May 17 2011 2:28pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Knife of Dreams, Part 5

Is you is or is you ain’t my Wheel of Time Re-read, baby? You is! Aw, smooches!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 3 and 4 of Knife of Dreams, in which I make shameless generalizations on complex topics, and am appallingly vague on Important Moral Dilemmas. SHAMELESS! And APPALLING! Smooches!

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, no more smooches! Post! *points sternly*

Chapter 3: At the Gardens

What Happens
Aran’gar arrives at Moridin’s summons to Tel’aran’rhiod, but Moridin is not there yet. Semirhage, Demandred, and Mesaana are conferring together while Graendal watches; Aran’gar notes that Demandred looks angry, and Mesaana looks pale and almost sickly. She wanders over to Graendal to mock the setting chosen (a reproduction of the Ansaline Gardens from the Age of Legends,) but Graendal replies curtly that it had been her choice. Aran’gar laughs it off, and suggests to Graendal that in light of the others’ alliances, it might be well if they were to have their own, disguised as a dalliance. Graendal’s streith dress suggests she is violently opposed to the idea, but nevertheless she agrees. They are interrupted when Mesaana storms over to berate Aran’gar for letting Egwene escape her clutches, ruining all of Mesaana’s careful planning. Aran’gar keeps hold of her temper, and tells them about the meeting of the Rebel Hall in the World of Dreams the night before, with Egwene leading it.

“She’s not the figurehead you believe. I’ve tried telling you before, but you never listened.” That came out too hard. With an effort, and it required effort, she moderated her tone. “Egwene told them all about the situation inside the Tower, the Ajahs at one another’s throats. She convinced them it’s the Tower that is about to fall apart, and that she might be able to help it along from where she is. Were I you, I’d worry whether the Tower can hold together long enough to keep this conflict going.”

Mesaana is mollified somewhat by this, and decides perhaps she can wait until Elaida has broken Egwene. She orders Aran’gar to sow even more dissension in the Rebel camp, and Aran’gar smiles and plays with Graendal’s hair. Demandred growls at them to get a room, and Aran’gar asks Mesaana where Egwene is being held. Suspiciously, Mesaana refuses to reveal this information, and Aran’gar pulls Graendal’s hair and snarls that she wants the girl. Mesaana fires back that this is her plan, and Moridin walks in and shuts them all up by announcing that actually, it’s his plan. Moghedien and Cyndane follow him in, and Aran’gar wonders again what hold he has on them. Moridin tells them that Sammael or someone disguised as him sent a hundred Myrddraal and thousands of Trollocs into the ways for purposes unknown; the others are skeptical that Sammael could still be alive, and Aran’gar wonders if perhaps Demandred could be behind it. Moridin orders them to keep an eye out and report back to him. He also orders them to find the three remaining seals, all in the possession of al’Thor’s people; Cyndane suggests that the best way would be to kidnap “Lews Therin” and make him tell, but Moridin snaps back that she would “accidentally” kill him.

“The time and manner of al’Thor’s death will be at my choosing. No one else.” Strangely, he put his free hand to the breast of his coat, and Cyndane flinched. Moghedien shivered. “No one else,” he repeated, in a hard voice.

“No one else,” Cyndane said. When he lowered his hand, she exhaled softly then took a swallow of wine. Sweat glistened on her forehead.

[…] Moridin straightened himself in his chair, directing that stare at the rest of them. “That goes for all of you. Al’Thor is mine. You will not harm him in any way!”

Aran’gar notes the hatred in Cyndane’s eyes, and wonders if perhaps she really is Lanfear despite what Graendal had said about the difference in strength. Moridin goes on that if they want to kill someone, kill these two: and he shows them pictures of Perrin Aybara and Mat Cauthon. He says they are ta’veren and thus easily found, but Graendal laughs and points out the Pattern is in such a flux it’s harder than ever to find anything. Semirhage murmurs that if Moridin had shown them this earlier the two men might already be dead. Moridin just yells at them to find Aybara and Cauthon and kill them.

Aran’gar took a sip of her wine. She had no objections to killing these two if she happened to come across them, but Moridin was going to be terribly disappointed over Rand al’Thor.

Ah, the Forsaken Symposium of Evil Plotting, Take 346. Or thereabouts.

It’s interesting that the main thought I came away with, after reading this chapter, is what a pain in the ass it must have been corralling all these villains. And I don’t mean for Moridin, I mean for Jordan.

I’m not going to go so far as to say he painted himself into a corner with the Forsaken, because I don’t think he did, exactly, but I’m beginning to understand why so many stories tend to have only one Big Bad (plus assorted henchmen and goons, of course) and multiple heroes, instead of the other way around. And that’s because, when you have a plethora of villains in play, it’s much more difficult to justify why they haven’t simply all run amuck long since.

Heroes, as a (very) general rule, are easier to control than villains as characters, mostly due to the very simple reason that heroes by definition have limits. They have codes of conduct, crises of conscience; they feel obligations to others, and have concern for other people’s wellbeing. All of which, by necessity, curtails their freedom to act. They have, in other words, boundaries: moral event horizons that they either will not cross, or will only cross under great duress. If they do cross those boundaries (or cross them without the proper level of angst, at least,) then, by definition, they stop being heroes.

So it’s really relatively easy, then, to detour a heroic character if you need her to not get to point X until Y time, or not perform X deed until Y event takes place. Just plant the plot-relevant equivalent of a kitten up a tree in her way, and the hero is almost invariably obligated to stop and do something about it.

Or, at the very least, he is obligated to spend some time justifying why he didn’t rescue the kitten. Or, more likely, find out that his failure to rescue the kitten has screwed up whatever it was he was originally trying to do in the first place. Because as you know, Bob, a Good Guy failing to do good when the opportunity arises is a BIG NO-NO, and the story, almost without fail, will find a way to make him pay for it.

So the point is: Hero + Kitten + Tree = Detour. Or else.

(A classic example of the kitten-tree detour? Kidnap the hero’s child/sibling/spouse. Wait, why does that sound familiar…)

Villains, by contrast, especially the variety of dyed-in-the-wool, really-most-sincerely-Evil villain characters like the Forsaken, logically should not have any of the limits imposed on their heroic counterparts. “Codes of conduct?” Those are for pussies, dude. “Concern for other people?” There are other people besides me? KILL THEM. “Consciences?” What are those again? These are the guys who, shown a kitten up a tree, will not only not pause to rescue the kitten, but will probably set the tree and the kitten on fire, just to further delay any possible pursuing heroic types. (And also because live roasting cat antics are hilarious. If you’re a villain.)

So the problem with that is, after a certain length of time, with a dozen or so Utterly Evil folk running around, you start to wonder why there aren’t a hell of a lot more forest fires. And dead kittens. If you catch my drift.

What it comes down to, really, is that what does limit your characters is actually much more important in determining their actions than what doesn’t. So how do you set boundaries on characters who, by definition, should have none?

Jordan’s answer, it turns out, is “other villains.” Mindtraps and double-crosses and fake-outs, oh my!

Well, that and a ridiculously over-developed sense of self-preservation. Which is another way of saying “selfishness.”  Which is fine, but it’s always struck me as being a particularly precarious balancing act, to make sure all of these evil people are sufficiently (and believably) stymied enough that they haven’t just gone on mad killing sprees long since.

And, uh. So there’s all that.

As to what actually happened in this chapter, the only bit I really feel like commenting on is the thing with “Sammael,” which really had me going “buh?” when I originally read it. Because Jordan had long since confirmed to the readers, at this point, that Sammael was toast as of the end of ACOS, so why was he trying to introduce a Sammael-related red herring now?

Then I realized, on reflection, that Moridin being the one to bring it up could mean that it was complete bullshit, since no one other than Rand could possibly be in a better position than Moridin to be certain that Sammael had bought the farm, considering Moridin had been in Shadar Logoth when Mashadar ate Sammy for lunch. Yes, Moridin ran off after crossing the balefire streams with Rand, but it would have made total sense to suppose Moridin had stuck around to watch the whole showdown between Rand and Sammael afterwards. So I guess Moridin was just fucking with the other Forsaken by bringing up Sammael. Maybe to see who twitched the most when he suggested it?

Still, though, even though Moridin might have muddied the waters re: who sent the horde of Trollocs to kill Rand (which, it will become clear, was definitely their mission,) it still couldn’t have been Moridin himself who sent them, since his survival (selfishly) now depends upon Rand’s, owing to that whole crossing the streams incident mentioned above. Or so I and many other fans presume.

So who did send them? The Trollocs, I mean. I would guess Demandred, but I can’t remember if we’ve ever been told.


Chapter 4: A Deal

What Happens
Carrying a long branch, Perrin waits in the trees at the edge of a meadow with Berelain, Gallenne, Annoura, Arganda, Aram, Grady, and a hundred soldiers. Gallenne wants Berelain to leave (she refuses), and Annoura is irritated that Berelain is still giving her the silent treatment for visiting Masema behind her back. Arganda is worried that “she” won’t come, and Aram puts in that Masema says it’s probably a trap. Perrin knows from Balwer that Aram has been spending a lot of time with Masema, but shrugs it off, though he notes that Masema is probably just worried his own dealings with the Seanchan will be exposed. Leof Torfinn and Tod al’Caar are there too, carrying Perrin’s wolfshead banner and the Manetheren banner, respectively, and Perrin thinks it’s good Tod doesn’t know why the banner is here.

In any trade, you needed to make the other fellow think he was getting something extra, as Mat’s father often said. Colors swirled in Perrin’s head, and for a brief instant he thought he saw Mat talking to a small dark woman. He shook off the image. Here and now today, were all that mattered. Faile was all that mattered.

Perrin scents and hears the Seanchan approaching before anyone else does, and announces it to head off a fight between Arganda and Gallenne; they both give him odd looks. Soon a party appears at the other end of the meadow, led by Tallanvor, and Perrin notes without surprise that the party includes a sul’dam and damane. Annoura is not happy, either about being left behind or having to take orders from Grady that day, and Perrin makes Aram stay behind too. The rest ride out to meet the Seanchan, taking twenty soldiers. Tallanvor introduces the Seanchan officers: Banner-General Tylee Khirgan and Captain Bakayar Mishima. Perrin notes that Tylee seems particularly interested in his hammer.

“I’m glad he didn’t name you the Wolf King, my Lord,” the Banner-General drawled. The way she slurred her words, Perrin had to listen hard to make out what she was saying. “Otherwise, I’d think Tarmon Gai’don was on us. You know the Prophecies of the Dragon? ‘When the Wolf King carries the hammer, thus are the final days known. When the fox marries the raven, the trumpets of battle are blown.’ I never understood that second line, myself.”

Tylee chats with Berelain about her lineage from Artur Paendrag, and Perrin interrupts rudely, feeling a chill to hear he was mentioned in the Prophecies. He shakes it off to begin negotiations, and Mishima points out that neither side has much cause for trust in the other, as both have brought more men than the agreed-upon limit. Perrin demonstrates the folly of underestimating his forces: he holds up the narrow branch he’s carrying, whereupon Jondyn Barran and Jori Congar each hit it with an arrow, perfectly, from three hundred paces. Then he tosses the branch into the air, where it bursts into flame. Tylee calmly observes he has a marath—an Aes Sedai with him, but the sul’dam shakes her head.

Tylee sat very still, studying Perrin intently. “Asha’man,” she said at last, not a question. “You begin to interest me, my Lord.”

Perrin makes Tod give him the Red Eagle banner, and explains its significance to the Seanchan. He promises them that if they help him free his wife, he will abandon any attempt to revive the nation of Manetheren.

“That claim would be a field of brambles for you Seanchan. You could be the one who cleared that field without a drop of blood shed.” Behind him, someone groaned miserably. He thought it was Tod.

Suddenly a gale that stinks of sulphur engulfs them for a few moments, frightening them all. Shaken, Mishima asks if that was more “convincing” on Perrin’s part, but Perrin says no. Tylee regards Perrin thoughtfully for a few moments, then agrees to his terms. Both she and Perrin order their men to withdraw, and they begin discussing strategy. Perrin first demands that Tylee make no attempt to collar any of the channelers he has with him, and that they harm no one in the Shaido camp wearing a white robe. Tylee comments that the Aiel in white make excellent da’covale, but agrees; Perrin decides not to mention the year and a day thing to her. Perrin tells Tylee that Sevanna has about a hundred thousand Shaido with her, but more importantly, she has every last Shaido Wise One who can channel with her as well, three to four hundred of them. Tylee looks glum at this news, and says the Daughter of the Nine Moons will have to be disturbed, then, though she will likely have to apologize for it to the Empress herself. Mishima comments on the “slaughterhouse” that was the last battle he saw involving that many channelers, and Tylee thanks Perrin, but says it will take her weeks to gather enough troops to deal with such a situation. She offers the Manetheren banner back, but warns him the Seanchan will not tolerate his setting himself up to be a king for long. Berelain flares up, to Perrin’s surprise.

Even her scent was fierce. No patience now. She smelled like a she-wolf defending her injured mate. “I’ve heard that your Ever Victorious Army is misnamed. I’ve heard the Dragon Reborn defeated you soundly to the south. Don’t you ever think that Perrin Aybara can’t do the same. Light, and he had been worried over Aram’s hotheadedness!

Perrin reminds Tylee that he has a plan, and asks about the tea the Seanchan have that affects only channelers. Tylee admits to its existence, but wants to know how he plans to feed it to four hundred channelers at once. Perrin has a way, but tells her they’ll need a great quantity of it, wagonloads. Tylee says they might have that much at the manufactory, but that’s very far away, and she would have to explain why she wanted so much. Perrin tells her about Traveling, and shows her the letter from Suroth he’d purloined from Masema, putting the bearer under Suroth’s personal protection and endorsement. Tylee is amazed.

Aes Sedai, Asha’man, Aiel, your eyes, that hammer, now this! Who are you?

[…] I’m a man who wants his wife back, Perrin said, and I’ll deal with the Dark One to get her. He avoided looking at the sul’dam and damane. He was not far short of making a deal with the Dark One. Do we have a bargain?

Tylee looked at his outstretched hand, then took it. She had a firm grip. A deal with the Dark One. But he would do whatever it took to get Faile free.

Speaking of crossing moral event horizons, maybe.

Argh. I get that the Seanchan are supposed to be a morally dubious proposition, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I honestly don’t know, if I were in Perrin’s position, whether I could tolerate looking at that damane for however long without losing my shit. I left the sul’dam and Norie’s interaction out of the summary because I was trying to be at least a little succinct, but also because it still turns my stomach a little bit, even after all this time and exposure to it, like having a landfill just barely out of range of my nose. Er, if that makes any sense.

I suppose it’s a good topic for discussion, though: is Perrin crossing a line by making a deal with the Seanchan to get Faile back?

I can’t really decide, myself, because as much as I loathe the slavery aspect of their culture (and am not terribly thrilled by their colonial ambitions, either) the fact remains that in spite of these things, the Seanchan are not, in fact, actually evil. And there is also the fact that Rand is almost certainly going to have to ally with them in AMoL in order to win the Last Battle, and therefore can I legitimately fault Perrin for making the same decision on a smaller scale?

I just dunno. They say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but I’d argue that war is far, far kinkier.

Nice trick with the branch, though. And Perrin thinks he has no sense of showmanship.

Well, at least Berelain and I are on the same page, as regards the Seanchan, anyway, so I like her right now. Not to mention, I’d wager that her defense of Perrin’s ass-kicking abilities here is probably the most honest compliment she’s ever paid him. So that’s nice.

Aram: shut up, Aram. I’d tell you to stop smoking the Masema crack, but, well. Sigh.

Also: Perrin finally gets Prophesied, yay! Even though of course the Seanchan version of the Prophecies is a bit dodgy in certain areas, I’m pretty sure that on this count they are spot-on.

And of course, as of ToM we now know it’s not just ANY hammer it’s talking about, eh? Eh? Ah, nice happy memories of future awesome. Helps me get through the bad times, it does. *snuggles that scene*

And that’s about what I got for this one, peoples. Smooches! (Aaaand that word has now totally lost all meaning.) Have a lovely week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

1. MasterAlThor
Please don't float away. Me and mine will be praying for you and yours. Stay safe Leigh.

Heidi Byrd
2. sweetlilflower
*snuggles that scene*

Leigh, you crack me up :-)
Kerwin Miller
3. tamyrlink
LOVED the Louis Jordan song reference. thats one of my favorite songs by him.

lol and
They say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but I’d argue that war is far, far kinkier.
sounds like a line from Gossip Girl.

and other than these non-related tidbits i have nothing else to say about the marvelous reread that this is.
Adrian Sedai
4. Adrian Sedai
I have always liked the Seanchan myself. The moral side of the slavery aside, It is nice to see a culture so alien to the normal western idea of medieval culture that is written quite sympathetically. We can loathe some of their attitudes but enjoy the differences. I think for me it is the same reason I love oriental cultures. They are very different to my own western sensibilities but are fascinating in their own right.

As for Perrin, I lost all interest in his plot several books ago. I was always bored to tears with him and only read through for completism in case I missed something important. I always found the female characters much more fun :)
Sam Mickel
5. Samadai
Chapter 4 is a great chapter. It is another one of those that shows how awesome Perrin is(or will be)
Douglas Miller
6. douglas
Perrin decides not to mention the year and a day thing to her.

Heh. Makes me wonder what happens when the year-and-day periods start running out. I'm imagining thousands upon thousands of formerly perfectly docile Aiel suddenly wreaking spontaneous havoc across the whole Seanchan Empire, slaughtering their "owners" and then vanishing without a trace.
Matt Belanger
7. mabwi
I would argue that in WoT, there actually IS one "Big Bad", and a bunch of goons, the Big Bad being the Dark One, who has limited the Forsaken from the start, especially wrt killing Rand, and has made it necessary for them to build real world power - which is tough to do when you're killing everybody - in order to become Ne'Blis. And then, of course, after naming Moridin Ne'Blis, they then hae to do what HE says, or risk serious consequences. It's one of the downsides of working for the devil, I suppose.
8. MasterAlThor
Now about the Forsaken. Can someone explain why they are putting up with this handcuffing? Why hasn't Demandred just gone bat-crazy and laid waste to half the world in the Dark Ones name? Why, for that matter, does the Dark One not want him to?

See folks this is just a case of evil being too cute for its own good. The Dark One, if he was to win, would just rule over a waste land with no real civillization. So why should he care if one of his underlings got a head start on the destruction?

Appearantly the Dark One isn't omniscience. Cause if he was, he could have found Rand and Co. and destroyed them or put the world to the torch before Rand was ready to stand up to him. I mean just think about it.

I am totally with Leigh on this one.

Adrian Sedai
9. images8dream
I was under the impression that Padan Fain sent the trollocs to kill Rand, but I can't remember why I think that . Can anyone confirm/disconfirm this?
Bernhard Fries
10. Iwan_Emmetowitsch
The Forsaken were chosen for one trait foremost: selfishness

Not only Verin said this, but their behaviour also confirms this. I always believed they chose the Shadow, because they wanted power over other human beings. Everyone in his own way, but none the less power. But they also wanted UNENDING power over others.

Now, after getting a slight taste of death in their 3 millenia "dreamless slumber", their are even more afraid of dying. Everyone of the Forsaken has now one thing on top of their list: Survive to fight another day!

I actually think that this is a great boundary for a villain and also very believable. Because they can even plot against the Nae'Bliss, by thinking that in, say 4 millenia, their time will come!

Only Morridin/Ishamael might escape those boundaries, but as he is clearly insane, there are other (non-logic) restrictions to his reasoning!
Adrian Sedai
11. UrsulaMinor

Have been reading these since I started my re-read in January, and am now caught up.

And SQUEE. Gotta say I have been enjoying them a lot. Thanks Leigh! (Helpfully, they are also slowing down my re-read because I stop every few chapters to read the re-reads )

One thing that really struck me in this chapter and later ones was how the Seanchan are (with the exception of sul dame damane ) the least messed up culture with regards to gender. They have female and male captains and leaders, without actively denigrating either gender. It seems like they actively replaced sexism in all its forms with class-ism. The only time they seem to notice gender is with regards to marrige and channeling (and it's pretty clear that Damane are not really thought about as 'female' insofar as they are not considered people). By taking the female channelers out of the population, they also removed, in large part, the gendered power dynamic put into play after all the male channelers went off the deep end.

... they then of course replaced that power dynamic with slavery and a really heavy emphasis on ancestor sin. Which is a depressing indication that societies only seem to run when /someone/ is being opressed.

But anyway. Seanchan weirdly not sexist. Good reread :)

Douglas Miller
12. douglas
I'm pretty sure the Dark One works as he does, restraining the Forsaken and not having them go on huge rampages of destruction, because that would actually hinder his true goal. He doesn't want to turn the world into a wasteland, he wants to break his prison. Based on the Borderlander prophecy revealed in ToM and a number of other things, it seems likely that the Dark One truly escaping his prison requires a very specific kind of victory involving the Dragon Reborn in some way. If Rand turns, or fights as an emotionless shell, or gets attacked through Callandor's special weakness, or something (nobody really knows the specifics), then the Dark One wins, breaks free, and shatters the Wheel. If Rand dies in ordinary battle, gets assassinated, or the world gets turned into a series of craters, then it really sucks to be living in the world but the Dark One is still imprisoned.
Daniel Smith
13. Smittyphi
You have to get kinky for a war...Just sick and wrong.

I admit I skimmed the Faile captivity chapters. On my re-read now and I will read them all the way through so I can get the full effect of Perrin's changing when he creates his hammer.

Be safe Leigh. Thanks for the post
Roger Powell
14. forkroot

I have enjoyed a number of your commentaries, but this one is one of my favorites. Your analysis of why it's hard to manage a lot of villains was terrific!

On to the "who sent the Trollocs" question: I don't think we know, and I am definitely scratching my head on it. Given Demandred's almost fanatic obsession with killing Rand personally, it's hard to imagine that he'd be behind an attack that, if successful, would have denied him that opportunity.

The other FS? CynFear and Moggy are under Moridin's control. We would have known if Aran'gar had done it because we hear Moridin's comment from her(his?) POV. Semi's been pretty busy - and in later books we get a lot of Grandael POV's with never a hint that she was involved with the Tollocs (not really her style anyway.)

Fain? He can controll Trollocs as of ToM, but not the Fades, right?

Then there's the question of locating Rand: Although Elza was a darkfriend, she was under compulsion to see Rand safely to the Last Battle. Verin wouldn't have done it. So who tipped the Shadow to Rand's location?

Now that we know who offed Asmodean, I daresay this is one of the top mysteries left (Naomi is too recent.)
Adrian Sedai
15. Master Ablar
I love how people go "oh crap" at the mere mention or presence of an asha'man. They certainly made a big impression.
Adrian Sedai
16. Blood_Drunk
To the question of; the year and a day slaughter that Douglas was talking about. I believe that the Aiel have to be peaceful and are safe from harm until they can return to their holds. I think Perrin definitely takes way too long to get over his fit on not wanting to be a leader, however that does not preclude me from enjoying the chapters where he is being a leader and not complaining about not wanting to be one. I think Perrins tactical strategy is awesome and I love his interactions with Tylee all through this book. As to Arem, I always felt his death was too sudden, which is why I had the crazy thought that Arem should be brought back to life by the dark one to fulfill all that ominous prophecy. The way it ended for him just didn't cut it for me, and the same goes for Masema. I spent so long, tossing between the idea that Masema was in league with the dark one and him just being a bat-shit crazy zealot. It seems like after his trip through the portal stones (where everyone lived hundreds of lifetimes in TGH) he should have know better than to be allied with the dark one, however nothing he did seemed to be logically helpful to Rand. Thus I was torn between him being good or Evil and then . . . he died.
Marcus W
17. toryx
Leigh's discussion of the uncontrollability of villains or, more to the point, evil villains reminds me of why I prefer stories with more distinct levels of moral ambiguity. For all that she's trying to demonstrate why it's so hard to deal with villains who're going to do whatever they want for whatever selfish reason, I think the villain that's doing what he or she wants to do for a compelling and more complicated reason is far more interesting.

It's so easy to say, "Well of course he's killing the kittens, he's evil." But what happens when the kittens possess within their kitten-y selves the only antidote to the poison that's slowly killing his wife? You still don't want the kittens to die, you might still want to stop him from killing them (unless you're a kitten hating bastard) but you have that uncomfortable feeling that comes from understanding why he's doing such a heinous thing. Because what would you do if you were in his shoes?

I always felt that the clear line of black vs. white, good vs. evil acted as a detriment to the overall story of WoT. It's nice sometimes to have everything laid out so simply for the reader but at the same time it reduces a certain degree of emotional attachment to the story. I'd rather have the shades of gray, the inner conflict that comes along with a villain who is pursuing his goals for reasons that, while questionable, are far more complicated than, "Muahahah, I'm eeeevil!" Or, in the context of WoT, super selfish.

Tylee comments that the Aiel in white make excellent da’covale, but agrees; Perrin decides not to mention the year and a day thing to her.

This amused the hell out of me the first time I read it and continues to do so today. But I have to wonder if it's perhaps related to the future hatred between the Seanchan and the Aiel. I'd imagine it'd cause quite a ruckus if their placid da'covale suddenly took off their clothes and started a fight right in the middle of a particularly sensitive household. The Seanchan, not understanding, would likely call it oath breaking and I can well imagine that they'd not be terribly inclined toward inviting the Aiel into their society after enough blood has been shed in such a manner.

Ha! douglas @ 6 referred to this bit too.
Corey Sees
18. CorwinOfAmber
Are the Seanchen versions of prophesies really that suspect? I mean, I don't have every one ever mentioned sitting in front of me, but it seems to me that the one everybody points to is the bit about the Dragon kneeling before the Crystal Throne. A book or two ago, I would have completely agreed that this was absolute BS, but now I'm not so sure. And I don't buy theories that it's meant completely literally, that it refers to the actual chair made out of shiney rocks. Given where Rand is as a character as of the end of ToM, and the epic diplomacy fail that was his last encounter with Tuon, is it really that absurd to imagine that he would humble himself and seek to make amends? I'm not suggesting that he would actually subjegate himself to the Seanchen Empire. I definitely don't see this as any sort of surrender, but he was such an arrogant and moody SOB last time he and Tuon talked that it makes sense to me that, in seeking peace with the Seanchen, he would come humbly and apologize. This could include a kneel. I think this is just like something Jordan would do: set us up to be convinced the Seanchen versions were all tainted or wrong, but have them actually be true (and not necessarily bad either).
Adrian Sedai
19. Blood_Drunk
Who sent the Trollocs . . . hear me out on this one. I'm going with Sammael, wait don't yell at me, here is my reasoning. First of all, we have the Law of preservation of characters. Then when you go back to Shadar Logoth we never really see Rand kill Sammael. Instead he sees Leigh (sp?) and decides burning her out of the pattern is better than having her fall to mashadar. We know that when something is balefired all things related to that person, essentially go back in time. What if Leigh had some kind of an interaction with Sammael; maybe he saw her shadow and followed her thinking it was Rand or something that cause Sammael to do something that he would not have done had she not been there. Then when she was balefired, Sammael would not have been where Rand had last seen him. That would explain why we never see Sammael die or even hear him cry out. When Leigh was grabbed by mashadar she screamed out in pain but Sammael never made a sound. It just seemed too incongruent to me. And where has Sammael been all this time you ask? Well he lost his army and thus needs to rebuild. My money is on the Sharans, remember when he had spoken to Graendal and she had pretended to have interests in Shara. Even though he went along with her rouse he had figured out that she didn't have any interest over there. And if I am wrong . . . then it was Demandred.
Corey Sees
20. CorwinOfAmber
The problem is, Jordan has confirmed Sammael dead, hasn't he?
As a side note, I've never understood why this mystery was such a big deal. In fact, it didn't even register as one for me when I first read it.
Birgit F
21. birgit
CNN Chat 12 December 2000
Question from Arsolos: It has been reported that you have confirmed that Sammael died at the end of A Crown of Swords. Could you confirm that you have said this and elaborate on whether Rand was correct? Robert Jordan: Mashadar killed Sammael. Sammael is toast!

Netherlands tour 8 April 2001, Elf Fantasy Fair - Gonzo reporting
RJ: Sammael is dead. He is dead. He is dead. He may be reborn again, but then he will not remember he was Sammael. He cannot be reincarnated. He is dead.
Gonzo: To me, this suggests that we will not see Sammael again.

Crossroads of Twilight Book Tour 18 January 2003 - Cambridge, MA
Q: Is Sammael dead?
RJ: Jordan responded that Sammael was dead as of the end of A Crown of Swords. Jordan felt that the character was a "louse" and didn't deserve a dramatic death ala Rahvin or Be'lal. He deserved a very vague death and
was killed by something that he didn't pay attention to.

The Gathering Storm Book Tour, Scottsdale Public Library, Phoenix Arizona 16 November 2009 - kcf reporting
Brandon also said that the Dark One would have liked very much to transmigrate Sammael but didn’t. Apparently, since he died by Mashadar, Sammael was either unable to be transmigrated or it would have been a very bad idea. Basically, Mashadar tainted Sammael’s thread somehow.

The Aiel's name was Liah.
Don Barkauskas
22. bad_platypus
Blood_Drunk @19: Uh, you mean Liah, not Leigh. Don't go getting our Fearless Leader balefired!
Maiane Bakroeva
23. Isilel
what a pain in the ass it must have been corralling all these villains.

Umm, it is only a pain because Jordan didn't really want them to be able to do any real damage to the featured characters and their main areas of interest. At the same time, he wanted his heroes to take them out one by one to mark their progress, so the FS had to be somewhat independant and implausibly foolish and bumbling. It can be done better.

Case in point - why weren't Mat and Perrin put on the kill-list long since? Ishydin knew that they were ta'veren and legs of the tripod since forever, didn't he?

Oh, and is there something that precludes A'rangar from being behind the Trollocs? Because : "Moridin was going to be terribly disappointed over Rand al’Thor" is awfully suggestive and the brainless way the attack was carried out was right up A'rangar's alley.

Perrin and Seanchan - sigh. I have always felt that RJ harmed Mat's storyline by trying to make the denouyemant of the PLOD more important. Because Perrin's bonding with Seanchan would have been unnecessary if Tuon hadn't been written as so over-the-top intransigent and/or if the events surrounding the Mat/Tuon courtship had challenged her worldview more. As they would have if, for instance, Mat and the AS had to team up to hold the angry Semirhage off Tuon's back. Sigh.

Tallanvor is a badass for finding the Seanchan and brokering the alliance, BTW, - I have always found it bizarre that nobody really notices and he goes right back to being a servant.
Valentin M
24. ValMar
Hi All! Haven't been posting recently but have been reading diligently all the comments.
Does anyone else find Greandal's choice of dress (streith) somewhat impractical for the occasion? I guess she wears it when playing poker too... Or simply, just shows her cards to everyone.
Stefan Mitev
25. Bergmaniac
I don't know about moral horizon, but Perrin crossed the line into complete idiocy here for me. It's just moronic that instead of going to Rand for armies, he made a deal with the Seanchan who he considered almost as evil as the Shadow. Perrin has Asha'man for Traveling, he has the visions, he could've found Rand or at least tried to. But that thought never crossed his mind, and nobody suggested it to him either IIRC. It just never made sense for me at all. The whole PLOD is so implausible, starting with the really pointless "fake fight" between Rand and Perrin back in ACOS.

As for the Forsaken - I've always felt that the problem is that Jordan made them way too powerful. With Compulsion, inversed and reversed weaves, control over the Darkfriends and Shadowspawn, they should've done way more than achieved. They could've killed Rand a zillion times, and this applies even more to Mat and Perrin. So to give our heroes a chance, the Forsaken had to be really stupid. Chapter 3 is a blatant example - they didn't even know how Mat and Perrin look, and until now none of them had even attempted to kill them directly or Compel them even though they Rand's closest buddies and ta'veren to boot.

Look at Graendal's plan to kill Perrin in ToM - it's ridiculous given her skills. She could've just disguise as a servant, get into his camp, sneak to Perrin's tent, slice him and the guard to pieces, and Travel away.
Ted Herman
26. WinespringBrother
If the Seanchan aren't Evil, they are the next best thing to it. Not to mention misguided (regarding the Essanik Cycle and their general behavior towards Rand) and hypocrites (since Tuon knows that sul'dam and damane aren't really different in any meaningful way). I like Tuon and a few others like Tylee and Egeanin, but in general, the Seanchan really aggravate me.

Despite the dark future that Aviendha saw, this I say to the Aiel: Time to wash the spears!
Jon Morse
27. jonfmorse
Until last installment, you were ahead of my FIRST WoT read-through (oddly, your position and mine are reversed with WoT and SoIaF, and I've been afraid to jump into your first read commentary there for fear of accidentally spoling something!). Now, though, I've passed you -- and finished the series, save AMoL of course -- which means YAY NOW I CAN PLAY ALONG TOO! Hi, guys!

Funny story before I get started: back in the '80s, I managed a comic shop-slash-SF&F bookstore. Before TEoTW came out, I received a review copy. I couldn't even get past the first few chapters; I thought it was too dense, and that Jordan was being overly descriptive. I didn't like the characters, and things were moving far too slowly (said the guy who had no problem with the first quarter of Fellowship of the Ring). As a result, I underordered the book. Fast forward to Christmas last year, when my mom dropped ToM in my lap. Well, when mom gives you a present, you don't start grumbling about how you haven't read the 12+1 previous books because you thought they were boring. So, I gave it another try... and I guess something's changed in the last 20 years, because by the time I'd finished TEoTW, I'd eagerly downloaded the rest onto my Kindle.

Re: the bad guys, you're right in that their essential failure to accomplish anything of substance seems stretched and forced at this point. I mean, consider Moridin's entire philosophy on why the DO is ultimately the winning side: it's the same philosophy which leads people to buy a lottery ticket with the same set of numbers twice a week. "Eventually, I'm going to win."

Well, eventually, shouldn't these nitwits at least achieve something that isn't a Pyrrhic victory at best? Backstabbing and selfishness aside, the only way this makes sense to my suspension of disbelief is if Moridin himself is being influenced by his connection to Rand, and is therefore not acting entirely within the DO's interests (or, even, his own).

As far as the Sammael thing, that struck me from the outset as Moridin handing the rest of the Forsaken a red herring, rather than Jordan handing us one. Not only had Jordan confirmed Sammy's death to us, but as you noted nobody but Moridin and Rand even has the chance to "know" he's dead in-character. Everyone else is relying on hearsay. Which leads us to the countless theories on who really sent them. I'm with you; I think it's Demandred, who's obviously playing all sorts of silly games we don't know about, as well as one we're all pretty well agreed on.

On to Perrin and company. As a tertiary character, I loves me some Tylee, who will soon have a small impact on Tuon's thinking, and hopefully an even greater one before it's all over. As far as Perrin himself, I can completely see myself making the same bargain here. All along, Perrin's at war internally between his desire to go home with his honey and get away from all these people wanting him to be their boss, and his sense of responsibility as far as the whole end of the world thing. He hasn't yet teetered over to the "Okay, I need to lead these people" side of the fence yet, so I don't see anything even morally questionable about his decision to ally with the Seanchan. And, really, considering what he had to promise to them... I'm still relatively sanguine about it. I mean, the Seanchan enslave a class of people they consider to be dangerous, left uncontrolled. The Shaido? They enslave everyone who might possibly be useful, for the crime of "being other". The Seanchan, then, are the lesser of two evils to me, and as for the Wise Ones who are about to get shackled I just can't feel heartbroken over slavers being enslaved.
Roger Powell
28. forkroot

Look at Graendal's plan to kill Perrin in ToM - it's ridiculous given her skills. She could've just disguise as a servant, get into his camp, sneak to Perrin's tent, slice him and the guard to pieces, and Travel away.

You'd think so ... but Perrin is ta'veren and the Pattern seems to be very intent on keeping him alive. Consider the Shaido arrow that stopped Aram from killing Perrin. Or consider Dain Bornhald's change of heart - even if that was 100% from within, he still had to be in the right place and react quickly to save Perrin.
Graendal knows that Perrin is tav'eren and she also knows that he may have resources that she does not fully understand. (By analogy, what would have happened if she had tried your strategy with Mat? His medallion would negate her flows and he probably would have killed her.) The Forsaken, esp Moggy, Graendal, and Mesaana are depicted as cautious, almost to the point of cowardice.

Consider also what a narrow escape Graendal had from Rand. Of course she's going to be super cautious and she'd much rather risk an intermediary (Slayer) rather than her own hide. Her miscalculation was not realizing what the price of failure was (hello Shaidar Haran!). Given that, perhaps she should have put, um... more "skin in the game".
29. MasterAlThor

Plenty o'times in the books it is said that the Dark One will remake the world in his own image. That will be desolation. The break out of his prison is so he can get this party started.

Adrian Sedai
30. SpyderZH
Couldn't have said it better myself, forkroot. Everyone has been underestimating the Forsaken, but why would they rush anything? They've spent millenia waiting for their time to come. They've always been playing from the shadows. They ain't called the Shadow for nothing. They're about manipulation and secrecy, not brute force, which is scarier, at least to me. I can dodge a punch if I see it coming. I can't dodge a bullet in the back.

Anyway, another thing that seemed interesting to me was the da'cavole-gai'shan talk by Tylee. When did the Aiel fully convert and split from the Jenn? Was it before or after Luthair sailed to found the Empire? Because they sound reeeeeeeeeally similar for cultures half-a-world away from each other. The only difference is the idea of toh and the year-and-a-day thing. Hm, I smell a connection
Tyler Durden
31. Balance
Who sent the Trollocs? It was Aran'gar. Not only does this scene demonstrate that he/she will go against Moridin's wishes as far as killing Rand goes.

"...,but Moridin was going to be terribly disappointed over Rand al’Thor."

I thought this was a fairly large dose of the clue bat from Jordan as to who sent the fists. There is also a chapter where she thinks about "someone else playing her game" in regards to pretending to be other forsaken to Fades and Darkfriends. One of the Gurus will have to find the chapter for me, but I know I remember her thinking that. It always seemed to me that Aran'gar was pulling the Sammy trick for awhile.
Stefan Mitev
32. Bergmaniac
Forkroot - If ta'veren is such a great protection, why bother at all trying to kill Perrin? Besides, with Gateways, inverted weaves, and even the True Power at her disposal, something really extraordinary has to happen for Perrin to have even a glimmer of a chance. Sure there's some risk, but not finishing a job Nae'blis gave her is a much bigger risk for Graendal. Besides, Graendal is no coward (she was sneaking around the Caemlyn palace right after Rand killed Rahvin and killed Asmo as a result) and the Forsaken in general are only afraid of Rand, certainly not of people who can't channel like Perrin.

And even without getting close herself, Graendal and the Forsaken in general had so many better options to kill Perrin than sending random Darkfriend or the elaborate Trolocs and Dreamspike plan. Get one of the Black Ajah sisters to disguise herself as a servant and get close to him (like Semirhage did to Rand in TGS) and blast him to pieces.
Sam Mickel
33. Samadai
SpyderZH @30

The Aiel split happened within a few hundred maybe up to as many as 500 years after the breaking began. Then the Jenn died out in the following years. Artur Hawkwing happened roughly 2000 years after the breaking. So there is little to no chance that the Seanchan were descendant from the Aiel. There has been speculation that the Amayar, and maybe the Sea folk are descended from the Aiel.
Captain Hammer
34. Randalator
re: lack of forest fires and burning kitties

As douglas already said, we shouldn't forget that all of our villains, even the mighty Dark One, are bound by one very powerful rule: Prophecy.

A lot of people fail to see that. The Dark One doesn't want to have his minions rule over a smoking ball of rubble with him still imprisoned. Neither do the Forsaken for that matter although only Moridin knows what the Dark One's victory actually entails. He wants to break free, end all existence and create a whole new world after his personal preferences. To do that he has to follow the script as closely as possible until he reaches this one point in time where fate hangs in the balance. If he fails he has to wait another age until the next chance arises.

So he can't just go and have his minions burn the Dragon to a crisp. He needs the Dragon to be present at Tarmon Gai'don otherwise his plan fails. So it's actually a very delicate operation to make sure that the Dragon makes it to the Last Battle but at the same time make him as weak an opponent as possible, or better yet turn him to dark side (they have cookies). Having a bunch of minions running around setting trees and cats on fire is kind of counterproductive.

Kill the Dragon and the whole game is suspended for another ~4000 years, hence the "no kill" order. Killing the Dragon only becomes an option when he is in such a good state that he might do more damage than having to wait another 4000 years for a rematch would.

So to summarize (which is kind of redundant after this wall of text, um, but...well...you know...shut up):

Can someone explain why they are putting up with this handcuffing? Why hasn't Demandred just gone bat-crazy and laid waste to half the world in the Dark Ones name?

Because the Dark one would torture him till the end of creation for pooping on HIS plans.

Why, for that matter, does the Dark One not want him to?

Because that would, in all likelihood, royally penetrate his plan to break free and reshape reality to his will in a general upward direction, to put it delicately.
Adrian Sedai
35. Paulie
So really...is anybody else frustrated with how bad-ass Perrin could be if he wasn't just so emo?
Simon Southey-Davis
36. Glyph
Re Seanchan prophecies, and especially Rand kneeling before the Crystal Throne... I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see this be factually true, and yet entirely subverted in its expected meaning. That seems pretty much par for the course, really.

I'm imagining a scene in AMoL where Tuon - as the Empress, and therefore the Crystal Throne personified - has some plot-critical role to perform while Rand is on his knees before her, and not in submission. Perhaps hurt, perhaps in supplication, but not bowing the knee to the Empire.
John Massey
37. subwoofer
Righto- I'd just like to say thankie to Leigh for harming cats in her analogy and leaving the pups alone. Mucho appreciated:)

And the prophecy is flawed, IIRC in ToM Perrin was made a Steward of TR, er... not king... so the prophecy should say Wolf Steward. And Perrin could use the "that's not a hammer (draws out Mjölnir) , that's a hammer" line.

Yes, I always feel cheated that the douchebaggery was kept in check. Mind you, if the DO or all the baddies had their way, we woulda nay made it outta book 1. Visit Rand in his dream... smote... fini. GRRM would be proud. Take that Prophecy! At least have a go at flooding the nations with funny money or something. Get a ponzi scheme going. Litter the ground with banana peels. C'mon bad guys, I'm giving you great material to work with here. About the only thing they do well is work against each other. Hell, they even suck at arson. I'da burned down half the world by now.


Maybe the DO shoulda advertised on Kijiji for help wanted or stop shouting at everyone in all-caps.

William Fettes
38. Wolfmage
Re: The Seanchan

Given the overriding imperative of the Last Battle, and the fact that the Seanchan Empire, by this stage, are an unavoidable presence, I would definitely say there is legitimate scope to deal with them despite whatever deplorable aspects they exhibit.

My uneasiness about Perrin's dealing is more about his intentions and the creation of new damane.

On the first point, let's consider Perrin's intentions. The positive effects of Perrin's plan are the emancipation of a bunch of innocent wetlander gai’shain (including some semi-important characters for the light), and the removal of the threat posed by the Shaido and the Brotherless – which in turn frees up a big part of Altara to be mobilised against the Shadow. But think about it: was that really what Perrin was intending? No. IMO that achievement was almost entirely collateral to his singular burning desire to free his wife. Indeed, the rescue of Alliandre, Maighdin, et al was also entirely collateral to that decision.

So under a purely consequential utilitarian metric, the case is arguable. But according to a more deontological or virtue-based metric, not so much because everything good about the plan was almost incidental to Perrin’s actual intentions.

It's also worth pointing out here that we haven’t actually considered the negative effects of the plan – that is, giving over the Shaido Wise Ones to a slavery and torture regime. Don't get me wrong, I loathe the Shaido Wise Ones and I don't feel much emotional conflict over their fate, but according to my idea of moral principles, this was a reprehensible act. It is wrong in exactly the same way that torturing and enslaving Nazi POWs would be wrong.

It’s also wrong on a completely different traitorous level because we’re not just talking about the treatment of inert captives, we’re talking about gifting a number of new killing machines into the Seanchan war machine. I mean, unless you’re prepared to be completely blinkered about the possibility, you have to assume that this act could foreseeably increase the danger against Rand, other Randland nations, and the Aes Sedai and Asha’men.
John Massey
39. subwoofer
Oh yeah... and as far as Seanchan go, Tylee is the best of the worst. Her and General er... Karede actually show that not all Seanchan are douche-like. So yay for Perrin meeting a gooder.

Adrian Sedai
40. alreadymadwithstreith
forkroot @14
I'm not sure Fain can control Trollocs. What I do know is that his stare can cause fear in Fades. So in theory he could scare a Fade into doing something for him.

On Graendal's magnificent see-through dress
I always figured Graendal loved it because she could mislead others on her feelings. That whatever emotion she sends out through the dress is not actually how she feels. Complicated, I know but Graendal is a psychologist by profession. Mindgames like that are right up her alley.
Adrian Sedai
41. AndrewB
Douglas @6 said: "I'm imagining thousands upon thousands of formerly perfectly docile Aiel suddenly wreaking spontaneous havoc across the whole Seanchan Empire, slaughtering their 'owners' and then vanishing without a trace."

Except the Shaido Wise One channelers. They are not going anywhere.

Wolfmage @38 said: "I loathe the Shaido Wise Ones and I don't feel much emotional conflict over their fate, but according to my idea of moral principles, this was a reprehensible act. It is wrong in exactly the same way that torturing and enslaving Nazi POWs would be wrong."

I, on the other hand, do not share Wolfmage's belief that leaving the Shaido channelers to the Seanchan was a "reprehensible act." First, I believe that the purpose of punishment is retribution (as opposed to rehabilitation). Thus, the Shaido channelers got what they deserved. The Shaido channelers were the power base in Malden. Had they wanted to ensure that the Shaido adhered to ji'e'toh, they could have. Instead, they sat back and watched the Shaido clan desinegrate from a moral standpoint. They allowed non-Aiel to be taken as gaishain; said gaishain to remain gaishain beyond one year and a day; and permitted Aiel to rape gaishain.

Likewise, I feel that Bin Laden's murder was justified. Within my morals, the murder of an individual outside the confines of a judicial system is not something I approve of. Nevertheless, Bin Laden's actions made such a murder morally acceptable. (Bin Laden was not an official of a foreign state -- as such it was not an assassination.)

I would also note that Perrin was at war with the Shaido and his ally, the Seanchan. As such, the Shaido channelers were prisoners of war.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Adrian Sedai
42. Andronicus
All the"Perrin should be an awesome leader at this point" talk is silly.

For all the talk and actual punishment Rand has gone through, all that he loves is still alive. Even with close calls to all the people he loves, they are still alive. Even his best friends are still around. He has shut off communication with some but that is to protect them.

Mat has not really lost anyone either.

Perrin on the other hand has lost all. His people are dead. Faile is the only family he has left. Emo Perrin? What would anyone do in that situation?

I think the issue is that we don't actually meet Perrin's people. So they are not emotionally "real". But Perrin should not act in any other way.
William Fettes
43. Wolfmage

“First, I believe that the purpose of punishment is retribution (as opposed to rehabilitation).”

Those two words – along with deterrence, denunciation and incapacitation – are properly considered different types of remedial philosophies about how to deal with individuals following a verdict of guilt under a criminal justice system. They are not just general words we use for evaluating arbitrary acts in the word, they are specialised words relevant to how a legal system deals with deviant behaviour.

Accordingly, I am deeply wary of any attempt to strip away that rule of law context, and just bandy those words about as general modes of justification for any individual act. For military acts, this is a particularly pernicious move (if the sheer absurdity of thinking about killing as a form of rehabiliation wasn't enough).

Your statement that retribution is the only valid locus of punishment is just bizarre. But as it’s irrelevant to my point, I’ll just leave that there.

“Thus, the Shaido channelers got what they deserved. The Shaido channelers were the power base in Malden. Had they wanted to ensure that the Shaido adhered to ji'e'toh, they could have. Instead, they sat back and watched the Shaido clan desinegrate from a moral standpoint. They allowed non-Aiel to be taken as gaishain; said gaishain to remain gaishain beyond one year and a day; and permitted Aiel to rape gaishain.”

I don’t dispute any of the facts in your account, which is obviously why I said their fate triggered no notable emotional response from me. My point was not that they weren’t nasty customers. My point was that even the most nasty customers in all of recorded human history should not be enslaved and tortured as helpless captives.

“Likewise, I feel that Bin Laden's murder was justified. Within my morals, the murder of an individual outside the confines of a judicial system is not something I approve of. Nevertheless, Bin Laden's actions made such a murder morally acceptable. (Bin Laden was not an official of a foreign state -- as such it was not an assassination.)”

This is irrelevant to my point. For the record, I did support Bin Laden’s killing because it was a lawful response to target him for killing under domestic law and international law; he was a combatant and failed to offer unambiguous surrender. I take no issue with it.

Had Bin Laden surrendered and been taken alive, that would be a better parallel for this situation – because we’re talking about treatment of captives, not deaths during military operations. So, my point would be exactly the same under that scenario - it would be wrong to torture and enslave Bin Laden if the USG had him alive.

"I would also note that Perrin was at war with the Shaido and his ally, the Seanchan. As such, the Shaido channelers were prisoners of war."

Yes, and every civilised nation has strict rules around the treatment of prisoners of war. Selling off prisoners of war to a third-party state when you know full well they will to be tortured and enslaved is a flagrant violation of those principles.
44. Freelancer
"moral event horizon" ~ You keep saying that. I don't think that it means what you think that it means.

In physics terms, an event horizon is a theoretical boundary beyond which an outside agent is unaffected by the event itself, whether it be a nuclear criticality or a gravitational singularity. Are you suggesting that "crossing" that point for Perrin constitutes a state where he can no longer avoid being destroyed by what he is approaching? Or is it merely a line beyond which he will surely be affected by his "moral compromise"? There's a massive (and simultaneously massless) difference between the two, resulting in the use of the term becoming quite hyperbolic. And asymptotic. Or some derivative of the same.

In any case, I don't find that Perrin's decision is a moral compromise at all. He has established the only reasonably viable tactic for achieving his one defined goal, retreiving Faile. That tactic must successfully neutralize several hundred Shaido channelers. The only method available to him to gain that success is massive amounts of forkroot. The only source of forkroot in such quantities is the Seanchan. Since he doesn't have the manpower to consider a large-scale assault against them, and wasn't previously aware of the location of their forkroot stores, establishing a temporary alliance is his only option. All of this is tactically sound and morally reasonable. If it weren't, Perrin has more than a handful of wannabe advisors in his camp who are perfectly willing to inform him so. I see no moral problems with his decision process at all.


Regarding bin Laden, his death was by no means a murder. Nor was it, as some have mistakenly characterized it, an execution. He declared himself and his organization to be at war with us. He declared that he intended to destroy as many American lives as possible. He was the defacto leader of a rogue, nationless army who attacked us first. Our incursion into Pakistan to terminate him was a battle. A very tiny battle in a much larger conflict, but a battle all the same, and on his own terms. Please don't denigrate the warrior patriots who courageously and honorably performed their duty by calling them criminals. The targeting and termination of a valid objective during wartime is never bound by a judicial system, nor should it be.
Adrian Sedai
45. peachy
I don't see the Forsaken as being especially stupid - rather, they're massively arrogant, and thus massively lazy. They don't take any special pains with the job (unless Shaidar Haran is looming over them) because they're absolutely convinced that they don't need to. After all, they're the ultimate product of the most sophisticated age in history - how can these savages possibly hope to resist them? (And, you know, they've kinda got a point there.)
Alice Arneson
46. Wetlandernw
Leigh, I thoroughly enjoyed your villainalysis. Well said! And insightful as usual. Most enjoyable. Not that I have anything to add, but just had to say how much fun it was to read. :)

Moral event horizon re: Perrin and the deal with the Seanchan... Yeah, I gave up trying to decide "whether he's right or wrong based on what he knows." He certainly believes it's a bad thing to form this alliance, but he goes ahead with it because it's the only way he can see to rescue Faile. So there are several questions: Is it the only way to rescue her? How much can be justified for the sake of rescuing innocent people (including your wife) from slavery? Does the truth (that the Seanchan really aren't Darkfriends en masse) mitigate against his erroneous belief that they are? Does the (reader's) knowledge, that a future alliance against Team Dark will probably be based in part on this smaller alliance, make it any less wrong for Perrin to do what he believes is wrong? It'll make your head spin...

And now I think I'll go read the comments and see how many people already said that. Sorry, folks. Broke my rule again.
Adrian Sedai
47. Wortmauer
AndrewB@41: Well, killing bin Laden was an "assassination" to exactly the degree that the War on Terror is a "war". As for the act itself, my only comment on that is that I will forever applaud the U.S. military's sense of timing. They ensured that Prince William's wedding was not the most interesting or anticipated thing to happen that weekend. Not an easy thing to upstage!

As for the 400 Not All That Wise Ones, I'm a lot more concerned about the huge boost to the Usually Victorious Army than about whether they deserved to be leashed. And the Wise Ones deserved it about as much as Suffa will. I mean, if Wise Ones are supposed to be a check against rogue Aiel leadership, those 400 were pretty much made of fail.

I might be biased, actually, because I'm in that 2% of readers who do not think the Aiel are the awesomest culture ever. They're impressive, sure ... but what a bunch of racists. They call an entire country treekillers, the approximate Randland equivalent to "Christ-killer". For all the flak the Seanchan get for their slavery and damane, the Aiel apparently consider Cairhienin as "fit for nothing except to be killed or sold as animals in Shara" (Erim, clan chief of the Chareen, TFOH chapter 2, "Rhuidean"). Olver's parents are dead? Whatever, they were only treekillers. They're just as racist concerning the Tuatha'an (though it manifests differently), and, worse, most Aiel seem to have no idea why. Those that do know why (Clan Chiefs and Wise Ones) should know better.

Regarding the rest of the wetlanders, the Aiel are not quite as racist, but they're still pretty xenophobic, and obnoxious about it. Aviendha in particular has a chip of cultural superiority on her shoulder the size of Texas; it overshadows everything else about her personality except her appalling cultural ignorance. (What can be more charming than a firm belief that you're better than people you know almost nothing about?) Until maybe ACOS, when she decides she needs to learn to accept at least a little bit of her "near-sister" Elayne's world. (Though, remind me how Aviendha and Elayne became BFFs in the first place? That never made sense to me.) Makes the average loud monolingual American tourist look positively globalised. Aviendha's "if it's not Scottish, it's crap" attitude is why I'm mystified whenever I hear she's one of someone's favorite characters. At least her fear of bathtubs is funny, rather than just sad.

Well. I don't think I meant to do the Aiel are dumb rant tonight, and I didn't even get to the question of when spying is not a despicable act of no honor. (When it's dreamwalking.) Oh well, enjoy.
Alice Arneson
48. Wetlandernw
MasterAlThor @8 (and others) - A couple of notes... One, we don't really know what the DO wants, other than to be free from his prison. We have the (somewhat questionable) assumptions of some of his minions, and the (also questionable, though for different reasons) assumptions of scholars and those who actively oppose him as their mission in life. That gives us several possibilities to go on with, but no real idea whether any of them are even close. It's entirely possible that the DO really doesn't want too much permanent damage done, for whatever reasons. It's also possible he doesn't want them going bsc and laying waste indiscriminately, because he wants the fun of doing it himself. Second-guessing the DO really should be an exercise in futility; he's supposed to be "more/other than human" and his motivations therefore not entirely clear to us.

Two, if RJ set up his theology at all in accordance with the teachings of his church, the DO is definitely not omniscient. He may be more nearly so than the average human, but he's really not equal and opposite the Creator. In the Christian parallel, Satan/Lucifer is not equal and opposite to God - he's more like equal and opposite to Michael the archangel. He only wanted to be like God; he never pulled it off.

CorwinOfAmber @18 - I agree with you re: the Crystal Throne prophecy, in part because we're never given the actual wording. We have characters who insist that the Prophecies require Rand to kneel and to serve the Crystal Throne - but we are far too familiar with people who state their own interpretation as incontrovertible fact. I would be completely unsurprised to find out that what it actually said could be interpreted that way, but could also be interpreted in an entirely different way which will turn out to be the truth. JMO.

Freelancer @44 - Hi there!! Long time no see! Welcome back.
Stefan Mitev
50. Bergmaniac
Wortmauer - I am not a fan of the Aiel for the same reasons. Their hatred for the Cairhienian is not only extreme and vile, but for a really stupid reason too. They have enough books about the wetlanders to know that 99,99% of the Cairhien population at the time of Laman had no power or any viable way to stop Laman from cutting down the tree. But that doesn't matter - all of them are guilty, including people born after that event. The Aiel started a massive war just to punish Laman and killed thousands of innocents in the process (including even plenty of non-Cairhien wetlanders). Why not try to assasinate him first or attempt a small scale operation of getting him like the one in the Stone - they are the masters of sneaking up, after all, and this way so many lives would've been saved. The Aiel's insistence on "Our customs are the best, all the others are stupid and incomprehenseble" is also quite tiresome for me.

I wonder whether Aviendha knows Elayne's father was from Cairhien and a close relative of Laman and how would she take the news that her first-sister is now the Queen of the treekillers.
Marcus W
51. toryx
I think it's pretty hilarious that after 20 years and 13 volumes, there can still be a debate about what exactly the super bad guy actually wants to achieve.

I'm not entirely sure what that says (about the series, the author and the readers) but I'm sure it says something.
craig thrift
52. gagecreedlives

"I wonder whether Aviendha knows Elayne's father was from Cairhien and a close relative of Laman and how would she take the news that her first-sister is now the Queen of the treekillers."

Ooooh Ive never considered that.

So expanding on that the future Queen of of the Treekillers is also going to be the sister of a Wise One. When that news leaks out hows that going to change Aiel cultural attitudes.
Ted Herman
53. WinespringBrother
@47 Perhaps the taking of the Wise Ones will not be the coup the Seanchan thought it would be. If the Wise Ones can embrace pain the same way that Egwene learned from the Aiel, they can resist being used as weapons (they can already resist pleasure such as the candy that sul'dam use as bribes for their damane, as evidenced by the abstinence while in Malden).

@50 @52 I predict that Elayne will get Cairhien and the Aiel to sign a treaty based on the new relationship between Aviendha and the Cairhienen throne, and will also become an honorary Wise One.
Corey Sees
55. CorwinOfAmber
@Freelancer 44
Moral Event Horizon makes sense in terms of a black hole. The event horizon is the point of no return in this situation. Likewise, if a character crosses the MEH, they can no longer claim the moral high ground, and it is arguably a slippery slope down into total amorality from there. In summary, black holes are fun and I miss astronomy class.

@Bergmaniac 50
Fantastic point. I'd be interested to see how that would play out. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll get that in the books.

@Wortmauer 47
I never thought of it that way, but I definitely agree with you. I feel like this was a lot of the point behind the newly recalibrated arches of the future in ToM. As fun as the Aiel can be, they also have their flaws, and need to adapt to survive. The times they are a changin', and the future has no place for a violent and racist culture like the Aiel. Being awesome warriors on the light side doesn't automatically make them perfect, and certianly not forever.
Jeff Weston
56. JWezy
Anyone want to consider Taim for the sender of Trollocs? After all, they appear shortly after Rand is found by Loial/Bashere/Logain/Warders, and we know at least some of them were darksiders. And Taim certainly has the capability and desire.

And, as an aside, consider Moridin as Elmer Fudd: "Kill the Dwagon, Kill the Dwagon!" I know, he's trying to not kill him now, but it is still funny.
Kat Blom
57. pro_star
I'm late to the party, forgiveness please!!!

Forkroot@14 - re: Fain and the Fades - well, haven't there been instances of Fain TORTURING fades, just to get them to do what he wants them to do? I can't recall the book, but back in there somewhere....there were instances of fades hung on a barn door with stakes...

ValMar@24 - re: Greandal's streith. Yep, think she's trying to miscommunicate here. Remember, she's got the history of being the lush, high maintenence type here. Screw practicality, we're all about the fashion! I'm going to wear 5" stiletto heels in an ice storm cause dammit they'll make me look good! kind of mentality. She's very smart with this move.
"Misdirection. What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes." (thanks Swordfish for that one).

alreadymadwithstreith@40 - yep. Think you got it there.
Adrian Sedai
58. s'rEDIT
While I'm reading, for the most part I'm just along for the ride. But
then I come here and discover all these people who are THINKING!

Thanks everyone, I appreciate your incisive insights and animated analysis!

And as always, thank and smooches to Leigh for her posts.
Andrew Foss
59. alfoss1540
Leigh - Thanks for the foresaken commentary. These chapters are always difficult to follow as you can't figure who is who and who is friendly and who is screwing whom.

RE: Forsaken and being Power hungry. Each of them have holed themselves up in their little fiefdoms that offered them control and power as they wanted - trying to curry thge favor of DO to become Nae Bliss. Also remember the descriptions of the Darkfriends in EOTW and TGH about how they gained favor, how they were lured (power and never-ending life). The Dark world is all about gaining favor for favors.

And Baddass Perrin - some of the good parts of the Malden campaign focus on Perrin being a baddass. Most of the rest can just be called the Days of our Tortured Lives.

Agree that Berlain did show a modicum of coolness here. When she is not being a floosy slut, she does make a formidable leader of her little corner of the world.
60. Freelancer
Randalator @49 & CorwinofAmber @55

Thank you for making my point. Perrin, "Mr. Emo" to so many of you, is the last person in the entire series likely to take a step which could be called "irredeemably evil". Which is why I named the use of the term in this case hyperbole. The rest was just physical humor.


Right back at you. How's life? I've been envying a one-armed paper hanger of late, myself.

JWezy @56

Did you mean Ozzie Fudd?
Rob Munnelly
61. RobMRobM
@51. "I think it's pretty hilarious that after 20 years and 13 volumes, there
can still be a debate about what exactly the super bad guy actually
wants to achieve. " Other than the use of balefire by Demandred, right?

@56. You mean Mowiden, don't you?

@57. Yes, in the Great Hunt at least. Believe some other ones later too.

Roger Powell
62. forkroot

Forkroot@14 - re: Fain and the Fades - well, haven't there been instances of Fain TORTURING fades, just to get them to do what he wants them to do? I can't recall the book, but back in there somewhere....there were instances of fades hung on a barn door with stakes...

Granted he can make one Fade's life miserable - but that hardly compares to commanding the obedience of one hundred of Fades to coordinate the massive attack.
Several posters have noted Aran'gar's thoughts quoted by Leigh may indeed indicate that she/he was the perpetrator. It's a reasonable argument and since there's a paucity of credible alternatives, I must admit I'm swayed.

Wolfmage - I always enjoy your posts, even if you occasionally make me run to the dictionary ala Stephen Donaldson (BTW, a nice and humorous resource for dealing with the latter is:
http: //www.gdiproductions.net/srdamd/index.html - but I digress.)

@43 - referring to the Shaido Wise Ones, you said:

My point was that even the most nasty customers in all of recorded human history should not be enslaved and tortured as helpless captives.

Enslavement I grant you, but not torture. The Seanchan do not torture their damane. One could always argue that involuntary servitude in a very humiliating state would be "torture" but this begs any concise definition of the term.


Agree that Berlain did show a modicum of coolness here. When she is not being a floosy slut, she does make a formidable leader of her little corner of the world.

Well she did tell Perrin that she had only actually slept with two men. So I think "slut" is a little harsh. I think she's actually pretty clever and mostly levelheaded with a huge "blind spot" around her "Ogier's oath" along with general competitiveness toward Faile. Her other blind spot was not realizing that she never had a chance to "win". I was glad to see it all fizzle out in TOM even before Galad stuns her.

I admit to a tiny bit of jealousy...
Andrew Foss
63. alfoss1540
Fork - Slut may have been harsh. Uber Tease?
Adrian Sedai
64. Lsana
@62 forkroot,

The a'dam are designed so that the person holding the leash can inflict pain on the one wearing it. The holder can make the wearer feel any sensation that she likes. Admittedly, the Seanchan don't call this torture, they call it training, but I think it probably qualifies.

Also, remember that Tuon had her demane beaten for no reason other than she felt like it. She felt bad about it afterwards, true, but she still did it.

All in all, given the experiences we have heard about of the damane, I think "torture" is probably an appropriate word.
65. Shadow_Jak
@31 and 62 and others(?)

Aran'gar didn't send the Trollocs. Her POV makes that clear.

"That sounds like Sammael," Demandred said thoughtfully, twisting his goblet and studying the swirling wine. "Perhaps I was misstaken." A remarkable admission coming from him. Or an attempt to hide being the one who had worn Sammael as a disguise. She would like very much to know who had begun playing her own game. Or whether Sammael really was alive.

Stefan Mitev
66. Bergmaniac
"Enslavement I grant you, but not torture. The Seanchan do not torture their damane."
What? The process of breaking in the new damane includes massive amount of torture, both phychological and physical. Look what happened to Egwene immediately after she was captured:

"Suddenly the invisible switches were back, striking at her everywhere. Yelling, she tried to hit Renna, but the sul'dam casually knocked her fist away, and Egwene felt as if Renna had hit her arm with a stick. She dug her heels into Bela's flanks, but the sul'dam's grip on the leash nearly pulled her out of her saddle. Frantically she reached for saidar, meaning to hurt Renna enough to make her stop, just the kind of hurt she herself had been given. The sul'dam shook her head wryly; Egwene howled as her own skin was suddenly scalded. Not until she fled from saidar completely did the burn begin to fade, and the unseen blows never ceased or slowed. She tried to shout that she would try, if only Renna would stop, but all she could manage was to scream and writhe."
Adrian Sedai
67. alreadymadwithberelain
alfoss1540 @63
Nah... Uber Tease isn't it either. More like playing up to hype. Stereotypical. I'd call her a flirt, but it isn't like she flirts with random strangers. There's a certain calculating intelligence behind it. A predator who carefully selects her prey.
Adrian Sedai
68. Paulie
@58 s'rEDIT - You read my mind. I'm mostly along for the ride when I read the series. I really enjoy all the thought that others put into it though. That's why I love the re-read and comments.
Hugh Arai
69. HArai
forkroot@62: The Seanchan method of breaking unwilling damane is torture. The fact it doesn't leave physical marks only means the torture is not as limited by the possible death of the subject the way other methods are. So yay for torture+!
Sam Mickel
70. Samadai
Okay, It is time for another little fiction fiction. Hope you like it.

Beidomon paced nervously. He had spent the night talking with Kadrina, discussing the plan for today. It had been a couple of years since they had detected another source of the power. It had taken them another year and a half of studying it and the spot in the pattern where it was at its strongest. In the course of their studies they had come to believe that this new power could be used by both men and women together. When he and Mierin had presented their findings to the Heads of the Colaam Daan, they immediately informed the hall of servants of the discovery. After months of Ajahs going back and forth on the issue word had come back in the form of a visit from the Tamyrlin himself. Mierin had lit up on seeing Lews Therin, but Lews walked past her to him. "

"The Hall of Servants authorizes your group to explore for ways to access this new power. You are to use all necessary safeguards and keep the hall informed of your progress."

After agreeing with him, Lews Therin turned, entered the traveling room, and left the Sharom. For weeks they had studied the spot and yesterday they came up with an idea that they believed would work.

Beidomon stepped out of his office and was surprised to find Mierin already there. Her eyes lit up when she saw him.

"Are you ready Beidomon, I can't wait to feel the flows of the new power." He smiled at her excitement. " Just as soon as the other team members are here, we can begin."

"Beidomon, may I control the flows today?" She said.

The question didn't surprise him, it had only taken a month of working with her to see how ambitious she was. Ever since her break up with Lews Therin she had been wanting to prove herself. She didn't need to, but he could see it was important to her. To build suspense, and to wait for the rest of the team, he pretended to think about it. He had decided weeks ago to let her be the lead. She had the finest control of flows he had ever seen. She made raging Saidin look like the finest lace as she wove it. It could only help their chances of finally tapping into that great well of power that they could sense, but not yet touch.

When the rest of the team arrived he said. "Today we will do what has never been done. By the end of the day we will have in our control this new source of power. Never again will men and women use seperate halves of the power. Everyone open yourself to the source.," he said as he assumed the oneness, "Mierin, you guide the flows." He saw the gleam in her eyes as she drew the torrent of power from all of them.

He watched as she wove a complex weave of spirit, fire and air. The flows of Saidin delicately wrapped around the flows of Saidar he could not see. Watched as Mierin pushed the flows into the spot where they felt the other power so keenly. After an hour the he could feel the new power stronger than ever. "We are almost there, great work Mierin." As the one power drove through the last barrier, Beidomon felt a great pressure begin to rise. He felt the crack as it appeared, the pressure on his mind increased faster, He felt the bore open up to the new power.

He felt the ripples in reality three times in rapid succession as the power flowed through the hole. The Sharom started shaking, great cracks appearing in the walls. One by one the members of his team passed out from the increasing pressure. He glanced at Mierin and to his shock saw the naked greed for the power that was even now destroying his beloved facility. "Mierin, quicly gather everyone up and create a gateway to get us out of here." Mierin shook herself as if coming out of a trance, as she glanced around he felt the gateway open, He picked up Lacein and walked through, as Mierin gathered the unconcious in air and floated them through. As he stepped through the gateway, Beidomon turned and watched the Sharom crack into pieces and fall from the sky. He felt Mierin release the source, and had time for a quick glance at her before Saidin fled and left him falling. She had looked as she had when Lews Therin had come to give them the okay of their plan. Frighteningly covetous.
William Fettes
71. Wolfmage
Bergmaniac @ 66 and Harai @ 69


Obviously the frequency and intensity of how an adam is used to inflict pain and suffering on any particular damane-in-training will vary somewhat depending on the personality and pedagogical approach of the sul’dam, as well as the level of compliance and cultural propriety of the damane. But we’ve seen enough of this regime to know that basically all damane will experience periodic torture as part of their training, ranging from repeated switching to feeling intense burns and other severe experiences.

Indeed, the immobilising nature of the adam itself, with it's protection against self-removal, when deployed over a lengthy period of time, is arguably enough to raise issues of torture, let alone the insidiously invasive way the device is perfectly designed to crush all your inner agency.

So, I really do not think there is a way around classifying the damane - sul'dam regime as a kind of institutionalised torture. At any one snapshot in time, a damane may not be being actively 'tortured', but the character of training and overall regime is inseparable from torture.

Now, Perrin may not know everything there is to know about how an adam works, but he certainly knows enough to get this basic picture. He can, therefore, reasonably foresee the abusive and soul-crushing treatment he has lined up for the Shaido Wise Ones under the deal. As readers, we may lack sympathy for the thuggish and unprincipled Shaido Wise Ones, but that kind of raw cathartic indifference is IMO little more than a manifestation of our emotional sympathies towards the Shaidos as villains and obstacles in the series, which is obviously not the issue. Nobody ever said torture's wrongness is contingent on the virtue and emotional sympathy engendered by the torture victim. Indeed, IMO that construction of the dilemma is tautologically irrelevant - the test of real principles lies in harder cases where they can tell us when and how push back against sentiment.
Sam Mickel
72. Samadai
On the subject of torture of the Damane. I don't think that any Seanchan would think it is torture at all, not even the Damane. Since Damanae aren't human, it is just punishment in the eyes of the Seanchan. If your dogs bites someone, you don't rip his teeth out, you punish him with a muzzle(or whatever, I am not condoning muzzling dogs). The suldam are just using punishment and treats to correct what they see as bad and good behavior. Of course through the Randland perspective, and our cultural bias it is torture.
William Fettes
73. Wolfmage
Samadai @ 72

Of course the Seanchan don’t consider slavery and torture wrong. But that does not prevent us for saying it is based on fairly settled plain-language definitions. This also seems a rather pointless objection given we don’t even have to reach for modern exogenic norms to repudiate these aspects of Seanchan culture. Randland culture itself has the moral vocabulary and norms to do this work, and so we can make exactly the same critique when limited to the prism of Perrin's perspective and values.

Of course, I do not accept moral relativism regardless, and it certainly doesn't restrain me from making cross-cultural judgements. Indeed, the very notion that we ought not make cross-cultural judgements
based on relative values is a contradiction in terms . Where does this ought come from if there are no universals? Either it's all relative and the cross-cultural judgement is just another arbitrary part of this relativism, or that theory is wrong, and there are at least some things, including cross-cultural judgement, that do apply across cultures.
Tricia Irish
74. Tektonica
Thanks Samadai! Another great story. Meirin, just as we pictured her....power hungry, hurt, and crazy.

Damane= Torture. No matter what you call it. Slavery=Torture. You just can't do that to another human being. Period. This is not relative. I find much of the Seanchan "culture" repulsive. It makes allying with them, even for a greater cause (Tarmon Guidon) feel kind of oily.
Tricia Irish
75. Tektonica
Double post, after the page told me it couldn't be opened? Oh well.
76. Shadow_Jak
Thanks Samadai! Great fun as always. Your 'fiction fiction' is a real treat!
Roger Powell
77. forkroot
Hmmm ... I was not thinking too clearly yesterday it seems. Firstly, the above compelling arguments force me to concede that indeed torture is involved in the initial conversion to damane ... I was thinking more of the "tamed" damane who do not get tortured.

Also - a quick reread of Leigh's posting confirms that Arangar was surprised by the revelation about the diverted Fades and Trollocs and thus cannot be the perpetrator (I got this right originally then forgot about that point when the other arguments were made.)

OK - so I'm back to where I was before ... I have no plausible suspects. Time to go back to the drawing board...

We should consider two cases:

1) Moridin is telling the truth both about someone being disguised as Sammael and that the deed displeases him: We know that Shadowspawn recognize the FS mark - so it would have to be another FS masquerading as Sammy.

Aran'gar's POV eliminates her. Cyndande and Moggy are under Moridin's control, and Moridin himself would be out. This leaves Semi, Dem, Graen, and Mes. Of those, Demandred is the most likely, although I still wonder about his desire to kill Rand personally.

2) Moridin is lying: In this case he most likely did the deed himself. We know he's playing a deeper game than the rest of the FS, obviously this then would be some sort of feint. He would have to be confident that Rand/Lews would be able to fend off the Trolloc hordes.

It's conceivable that Moridin wanted to accelerate the emergence of the Lews Therin personality as part of a plan to turn the Dragon to the shadow (this fits well with the whole sha'rah scene from TPoD prologue) Certainly the stress of the attack did promote just such an outcome as the "LTT" side grabbed the source and showed killer weaves hitherto unknown to Rand.

I think I like this explanation better, but it's still a bit of a stretch.
Roger Powell
78. forkroot
Another good one! I love your treatment of Mierin.
79. Shadow_Jak
@ 42
Excellent point.
Perrin has seen his entire family wiped out.
(BTW, Don't suppose Bornhold will ever come clean about his part in that. In the cover-up at least. Accessary after the fact if nothing else)
Perrin also has the experience of leading people, his people; friends and neighbors, into battles and watching them fall. His decisions led to death for many of them. Sure, victory in the end, but many did not live to see it.
Mat and Rand have seen their followers fall, but not their family and not the people they grew up with.

I think Perrin has every right to a little emo.
80. Shadow_Jak
Just dawned on me. Graendal sent the Trollocs.
Big cluebat; Aran'gar notes the setting and also the number of chairs, 11...
"...the chairs could have been anything here in TAR, so why not something to suit the room, and why eleven, when that was surely two more than needed. Asmodean and Sammael must be dead..."

It was Graendal who arrived first and chose the settings. More chairs than are needed. And she knows for a fact that Asmodean is dead. (likely Sammy too)
Hugh Arai
81. HArai
@various: I don't think Perrin tries to kid himself about what is going to happen to the Shaido, or about anything else. Perrin says he'll do anything to get Faile back and then he does. He knows allying with the Seanchan is not a good thing. He knows how they'll treat the Shaido Wise Ones. He does it to get Faile back. He knows maiming prisoners is not a good thing. He does it to get Faile back. We don't have to agree with his choices or priorities, but I think the "emo Perrin" idea combined with the fact a lot of readers dislike Faile is misleading some people. Yes he's very unhappy. No, he doesn't spend much time sitting around and whining. He's doing what he thinks it takes to get his wife (and only family) back .
82. srEDIT
WOW! Wolfmage! Excellent analysis/commentary about torture and cultural relativism. Count me as one of those who believe there is definitely a Universal reference for moral behavior.
Jeff Weston
83. JWezy
Freelancer@60 - I thought Ozzie Fudd bit the head off a cluebat...
Sorcha O
84. sushisushi
SpyderZH@30 I'm not sure that the Seanchan da'cavole tradition isn't a relic of the Da'shain Aiel who got stranded on the other continent during the Breaking. We know that Luthair arrived in Seanchan a thousand years before the events of the books, but I seem to remember something which said that he kept many of the existing customs of the continent intact, which makes me wonder if a remnant population of Da'shain Aiel didn't remain there and somehow got turned into the idea of hereditary property over two millennia. I know that the Rhuidean visions don't show that, but they go by bloodline of the Waste Aiel, so may not be totally comprehensive.

Alreadymad@40 I totally agree with you on Graendal and the streith mindgames. The fact that she occasionally loses control and it gives off an accurate response gets kinda lost in the projected noise, I would think.

(and in other news, I have handed in my thesis and am now working on catching up on my sleep backlog...)
Adrian Sedai
85. alreadymadwithlostaiel
sushisushi @84
You might be on to something there. We are almost sure not all the Da'shain Aiel were able to join the migration to the Waste. We suspect the inhabitants of Tremalking to be among these. Who's to say others in far off lands were not cut off from the main bulk of Aiel during the Breaking as well? Before they were all summoned to Paaran Disen and given custody of the items of Power?

I've long had this theory where the Aes Sedai structure in Seandar before Luthair's arrival was closer to the old model in place during the Age of Legends. If so, then it is not farfetched that they would have hereditary servants as well. Da'shain Aiel still holding to the Covenant.
Adrian Sedai
86. s'rEDIT
Almost makes you wish for those outrigger novels. Almost.
Maiane Bakroeva
87. Isilel
AMW @85:

I've long had this theory where the Aes Sedai structure in Seandar
before Luthair's arrival was closer to the old model in place during
the Age of Legends.

IMHO, it is pretty clear that Seanchan used to be held by the Shadow during the War of Power.
Which is why a lot of their traditions remind of the DF set-up and their very symbol, the raven, is symbol of the Shadow.
DFs always liked to have slaves - hence da'covale. White was probably a snide comment on the dai'shan, once upon a time.
Adrian Sedai
88. alreadymadwithluthair
Isilel @87
On the other hand, you could argue that the adoption of the Raven as the Imperial sigil started with Luthair and his Aes Sedai phobia. Said paranoia driving him to take as his own the symbols that are their archetypal opposites.
Besides how could a continent-wide "Raven" predate Luthair's empire when there wasn't supposedly a unified structure when he got there. I'd argue that a lot of the traditions and symbols started getting corrupted when Luthair and his Aes Sedai phobia and Ishy influence took over.
Marcus W
89. toryx
alreadymadwithluthair @ 88:

This is terrible of me, but when I first saw alreadymad's name I at first thought it read, "alreadymadwithsluthair." That stopped me in my tracks.

Anyway, I agree with Isilel. I think Seanchan was originally controlled by darkfriend survivors of the original wars in the AoL. Over the millenia since the breaking, they'd probably fractured repeatedly and since evil doesn't do anything but destroy, it's pretty reasonable for such a society to descend further into chaos as the centuries pass. There may have been several images of the Shadow when Luthair arrived (Ravens, Crows, Rats, etc.) and the one that spoke to Luthair the most was the Raven.
Adrian Sedai
90. alreadymadwithseanchan
toryx @89

Anyway, the reports of Aes Sedai induced chaos that we have from before Luthair's arrival are all from his descendants. The same people who insist the Dragon Reborn has to bow before their Crystal Throne. The same people who insist everybody else's copy of the Prophecies are corrupted when theirs is the only one disagreeing with everyone else's. The same people with the chutzpah to call their army the Ever Victorious Army. What if it's all just propaganda to justify their conquest?
Damon Garner
91. IrishOmalley
@77 - Could Fain have created/used a "Ghost Sammael" and control the Fades that way? - I'm thinking of Far Madding when the two ghost Ashaman were thrown at Rand.
Adrian Sedai
92. Wortmauer
IrishOmalley: Could Fain have created/used a "Ghost Sammael" and control the Fades that way?
I doubt it. An illusion to fool people is one thing - forging the Mark of Cain that the Forsaken carry is quite another. Now, it's possible that Fain has gained enough power to command those Fades on his own authority, though I'm with other posters here in thinking it's unlikely their fear of him could really scale to driving thousands of Trollocs through the Ways. (One of the hardest things to get a Trolloc, or a Myrdraal for that matter, to do.) It's also possible that if Fain is playing his own game, that he'd plant a Sammael-looking trail to fool someone like Moridin, who after all has a price on Fain's head ... but I find that unlikely too. Fain wears many faces, to be sure, but it seems to me he only uses disguises in order to get close to his objective. When it comes down to making an attempt on Rand's life, he seems to want people to know it's him.

Then there's the issue that Fain, like Moridin, is very jealous about who gets to kill Rand al'Thor. From Fain's perspective, the Trolloc attack would either succeed, pissing him off, or fail, accomplishing little.
Alice Arneson
93. Wetlandernw
I have some difficulty buying the idea that the Seanchan continent was Dark-controlled to the extent that Dark symbology was intentionally maintained as representative of the Empire, even historically. My biggest problem with the idea is the little detail that, within the first thousand years after the Breaking, all Shadowspawn were eradicated from that continent. Luthair & company, as well as many current Randlanders, assumed that the more exotic of the Seanchan beasts were Shadowspawn, but they were not; best info is that they were brought from parallel worlds to fight Shadowspawn.

Just why ravens, which we consider "Dark insignia" have become representative of the Seanchan empire, I don't know. Obviously as a plot device, it provides lots of confusion for the characters (and readers, to some extent), who are supposed to take them for Darkfriends until later proven otherwise. What internal mechanism RJ devised for making that happen, we've not been told. (I do have one theory, which could actually support the notion that it was Dark-controlled territory when contact between continents was lost, but it's mere conjecture and doesn't have much to do with this train of thought.)

IMO, the idea that some people are hereditary servants could just as easily stem from a confusion of the Da'shain Aiel tradition, as from a Darkfriend liking for slavery. Particularly, there is in "modern' Seanchan culture a strong aspect of "pride in service" for many of the da'covale. Not universally, obviously, and those who are made da'covale for their failures are rightly shamed by it. Still, there are many who are proud of the fact that, for example, their families have belonged to the Empress (and her predecesessors) for generations.

It reads to me like a corruption of tradition, or the merging of different traditions. Consider the Da'shain Aiel, who had joyfully embraced their tradition of service to the Aes Sedai but were left with few (or no) Aes Sedai to serve. What would they teach their children, assuming they did not suffer the exigencies which created the Aiel of the Three-Fold Land? Their purpose was to serve, and to some extent they served the larger populace in their service to the Aes Sedai, so it's not a terrible stretch to imagine them binding themselves to serve a particular family. Maybe a small group, or even an individual, would bind themselves to an Aes Sedai (who at the time didn't have the "modern" reluctance to have families), and their descendants would remain in that service for future generations. Or in the absence of Aes Sedai, it's quite possible that some would choose to bind themselves to a protector. It might even look pretty good to some non-Aiel, eventually; in troubled times, you just might trade your "freedom" for protection.

In any case, if it began voluntarily so that "people as property" became an established and fully-embraced part of the culture, it's not really that hard to imagine that over time, some shifting and warping could occur. Keep in mind that it's not a terribly individualistic culture, by and large. The development of making someone property involuntarily for certain offenses isn't that far away; I could come up with several scenarios where it would be the best choice for all concerned, and from there it's a series of short steps to the current culture, all without need for enforced slavery by selfish, greedy Darkfriends.

Okay, it was a quiet night here. What can I say...
Damon Garner
94. IrishOmalley
@92 - Gah! Your right. Fain would never let someone else kill Rand if he could prevent it. I was no good at Clue either.....
Adrian Sedai
95. Paulie
@ 93 - Wetlander:

I love the analysis. I especially like the part about trading "freedom" for safety. Still rings true today.
Marcus W
96. toryx
Alwaysmad @ 90:

Well I think a lot of it potentially is propaganda, though I'm uncertain about how much of their prophecy actually is. Until Rand became Flowerchild Rand, I thought for sure the prophecy was flawed and wrong. Now I'm not so sure.

Regardless, however, there's always some truth in propaganda and legend and myth. It's often twisted truth but the kernals still exist there and when you're talking about the kind of time that we're talking about (3,000 years since the breaking, I can't even remember how long since Luthair went to Seanchan) not even the creators of the propaganda can be sure what's true and what's not anymore.

Wetlandernw @ 93:

I'm just going to address the first paragraph of your post.

So, imagine the situation. There's a country that's been dominated and ruled completely by the Shadow. The leader may or may not have disappeared completely just before the world descended into chaos and your country (or several countries) is broken away from the rest of the world.

Now assuming that there are even going to be any Shadowspawn there in the first place, which is still an assumption in a land that's already fallen to Shadow since there may be no need for the beasts there, it's likely that the Shadowspawn are going to be a lot harder to control without the Forsaken and whatever governing system had been put in place. It could well have become a choice between eradicating the Shadowspawn or they eradicated you, whether you're a darkfriend or not. The Trollocs still have to eat and the Fades still have to...do whatever vile thing it is we don't like to think about.

I think the Shadowspawn would have been eradicated in such a place whether the people were darkfriends or not. They'd kind of have to if they're going to survive for 3,000 years.
Adrian Sedai
97. alreadymadwiththeshadow
toryx @96
The problem of course is that no self-respecting servant of the Shadow would undertake complete elimination of the Shadowspawn. An Aes Sedai, even a darkfriend one would have other options. Population control and territorial wards maybe, but not outright slaughter. Those soldiers are still needed for the Last Battle. Plus terrorizing the natives never grows old.

There's one other detail you're missing. Clearing out the Blight will take more than just armies, more than just the One Power and more than just exotics. It will take unified action sustained over a long period of time. When have you known Darkfriends to act in concert without backstabbing each other?
Alice Arneson
98. Wetlandernw
@96 and 97 - And there is no Blight on the Seanchan continent, IIRC, because they cleared it so thoroughly of Dark influence. (Not sure where I read that, so take it for what it's worth. If anyone really wants to know, I'll see if I can find it.) It's entirely possible that the continent was primarily Shadow-controlled, but I don't find any of the arguments for it compelling. So I still take leave to doubt it, until/unless it's included in AMoL or the coming Encyclopedia.
Birgit F
99. birgit
There is a Blight in Seanchan, but Trollocs and Myrddraal are extinct (there still are a few Draghkar). That's from the BBoBA (p. 149 in the German version).
Adrian Sedai
100. Shobbs
Re: Emo Perrin / Seanchan Bargain. His entire family was slaughtered less than a year ago, and his wife has been kidnapped. I'm sure he's imagining her being raped, beaten, tortured, etc. every five seconds. Mourn the dead or protect the living.
William McDaniel
101. willmcd
I remember being very pleased in 2005 at how Perrin's meeting with the Seanchan went. Not so much the ethics of it, which Wolfmage and others did a great job of discussing, but the pacing. Which is to say, if this were books 8-10, Perrin would have decided to meet with the Seanchan, spent at least a chapter or two finding the wood and carving it to make the stick for his demonstration, then gotten a lot of input from Berelain, Annoura, Seonid, Masuri, Elyas, Aram, Gaul, the ghost of Pedron Niall, and the Wise Ones on how to handle the meeting. The actual meeting with Tylee et al. would then have been the climax of his plotline for the book.

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