come up with a new type of bonding weave, which doesn't allow for compelling the bonded or even worse, turn him into a total slave like the Asha'man bonding weave does on the bonded Aes Sedai, I really don't want to see this happening. They can cooperate without bonding en masse. It should be an equal partnership, not always one clearly in control through magical means.

The pin incident with Jahar is definitely one of the most annoying parts in the whole series for me. Merise's attitude as if Jahar is some pet who should be trained is sickening.

Rand's refusal to take decisive actions about the Black Tower really strained my suspension of disbelief back then, and continues to do now 3 books later.

It's interesting for me that from what we can gather of the brief mention here, Cadsuane wasn't surprised much by the discovery that a non-channelling woman (Min) was able to bond Rand as a Warder. Does that mean that she knew such a weave and it wasn't a discovery of Elayne and Aviendha?
Rich Bennett
28. Neuralnet
I remember when I first read these chapters being so dissapointed that Logain didnt believe Rand had cleansed saidin. Also, I really expected all the male channelers to be constantly thanking Nynaeve for her part in it.... she would become some sort of hero healer to them etc. LOL
29. c4and13r
I have the same thoughts on both of Cadsuane's comments about Aes Sedai and Nynaeve's parlis-net in relation to the scene in TOM with Rand “Sedai”.

Would say that scene in TOM is one of my most favorite scenes between Cadsuane and Rand.
James Hogan
30. Sonofthunder
I'm not really surprised that Jahar let Merise have his dragon pin. He's what - 17? 18? He's spent most of his life hearing about legendary Aes Sedai...and now he's bonded to one. He doesn't have the luxury of being older and more experienced like Flinn, who holds his own with Corele. Not saying Merise is right, necessarily, but she is older and more experienced, so Jahar defers to her. Makes sense to me. I'm willing to bet he's having a bit of an identity crisis(Asha'man vs. Warder). Still, I want him to have his dragon back!!

And Congars @12, I think that's a very interesting conjecture and I like it. It does sound quite like a Moridin thought. And the crazy part of Rand(Lews Therin!) agrees with that thought. Or it's just a sign of Rand and LTT becoming one man...I'm undecided.

And Elza's a punk. Grrr. I must admit, I never saw it coming. Does that make me dimwitted? Possibly.

Thanks Leigh!!
31. Catsy49
Ugh, Cadsuane. Worst Team-Rand old lady ever.

The Merise and Jahar was what most ticked me off these two chapters. Yes, the Logain and Rand conversation was not exactly on my most amazing things to happen, but still. GIVE HIM THE FREAKING PIN!! It's not going to kill him, it's a freaking pin!

Verin is still as creepy as ever.

Thank you, Leigh!
Thomas Keith
32. insectoid
I'm still chuckling at the silly sidewayness (or is that sideways silliness?) that went down near the end of the last post. XD

Great post, Leigh!

I don't have a lot to say about the chapters, except that I sort of enjoyed Rand's dressing down of Logain. Despite not taking his advice about Taim! ::takes glasses off:: *headdesk* Ow.

Also, Elza should be shoved off a cliff. Or perhaps a short pier?

Torie @21: But we like your cat pictures. :)

Tek @23: Good point about communication and cooperation... I sure hope they do that eventually. As an aside, kerfluffle has got to be a funnier new word than sidewayness. ;)

edit: Wait, what? Kerfluffle is actually a word??

sps49 @26: Re: New Spring eBook cover... Agreed. I think it ought to be the pond scene!

Tricia Irish
33. Tektonica

I completely agree with you about the inequality of the warder bonds. These are baby steps and are flawed....thus the kerfluffle. Hopefully Rand will have some AOL insight into a good way to bond. Perhaps 2 channelers shouldn't bond...power struggle and all that. It could be helpful in the LB however, for forming larger circles more quickly. ?

And I really didn't like Merise here. Typical haughty AS attitude. Ug. Give him his damn pin! How dare you take it away!
34. Hammerlock
1. The Eye of the World. Broken
2 and 3: Falme. Broken
4: Tanchico Museum: Broken
5: Tear: Intact but flaky
6: Rhuidean: Intact
7: Taim: Intact
5, 6, 7 are secreted away and supposedly packed in virgin wool in a tasteful oaken cask display case.
Don Barkauskas
35. bad_platypus
sps49 @26:
I dunno about Cadsuane, but I have the impression that most non-Green White Tower initiates shun heterosex the way nuns do (and continue the analogy...).

Well, we have this from Tarna Feir's POV in KoD, Ch. 25:
She herself found men far more attractive than women. Most seemed heavily intimidated by Aes Sedai, to be sure, especially if they learned you were Red Ajah, but over the years she had come across a few who were not.
It's not definitive, but I'd say the implication is clear. And if a Red is having sex with men, you can bet that other Aes Sedai are, as well.
36. archaeo

I'm not sure why it strains disbelief that Rand hasn't "dealt" with Taim and the BT. As far as Rand cares (prior to Veins of Gold, anyway), the BT is just a sword he plans to wield at the Last Battle. He has never trusted Taim, but he doesn't much trust Logain, either, and he thinks he understands Taim's actions as jealous and powergrabbing, things that won't matter come Tarmon Gai'don. He thinks there are way more important things to deal with: the Seanchan and bringing the forces of the Light together. It isn't until after VoG that he accepts that Logain was right, and that seems reasonable to me. Plot-wise, anyway, since we all know how stupid wrong Rand is about this.

The bonding thing is more interesting, which is why Merise's concern is actually kind of touching to me, or at least not "disgusting" or anything like that. Cadsuane is super surprised to even hear her talking about it, which should indicate how troubling it was. Prior to these first few Asha'man Warders, Warders never had any ranks or loyalties beyond their Aes Sedai. As for the reverse, I'm sympathetic to Logain and his boys -- what would you do if a big group of AS came to gentle you? The compulsion thing is gross, but Logain's followers are the Good Guys, let's remember, and the AS seem to be taking care of themselves pretty well. I feel pretty confident that this will get taken care of in some reasonable way.
37. Hammerlock
Agree with you on the bond--we've retread that bit to the Nth degree during the "taking" scene, but I still maintain it is far better than the alternatives.

Plot wise, I think Rand is deliberately isolating himself from the BT--or as he probably still thinks of it, the Farm--because every single other time he's gone there his urge to lay waste to the place was decidedly strong and inconvenient to him. He wants--needs--male channelers for the Last Battle, but he doesn't trust himself outside of his immediate coterie around them.
Stefan Mitev
38. Bergmaniac
archaeo @36
"I'm not sure why it strains disbelief that Rand hasn't "dealt" with Taim and the BT. As far as Rand cares (prior to Veins of Gold, anyway), the BT is just a sword he plans to wield at the Last Battle. He has never trusted Taim, but he doesn't much trust Logain, either, and he thinks he understands Taim's actions as jealous and powergrabbing, things that won't matter come Tarmon Gai'don."

But that's exactly it - the Asha'man are extremely valuable weapons yet Rand left them in the complete control of a guy with a dark past who he had met for 15 minutes and hadn't bother to oversee in any way since Book 6. It's completely irresponsible behaviour, especially considering few things that Rand knows by this point:

1) Taim's top lieutenants tried to kill Rand together

2)Taim's group of favourite Asha'men are the only that get the Dragon pins and he gives them private lessons, clear hint that Taim is creating a group loyal only to himself, not the Dragon.

3)Taim listed Flinn, Narishma and Hopwill as traitors, and those were Rand's most trusted Asha'man.

I understand that Lews Therin's ravings made it difficult for Rand to go to the Black Tower, but the very least he should've done was to send someone to investigate and to question Logain and the others more closely on what exactly is going on there, or even send someone to demand of Taim to come meet Rand somewhere away from the BT. Instead Rand chose to ignore everything and concetrate on Arad Doman, which in the grand scheme of things, is not nearly as important. And as we saw in ToM, Taim got enough time to turn the BT into Dreadlord factory. Every Asha'man turned is a big victory for the Shadow.
Andrew Belmont
39. rosetintdworld
Huh. I had never thought much about that philosophical Creator quote you picked out, or stopped to think about why Lews Therin might be nodding as if "listening someone else." Reading your summary, it seems blindingly obvious that these are Moridin's thoughts. Despite the dream-conversations, I'd never thought they'd progressed so far as to unknowingly leaking information to one another. Has this happened elsewhere?
Chris Chaplain
40. chaplainchris1
I have very little time right now, so I will comment on the one thing from the post which most stands out, which is this:

Leigh. I will Never. Forgive. You should be ashamed for putting that image of plucky-but-proper-heroine Loial into my brain. And also, I have not stopped chortling at said image. I can be complicated and fickle, too.

Thanks for another great post!
Theresa Gray
41. Terez27
@platypus - Toveine too:

TITLE - The Path of DaggersCHAPTER - The Extra Bit

He was very tall, with shoulders an axe-handle wide. That was how Mistress Doweel would have put it. Just short of his middle years, handsome in a brooding, rugged fashion. Not at all like the pretty boys Toveine liked, eager and grateful and so easily controlled. A silver sword decorated the tall collar of his black wool coat on one side, with a peculiar creature in gold and red enamel on the other. He was a man who could channel. And he had her shielded and a prisoner.
42. archaeo
Bergmaniac, I'm not saying it wasn't a big mistake to turn over the Black Tower to Taim and then leave him to it. But we know that, not Rand. From his perspective, dealing with the BT has never been a high priority, and there's good reason for it.

For starters, Rand would have no real reason to see Taim as anything other than a jealous wannabe Dragon until Book 8. Constantly surrounded by people he can't completely trust, Rand shrugs it off; Taim doesn't seem any more unreliable than all the rest of the people he's forced to work with. After the attack on his life, he has zero communication with Taim, and this is the first time, I believe, that he sees any Asha'man other than the ones he has kept nearby. Book 9 saw him going after the attackers himself, while Book 10 has seen him recuperating and planning.

Since hearing Logain's warning, Rand has been wholly occupied by the problem of the Seanchan. Arad Doman was part of that plan; bringing order to the region as a measure of goodwill, stopping the attacks against the Seanchan there, was a big component of that. It wasn't some silly scheme, but a move to bring the Seanchan into the fold, unite the forces of Light, etc.

Finally, why trust Logain's warning, anyway? Rand is not at his most charitable at this point; if I were Rand, I imagine I would be equally skeptical of Logain's warnings about another former false Dragon.

Sorry for rambling, but that's as complete as I can get it. At every turn, Rand has something seemingly more important to concentrate on (the Seanchan, the cleansing, etc.) and no real good information on what's going on there. It's a conflict that, for good dramatic purposes, couldn't be resolved until very close to the end, the same reason Egwene only reunified the tower in Book 12 and Elayne only got the throne a little earlier.
Jay Dauro
43. J.Dauro
Apparently it is the actual name of the crown. Bashere actually calls it that in LOC 46

SPS49 @26
Of course, Cadsuane is green. Get that picture out of your mind. ;^)

Bergmaniac @27
I believe the AM have a non-compelling bond, that they use with their wives. Don't know if it gives all of the benefits.

And Cadsuane thinks Rand bonded Min, not that Min bonded Rand.
Claire de Trafford
44. Booksnhorses
Reading this made me realise why Rand had to bond with LTT; to gain the gravitas and thus respect necessary (one in the eye to you Cadsuane, ha ha). I'm not sure how this is going to sit with all his women but then I never really saw them settling down happy ever after, nor in fact that their relationships were based on more than physical attraction (aside from Min).

I like the idea of Logain being the BT Egwene and getting rid of Taim (and I'm a bit concerned this is all going to be rushed in AMOL) but come ON Rand, how many times do you have to be told to sort out the situation. Re Logain I've had a bit of a crush on him since he first appeared, definitely a Mr Darcy style character, does that make Tovaine Lizzy?

Great chapters but very head desky.
John Massey
45. subwoofer
Elza... what in the hell was that all about?!

Don't get the Rand with his panties in a bunch at Logain. My best guess is that in this particular instance, Rand is shooting the messenger. Kinda lame tho'. Rand seems to be demonstrating a huge Egwene-vis-a-vis-Halima type blind spot here. What's it gonna take? Rand running outta toilet paper to realize that crap has hit the fan and splattered all over?

Here's a thing- do we know of any instances where baddies were bonded to goodies? ie. BA bonding Asha'man or some of Taim's crew bonding Sisters? Are they turned thataway?

Hi Loial- you poor dumb bastard. Run while you have the chance! Once that woman gets her mitts and soft fluffy moustache on you, its all over but for the cryin'. Hide.

Oh yeah... Lookit Caddy go! Info dump -cranky woman style- awww yeah. And I see we automatically go down the same garden path to benevolent friends of the pillow foundation. Just because a person doesn't have time for love, doesn't mean they haven't had er... distractions, along the way. I think at the heart of Cadsuane's comments was that Min was in love and that is something Cadsuane finds hard to relate to as she has had bigger fish to fry and could not be bothered.

IIRC didn't Verin's experience happen before she became Aes Sedai- folks have lives before all this y'know. Verin was engaged before the fun police came along in Far Madding and made life unpleasant for young folk in love. Lookit Eggy- she almost became the Sweet Baboo of the Dragon Reborn. Funny that.

46. XLCR
Subwoofer, baddies bonded to goodies? But of course. Mention in earlier books of BA bonded to warders who have no idea. Wasn't there something about some Blacks who were moving from town to town because one had a warder who was coming to kill her for being BA? Also, isn't it implied that Taim's bunch is bonding Reds? Maybe Reds aren't what we would all call 'good', but most are not DF.

Still waiting for Mat........................taps fingers on desk impatiently...............
47. Shard
I think this last chapter shows how NOT Lews Therin Rand is in ToM. He only has Lews's memories and has fully accepted those memories. He does not exhibit Lews personality traits or habits like he was struggling with before (IE pulling on his ear and humming when a pretty girl was around)
Theresa Gray
48. Terez27
Me being dumb. That's all. (Time for bed.)
Birgit F
49. birgit
I guess she told people at the rebel Aes Sedai camp, so if it was Egwene then there's no proof that Rand would know.

When Ny and El reach Salidar, they show the seal and other things they brought with them to the Salidar Six and discover that the seal is broken.

"Are there to be no more questions about this? Do you all mean to ignore it?" The black-and-white disc lay there, next to the washleather purse, in a dozen or more pieces, fitted back together as neatly as they could be. "It was whole when we put it in the purse." "Why should we have thought to take special care. It's cuendillar!"
"We didn't look at it," Elayne said breathlessly, "or touch it more than we had to. It felt filthy, evil." It no longer did. Carlinya had made them each hold a piece, demanding to know what evil they were talking about.

TFoH ch. 50
Bill Stusser
50. billiam
I thought of a couple of things while I was running this afternoon on a beautifully sunny day here around Seattle.

Fisrt off, I never even thought that Merise was worried about Jahar getting stronger than her because of the AS strength in the power hierarchy thing. I always thought that she was worried that if he was stronger than her she wouldn't be able to compel him to obey her ala Rand and Alanna.

Secondly, a couple of earlier posts got me thinking about the bond that Rand and Moridin share due to the crossing of the streams. If Taim is Moridin, a theory that only got stronger after ToM, could the connection between the two of them be creating a kind of blind spot for Rand concerning Taim and the BT?
Kimani Rogers
51. KiManiak
Thanks for the post, Leigh. Yeah, not much happens here (although, the first chapter is probably one of my favorite non-Mat chapters in CoT; I like Jahar continuously trying -and failing- to beat Lan, while Lan just casually beats him over and over and over...). Guess I’ll just talk about some of the folks…

Cadsuane and Verin – I have to admit that until this post, if you had asked me for 2 Aes Sedai whose sexual experience/orientation was of interest to me, these two would rank near the bottom. :)

But, I’ll play: I wonder if Cads ever found a man who could meet her… standards? Whereas, for Verin, doesn’t she wonder in WH about what would’ve happened if she married some guy instead of going to the White Tower, before concluding she made the right choice?

Also, aren’t they both from Far Madding with interesting views on the utility (and role) of men? Maybe Verin likes to play with the pretty/rugged ones, whereas Cads just sees them all as little boys that she must put in their place? I mean, I like strong women but there’s absolutely nothing sexy about someone who’s always bullying you, trying to take you down a peg, doesn’t believe in fighting fair and is constantly threatening to paddle your backside -and not in the fun way :)

As for “turnabout being fairplay” and Cadsuane not believing in “fighting fair” I believe there’s fighting fair, fighting honorably, and fighting dirty. I think you should consider what the situation calls for. If you’re in a barroom brawl or on the battlefield, use whatever you can to survive. If you’re arguing (“fighting”) with your good friend or significant other, realize that some things can’t ever be unsaid. Then again, this may be another reason Cads never hooked up with someone (and doesn’t appear to have many friends; just followers/subordinates)…

Merise and Jahar – I don’t have much to add to what Leigh and others have said, except this: if you want a dog, get a dog. If you want a badass fighting machine who’s gonna have and watch your back (and can detect/protect you from wielders of saidin), then give him back his freaking Dragon pin and only sweat him on the major stuff!

Alivia – I’ve always found her and her situation kinda fascinating. I like that she’s loyal to Rand (as far as we know; but she hasn’t really given reason to doubt her); respects those Aes Sedai who are strong on competency and not just in the Power (she seems to respect Cads, but isn’t at all moved by Nynaeve; even though she easily is stronger than both); is charmingly naïve about so many “normal” things, like male/female interactions (btw, another 300+ year old virgin; maybe she and Cads can swap stories?); and is irrationally hated/feared by Min (come on, just because Alivia’s gonna help Rand die doesn’t mean she’s out to kill him). In my head, she survives TG and resurrected-Rand rewards her trust/loyalty by placing her as bodyguard/guardian to his and Elayne’s kids. This way she can learn more naturally about love, trust, natural maturation and human nature; plus, anyone who messes with Rand’s offspring would get to taste one of her old school damane weaves. But, it wouldn’t surprise me if the major bloodbath of main/secondary/tertiary characters that finally arrives in AMoL ends up with her on the casualty list.

Rand, Logain and the BT ignore – I’m kicking something around in my head that maybe I’ll post later, but for now I’ll just say, “Rand, come on man! LTT tells you to trust no one; which fine, can include Logain, but should also include fricken Taim! Check up on that shady bastard!”

Elza – I get satisfaction out of knowing that in a few books she’s burned out of the pattern by the essence of her own Great Lord. Also, if there was any article of the events around her death, she would always be an afterthought:

Semirhage, One Other, Slain by the Dragon Reborn in his Quarters. More on page A6

She is definitely not a headliner...

Edit: I meant there is nothing sexy about someone "bullying" you; I'm not sure what "bulling" is, but I'll reserve judgement until it happens :)
John Massey
52. subwoofer
Y'know- I'd forgotten all about the um... oppressive nature of Far Madding until KiManiak mentioned it. I'm not talking just about the Guardians- but the ban on swords, the limited ability for a guy to get a fair shake. Seems like a tough town to be wearing pants. I am sure that went a long way to make certain people the way they are.

Jahar- nope don't get it. Maybe a feeling of loyalty is passed through the Bond. I dunno.

I whole heartedly agree with Cadsuane's view on fighting fair though. Who ever heard of fighting by the rules? In a sanctioned 'sport' like boxing, sure- go hard, make rules- but in war? I'm alive and my enemy isn't - is all that counts at the end of the day, the rest is BS.

I do however have a theory that Cadsuane goes for the 'bad boy' image. That is why Caddy is always haring off on some 'adventure' to find and gentle False Dragons, she even says words to that effect. The bad boys keep her alive and entertained. Maybe if she met the right guy, he flipped her the bird, didn't take his shoes off in the house, went out drinking and gambling and did a lot of cussin' maybe Cadsuane would feel the spark. Heh. I kid. Maybe.

Alice Arneson
53. Wetlandernw
Just to throw in something I noticed the other day... Romanda is also from Far Madding.

edit to add - and she needed her maid's help to escape after a "misunderstanding" there, shortly after her retirement. (You know, the retirement she came out of to join the SAS.) Makes one wonder a bit about Romanda's backstory! I also wonder if she and Cadsuane knew one another there before they left for the Tower; they're fairly close to the same age. Not that it would mean anything; just idle curiosity.
Chris R
54. up2stuff
I wonder if the Warder bond/Wife Bond wont turn into more of an exchange down the road. In other words, an AM MUST accept a Warder bond in return, and a Sister MUST accept a "Wife" bond in return. As younger sisters are raised, I forsee THEM being the ones taking a majority of the Asha'man as Warders, rather than the older sisters. This would also put them on a more equal footing chronologically, too and eliminating age or strength being the factor in who defers to who.

I think it would balance out the Compulsion aspects in both bonds, too. Kind of "I Compel you not to Compel Me," type of deal. For all we know, this was something that happened in the AOL.
Don Baumberger
55. D-Luxxx
Subwoofer @52 - Sounds to me like Cads needs a little Mat lovin.
56. peachy
@55 - That was the first name that came to mind...

I disagree completely with Cads' approach to fighting - the nature of the war you fight is a function of the peace you desire afterwards. (If you're squabbling over tariffs, you don't nuke the other guy's cities from orbit.) Treating every conflict as a war to the knife is a marvellous way to spend your entire life embroiled in fights.
Sandy Brewer
57. ShaggyBella
Eben's POV at the clensing:

He had been at Dumai's Wells, and fought the Seanchan, and he had learned that battles were more fun in a book than in the flesh. What did irk him was that he had not been given control of the circle. Of course, Jahar had not, but he figured Merise amused herself by making Jahar balance a cookie on his nose.
maybe she is training him like a puppy. Neat observation from Eben, (RJ) though.
Jonathan Levy
58. JonathanLevy
54. up2stuff
I was also thinking about a double bond between a pair of male and female channelers. I think both sides would have to modify their bonds a bit to remove the compulsive elements, though. It might be the standard procedure in the next age.

It reminds me of an element in George R. R. Martin's "Dying of the Light", where a really screwed-up warrior culture has a bond for a pair of male warriors, and a bond between a male warrior and a wife. Symbolic bonds confirmed by matching jewelery, mind you, no Saidin/dar. Towards the end of the book two of the main characters have formed an unprecedented double-bond.

Has anyone else read that? Or are the works GRRM produces instead of getting back to his frickin' masterpiece already it's been 10 years now hasn't it - verboten?

36. archaeo
37. Hammerlock
38. Bergmaniac
Here's my small addition to the discussion on why Rand is ignoring Logain's warning about the BT. When Logain gives his report, I think this is what Rand hears:

"I am a man who can channel. You must trust me and my judgement and go fix a problem which started when you trusted a man who could channel."

Couple that with LTT's visceral and unthinking hatred of all the Asha'man... you can see why Rand puts it off. It's not a rational decision in the least, it's a gut reaction.

56. peachy
the nature of the war you fight is a function of the peace you desire afterwards...Treating every conflict as a war to the knife is a marvellous way to spend your entire life embroiled in fights.
Or worse, you'll turn every argument over a parking space into a murder scene. Very well noted!

Cadsuane kills every gnat with a cannonball. If you're fighting against the Dark One, that's fine. If you're having an argument over manners... not so fine.

57. ShaggyBella
Thanks for sharing that quote, I had forgotten it completely.
59. XLCR
I know what Martin's problem is, he killed off all of the interesting protaganists in a frenzy of bloodlust, and now he has no fricking idea how to get out of the corner he's written himself into. Since the little girl was blinded, the only character I like that's still functioning is Delorious Ed. I loved his gallows humor.
Birgit F
60. birgit
Kind of "I Compel you not to Compel Me," type of deal. For all we know, this was something that happened in the AOL.

The AOL AS didn't know bonding.
61. Ruruna
Regarding Jahar, I think we have to remember that a Warder serves a particular purpose, one that requires absolute if not near absolute obedience and loyalty to their bondholder. Jahar is a little different from the average Warder. He's Asha'Man, which means his loyalty is divided between Merise and Rand.

For Merise, this is of course unacceptable, that's why she works so hard at 'conditioning' Jahar to prioritise her authority over Rand's. But it is understandable. You put your life in the hands of your Warders (and vice versa), you cannot afford to allow external influences to interfere with that kind of relationship.

Plus she seems to have a bit of a dom/sub thing going on with her Warders, but well... different strokes for different folks as they say. You'll see another example of her 'training' Jahar in the later chapter (AKA the one where Rand loses a hand).

Regarding Saldaea... I suspect the Blight is going to advance much further than it already has before the Last Battle is done and with the capital of Maradon in all but ruins, I would not be entirely surprised if what remains of Saldaea is in fact subsumed into the rapidly expanding Two Rivers. This becomes even more viable if Caemlyn does not survive the current Trolloc invasion as TR will then have a full shot at independence from a severely weakened Andor.

Elayne has made all her plans under the assumption that her country is far from the Blight Border and will be safe from the brunt of the Last Battle. This is clearly no longer the case.

I would not be surprised if by the end of the Last Battle, territorial lines will be fully redrawn, with Saldaea and the TR becoming their own nation and what's left of Andor merging with Cairhien to become another nation altogether. As it is, Tuon is unlikely to be able to quell resistance in Seanchan before the LB, so she would have to solidify her rulership over the currently conquered territories here. That would be another set of lines drawn too.
Tricia Irish
62. Tektonica
Peachy@56: I just quoted you on FB. I'd give you credit, but I don't know who you are ;-) But thank you. Really good thought:

The nature of the war you fight is a function of the peace you desire afterwards.
Captain Hammer
63. Randalator
re: Cadsuane

I don't think that you can infer from the text that Cadsuane has never ever met the beast with two backs. The way I read it, what she says only refers to her life as Aes Sedai. I mean, you don't make a distinction between Warders and "other men" before you're actually dealing with Warders on a regular basis.

Depending on her age when she entered the Tower that leaves the possibility that she had some measure of experience beforehand and during her time as Novice/Accepted there might have been something going on, too. The occasional fling with a stableboy is not completely unheard of.

Then, when she became Aes Sedai she decided that "other men" were a no go, because mighty Aes Sedai yadda yadda station yadda powerful and so on. So she has been celibate for the vast majority of her life as practically makes no difference (regarding the traditional boy-girl thing, anyway) but she's not necessarily completely without experience.

Also: four hundred years? Nu-uh. The Aes Sedai are limited to 300 years give or take courtesy to the oath rod. Meeting someone who's hit on the big 4 is enough to make them faint on a pretty regular basis. Cadsuane is believed to have been born around 705 NE which makes her about 295 years old in CoT.
Chris R
64. up2stuff

I remember something about one of the FS reflecting on that. Still seems a bit surprising that there might not have been something to do with a marriage ceremony. Anyway, I do recall that. Still might turn out to be a "You can Bond me if I can Bond you." I see Egwene being forward-thinking enough to agree to this. SOMEONE will probably figure it out.
Andrew Chute
65. AlmenBunt
re Ruruna @ 61- I think you're right about Saldaea merging with the TR. I think probably Arad Doman, too, after Ituralde's noble endeavors defending Maradon, tying those two countries together. Ghealdan's in the bag, making Two Rivers into a mega-state. Andor and Cairhien I think get lumped together, but no one else seems to. The only real foreshadowing of the Fourth Age politics that we get is Aviendha's vision of the future in ToM which lists
-The Two Rivers
-The Raven Empire, we all know who they are
There is also mention of the Court of the Sun (Andor/Cairhien/Two Rivers?), the burning of Cairhien (which I guess means that Cairhien is still around), the Pact of the Griffin (maybe what's left of the borderlands, and everyone not Seanchan?).
-The Black Tower 'still fought, though the asha'man did so in secret, as their fortress had fallen years before' (TG, or Raven Empire...hmmn)
-The White Tower seems to last a few generations, but gets sacked by the Seanchan.
Granted, both Min and Nicola (pre-whacking) had a vision that seems to make for a better future, but it'll probably fall along those lines nonetheless. Only with less dead Aiel.

As for Merise and Jahar. Jahar had been singled out by Rand, and dragged around being told what to do shortly after learning to channel. At 17, he was being given orders, killing people, fetching super-swords, etc. He had no real leader, no real teacher, no real authority in the Power. I mean, come on, we don't see Rand doing too much training with his entourage, and Taim can't qualify after Jahar gets picked out by Rand (not to mention the whole traitor's tree thing). So when Rand disappears after getting attacked in Cairhien, and Jahar is even more friendless and alone, who should come along but Merise. She tells him what to do, and he does it. Simple, straightforward, no complications. There were certainly times in my life at 18 or so when I wished that someone would have told me what to do. She treats him like a puppy to be trained because that is how she has always viewed Warders, but because of Jahar's power, she is starting to feel an imbalance. It would be easy for someone who can crush you with their mind to think of you as less than they (typical man), but Jahar is as powerful or more so, and Merise is less able to see him as a dog, and is forced to see him as an equal. I think that the scene about the pin is an excellent way for Jordan to portray a parallel to the relationship of all AS to AM.
Not only that but I think that it is a foreshadowing of a drastic change in the culture of the WoT coming in the Fourth Age. For 3000 years, men have been tainted. True, not all men, but in Jordan's world, women have been given powers that they didn't have through our history. The women of WoT have authority, they have powers and rights, and I can't think of any instance in the series where women are denigrated specifically for being women (aside from the Riverserpent, and that was clearly an aberration). Now, after 3000 years of men being tainted culturally by the taint on Saidin, the culture is going to have to change that subtle but important distinction if it wants to maintain an egalitarian approach to the sexes. I may not be defining this well, but I think that it would have huge sociological ramifications on a world rapidly approaching an Industrial Revolution.
Merise can't give him back his pin, yet, because she hasn't yet allowed herself to see him as an equal. I think that this scene is easily one of the most important scenes of the change that the Cleansing has wrought.
Jonathan Levy
66. JonathanLevy
59. XLCR

I know what Martin's problem is, he killed off all of the interesting protagonists in a frenzy of bloodlust, and now he has no fricking idea how to get out of the corner he's written himself into.
The solution to that should be to skip about 5-10 years of plot, introduce some new characters, and see how they interact with the survivors of the previous round. Then kill off half, rinse and repeat.
67. peachy
#58 & 62 : Aw, thanks, guys. It's really just straight Clausewitz, with maybe a dash of Corbett (I've saved you at least two chapters of On War, BTW.)

#66 : I believe that's what we call "history." ;)
Maiane Bakroeva
68. Isilel
AlmenBunt @65:

Jahar isn't 17. When first introduced, Rand thought to himself that Narishma was "a little older than himself". However, it seems that he has been a bit directionless in his "civilian" life. He referred to himself as a "cobbler's son", although at his age of 22+ he should have already been an artisan or somebody else _himself_. Perrin was close to finishing his apprentiship when he left TR, after all.

Anyway, Merise seems to be rather unpleasant. In 2 other examples that we have seen into an AS-warder relationships a bit, namely Moiraine and Lan and Beonin and what's his name, the relationships seemed much more respectful and equal. I wonder why Jahar agreed to be bonded by Merise, of all people.

Also, after the massive lossyness of AS since book 5, I have to wonder about the Warders. I mean in the beginning of the series it seemed like an opportunity for a good swordsman who didn't have the stuff/desire to be a commander to make his mark on the world, since it seemed that the AS were doing important work and were involved in great events. But since then... whew.

Speaking of Logain - I have to wonder why Taim made him Asha'man instead of killing him. He could have always explained it with madness/channeling accident. And also, there seems to be some confusion re: bonding of AS back when it happened, one of Logain's cohorts said that Taim didn't like them "bonding any" and would like Logain bonsing 2 even less, and now it seems like Taim ordered it himself? We have seen the guy who invented the male bond - Canler in ToM, BTW... and strangely enough he had a bonded AS even though he supposedly invented the bond to stay close to his wife...

Calmly, Logain asks if he means that they must release the Aes Sedai, and whether the Aes Sedai who have bonded Asha’man will do the same.

I am disappointed that Rand didn't order Logain and Co. to release the AS, after having them swear a parole that would keep them out of Elaida's camp and his own hair.
The cases aren't comparable at all - the Asha'man agreed to get bonded and the AS are supposed to release them if they ever ask.
The AS were bonded and are kept bonded forcibly and are in state of constant Compulsion.
Yes, it was perhaps necessary at the time, but not anymore, not after the Cleansing and and not when Cadsuane can suggest a completely water-tight parole that would keep them out of Rand's and Asha'man's hair.
IMHO, Logain is more than a bit creepy with his insistance on keeping the AS bonded in the current form.

I really see no advantage in dual bonds either. The male bond confers no extra abilities to the bondee, but it may have the same drawbacks. Even if it doesn't - what's the point?
There is no need for any extra balance in case of the Asha'man warders, as in a circle of 2 a man always leads. That's your balance right there.
Generally, there is more balance in AS-warder bond than in that of AM and his wife/lover. The former is a comrade in arms and a collegue, unless the AS is a Merise, the latter...

Taim - "only" jealous of Rand? Isn't it like the reason why half the male FS, those who used to be LTT's subordinates, went over? And Rand knows it at this point. Pretty frustrating to see Rand stubbornly repeating LTT's mistakes.

Nothing came out of Elza's omnious plans to kill some folks, did it? Yet another false portent in a book full of them.

It is also funny that the quintessential and the only non-sucky Green is an old maid, while Verin is quite worldly. RJ really went to lengths re: making important/powerful Lightside women virgins/chaste until they met Mr. Right. Quite pointedly and implausibly so.
And even after meeting the latter they mostly wait to tie the knot first, if there is no fate-ordained harem involved. Heh.
Chris R
69. up2stuff

I realize there are not any advantages to the AS in the bond with them as subordinates. Maybe it is a "tweak" that can be added. Maybe future research will show the Warder benefits of Stamina, healing, whatever, are add-ons that are now part of the weave and are just now percieved as part of it. Like Ter'angreal, the weave is just practiced without really understanding the full components.

My point is that in BOTH weaves, the compulsion aspect is an imbalance, and neither should have that kind of trump. Both of them, accepting each other's bond, would allow checks and balances. Also, there is the awareness of each other's emotions, general physical condition, etc that is the effect of the AS bond, but there is some aspect of that in the wife bond because the women know when something happens to their husband, er, I think.

Finally, who's to say what benefits will manifest from the Wife bond under the right circumstances. The more I think of it, with it being a "New" weave, maybe we are likely to get new stuff turning up any time now. Finally, with yin/yang, who's to say that the weaves MUST be the same. Why would they be the same, instead of complimenting each other?
Kimani Rogers
70. KiManiak
Since its another low-number-of-comments post (and it’s fun to write these long comments while watching football)…

Wall of Text Warning, Part 1

I’ve been kicking around some ambiguous/undefined feelings I’ve had about the discussion re: Rand’s attitude towards Logain and the Black Tower, some of the folks’ theories about why he has such a blind spot (Taim=Moridin subtly influences Rand's overlooking of the BT; Rand’s fear of Rand & LTT losing control around too many male channelers; Rand’s distrust of Logain’s comments and motives due to a possible suspicious interpretation of Min’s viewing re: Logain and glory; etc), and then compared it to the reception that we generally give Egwene or Elayne when they do boneheaded things (although Elayne’s are almost always incredibly foolhardy-with-a-touch-of-a-deathwish, and she doesn’t have the Pattern-granted-protection of being ta’veren; seriously if her role isn’t to birth the latest incarnation of Calian and Shivan then I can’t understand why RJ’s Pattern continues to allow her to live…but I digress) and found it seriously lacking.

Since I’m one of the major contributors to making comments about Egwene’s and Elayne’s questionable leadership choices (and God, are there many for Elayne; but again I digress), I think it’s only fair to call Rand to task for his. I’m actually kind of surprised that folks here haven’t made a bigger deal about it. There have been few comments (to be fair, probably 7 or 8) about it and with the exception of a couple of folks (good points on both sides, Bergmaniac and archaeo), the comments have mostly been quick asides. When we discuss Egwene or Elayne, we usually get a stronger discussion. Maybe we’re a little harder on the Supergirls as a whole than we are the guys? (And yes, I know we bag on “emo” Perrin, but it’s usually for him whining and pining or thinking he’s no leader; his command decisions usually take a distant second when it comes to our critiques)

But, I don’t know if I’m prepared to fully open up that door and look at the fandom’s treatment of RJ’s male protagonists vs. his female ones (I like to believe my treatment and criticism of Egwene and Elayne vs Mat and Rand is based upon the characters’ actions, rationale and their ability to learn from their actions; and not the fact that my being male has influenced my perception and judgments. But I’m human and I allow for the possibility –even though I believe it’s not likely- of unintended biases). Shoot, for all I know long-time reread members have already had this discussion here a few times, or it’s been done to death on Theoryland, or something like that…

So instead, I’ll just toss that grenade and then run away :-) so that I can instead talk about my issues with Rand’s actions.

And this is already too long for all of it to be in just one post, so let me split them up…
Kimani Rogers
71. KiManiak
Wall of Text Warning, Part 2

So, Rand and his massive mistake in ignoring the Black Tower after multiple reasons not to...

First, let me drop some qualifiers:
1) It’s probable that long time members of the reread have had the discussion of Rand’s ignoring the Black Tower to death already and have agreed to disagree and just let it go. In my zest to catch up with you all last November, I would usually only go about 40-50 comments deep per reread, and I now see that a lot of the good stuff happens later than that. If so, then partial apologies. But, we still as a group (yours truly definitely included) put Egwene through the ringer almost anytime she gets uber-arrogant, close-minded and hypocritical in her role as Amyrlin (which is a lot, but this post isn’t meant to focus on Egwene). So, for me, I think it’s only fair that I spread the criticism equally, when I feel it’s called for.

2) Rand is my second favorite of the Super Six (For those who care: Mat has been #1 since TDR on; Rand #2 since TDR on; Nynaeve is #3 with a bullet, but only as of ToM; Egwene and Perrin rotate somewhere in the middle which is where Nynaeve also used to be, although Egwene had jumped ahead of the other 2 in TGS; Elayne is dead last and would drop further if it was possible). But I’m a firm believer in being honest/candid of your favorites' flaws as well as their strengths. I will even tolerate folks’ criticisms of Mat…to a point :)

But back to my point: the complete and total ignoring of the goings-on in the Black Tower from LoC-on (I think; maybe he dropped by in ACoS, I’m not sure) despite multiple indicators that “questionable” events are happening is a colossally foolhardy decision and pre-Jesus-Rand really has to be held accountable (although, not as much as Taim) for the state of things in the Black Tower as of the end of ToM. Not only does Rand ignore constant requests to check on the Black Tower, he seems to take it personal about being questioned for his actions (he very much “shoots the messenger” as someone mentioned above).

It could be understandable if Logain was requesting that Rand depose Taim and place Logain in charge. But Logain never does that. He only asks for Rand to go to the Black Tower and check things out for himself. The reader can allow for Rand’s discomfort with male channelers, his distrust with Logain and the fact that he’s juggling other concerns. But still, not even allowing for half of a day to Travel to the BT and check things out? With an entourage of Ashaman, Aes Sedai, Aiel, Legion of the Dragon, etc attending him, showing the Ashaman at the BT that he’s gathering forces and doing important works?

Rand could have used the excuse of informing the Ashaman that he and Nynaeve just cleansed the Source, so there was less fear of them going mad, if they hadn’t done so already. It would have solidified the loyalty of the Ashaman with the Dragon Reborn; and it would have easily countered any other conflicting loyalties (of all of the Lightside Ashaman, at least,) which Logain hinted at, that may be occurring.
If nothing else, it would have allowed him to either call Logain a liar to his face, or to act if Logain’s accusations had a hint of truth to him. Rand had been trained by Moiraine, counseled by Cadsuane and had strategy and tactics leaking into his consciousness by LTT. Shouldn’t any or all of those sources led him to check in on his power base every now and then so that it wouldn’t be wrested away from him?

Also, Rand had other factors that should have led to him being more suspicious of Taim and his actions. Four of Taim’s top lieutenants (and Dashiva, of course) tried to kill him in TPoD and again in WH (and then all got offed in WH, which was somewhat satisfying to this reader, at least). Those Ashaman that he knows were loyal to him were listed as deserters/traitors by Taim, with no direction from Rand whatsoever. A quick trip down memory lane would remind him that in ACoS Taim tried to have some of the Ashaman who tried to kill him join the Dragon’s entourage; and didn’t want Rand to have the ultimately loyal Ashaman that he had selected.

Again, with Rand’s resources (Moiraine’s teachings, Cadsuane’s counsel and LTT’s leaking of experience and tactics), some kind of curiosity/suspicion should have been piqued. But to do nothing and hope for the best? When he knows the Shadow has all kinds of diabolical plans in place to defeat him? Come on, Rand! Egwene would’ve snuffed this out in a heartbeat! Maybe even Elayne would've…nope; not likely (she’d probably try to sneak in to Taim's palace and see what Taim’s up to by herself and get caught…come to think of it, too bad no one came to her with these suspicions).

Ultimately, I think it’s fair to expect that Rand should have done something about the Black Tower at this point in the story and before events progressed to where they are in ToM. He messed up bigtime, and should be held accountable.

However, having said all of that, I also believe that Rand has shown he realized his mistake and is taking measures to rectify the situation, as of the end of ToM. The new Rand has shown us he acknowledges his previous errors in behavior and judgment; and that he can learn from them and work to change them (which is where I feel he differs greatly from Egwene and Elayne). I look forward to a serious reckoning (most likely led by Logain) in regards to the Black Tower in AMoL.
Sydo Zandstra
72. Fiddler

Some may put up arguments on how well Egwene has been doing becoming an Amyrlin, and how Good this is for Randland.

Not me. I do respect and like how Egwene has been doing in the White Tower plotline. But apart from that she is really lacking the skills and knowledge that are needed in how to deal with the world on the brink of Tarmon Gaidon. She still thinks that the Amyrlin Seat should be directing how to defeat the DO.

Basically, she lacks People Skills, or more importantly she lacks empathy. Egwene has no ability at all to place herself into another's shoes, yet she is eager to tell others how wrong they are (Siuan/Bryne/Gawyn are an example here).

Egwene is only a young girl who managed to become a strong Amyrlin against odds. But she also only cares about AS stuff now, since she is a chameleon and her latest colour is Amyrlin Seat. Which makes her not really a good point of wisdom for all the other Kings and Queens. Elayne already knows this at heart, I think...
Kimani Rogers
73. KiManiak
Hey Fiddler; How's it going?

As I mentioned, I've been critical of Egwene's actions and rationale multiple times (I personally think I talked the topic almost to death in the ToM review comments).

Having said that, I think she has the potential to grow into not only a good Amyrlin, but also a good leader if she ever addresses her issues with: hypocrisy; arrogance; elevated self-importance and the importance of AS in relation to Tarmon Gaidon; underestimation-of-others' growth; inability to consider criticism in the form of her friends' advice; inability to consider other opinions as valid if she doesn't agree, etc.

But my comments weren't centered on Egwene, and (despite what I wrote above), my wish would be to not focus on her... limitations during chapters where she isn't involved (nor Elayne's incredibly stupid decision making skills, when it comes to her personal actions at least; she actually is a pretty savvy ruler, to be fair) .

My intention was to show that calling Rand to task (for his completely mind-boggling ignoring of the Black Tower) is warranted and justified at this time. In my opinion, at least.

Also, this football game is heading towards an exciting ending...
Sydo Zandstra
74. Fiddler

Pretty fine, thank you. How are you? :D

At this stage, we'd better leave Rand alone... ;-)

Hope your team wins :)
Tricia Irish
75. Tektonica

FWIW: I'm with you here. It was always very frustrating to me that Rand didn't visit the BT more often just to be seen, if nothing else. Most of the AM have never laid eyes on him. Why should they be loyal when the men kissing Taim's ass get all the good stuff? It just wasn't politically astute. And Rand does understand some of that, witness Darlin in Tear, Berelain in Cairhien.

It was also frustrating to me in that I think Rand's character development suffers. Until ToM, we have spent little time in his head....granted that probably wasn't a nice place to be for several books.....but I feel like I have much more insight into Perrin and Mat than I do Rand. And certainly much more insight into the supergirls. I guess I'm just wishing that these last 3 books had been more Rand centric, rather than AS centric. Sigh. Especially since he is the Main Character. (There seems to have been some missed opportunities for action and adventure at the expense of political maneuvering and description, imho.)

I'm also with you and Fiddler on Egwene. Since she is only 18 and has all those "issues" you mention, I think a really close advisor would be in order. Say, someone with lots of experience, perspective, history, etc. (like Siuan, who has been kicked to the curb when she is needed most!) Who cares if they think Egwene's a puppet. They'll find out she's not, and she will grow into her position. She's very much alone now and that's not necessarily good, facing TG.

It'll be interesting to see what others think about this too. (Can't wait for the Mat chapters!)
Kimani Rogers
76. KiManiak
Fiddler@74 – I’m well, thanks.
Re: Rand –I criticize because I care :)
Oh, and I don’t really have a favored team in the playoff picture (The 49ers underachieved and the Raiders… were the Raiders; although they actually reached respectability this year), but I am enjoying watching those teams that are left. I appreciate the sentiment.

(For all those non-Americans or non-sports folks, I'm talking about American Football, and specifically the games that decide who will participate in the Super Bowl, which is our championship game)

Tektonica@75 – Hey Tek, hope you’re having a good Sunday.

I appreciated your point about Rand’s character development suffering. I admit that I hadn’t really considered or been aware of that. Hmm…. I’ll have to think about it more and possibly pay more attention to it during Leigh’s reread. From what I recall, any development Rand had (during the last few books before Veins of Gold in TGS) was fairly negative, in a downward spiraling kind of way. I’ll try to pay close attention to his interactions with Min; he tends to let his guard down with her the most, and be himself when it’s just him and her.

I also agree that Egwene could use an advisor. She was an advocate of one for Rand back when he had Moiraine (and as The Amyrlin’s Anger in ToM showed us, she kinda still is, for that matter); what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, they say (although she apparently didn’t like Randland’s cliché, “A cat for a hat,” or whatever it was back in LoC; again, she has a special relationship with hypocrisy or the whole quid pro quo thing).

Hopefully the Mat chapters come soon; I haven’t opened WH in awhile so I forget…

EDIT: Whoops! I meant I haven't opened CoT in awhile so I forget when the next Mat chapters are. I think the last time I read WH was to quickly reread the Rand and Lan scene on the top of the roof, where Rand refuses to let go. Classic...
Tricia Irish
77. Tektonica

I'm in football world too ;-) Surprisingly good games.
78. peachy
I always cut Egs a bit of slack for the following reason... Elayne has a decade-plus of top quality formal training; Mat has several lifetimes of useful memories (plus whatever leaks through from the Manetheren heritage); Rand has all the memory leakage whatsit from LTT. But Egwene has no equivalent to any of that. (The same is true of the other two, of course, but I think Egs has a harder job than either.)
79. archaeo

Lots of good stuff here, although I disagree with some of your key points. There are a couple of levels we have to examine when we're discussing Rand's relationship with the Black Tower, namely 1) logic and 2) drama. I think I pretty well explained how I feel about the logic of the situation in my comment above, but I'd be happy to respond to questions about that.

The dramatic success of this plot line is probably the more important part of this debate. Would the WoT be better served by a BT clean-up earlier in the books? It's something we really can't know until after aMoL is published. A closer look at the BT, with Logain as the reader surrogate (as Egwene and Co. is with the AS), might be a significant missed opportunity in the series.

On the other hand, holding the BT back might end up really adding to the final conflicts of Tarmon Gai'don. For most of the series, I just assumed a big battle on the Borderlands, but it seems clear that a lot of the battle will be fought in the south. The BT looks to be a front in the war, which, in my opinion, is way better than just a bunch of soldiers running at the Blight. Not to mention the fact that a fully friendly BT would be sort of boring, dramatically; even the AS only have gotten themselves together in the last couple of books.

As to your comments about Egwene and Elayne, I don't really want to open this debate up (since I imagine it has already eaten up significant bandwidth over the years), but I'm mystified by the fandom's treatment of these two characters. It's hard to see them as any more boneheaded than our male main characters, but they come in for a lot more criticism, and it never ceases to amaze me. A lot of words get thrown around ("hypocrisy; arrogance; elevated self-importance... underestimation-of-others' growth; inability to consider criticism in the form of her friends' advice; inability to consider other opinions as valid if she doesn't agree, etc.") that don't seem to have a great deal of textual support.

But, uh, like I said, no need to flood the thread with this. Carry on.
Gerd K
80. Kah-thurak
"Would the WoT be better served by a BT clean-up earlier in the books?"

The essential answer to this is the following: The WoT would be better served with ~4 less books *runs for cover*
John Massey
81. subwoofer
Well then- good we got onto some topics that make sense to discuss. Much better than rehashing dry chapters that we all seem to be struggling for words and comments for.

Rand. Y'know, what has always bothered me is the start from day 1, maybe even before. Rand gives Taim an assignment and the guy just gives in... at first he proposes a partnership but Rand got cranky and Taim just did the "sure whatever you say Mr. Dragon" speil and Rand bought it. Also, the part where Rand visits the Tower and almost gets taken out by a student- that would set of warning bells in my head but Rand shrugs that off too. Then when Rand is putting the first pins on Taim, the man is indignant about the process and Rand doesn't even address his reactions in private.

Self reflection is a hard thing to do. I get the feeling that Rand does not want to look back on the thing he created and realize it was flawed. Much the same as the Hundred Companions LTT formed that broke the world, Rand forms this group and lets them run around with not much hands on guidance. And what really bothers me is that we do not get to see any time spent with Taim that would forge a bond of trust needed for Rand to do what he did. This Tower is a huge thing and Rand just meets a guy and gives him the job. No background check. And one of his most trusted Captains- Bashere, barely recognizes the guy and hates him on sight. That would be enough of a warning to check over things for me.

Stefan Mitev
82. Bergmaniac
Isilel - "Taim - "only" jealous of Rand? Isn't it like the reason why half the male FS, those who used to be LTT's subordinates, went over? And Rand knows it at this point."

Excellent point.
The more I think about it, the more stupid and reckless Rand's treatment of the Black Tower since LoC seems to me. These guys came there after his call to help him, risking practically certain madness and death in a few years since nobody thought the Cleansing of saidin was possible. The east Rand could've done was to show up from time and time to check up on them, see how they were treated by Taim, how he can help the average Asha'man face the huge stress of this position, and try to strenghten their loyalty. He did nothing of the kind since the end of LoC which is just dumb. Logain put it well here when he told Rand:
"It is time to turn your eyes to the Black Tower before Taim splits it worse than the White Tower is. If he does, you’ll find the larger part is loyal to him, not you. They know him. Most have never even seen you.

Taim is the one teaching the Asha'man and with the power to grant higher ranks and teach the best weaves to his favourites. He is in contact with them day-to-day. And since Rand is away and never visits, nohing stops Taim from using Rand's name to explain some unpopular orders he may have made up, or to use other schemes for making the Asha'man less loyal to the Dragon.

Rand, on the other hand, avoids speaking even with his few trusted Asha'man. Even during the Seanchan campaign in PoD, he used the Asha'man he summoned from the BT as living weapons and didn't try to get to know them, talk to them more or do anything to help earn their loyalty.

It may make more dramatic sense to leave the Black Tower confrontation for later, but I really don't like it when such meta reasons force the characters to behave in unexplainbly stupid and out of character way. This is one of my main grievances with the latter volumes of WoT, BTW - too often Jordan sacrificed character consistency for plot convenience.
Tricia Irish
83. Tektonica
Bermaniac@82 & archaeo@79:

My point exactly. Leaving the BT until the last book might make sense from a dramatic tension angle, however, I think even that would've been better served if we'd seen more interaction between Rand and the BT and/or Rand/Taim. Set up some personal interaction and betrayals?

Obviously this was the authors choice of what to concentrate on. I just question whether emphasizing such incredible minutia in the AS plot was the best way to go in the 3 middle books. A bit more attention to Rand and the BT plot could've better set up a major showdown at the BT corral in MoL, and provided more balance to these 3 middle books, imho.
Valentin M
84. ValMar
Hi All. Haven't posted in a while but have been diligently reading the posts and comments.

Re Rand and the BT, it looks like the resolution of this had to happen near the end and RJ didn't come up with particularly satisfying reason for this in the story. I haven't come across a convincing argument so far (e.g. Rand's too busy- he found plenty of time chasing after a handful of DF AM).
Edit: Tektonica slipped in a much better post on this just before me. People do this here way too often ;)

peachy @ 78
Good point on lack of schooling/experience for Eg compared to the others. But it hasn't dampened her confidence... Perhaps that't what required of a great leader- lack of self-questioning. Just smash your way onwards. Many will fail and be forgotten- some will succeed and be remembered forever.
Re your other posts (like 67) you really should post more often!

KiManiak @ 76
Ha! I knew someone will slip and call it American football... But I tend to watch the final, usually there is a backstory to make me support one of the franchises. Giants being GRRM's team, the New Orleans bandwagon... This year unfortunatelly this ain't the case- I even don't know if this Green Bay is a place or what.

Last point, re Myrdraal apetites. I must agree with whoever made the point- it would have made much more sense if these artificial "things" didn't differentiate between males and females.
Instead they are all male and have particular taste in inflicting horrific violence on women. I guess it's an author's background culture thing, again (being all male, with strict preferences for women). It certainly fits with the story in general. I agree with Isilel here.
85. archaeo
Tektonica@83 and Bermaniac@82, I'm pretty sure that Rand had no idea what was going on with Taim until this chapter, relatively late in Book 10. Prior to this, Taim does everything in his power to delay suspicion, even killing a Grey Man and bringing Rand one of the intact seals. Not to mention that, unlike many of Rand's supporters, Taim doesn't argue or cause any trouble (as far as Rand knows), and he has been super effective (again, as far as Rand knows) at getting male channelers up to snuff.

Couple that with the fact that Rand has been doing Very Important Things since establishing the BT, namely 1) getting kidnapped, 2) liberating Illian, 3) hiding from people he knows are trying to kill him by getting away from his bases of power to protect others, 4) cleansing the Power, and 5) dealing with the Seanchan.

After this warning? Rand still wants to deal with the Seanchan. Consider what you'd do in Rand's shoes: go check up on Taim, who has so far done everything you asked and provided you with most excellent weapons that follow your commands (with the exception of a few bad apples who Rand knows have infiltrated every group), or deal with the Seanchan, who have an entire army of channelers that want to take over your world?

So, at the risk of repeating myself, I have to ask: at what point in the series did it really make sense for Rand to ignore everything else to go to the BT, where Taim would've kept everything under wraps and let Rand see nothing except what he wanted him to see?
86. archaeo
Oh, and as for Rand's stupidity in not having a closer connection with the BT to begin with, well, that's a totally valid criticism that has plagued Rand with every group loyal to him in the series, and one that Jordan specifically highlights in almost all of the Rand POVs. He comes to see people as tools because he has come to see himself as a tool, if that makes any sense. It's only after his revelation in Veins of Gold that he really gets his head on straight and starts to fix this, sending someone to the BT to check it out, telling the Aiel he has toh, etc.

This major character flaw pretty much manifests itself in all of the boys' plot lines, with Mat, Perrin, and Rand all being forced, one way or another, to accept their roles as leaders. These plot arcs have literally taken 13 books to get wrapped up, and, well, that's the WoT.

Kah-thurak@80, you're probably right, although I think a ~2 book contraction would be better. I'd say this is more about impatience than actual literary merit, though; I'd be curious to know how people feel about this after the entire series is accessible.
87. Freelancer
Nothing of value to say, except howdy all.

The first thing that came to mind while reading the chapter 23 recap was that I knew Leigh would zero in on Cadsuane's abstinence, and the simple thought that you don't miss something you've never known. Now let's see who can put the pin back in that grenade...
Stefan Mitev
88. Bergmaniac
Four of Taim's favourites among the Asha'man tried to kill Rand together at the end of PoD, does that count as a indication that something was really wrong with Taim and the Black Tower before Logain came to him in this chapter here? Those were not some run of the mill Asha'man, they were Taim's top men. Either Taim was so clueless he didn't notice his chosen top lieatenants are Darkfriends, or he's a Darkfriend himself. Both options called for an immeadite action by Rand, yet he did nothing.

At this point the priority should've been the Black Tower over the Seanchan. The Seancahn had no Travelling available and were pushed back the previous time they attack Rand controlled lands. The Black Tower, on the other hand, had quickly become the most powerful military force in Randland, so keeping it under control was essential for Rand. It's completely irrensponsible on his part that he left such a force under the complete control of a guy with a shady past and who gave him plenty of reasons for suspicion even as early as LoC. The Taimandred theory didn't become so popular for nothing, after all. Taim showed surprising amount of knowledge (the so-called Aiel remark for example, or the fact that he knew how to test men for the ability to touch the Source), has survived an really long time without going insane from the Taint, and showed outright hostility and jealousy to Rand a few times.
Valentin M
89. ValMar
Maybe Cads is thinking about love/relationships, not sex. I.e. she's never had a serious emotional relatonship with a man. But in 300 years she may have tripped and landed on something pointy on an occasion or two.
Who knows how she managed to keep the severed male channelers alive for so long? Natural charm and sweet disposition... I don't recall even Wetlander arguing Cads having much/any of these.
Jonathan Levy
90. JonathanLevy
87. Freelancer

How could anyone "put the pin back in the grenade" if that old hag's never let anything in betw-- oh wait it was a metaphor.

James Jones
91. jamesedjones
81 Subwoofer
And one of his most trusted Captains- Bashere, barely recognizes the guy and hates him on sight. That would be enough of a warning to check over things for me.

Yeah, but let's not forget that Rand met the guy a day or two before Taim shows up, and he had just thrown a knife at him a few minutes before. I'm not sure Bashere is one of his most trusted Captains at that point.

As for Taim himself, Rand's biggest issue is the fact that all he wanted was weapons, and Taim delivered. Couple this with LTT's urge to kill Taim on site, and Rand is a bit reluctant to actually test his own self-restraint with someone who appears to be doing what he asked.

If there was someone who worked for me, who made me want to assault them every time I saw them, but turned in awesome work every time I turned around, I'd be avoiding them, too. By awesome work I mean:
-Exceeding every possible expectation with recruiting when Rand delivered the pins.
-Killing a gray man. Suspicious to us, but we know a lot more than Rand. And they're kinda hard to spot, which is some impressive shoting on the fly.
-Rescuing Rand when he'd been captured and tortured by AS, only to have the ones he'd hoped to rescue him show up with enough AS to overpower him and simply re-kidnap him.
-Taking the time and effort to personally harvest Rand's blackberry bush. (What's so funny?)
-Trained Rand's weapons, within about two months, so that 50 of them were able to destroy enemy placements across an entire nation.

If I had someone like that working for me, I'd either avoid them entirely... or arrange their death. Rand's worried he'll kill him everytime he sees him, so he might be supressing the logic behind those thoughts.

Am I giving Rand a pass? Of course! But it does make sense, if you turn it over and kind of squint at it, from the character's viewpoint.
92. XLCR
Maybe we should really get the brick bats flying and start discussing which parts could be left out in order to shorten the story by a few books. I'll take a chance and say that shortening Faile's captivity down to about two weeks in book time (and less about two books in real time) and leaving out most of the Shadio politics would have been fine with me. After all, what matter all of that stuff once Perrin breaks them for good. One doubts that they will be at TG on either side. The story passes them by.

The same for the Children. The fact that they hated everything to do with the power, or anything else they didn't understand, meant that as the story progessed they inevitably moved from being power players to being lightweights. Only Galad out of all of them understands that without help from the power they would be useless at TG. The rest of them could have been wasted by the Seanchan and never missed.
Tricia Irish
93. Tektonica

First off, all of us obviously love these books, or we wouldn't be here...that said.....RJ is only human, and......

I tend to agree with you. All the superfluous details help to flesh out RJ's world, but I do think he got caught up in it all a bit too much, and rambled instead of focusing the plot in the above mentioned incidents. Less Shaido, and Children, and less AS would've been just fine with me!
94. archaeo
Gosh, sorry for posting so much all day, but I guess I'm in a procrastinating mood.


I think one could make a pretty convincing argument for PoD through KoD being condensed into two or three volumes, with a bit of judicious trimming. If I were ruthlessly cutting, I would've removed a lot of that Shaido stuff too, along with some of Mat's journey with Tuon (Luca always slows the plot down) and a lot of the Andoran succession plot. Maybe some of the AS stuff, too; the Black Ajah search with the TAS gave us an important window into the everyday Tower, but it seems pretty pointless to me, plot-wise. Of course, the Shaido give Perrin's plot an antagonist it sorely needs, and the Children give Jordan someplace to put Galad in order to illustrate some comparative ethics for his readers.

But at the same time, I don't really mind any of these sections, and as I said (last week, I think), even Crossroads fits into the overall structure of the series nicely when put in context of the whole thing. The WoT is long, sure, but I don't necessarily know I want it to be shorter.
Maiane Bakroeva
95. Isilel
KiManiak @70:

I like to believe my treatment and criticism of Egwene and Elayne vs Mat and Rand is based upon the characters’ actions, rationale and their ability to learn from their actions

Heh-heh. IMHO, there is nothing to choose re: bone-headeness and foolhardiness among the big 6. It is just that the guys' mostly get away with theirs instead of getting endlessly captured and when they don't, they have the "ta'veren defense" - i.e. people argue that the Pattern wanted it so, so it wasn't their fault.

ValMar @84:

I guess it's an author's background culture thing, again (being all male, with strict preferences for women).

IMHO it was rather an insistence that _men_ don't have to fear rape. Which was a bit of a head in the sand attitude.


As for Taim himself, Rand's biggest issue is the fact that all he wanted was weapons, and Taim delivered.

All the more reason to ensure that the weapons don't turn in his hand - as they showed every sign of doing for a long time.
Also, I found it amazingly implausible that Rand never wondered where finest clothes, precious metals and huge rubies that Taim's lieutenats adorned themselves with were coming from and who was paying for them.

And yes, 110% agreement that series should have been shorter _or_ Taim should have been more subtle for Rand's attitude to make sense.
Also, IMHO a few closer looks at the BT instead of pointless AS minutiae would have been a huge improvement. Logain's POV when he first arrived, reaction to saidin suddenly becoming clean, that kind of thing. It wouldn't have difficult to show that and still maintain suspense re: Taim, such as it was.
William Fettes
96. Wolfmage
archaeo @ 79

“but I'm mystified by the fandom's treatment of these two characters. It's hard to see them as any more boneheaded than our male main characters, but they come in for a lot more criticism, and it never ceases to amaze me.”

Personally, I think Elayne is singled out for a lot of irrational hatred by fans. She certainly has a nadir with moments of supreme recklessness following Min’s viewing. However, overall her character is defined by being brave, smart, judicious, self-effacing, a peace-maker and contrite when wrong, and just unusually self-aware for a princess.

Furthermore, I would regard it as a fairly trivial exercise to justify my different regard for some of the other main characters including Rand and Nynaeve who are awesome, and Egwene who is decidedly less awesome.

“A lot of words get thrown around ("hypocrisy; arrogance; elevated self-importance... underestimation-of-others' growth; inability to consider criticism in the form of her friends' advice; inability to consider other opinions as valid if she doesn't agree, etc.") that don't seem to have a great deal of textual support.”

Needless to say, I completely disagree. There is significant textual support for almost everything that is alleged about Egwene. Obviously, I’m excluding here criticism that is completely one-sided, mean-spirited or misogynistic. But if we look only at the qualified criticism of her actions, thoughts and words purely based in the text and with proper regard to her own perspective, I find these are devastating enough. Indeed, I would argue it takes a great deal of mental gymnastics, no small allowance for her immaturity, and uncritical acceptance of the absolute moral good of the White Tower, to whitewash her hubris and bring her up to equivilent status to other well-loved protagonists. With a few minor quibbles, tGS did a lot of work to recover Egwene in my eyes, only to have her regress in ToM back to where she was before that..

KiManiak @ 70

“(And yes, I know we bag on “emo” Perrin, but it’s usually for him whining and pining or thinking he’s no leader; his command decisions usually take a distant second when it comes to our critiques)”

I think you’re understating the objections to Perrin here. Some fans, myself included, found Perrin's unreconstructed Two Rivers attitude toward women more than a little infuriating with regard to Rand's evolving relationship with Moiraine, and then with subsequent equalities issues, such as the treatment of captured Aes Sedai after Dumai’s Wells and amongst the Wise Ones. He was on the wrong side of those issues IMO, and he registered harshly against Rand only to later embrace a more realistic perspective. So I do think Perrin is a bit of a hypocrite, at least in that regard.

And remember much of the fandom almost completely disowned Perrin when he went into Hulk-smash Faile rescue mode and basically said the Dark One could win and the world burn to get Faile back. Needless to say that plot dragged on so much that it was bound to eat into Perrin's stores of goodwill without crossing that particular line of logical and moral incoherence. Many fans did not easily forgive this, despite Perrin’s latent awesomeness in ToM.

Mat is a much better example. Mat is consistently awesome, and even when he is being an idiot he is immediately forgiven because it either helps put a arrogant character in their place, or just serves as comic relief rather than as a genuine irritant. Of course, you could argue Mat is just better than the rest which is probably why nobody raises this point often.
97. Freelancer
Or, the differences between Perrin and Mat are completely due to the perspective of the observer. Mat presents as a selfish jerk and a scoundrel. Therefore his noble heart and internal honor are more than we expect from him, granting him the appearance of awesomeness in comparison. Mat's behavior and his internal persona are in constant contention with each other, producing a tension which is extended to the reader, and even a negative tension enhances interest.

In contrast, Perrin's external behavior and internal personality are consistent with each other, which results in a seemingly bland presentation to many readers, because nobody has to question why Perrin would do what he chooses to do. I guarantee that Siuan Sanche did not think to ask Perrin if he would be there "when the house is burning down". Everybody who meets Perrin knows the answer to that question.
Perrin Aybara is the Sam Gamgee of the WoTverse. Mat? He's Perrin stacked on top of Merry. (and JLevy, just leave that alone, k?)

Now, as to the larger issue of whether the text should have been more strictly edited to reduce the gross tonnage of the volumes. Jordan's characters go through a broad variety of significant changes over the course of the story. Every one of those changes impacts their abilities, their decisions, their relationships. As it seems to me, the author was very concerned that the reader would understand the cause and effect chronology of these processes. None of them could become what they need to be at the story's conclusion without a personal crucible. Perhaps Jordan had read many novels which left readers to presume reasons for why a character did something, or else the characters were so one-dimensional that their respective responses to given situations required no explanation. Either would be boring in the extreme. Perhaps in his quest to avoid that brand of boredom, he brought on another for some readers. For myself, it makes the characters far more real. But then, I wasn't raised on John Woo movies.
98. peachy
I guess I cut Egs more slack because I think she was put in the toughest position. As noted above, she has the least prep of anyone but Perrin (even Nyn has actual real-world executive experience before the series starts, while the other three have serious "training" - if somewhat unconventional for Rand and Mat.)

But on top of that, she's the only one pitched headfirst into her role with no warning at all. Elayne obviously has known her entire thinking life that she was going to be Queen eventually; Nyn knew the score as soon as she started making goo-goo eyes at Lan; and the boys at least have had time to grow together with their responsibilities. Mat didn't start out as a great captain commanding tens of thousands of men - he started with a single banner, and built his army from there. Perrin may be a de facto king now, but he started as the heroic leader of a single village. And Rand's "empire" grew out of damn near nothing. They all had time to assimilate the lessons of each stage before going to the next one (not that they always took the time, granted.)

But Egs... she was put in charge of (one faction of) the single oldest & most powerful institution in Randland... with absolutely zero warning. She never had a chance to play the emo "I don't want this, it's all too much!" card, the way all of the guys did at one point or another - it's been do or die every instant since she was summoned back from the Aiel.
Mikey Bennett
99. EvilMonkey
Weighing in on various postings regarding Rand and the BT...

I believe an essential reason as to why Rand fails to check up on his marvelous creation is guilt. As Rand gains more and more responsibility he increasingly reconsiles himself to do things that are necessary more than are right. In a perfect world these things are one and the same but RJ built a world full of imperfections and people working based off of limited or just plain wrong info. This aspect of his personality obviously sickens him; since book 3 his running inner dialog is that he hates the person he is becomming. The BT is definitely a part of that. He knows from personal experience what his weapons are going through and at some level doesn't wanna deal with it. Not to mention what damage he knows his creations are going to inflict on the world after the Last Battle is finished. His women list is another manifestation of his guilt, only more on the surface. He knows that the BT is a cesspool, he just doesn't want to mess with it, especially when the factory is producing. Taim is not making waves, at least not overtly. All the info Rand is getting about the BT are from sources he does not trust. And as far as the rogue channellers go, Rand can justify that in his mind as being taint induced. These factors allow Rand to ignore this unplesant problem instead of dealing with it.
Now we all know Rand is politically astute enough by book 7 to recognize how his weapon is turning in his hands. He has got to know a reconing is comming. His avoidance of this issue cannot be stupidity or accidental innattention. A part of him is pushing these concerns aside in favor of dealing with Bigger Fish. This would also explain why he always tends to shoot the messenger whenever somebody brings him bad news from the Black Tower. Typical head-in-the-sand mentality. IMO his guilt is the underlying reason for the avoidance. By the time he seeks to rectify the situation after his revelation on the mount, it's already too late. The dreamspike has been placed.
John Massey
100. subwoofer
Hi Free, long time no chat.


Right, now down to things. Egwene. Well, let's not forget her repeated spankings and such being raised in the Aiel tradition of Wise One. Eggs was also learning to be Wisdom under Nynaeve's guidance when we first meet her. That was something the boys didn't get. And Eggy does have the ex- Amyrlin mentoring her and the guidance of the Hall if she chooses. I do agree that the boys have the advantage of er... enhanced wisdom... Mat's memories, Rand with LTT, and Perrin has the connection to the wolves. Which is precisely why the sclock about the age of the Seat etc. greatly burned my ass. Gah...

Ahem... Perrin- well I saw the comparison with Mat- here's the thing- Mat's personality is very mercurial, quick decisions, quick to act and react. The Band is based on speed. Perrin is very methodical and exacting in his thought processes. IMHO what makes it hard for everyone to read is the time that goes into the decisions, not to mention the typical TR stubborness. Perrin flat out dragged his heels when it came to accepting who he was becoming. I think there was a collective "Finally!!!" when Perrin came around and took up the mantle of leadership and forged the hammer. For me his biggest growth was accepting the wolf inside him, embracing that changed everything to me. He took a step back with his relationship with Faile, but hey, Jake chose Vienna so some guys do make bad choices.

@JL- yeah! What Isilel said. Rand wanted weapons, not random guys trained now taking shots at him. I think what gets me is that much of the Aes Sedai evolution happens on screen- Egwene and Elaida is the conduit for that. The Asha'man, we only get brief glimpses and we see the best of the best and the worst of the worst. We do not see their evolution or delve into their politics and polarizations, beyond Taim vs. Logain. There could be so much more. And it could have happened on screen instead of behind the scenes. For me it feels like the Bashere thread. Rand kept on putting off inspecting the troops and Bashere put a brave face on it, but it was important. The Asha'man deserve some front page. At least so we can get a feel of hey- these guys are douche, these guys are gooders- these guys are being lead astray. Bring us into the story with balance- the male Aes Sedai to balance the female.

Just a thought is all.

Edit- Whoot!!! One Hunny!!!

::tail is wagging::

101. archaeo
Wolfmage, I would love to have this argument out, but I don't have citations prepared to rebut yours, and this might not be the appropriate place to have it out; if you'd prefer another forum, I'd be happy to register and have a little literary debate. I do wonder why you and others have highlighted hypocrisy so much; what is growth if not the ability to change your mind? If you haven't read it, I recommend The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, which has a rather adult conversation about hypocrisy that I like, as long as you sort of ignore where it's coming from.

As a sort of starting point, I would be particularly interested to know where in the series Egwene starts to become unlikable. If it's only after she starts leading the SAS, well, Egwene might be getting tied in to the genuinely fair criticisms of the AS as a whole, and I think the main redeeming factor is her acknowledgement of these problems; check out how she responds to Nynaeve after her testing, for example. The Oath Rod is a sticking point, but I rather like her solution of retiring into the Kin; Siuan's passionate defense of the Oaths swayed me as well as Egwene, anyway, and it's easy to see why the Oaths were necessary in the tense world Randland became post-Breaking.

Ultimately, this debate is about how successful Jordan was in creating a sympathetic character in Egwene (and Elayne, I suppose). I'm of the opinion that Egwene, like all of our other characters, has flaws, but they are outweighed by her essential goodness: her reliance and belief in her friends (notice how mature the conversation between Nynaeve and Egwene is in their first T'A'R meeting, as well as her internal thoughts about Rand at the White Tower) and her sheer determination to make the world better by making the White Tower what it's supposed to be. I feel pretty confident in my ability to put together a convincing argument about Egwene's sympathetic presentation, it'll just take time to sort through all of her POVs to get there.

Freelancer, Peachy, EvilMonkey, and Subwoofer: lots of good points in those posts of yours! Subwoofer@100, your critique of the narrative focus on the BT is well-taken, and the only response is that Jordan was clearly holding it back for something. An earlier view into the BT would've been excellent, and it's definitely the biggest missed opportunity in the entire series.
William Fettes
102. Wolfmage
Peachy @ 88

Some good points. Certainly compared to Elayne's upbringing in the Royal Palace, and Nynaeve's tenure as village Wisdom, Egwene is somewhat lacking in education, experience and knowledge as she enters the story.

Now, I do think it is entirely proper to make some allowance for that disparity in how we judge Egwene. But how far should we go with this? Certainly it’s a suitably powerful excuse during EotW and parts of the tGH. But much past tDR, and I start to think it loses explanatory force.

I mean, by tSR she has arguably experienced many of the same kind of harrowing and worldly experiences that have forced other characters to grow up rapidly. Doesn’t it start to become a bit infantilising at this late stage to insist that she be judged to a lessor standard? Indeed, I would argue that sits in antithesis to her own character’s aspirations. Even as early tSR she is already holding her own with Moiraine and Moiraine is allowing it precisely because she is suitable impressed by her growth.

“But Egs... she was put in charge of (one faction of) the single oldest & most powerful institution in Randland... with absolutely zero warning.”

I think by the time she is actually appointed Amyrlin, I no longer see the experience gap as having much explanatory power. She is as much an adult as anyone else in the series and should be treated as such. Indeed, I would argue that gap becomes a bit of an odd way to frame the issue given how Elayne and Nynaeve are so floored by how much Egwene has grown since returning from the Waste. She comes in and they immediately acknowledge her force of presence and personality, and are somewhat intimidated by the way she handles Moghedien.

“She never had a chance to play the emo "I don't want this, it's all too much!" card, the way all of the guys did at one point or another - it's been do or die every instant since she was summoned back from the Aiel.”

See, I really want to resist this idea that Perrin’s prolonged equivocating uncertainty about leadership is actually a kind of character growth. I would actually liken it more to a kind of character stasis that takes place prior to his emergence as a full-grown butterfly. I know, this is simplifying somewhat, but let me put it this way: if the duration of Perrin’s emo happened to be more or less in the books, I wouldn’t say his character growth was equivalently more or less. The emo stage is more or less just a literary device that is used to pace Perrin's storyline and build up some extra payoff when he does actually throw off his uncertainty and become the Wolf King.
William Fettes
103. Wolfmage
archaeo @ 101

That’s fine mate. Though aside from this being well-trodden ground for the regulars, I'd say this place is as good as any with the chapter-specific debates already being exhausted a while back.

As for the hypocrisy charge, it's much more than just a change of the mind. Indeed, I think changing your mind is a virtue if it's done for good reasons or evidence, and I would find that praiseworthy. I'm the last person who would label all forms of consistency as a virtue.

Egwene's hypocrisy is more on the order of I criticise x in the harshest terms, but don’t see the tension when I do stuff that is more or less morally equivalent to x.

Here is one powerful example:

Egwene is outraged that the TAS hunters continue to utilise the Oath Rod on Meidani outside the strict purpose of their hunt, and she thunders against Elaida’s temerity in the strongest terms for even contemplating adding a general Oath of Fealty to the Amyrlin. Yet, looking purely at Egwene’s internal thoughts and righteous outrage at these effronteries, you would have no idea that Egwene had ever received and plotted for Oaths of Fealty amongst the SAS.

Now, obviously there are some differences: Elaida is a paranoid megalomaniac and she is proposing a permanent magical extension of the 3 Oaths for all sisters. Egwene’s first liegewomen, Theodrin and Faolain, at least swear voluntarily and are not bound by the Oath Rod so it’s obviously a fair bit less insidious at first. But beyond that point it becomes very murky and the lines are nowhere near so clear.

First, Egwene blackmails an Oath from Myrelle and Nisao, who are magically bound to this through the First Oath. So that's really not so different from the Meidani situation.
Then, she makes plans to add to her collection of
liegewomen by binding Sheriam’s group as well, arguably extending it beyond a one-off offence to a broader planned subjugation. So all at once she makes the main moral distinctions between her conduct and Elaida's/the hunter's less clear – ie. systematised oaths vs voluntary oaths and magically enforced Oaths vs voluntary promising keeping.

Also, Egwene never once expressly limits the duration of these Oaths of Fealty to the exigencies of the Tower schism or the elimination of the Black Ajah, so effectively it’s permanent until she say otherwise! Not looking so different from Elaida's permanent Oath now is it?!? Apart from the relatively arbitrary consideration that Elaida is a bad person and Egwene is a good person, there is little difference in the principles involved.

In fact, Elaida only floats the idea of the Oath of Fealty, and by virtue of it being intended as a general part of raising sisters, her plan at least had the virtue of being more transparent. Egwene was plotting to swear over key SAS groups in secret and unbeknownst to other sisters. That's rather insidious in itself.

I would say it requires an extraordinary level of cognitive dissonance to simultaneously show so much moral clarity and outrage over such principles, and yet be completely oblivious about the tensions that such principles have with your own behaviour. I think at least some attempt at rationalisation was necessary here. It might be a weak rationalisation, that we're more or less forced to accept by the plot, but there should be something. But we get nothing. Zip. Zero. It's as if Egwene isn't even aware that her Oaths raise exactly the same set of issues around free agency, probity and limited government - that she so expertly articulates against the hunters and Elaida.

As far as I'm concerned, that demonstrates an extraordinary lack of introspection, and it's hardly the only example of
Egwene giving herself a free pass for stuff that she is forensically critical about in others. The frequency that Egwene does this is part of what sets her apart from all other characters and in a category of hypocrisy all of her own.
Kimani Rogers
104. KiManiak
Re: less books
First off, personally its fun for me to critique the books and discuss possibilities with folks who love/know the WoTverse as much if not more than I do. That doesn’t mean I’m in any way advocating any actual changes to the 13 existing books of this gem of a series.

Does CoT kind of drag along ever so slowly? Sure. But I wouldn’t want to get rid of the whole novel. We’d miss out on little bits here and there that I actually like (like the Lan/Jahar sparring). I think we’d be dealing with a slippery slope if we were try to recommend where in each novel we should “cut here” and “snip there.” Like I said, even the 3 weakest WoT books beat out most other novels, in my opinion.

archaeo@79 and others re: Rand & the BT
I get what you’re trying to say about Rand. For the drama/dramatic-tension aspect, I won’t really debate with you there as the BT plot was the one out of (probably) many possible arcs that RJ chose to slowly simmer for 7+ books until AMoL (although, did it have to go for so long?)

For your “logic” argument, obviously I disagree, for many of the reasons that bergmaniac, Tek and others have mentioned, as well as some of my aforementioned points. I’m sorry; Rand had turned into a savvy leader. I refuse to believe that Rand ignored all the various little clues left for him that maybe the man he left to develop living weapons for Rand may instead be usurping Rand’s power; and also that Rand didn't even consider the possibility that instead Taim was cultivating the weapons for himself and his own questionable intentions. Again, Moiraine trained him better than that; Cadsuane would probably counsel better than that; and LTT just plain knew better than that.

Oh, and as far as your questioning my rationale for Egwene and Elayne, I also don’t want to expand on it here, but if you care, I talk about Egwene’s issues a lot (probably a little too much) in the ToM spoiler review (too lazy to look them all up but I start here) and I and a multitude of others talk about Elayne’s issues in CoT post 9 (I start here) and most likely others have made far better arguments in multiple posts throughout Leigh’s reread.

Always willing to be a little helpful for our non-American partners-in-reread. Why; don’t most folks outside of America call it “American Football?” Oh, FYI: Green Bay is somewhere in Wisconsin (don’t ask me where exactly)

So I see you’re trying to open up that door I personally didn’t want to open and take a step or two inside. Brave woman. :)

Um, I personally think that it’s not just about the “boneheadedness,” but also what the characters learn from their “foolhardy” actions. Did it change them? Require them to grow as characters?

For instance, if charging in to some situation/place without a solid plan results in a character(s) getting caught, does the character(s) learn and not rush in half-cocked without a quality plan and backup again? Or, if the character constantly berates another character (let’s say Rand) for becoming too full of themselves with power, lording it up and not listening to the advice of others; but then that first character gains a position of authority themselves and appears to “forget” all of the previous issues they had with the second character’s leadership? Without considering the irony of the situation or her naivete in both situations?

And, a whole lot of other examples exist where I feel character growth (and just plain wisdom) is just not achieved by Elayne/Egwene anywhere near what we’ve seen with Mat/Rand. Ignore the positions of authority the 4 have grown into; have Elayne and Egwene as people grown and learned from their boneheaded actions anywhere near the point that Mat and Rand have? Even at the end of ToM, the answer is still “not even close.”

First, your posts are almost always a joy to read. Even when I don’t agree, I enjoy reading your perspective. Oh, and I mostly agree with the positive traits you’ve listed for Elayne (although she can be smart at times; woefully stupid at others). But, I also think there are quite a few issues with her that make her worthy of the fan’s ire. It’s not just her recklessness; there’s the deceit, attempted manipulation, the perceived better-than-thou mentality… and that’s just how she is with Mat! :)

As for Perrin, I agree that there are multiple potential aspects of him that are open to heavy criticism. But I would submit that what folks tend to attack him on here for is predominantly linked to the whole “emo” thing, from what I’ve seen. Actually, I attached the “I must get Faile back no matter what” attitude to the posters “emo” label. I still couldn’t clearly define it to someone else, if I had too. I’m hoping I get the gist…

Finally, yes Mat is awesome. ‘Nuff said.
Alice Arneson
105. Wetlandernw
Bergmaniac @88 - Right after those four favorites of Taim's tried to kill Rand (who didn't have quite as much opportunity as we to know just how thoroughly they were favored) Taim showed up in Cairhien to tell Rand that they had deserted. So it's hardly fair to think that Rand should have immediately decided that Taim was a DF, or that something needed to be done about the BT. Taim just told him they were on the "hunted list" so what else is there to do? (Well, obviously from the reader's perspective, quite a lot, but from Rand's POV his choices made a certain amount of sense.) If they really had deserted (and at this point he had no significant reason to doubt Taim's info) then going to the BT would accomplish nothing; instead, he drew them all to Far Madding so he could execute them. So he dealt with what he knew; he just didn't know enough, and didn't know that he didn't know enough.
Jonathan Levy
106. JonathanLevy
97. Freelancer
Perrin Aybara is the Sam Gamgee of the WoTverse. Mat? He's Perrin stacked on top of Merry. (and JLevy, just leave that alone, k?)
If you had stacked Merry on top of Pippin instead of the other way around, you might have avoided that little Freudian slip :)
BTW, are you familiar with Cassandra Claire's Very Secret Diaries?

103. Wolfmage
Re: An instance of Egwene's hypocrisy
Without getting mired in the whole Egwene debate, or suggesting that one example constitutes a proof, I think this one particular example you gave (oaths of fealty) is perfectly stated. Pleasure to read, nothing to add.
107. archaeo
Sorry for the wall of text, all.


Now that's a spot to debate. And as Jonathan Levy just said, perfectly stated. Thank you for the excellent response.

Your case is really only helped by examining the text here. Egwene only feels joy when Theodrin and Faolain swear, while she quite coldly explains to Nisao and Myrelle what's going to happen. And you didn't even mention that, off-screen, Egwene gets oaths from several more sisters, and we can only assume they're equally forced.

How can we square this, especially given her later opinions about Elaida's extra Oath? It's actually quite hard, I'll admit. I'm inclined to be sympathetic to Egwene because she is coming from a position of utter powerlessness; unlike Elaida, who squandered her power, or the Black Ajah hunters, who stumble upon the spies and then bind them, Egwene literally gets dropped into Salidar without any power base whatsoever. Egwene has to fight for every bit of power she can get, and, frankly, a magical oath is no uglier than the ugly things other main characters have had to do. If the SAS had been willing to show Egwene any sort of deference whatsoever, the deference demanded by the Amyrlin Seat, the oaths would be unnecessary.

Of course, we then get to the hypocritical part. Perrin throws away his axe after cutting off the Shaido's hand. Rand pretty much feels guilty all the time. Egwene doesn't even seem to feel a twinge of regret. This is a toughie.

I think the best argument to make here is the RJ/BS switch up. Maybe Jordan would've remembered to include a POV from Egwene on this. Or, of course, maybe not. We really can't know that until we see some of RJ's notes. I would argue that it would be a MOST EXCELLENT addition to the scene with the Black Ajah hunters, at least.

Keep in mind that Egwene knew about Siuan's oathbreaking and has excellent reason to doubt an AS oath, even said straight out. Egwene had only just seen how little her oaths counted with Beonin prior to her outbursts with the TAS, whereas she had seen firsthand the misery caused by an extra Oath.

I'm also inclined toward sympathy because of the situations here. The sisters raised by Egwene swore of their own volition. The rest had all planned to use Egwene themselves; while Caddy doesn't believe in turnabout, she doesn't believe in fighting fair, either, and Egwene is playing an ugly political game.

Ultimately, this is one of those ethical quandaries Jordan was so fond of creating, and our disagreement testifies to his success. I feel that Egwene rightly took advantage of a political opening and used it to spur the SAS toward the WT. She, like many of the other characters, is forced to an extreme to get things done, and it's gross. As far as her hypocrisy goes, Egwene knows the difference between an extra Oath and an oath of fealty, as I think any AS would; the latter was something she stumbled upon and then clung to as her only chance to get the SAS moving, while the former would be a structural change to the entire AS way of life.

Does all that make me dislike Egwene herself? Well, no, but I also accept that she's in a difficult situation, is still way over her head as far as leading the SAS goes, and has the same trust issues Rand has. Let's hope she reflects a bit in AMoL; god knows the fans seem to want it.

Anyway, I've talked myself in circles. Thanks for illuminating that point for me; you disarmed me pretty handily, I'd say.

KiManiak@104, I'll definitely check out those threads tomorrow after a long nap. I don't know if I agree that Rand is a very effective leader; indeed, his treatment of the BT (and the Aiel, and the Domani, etc.) shows what a lousy leader he is. He's politically astute and very clever, but he doesn't really gain that aura of leadership until ToM. Prior to that, he leads by virtue of his station. But gah, let's leave it be; I think you have totally reasonable reasons for disagreeing with me. : )

As for the character growth of Elayne/Egwene, Elayne certainly learns a lot from her Aiel sisterhood (forgiving Mat, mostly) and comes into her own as a rather successful queen, even if she is still kind of boneheaded. Egwene's character arc is all about becoming the perfect Aes Sedai, and if you don't like that, you won't like her "growth." Since I'm (pretty obviously) inclined to think that Egwene is using her powers for good, I don't mind this; she may be becoming the perfect AS, but she's also trying to steer a very big ship in a new direction, and that takes time.

I think that's about all I can say on the subject tonight, anyway. Thanks all for such collegial debate about these subjects; it's been too long since I had a nice friendly disagreement.
108. alreadymadwithlongsilence
Wall of text/rant warning

hamstercheeks @3
Nynaeve is wearing her set only because the only other AEs Sedai to have one is wearing hers. Yes, i'm talking about Cads.

Beren @6
Yep. Go hit him with lightning.

iamnotspam @7
Merise does understand that the pin is almost as important to Jahar as the shawl is to Aes Sedai. Her main problem is that she is not yet done conditioning Jahar to the idea of being subordinate to her goals. It's the same issue with Gawyn. His own ranks and titles are supposed to be meaningless as compared to Egwene's by virue of being her Warder. Simply put, when one becomes a Warder, all one previous ranks and titles are meaningless. The only thing that matters to a Warder is his Aes Sedai's goals and welfare.

sweetlilflower @9
Yeah. Lol. Verin is apparently less stuck up than Cads. But then again, even Cads acknowledges that. :P

Congars&Coplies @12
I'm more inclined to think Rand was actually mirroring some theory that Lews Therin has come across in his centuries of study. No need to complicate the plot with some Moridin bleed through hocus pocus.

LightblindedFool @15
So did I.

Ellisande @17
Agreed. Part of being a Leader is developing one's subordinates and trusting them to do what must be done.

Torie @21
I dunno, I kinda miss the lolcat.

sps49 @26
See above on a Warder having to be subordinate to his Aes Sedai.I do agree that Logain disbelieving Rand's role in the Cleansing is something of a low for him.

Neuralnet @28
Other male channelers had no way of knowing Nynaeve's role in the Cleansing. More of the miscommunication thingy that's always plagued WOT.

Tektonica @33
I'm not so sure about Rand having any insight into a better type of Warder bond. Even with his AoL knowledge. After all, Warders were unheard of in the AoL. Also, he himself is part of a semi-traditional Warder bond.

Bad_platypus @35
Hah! Even Toveine has sex. Granted her taste runs more towards boylets. That still makes TWO Reds.

Bergmaniac @38
He didn't even know Logain was in the Black Tower until Logain came to him. As for sending somebody there to check, we find out in ToM that Logain is supposed to have returned to the Black Tower but has been incommunicado. Too little, too late, maybe, but Logain's return to the Black Tower would have to have been in the same time frame as Rand's Arad Doman campaign.

J.Dauro @43
I was under the impression that Asha'man only knew one type of Warder Bond, the one that Compels. If their wives haven't been Compelled, they just didn't bother to.

billiam @50
See that's the thing. Merise has never been noted for being particularly strong in the Power. Jahar on the other hand, had the Spark. Those with the Spark are typically stronger than the average. So I'm inclined to think he's always been stronger from the get go. Merise either just didn't know how to compare his strength properly in relation to hers, or never noticed him taking on more than she ever did.

KiManiak @51
Interesting thought. Are you implying that Cads never had a relationship because she never respected any one enough to play fair with them?

ShaggyBella @57
Of course, Eben's concern was valid. Of the people in his circle, indeed, in every circle, only the Asha'man had hands on experience facing down the Forsaken. Or even fight an extended campaign using the Power. One of the reasons why I blame Cadsuane for Eben's death. Turning them into batteries totally negated the training they went through.

Isilel @68
That's because practically every other Warder we see, Lan etal, have been Warders for ages. Secure in their place beneath their Aes Sedai. Jahar is a relatively new Warder and hence, in Merise's eyes, still needs to be constantly reminded that he is under her authority.

KiManiak @71
We do find out in ToM that Rand's role in the Cleansing had spread through the Black Tower and that this has gained him a lot of credit among its accolytes. We also find out that Logain is supposed to have returned but has seemingly yet to make contact with his associates. As for Rand himself, he's just been plain busy jumping from one issue to another since the assassination attempt to pay personal attention to it. In Logain however he did apparently deputize someone to act in his stead.

BergManiac @82
I'm afraid you're missing the essential mindset of the average Black Tower associate. The one that Perrin realized. Asha'man fight because that is the role they are meant to play. A lot of these don't have to learn to channel. Yet they do so, anyway. Maybe some of these came to follow Rand. But they don't need to see Rand to do that. The only thing that matters to them is that they are allowed their place in the Final Battle. To fight and even to die. Madness be damned. Hence Rand doesn't have to worry about the average Asha'man. The only ones he has to worry about are Taim's handpicked. And this is but a small percentage of the Black Tower Population. It can even be argued that most of these didn't come to the Black Tower to follow him personally anyway.

Yes, Leigh. Now we see the root of Cadsuane's abrasive behavior. Three hundred years worth of repressed sexuality.
Also Merise is at this point completely deluded in fearing that Jahar might outstrip her in Power. He always has. He just never bothered to draw in enough to draw her interest since being bonded.
At this point we also see Cadsuane dispense the one of the few pieces of advise she is able to give her before being overrun by the Pattern. She doesn't even know how else she is to advise him.
Kimani Rogers
109. KiManiak
archaeo@107 – Um, I would only sift through all those threads if you’re reealllly interested in what folks have said before. I admit that me linking to those threads was partially due to me just being too lazy to actually rewrite a lot of the same points here. And, actually I did acknowledge some character growth with Egwene in CoT post 9...

Anyway, we can leave the argument alone and agree to disagree. I enjoyed reading your various points/arguments; I think they were some good ones. Obviously, our opinions just differ. I hope you continue to post your take on things…

alreadymad@108 – re: Cads, I think that was close to my point; probably no sustained relationships in her past, whether friend or lover. I don’t think she ever mentions any friendships that she may have (the closest thing we see onscreen is the mutual respect between her and Sorilea); and one could interpret the passage that Leigh quotes above as Cads saying she hasn’t had lovers (or even sex, if you want to read into it a little bit).

Also, I don’t know if this is treated as valid, but the 13th depository had a section that attempted to rank all saidar users and Merise was ranked as one of the strongest Aes Sedai (although Jahar is almost assuredly stronger than her), so she’s probably used to being obeyed by channelers and could be confounded by the fact that her own Warder is stronger in the Power than her. And will get even stronger...
110. alreadymadwithjahar
I don't think Merise even knows exactly how strong Jahar is. She has no way of knowing short of linking with him, and even then Jahar can regulate how much of saidin he draws in. I think Merise is just making an educated guess based on Jahar's emotional makeup. Like for example, the increased confidence in his own ability, the increased eagerness to hold saidin, more and more of it. Unfortunately most of these can be attributed to the fact that saidin is now clean. I find it convenient that Merise would notice it now right after saidin was cleansed.
Maiane Bakroeva
111. Isilel
KiManiak @104:

Yes, let's kick that door to splinters!

does the character(s) learn and not rush in half-cocked without a quality plan and backup again

Rand does so all the time and intends to continue in the same vein even after the epiphany. Half-cocked is his second name. I mean, really, consider the sequence of abduction by SAS/being nearly fatally wounded by Fain/going after Sammael while sick and surviving _only_ because Moridin shizophrenically wanted him alive at that point, just to try to get him killed a few days later/the Far Madding escapade, etc. He is commiting the same damned mistake over and over!
And his plan to break the Seals, Travel to SG (They would never expect that! Oops, didn't I do exactly the same thing previously?) and hopefully to be inspired what to do next at that point is on a whole different level of recklessness yet.

Mat - usually just impulsively jumps into things. It almost never backfired until TGS, because his ta'veren/luck had always bailed him out, but now we have Hindertstrap and his failure to plan his bargain with the Foxes, which killed Jain. Hypocrisy galore too - he does exactly the same things that he chastises the SGs for - i.e. is a shauvinist, doesn't have anybody protecting his back despite a million attempts on him, etc.
Despite his inner monologues, Mat is way more reckless/thrill-seeking than Elayne ever was. And yes, he does know that he is important. Denial doesn't make him humble, merely bone-headed.

Perrin - apart from the emo running in the circle - repeatedly does risky things in T'AR despite having no clue there until ToM.
If not for Hopper tirelessly playing nanny would have been dead a dozen times over. Still does very risky things after he finally accepts training, - but funnily enough, the readers don't chastize him for it like they do Egwene and Elayne.
In the waking world - storms into the Battle of Malden without a thought of having somebody protect his back - nearly gets treacherously killed, does exactly the same during the battle to save WCs - ditto.
This is _after_ he accepted his own importance as a leader, BTW. He just throws himself into the thick of battle and readers don't berate him for it, like they do the 2 Es. Still keeps his Shadowspawn experts in the rear during the battle, too, because they happen to be women.

So, ya, I am just not seeing that much learning from mistakes or lesser levels of recklessness, Ki, sorry.

Of course, one of themes of the series is that one often has to act on incomplete information and take risks. But even so... And of course, despite it being the theme, people still rag on the Es when they do it.

AMW @108:

I was under the impression that Asha'man only knew one type of Warder Bond, the one that Compels.

No, there was supposed to be an "extra bit" to it for AS, but I have always wondered what poor woman was that tested and perfected on and whether she was subsequently released. Canler's wife? Is this why he could also bond an AS?

The only thing that matters to them is that they are allowed their place in the Final Battle.

You mean, that's all that matters to Rand's hand-picked Asha'man and Logain's cohorts. They are the minority, though.
Most recruits were drawn by dreams of power and glory, as Rand himself anknowledged in one of his saner moments. More than enough reason to keep an eye on them, as that's the favorite vehicle for DF recruitment, too. They are not some knights without fear and reproach, on the whole, and Rand knew that.

I also don't know about the older warders accepting their places beneath their AS - there were a lot of hints and glimpses that while respectful and obedient in public, many warders don't hesitate to tear into their AS in private, if they think that it is warranted. And AS having to justify themselves and win them over to their POV. In fact, it almost seemed like SF marriage.

Or even fight an extended campaign using the Power. One of the reasons why I blame Cadsuane for Eben's death.

Eh, you don't put somebody who can go bonkers at any time, without warning, in absolute control of other, sane people.
Not unless he is the one and only DR and you don't have a choice.
Besides, we don't know about the AS's experiences in combat and RJ hinted in the Q&As that women use the OP more efficiently, therefore a circle headed by a woman might potentially be able to do more with the same amount of power. Putting Daigian, a White, in control of a combat circle was odd though, or Elza instead of Merise, for that matter.

Generally, Asha'man in question were actually trained for only 2 months or so, starting from zero, so IMHO their battle training is a bit over-stated. Their main advantages are that they can hit first, that they are naturally strong in powers that can be used to cause a lot of destruction even with very simple weaves and that they aren't unnerved by fighting women.
Valentin M
112. ValMar
Interesting discussion on Egwene. I personally lean towards Wolfmage's faction.
But I havo to add something. Someone made an interesting comparison between Perrin and Mat (sorry don't remember who). About Mat being more interesting to read because we can't be sure what he'll do.
I believe the same applies with Egwene. How would've she reacted in the meeting with Rand in the WT? What would she do in the LightCon in TOM?
When she does the right thing (whatever it is) it will feel the more satisfying because we aren't 100% certain she will overcome her handicaps.

KiManiak @ 104
Re: "football". I was amused/surprised because North Americans nearly always call the popular local sport, resembling rugby, "football"- without American. The (awful) name of "soccer" being given to the sport called football outside NA and Ozz.
Perhaps you were just making sure for the benefit of outsiders that talk wasn't about "soccer". Lots of people out there scratching their heads and thinking US'94 maybe wasn't a waste after all...
Given the success of the Superbowl I'm surprised the other major sports haven't done it. Instead of a Winter Classic, why not NHL Super Final in a stadium?

Last observation, re: Merise. Given her "strict" attitudes, if she happens to be Cairhienin it will raise some interesting questions what she does in private or during the Feast of Lights...
Stefan Mitev
113. Bergmaniac
Nice job, Isilel. I also never understood why the Superboys get a pass and the girls get so much flack for being reckless, when all of them are on pretty much the same level. They are all reckless and continue to be so since in this series, it brings results practically every time.

You can even argue that Superboys recklessness is worse since if one of them dies - it's apparently game over for the Light side. If one of the Supergirls dies, it will be blow for the good guys, but not literally the end of the world.

Merise is from Tarabon, BTW.
Valentin M
114. ValMar
Thanks Bergmaniac. In this case I shall not pursue this line of thought anymore :)

Rand does make Elayne look like a docile nun. Not that I'm exonerating her, just she shouldn't be singled out.
James Hogan
115. Sonofthunder
ValMar @112, being an American currently living in Scotland, I'm very careful to always say "American football" when talking with people here, just to avoid confusion. When talking with people back in America though, I'll always say football. Don't worry, no Americans ever say "American football" when in fellow American company. ;)

I have to say though, when I was home in Florida for Christmas, I slipped up, talking about going to football games in Aberdeen...they were surprised to hear there was football there until I corrected myself, "I mean *soccer* games."
And on the football note, I was extremely sad to see both of the teams I was going for lose this past weekend. Poor Jets and Bears. I guess I'm going for the Packers now, but I really don't care for either team.

And because I need to have SOME WoT in here, I'm just going to agree with the people that brought up the fact that Rand was in a state of denial regarding the BT. Rand reminds me of how I feel about some dreaded task. I'll push it to the back of my mind(almost subconsciously!) just because I really really really don't want to deal with it. I think that's where Rand's at. Sure, he doesn't know the extent to Taim's corruption, but Rand *definitely* is smart enough to know he shouldn't be leaving a high-power saidin-wielder unsupervised...especially when he's the one training and leading a whole horde of the most powerful weapons on earth. Sadly, he's let it go for too long and it looks like there won't be much of a Rand-loyal faction left when the BT is returned to.


Valentin M
116. ValMar
Sonofthunder @ 115
Just to clarify, lest there is any confusion, I am from Europe.
Football-wise I'm like the locals from cheerful Aberdeen where every shade of grey is present.
I know you guys say just "football" among yourselves so that's why I half-jokingly pointed out that KiManiak called it American football.
Just find it very curious how 2 very different sports are called the same in different places. In English. In other languages soccer is "football" or, rarely, local direct translation- e.g. "peldroed" in Welsh.
Anyway, where's the new post?
James Hogan
117. Sonofthunder
Yeah, I was aware of that, ValMar(the profile is a wonderful thing!!) I'm actually hoping to visit London one of these days...

But yeah, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek with a few of my comments. I need to stop doing that online, when people can't hear my tone of voice or see me...*grumbles* I have great fun with the Scots here...and learned *far* more about football* than I ever thought I would!!

*And by football, I mean not-soccer. ;)
118. KiManiak

A lot of comments there; I like it! Really busy day, but I had to steal some time to respond -if only just quickly; unfortunately your points won’t get the time and word count they deserve :)

I notice you didn’t include my entire point “if charging in to some situation/place without a solid plan results in a character(s) getting caught, does the character(s) learn and not rush in half-cocked without a quality plan and backup again?” with the emphasis on “character getting caught” (and I guess you could also add emphasis for “quality plan” too)

I’ll pass on responding re: Rand in detail. I’ll just add quickly that Rand didn’t “charge into some situation…” with Dumai’s Wells; he was kidnapped. For Sammael, he operated off of a plan that was devised by Bashere and Mat (2 of the greatest military minds in the land, I would add) and that was the culmination of 2 books worth of planning to strike at Sammael. The timing of when everything was in place just sucked. The thing with Fain was a valid point on your part; the Far Madding episode, less so (he had Lan and Nynaeve initially) and if I had more time I’d dissect each.

I won’t spend that much time on your comments on Perrin either, because he’s Perrin and I’m not that big of a fan (although your comments re: Malden are weird since he actually was commended for his attack plan against a superior force; but hey, if you didn’t like it then you didn’t like it. Also, he was actually getting trained in T’A’R in ToM, and even back in TSR he learns from his mistakes and adapts in his original hunting of Slayer).

But Mat? You came down on Mat? I gotta respond…

Mat never got captured for one. He did the bailing out. Multiple times. Actually, he would bail the SuperGirls out after their “charging in to some situation…results in characters getting caught,” which is what my point was focusing on. Does Mat gleefully rush into those situations? No. He goes to rescue his friends out of loyalty. In TDR, does he have the option of backup? No, but he uses what he does have (the fireworks and the distraction of the Aiel) beautifully. And that’s even before the past-lifetime-memories upgrade.

Backtrack a little further; the only reason he rushes to Tear to rescue the SGs in the first place is because he overhears Rahvin’s plan while in Caemlyn. Mat was going to rush away from the madness and disappear; but he hears that Rahvin and one of his minions has a trap planned for the SGs, so it’s Mat to the rescue. Oh, and he couldn’t go to the queen for backup/assistance like he initially wanted to, because he found out that she was in cahoots with Rahvin/Gaebril (he didn’t know she was Compelled). He rushed after them by himself because he had to; noone else would or could. That’s action based on loyalty; not a reckless overconfidence in your superhuman abilities, like the SGs often act.

He earns the respect of what ultimately becomes the Band. In TFoH he had the option of leaving a group of Rand-loyal soldiers to be surprised by the Aiel, or inform them of the ensuing ambush. The soldiers would only take his advice if he joined and led some of them. He was reluctant; not reckless. Most of his exploits in the battle around Cairhien were due to him trying to escape the battle; not rush into it. He killed Couladin, not because he sought him out, but because he had to (as I believe he explains to Guybon in ToM; don’t have the book handy here and no time to look it up now). The Band is fiercely loyal to Mat because he’s known for pulling them out of scrapes and not carelessly spending their lives. He deeply feels the loss of each of his men and constantly talks about having to pay the butcher; and he doesn’t do reckless acts leading to his capture, where his men have to engage a suicide plan in order to save him. Compare that to Elayne’s actions and her POV in KoD, after the fiasco with the BA capture (hey, she got captured again!). Any objective assessment of the 2 would not even place them in the same ballpark when it comes to stupid, reckless actions.

Darn, this is taking too long. Quick last point (hopefully). Mat felt guilty about the result of his bargain with the Foxes in Finnland, realized the magnitude of the result of those actions and made a comment to Thom that showed, once again, that he had learned from his mistakes and would look to do things differently next time (which is a far cry different from Elayne and her incidents with the BA in KoD and ToM, mind you). But, are we as the reader supposed to blame Mat for Jain Farstrider’s death? Really? Come on!

Nevermind the fact that they wouldn’t have even gotten close to Moiraine without Mat’s judgement. Nevermind the fact that Mat was the one who the bargain with the *Finn was with. Nevermind the fact that he did appear to account for multiple possibilities and contingencies with his bargain, but in the heat of the moment said “Foxes” as opposed to “Snakes and Foxes.” Nevermind the fact that he sacrificed his bloody eye! It was Jain’s decision to die, twice over. All 3 of them entered into the Tower of Ghenji, knowing it was a suicide mission. And near the end, Jain Farstrider volunteered to delay the Snakes for as long as he could, in order to give Mat a chance to get Thom and Moiraine out. Which Mat was finally able to realize he could facilitate via his ashenderi. Mat may accept the blame for Jain’s death because he feels deeply the burden of leadership in relation to all of his men, whether they are just a “common” soldier (like the Redarms he loses in Ebou Dar or the Bandmembers he loses in his efforts to escape Altara), or a living legend (again, something Elayne doesn’t seem to do based on her POVs in KoD and ToM; and no, I’m not counting her momentary “sadness” about Vandene and Sareitha’s deaths because she doesn’t reflect on how her poor leadership-related actions led to their deaths). But, when Mat tells Thom that any ballad he composes should make Jain the hero, Thom gives him a kind of “sure, Mat” response while giving the impression (to this reader at least) that he knows that Mat was the true hero in that situation. I would argue that most readers could draw that conclusion as well…

Darn, this was waaay longer than I intended. Got on a roll. No more breaks for me today…
Chris R
119. up2stuff

I don't know I would have expected Egwene to have the crisis over "everything is too much". Of our 5 from the Two Rivers, I get two to three different desires for the path of their life. We all know Perrin longs to remain a simple blacksmith and his story arc deals with the fact that life doesn't always take you where you think. He is kind of right wing "your Past Defines you" and he strives to hold on to it...for a long time...tied to an anchor. Nynaeve is more in this area in that it's not who SHE is so much as who THEY are. On the other hand, Mat can't wait to see the world and be rich and foolish and womanizing. Egwene wants more than her Father's Inn and to learn about the world, too. She wants to be influential. Those two are kind of left wing in that regard. Rand would love to go home, but he is kid of in the middle, not above a little adventure first.

My point though is that Egwene WANTS all the chaos. She yearns to be AS and make a mark. Her first visit to TV, I believe she reflects that she is coming home. Granted, she did not expect to be Amyrlin, like, 2 years later, but I am sure it was in her ambitious little heart at some point. Needless to say, her goals will accept a role like this. The anxiety of the others is they are forced into responsibility and adjust with varying levels of ease.
Jay Dauro
120. J.Dauro
Yes, I do like Mat now. But in TEOTW Mat is the one who rushes into things, and does what he is told not to. Or do we remember a dagger? For a long time Mat was just not tolerable.

Heck, he still catches badgers to let loose on the green. ;^)
Sandy Brewer
121. ShaggyBella
I think if all our heroes used their brains, these books would be a little boring. When these teenaged main characters are about to do something stupid....I cringe and want to shout "No, Don't go in there" and "Watch your back" "Don't trust them, it's a trap!" ETC! I become more involved when I can see what is coming. Keeps me turning pages and relistening. Even if I get a little upset.
KiManiak, I love Mat, too. He always has the most interesting comments running in his head. Also Nyneave, as they both do the opposite of what they are thinking ;-)
Jeff Weston
122. JWezy
Actually, if you think about Cadsuane not having sex for 300+ years, it sort of explains a lot about her personality.

And as for Verin, you know what they say "Once you go black, you never go back!"

(Actually, I'm a little ashamed of that one, but it's too funny to leave out).
Kimani Rogers
123. KiManiak
JDauro@120 - Yeah, I didn't like Mat in TEotW either. Although you could see his loyalty to his friends, his exposure to Shadar Logoth and the dagger did not make him a pleasant person. In TGH, he wasn't that admirable of a person in the early portion of the book either. It wasn't until the second half that he starts to develop into his awesome self...

Shaggybella@121 - It is definitely entertaining to "see" inside Mat's head. Nynaeve... well, through most of the series, being inside her skull switches between being amusing and irritating, for me. But I do like how she's changed and matured, ever since she got married/met Alise/was humbled by the Windfinders/ experienced Cadsuane.
Tess Laird
124. thewindrose
Very late - but now up to date:)
I think that Cadsuane 'knows' that Rand bonded Min - not the real truth that Elayne, Aviendha and Min bonded Rand. I think Cads would have had been much more surprised and upset if she knew the real state of affairs.

I hate Merise treating Jahar like a puppy. I could understand a relationship of learning - Jahar is very young, but he is not a pet. I see the trend right now is bonding, but after TG I don't see a need for this and I hope it goes back to men and women working together with out such a personal tie to one another. (Maybe the channelers who want to be married to each other do it? And I guess there are still the warders who don't channel that get benefits from the bond may want to continue with this.)

It would have been nice to have some more Black Tower chapters. But we don''t. So, while Rand should have been more involved with his creation, I think there have been some plausible reasons why Rand hasn't gone running off to fix the problems we know about, but that he has only an inkling of. In ToM he does indicate that he is aware that the BT has become a living nightmare - and in aMoL we will see how he takes care of it. (Yes - most likely by either a joint effort between Rand and Logain - or just Logain.)

Now on to Part 17:)

William McDaniel
125. willmcd
I was so miffed when CoT first came out and Rand only appeared in one-and-a-half chapters. Yet now in retrospect there are some points of interest here. As others have commented, one of the things that was disappointing about the book was that, after WH, we readers were chomping at the bit to find out what the reaction would be to the cleansing of saidin. Not so much the act itself (which we've gotten plenty of; "Light! No one should be able to handle that much of the One Power!" moments abound in the first 22 chapters of the book), but the social reaction to the idea that channeling men are no longer fated to go insane. And it takes until chapter 23 for us to get the first hints of that.

And like so many things in the WoT, it is realistic and unsatisfying. People aren't really convinced that it happened (Cadsuane), or think it didn't happen the way we know it did (Logain). It is not going to be an instant cultural alteration throughout Randland; the shadow that tainted saidin cast is much too ingrained in their culture for that. It will percolate slowly, and generations will likely pass before the effects of the cleansing are fully settled.

We as readers chafe at Merise's withholding of Narishma's pin, but the fact that she (who "managed her Warders with a firm hand") is even struggling over it is, as Cadsuane notes, the first small indication of a change. And here we get at something larger that is going on as Aes Sedai and Asha'man interact.

Throughout the series, Jordan has advocated the theme that men and women function best when working together. In the case of Aes Sedai specifically, that has been impossible for 3,000 years, because without exception every AS sees herself as being superior to every man. And justifiably so, as the imbalancing ability to channel effectively creates a higher form of a human being. Those men who might be their equals are quickly rendered ordinary by gentling, and die soon after. Yes, some Aes Sedai find men (either the greens with their warders, or one of those few men who can handle the imbalance) to couple with physically, but it is always from a position of superior and subordinate. There is little true companionship to be found.

Yet, as the "we must gentle every man who can channel" mandate weakens, Aes Sedai repeatedly become intertwined with Asha'man romantically. Merise and Jahar, Corele and Damer, later Androl and Pevara. For the first time, they are faced with men who are their equals, and the balance of men and women both functioning better when paired with the other starts to be restored.

One or two other tidbits from Cadsuane's POV. I noticed that she thinks the question of whether or not saidin is really clean is "one of the two most important questions in the world". What is the other? Who killed Asmodean, perhaps? (drum fill)

I noticed in Cadsuane's POV this bit:
Halfway into the turn, he staggered. He caught himself on an arm of the chair with a barked laugh, pretending he had tripped over his own boots, but there had been no tripping. And he had not seized saidin—she had seen him stagger, doing that—or her ornaments would have warned her.
It took me a minute to figure out that this was Moridin channeling. I love the way RJ drops these little things in here, doesn't explain them and leaves them for the readers to puzzle over.
126. Danonymous
Ugh, I've been reading along and avoiding commenting on years old post, but there is this bit about Corele no one's mentioned yet. Cads thinks about how Corele is spending all her time trying to learn how to cure stilling from Damer, and two pages later we see that Nynaeve is just hanging out on the patio below them. Just another case of me wanting to reach in through the pages, bash two characters heads together and yell "talk to each other you freaking idiots!"
It's especially bad here, because can you seriously see Nyn meeting a new group of aes sedei and not going on and on about it? "I'm Nynaeve of the yellow ajah. I ungentled Logain and unstilled Siuan and Lennora, maybe you've heard of me."
Does no one know Logain was gentled? Does he ever meet with Nyn while he's here?
Captain Hammer
127. Randalator
Uh, Corele is one of the fence-sitting/Dragonsworn Aes Sedai. I'm pretty sure that the SAS would tie Nynaeve into a knot if they found out she'd been discussing revolutionary Healing techniques with outsiders...

After all, we have no less than 4 Light-side factions of Aes Sedai running around in Randland at this point. Tower Aes Sedai, Salidar Aes Sedai, Dragonsworn Aes Sedai and non-affiliated Aes Sedai. Neither of these groups would want the other three to have sensitive information of any kind.

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