May 31 2011 2:33pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Knife of Dreams, Part 7

Happy Tuesday, peoples! Welcome back to the Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 6 through 8 of Knife of Dreams, which may be the only time you’ll ever see a discussion that manages to mention Tchaikovsky, zebras, and flatulence, all together. Because I am classy that way.

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

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

And now, the post!

Chapter 6: A Stave and a Razor

What Happens
The morning after Renna’s death, Mat is entirely unsurprised to discover that Luca has decided to stay in Jurador for a few more days to milk as much coin from the locals as possible. Luca declares he feels “almost like a ta’veren” with the luck he’s having, and gives Mat an odd look when Mat mutters he might not like it if he really were one. The dice are rolling in Mat’s head again, and he makes a token effort to convince Luca to move on, to no avail. Mat gives up and heads to Jurador to go shopping; he is very relieved not to run into any ghosts on the way.

The dead walking surely could mean nothing good. Very likely it had something to with Tarmon Gai’don and Rand. Colors whirled in his brain, and for an instant, in his head, he saw Rand and Min standing beside a large bed, kissing. He stumbled and nearly tripped over his own boots. They had not been wearing any clothes! He would have to be careful thinking about Rand… The colors swirled and resolved for a moment, and he stumbled again. There were worse things to spy on than kissing. Very careful what he thought. Light!

In the town, Mat spies a bowstave made of black yew, much to his surprise, as he had never seen the wood outside of the Two Rivers. He hides his excitement and buys it for a song, and then heads to the livery stables. He looks at dozens of horses until he finally finds something worth his time:

[…] she was a breed he had heard tell of but never thought to see, a razor, from Arad Doman. No other breed would have that distinctive coloring. In her coat, black met white in straight lines that could have been sliced by a razor, hence the name. Her presence here was as mystifying as the black yew. He had always heard no Domani would sell a razor to any outlander. He let his eyes sweep past her without lingering, studying the other animals in their stalls. Had the dice inside his skull slowed? No, it was his imagination.

Mat bargains hard and at length with the owner of the razor, eventually buying her for a price that satisfies both of them. He returns with the mare to the circus and hides her among the rest of the horses (noting in passing that Aludra is receiving a large shipment of something in barrels), and then heads to Tuon’s wagon, though he hesitates about going to her when the dice are rolling in his head. He finds Olver and Noal inside as well as Tuon and Selucia; Noal is telling Olver stories about the Ayyad. Tuon chastises Mat for coming in without waiting for permission, calling him “Toy.” Mat admires her for a moment, fantasizing about getting to kiss her, and tells her he’ll try to remember that, calling her “Precious.”

Tuon sat up very straight, though she was still shorter than Selucia, who was a short woman herself. “What did you call me?” she said, as close to crisply as her accent allowed.

“Precious. You have a pet name for me, so I thought I should have one for you. Precious.” He thought Selucia’s eyes were going to pop right out of her head.

“I see,” Tuon murmured, pursing her lips in thought. The fingers of her right hand waggled, as though idly, and Selucia immediately slid off the bed and went to one of the cupboards. She still took time to glare at him over Tuon’s head. “Very well,” Tuon said after a moment. “It will be interesting to see who wins this game. Toy.”

Mat’s smile slipped. Game? He was just trying to regain a little balance. But she saw a game, and that meant he could lose. Was likely to, since he had no idea what the game was. Why did women always make things so… complicated?

Noal goes on with his story, and Mat asks him if he is any relation to Jain Charin. Noal freezes, and finally answers that Jain is his cousin. Olver is thrilled by the news that Noal is related to Jain Farstrider, and Tuon asks who he is.

“He was a fool,” Noal said grimly before Mat could open his mouth, though Olver did get his open, and left it gaping while the old man continued. “He went gallivanting about the world and left a good and loving wife to die of a fever without him there to hold her hand while she died. He let himself be made into a tool by –” Abruptly Noal’s face went blank. Staring through Mat, he rubbed at his forehead as though attempting to recall something.

Upset, Olver defends Farstrider and his adventures, and Noal placates him sadly. Tuon touches Noal’s arm and tells him he has a good heart. They are interrupted by Juilin, who comes in to tell them that Seanchan soldiers have arrived in Jurador.

So, I recall that Jordan is on record somewhere as stating that the razor Mat buys in this chapter is definitely not a zebra. Which makes sense, because zebras, unlike horses, cannot be domesticated; they can be tamed, on an individual basis, but as a species they are too unpredictable and vicious to be reliably bred as beasts of burden.

(This is one of the many many random things you learn when you read Guns, Germs, and Steel. And you should totally read that if you haven’t already.)

That being said, I can understand why people would make the assumption, because I’ve never heard of a horse that has anything remotely like the coloring Jordan describes here. The closest I could find, after a trawl through Google, was the rare occurrence of the brindle coloring in horses, and that still doesn’t seem quite like what Jordan was describing.

I have to conclude, then, that he basically just made it up, to make the razor that much more exotic and rare a gift for Tuon. And, you know, if Randland can have Trollocs and Ogier and Draghkar and blahbidah blahbidah, I guess it can also have zebra-patterned horses, right?

It is a little weird, though, because as far as I can recall, up until this point Jordan’s never really applied the fantasy brush to already existing species of animals, at least from a looks perspective. Wolves in WOT may be able to talk to people (certain people, anyway), and be generally much more intelligent (and psychic) than I assume they are in real life, but unless I seriously missed something they still look like ordinary, real-world wolves. Rats and crows might be part-time ambulatory binoculars for the bad guys, but as far as I know they’re still completely standard rat-and/or-crow-like in appearance. So a zebra-patterned horse is pretty clearly an anomaly in this regard.

It’s not a big deal, ultimately, but I do think this change-up in the world building “rules” kind of threw the readers, even if they didn’t all consciously recognize why, which is why so many people were rather “Buh?” about it. So, yeah.

By the way, I pretty much cut out all the, well, horse-trading (and examining) Mat does in this chapter, but it was pretty interesting to read. I’m totally going to ask about that “fist between the rib cage and elbow” thing next time I chat with someone knowledgeable in the equine area.

Also: Hah. Rand and Min + sexytimes = brainpain for poor Mat.  Accidental voyeurism is like farting in public: it will happen to you at one point or another in your life, and it’s pretty much never not funny. For everyone else, anyway.

Of course, most people don’t have it happen to them via magical mental color swirlies, but hey.


Chapter 7: A Cold Medallion

What Happens
Mat orders Noal and Olver to find Egeanin and the Aes Sedai, respectively, and warn them, deliberately refusing to use Egeanin’s new name. As he goes to leave:

“No warnings for us to remain inside, Toy? No one left to guard us?”

The dice said he should find Harnan or one of the other Redarms and plant him outside just to guard against accidents, but he did not hesitate. “You gave your word,” he said, settling his hat on his head. The smile he got in reply was worth the risk. Burn him, but it lit up her face. Women were always a gamble, but sometimes a smile could be win enough.

He heads to the entrance of the circus to find that the Seanchan troops are setting up directly across the road, and three of the soldiers are heading into the show. One of the handlers stops them, asking for price of admission; one of the soldiers seems about to make trouble, but the handler is quickly joined by Luca and many of the performers, most armed with clubs. It looks to get ugly until a Standardbearer arrives and sends the first three packing; she then stuns Luca and the rest of the performers by trying to recruit them for the army. The performers all disperse bemusedly, and she turns to Mat.

“And what about you? From the look of you, you might be made an officer and get to give me orders.” She sounded amused by the notion.

[…] “I’d make a terrible soldier, Standardbearer,” he said, tipping his hat, and she laughed.

Mat decides to check on the Aes Sedai to make sure they aren’t doing anything stupid. As he approaches the wagon, his medallion goes cold, meaning they were channeling inside, and he storms in to find Teslyn, Edesina, Seta, and Setalle Anan watching as Joline slaps Bethamin’s face repeatedly. Mat grabs her arm, stopping her, and Joline slaps him with her other hand. Mat pulls her over his lap and spanks her, ignoring that his medallion goes ice cold. Edesina gasps, but then she and Teslyn just watch him continue to spank Joline until Setalle finally makes a move, whereupon he dumps Joline on the floor. To his surprise, Setalle is thoughtful instead of outraged.

“Joline must have tried to stop you, and Teslyn and Edesina as well, but whatever they did failed. I think that means you possess a ter’angreal that can disrupt flows of the Power. I’ve heard of such things – Cadsuane Melaidhrin supposedly had one, or so rumor said – but I’ve never seen the like. I would very much like to. I won’t try to take it away from you, but I would appreciate seeing it.”

Joline demands to know how Setalle knows Cadsuane even while glaring tearfully at Mat, and Edesina comments that she’d said something about testing for the shawl once, too. Setalle gives an evasive answer, and then they are interrupted by Blaeric and Fen, Joline’s Warders, coming up the steps. Mat prepares to defend himself, but Joline slams the door in her Warders’ faces and turns to berate him. Mat cuts her off:

“Except for me, you’d be wearing a damane collar around your neck, and so would Edesina and Teslyn,” he said, as much heat in his voice as there was in her eyes. “In return, you all try to bully me. You go your own way and endanger all of us. You bloody well channeled when you know there are Seanchan right across the road! They could have a damane with them, or a dozen, for all you know.” He doubted there was even one, but doubt was not certainty, and in any case, he was not about to share his doubts with her, not now. “Well, I might have to put up with some of that, though you’d better know I’m getting close to my edge, but I won’t put up with you hitting me. You do that again, and I vow I’ll pepper your hide twice as hard and twice as hot. My word on it!”

“And I won’t try to stop him next time if you do.” Mistress Anan said.

“Nor I.” Teslyn added, echoed after a long moment by Edesina.

Joline looked as though she had been hit between the eyes with a hammer. Very satisfactory. As long as he could figure out how to avoid having his bones broken by Blaeric and Fen.

He demands to know what’s going on, and Setalle explains that there was a scuffle, and Bethamin channeled. Bethamin begins sobbing, exclaiming she didn’t mean to. Teslyn opines they should let her die, and Bethamin swears she won’t do it again, but Joline informs her that she will, she won’t be able to help it, and sighs that they will have to teach her. Teslyn is incensed at the notion, and they all begin to argue. Mat slips out of the wagon, and realizes that while Blaeric and Fen know what happened to Joline, they don’t know Mat did it. He implies to them one of the other sisters did it, and gets away. He plays Stones with Tuon and goes to sleep, hoping the next day will be better than this one.

Well, he had never claimed to always be right. He just wished he was not quite so wrong so often.

Oy, this again.

I really wish I didn’t have to comment on this chapter, because the spanking thing is really just beyond old at this point. Not to mention, trying to articulate why I hate it so much always leads me to paint myself into an ethical corner where I find myself kind of in a really bizarre way condoning violence toward women. Which is just BEYOND fucked up as an experience for me personally, I can tell you.

Because, I actually completely agree with Mat’s outrage with Joline et al’s behavior towards him, and I also totally agree that Joline smacking him around is utterly not cool. I just really, really DON’T agree that spanking her like a five-year-old child is a fair or proportionate response.

But then, of course, the question becomes what is a fair or proportionate response. Because honestly the initial impulse is to go for an “eye for an eye” type solution—i.e. for Mat to slap her back the same way she slapped him. And then I realize what I just said and feel a little nauseous.

But this is extremely weird territory to negotiate, because the real-world stigma against men hitting women (and the relative lack of stigma against the other way around) is based on the (very real) power imbalance between the sexes that has existed and still exists today. And in theory, at least, that power imbalance does not exist in WOT, so logically, Mat slapping Joline should not have any more stigma associated with it than Joline slapping Mat.

Logic, however, really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it. The upshot is, it still feels really fucking wrong.

So I can see the problem here, and sympathize with it. It’s still a mystery to me, however, that Jordan seemed to feel spanking was a better solution. Because, no.

I suppose really the most noble response, as opposed to the proportionate one, is to take the Jesus route and reject the Old Testament “eye for an eye” in favor of the new-wave “turn the other cheek” philosophy. But somehow I don’t think Mat is a very New-Testamenty kind of guy, at least not in this particular regard.

And frankly, neither am I. But then again…

Bah. If there’s a solution, I don’t have it at the moment. So I’ll just sit here and stare forlornly at the horns of this incredibly annoying dilemma, and you guys can go on to the next chapter. Yay for you!


Chapter 8: Dragons’ Eggs

What Happens
Mat wakes the next morning to find that Luca is breaking down camp; Petra explains that after the incident with the soldiers, it’s best that they move on. Mat knows from the medallion that Joline must be teaching Bethamin inside the wagon as they travel. He worries over Tuon, and how he still doesn’t know what she’s like.

But how could a man be married to a woman if he did not know her? Worse, he had to make her see him as something more than Toy. Marriage to a woman with no respect for him would be like wearing a shirt of black-wasp nettles day and night. Worse still, he had to make her care for him, or he would find himself forced to hide from his own wife to keep her from making him da’covale. And to cap it off, he had to do all of that in whatever time remained before he had to send her back to Ebou Dar. A fine stew, and doubtless a tasty meal for some hero out of legend, a little something to occupy his idle time before he rushed off to perform some great deed, only Mat bloody Cauthon was no bloody hero.

They make terrible time, as Luca insists on stopping every few days at every remotely sizeable town to perform. They are passed by several merchant trains and Tinker caravans; Mat notes that, oddly, all the Tinker caravans are heading in the opposite direction, toward Ebou Dar. Mat barges in on Aludra their first night on the road to tell her he’s figured out what she wants with bellfounders—to make lofting tubes out of bronze—but he can’t figure out why. She stares a moment, then laughs and comments that she always gets in trouble with clever young men. He asks why again, and she explains that making a lofting charge powerful enough to travel more than three hundred paces will burst a wooden tube, but with a bronze tube, she could send a smaller, iron charge almost two miles. Mat whistles, getting it immediately, but sees a problem:

“These bronze lofting tubes – ”

Dragons, she broke in. Lofting tubes are for making the night-flowers bloom. For delighting the eye. I will call them dragons, and the Seanchan will howl when my dragons bite. Her tone was grim as sharp stone.

These dragons, then. Whatever you call them, they’ll be heavy and hard to move. Can you mount them on wheels? Like a wagon or cart? Would they be too heavy for horses to pull?

She laughed again. It’s good to see you are more than the pretty face.

She explains about her plans for dragoncarts, one for the dragon and one for the charges, or “dragons’ eggs.” She supposes that he will want to learn how to make the secret powders, now, but Mat tells her he’d rather have her come with him, to a friend who can make as many of her dragons as she wants. As he thinks of Rand, the colors show him Rand talking to Loial for a moment; Mat is just glad Rand is wearing clothes. Aludra wants to know who this friend is, and Mat swears her to secrecy before telling her it’s the Dragon Reborn. Aludra is skeptical, but Mat tells her they grew up together; she can ask the Aes Sedai or Thom if she doesn’t believe him. Aludra decides she does believe him, and shakes his hand to seal the deal.

For a moment, as he shook her hand, he was sure the dice had stopped, but a heartbeat later they were rattling again. It must have been imagination. After all, this agreement with Aludra might help the Band, and incidentally Mat Cauthon, stay alive, yet it could hardly be called fateful. […] But were the dice bouncing as loudly? He thought not, yet how could he be sure? Never before had they slowed without stopping. It had to be his imagination.

Aludra sets off a nightflower, and Mat sees it in his dreams later:

[…] but there it bloomed among charging horsemen and massed pikes, rending flesh as he had once seen stone rent by fireworks. In his dreams, he tried to catch the things with his hands, tried to stop them, yet they rained down in unending streams on a hundred battlefields. In his dreams, he wept for the death and destruction. And somehow it seemed that the rattling of the dice in his head sounded like laughter. Not his laughter. The Dark One’s laughter.

The next day, Egeanin and Domon find him and announce that they have just been married by the local Wisdom. Mat gapes, but manages to congratulate them, and perforce finds himself sleeping in a tent so the newlyweds can have the wagon to themselves. Over the next few days, Thom and Juilin bring him rumors and news; though Mat makes them stop telling him about Rand so he won’t have to fight the colors in his head all the time, he notes that everyone seems very worried about the fact that the Dragon Reborn has vanished.

If the Dragon Reborn was dead, what was the world to do?

He continues to dine with Tuon, and be bemused by her and Selucia’s obsession with omens. One night, she asks him out of the blue what he thinks of the Dragon Reborn; Mat chokes on his wine, and gives her a non-answer, and asks why she wants to know.

“For one thing, he must kneel to the Crystal Throne before Tarmon Gai’don. The Prophecies are clear on that, but I haven’t even been able to learn where he is. It becomes still more urgent if he is the one who sounded the Horn of Valere, as I suspect.”

“The Horn of Valere?” he said weakly. The Prophecies said what? “It’s been found, then?”

“It must have been, mustn’t it, if it was sounded?” she drawled dryly. “The reports I’ve seen from the place where it was blown, a place called Falme, are very disturbing. Very disturbing. Securing whoever blew the Horn, man or woman, may be as important as securing the Dragon Reborn himself.”

Four days out of Jurador, he brings Tuon (and Selucia) out of the wagon, and presents her with the razor. He freezes as he realizes the dice have stopped, but only one set; there are more than one pair in his head. One stopped with Aludra, and another when he gave Tuon the horse, though he doesn’t understand why that is so fateful.

Light, it had been bad enough when he had to worry about one set of dice giving warning at a time. How many sets were still bouncing off the inside of his skull? How many more fateful moments were waiting to crash down on him?

Tuon is delighted, especially after he explains how rare razors are, but Selucia is unreadable. They go riding (Mat resigned to Selucia’s presence), and Mat enjoys watching Tuon’s pleasure in her gift. Just as they are passing a Tinker caravan, Tuon takes off at a gallop into the trees, Selucia following. Mat races after them, and Tuon only stops after a wild dangerous ride. Mat blows up at her for her carelessness, and then cringes, waiting for the response, but she only says that she’s naming the razor Akein (“Swallow”). She asks what this place is, referring to the ruins they’ve come upon, and Mat suddenly remembers that it used to be a city called Londaren Cor. He also remembers taking an arrow in the throat here and drowning in his own blood, and he thinks to himself that he hates remembering dying, and for the first time thinks about how many memories of dying he has, and wonders how the Eelfinn could have those memories from men who obviously must have gone through the twisted door before their deaths.

A way occurred to him, one he did not like, not a scrap. Maybe they created some sort of link to any human who visited them, a link that allowed them to copy all of a man’s memories after that right up to the moment he died. […] Burn him, the bloody foxes were inside his head right then! They had to be. It was the only explanation that made sense.

Mat can see no way to get free of it, and Tuon asks if he’s going to vomit. Selucia points out that a group of people from the Tinker caravan are following them with their giant dogs; Tuon thinks they can avoid them, but Mat counters that the Tinkers are no threat, and the best thing is to meet them and reassure them Mat wasn’t chasing Tuon and Selucia against their will. Selucia is indignant, but Tuon laughs.

Toy wishes to be commanding today, Selucia. I will let him command and see how he does. Bloody kind of her.

The female Tinkers quickly separate Tuon and Selucia from Mat while he talks with their Seeker, who is surprised that Mat knows the ritual greeting response. Mat waves this off to ask the Seeker why so many Tinker caravans are headed toward Ebou Dar. The Seeker hesitates, and then says that the rumor is these Seanchan provide safety and equal justice for all. Mat understands, but warns him the Seanchan’s safety comes at a price; the Seeker assures him they will still bring any women who start channeling to Tar Valon. The women surrounding Tuon and Selucia begin laughing (at him, Mat is sure), and the Tinkers leave. Mat asks what was so funny, but Tuon refuses to tell him.

Wow, I probably wouldn’t have promised to do three chapters if I’d known this one was so bloody long. Sheesh.

So anyway, cue the 1812 Overture, eh? It’s kind of hilarious, in a terrible way, that Mat doesn’t consider the invention of a technology that will change warfare (and the world) forever to be particularly fateful. But I guess only hindsight would be 20/20 on that score.

Though his nightmares afterward rather give the lie to his conscious assessment of the dragons as being not that big a deal. And, incidentally, contrast rather sharply to Egwene’s Dream about the same thing, where Mat appeared supremely unconcerned about the consequences of what he was doing. I commented at the time that it seemed very out of character for Mat, and Jordan evidently agrees. Still doesn’t explain why Mat was portrayed that way in Egwene’s Dream in the first place, though. I dunno, I still don’t get it.

The very ominous bit about the Dark One laughing over it, though, I get perfectly well. If there’s anything that’s going to send an anthropomorphic representation of Supreme Evil into a fit of giggles, it would be the invention of the first real (non-magical) weapon of mass destruction.

Also, interesting new development with the dice in Mat’s head. I’d pretty much totally forgotten about this bit. All I can think is that it must be very LOUD in Mat’s skull these days. Seriously, I think between the borrowed memories and the swirly colors and the dice, Mat’s got more metaphysical shit stuffed in his brain than anyone other than Rand himself.

…Including the Eelfinn, if Mat’s rather startling perspective on the matter is to be believed. I have to say, I’d never thought of it that way. The way I’d always thought of it was pretty much the way it’s described in the FAQ: that as the Finn are obviously not bound to the laws of the “regular” world in terms of space, neither are they bound in terms of time. Ergo, anytime someone enters their dimension they are capable of rummaging through the whole of that person’s life, past and future, in one sitting.

The “one sitting” thing being the operative phrase. In other words, I thought of it as being already done and over with while Mat was in there—the rummaging, I mean. But I guess from an alternate point of view, it really does mean that they are watching your whole life as it happens. And so they’re just… there. Watching. All the time.

And that, my friends, is seriously goddamn creepy. Yeargghh. That’s, like, at least two Crispin Glovers on the creepy scale, y’all.

To counter that, Tuon is really rather adorable in this chapter. Why can’t we have this Tuon all the time, with the mischief and the flirtiness, instead of what we get later? Sigh.

Crystal Throne: I’ve always maintained as a matter of course that the Seanchan version of the Prophecies were obviously selectively edited for their audience, with this nonsense about Rand kneeling to the Crystal Throne as proof. And I still think that’s right, because even aside from my philosophical objections to the idea, the thing is in Seandar, where we’ve been assured the action is never going to go, so there’s no way it could work logistically.

Unless of course you assume that the Throne is just a symbol of the Empress, and means Rand has to kneel to Tuon. Which had really, really better not happen, or I will be very Put Out. Nuh-uh, no dice. NO BUENO. No kneeling to the Empire run on slavery, THANKS WE’RE ALL GOOD HERE.

In the same vein, I was rather annoyed at the Tinkers’ all bouncing up and down to be a part of that. But then again, as I am not a cult of sworn pacifists roaming about an increasingly unsettled continent on the brink of an actual apocalypse, I may perhaps have a tad more luxury when it comes to standing on principle in this regard. So there’s that.

Aaaand I’m spent. Have a lovely week, O my peeps, and I will see you next Tuesday!

1. iamnotspam
Glad I can reread and am not burnt all up. Had a bunch of grass fires over here in Texas and this is just what I need to forget for a while.
Kat Blom
2. pro_star
Yay to not burning! Was a smokey weekend in my land from the more northern alberta fires...but we've been lucky so far. I always thought the razor as being kind of like a pinto...oh well. http://scienceblogs.com/clock/upload/2006/11/pinto%20colt.JPG
Kat Blom
3. pro_star
Please torie, my post isn't spam, it's just a picture of a pinto colt! (because that's what I saw in my head with the razor)
DA Ford
4. Ford75
I seem to recall Robert Jordan saying in an ineterview somewhere about the Razor that he'd has an image of it in his head from a half-remembrance or some such when he was much younger and was attempting to describe that.
Brian Kaul
5. bkaul
Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel: for a very interesting counterpoint, check out Victor David Hanson's Carnage and Culture.
Don Barkauskas
6. bad_platypus
Ford75 @4: You remember correctly. Here's the quote:
For those of you who think the razor that Mat gave to Tuon is a zebra, it isn't. I was thinking of a horse I once saw a picture of, an American paint, which in memory seemed to fit my description (white meeting black along dead-straight lines) very closely. In fact, the memory fit so well that I decided not to check whether the actual horse looked the way I recalled it. The recollection made a terrific image.
7. Lisamarie N
I think the thing with the spanking is that it is so darn condescending and demeaning and humiliating. I could probably stomach Mat slapping Joline (not that I condone violence towards woman OR men for that matter), because it at least puts them as equals. I can't remember, do men ever get spanked?

Interesting tidbit about the Old Testamenty eye for an eye bit - it was actually meant to be progressive; to discourage from disproportionate retribution.

I wonder what role the dragons will play in the overall salvation of the world - right now it seems like they are necessary and could help turn the tide. But obviously the implications are huge (especially considering the possible outcome in Avienda's ToM visions), so it kind of ends up as a phyrric victory.
Birgit F
8. birgit
he was sure that tomorrow had to be better than today. Well, he had never claimed to always be right. He just wished he was not quite so wrong so often.

What is so terrible about the next day? The only things that happen is that they continue to travel and Mat finds out about Aludra's cannons.
Still doesn’t explain why Mat was portrayed that way in Egwene’s Dream in the first place, though. I dunno, I still don’t get it.

Eg sees Mat from the outside, the reader from the inside. Mat's thoughts often don't agree with his actions ("I'm no bloody hero" and then he does something heroic).

The “one sitting” thing being the operative phrase. In other words, I thought of it as being already done and over with while Mat was in there—the rummaging, I mean.

That would only work if the future is fixed. Otherwise, they would get something like the Aiel apprentice ter'angreal.

And I still think that’s right, because even aside from my philosophical objections to the idea, the thing is in Seandar, where we’ve been assured the action is never going to go, so there’s no way it could work logistically.

Tuon is now Empress and has Travelling. She could fetch the throne to use it in her palace in Ebou Dar.
Eigor Maldonado
9. e-mann
IMO, you left out one of the funniest lines that Mat has ever spoken: "Now that killed the goat!" HA, I was in stitches after reading that. That just made the spanking part all the more funny while reading it and picturing it in my head. I still laugh just thinking about it.
j p
10. sps49
All I know about horses is picked up from my Thoroughbred-raising aunt, and there isn't much (a line or crease across the rump is good). But I am sure that some random mutation or trait could come up with wild or bred horses. And next time the Wheel turns, we will see "razors" by some name again, right?

And yes, GG&S is an excellent book.
Matthew B
11. MatthewB
I apologize if i'm off base or you've already addressed this in previous posts, but my memory is imperfect so... If women's equality in Randland is significantly based on the ability to channel and Mat's medallion negates that, then doesn't that return us closer to our more familiar balance of power on the personal level?

I know that the Aes Sedai's power at this point in the world is much greater than just their ability to channel, but at least in most one-on-one dealings, their larger powerbase doesn't come into play. I'm also not convinced that the Aes Sedai's influence as an organization produces quite the equality that you imply for other women. Examples of female authority such as the Women's Circle and a roughly equal number of kings and queens don't convince me that the overall balance is so far from our own. We have queens and village councils with women on them too, but the state of female empowerment in our world speaks for itself.

I tend to see the situation as mostly like our own but with an external force added to it. The Aes Sedai provide a power structure analogous to the influence of the Catholic church in European history, but i see no sign that this structure actively or passively promotes equality for other women. In fact, for the general public, Aes Sedai are not really women - they are very alien and unknowable. A view they themselves seem to work at promoting.

More likely, imo, Jordan just didn't like to talk about violence against women very much. Without intending to impugn his memory, i see a lot of the attitudes of Southern gentility and patriarchy in the series. In that sense, spanking is not treated as violence, but slapstick justice. When he does use real violence against women, it is for increased dramatic effect, but i don't get the sense that it is an aberration in most of his cultures. (The Aiel are definitely not most cultures.)

Blah blah done rambling now.
Matthew B
12. MatthewB
Double post. Apologies.

Might want to ask TOR's web team look at their code and how it interacts with the Chrome browser - this plus general editing wierdness make me think something fishy is going on.
13. UrsulaMinor
It had never even occured to me to think of the Razor as a zebra. I had always imagined it sort of like the American Paint that another commenter described. Looking up pictures of it just confirms it for me.
(Okay, this horse is brown, but you get the picture)

I've probably seen one before at the rodeo.

I'm still on the fence wether or not that kneeling thing is going to come to pass or not. Rand refusing to bend to anyone at all got him into big trouble with the seanchan in TGS. Kneeling usually means total subjugation, but I can sort of see this coming to pass in a way that does not mean this. Somehow.
Valentin M
14. ValMar
@ 11 Joline can pick a rock and whack Matt any time she wants. The medalion doesn't give him complete protection. Plus she also has a couple of brutes to do Matt's head in.
James Hogan
15. Sonofthunder
I see this has already been mentioned...but one of my favorite lines from the series..."Now that killed the goat." Not sanctioning what came after, but seriously, that line is absolutely hilarious!! And even though I can't say that Mat was "right" in what he did, I can absolutely understand why he did it. Seriously, channeling with Seanchan right there? I remember being furious with them when I was reading that bit myself!! Even though I don't know if I would have turned Joline over my knee. Oh Mat.

And all these Mat chapters are just classic. From his bartering for the razor to his words with the Standardbearer...I don't think I've ever not enjoyed a Mat chapter. And his and Tuon's ongoing flirtation/courtship is priceless.

And he's absolutely right...the right girl's beautiful smile is always worth it.
Anurag Sahay
16. anuragsahay
I have to admit, I don't get this whole, "Seanchan prophecies are doctored" bullshit.

Think about it. All the peoples of the world, other than the Seanchan , have their own prophecies, none of which anyone ever seems to doubt. Why do we all just assume the Seanchan prophecies are wrong because of the Crystal Throne thing and the fact that they are also called the Prophecies of the Dragon, instead of something like the Jendai Prophecies. The fact, however, is that the Seanchan prophecies are probably a different version of the prophecy by the Aes Sedai in Seanchan before the arrival of Luthair Paendrag. They even have a different name .

In fact, I'd go on to say that most of the prophecies in this story are true, even the Shadow Prophecies in ToM. They're all Foretellings made by Aes Sedai all across the world during and after the Breaking of the World and the Time of Madness, and the reason why people only know their own varieties of the prophecies is that the Breaking effectively created a barrier against the flow of information and Ishaemael's hijinks probably didn't help any.

So, what I'm trying to say is, unless it's proven wrong explicitly in the text somewhere, there's no reason to disbelieve any particular set of prophecies if you do believe some other set, which, of course, you do, cause this is a fantasy series. Do I make any sense?
Matthew B
17. MatthewB
@14 Yeah, and women in our world can pick up rocks or threaten to have their father, brother, friend, or the police come and deal with the problem too - that doesn't mean there is no problem.
Alexander Foff
18. Abbumaru
Concerning the Seanchan Prophecies:
It just came to my mind that the kneeling part could probably mean exactly what it says: the Dragon Reborn has to kneel in front of the Crystal Throne (with the Throne probably being represented sufficiently by Tuon). What it doesn't say is why. Perhaps someone shoves him and he stumbles onto one knee? Perhaps he's in too much pain to stand upright? Perhaps he's just picking up a penny lying on the ground?
What I'm trying to say is that up to now I've always simply assumed that the kneeling, by default, must mean deference. But the thing with prophecies is that you can fulfil them unintentionally or unconsciously just as well as if you're fully aware that you're fulfilling a prophecy right now.
I believe that the Seanchan Prophecies can still be right, but at the same time I don't believe that Rand will submit to Tuon's authority. I don't know if we've ever seen the exact wording of the prophecy but I believe it's still vague enough to allow for factual kneeling regardless of intent.
19. Kadere
"That killed the goat," is the funniest damn line in the entire series, and I love Mat's reaction, followed by the rest of the Aes Sedai and Sul'dam being perfectly Ok with it. I'm glad I have a sense of humor about these things.
Alexander Foff
20. Abbumaru
I just saw that UrsulaMinor@13 is basically saying the same thing, if not with as much optimism as myself.^^ But I just believe that there are enough possibilities.

And I completely agree with anuragsahay@16.
Matthew B
21. MatthewB
@16 You do make sense, but iirc they do spend time discussing the reliability of prophecies in general. As a reader, if you don't hear it directly from a person with the gift (or retold by a reliable witness) i think you are expected to question all of them.

Even the ones believed to be true are usually worded in such a way that they could be met by any number of conditions. See Callandor and Logain for example or one of the central prphecies - spilling the blood of the dragon on the rocks at Shayol Gul. People assume it means Rand will die, but it could just mean injury, or it could be that Aiel will die there, or that Galad will, or any number of other things.

It's not that the Seanchan prophecies get less leeway - all prophecies are viewed skeptically until they bear fruit. It's just that what we know of their culture (combined with what we don't know about their history) leads us to more speculation about how they might have been intentionally altered.
22. Narlock
I always though the kneeling bit was something Ishy added to the Seanchan profocies when he was last free
Valentin M
23. ValMar
mrburack @ 17

I meant pick an object with the Power and hit Matt, or whoever, with it. AS have done it to Matt already, with shit and other stuff. My point was that the balance of power between Matt and channelers wasn't negated completely. If Joline had keapt a presence of mind and wanted to stop Matt she could have.
I won't bother pointing out the difference of having a pair of Warders in WOT and the ability to call on the police, relatives, Power Rangers, etc, in RL.

PS Just to add that I am making a point specifically on how much (or little) the medalion negates the AS power.

Also, there are numerous occasions in the books where women get along well with AS and actively co-operate with them. E.g. the Women Circle in TR when Perrin returned.
Whatever the reason is, there is far more equality between men and women in WOT, compared to RL 15-17 century. A feature of the WOT world that I enjoy.
24. alreadymadwithSPANKING
Except turning the other cheek is an open invitation for Aes Sedai to walk all over you. Mat had to rein Joline in. Pure and simple.

Agreed. I am less hesitant to argue that the Seanchan would resort to propaganda in order to elevate their culture. Unlike Randland prophecies where there are independent powers like Aes Sedai (sic) to document the prophecies and ensure they are not doctored, you have no such failsafe for Seanchan prophecies. Everyone is beholden to the Crystal Throne. An extremely narcissistic and arrogant Crystal Throne.
Matthew B
25. MatthewB
ValMar@ 23: I know what you meant about the power, but when you reduce it to that level you're moving it from a qualitatively different force to a quantitative one. Using the power to move things is not so different from moving them yourself. It's a force multiplier but not a game changer. Same with warders vs. brothers.

I'm not casting Joline as a helpless little girl - just pointing out that in most confrontations with Mat, Aes Sedai are not so different from ordinary women. You could even say they are at a disadvantage since an ordinary woman is going to be aware of their relative strengths and be ready to fight with wits or physical means instead of assuming they are the ones that brought the gun to the knife fight.
Simon Southey-Davis
26. Glyph
Yay triple Mat!

I'm still expecting the Seanchan prophecy to be literally and precisely true, and yet to entirely subvert the expected meaning. That's pretty much normal for prophecy in this series, isn't it?

Oh, @Leigh - your links in the intro are currently pointing to the old WoT and re-read pages rather than the new ones. :)
Jon Morse
27. jonfmorse
So, yeah, the spanking stuff... ugh. And it's not even so much that I think spanking is inherently demeaning and humiliating; it's just that I think it becomes inherently demeaning and humiliating when you do it to a grownup, and doubly so when it's a man spanking a woman.

But I have the same issue with the potential alternatives. I'm not even remotely pacifistic enough to suggest that doing nothing is a reasonable response to someone walking up and slapping you in the face. At the same time... well, just for myself, I was always told two things which are almost, but not quite, contradictory: Don't hit women, but if a woman hits you she's surrendering her protection against being hit back. Now, that's a chivalry thing, and chivalry makes me just as itchy as it does women who deem it to be paternalistic, so I've sort of transposed that to "don't hit people, but if people hit you you've got a right to defend yourself."

If you don't, you're giving the aggressor license to continue without consequence. (It doesn't matter which way the power balance tilts, either. If you're the weaker party, you still have to stand up for yourself in some fashion, or use society to do it for you.) When dealing with people such as the Aes Sedai, who are already just a little too full of "I'll do what I damn well please", it's even more important to stand your ground.

Of course, one cannot help but look at the situation with one's perspective colored by modern society, in which the sad-but-true reality is that there better be witnesses that see the whole thing, otherwise someone's in deep doo-doo.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the ideal response would have been for Mat to come up with some way of putting Joline in her place that didn't involve violence at all, but barring that then slapping her right back would have been far preferable to another spanking scene. But then Jordan's also set up a world where perhaps Mat spanking Joline was far less problematic than slapping her back would have been, so Mat can't be faulted for it -- we can only groan about the world-building here.
Damon Garner
28. IrishOmalley
@18 and @26. I think Rand will bend knee to Matt and Tuon in blessing their marriage. Some old Two Rivers custom maybe? Would definitely fulfill the prophecy and not leave us with the "ick" feeling of Rand kowtowing to Tuon and the Seanchen.
Kimani Rogers
29. KiManiak
Thanks again, Leigh. 3 Chapters even! I wouldn’t be opposed to you making this a more common occurrence :-)

Mat is back! As for the Ta’veren telepathy (or whatever folks wanna call it), I have to say that I’m surprised that accidental voyeurism doesn’t happen more often. Especially in regards to Rand. With the Last Battle quickly approaching and signs of Tarmon Gaidon occurring more frequently, I’d assume that both Perrin and Mat would be thinking about Rand at least several times each day. And Min and Rand can be a bit… randy. And when Perrin rescues Faile, I’m sure they’d be busy “celebrating her freedom” quite often, so I find it likely that at least Rand (focusing on getting all of the right pieces in place for TG) would be thinking of Perrin often.

I find it interesting that apparently there was a “big” discussion about the razor among fandom. I never thought it was that big a deal. In addition to the grolm and raken, weren’t we also told that Randland had bears or cats with six-toed feet, or something like that? We still don’t know what lionfish and silverpike are (sharks and barracuda, maybe?). So, it’s weird to me that the possibility of a razor being a fictional variation of a horse was worth that much discussion. Then again, we tend to argue on this blog a lot about same-sex relationships, female-on-male rape and spanking, so I guess it’s possible. And speaking of spanking…

I have to admit, Leigh, I was waiting for this chapter to hear your take on it. And yes, we have argued the “ethics” of spanking, hitting, retaliating, being provoked, determining what is going “too far,” exploring if its ever Ok for a man to hit a woman, etc, ad nauseum (and I wouldn’t be surprised if we do it again). So I’m not going to automatically judge/support/argue with you, Leigh. I was just curious to hear your take on this, and see if you were conflicted, or could see multiple sides to this episode. I’m sure when I get down to the comments, there will probably be more said. And no, I don’t think Mat is all that “New Testamenty” either…

The other stuff: Mat courting Tuon; Mat figuring out the application and then value of Aludra’s Dragons; Mat recruiting Aludra to make the Dragons; Egeanin and Domon’s marriage resulting in him being kicked out of his wagon; Mat gives Tuon the razor; we hear the “must bow to the Crystal Throne” possibly-fake prophecy; and Mat realized that the Eelfinn may have more of a hold on him then he’d like. All that stuff was fine, but chances are good that the big topic for this week will be the spanking again. Although Leigh did talk a decent amount about the Eelfinn, and their mechanism for accessing, collecting and then delivering those memories to Mat. There’s some good metaphysical food for discussion there, too. I’m curious to see what the group discusses…

As for the comments:

Bad_p@6 – thanks for the RJ quote. I like his reason. Why screw with a perfectly good run of your imagination/memory from when you were a kid, if it fits the bill?

e-mann@9, son of thunder@15, Kadere@19 –re: “that killed the goat” – I always look forward to rereading that phrase! It still makes me smile. Far funnier than “that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back,” or the like, that we have in RL.

mrburack@11 – I think you’re making a few general assumptions of the WoTverse in your initial paragraph. Is there truly gender equality? If so, is it based upon the fact that a select few (only women channelers are acceptable by most of the general public, btw,) can channel? Would one medallion reestablish the “more familiar balance of power” of RL in Randland? As for the rest of your argument, I think it’s a highly debated topic on this site as to whether the sexes are balanced, whether Randland is more of a female-dominated society (what with the White Tower and several female ruled countries) or if its still a mostly male-sexist society (the majority of soldiers are male, the overly protective “chivalry” of societies like Shienar and the Two Rivers, etc). I do agree with you that I see a type of Southern attitude (hospitality, chivalry, etc) in the Westlands, at least. Seanchan is a whole different story.

anuragsahay@16 – I think some folks tend to question the Seanchan prophecies for various reasons. One could be due to Moridin’s role in Artur Hawkwing’s beef with the AS, Luthair’s trip across the ocean, and the development of the Seanchan empire. I’m not sure, but I even think he mentions purposefully misleading them. And I see other folks added a few other reasons.

But I agree that another good question to ask would be, "Why is Rand kneeling?" Maybe he was just being courteous, or holding to some custom, or even picking up a penny (a copper mark, in this case), like some of the folks here have suggested.
Tricia Irish
30. Tektonica
Hi Leigh! And thanks for 3 GREAT chapters! Mat!!!
(BTW, I'm sorry I haven't been around much...still moving...but I am reading! Thanks!)

Chapter 6:

Noel/Jain says....He let himself be made into a tool by –” Abruptly Noal’s face went blank. Staring through Mat, he rubbed at his forehead as though attempting to recall something.

That certainly cements the Manipulated by the Forsaken theories. He almost pulled that memory out, but something stopped him.

Chapter 8:
Mats' dream about the dragons....they rained down in unending streams on a hundred battlefields. In his dreams, he wept for the death and destruction. And somehow it seemed that the rattling of the dice in his head sounded like laughter. Not his laughter. The Dark One’s laughter.

I think Mat has always been pretty concerned about his men and about hurting people. He is a kind and considerate guy! He's also a good general and can see the incredible advantage of the dragons. The dream shows that he is also concerned with the destruction of life and the evil of war. Yeah Mat.

I agree with your Tuon assessment. More of this Tuon, please. She seemed so completely different in TGS/TOM. Is that Sanderson? or Is it her lack of Mat? or Both?

Now...to the comments.
Kimani Rogers
31. KiManiak
I actually do have a beef with the assumption that the Dark One would happily “get off” with the creation of the cannonball and gunpowder. Why?

If this were the first time such an invention were ever created, then fine. But he was released from his prison in a time where they had shocklances and other magical superweapons. Folks with the Power can create weaves that can release a fiery wave of destruction for tens of yards (Blossoms of Fire).

Why would the Dark One take particular note when the cannonball was rediscovered? Did he cackle in glee when the first sword was crafted? What about when the first crossbow was re-invented? Any moron could point, shoot, and kill someone from a distance with very little training. Are we to believe that he danced a jig when the catapult was rediscovered?

Is the Dark One supposed to be moved every time the ability for wo/man to kill themselves expands or evolves? I thought his goal was to be free in the world to wreak his own havoc? To remake the world in his own image, or something like that? Otherwise, the argument could be made that anytime one person kills another (no matter the reason) that they are doing the Dark One’s work. Shouldn’t the AS be preaching a pacifist society, then? Shouldn’t the Forsaken have been razing every village, town and city that they could?

Otherwise, why would the Dark One feel some type of joy at the reintroduction (not even the first time !) of the cannonball?

I get why Mat would be saddened by it. Mat has a big ol' heart, and has shown it multiple times. But why should the Dark One be laughing?
Valentin M
32. ValMar
mrburack @ 25

I am certain AS are different than other women vs Mat, despite the medalion. Even if they haven't figured out that the can launch large or sharp objects at great velocity at him they still have one or more terrific and fanatical bodyguards linked telepathicly with them and usually in very close proximity. E.g. Joline or her AS sisters giving a shout to her warders on the other side of the door.

I personally dislike the spanking in WOT- the way it's used is just foreign to me, to say the least. But if that's what they do there, I can live with reading about it. Joline could've asked for help her warders or the other women in the wagon could've intervened. Apparently, Mat's action (and Perrin's on Faile) are normal. So that is that.

Probably the biggest problem with spanking is the degrading nature of it- i.e. it's psychological effect. But this sort of effect is truly dependant on the society it's set in. The emotional effect in current RL Western society (the one I'm most familiar with) of a spanking would be huge. Especially degrading for an adult. I'm am not sure this is the case in Randland. Jolene and Faile don't seem to be affected and their peers don't think less of them after witnessing their spanking. This may explain Jolene's acceptance and her, rather partisan, companions' inaction.
Valentin M
33. ValMar
Oh yes, since I intend to go to Brandon Sanderson's signing in London this Sat, does anyone want me to try and ask particular question- e.g. what's up with beligerent Tuon from TOM?
Captain Hammer
34. Randalator
You know, with all the not liking the demeaning and humiliating aspect of a man spanking a grownup woman and sort of holding it against RJ, I think you're missing the point. It is meant to be demeaning and humiliating in universe, too, but not for the woman but for the person.

It is meant to drive the point home for the spankees that, as long as their acting like spoiled little brats, they will be disciplined like spoiled litle brats, the humiliation of it acting as an incentive to grow the fuck up, as the French saying goes.

So, I'm not disturbed by it. I'd be way disturbed if it had been implemented explicitly or even just implicitly as "the proper way men should handle trouble with women folk". I'd be all there with you on the do-not-like train to what-the-hell-hero?-Town. But that wasn't the intention. In Randland it is pretty clearly connected to very immature behaviour of the spankee and also involves quite some effort to get the spanker into a spanking mood, in the first place. It's never a "I think I don't particularly like what you did there" situation but a long drawn-out "Now that killed the goat" situation.

I don't condone corporal punishment in general and of women in particular but in this specific context I'm not outraged either. It's not a comment on gender issues, gender equality, male-female relations and all that.

So, yeah. Jehova! Jehova! Okay, I'm done. Please wait with the collective pummeling, spanking and general shitstorming until I've put on my protective gea...Ow! Hey! Lay off! We haven't started yet!
35. UrsulaMinor
@31 KiManiak

I think the answer is sort of yes. If the alternate world where trollocs won the trolloc wars way back in TGH is any indication. Basically, that's a world where nothing/very little is left alive. So every time people figure out new ways to rip great big holes in eachother, it's gotta give him a happy. Destruction is yay.

Also, you could argue that everytime you kill instead of negotiate, you are doing the work of evil and destruction.
Tricia Irish
36. Tektonica
ValMar@33: Good idea to ask about Tuon! I really wonder if it's just Brandon's interpretation of her, or if she's taking the "Empress" thing too seriously. Thanks! And enjoy! Brandon at Jcon was very nice, open, funny and welcoming.

Randalator@34: I agree about the spanking in Randland. It is used judiciously, when the spankee is out of control and being a brat. It is meant to humiliate, which is especially good for the arrogant AS that Joline is! I'm not sure there's anything other than humiliation that would have jolted her into listening to Mat. He needed to establish his authority over them for this circus ride. He has much to protect and much to lose.

KiManiak@31: The DO just wants to see destruction and chaos. Anyway you do it is fine. So he probably does "squee" every time the WoTers invent some other method of killing each other. Evil loves evil.
37. dubsub
@27 jonfmorse

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the ideal response would have been for Mat to come up with some way of putting Joline in her place that didn't involve violence at all, but barring that then slapping her right back would have been far preferable to another spanking scene. But then Jordan's also set up a world where perhaps Mat spanking Joline was far less problematic than slapping her back would have been, so Mat can't be faulted for it -- we can only groan about the world-building here.

Perfectly said, and I couldn't agree more. Jordan created a world where Mat's actions were not only ok, but were the correct thing to do. I'm pretty certain doing this IRL would solve nothing and make the situation worse.

Man, I never thought about the Ael'finn connection in quite that way before, but it makes sense. Even if you go the metaphysical route, that still means that those snakey people are possibly watching and tasting your mind at any minute.
I'm not sure I'd be okay with the idea of dying and having my memories live on with them either. Something about the idea seems obscene to me, like having my most treasured experiences serve as nothing more than food/jerk off material for all eternity. Bleagh.
Valentin M
38. ValMar
Tek @ 36 The "idea" arose entirely from your previous post. I hope I get the chance to put the question forward. Any suggetions on how to frase it without getting RAFOed?
Ah, spanking... For the record I get the reason why it is done in WOT, as per Randalator. Also in the instances we see I don't have a problem with it- it appears to be a legitimate action in WOT world, accepted by the friends of the spankees. Also we have enough info, including POVs, to know the spanking isn't abused in the cases we've seen. We haven't seen men spanked by women but at least we've seen women being physical to men without retribution (e.g. Rhuarc's wives drwaing blood from him). Or punches in the midriff I seem to recall... Anyway, can't be bothered to write anymore on this issue. It may not be as perfectly balanced as many may wish, but life ain't in general.

well, jon @ 27 wrote much better what I think on Mat/Jolene and similar. Should read comments more carefully but it's late here.
39. jcfocarino
I just have to wonder, out of curiousity, if this chapter was as mundane to others as it was to me, on my first read. For some reason, I couldn't get through two pages without putting the book down because I honestly, truely, sincerely just didn't give a DAMN about Aludra's new weapon or Tuon's new horse...I'm sorry, I realize both are significant, but that is how Mat's whole storyline felt to me...
40. trench
"... thats at least two Crispen Glover's on the creepy scale y'all"

Statements like this are why I read the Reread.
Jon Morse
41. jonfmorse
Randalator @34:

I'd agree with you, except for the fact that all the spankees have been women. If we'd had a scene were some bratty male had been turned over someone's knee*, we'd probably all feel differently about the topic. But it hasn't happened.

* - Yes, I know we've had asides about Nynaeve and Cadsuane wanting to paddle Rand's butt, but that's different than it actually happening.
42. Narlock
@31 I think that the dark one would love a weapon like gunpowder because unlike shock lances and the like it doesnt require the power. The power is the only thing he really needs to fear from humans and if they start using weapons that take the advantage away from channelers then there is a possiblity channelers will become obsolete witch is good for him if he doesnt get seal away properly.
Stefan Mitev
43. Bergmaniac
@39 jcfocarino- I agree with you, those are fairly boring chapters. Mat spent half a chapter buying a horse, and fictional techniques for evaluating horses and haggling for their price doesn't exactly make for exciting reading. All of the fandom had already figured out years before KoD appeared that Aludra has invented cannons so the revelation here wasn't a big deal at all. And then the spanking...such a cringeworthy scene.

Yes, Mat and Tuon's flirting is nice, especially by the extremely low WoT standards for courtship (usually they fall in love at first site because It's Fate), but those 3 chapters could've easily been one with normal lenght by cutting out all the pointless (all the details about the razor buy) and bad (the spanking) stuff.
44. Lurking Canadian
The reason I think the Seanchan prophecies are fake is explained the first time we find out about them. They are not the original Prophecies believed on the far side of the ocean. The original Prophecies were "corrupted" because they did NOT show the Dragon kneeling to the Crystal Throne. The "True" version used in Seanchan is believed to have been brought by Paendrag. But Paendrag's copies should look like Rand's. I think the most likely explanation is that they were altered, Orwell style, by the imperial family, unable to accept that he would bind the nine moons.

And Tuon, cute flirting or no cute flirting, is a monster, like all sul'dam and all High Blood Seanchan.
William Fettes
45. Wolfmage
Mrburack @ 11

Good post. Your point about Mat’s medallion raises some interesting issues around how we approach the normative consequences of difference. That is, should we be primarily concerned about structural, class-based or individual differences?

For example, perhaps there is just no reason that a super-tough woman, who has many years of training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, should receive the benefit of a taboo based on physical weakness. Other women may generally be physically weaker than men, but given that’s not the case here, why should this one be afforded gratuitous protection simply because of her gender? Alternatively, we might pause for a moment and consider that such a person is exceptional in all senses. Accordingly, we might think we’ll get better outcomes if we simply apply a blanket rule which fits the majority of cases dealing with this class. So, the rule applies to her even though she technically may not need it. This approach may be heavy handed, but there are clearly beneficial outcomes. After all, a clear, mandatory rule is easier to follow, and will likely increase the aggregate level of protection afforded to all women because you’re removing case-by-case assessment from the picture.

In the case of Mat, his medallion does afford him some significant, if imperfect, protection against channelling. So, on that basis, we can probably consider him a bit like the example of the female mixed martial artist -- except without any offensive arsenal (just really great take-down defence, etc.) So, the foxhead shifts the balance of power on an individual level with Aes Sedai, but certainly not completely. But it’s still an open question how we might interpret Mat’s comparative power under a more rule-based or structural level.

This actually brings us to one of the central conceits of the series: the ascendency of the whole female half of the population based on the legacy of the Breaking and the influence of the White Tower. It’s true, as you argue, that the books don’t quite succeed if the intention was to show some kind of trickle-down theory of female empowerment. To be fair to RJ, I don’t actually think, in the final analysis, that he intended to force this imbalance at every level. Rather, I like to think he used this conceit as a good starting point for his world-building, but then allowed the fact of Aes Sedai power and distrust of men to be diffused in different ways. So, in that sense, I think Leigh’s short-hand phrasing about there being no power imbalance going against women is probably just not true. It’s just that it’s meant to be the less interesting power balance, compared to everything else.
46. RoyanRannedos
Woot for a reread! As far as Seanchan prophecies go, I'm not sure how much tampering is available. They have other prophecies about Mat and Perrin and they haveu all been spot on.
47. vsthorvs
The spanking was the perfect punishment. She was acting like an insolent child, so that's how she got treated. Same with Faile earlier. The humilitation is part of the punishment. That's what broke semirhage, humiliation. It's demeaning because it's meant to be demeaning. The Aes Sedai need to be taken down a peg or two. Egwene's vision of Mat, takes place with him helping create the cannons, and at that point I don't think he realizes yet what he's unleashed. The dream is about events after that, and I'm curious as to the part of Mat's dreams where he trie to catch the fireworks(cannons) and fails. In my mind this is him accidentally giving them to the Seanchan, which will lead to the dark future where the Empire rules the world.
48. Shadow_Jak
Yay Mat! Three of the most fun chapters in the series.

@47, and others... Totally agree.

All in all, I thought the spanking was especially fun. Just deserts and all that.

And anyway, what were the viable alternatives?
Only certain non-lethal one I see is a'dams for the Aes Sedai and chains for the warders.
This way worked much better.

Of course he also might have tried the solution Nynaeve used on him him (LOC, ch 30), ie a swift kick in the ass. That might have been fun too.
Heidi Byrd
49. sweetlilflower
@many concerning Tuon in Tom and TGS: didn't we get a POV from Greandal where she remarked upon using compulsion on Tuon? I'm pretty sure that the reason Tuon becomes such a royal b*tch (get it? royal? haha!) is that she was on the receiving end of some Greandal mind-loving.
Kimani Rogers
50. KiManiak
I’ll address some of the other comments in a different post, but I wanted to focus on one as it leads to an approach or tendency that I’m curious (and possibly a little sensitive) about.

Ursulaminor@35 & Tek @36 – I get that the Dark One would not be opposed to folks killing themselves, however they do it. I just don’t see why rediscovering the cannonball was worthy of note in the book (or, specifically, in Mat’s dreams). The war during the Age of Legends would have had to cause way more deaths than the introduction of the cannonball to “current day” Randland. Shoot, a good plague would probably do the same. It just seemed kind of a bit much, for me.

As for the whole “kill = evil” thing. I don’t want to open up a major can of worms here, but I am sensitive to that word being associated rather freely and broadly with a vast array of actions. Is killing “evil?” Does that mean killing is always evil? Is it evil when it’s self defense? What about when it’s in retaliation? A preemptive act? A thoroughly reasoned-out response?

What if killing one person saves one life? If killing one person saves ten lives? One thousand lives? What about if you kill someone today who was going to murder ten people tomorrow? What if you were 50% certain that the person you were about to kill today would be responsible for the deaths of thousands? Or just one?

What about if you are ordered to kill someone? What if you are ordered to kill someone face to face? From a distance? Using a hand-held projectile weapon? Pushing a button that releases a projectile? And there are a whole host of other hypotheticals that could be put out there.

Killing someone is generally perceived as wrong. Most civilized societies make killing for the vast majority of reasons a crime. It’s very much antisocial behavior, to the nth degree. But to so easily label such antisocial behavior as “evil?” I think that’s an oversimplification, that we in society tend to do to all types of anti-social (and therefore, usually illegal) behaviors, and we may want to be reluctant to apply moral attributes to these type of things.

And I’m very carefully and specifically trying to avoid linking this argument to any politically related topics, as I think the subject can be discussed without becoming overly charged (as political discussions on blogs tend to do).
Ben Frey
51. BenPatient
I've decided that I like the spanking events, because I like to see Leigh's reaction every time. She can't resist. Every time. I bet you loved True Grit, huh, Leigh?

I think Leigh has some sort of repressed spanking-related issue. I mean. Spanking doesn't even really hurt that much. Would you rather be spanked or have your hand cut off? Or your eye stabbed with a knife? Or your nose broken to little bits by a massive punch to the face?

I would rather get a spanking, and be embarrassed, and walk away physically whole. Those women were planning on tossing him around like a doll for "daring" to interfere with their "business" and you know what? She deserved the most humiliating response possible. If that's to be a spanking (and apparently it is) then I'm fine with that.

Acting like a child? OK, here's a child's correction.
52. The Crippled Lion
". . . Securing whoever blew the Horn, man or woman, may be as important as securing the Dragon Reborn himself.”

I can't believe you all haven't picked up on this line and made many comments about it. Tuon did secure Mat when she married him and he did blow the Horn. Of course, she doesn't know that yet 'cause that came up at the point in the series when no one was sharing information with anyone else about anything. But still, that seems to make the rest of the Prophecy not so much about Rand, and a little more about Mat.

And, I remember laughing out loud while reading these chapters. More nice Tuon, yes.
Kimani Rogers
53. KiManiak
Randalator@34 – Good point about spanking appearing to be used in response to immature behavior. I particularly could see the whole “act like a spoiled brat, get treated like one” philosophy. I guess it could be argued that it has been demonstrated in-book at least 3 times.

Jonfmorse@41 & others - Re: an example of a man being spanked by a woman, in the books – Moiraine used the power to whack Rand’s bottom quite forcefully in TSR, when she felt Rand was acting out. True, its not the same as grabbing Rand and putting him over her knee; but in the 2 main examples of male-spanking-female (Perrin & Faile, Mat & Joline), the spanker grabbed the spankee after they were physically assaulted by them (so it could be argued that the person had to be restrained; although I admit that’s pushing things a little bit).

jcfocarino@39 & Bergmaniac @ 43 – sure the chapters aren’t action packed, but it does advance the Mat-courting-Tuon and the Mat-rediscovering-cannons storylines. Plus, for all we know, the fact that Bethamin and the other one (Seta? Renna? I forget) are initiates of the Tower may play a big role in AMoL.

Narlock@42 – separate from my other point re: why the Dark One would approve of rediscovering gunpowder, I would also challenge the assertion that shocklances needed the Power to operate. Weren’t they constructs, able to be used by common soldiers? Wouldn’t they need to use them in and outside of cities? So, even if you’re argument is that shocklances used the “Standing Flows” (or whatever that term was that RJ introduced in TSR or another book to describe how the Power could operate things without active channeling), it seems poor planning to create a weapon that needed to be operated near somewhere where the Standing Flows were present. If you knock out the device that maintains those Flows, you can majorly cripple the defenses firepower.

@47 – I don’t know if I would automatically group a possibly rational response to a hysterical or abusive action (Faile beating on Perrin or Joline cuffing Mat) with taking someone down a peg or two. I think the two are separate. Even applying the “spoiled brat” response, I don’t automatically see spanking as taking them down a peg or two; merely a very clear and somewhat shocking response to a perceived immature behavior. I don’t think that’s splitting hairs, either (but I’d be willing to listen to arguments to the contrary).
William Fettes
54. Wolfmage
BenPatient @ 51

I doubt Leigh cares one fig about the actual bodily harm involved in spanking someone, so the comparison to harsher forms of physical punishment isn’t particularly relevant here. I think Leigh’s famous eruptions on this subject are more about the fact that spanking is so closely associated with disciplining wayward children -- it being contentious even there. The problem is that it can be seen as infantilising and undignified in a way that brings into question the existence of mutual respect between adult antagonists in ways that straightforward physical violence would not.

Now, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that the emphasis within the Two Rivers and Borderland cultures on chivalry towards women probably comes from RJ’s own attitudes as a proper Southern gentleman. It is also probably safe to say that hitting a woman within that kind of cultural paradigm is absolutely verboten. So, spanking then becomes a way to get around the impasse of not being able to fight back. Okay, although I have to note that spanking as a way of giving service to respect is inherently problematic. But why is that particular method used so often? It does seem that spanking keeps popping up as the solution of first resort when men are confronted with unreasonable levels of physical aggression by adult women.

I’m not accusing RJ or being sexist or anything, but there is a lingering question mark in my mind about the fact that I am cheering for Mat and Perrin when they ‘discipline’ Faile and Joline for being slap-happy and obnoxious. I am uncomfortable with this because I think it’s a little bit too close to a fetish being inserted into the text, in a way that belittles women, as a cathartic outlet for the conflict and negativity being built up around particular female obstacles that get in the way of our male protagonists.

As I said, it’s a funny feeling – because I’m pretty sure I didn’t know how to take this chapter when I first read it.
William Fettes
55. Wolfmage
Re: Semmirage

I really can't accept that the Semirhage spanking incident sheds much light on the other more controversial incidents of spanking contained in the books. Semirhage is an evil unredeemable sociopath, responsible for centuries of torture, death and mayhem. In her case, spanking was used to subvert her sick appetite for sadism, and break her psychologically without the use of torture that she could embrace. It, therefore, has nothing to do with spanking as an act of discipline against an adult acting unreasonably. Her status as one of the most evil villains of the series also completely taints the example.
john mullen
56. johntheirishmongol
Love, love, love these chapters because there is actual relationship building between Mat and Tuon. Even though they are both destined by prophecy, for a change there is no huge rush to get them married off.

Also, there has probably been enough discussions of spankings. I have never been slapped by a woman but I can't imagine slapping her back. Although I have seen both in movies , but you can tell how attitudes changed by decade. I know John Wayne spanked a woman in a couple of movies (McClintock and Donovan's Reef). I also remember a slapping contest a few years ago with a guy and woman, with Pierce Brosnan in the Thomas Crowne Affair, which was more uncomfortable to me.

Anyway, you have to wonder what the women are thinking, even considering using OP while still in Seanchan controlled territory.
Roger Powell
57. forkroot

Evil loves evil.

OK - just to be a brat about it ... 'taint necessarily so. Consider the "Shadar Logoth" strain of evil vs the Dark One's strain.
::waves 'hi' to Tek::

Another thought ... I've been waiting, geez, for a couple of years now for Leigh to tackle Mat's spanking of Joline. Ever since the big brouhaha around Perrin/Faile in TSR. And you know what? We've finally gotten there and my reaction is now: .... whatever...

:: yawns ::
James Hogan
58. Sonofthunder
And let me echo the love for these chapters...in response to previous comments, no, I don't find these chapters mundane. I actually much enjoy the parts with Mat bartering and the extended flirtation scenes. Maybe just because of all the Mat awesomeness contained therein? Possibly.

But most of Jordan's writing doesn't rapidly forward the plot. I don't read Jordan for thrilling fast-moving action. I read it for the world he's created and the beautiful tapestries of words he puts to page and the stories that he ever-so-teasingly reveals. So despite the seemingly mundanity of certain scenes, I find much enjoyment in reading Jordan's prose(yes, even most of Perrin's emo-scenes!). I think I'm just sometimes surprised at the oft-repeated complaints about scenes that don't significantly move the plot forward. We've read Jordan enough that this shouldn't be surprising. And for me, I can honestly say I don't mind non-plot moving scenes. Am I just a bit weird, then? Probably!

Oh and I appreciate the thoughtful comments on how spanking (apparently) is viewed and used differently than it would be in our modern day culture. Never thought of the fact that the other AS do accept Joline's punishment so readily. Of course, the AS do rather have a thing for spankings anyway, so that shouldn't be a surprise.

I just know that if I ever tried to spank a friend for acting childishly...well, that would not go well. It would probably serve as enough of a shock, true enough!! But spanking has much more of a negative connotation now than it seems to in Jordan's world. In Randland, physical force seems to be used as a demotivator(whether it be "air switches" across the legs to a spanking) far more often than we would ever consider in modern-day society.
Birgit F
59. birgit
Tuon touches Noal’s arm and tells him he has a good heart.

Tuon figures out here who Noal really is.

The women surrounding Tuon and Selucia begin laughing (at him, Mat is sure), and the Tinkers leave. Mat asks what was so funny, but Tuon refuses to tell him.

RJ used Figs and Mice instead of trying to make up what they actually said.

Yes, I know we've had asides about Nynaeve and Cadsuane wanting to paddle Rand's butt, but that's different than it actually happening.

Cads did sometimes spank Rand with the Power, and Ny used her stick on anyone who annoyed her when she was Wisdom.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
60. tnh
Pro Star @3:
"Please torie, my post isn't spam, it's just a picture of a pinto colt! (because that's what I saw in my head with the razor)"
Hi there, Pro Star. Tori hasn't worked for Tor.com for some time now. I'm the moderator. Your previous comment wasn't held as spam; it just ran afoul of the "comments containing URLs get bumped to the Pending queue" glitch. Fear not. All is well.
Rob Munnelly
61. RobMRobM
I really enjoy these chapters, and find them a litmus test for putative WoT fans. It is RJ doing his twisty, subtle character building, with big doses of humor and only a bit of forward looking plot.

The payoff chapters come later, when RJ takes the brakes off his characters and lets them kick butt. If you don't enjoy this approach - i.e., if you take a fast pass over these "boring" character-setting chapters, WoT as written by RJ is not for you.

BS is much more linear, and enjoyable in his own different way, but is different from the approach taken by RJ that makes him special and unique in this part of SFF.

Re spanking - agree with Birgit that boys got hit with sticks by Nyn and swatted with the power and slapped by Cadsuane. So boys and girls both get physically punished - but is the apparent "deal" that boys get more pain but less humiliation compared to the girls? (Except in the White Tower, when girls get a broader range of spankings, shoes and switches, some of which will go far beyond what boys get as punishment.)

Does Mat still have the stave as of ToM? I've lost track of it. I like the Standardbearer dialogue. Again, nice humanizing of Seanchan in the lead up to AMOL when they will join forces with Randlandians in the big happy ending (except they'll need to ditch d'acovele and damane, of course).

Rob Munnelly
62. RobMRobM
Tnh - formatting is still funny. I put double spacing between separate thoughts and it all disappeared when I posted no. 61 above.
Valentin M
63. ValMar
RobMx2 @ 61, 62 I agree re: these chapters and RJ style. I too like it. My only problem is that after such long and leasurely approach on a mundane events it feels that much more interesting stuff feels rather rushed- Mat's chapters after leaving the circus felt like it.

I keep having to edit my posts in order to restore the paragraphs as I intended them to be.

PS Just did it again. I think before clicking Post to check in Edit comment to see how it is formatted.
Stefan Mitev
64. Bergmaniac
Early RJ's style (books 1-6) was far tighter and he didn't have whole chapters where the most significant event is buying a horse or something of similar "magnitude" (or at least those were few and far between). In KoD we have plenty of such chapters. And in terms of humor, I find these chapters one of the worst of Mat's and I keep comparing them to the first circus chapters which were way funnier and Luca was actually entertaining and not the annoyance he became the second time around.

But to each his own, I guess.
65. Narlock
KiManiak @53 I made a bit of a mistake with my words I meant to say made with the power not use your right about the not needing the power to use the one of the black ajah uses a shock lance against Elayne and mentions just pointing and pushing a button and besides Elayne never felt her channle when whe used it.
Tricia Irish
66. Tektonica

OK - just to be a brat about it ... 'taint necessarily so. Consider the "Shadar Logoth" strain of evil vs the Dark One's strain.

LOL. 'taint....I see what you did! And you are probably right from Fains' perspective. I guessing that to the DO, all chaos is good chaos, and he probably loves the little scum bucket, even if the emotion is not reciprocated. (I'm assuming here that the DO is, in the end, far more powerful than Fain.)

Wolfmage@54: re: Spanking

...The problem is that it can be seen as infantilising and undignified in a way that brings into question the existence of mutual respect between adult antagonists in ways that straightforward physical violence would not.

I totally agree and I think that is the point in this instance. The AS were being brats, arguing and channeling in a very dangerous situation. Joline had little (or no) respect for Mat's specific request that they not channel, slapped him for interfering, and had he not responded in a definitive way, would have completely undermined his authority.

I'm not a fan of violence in general, but this instance (and the one with Faile and Cads and Mo spanking Rand, as well) were meant to injure pride not the body...to humiliate and humble, to command attention in a shocking way.


I dont' know how best to ask Brandon about Tuon. Maybe ask if Mat's influence, ta'vereness, was softening her views on Randland customs in KoD, vs. TGS/MoI. Maybe he just doesn't like her? You'll figure it out! Can't wait to hear what he says. Enjoy!


Very good points and questions regarding killing=evil. Now we are approaching gray areas of ethics and morality. I think we have people on this thread from both camps, and I'd love to hear opinions on this topic.

Personally, I think killing can be gray: self-defense, war, defense of others against other potential killers, and probably more. It most certainly is NOT ideal. It is a last resort measure. It involves judgement of a situation, which is tricky at best, and usually made under duress and very quickly. I certainly hope never to be in that position, but I try not to be quick to judge others who have been. Thoughts?
Anthony Pero
67. anthonypero
Seanchan prophecies:

Do we ever get a look at the actual text of the prophecies, or just Tuon's interperation? Can someone point me to the reference?

Mat spanking Joline:

It's not ever cool to treat an adult as a child, which is what Mat did, from his perspective. Because she was acting like an irresponsible, ungrateful brat. From his perspective. And he treated her accordingly, as I'm sure adults treated him when he was a child (and probably not so many years ago at that).

Of all the spankings in this series, this one is the easiest to understand. Not saying it's right, just saying it's not much of a head scratcher. We know exactly why Mat did it, what his thoughts were, and why he at least, thought it was appropriate. Now, whether we agree with him is another question.
Anthony Pero
68. anthonypero
Also, spanking is humiliating for an adult, but not really painful, and not as... agressive of an attack as an outright slap. Slapping someone across the face (or at least, Mat slapping Joline) is a far more confrontational move than holding her down and spanking her. There is significantly more violence in a slap across the face than in a spanking, psychologically.
69. Zeynep
Unless of course you assume that the Throne is just a symbol of the Empress, and means Rand has to kneel to Tuon. Which had really, really better not happen, or I will be very Put Out. Nuh-uh, no dice. NO BUENO. No kneeling to the Empire run on slavery, THANKS WE’RE ALL GOOD HERE.

There is no adequate expression of how much I agree with this statement. And it ties in with something that has been worrying me for a long time---say, since Tuon appeared on the scene. Jordan initially obviously wanted to portray the Seanchan as having a horrid system: The damane scenes of The Great Hunt are some of the most vivid and terrible. Then he wanted to show humanity of the individual Seanchan, so Egeanin, whatever. Fine. But then, when the next Seanchan invasion wave came, he suddenly started putting in hints about how the smallfolk actually prefer the Seanchan rule. (Example: The Tinkers are heading towards Altara, because they are not hassled there.)

Which, nonononono. Even if he's trying to make a point of how ordinary people would be willing to pay the price (of having their daughters taken and turned into animals) for day-to-day security, no, that makes me sick to my stomach, and that's even without considering the "ordinary" slaving aspect. (Which everyone in Randland professes to be confused about, in the "how can you sell a person?" way.)

So I liked that prophecy about the Crystal Throne about as much as I liked the Shadow Prophecy at the end of Towers of Midnight.

But as with the Shadow Prophecy, I am holding out hope that it has been stupidly misinterpreted by the Seanchan. It wouldn't be the first time that had happened to anyone. Besides, the Seanchan still don't believe in Trollocs, so obviously they are not quite up to date on some things of the Light or the Dark.
Marcus W
70. toryx
Stepping in on the slapping issue a day late:

Leigh said:

"But then, of course, the question becomes what is a fair or proportionate response. Because honestly the initial impulse is to go for an “eye for an eye” type solution—i.e. for Mat to slap her back the same way she slapped him. And then I realize what I just said and feel a little nauseous."

I used to be of the opinion that violence begats violence. If someone hits me, man or woman, they should be prepared for me to hit them back. It's a physical law, after all: For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction.

The thing is, I have been hit by a woman and I discovered right then that I did not have it in myself to hit her back. At the time I didn't know if it's the same kind of thing that the Two Rivers men have or what but I did know that it felt exactly as Leigh said: "...really fucking wrong."

Now that I'm older and supposedly wiser I kind of have come to the realization that part of it is based on my upbringing, i.e. treat women with respect and consideration, do them no harm and so on and so forth. The other thing is, I believe that slapping someone is a childish thing to do. A child may slap something when he or she is throwing a fit. An adult does not behave in like fashion.

Part of me knew that at the time when the issue arose. I just wasn't consciously aware of it back then. And really, that's how I feel whenever fists or palms are used. Boys fight. Men should know better. Granted, most of the time they don't but then, the number of people who ever truly grow up are frightenly small.

Which leads me back to the spanking. If slapping a person (male or female) is a childish act, then perhaps the appropriate equal and opposite response is to treat them like a child. I think that's kind of what Jordan was going for here. It doesn't mean I agree with him. I think reason should prevail over violence and whether you're punching, slapping, or spanking, each is a violent action. I also think that part of being an adult is learning to rein in your emotional fits rather than to give into them. So all things considered, responding to a slap or a punch with either makes no sense to me. Better to allow the other be a child and me the adult and walk away.

Unfortunately, sometimes that's simply not an option. Mat did have to do something. And Joline truly was acting childish. Treating her like a child in response doesn't seem so wrong. But the spanking...that's not for me. So seriously, I don't know what the right thing is.
71. dubsub
One of the reasons why spanking is a demeaning act meant for children is that the spanker needs to be much stronger than the spankee (unless it's an act between consenting adults. Which I have no issue with). Hauling someone up and forcing them across your lap is an act that requires a lot of strength.

Because of this spanking is not just purely retaliation meant for someone acting childishly. It's retaliation on someone weaker from someone stronger. Most of our male characters are physically capable of spanking female characters against their will. But probably most of the (non-channeling) female characters are not capable of doing the same to the males.

Pure violence is different. As others have said, it's an act that still shows a kind of respect for your antagonist. And it's also something that someone smaller can do against someone larger. Faile can slap or hit Perrin, but she'll never be able to spank him, no matter how childishly he behaves.
Hilde Sørensen
72. edlihs
No about the fish! Look:
They are real fish. Note the part of venomous tentacles on the lionfish.

We only have her interpretation of the prophecy. So it could mean something else.
Sorcha O
73. sushisushi
Spanking. Aiaiai…
What struck me in all of these discussions is that there are three types of spanking in the books, only one of which is shown here (adult male spanking an adult female of his acquaintance (and possible romantic interest) as a response to physical provocation). The other two are the non-torture breaking of Semirhage and the physical punishments meted out to the novices and Accepted in the White Tower. Personally, I find all three problematic (Semirhage far less so, because, hey, she's an evil sadist), particularly in the context of adults being humiliated by 'a child's punishment', as well as the slippery slope of violence against women in the context of the world I live in. That said, as others have pointed out, this is Jordan's world, built by his rules, in a different Age, where social norms are other than ours.

I think one reason that Joline (and Siuan) don't react in a much more dramatic manner is that they have both spent years in the closed training of the White Tower, where being spanked like a child seems to be a favored form of discipline, particularly for a novice, even if that novice is actually an adult woman in her 20s or 30s. I suspect that they (and probably any AS) are conditioned to react to spanking in a particular manner, as a physical chastisement with overtones of humility, rather than the sheer ****ing outrage if anyone tried to do that to me or any of my contemporaries. It also doesn't seem to have the skeevy connotations of recreational spanking in the real world, being purely a non-sexual chastisement (the various Mistresses of Novices *do* sometimes seem to spend about 80% of their time smacking novice bottom, but purely as a behavioural corrective).

Randalator@34 et al. I don't think we've ever seen a man get spanked, have we? I don't mean threats or whacks a la Moiraine or Cadsuane, I mean an actual spanking during the timeline of the books (I'm assuming there may be some consensual spanking going on behind the scenes in the Black Tower, if we ever find out what Taim is *actually* up to in those 'private lessons' of his…)

KiManiak@53 I don't think that Bethamin and Seta actually initiates of the Tower, just because Joline is teaching them to control their ability to channel. Until they arrive at Tar Valon (or the rebels and their novice book, when that existed separately), they are technically wilders, or at least wilders-on-their-way-to-proper-training. They don't seem to get put in white and held to the discipline the way that the Kin Garenia and Kirstian were, once they were discovered as runaway initiates, but their treatment is more like that of Egwene and Nynaeve on the journey south from Fal Dara, although they are also hiding from the Seanchan.

Also, poor Noal. Someone got their hooks into you *real* good.

Funny that Mat notes that everyone is very worried that the Dragon Reborn had vanished, but completely neglects to tell anyone that he's alive and well and getting frisky with Min. Mind you, given the amount of weird shit that's going on in Mat's head at this point, I would't fancy trying to explain the ta'veren'o'vision to any of his companions. Developing a point mentioned above, I reckon that Mat's denial that he's anything other than a gambler and a player is a form of self defense against the sheer level of unprecedented mental weirdness he's going through.
Anthony Pero
74. anthonypero
sushisushi @ 73

Great catch on Aes Sedai conditioned response to spanking! That is probably why the other Aes Sedai didn't step in. They thought she deserved it, but didn't have the authority to issue it.
Sam Mickel
75. Samadai

Mat had turned that stave into a two rivers bow as of the chapter with the peddlar getting sucked into pasture. He wanted to use it to put an arrow into the guy, so he wouldn't suffer, but it hadn't been tempered? enough.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
76. tnh
RobMRobM @62:
"formatting is still funny. I put double spacing between separate thoughts and it all disappeared when I posted no. 61 above."
Thank you. That's useful information. We've been having some weird software glitches lately. Please keep giving us feedback.

I had to guess at where your paragraph breaks originally fell, but I've re-spaced comment #61. If I've gotten anything truly and terribly wrong, let me know and I'll try to fix it again.

Anthonypero @68:
"spanking is humiliating for an adult, but not really painful ..."
That depends on the execution.

Edlihs @72, thank you for the clarification on fish.
Roger Powell
77. forkroot
Conceding that there are indeed lionfish in our world (I should know - I've seen plenty while diving the Great Barrier Reef) ... still, when RJ has Siuan talking about them, the context seems to imply a large dangerous fish (e.g. shark) vs a small, poisonous fish.

I wonder if he just liked the name and reused it - it sounds much more ferocious than "dogfish", another name for a shark.
Birgit F
78. birgit
Funny that Mat notes that everyone is very worried that the Dragon
Reborn had vanished, but completely neglects to tell anyone that he's
alive and well and getting frisky with Min.

He thinks about why he doesn't in ch. 8:

Mat could have told them Rand was alive - those bloody visions made him sure of that - but explaining how he knew was another matter. Even Thom and Juilin seemed uncertain about the colors. The merchants and the others would have thought him a madman. And if they believed, that would only scatter rumors about him, not to mention likely setting the Seanchan to hunting for him.
Marcus W
79. toryx
tnh @ 76:

Just so you know, I'm having problems with the spacing whenever I preview my post. If I hit Preview (in order to post) the post itself looks fine but everything listed in the post form below the preview is reformatted without the spaces. I've found that if I copy my entire post before hitting Preview and then paste it back in again before hitting Post I'm okay.

That's exactly what I'm going to do right now.
Michael Maxwell
80. pike747
I find all of the spanking/birching to be one of my least favorite things about my favorite series. The Aes Sedai are overly fond of it imo.

Nynaeve seems to be known for thumping people with a stick, mostly men, when she was wisdom. Min and, I think Faille, tend to "fist men in the ribs".

I always liked these chapters because Mat, almost obliviously, gets to Tuon and she begins to see him as more than a Toy.
Jon Morse
81. jonfmorse
Some other people have touched on it, but in response to several
responses to my comment: There's a huge difference between a "spanking" and basically snapping someone's ass with a towel using the One Power. Let's be real honest here; a good chunk of the humiliation of a spanking is the whole being turned over the knee and being forced to submit bit.
Anthony Pero
82. anthonypero
@tnh - 76:

Well, as described in the books, at least.
Hugh Arai
83. HArai
In the case of Semirhage, the spanking was intended as humiliation. Since Rand had forbidden physical forms of torture, Cadsuane went for her mental weaknesses.

In the cases of Joline and Faile, I think it was not intended primarily as humiliation, although I'm sure they found it humiliating. In both cases a Two Rivers man was placed in a position of forcing a woman to stop her course of action after discussion failed and leaving the area was not feasible. I don't think they thought it was great to be spanking women, I think they simply picked an option they could live with. People have already pointed out why Mat had to do something about Joline. Perrin asked Faile to stop hitting him and she simply hit him harder. He could hardly leave, he had to travel the Ways with Loial and she'd already tricked Loial. What else was he supposed to do? Punch her out? Tie her up? I don't consider beating her senseless to be an improvement over treating her like a child. I don't consider forced restraint to be an improvement over treating her like a child. I don't think Faile was entitled to hit Perrin. That pretty much leaves what happened.

forkroot@77: I agree. RJ definitely means something other than our real world version when he talks about lionfish. Verin mentions seeing a large shark die after being chased into the shallows by a lionfish. That's highly improbable to say the least for the real world
84. AndrewB
Samadai @75

IIRC, Mat's bow was finished at the time the peddler was sinking into the ground. However, the fletchings on his arrows were not dry. The lack of arrows was why he did not shoot the peddler; not the lack of a finished bow.

Thanks for reading my musings,
85. Craigval
Tuon never quotes the prophesy she mearely provides their interpretation of it. I always figured sooner or later the actual prophesy would be fullfilled but not in the way they were expecting.
Wesley Parish
86. Aladdin_Sane
Well, everybody seems to be talking about spanking in WoT, so I may as well add my 0.02c worth ...

Professional humiliation seems to be a vibrant part of the WoT lifestyle. There's initiation into gai'shain life, being stripped naked (and free of anything that might serve as a weapon) until suitable clothing can be found; There's what Sulin and the rest get themselves when they act obverproud, and which Egmwene earns herself when she acts impulsively - hair in twin pigtails, like a little girl; There's the various meaningless punishments handed out to gai'shain who hang on to being gai'shain long after their year and a day has ended ...

Humiliation is entrenched in most of the societies we see - Cairhien, Tear, Ebou Dar, Saldaea, etc. The celebrated/commiserated Hunting of the Ta'veren Matrim Cauthon by Tylin, involves a lot of humiliation - pink is not a favoured colour for male clothing. Even Setalle Anan commiserates with Mat over the way Tylin is keeping him close.

I could go on ... and on ... and on ... and on ....
Anthony Pero
87. anthonypero
In the cases of Joline and Faile, I think it was not intended primarily as humiliation, although I'm sure they found it humiliating. In both cases a Two Rivers man was placed in a position of forcing a woman to stop her course of action after discussion failed and leaving the area was not feasible. I don't think they thought it was great to be spanking women, I think they simply picked an option they could live with.

So, how exactly was the spanking effective? There are only two answers that could make a spank stop a behaviour from continuing: 1) a fear of getting hurt, or suffering more pain 2) a fear of suffering again from shame and humiliation.

Which one was Faile feeling? Which one Joline? If the point was not to humiliate, then the point must have been to hurt physically. These are the only two things that make spanking an effective behavioral deterrent. In neither case does the spankee act fearful of the spanker, which would be inevitable if the point was physical pain. The physical pain involved in a spanking is not much of a deterrent

The point of a spanking is always psychological. Its an act of dominion and submission. Its a tool of authority used differently by different cultures. A spanking is not the same as a beating. The point is never the physical pain, or even fear.

In the words of (unfortunately) one of the most popular figures of my generation: "You must respect my auth - or - i - tay!"
88. kab1kab1
@28 I completely agree with you. I've always thought Rand will end up kneeling to Tuon (or Tuon and Mat) when he finds out they are married, and thus kneels to Tuon as Mat's wife out of some sort of custom or politeness (and as empress, she is the embodiment of the Crystal Throne). After all it's those tricky wordings of the prophesies that often cause them to be misinterpreted....

We also have "happy" Rand now, so I could be wrong, and maybe he views it as more important to kneel in supplication before Tuon to get her cooperation in order to win the last battle. After all, if kneeling before someone/some empire you hate causes the world to be saved, wouldn't you do it?
Jon Morse
89. jonfmorse
After all, if kneeling before someone/some empire you hate causes the world to be saved, wouldn't you do it?

Especially, you know, if you're aware that prophecy says you're going to die in the doing Real Soon Now anyway. It's not like you're going to have to spend a long life in subjugation to some foreign despot or anything.
90. David DeLaney
Just a side question on the "reinterpreted prophecies" thread:

Have we had the theory yet that "his blood on the rocks at Shayol Ghul" means that Aviendha is going to give birth there, lying on a rock?

(We've had time for all SORTS of theories, of course. I just don't recall if this one's been among them yet.)

Hugh Arai
91. HArai
AnthonyPero@87: I guess my point is Mat and Perrin are looking for a deterrent and that's all they can think of. Perrin's PoV isn't "what a baby you are, guess I have to spank you", it's "what else am I supposed to do when you just won't stop hitting me?". The drawback of this particular deterrent is that it treats them like children, but treating them like children is not Perrin or Mat's focus. I suppose Faile might have understood if Perrin grabbed her throat in his jaws and pinned her to the ground on her back, but I doubt that would go over well with Mat and Joline.
Kimani Rogers
92. KiManiak
TnH@60 – I saw that you were acting as moderator/sheriff in various blog posts, but I just figured that there was a rotation between you, Torchris and Torie :-) Any chance on you dropping some cool little cat pics (or dogs; that would make sub happy, I’m sure) when folks slightly step over the line? Not that I’m volunteering to be the first recipient :-)

Oh, and in regards to website glitches, I’m having problems recently when I try to edit posts. Nothing comes up in the comment box to edit after I select the edit function. I’ve only noticed this within the last few days, and others appear to be able to edit, so I wonder if the website is reacting weirdly to Google Chrome?
EDIT: And of course, this time when I tried it, everything worked fine.

Narlock@65 – That was a shocklance? Wow; I really didn’t put 2 and 2 together on that one. I just thought it was some other ter’angreal from the Age of Legends. Thanks for the clarification.

Tek@66 – Yeah, I think that certain moral terms such as “evil” probably shouldn’t be defined so broadly or attributed so easily. I’m definitely with you on the shades of gray. Whether it’s applied to “killing” or certain other frowned upon behavior, like stealing or swearing or dancing in a small town with John Lithgow as it’s reverend :-), I prefer to know more about the context surrounding the action before I jump to attach a moral label to it.

For the record, I don’t know if I normally would apply the term “evil” towards any generic killing situation, but if I had to: I would probably equate killing with evil whenever killing was done purely for killing’s sake. Other killing situations would generally be misguided, unfortunate, horrific, sick, sad, just plain wrong, etc. But one thing well told stories (like Malazan) often teach us: the “bad guys” don’t always see their actions as “bad” or “evil.” I think that there’s always another side to the story; another perspective. It doesn’t mean the vast majority of society will agree with that side or perspective, however. But, it is there...

edlihs@72, forkroot@77, Harai@83 - re: the lionfish, yeah, I got the impression that RJ was describing a fictitious (fictional?) fish, that was bigger and more vicious than a shark, myself. But, it’s not that big a deal to me either way.

Sushi2@73 – re: Bethamin and Seta – Yeah, while traveling with Mat, Joline, etc circa KoD they aren’t initiates yet. I meant as of ToM, when we know that Joline, Teslyn (and we assume) Bethamin and Seta have reached the Tower, it is logical to assume that they are entered into the Novice Book with Egwene’s “all are welcome” policy.

jonfmorse@81 – I agree that being turned over someone’s knee could be embarrassing. But I would argue that both Moiraine and Cadsuane’s actions could also have a humiliation component. Both spanked/swatted/smacked/beat Rand where others would know that they did it (Mo in front of Egwene; Cads in front of AS and Ashaman, if I remember correctly), and Rand would know that others would know. Oh, and I got the impression that both Mo and Cads “snapping” of Rand’s ass were more forceful than swatting with a towel. But that could just be how I read it.

David DeLaney@90 – I don’t know if that specific theory has been discussed here in great detail, but similar theories have come up. I’ve mentioned in the past that my slightly-out-there-theory is that “his blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul” could apply to his children/descendants inhabiting or dwelling on Shayol Ghul after the last battle. There are some others on the Towers of Midnight spoiler review. I would bet that on Theoryland there’s all kinds of theories about what “his blood” may actually be. You could also check there.
Birgit F
93. birgit
Have we had the theory yet that "his blood on the rocks at Shayol Ghul" means that Aviendha is going to give birth there, lying on a rock?

It's usually El's babies in such theories, but even for her pregnancy TG is probably coming too soon.
Captain Hammer
94. Randalator
David DeLaney @90

Aviendha is not even pregnant, so yeah...not bloody likely (pun intended).
95. Mike3838
Hi Tor.com,

I haven't yet read all the comments so apologies if this has already been asked, but what's going off with the Re-read Index?

This most recent post doesn't appear at the bottom of the list, so when I go there to see if a post has been added this week, I can't find it!

Add this to the fact that the original Index, found here
was abandoned mid-New Spring, with no link or explanation, and the whole thing migrated to a new URL.

I missed a whole month of posts before I managed to track down the new index, all the while wondering why the re-read series had stalled....!

96. Dolphineus
The Aes Sedai need to be brought down a peg or three. Mat rescued the three of them from a life of nasty, demeaning slavery. They never thanked him and tried to control and contradict him at every turn.

Power corrupts. The Aes Sedai have had an unquestioned power advantage in the world for thousands of years. In Matt they find someone they can't bully with the power, and he gives Joline what she deserves.

I like how Setalle and the other two Aes Sedai promise Joline not to interfere next time.

Matt smacking Joline's rear like a spoiled brat was the perfect response.
97. Dolphineus
The Aes Sedai need to be brought down a peg or three. Mat rescued the three of them from a life of nasty, demeaning slavery. They never thanked him and tried to control and contradict him at every turn.

Power corrupts. The Aes Sedai have had an unquestioned power advantage in the world for thousands of years. In Matt they find someone they can't bully with the power, and he gives Joline what she deserves.

I like how Setalle and the other two Aes Sedai promise Joline not to interfere next time.

Matt smacking Joline's rear like a spoiled brat was the perfect response.
98. srEDIT
@tnh and Mike3838

I at least am wondering why the new post does not show at the top of the Index page, as it always has on previous ones?
Chin Bawambi
99. bawambi
Eric Cartman FTW.

Bawambi of the my hand is tired from all the spanking Aiel
Bill Reamy
100. BillinHI
Mike3838 & srEDIT: You can avoid the index and its occaisional problems by bookmarking Leigh in the Tor.com Bloggers section. On the main Tor.com page, find the list of bloggers on the right side of the page. You'll have to click "Show All", then find Leigh in the alphabetic list and click on her full name. This will show you the last couple of months of Leigh's blogs and you can bookmark this. This item is apparently automatically updated as I have never had a problem with missing posts by using it.
Alice Arneson
101. Wetlandernw
A few thoughts on the chapters and commentary:

Chapter 6 - Re: the razor - Thanks to bad_platypus @6 for the quote. Real horse. 'Nuff said. I enjoyed this chapter, even though there's not a lot to say about it. It sets up some good stuff upcoming - stuff which will be fairly significant, but would be a bit "out of the blue" without this chapter.

Chapter 7 - I loved the quoted bit about "you gave your word." That's one of my favorite snippets in the whole series, for some reason. Mat's demonstrated confidence that Tuon would keep her word, and her delight in that demonstration... Always loved that. I think it's that (to me, anyway) it provides one of those little glimpses into the development of their relationship; mutual respect is foundational for their particular personalities and positions, and this is one of the times we see it starting to happen.

Leigh, can I make a suggestion? Next time a spanking occurs (if there is a next time; I don't recall) just say something like "you know what I think about spankings" and then ignore it and do your commentary on the rest of the chapter. 'Cause, you know, sometimes there actually is something else in the chapter. Like "You gave your word" and Setalle's familiarity with ter'angreal - either of which would have made for commentary at least as interesting, possibly more so, and with as much fodder for productive discussion. I realize this approach might have a deleterious effect on a couple of your trademarks, but... it might be easier on both your head and your desk.

Chapter 8 - There it is again: Mat already recognizes his need to be respected by Tuon (and, secondarily, loved, although that's almost as much a means to keep from becoming property as for the love itself, at least at this point). And his thoughts about being "no bloody hero" are pretty hilarious, given the way Tuon will, before long, see the hero in him pretty clearly. Mat, Mat, Mat. You're a goop.

Oh, and Aludra, too. I rather get a chuckle out of Mat's opinion of himself as compared to the way other people see him when they get past the surface. He doesn't see himself as particularly heroic, insightful, intelligent, or really anything out of the ordinary; if anything, he has a pretty low view of himself in those regards. But we know, and so does Aludra, and all of the Band, along with Lan, Bashere, Rhuarc, etc... He sees the big picture better, and more quickly, than most. He's got a heart of gold and will take crazy personal risks for the sake of those who need protecting, whether or not they want it, and whether or not he even likes them. And all the rest. I can't help thinking that at least those two attributes are his by nature, and that the Finn memories are by way of enhancement and specificity - i.e. the added military "experience" makes him more able to interpret big battle pictures, but the natural ability to extrapolate from what's known to a larger picture is his own. IMO.

And... oh yeah, this was the bit where Mat finally figured out that he had three sets of dice going in his head at once. Oy. Poor guy.

Interesting to compare his dream with Egwene's dream of him bowling. And is it true, or only his fear, that implies that the invention of the dragons will be of more benefit to the DO than the DR? Given what we last saw happening in Caemlyn, one could wonder. Will the Shadow invaders get hold of all the cannon, truly giving the DO something to chuckle about? We've never had reason to suspect that Mat had any prophetic chops, but... it's not a nice thought.

All manner of hints and foreshadowings and reminders in this chapter. Yikes. The big debate about whether the Seanchan versions of the prophecies are truly corrupted, include additional information, and/or are distorted by cultural understanding. The reminder (in case we forgot) that Mat blew the Horn and has a role to play other than "great general" as TG comes. The realization that the Finn see the remaining lives of those who visit them, rather than (or along with?) their past.

Separate post for the comments, and (maybe, if my head, my desk and my computer survive long enough) a separate post on spankings.
102. s'rEDIT
A question about Mat, Tuon, and Seanchan:

Do we know the timeline (in general) for the outrigger novels RJ had thought to do? Were they to follow TG? Or were they going to be fit in somehow before the final showdown?

My thought is: would they have affected how the prophecy was to be fulfilled, with BJS now having to write up an event that he and RJ had had to cobble into something other than RJ originally planned? (Did you follow that?)
Captain Hammer
103. Randalator
s'rEDIT @102

Were they to follow TG? Or were they going to be fit in somehow before the final showdown?

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: To my knowledge RJ only told us the idea for one outrigger novel and that's Mat and Tuon in Seanchan after Tarmon Gai'don.

The other two we know nothing about, so they could have taken place after TG, during the course of the main series or before...maybe the Encyclopedia will one day shed a little more light on the matter...

But given their status as "outriggers" which are not part of the main series, I don't think that any of them would have had an influence on the series itself.
Valentin M
104. ValMar
A few words on the signing which Brandon Sanderson did today, Saturday, in London. I intended to post it on Tuesday so more people may come across it, and still probably will post it again, then.

I got to the bookstore (Forbidden Planet) late and missed most of the Q & A session at the beginning. Bloody traffic jam! The only WOT answer of note that I heard related to the possible prequels. Apart from what I already knew, that he would write them if it is decided to go ahead but is very uneasy about the idea, there was one little thing. He is particularly interested in the story of Tam.
Later, I also overhead Brandon say that chances are very slim on the books (prequels and/or sequels- couldn’t hear which) being written. He is concerned on the commercialization of RJ’s name- where can they draw the line if they start with the prequels/sequels?
For what it's worth, I would love to read about Moiraine and Lan's adventures searching for Rand.

He signed my book adding “Iron to bind”. Nice touch- especially since if I got to choose between the options this would be the one I pick.

I asked him on the difference in Tuon/Fortuona’s character we see between KOD/TGS and TOM. Basically, it is to do mainly with her environment whilst with Mat. For the first time she was with someone close to her who she can trust. We know how they do things in the Imperial family. After Thanksgiving gatherings they have to do a roll call for the survivors.

Back amongst the Seanchan she is home to chaos and a totally different situation. She will have much different mindset. Also, in TOM she is dealing with the White Tower- an issue which makes the most placid Seanchan go rabid.

When I pushed Brandon regarding possible involvement of Greandal, he refuted it. Or at least said that if I am “digging” for something- there is nothing I can find. Something to that effect.

The organizers had announced rather naively that the event would be from 1pm to 2pm. The signing begun at 1.30 and would’ve lasted at least until 3.30. There was very large attendance and as always Brandon was great and very engaging with everyone.

I am glad that I got to meet him.
John Massey
105. subwoofer
Well, then yay! Late to the party, but I see we are in fine form this week at over 1 hunny comments.

Thank you Leigh very much for giving us a whole lotta fodder to discuss:D

The horse? Meh... It's not Bela so I'm not sweating the details... unless somehow it's speed gets Tuon outta a tight spot or something.

The spanking? Meh... It's not Berelain so I'm not sweating the details... unless there was a fire poker close at hand that Mat coulda used... or a spear... or a mace... maybe Perrin coulda loaned out his hammer...

The riding? Meh... it's not Berelain, so I'm not sweating the details... unless somebody has a saddle handy and... er... what? This keyboard thing is on? Oh! um... Ahem- riding, right, that cheesed me off... and I can't eat cheese so there. On the one hand, Tuon seems like an excellent rider and is noted as a collector of horses and stuff, OTOH why not tell Mat- "hey, I'm gonna put the horse through his/her paces and a gallop. FYI"? The more annoying part was that Tuon still doesn't recognize Mat for who he is... guess when you are used to seeing a fool, that's all you see, sometimes it is hard to switch gears.

Mat's memories? Yeeeeeee "Finkle is Einhorn" anyone? Brain bleach? All Mat felt is queasy so all the credit to him.

And let's not forget Setalle Anan. Her reaction- priceless. And at least she was honest with Mat... a whole lot more than what most guys get from most Aes Sedai, women in authority types in this series.

John Massey
106. subwoofer
Oh yeah, couple other things-@Rob- moot point about the black ewe, in the next little bit, Mat has a reunion with the Band and they have the crossbows with the fancy cranks. At that point a tradional bow becomes obsolete.... even in the trip to the ToG I can't recall if Mat had the bow handy.

Spanking... let us not forget Nynaeve hoofing Mat in the butt, literally, and then hiding behind her husband for the rest of the story not too long ago... well okay, maybe six books ago... IMHO this is payback for all the guff most guys have had to deal with. Mind you, it's like the blame game, nobody wins and everyone looks like a child when it gets down to this level. But hey, this is fantasy, and as Mat observed in these chapters- "what you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabouts". Seems fitting.

John Massey
107. subwoofer
And before I forget again, how come nobody has commented on the obvious tampering of Noal's mind by some baddie? This was the big... "Hello- Noal/Jain isn't all there" cluebat.

Alice Arneson
108. Wetlandernw
Comments on the comments...

bkaul @5 - Dude, you have seriously been a stranger here lately. Welcome back?

Sonofthunder @15 - And even though I can't say that Mat was "right" in what he did, I can absolutely understand why he did it. And therein lies the genius of RJ's writing. Like most of us, his characters frequently do things that, while not entirely right, we can completely understand, relate to, and sympathize with. Is one adult spanking another (regardless of gender) really the right thing to do? Well, probably not, but it's certainly understandable. He was rightly angry about the channeling, and justifiably angry about the slap - and we were all/mostly rightly and justifiably angry along with him, and so we all/mostly felt a certain satisfaction with the spanking - except that we all feel guilty about it, because we all have our 21st-century western cultural bogeys about spanking being an appropriate response.

anuragsahay @16 - As you may (or may not) have deduced from my previous comments, I tend to agree with you regarding the validity of Seanchan prophecies. I think it's possible, since we're not given the exact text, that cultural assumptions color the interpretaion of any given prophecy - and especially this one - so that what Tuon thinks is "perfectly clear" about Rand kneeling to the Crystal Throne might actually mean something quite different. We've seen that happen several times already, so why not here too?

Abbumaru @18 - Exactly. Whatever the prophecy actually says will probably happen, but probably NOT in the way, or with the effect, that is most readily assumed. Especially when it's so readily assumed by those most directly involved with it - like Tuon, the heir to the throne in question. I tend toward the assumption that the Prophecies are real and valid - even if someone thought he was messing with them, and even despite the probability of someone in Seanchan making them PC by replacing "he shall bind the Nine Moons to him" with "he shall kneel to the Crystal Throne." Prophecies have a funny way of being clear only in hindsight.

Not that I couldn't be wrong - it's possible that the Seanchan could be thrown into complete disarray by a major piece of their prophecy being clearly and unequivocally WRONG, which might be a cool literary device too. I just tend to assume that prophecy as it stands is correct, and that the "obvious interpretation" everyone leaps to is blindingly incorrect. Reader expectations. :)

mrburack @21 - You have a very generous view of the "skepticism" regarding the Seanchan prophecies. A fair number of readers (at least those that post on the fan sites) believe the Seanchan prophecies to be totally unreliable due to Ishamael's meddling, and that any point in which they differ from the previously-known Randland versions is clearly and unmistakably shash. As per Narlock @22, for example.

IrishOmalley @28 - I like that idea! What a hoot that would be.

Randalator @34 - Yup. That's about it.

The Crippled Lion @52 - You bring up a very interesting conjecture. When Tuon was thinking about the DR being required to kneel to the Crystal Throne, is it possible that she was actually conflating "the Dragon Reborn" and "whoever blew the Horn" without realizing it? It seems at least a potential scenario, if there were a long-established assumption that, of course, the DR would be the one to blow the Horn. She obviously recognizes (here) the possibility that it was someone else, but it wouldn't be such a stretch to imagine that she could recognize that, without making the connection/contrast to the assumption that "the Horn-sounder (=the DR) will kneel to the Crystal Throne."

Did that make any sense?

Anyway, like you I'm amused (mostly) that no one has picked up on the Horn-sounder issue and talked about it more.

Wolfmage @54 - No, I don't think you can say that this instance has anything to do with "the existence of mutual respect between adult antagonists..." Joline had virtually no respect for Mat up to this point anyway, in spite of the fact that he rescued her from Ebou Dar, and he had very little respect for her either. Respect, or the lack of it, wasn't part of this.

birgit @59 - Tuon figures out here who Noal really is. You may be right, but I have to ask: how would Tuon know anything about Jain Farstrider other than mentions from Olver? I'm pretty sure his book hadn't made it to the other side of the Aryth Ocean, so any knowledge of him would only be through casual mention by Randlanders. Unless she somehow had a lot of free time for reading after her arrival in Ebou Dar that we didn't hear about.

Also: Cads did sometimes spank Rand with the Power... That would be precisely once. One swat. After two warnings. Note for KiManiak @92 - AS yes, Asha'man no. Darlin and Caraline, and a few other Tairens. In any case, only the AS knew what happened, since they were the only ones who could see the flow. Seems to me that the "snap with a towel" analogy is pretty apt, especially compared to the usual method of spanking in WoT, which generally seems to involve a fair number of swats.

Zeynep @69 - I think you're rather overstating the case with "...ordinary people would be willing to pay the price (of having their daughters taken and turned into animals) for day-to-day security..." Such a small proportion of girls have the spark that it's not really a significant consideration for the vast majority of the population. We've seen it in several areas now, where most people just have to speak the required oaths, and then they go about their normal lives - with the notable exception that they have less to worry about from burglary or "privilege of nobles" than they used to. Go back and read about Falme, prior to the arrival of Rand & co.

And in general, I can't believe only three people have even mentioned Setalle in the comments, and one of them was referring to events of the past. Oy. Personally, I loved her attitude here. She tends to stand with whoever she thinks is in the right (yay her!) regardless of what everyone expects, and she makes some of the least expected observations...! Did she deliberately distract all three AS from the immediate incident with her comments, so that when they returned to it they saw it a little more clearly? Or was it accidental? She was certainly the first of the women to point out that Mat was right and Joline wrong, and the other two women agreed with her once she said it. Further evidence, of course, that she was once AS (though I don't think we ever get in-story proof that she was actually Martine Janata), but IMO used judiciously for specific effect. In one sense she's obviously no longer AS, but in another she's the AS ideal all the way to her toes.
John Massey
109. subwoofer
@Wet, well Mat being Mat tends to outshine everybody, but the thing about Setalle and Cads for that matter, is that if every Aes Sedai was like them, they'd be less remarkable or memorable as characters. RJ gives me the impression that most of the AS are just normal women with exraordinairy gifts mucking about, and there are a few women of character that step to the fore in times of need. The same could be said of men as we see few guys that are "Great Captains" or good leaders, the rest, the "Nobles" are not so noble in point of fact.

There is a balance, if folks care to look, but yes, much more comment should have been elicited on Setalle's pivotal role... like why when she has a family that is either in Illan or Tear, is she in a land locked country with a guy she barely knows? Is it a Noal story? Is it a Thom story? Is she wrapped up in ta'veren?

Edited because hookt on fonics dide nodt werk:(

Charles Gaston
110. parrothead
Hello! Finally I am caught up with Ms Butler's very amusing and insightful reread of my fave fantasy series. First, thanks, although between this and the Avatar rewatch, Tor has become a giant time leech to rival TVTropes.

There is one topic that I won't be touching, and I have my own reasons for that...

I really do need to read Guns, Germs and Steel, it's just been gathering dust on my shelf, most embarrasing for an ex-history major. I keep wanting to jump into the books, take Mat by the throat and say, "Bayonets! Learn 'em. Love 'em. That way you don't get stuck with this pike and shot crap for a couple hundred years."

About the Seanchan prophecy: elsewhere (don't ask me where, possibly Egeanin in TSR), it is claimed that the Dragon Reborn will serve the Crystal Throne. They all assume that means he will become a vassal to the Empress. What if that's the wrong meaning of "serve"? It could mean that he aids them in some way; he provides them a service, they are well-served by him. Say, opening up lots of Gateways back to Seanchan so that Tuon can pacify the Empire, something like that. Not necessarily yield to her authority.

As an aside, Tuon is not my favorite person. She expects an entire continent that she has never seen to abase themselves before her, and seems personally affronted that reality does not conform to her obstinately naive view of it. So basically she reminds me of Daenerys, and anything that reminds me of that series...better left unsaid.
Sandy Brewer
111. ShaggyBella
I thought Mat was justified in his actions with Jolene, who is a spoiled, ungrateful person. I especially liked Tuon's later reaction when the Aes Sadai kept hounding her after they found out who she really was.

I was wondering what would happen if Tuon ever actually met Artur Hawkwing (courtesy of the HoV) Maybe a few things would be cleared up.
Katie Pi
112. Darth_Katie
Perhaps Mat was so blasé in Egwene's dream because he doesn't yet understand the bloody consequences of the development of gunpowder artillery.
Birgit F
113. birgit
how would Tuon know anything about Jain Farstrider other than mentions from Olver?
Tuon didn't know about Jain, but when Noal explained about his "cousin" she realized he was talking about himself.
"Who is this man with two names?" Tuon asked. "Only great men are spoken of so, and you speak as if everyone should know him."
"He was a fool," Noal said grimly before Mat could open his mouth, though Olver did get his open, and left it gaping while the old man continued. "He went gallivanting about the world and left a good and loving wife to die of a fever without him there to hold her hand while she died. He let himself be made into a tool by -" Abruptly Noal's face went blank. But what adventure is worth leaving your wife to die alone?" He sounded sad enough to die on the spot himself.
Standing, Tuon leaned across the table to rest a hand on Noal's arm. The stern look had vanished from her face, replaced by tenderness. "You have a good heart, Master Charin." She gave everybody their bloody names except for Mat Cauthon!
"Do I, my Lady?" Noal said, sounding as though he really wanted to hear an answer.

Tricia Irish
114. Tektonica

So glad you got to meet Brandon and thanks for asking that question! I had a feeling it might be Mat and his influence...ta'vereness, and well, the whole different environment. She was probably the safest she had ever been in her life while she was traveling with Mat, and had time to contemplate the world in different ways. Let's just hope they meet again and his ta'vereness works wonders on her...for Rand and TG's sake.

Sub@107: Hi Sub...*waves*....I commented on Noel way back @30:

That certainly cements the Manipulated by the Forsaken theories. He almost pulled that memory out, but something stopped him.
William Fettes
115. Wolfmage
WetlanderW @ 108

"No, I don't think you can say that this instance has anything to do with "the existence of mutual respect between adult antagonists..." Joline had virtually no respect for Mat up to this point anyway, in spite of the fact that he rescued her from Ebou Dar, and he had very little respect for her either. Respect, or the lack of it, wasn't part of this."

Couple of points. First, I was addressing what I think Leigh and others object to about the general use of spanking in the series, which includes Perrin and Faile, where clearly that act of spanking was not meant to imperil the notion of mutual respect. So, the one example of Mat and Joline certainly isn't dispositive of the issue.

Secondly, this is a normative comment not a descriptive comment. I don't recall me or anyone else ever saying the problem with this instance of spanking was that Joline's behaviour was respectful towards Mat or vice-versa, and therefore, it was unrealistic or something; obviously that's not true and misses the point of the objection. The point is, if you accept this kind of disciplinary spanking against another adult involves a special kind of infantilisation and debasement beyond even commensurate physical violence, as I do, then the device of spanking must be seen as a morally problematic 'solution' to the taboo against violence against women. It is an 'ought' not an 'is' question. So, even though Joline and Mat do not respect each other, the use of spanking simply confirms something rotten about their relationship that they should both ideally rise above as adults.

Incidentally, I think the subsequent almost predatory sexual tension that hangs in the air between Mat and Joline pretty much confirms my suspicions that some background fetishisation is going on here. Indeed, I think it makes an innocuous reading of this scene pretty hard to sustain. The young ungrateful and uppity Green gets man-handled, and though furious at the experience, she cannot help but be drawn towards him in the aftermath. She now hopes to take him into her bed as a new warder as a way of dominating him in return. Yeah, nothing overtly sexual going on there!
Heidi Byrd
116. sweetlilflower
@Wolfmage: Are you equating domination with sexuality? I sincerely hope that you are not doing so. Aes Sedai are trained to pick the best men they can find to be Warders. If a man can best an AS, then he is obviously one of the best warriors and someone she wants on her side. I don't think there is anything more to it than that. Well, perhaps she wants his ter'angreal as well.
Andrew Foss
117. alfoss1540
Just got around to the reread and am late to this party. These are great Mat Chapters. Was most taken by the part about Noal. Good point about the tampering. Was more interested in seeing everyone punt on the basic admission about being Jain Farstrider. Mat often talked about the story with Rand. Rand was fulfilling a childhood adventure/dream after he left Two Rivers with Jain Farstrider - recall the horse name (Jae Den???). This is the first putting the pieces togeter with Noal.

ALSO - Does anyone recall back in Ebou Dar when Mat runs into Noal as he was chasing the Golam, did the dice stop?
William Fettes
118. Wolfmage
sweetlilflower @ 116

No, my argument doesn't go from the plain fact of Joline's umbrage to revenge = domination = sex. Rather, I'm parsing the actual vibe I get from Joline that she wants Mat to be more than merely her Warder. Obviously such an arrangement is hardly unique for Greens, and it's consistent with the way her post-spanking Mat obsession has a coquettish flavour to it, and the way the other Aes Sedai talk about it obliquely. I don't have the text with me at the moment, so I'm not in a position to furnish specific quotes, but that's what I remember about it.
Bill Reamy
119. BillinHI
alfoss1540 @ 117: No, the dice didn't stop there. I must admit I don't recall when they did stop but in WH Chap 16 after their mutual introductions, Mat realizes the dice were still pounding in his head.
Alice Arneson
120. Wetlandernw
Wolfmage @115 - Nah, I don't buy it. You said you were attempting to speak on behalf of Leigh, explaining why the spankings bother her (and others) so much. She made no distinction between this event and the others we've seen, yet now you claim the case in the current chapter as an exception to your generalization when the disconnect is pointed out. Lame. And the "sexual overtones?" Spare me. Even lamer, IMO. But you'll see what you expect to see, what fits your assumption of a fetish associated with spanking. Whatever.
Alice Arneson
121. Wetlandernw
About the spanking subject - I hope no one was waiting with bated breath to see what I had to say about it. ;p My head, my desk and my computer got together and agreed that it's just not worth it. The level of false assumptions about the subject, combined with the culturally-ingrained attitudes, make it a topic that's not worth the effort. No one is going to change their mind about it based on another argument here, and I'd go nuts (and waste a whole lot of my day) trying to refute each falsehood presented in this week's worth of comments. So...

Hugh Arai
122. HArai
wetlandernw@108: I'd be more impressed with Setalle if she did more than sit and frown while Joline slapped Bethamin over and over while Edesina held her immobile. Supporting Mat after he'd dealt with it is admirable but not on the same level as objecting before would have been.

wetlandernw@121: Your opinions are yours to hold. However
a sweeping statement like:

The level of false assumptions about the subject, combined with the culturally-ingrained attitudes, make it a topic that's not worth the effort.

Combined with:


Makes this one of your own least useful posts. IMO.
Valentin M
123. ValMar
Tek @ 114

Thanks, I was getting a bit jealous of you Americans getting all the action.
I am pretty sure that Brandon didn't say ta'vereness itself was in play. Also thanks for the suggestion of the round-about way of asking- he talked quite a bit about how different and extraordinary Tuon's experience was with Mat et al. But he was much more direct when, just to make sure, I mentioned directly Compulsion- no point in digging there, apparently.

Even though I had already heard about it, I was very impressed how earnest was Brandon Sanderson when talking with everybody, on any subject. To afford so much attention to so many people was fantastic.

As for spanking, sex, fetish etc, my view is even if there is something sexual there, it is not in the centre of the issues that Mat and Joline have, not for Mat anyway. If I haven't really noticed it than it most likely isn't there ;) Pity we don't have Jolene's POV here...
Captain Hammer
124. Randalator
Wetlandernw @121


Just out of curiosity: How DO you do your laundry with your fingers in your ears...?
Alice Arneson
125. Wetlandernw
HArai @122 - Re: your first comment, I agree that I don't relate to the whole scene leading up to this. Not one woman in the wagon gets away blameless on that score. However, I don't think Setalle's support of Mat had anything to do with what went before. She simply agreed that Joline was wrong to slap him and that he was within his rights to a) stop her and b) demand that she not repeat it ever again. It reads to me as though she also agreed with his insistence that they be more circumspect in their channeling, though that's less clear. My reading does not, however, give me any confidence that she would support his interference in what the Aes Sedai choose to do with Bethamin, even if that means they sit around slapping her day and night until TG comes. If he objected to that, she might well toss him out of the wagon herself. She might toss the AS out for doing it, but she wouldn't support Mat in interfering.

Re: your second... Yeah, well, it wasn't intended to be useful. Just an obnoxious way of pointing out that I disagree with a lot of people but am too lazy (or indifferent, or possibly protective of my blood pressure - I like 98/64!) to argue the points this time around. Also pointing out the rather arrogant assumption that someone might have actually cared what I had to say on the subject. (As if!)

Seriously, I make notes as I read through the comments and then go back and work them into semi-intelligible responses when relevant and not OBE. I found that I had note after note after note after note about some of the (IMO silly) things people said, and we've had enough ranting about this subject without me writing an "anti-rant" about it. I pulled out the notes about the text itself & Leigh's commentary, and then the notes about comments not related to spanking, and was left with a pile of stuff I just didn't have the intestinal fortitude to wordsmith into a proper post. So I snarked uselessly instead. Isn't it a pity we can't "hide" comments we don't want to see, like you can on facebook?

Randalator @124 - It's tricky, I tell you. Makes your elbows and shoulders really tired. Feet work well for kicking stuff into the washer, but putting in the soap is a real pain.
William Fettes
126. Wolfmage
ValMar @ 123

Yes, I was only talking about Joline not Mat. Joline gets spanked and then subsequently takes an interest in Mat as a potential Warder with Benefits TM. Is this in my imagination? I don't think so. Search some of the WoT community forums and you'll find other people perceiving something sexual about Joline's predatory attitude towards Mat. We could all be wrong, of course, but there you go.
John Massey
127. subwoofer
@Tek... hmmmmm, yes I see that... er, that was just a test to see if anyone else was paying attention.

@Wet- well, maybe if you started with a feather, then maybe a wet noodle, and eventually worked your way up to something solid? Spanking- its not just for kids;)

Edit- what happened to the insert image thingy?!

... incidentally, you use soap to wash your clothes? I'll have to try that sometime... I still use the beat against a rock method.

128. XLCR
Captain Bournlouer tugged her lapels again and stared fitfully into the small mirror on the

wall of her sea cabin. Her blue uniform tunic with its red lapels and frogs really did

nothing for her sea-tanned face and blown sandy hair, but that was unimportant. What was

important was the confidence of the crew in her command of the Sea Drake, with battle only

minutes away. They had first sighted sail less than half an hour before, and for a change

they were closing quickly. Usually the sleek and rapid Athan'Mere ships could show a clean

set of heels to the more lubberly Seanchan cruisers.

This one though, looked different. The sides were higher, and the lines were not what one

expected from the Sea People. Could it be they were trying for greater capacity? Whatever,

they had closed more rapidly than usual and battle was eminent. She was fortunate to have

no less than four damane with which to overcome the enemy Marth'dame quickly, after which

her large complement of marines would take care of the rest.

She could hear her second shouting at the crew in the rigging as she hurried up the ladder

to the quarterdeck. The enemy ship was very close and was beginning to come about. The

damene were all smiling and to the Captian's relief Harqueen, chief among the four, nodded

to her with a hugely satisfied look and said, "We've got them, Captain, there were two of

them, but they were no match for our girls". She smiled,"They are both shielded, and we'll

soon have them in collars."

They were all lined up along the rail of the Sea Drake facing the odd looking ship, and now

the ship's marines were filing in behind them, ready on command to go over the rail and

take the battle to the overmatched enemy. As the ship wore around the Captain noticed the

odd decorations on the enemy ship. Most Athen'mere ships had little of that sort of thing,

but this ship had an odd checkerboard pattern on the side, with white and black squares

running all down the side of the hull. It was almost at a stop now with it's sails

practically aback, and very close. As she watched, the black squares on the ship's side

started to open, exposing holes in the hull which were quickly filled by massive and ugly-

looking brass tubes of some sort, and the smell of burning matches began to drift across

the water. The Captain began to develop a bad feeling about all of this. Maybe it had been

a little too easy.

Suddenly the world exploded in smoke, flame, and deafening noise. The Captain's amazed eyes

saw her four damene and most of her crack troop of marines come apart in great gouts of

blood and body parts and realized before she could even open her mouth to shout frenzied

commands that the battle was already practically over. With growing horror she saw the

snouts of what must be some fantastic new weapon, which had been briefly withdrawn, were

rolling out again. A second volley blasted out, this time hitting lower and crushing the

side of the Sea Drake's hull. As the ship began to roll over she had time to contemplate

very briefly the dismal future prospects of the Seanchan Navy. 'With this weapon they will

sweep us from the seas', she thought. Then the third volley rang out, and she thought no

more, as a ball took off her head neatly level with her shoulderblades.
Roger Powell
129. forkroot
Nicely done! A point well made, wrapped up in a tasty bit of fanfic!

I agree that there's always been hints that Joline is attracted to Mat. Let's not forget that they had a fairly intense kissing session (to cover her face from the Seanchan). At the time, she probably didn't enjoy it too much because she was terrified - but later on she might well remember that Mat is a pretty good kisser - and he's certainly handsome.

Purportedly, Mat makes a lot of women sigh (e.g Aludra) and not all of them got as far as a good smooch session.

The story is written almost like she's mad at herself for being attracted to Mat, especially early on when she (like Tuon) is less aware of his competence.
Valentin M
130. ValMar
Wolfmage @ 126

Different people will perceive it differently. This is one of these situations that RJ liked to create, it seems. Whilst I personally tend to lean the way you do here, my point is that any physical intentions on Joline's part were of secondary relevance if at all. Mat's other abilities and/or medalion are what is most important for her, IMO.

If anything had occured between Mat and Joline can anyone imagine Tuon's reaction? Given her opinion on AS already...
Cynthia Ahmar
131. tenkuu
Spanking is for children, Joline behaved childishly. I'm personally of the opinion that even in the real world, women should not hit men and then not expect to be hit back. I don't think the degree of it is as important because if you hit someone in some kind of wild fit, you should be prepared to receive retribution. Of course, slapping and spanking are both rather light forms of violence compared to punching, kicking, etc.
Chris R
132. up2stuff
I think that under the circumstances, Mat spanking Joline appropriate as a matter of restoring perspective. They had treated him as a child since he smuggled them out, and disregarded his instructions, requests and suggestions out of hand.

I have heard parents say to their children, "You wanna be treated like an adult? Act like one." I think it backfired on Joline. She acted like he was a child so much he finally realized maybe that was the way to get her attention. "You want me to act like a child? Her is a temper tantrum for you." Joline needed a dose of childishness to reminder her to treat him like an adult.

I dont think it would always be appropriate, but this once?

And, I know that we havent seen a grown woman spank a man, but we have seen a case where even Rand recieved a beating from the Maidens on one of his escapades where he left his honor guard behind. It was implied that it was done once or twice more besides, I think. Plus, it seems like Bashere's wife gave as good as she got in a Non-Aiel society, and I have mentioned before the Domani women being very free with their marriage knives.

The latter two were more of a lesson between equals, but I felt that the smack down on Rand was more equivalent of a tussle between brothers and sisters and a prime example of "treat us like children? We can do it too."

K. Randalator, pretty much the same thing you said @34.
Melissa Walters
133. ladytwinoaks
I had assumed that the Crystal Throne was the actual leader (aka Tuon) and that Rand would indeed kneel to her, but not as one of her subjects. I thought it would have something to do with her marrying one of his best friends. Maybe at their wedding (if they decide to have a ceremony).
Heather Olver
134. Arila
Well, per the encouragement that I go ahead and post my comments even on old old old reread posts... (hi Wetlander):

I am a bit disappointed that there weren't more comments about Mat's conclusions on the 'finn. They may not have all that much screen time, but they are a huge party of the story, what with their future predictions, some answers Rand hasn't revealed yet, and Moiraine, not to mention Mat's memories. Where do they fit in, what side are they on, and what did team dark get out of it when someone came for Lanfear? Also, I wonder if we haven't been mislead a bit by the imperfect narrator here. Why would so many varied people have gone through the doorway but now it's some obscure no-name thing? Also, the memories came from the door in Ruhidean, so if they went through the door it was the one in Mayene/Tear, and the 'finn shared to between themselves? I dunno, it just seems like that can't be it. I hope the comments in the Moiraine rescue shed some more light.

Regarding the Dark One's laughter in Mat's dream: this doesn't have to be the DO himself at all. I think it is just Mat realizing the destruction. He's thought about the human cost of war before, but always taken a "it has to be done, so I'm going to do whatever it takes to minimize my losses"
Alice Arneson
135. Wetlandernw
Hi, Arila!! ::waves:: See, I told you some of us obsessive/compulsive types read everything. :) Good observations, actually. I'm not sure at what point we learn just what the Aelfinn and Eelfinn have in common... and I don't want to say too much to avoid spoilers pre-AMoL... but (highlight to read if you don't mind) it turns out that for some things, it doesn't really matter which access point you use; it's all the same world.

I like the point that "the Dark One's laughter" may simply be Mat subconsciously recognizing the damage the cannon will eventually do, and equating it with making the DO laugh.
Jennifer B
136. JennB
Okay I am trying to catch up by going through these with minimal reading of the comments and commenting, but I just wanted to note that RJ making up a new breed of horse is similar to making peaches poisonous. Odd little unexplained changes in a world where the appearances of the flora and fauna has otherwise been static for two ages.

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