Jun 21 2011 2:01pm
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Knife of Dreams, Part 10

Knife of Dreams by Robert JordanWe laughed, we cried, we got caught in the rain! It’s a Wheel of Time Re-read! Or a piña colada, one of the two.

Today’s entry covers Chapters 13 and 14 of Knife of Dreams, in which we learn the value of genre savviness, umbrellas, and screaming.

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 13: Siege

What Happens
Elayne watches in frustration from the street below as Birgitte, a handful of Guardsmen, and one of their companies of mercenaries holds off an attack from Arymilla’s men on the wall above. Elayne’s forces are holding the city only by dint of using the Kinswomen to gate Elayne’s outnumbered troops to whichever part of the wall is currently being attacked, and Elayne knows if Arymilla succeeds in getting into the city, Elayne will likely be defeated. She snaps at Caseille for being over-protective, and Aviendha remarks that if this is what happens when you get with child, she thinks she won’t have any. Then they realize the attack is ending, and Elayne bolts away from her guards to run up the tower to the top of the wall where Birgitte is mopping up, Aviendha following. Annoyed, Birgitte tells Elayne she should get Aviendha to tie her up and sit on her.

“I was quite safe.” Elayne tried to remove the acerbic touch from her voice, without much success. “Min said I will bear my babes, sister. Until they’re born, no harm can come to me.”

Aviendha nodded slowly, thoughtfully, but Birgitte growled, “I’d just as soon you didn’t put her visions to the test. Take too many chances, and you might prove her wrong.” That was foolish. Min was never wrong. Surely not.

Birgitte and Elayne speak with the mercenary captain, and Elayne chastises him for failing to press as hard as they could have against Arymilla’s mercenaries, though Birgitte doesn’t think this will do much good. Privately, Elayne tries to convince Birgitte that she doesn’t need to lead every counterattack herself, but Birgitte asks wearily who else there is to do it.

“My officers are inexperienced boys,” Birgitte went on, “or else men who came out of retirement and should still be warming their bones in front of their grandchildren’s fireplace. Except for the mercenary captains, anyway, and there isn’t one I’d trust without someone looking over his shoulder. Which brings us back to: Who else but me?”

They are interrupted by a sudden and violent lightning storm which forms out of nowhere over Caemlyn. Elayne tries to deal with it herself, but is unable to embrace the Source, and has to ask Aviendha to do it instead; Aviendha delights in the rainfall that results from dispersing the storm. They head back to the Palace using the gate Alise and the other Kinswomen form, and Elayne reflects that the chance to do something useful as well as the news about Egwene’s plans re: having the Aes Sedai retire into the Kin have settled most of the Kinswomen considerably. They arrive back to find another gateway admitting a large column of men in Guardsmen’s uniforms. Elayne speaks to their lieutenant, who introduces himself as Charlz Guybon; Elayne notes in passing that he is very good-looking. Guybon reports that he was stationed in Aringill, and was given permission to try to reach Caemlyn after Naean and the others escaped.

“Captain Kindlin said I could try to find men who’d been discharged by Gaebril, my Lady, and they started flocking in as soon as I put out the call. You’d be surprised how many tucked their uniforms into a chest against the day they might be wanted again. A good many carried off their armor, too, which they shouldn’t have done, strictly speaking, but I’m glad they did. I feared I’d waited too long when I heard of the siege.”

Elayne asks how many, and Guybon reports that including the retinues of the various nobles who joined him on the way, he’s brought in nearly ten thousand troops. Delighted, Elayne promotes him to Captain on the spot, and Birgitte makes him her second on a provisional basis. Guybon seems overwhelmed, and stammers thanks. Then Birgitte orders Elayne off to get out of her wet clothes.

Oh, yeah. This storyline. Well, at least there are no Shaido.

And, at least it now features actual fighting. Yay? I guess?

Although, I must say that that actual fighting seems a tad problematic to me. If I recall correctly, Arymilla had her forces split up into, I think, five camps so as to surround the city on all sides, right? So if Elayne’s gating her troops to the trouble spots because she doesn’t have enough men to defend the whole wall, why wouldn’t Arymilla have all five camps attack at once and overwhelm them? What’s with all this piecemeal bullshit?

Of course, thinking about it a little more, I do concede that a simultaneous assault might be more difficult than I initially assumed. I mean, the timing alone would be an issue; it’s not like Arymilla’s people have radio, or Traveling capability either unless I seriously missed something, so coordinating a synchronized attack would probably be quite the thing.

Still, it could be done, even if it took a week or more to set up. Six leagues (or whatever the distance is, I can’t remember and don’t care enough to check) isn’t going to create an appreciable lag if everyone is told “attack at dawn on such and such a date,” or whatever. Close generally only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, maybe, but I bet wall sieges can be fudged a bit, too.

Then again, maybe Elayne does have enough men to hold off five separate attack points. But if she does, why does she think she doesn’t have enough men in the first place? And contrariwise, I suppose Arymilla’s forces could spread along the wall, attack at many points instead of just five, but then if they could do that why haven’t they?

Argh, I don’t know. Either this whole thing is silly, or I’m missing something obvious. Since I freely acknowledge that my medieval-ish battle tactics-fu is not especially strong, I’ll assume the latter for now.

This chapter also features the introduction of the most intensely annoying Elayne Thing yet, at least in my opinion, which is her insistence on believing that Min’s viewing about her babies makes her invincible until they are born. This is the kind of sentiment that is tailor-made to give any even remotely genre-savvy reader the screaming meemies just on general principle, whether it turns out to be true or not.

Because really. You see this Fate thing here, Elayne? Don’t tempt it. This is the first rule of surviving epic fantasy stories, woman! DO NOT TAUNT HAPPY FUN FATE.


Guybon: So, when Guybon appeared here in this chapter, I was immediately convinced that he was a Darkfriend. And when I say that, I don’t mean “when I first read KOD,” I mean when I read it just now. But then I looked him up and discovered that apparently he is a perfectly nice guy who is exactly what he says he is, at least as of ToM.

Wow. Really?

I think it says something that I was so nonplussed by this discovery. Someone who is exactly what he seems, and whose introduction improves a situation instead of complicates it? What series am I reading again?

Of course, we still have one more book to go. YOU NEVER KNOW.

(Also, his name makes me think of Guy of Gisbourne, which I don’t think helped disperse the negative connotation very much. Which is silly, but seriously, the name “Charlz Guybon” really pinged me for some reason, and I still can’t think of why. Oh well.)


Chapter 14: Wet Things

What Happens
Elayne tries to keep hold of her temper as they head to her rooms. She sees Reanne Corly walking with Kara Defane and Jillari, two former damane, and detours to meet her. Jillari, who is Seanchan-born, tries to prostrate herself before Elayne, but Kara (who is from Toman Head) coaches her on curtseying instead, and tries to get her to call herself “I” instead of “Jillari.” Jillari begins to cry, and Reanne sends her and Kara off gently. Reanne notes Elayne is wet, and tells Elayne she’s helping Jillari choose a new surname, which Elayne realizes means she’s changed her mind about thinking she needs to be collared. Reanna also tells her that one of the former sul’dam, Marli Noichin, has admitted to seeing weaves of the One Power, but is now begging for the a’dam, and Reanne doesn’t know what to do with her. Elayne replies that they will send her back to the Seanchan. Reanne is shocked, and says she can’t condemn a woman to that.

“She helped hold enough others prisoner that she deserves a taste of it herself, Reanne. But that’s not why I mean to send her back. If any of the others wants to stay and learn, and make up for what she’s done, I certainly won’t hand her to the Seanchan, but Light’s truth, I hope they all feel like Marli. They’ll put an a’dam on her, Reanne, but they won’t be able to keep secret who she was. Every one-time sul’dam I can send the Seanchan to collar will be a mattock digging at their roots.”

Reanne asks her to consider a few days before deciding, and Elayne grits her teeth at the implication that she is letting her mood swings influence her decisions, but agrees, uneasy that maybe she is. They come across Vandene, walking with Kirstian and Zarya as usual, and Reanne comments that she thinks Vandene is wearing Adeleas’s dress, and refused Reanne’s offer of solace. Elayne knows Vandene wears nothing but Adeleas’s clothes now, as well as her perfume, but can hardly blame her with being obsessed with finding her sister’s murderer. She and Aviendha squeeze hands quickly. Vandene moves on, and Elayne’s party is joined by Reene Harfor, who notes Elayne is wet, and tells Elayne that three of the mercenary captains are here to see her, and that Careane, Sareitha, and Captain Mellar joined them to “keep them company” while they waited.

Elayne frowned. Mellar. She was trying to keep him too busy for mischief, yet he had a way of turning up where and when she least wanted him. For that matter, so did Careane and Sareitha. One of them had to be the Black Ajah killer. Unless it was Merilille, and she was beyond reach, it seemed.

Birgitte growls that they probably want more money, and Elayne tells Reene she will see them as soon as she’s changed out of her wet clothes. Then she runs into Chanelle din Seran White Shark and Renaile din Calon, the last people she wants to see. Renaile, once Windfinder to the Mistress of the Ships, has fallen low in station now that Nesta din Reas is dead, so Chanelle is in charge now. She demands imperiously of Elayne if Talaan and Merilille have been found. Elayne tries to rein in her temper, and tells her no, coldly. She tries to move on, but Chanelle accuses Elayne of being involved in an Aes Sedai conspiracy to kidnap Talaan and hide her. This infuriates Birgitte as well as Elayne, and hot words are exchanged; Elayne realizes her and Birgitte’s anger is feeding off each other, and desperately tries to dial it back and return to civility. Chanelle sends Renaile to demand of the Aes Sedai staying at the Silver Swan that they produce Merilille and Talaan, and Elayne winces, knowing this will spread the news of her bargain with the Sea Folk even further. Renaile obeys meekly, and Chanelle seems vengefully pleased at her change in circumstances.

The Windfinder stared her up and down, frowning. ”You’re wet,“ she said as though just noticing. ”It is very bad to be wet for long in your condition. You should change your clothes right away.“

Elayne threw back her head and screamed as loudly as she could, a howl of pure outrage and fury. She screamed until her lungs were empty, leaving her panting.

In the silence that followed, everyone stared at her in amazement. Almost everyone. Aviendha began laughing so hard she had to lean against a tapestry of mounted hunters confronting a leopard that had turned. She had one arm pressed across the middle as if her ribs hurt. The bond carried amusement, too – amusement! – though Birgitte’s face remained as smooth as a sister’s.

”I must Travel to Tear," Chanelle said breathily after a moment, and she turned away without another word or any gesture toward a courtesy. Reene and Reanne offered curtsies, neither quite meeting Elayne’s eye, and pled duties before hurrying off.

Elayne dares either Aviendha or Birgitte to say a word, amusing both women further. Elayne stalks off toward her rooms.

I was initially going to be rather scornful at how much Elayne’s pregnancy-induced mood swings are being played up here, but then it occurred to me that having never been pregnant myself, I might not have all the facts. So I called in more experienced reinforcements.

And after my sister, my mother, my grandmother, and my aunt all assured me that yes, you really do have ridiculous mood swings while pregnant, I guess I have to concede that in this Jordan was quite correct. My sister adds that the first trimester (which I believe is the stage Elayne’s in at the moment) is by far the worst, and that things settle down greatly once you’re in the backstretch. So, okay then. Good to know!

Still, the truth of that is not doing much to help with the glory Elayne is kind of completely failing to cover herself with here. I have to admit, though, that I found her scream of fury just as funny here as I did when she did it at the circus a million years ago. The mental image, especially of everyone else’s reaction of “…okay, I’m going somewhere else now!”, is just terribly amusing.

And really, mood swings or no, if you had to deal with the Sea Folk, wouldn’t you scream? Or really want to? ‘Cause I sure as hell would.

I am still not sure if I think the Sea Folk tradition of Windfinders’ station being tied to their captain (or whatever) is dumb or not. On the one hand, it seems like a shameful waste to demote an experienced Windfinder to nothing just because the person she’s paired up with dies. But then again, there is a case to be made that this is a legit way for a society to put checks on a group of people who will in general live four to six times as long as any of their peers, and who otherwise might be in a position to gain far too much power politically as well as, er, magically. If that makes any sense. So you could argue it either way, I think.

You would think, though, that given all that, a smart Windfinder would know to be nicer to people on the way up, if she knows with certainty that she will at some point be climbing right the hell back down. I mean, Renaile had to realize that she would outlive Nesta by a huge margin even if Nesta hadn’t been executed by the Seanchan, so really, that’s kind of an amazing lack of foresight, there. So, Renaile is not exactly high on my list of Smart People, right now. Not that she ever was, of course.

As before, I find it a much different (and much sadder) experience to read about Vandene now that I’m no longer suspecting her of being her sister’s killer. Poor darling.

Re: Elayne’s decision to send Marli et al back to the Seanchan, I understand Reanne’s shock at the idea, but I have to say I’m in Elayne’s camp on this one. And this is saying something considering my virulent hatred of the damane institution in the first place.

But Elayne is really caught between a rock and a hard place here, if you ask me. And if it’s a question of being obliged to partially condone slavery in the hopes of destroying the entire practice of it, or being forced to (more or less) practice it yourself (by keeping the sul’dam prisoner), well, I know which one I’d pick. But it’s hardly an easy choice either way.

Talaan and Merilille: Have they ever resurfaced? I can’t remember. I suppose it doesn’t matter much if they haven’t. One of these days I’m going to make a list of plotlines I do and do not care if AMoL resolves, but in the meantime I can say with certainty that this one belongs firmly in the “Do Not” column.

And that is about what that is, so without further ado, that is the end of this post! See you next week!

3. parabola
Just want to point out that Guybon's name reminds me more of Guybrush Threepwood than Guy of Gisbourne.
Band of The Red Hand
4. Band of The Red Hand
Wasn't Charlz (Charles) Guybon a reader that won a contest to have his name appear in a WOT book?
Jennifer Liang
5. JenniferL
This is probably why Charlz Guybon tickles your brain.

Band of The Red Hand
6. Zeynep
Just a bit of sense-of-wonder thing that hadn't hit me while I was reading this, but jumped up when you pointed it out: The offhand way Elayne assumes she'd be able to dissipate a storm without the pregnancy-related issue and the offhand way Aviendha does dissipate a storm. It's just such a nice casual display of power.
Band of The Red Hand
7. Darth Touma
Oh.. and having had to deal with the pregnancies of 8 different women in my immediate family and my own relationships.. I actually think Jordan played the mood swings DOWN.. LOL
Mike McCaffrey
8. earlgrey
re: all out attack on the city. Arymilla's coordination problems would take second place to her troop's reliability. She, like Elayne, has some hosehold troops and many mercenaries. The mercenaries are there for loot, not dying, and dying is what you get in an all out attack. Arymilla may want to pressure Elayne, but getting the troops to participate is something else. Also, the mercenaries are used to winning after starving the beseiged into submission. Why attack when they can win by waiting. The fact that the city won't be starved out will not have occurred to them yet.
Band of The Red Hand
9. Lsana
I have to say that, as much as I can't stand Elayne, I would have screamed too. That wasn't a mood swing, that was a rational reaction to the stupidity going on around her.

Of course, we also have her and her @#$@! immortal babies, something that makes me want to strangle her just on general principle every time I read about it.

Re:Marli. I wouldn't have sent her back to the Seanchan, though it wouldn't have been out of any moral qualms. I wouldn't send her back, because it would be the equivalent of sending a shipment of F-15s to a country we're at war with. In Seanchan hands, Marli is a weapon. Maybe the whole damane system falls apart when they learn that sul'dam can learn to channel, but maybe not. Maybe they all feel like Tuon, that someone who can learn but doesn't isn't morally equivalent to someone who does channel. I don't think I take the chance.
Steven Pattingale
10. Pattingale
Thank you Leigh! Another enjoyable re-read. :) Please continue writing them.

These weren't my favourite chapters, don't have much to say about them other than agreeing that the scream was funny. :D
Band of The Red Hand
11. Psionandon
Great post as always Leigh!

I think it was this chapter, along with some others, that led me to my theory that Adeleas and Vandene were actually bonded to each other as Warders. The short list of evidence was that a) they talked a decent amount about women bonding women with Elayne, b) they were always described as "mirroring" each other - the same way Elayne and Birgitte were, c) the Brown had no Warder, and the Green only had one, and d) Vandene's reaction to her sister's death is heartbreaking and probably normal - especially considering that they knew each other for hundreds of years - but it also kind of sounds like what happens to a Warder when his/her Aes Sedai dies.

I know, one of my loopier theories. Anyway, Elayne still has a LOT of growing up to do.
Heidi Byrd
12. sweetlilflower
From the perspective of a woman who has been pregnant; yes, the mood swings are pretty much on par.
On the subject of a full-out attack, well Arymilla doesn't want to destroy the city, she just wants to destroy Elayne.
Noneo Yourbusiness
13. Longtimefan
I think one of the reasons Arymilla does not just do a full scale press against the walls from all five points is that she is also keeping some of her "followers" in check. In both cases Elayne and Arymilla are generally supported by their followers but a large number are looking not to be involved unless required. For Elayne it is the common folk trapped in the city who may not be 100 percent behind her and the mercinaries who are only 100 percent behind the gold they are paid and only at half measures at best.

Arymilla has a camp consisting of people who think she should be Queen and people who wanted to be Queen but are forced to follow Arymilla. The people who are "following" her are not 100 percent trust worthy so she is not just using her force to seige the walls but to also keep her forces at her side.

I suspect this may be one of the factors keeping Arymilla from attacking with all five camps at the same time.

But that is just me. :)
Band of The Red Hand
14. drragoon83
As little as I know of tactics, the reason I recall that Armylla hadn't attacked yet is she was waiting for some mercenaries to turn on Elayne,as far as the tactics though. Dividing your force is always a tricking business. In this situation it would allow them to enter the city virtually unnopposed. However they would have a hard time conccentrating their forces once they reached the palace and so would endanger their chance of success.
Marcus W
15. toryx
Frankly, Elayne in these chapters makes me want to scream. Her notion that she's perfectly safe because the babies will be born makes my head hurt. Such crappy logic as that does not belong in either the head of a ruler or an Aes Sedai. She should have bloody known better.

I'm with Elayne on sending the Sul'dam back to the Seanchan too, although every time I read this chapter the suggestion reminds me of the Borg.

Not to TNH: Posts 1 and 2 are exactly why Torie was always so quick to stomp them down. If you let one get through, they began to breed in future posts. It's just annoying, though not as annoying as Elayne.
Band of The Red Hand
16. hammerlock
Arymilla's forces also have the problem of a big city wall blocking their view. Certainly, she has spies that are relaying information regarding Elayne's Thinking With Portals, but this makes accurate gauges of her strength difficult for their usual means of thinking.

Plus, if she can move troops in an eyeblink, what would happen if, say, Arymilla were to mount a general attack, get rebuffed--and then come back to a camp that was sacked and burned by a small "sallying" force that got teleported behind your lines? Best to play it conservative until you can get a better idea as to her limits.
Band of The Red Hand
17. jmd
I always hated Elayne's fate tempting here. My brain, having read TV tropes and a zillion novels and all kinds of movies and shows goes "just because you are alive to deliver those babies doesn't mean squat!" I mean she could be captured and held prisoner, be tortured, hell have limbs chopped off and still make it to 9 months! Always made me want to scream.
Captain Hammer
18. Randalator
re: invincible Elayne

Yeah, that makes ME want to scream. Because honestly? Girl's usually smarter than that. But right now she's just hopping all over the place going "Lalala, my babies are gonna be healthy. Ooooh, what a nice pond full of alligators and piranhas. I think I'll have swim...!" Sister, YOU DON'T NEED YOUR ARMS AND LEGS OR SILKY SMOOTH SKIN TO GIVE BIRTH TO HEALTHY BABIES!!! Gah, that's taking dumb to a whole new level. Although that might be due to all the Seafolk-related headdesking.

Which conveniently leads me to my next point:

re: Seafolk

They make me want to headdesk with a reliabilty that would put a swiss watch to shame. Incidentally that's what I would be doing in Elayne's place. Headdesking. A lot. And I'm NOT talking about my head that would be desked here. Which is why you wouldn't find me swimming in a piranha pond unlike a certain daughter-heir...
Band of The Red Hand
19. dwndrgn
I could be wrong (haven't re-read this one in a while) but Aramylla and troops didn't know that Elayne was SO short on troops nor that Elayne could travel. So the though of all out, all walls attack probably wouldn't occur to her (and/or her warchief) as she wasn't completely aware that this was a major shortcoming of the city's defense and she knew that Elayne had some sort of tricks up her sleeve but not exactly so everything had to be super hush hush.

Hm. That up there sounds like muddy thinking and perhaps I need an afternoon coffee to clear up the brain cells.
Captain Hammer
20. Randalator
dwndrgn @19

Actually, that's a good catch there. Elayne's response time on the wall would lead Arymilla to think that the city has way more troops than they actually have. And any spy reports on the true numbers would probably be considered unreliable because battle reality seems to contradict said numbers.
Band of The Red Hand
21. Ryanus
One other thing about the tactics involved. This looks to be a smaller scale of what Rand was doing to the Seanchan back in Path of Daggers. Even knowing about Traveling, do you really think or give credence to things you've never dealt with or thought about? In fact I recall a converastion between two Seanchan officers where one was giving a full count of how many troops Rand had to have fielded and only one of the people at the meeting thought "Wait, if they can teleport, they could just have one army and seem to be everywhere." And that person doesn't even voice this, I don't think.

Amyrilla's spies probably told her about the gateways, but how much belief she has in them is questionable. There's also the chance that she's never told her followers because being confronted with a siege that I cannot win would be enough to make me question the tactics being employed.

Either way, she makes attacks at different points and each time a force more than enough to match it is there. So either she thinks Elayne has a far larger force than she does and isn't even taking into account the gateways.
As for the sending the Sul'dam back, I agree with the plan. But I have to admit that as moral as I like to think of myself, I'm pragmatic when it comes to conflict. Best way is to finish it as fast as possible with as little loss to my side as possible. Even with the three oath forcing me to be nice I'd be on that wall shattering siege engines, melting weapons, strobe light blinding the troops so they have trouble blocking the archers. There's so many ways to not use the power as a weapon against a person, and I'm sometimes shocked at how unimaginative the Aes Sedai can get (even the super girls)
Charles Gaston
22. parrothead
I've generally liked Elayne, including these chapters, but yeah, the whole "I'm invincible!" thing kinda grates. Especially since she might be safe, but that does not apply to anyone else (hint: ToM). Come on, girl, you're smarter than that.

Now, I've never been pregnant, nor do I expect to become so unless all laws of biology are stood on their head (certainly hope we don't see that as Tarmon Gai'don approaches). I have however been prescribed a steroid for my knee. Yeah, chemically induced mood swings? No fun at all, whether that chemical is from a pill or hormonal. While walking across campus I nearly broke down crying for absolutely no reason. When they first put me on it I stayed up half the night thinking about US vice presidents. I can only imagine having to go through this for months at a time.

Taking a city is a daunting prospect especially if you don't have siege engines and sappers. Even with, there's no guarantee of success. The Ottomans twice failed to take Vienna even with cannon and tunneling underneath and a generally more aggressive siege, as they were not too interested in keeping the city whole; how much more difficult would it be for Arymilla, who needs Caemlyn intact? And as #13 points out, two of her "supporters" pressed their own claims for the throne and follow her only because she is holding them. Or maybe Arymilla's just incompetent.
Band of The Red Hand
23. pwl
My brain, having read TV tropes and a zillion novels and all kinds of movies and shows goes "just because you are alive to deliver those babies doesn't mean squat!"

I half-convinced myself when she got kidnapped during her plot-thread in ToM that she would be 13x13d. Heck, the kids could be born just fine. Then I remembered I was reading WoT.
Band of The Red Hand
24. FellKnight
It's not so much just medieval battle tactics, but tactics in general (of which Jordan was plenty familiar):

The number one rule of tactics is that information is power. Arymilla does not have the information. She does not know that Elayne may not have enough people to repel a co-ordinated assualt, and if she tries this co-ordinated assault, her forces may very well get slaughtered. That's why she never tries an assault until she thinks she can have Elayne mercs turn coat.

25. birgit
We know that Arymilla's spies told her about gateways to bring food into Caemlyn, but that doesn't mean she understands their use in battle.
Leigh Butler
26. leighdb
JenniferL @ 5:

Oh yeah, that's why that name jumped out at me. Thanks, that was really going to bug me.

dwndrgn @ 19:

I thought Arymilla's people did know by this point that Elayne has Traveling, but I don't know why I thought that, so you could be right. If so, that would be a very good explanation for why she hasn't tried a full-out assault.

Other people's comments about Arymilla not having the full loyalty of her followers are also good points.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
27. tnh
Bigdtv71, Darth Touma, even when I'm in a mood to allow firsts and seconds, they have to be spelled correctly to count.

Toryx @15: I dislike pointless repetition. On the other hand, I'll let you get away with almost anything as long as it rhymes and scans (and isn't a spoiler).
john massey
28. subwoofer
Righto- whack o' things to comment on...

Elayne- I wonder if anyone has discussed with her the merits of flying without wings, or poking larger animals with a short stick. Honestly, for an educated women, Elayne seems to have a loose grasp on the importance of safety. And it is times like this where it is really hard to like her considering that she is modelling herself after a very large sack of hammers. Perhaps catching arrows with her teeth as a hobby, sticking her head in one of Mat's Dragon tubes and asking for a light...

Guardsmen- sounds like the disbanded muskateers, one for all and all for one. Good to see the sentiment of a "good Queen's man" is not lost or forgotten. Well played, sirs.

Windfolk- I don't see the Windfinders climbing down the ladder Leigh, it's more like a steep plumet, and not a soft landing either.

Aes Sedai finding out about Elayne's craptastic bargaining skilz... well, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube so may as well get the details out and man up and take your lumps, don't prolong it.

Pregnancy- lemme tell you as a first hand witness of recent history- leave them alone, shaddup and say "yes dear" a lot. Stage 1 involves a whole whack o' stuff from sickness, to extreme fatigue to lack of appetite to er... "mood swings" aka homecidal tendancies. Never say to a pregger woman -"but honey, you just napped", hope they nap more, maybe even hibernate until the child is born. Just sayin'.

Don't get the hooplah about the wet clothes, sounds like a running "who's on first" gag. Maybe the point is that Elayne could not channel to dry herself or keep herself from getting wet. This could be an issue with the upcoming LB- Elayne and Co will have to take a back seat as reality looms large (er, no pun intended there)... and lets not start in again with Min's viewing.

Edit-@tnh, I bow to your wise and judicious skills.


Edit some more... wouldn't it be cool if Elayne's twins were like some kinda Star Wars Prequel thing and they both had the ability to channel... from birth, or before. Elayne could form a circle with them and be like a Super Mom Aes Sedai... or something. Whoot!

Band of The Red Hand
29. drothgery
Of course, the whole siege is made slightly absurd by the fact that the only things keeping Elayne from blasting Arymilla's army to bits with the Power are her ethics and morning sickness.
john massey
30. subwoofer
On second blush, could this be Elayne's way of acting out seeing as much of the other areas of her life are strictly regimented? Whatshernuts has Elayne on a tight watch in terms of diet, exercise, sleep and even what Elayne wears. Elayne has her er... bowel movements monitored for consistancy and her weight checked, IMHO this would really cramp my personal space and I'd feel the need to gallivant every now and again to de-stress as it were. Maybe Elayne is doing what she does because that is the only place out from under whatshernuts thumb.

That, and she wants to solidify her claim to the throne. She's at least building some character, but the way she rationalizes her risks grinds on me. Perhaps putting it to people "what would you have me do, lose the throne?" would be more closer to the truth.

...And it's not really a seige if Caemlyn is getting food and troops on a regular basis. the whole problem with a concerted all out attack is that the enemy is not at all on the same page, they seem very divided and greedy, and it is a low point for mercenary troops.

Oh, and yay Birgitte for doing so good, Guy is a good replacement for you so you can go back to your Hero of the Horn-ing.

Band of The Red Hand
31. Drewd
A few tactical notes re: the siege:

1) The strength of interior lines. The defender in this situation will always enjoy the advantage of having interior lines, enabling him/her to reinforce more readily than the attacker. Which brings us to:

2) Concentration of force. This is problematic for the attacker in a siege because you can only fit so many troops on the ladder, in the mine, etc. And because the attacker is obliged to spread his force around the city (to cut off supplies), this is even more difficult.

3) Covering lines of retreat. It is generally very unadvisable to attack with everything you have. If the attack fails, your retreat could become a rout and your entire force could be captured/destroyed.

4) Troop reliability. Veterans tend to do much better than raw recruits, and enlisted soldiers tend to do better than mercenaries. And when I say "do better", I mean that they are less risk adverse and easier to lead/manage. After all, a merc has to be alive to enjoy the payday. This can also hamper the attacking party in a siege because all attacks are necessarily against fortified positions and thus carry greater risk.

5) Information asymmetry. Here, the attacking party does not know what's going on within the city (or at least, the full tactical and strategic situation). She only knows that Elayne enjoys the advantages of defending a fortified position and having interior lines. And because each of her probing attacks has been met with stiff resistance, she is understandably reluctant to commit her whole (unreliable merc) force to an attack.
Captain Hammer
32. Randalator
subwoofer @28

Aes Sedai finding out about Elayne's craptastic bargaining skilz...
well, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube so may as well get
the details out and man up and take your lumps, don't prolong it.

Maybe there is a shred of sanity left in our favourite bundle of pregnancy hormones and she actually fears for the well-being of her twins, to hell with all Viewings...

All things considered, I wouldn't want to be within a 10-mile radius of Elayne, when the shit hits the fan. Actually no, scratch that. I wouldn't want to be IN THE SAME GALAXY.
33. gadget
Even with good intelligence, Arymilla would be risking a lot on an all out attack. There is the fact that many of her troops are mercenaries and not to anxious to die for the cause, then the logistics and coordination to work out. Finally, if you dilute you're forces in attacking multiple points, you risk weakening each force too much and making it easier to repell. It is not clear how much of numerical advantage Aymilla has before Guy-whatshisname shows up with reinforcements, but it takes quite a decent advantage when you're attacking a fortified position with limited siege equipment (I can't remember Aymilla's army having siege engines?). You also have to worry about your supply lines and camps to prevent reinforcement from outside the city and protecting your camp.

One more thing, and probably the most important, if you do go for an all out attack and are repulsed, that may be it for your siege. Moral would be broken among troops that already don't have much to begin with; your cause would be precieved as a failure and you would find yourself left alone with a few retainers. Much better to not go all out with such a great risk and look for an easier option.
john massey
34. subwoofer
@Randalator... er which particular pile going "splat" are we talking about here? Elayne's secret leaking out? The Last Battle? Rand knocking more boots with Min and Avi (yes they are all aware, but pregnant women are not nec. rational or liberated...)? Rand dying? The babies shooting out? Rand not being there when said babies shoot out? Basically the fan is going to be covered.

Captain Hammer
35. Randalator
subwoofer @34

I was referring to the Aes Sedais' wrath to end all wraths when all details of the Seafolk bargain are revealed and Elayne's tendency to try and escape the looming shitstorm just a little bit longer...

Tarmon Gai'don will be a stroll in the park compared to that.
Tricia Irish
36. Tektonica
A quick jump in here before I read the comments and I forget what I was going to say....so excuse me, please, if I'm being redundant.

Yes, Elayne is being moody to a certain extent and pregnancy can cause that, but I'd be ticked off too if everyone around me were telling what to do and not do, and making be eat gruel and weak tea, and treating me like I was incompetent. Not to mention, everyone telling me, "You're wet." Like, DUH. Stating the obvious, thank you, I wasn't aware! Argh. I'd scream too.

So although this and the plod are my least favorite plot lines, I understand Elayne's temper here. ( And poor Vandene!)

On Windfinders being demoted: Dumb. OK, maybe it keeps the long lived in check from a power standpoint, but don't you think it would benefit a new captain to have someone very experienced and obviously very talented in place already? Imho.
john massey
37. subwoofer
@Randalator- meh, IMHO the "P.S.-I'm-married-to-the-Dragon-Reborn-we're-bonded-and-I'm-knocked-up-with-his-kids" bomb will make their hair blow back more. Elayne's gaff with Bargaining will be mitagated with Egwene's new Apprentice(Edit- thank you Mis) sharing plan.

Hugh Arai
38. HArai
Tektonica@36: That only works if it is someone very experienced and very talented in place. On the other hand, if you have someone who is barely adequate but very healthy and well-connected in place, to get the brilliant fresh blood in place requires serious cultural trauma.

As for Elayne: I find people tend to stop telling me I'm wet when I have the sense to dry off. Aviendha is right there. I'd bet a Wise One channeler knows how to extract water from anything with water in it.
The serious "do this, don't do that" - at least from people like Birgitte- mostly amounts to "stop doing stuff we might get killed protecting you from". What else would you expect a Warder/head of the Guard to say? If she doesn't like it a) don't bond a Warder and try to become Queen, or b) stop doing stuff they might get killed protecting you from.
Charles Gaston
39. parrothead
The person I really feel sorry for re: baby birthing is Birgitte. Her charge is going to face a rather significant threat (viewings be damned) that Birgitte-as-Warder can't fight AND Elayne is going to experience a pretty big life event that Birgitte-as-cool-big-sis can't help with or even be there for because I'm thinking she'll be far away getting tanked. During the...initial phase, she felt enough through the bond that she had trouble walking. What's on tap for her now? Sympathetic labor pains taken up to eleven.

Nobody's mentioned the possibility of Guybon = Demandred? I never really bought that theory, but then I was never sold on Taim, either. Not because I had some keen insight but instead that I just never thought about it.
Bonnie Andrews
40. misfortuona
So elephant dung last post and messy fans this one…. We seem to be running with a theme here people.

Anyway I apologize if this was discussed to death during one of the more pertinent chapters but it's always sort of bugged me that Elayne has gotten off pretty much scot free for her part in the Seafolk deal.

She escapes most of the teaching and facing the hall because she's busy becoming Queen.
Nyn shouldn't have had to take the brunt of this IMHO.

Mis-sing the fecal storm

PS: Wave to Sub... novices aren't being shared maybe accepted/apprentice sharing program... AAS
john massey
41. subwoofer
Re: the problem with mercinaries-they seem to fight and want to live to fight another day as they are all friends and have fought with/against each other on several occasions. Whole lotta noise and show, but not much on results.

@Mis H'lo:) and yuppers, you be right, it is the er... more mature Accepted etc that do the swapping. I forgot that the Tower has three tiers of channelers while the rest have twoish.

Elayne didn't really get off Scott free- IIRC the Amyrlin was choked and there were no Sister's higher than Elayne to take her to task. Get her in a room of Sitters or Ajah head type people and there will be bowing and scraping... and slipper fetching, or something that can be done as penance to a preggers woman.

as for the fan and the elephant, what can I say... s#!t happens :D

Edit- oh yeah, and don't forget, Elayne has a whole passel o' Kin to bribe the Tower with... the old " yeah I screwed the pooch on that one, but here I am to redeem myself with this grand gesture"...

Kimani Rogers
42. KiManiak
Thanks, Leigh. 2 Elayne Chapters…. Well, I’m going to try to be nice.

Actually, there’s not a lot to say about these 2 chapters. Elayne’s side is defending against a siege, they repel an attack, more Guardsman magically appear through a hole in the air, and then multiple folks pester Elayne while she tries to walk to her room and get out of her wet clothes. That about sums it up.

Don’t have much on the siege itself. I’m sure there’s a good tactical reason why Arymilla’s forces didn’t bum rush the walls. And scanning the comments real quick, I see that several folks already listed reasons.

Elayne’s “My babes will be healthy according to Min’s viewing” defense for any and all stupid, reckless actions. It’s been attacked enough already, so I’m not going to dog pile on. Unfortunately, it’s not until ToM that she is educated to the error of that way of thinking.

Hey, at least she didn’t blame Rand for doing this to her, again. (Or maybe she did, and Leigh just spared us).

I had no problem with Elayne's screaming after the umpteenth person told her to get out of her wet clothes, right after waylaying her from being on her way to her rooms. As far as I’m concerned, it was warranted, and it was effective. I would have been over on the side, busting out laughing like Aviendha was. Good times.

Ok, time to check the comments in more detail now.
Sandy Brewer
43. ShaggyBella
Everyone telling Elayne that she was wet kinda reminds me of Mat in the Tarasin Palace covered with mud from the fight with the gholam.
Everyone kept telling him what would happen if he showed up dirty, i.e. the "Queen taking a switch to My Lord's backside." If he was Elayne, he probably would scream, but no, he walks in on Tylin, Suroth & Tuon, sailing his hat across the room. Same Idea, recycled.
(One of my fav scenes, BTW)

Also, Elayne tried to dry herself off with the Power, Avi did not know the weave.

I recall later that Elayne contemplates Guybon for a third warder, because she likes to look at him and he helped rescue her from the Black Ajah.

Leigh Butler
44. leighdb
KiManiak @ 42:

Hey, at least she didn’t blame Rand for doing this to her, again. (Or maybe she did, and Leigh just spared us).

Er. Yeah, I spared you.
Band of The Red Hand
45. Wortmauer
I can't be the only one who's been hoping that someone, somewhere manages to go all to the pain on the Queen of Andor, to illustrate some of the shortcomings of Min's viewing, and as fan service. It's looking less and less likely, but I can still hope. Maybe Sanderson can get Joe Abercrombie to help with the AMOL outline.

The Bargain: what a stupid bargain, and try as I might, I still can't figure out what leverage the Atha'an Miere had over Elayne and Nynaeve to keep them at the table at all. Sure, we now know the Windfinders were crucial in making the Bowl of the Winds do its thing, but when have we ever seen the Supergirls believe they can't just improvise this sort of thing? In this, as in so many other things, the Supergirls were clueless and overconfident. They seemed to have no idea, going in, that the Windfinders would actually be important; I think they were just looking for some strong channelers to fill out a circle of 13. So why on earth didn't the girls didn't just pick up their marbles and go home the first time the Sea Folk demanded anything beyond the privilege of helping to mend the weather? Why give any concessions at all? Why not just Travel back to Salidar, catch up with the SAS, and assemble a circle there?

Well, we have some reasons ... let's see...

- We've been told many times that the Sea Folk have legendary bargaining powers. I find that unsatisfactory, given how little they had to bargain with, and how the Windfinder gave away her intense hunger for the Bowl right off the bat.

- Egwene told them to stay away from Salidar for awhile so she could defuse Nicola's blackmail. Weak. This could have been worked around. For that matter, why should the Amyrlin want to protect them anyway? Let them fess up and claim the amnesty proclaimed by the Amyrlin the morning she was raised. Or serve penances, whatever.

- If they went back, they would be giving up the leadership role bestowed by the Amyrlin. Weak.

- All sorts of WoT plodding would not have been possible if they'd taken a short cut back to Salidar when they had a chance, i.e., before the Seanchan showed up in Ebou Dar, before Mat had to run off to find Olver, etc., etc. AMOL might've happened about 2 books sooner. And what a shame that would have been.

Oh well, one good thing came of the Bargain. One scene. "I don't care about your bloody bargains with anybody else, you daughter of the sands."
Band of The Red Hand
46. AndrewB
Leigh said: "So, when Guybon appeared here in this chapter, I was immediatelyconvinced that he was a Darkfriend. ... But then I looked him up and discovered that apparently he is a perfectly nice guy who is exactly what he says he is, at least as of ToM."

Leigh, what specifically made you believe that Guybon was a Darkfriend? I do not agree with you belief (however momentarily) that Guybon was a DF. Nevertheless, I would certainly be interested in hearing your rationale.

As of ToM, it appears that Guybon is one of the good guys. That said, IIRC, we have yet to have a PoV from Guybon where his thoughts make clear that he is on tema Light. Something tells me that AMoL will have more supposed good characters reveal themselves to be Darkfriends.

(Note: I do not mean to imply that AMoL will reveal that Guybon is a Darkfriend. I do not see that occuring.)

Count me among those who support Elayne's plan of reintroducing former sul'dam who now are channeling back into Seanchan sociey as a good plan. Lsana @9 makes a good counterargument. However, I think the revelation that every last sul'dam is a marath'damane who can learn to channel will rock Seanchan society to the core. I do not see it recovering (at least as it vis-a-vis the use of adams to control channelers).

From what we as readers have seen of most of the Seanchan, they are not willing to change their beliefs. I feel that most of them would advocate a complete annihilation of all channelers as opposed to the use of adams to control them. I beleive the annihailation would include any sul'dam. It is true that the damane make an efvfective weapon. However, the Seanchan view a damane as a wild animal. The adma is the means by which Seanchan society is able to control this beast in a manner that the beast will not endanger society. That Seanchan society has been able to craft the damane into a weapon is a bonus.

I can see a parallel to damanes in Seanchan society to that of the wolf in the society of the American rancher in the mid to late 1800s Ranchers attempted to drive the wolves into extinction because they feared that the wolves were a danger to their livestock. Imagine, however, that somebody invented a type of collar that would tame the wolves and make them a weapon that ranchers could use against Native Americans. (During this period of American history, ranchers and other settlers viewed Native Americans as a threat.)

Under my hypothetical, does any think that the ranchers would not hesitate to use the wolves as a weapon in the fight against the Native Americans? I do not. Now imagine what if this magical wolf collar suddenly and systematically stopped working. What do you think the ranchers would do? Yes -- you in the back -- exactly. The ranchers would start killing off the wolves. The ranchers liked using wolves as weapons. However, saving their livestock would be more important than killing Native Americans.

Likewise, the Seanchan took great pride in the damane as weapons. However, if the "wild beast" (aka the damane) suddenly and systematically became uncontrolable, then the Seanchan would start killing of damane. In addition to damane, they would kill off future marath'damane -- i.e. the suldame.

Maybe some Seanchan could learn to view marath'damane as people and not wild beasts. I think Tuon could . I also think that General Khirgan, Karade and possibly Leilwin could make such a culture change. For the majority of the Seanchan, howeve, I do not think they could be so accepting.

I should point out that in real life, it takes a lot of time for a society to change its views on a topic. Take slavery for instance. The United States needed a civil war to legally outlaw slavery. I beleive that to date, more American soldiers died in battle during the Civil War than in any other war America has fought. Even after the civil war, parts of the country maintained a defacto (and at times dejure) racial discrimination for approximately 100 more years.

This is why I would not hold up hope that Seanchan society may see the error of their ways and recognize damane and marath'damane as regular humans.

(My above argument makes one huge assumption: everybody reading Leigh's blog does not like the way that Seanchan society treats damanne and marath'damane. I suppose some readers may be of the belief that societys (be them real or fictional) contain a certain undesirable segment that is not really human -- akin to the way that Nazis thought of Jews. However, I desperately hope that is not the case.)

I think I have said enough tonight.

Thanks for reading my musings.
Stefan Mitev
47. Bergmaniac
@Harai - Aviendha didn't know the weave for drying off, it was specifically mentioned.

Anyway, I really don't think the confidence in Min's viewing made Elayne reckless by WoT standards. Ever since she learned of he viewing, the only really risky thing she did was the raid on the Black Ajah house later on KoD. I don't count the Forsaken disguise trip to the dungeons as really risky - the guards were right outside, the Black Ajah were shielded, and it only backfired due to an exteme coincidence. She had a whole bunch of bodyguards around her at all times except in those cases.

We on a meta level of course know that Tempting Fate is big no in stories. But if you live in a world where prophesies are accepted by everyone and always come true, it's natural to feel much more confident about your chances of geting through the next several months in good shape with the viewing about the babies in place than without it. Sure there are ways to get in real trouble and still for the viewing to come through (burning out, 13X13, etc), but they are way less likely than just getting killed or so badly injured that the babies die. Elayne certainly didn't consider herself invincible due to the viewing (see the next chapter, for example, where she was thinking how it didn't prevent her from getting burned out), just made her more confident to take some risks (not that she wasn't before), and she used it as an argument against everyone around her being overprotective.
Captain Hammer
48. Randalator
Wortmauer @45

To the Supergirls credit, Rand's tame Aes Sedai started with the bargaining position of "He's your Messiah! Do as he friggin' says, already!" and got their asses handed to them (and charged extra for shipping and handling). So it's not just them...
john mullen
49. johntheirishmongol
I'm going to disagree with the majority here and say that I thought it was smart of Elayne to take some chances. She is obviously on the defensive and if she doesn't take risks, she cannot win. And her risks are minimized by Min's viewings. In fact, there might be some carryover, since if she is captured she will likely be killed, so her protection may even extend to those around her.

As husband and father, I can attest that pregnant women have mood swings. Some women have them more severely and it changes from child to child so just because there isn't with one doesn't mean there wont be with a second. Some women deny they have them but on this one, men are the better judge.
Captain Hammer
50. Randalator
johntheirishmongol @49

re: minimized risks

Does Min's Viewing somehow prevent her from having her arms and legs blown off? Does it protect those close to her from being blown to smithereens? One person is all it takes to drag her to safety if push comes to shove. "No harm to the babies" is very much not the same as "no harm to me", let alone "no harm to me and those around me".

Also, we will see in glorious detail just how well the "protection" carries over, when Elayne goes Black Ajah hunting in ch. 31. Having this kind of magic protection makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside...
Hugh Arai
51. HArai
Bergmaniac@47: Thanks for pointing that out. My bad for going by memory and Leigh's summary instead of actually re-reading the chapters.
Having re-read them now, I am a bit more sympathetic about the "you're wet!" reminders. However, I'm even less sympathetic with her for complaining that her guards are doing their job. The contrast that comes to mind is Rand admitting the Maidens had the right to beat the snot out of him for acting the same way.
craig thrift
52. gagecreedlives
I half-convinced myself when she got kidnapped during her plot-thread in ToM that she would be 13x13d. Heck, the kids could be born just fine. Then I remembered I was reading WoT.

Ive been out of the loop for a while (hey everyone) but has it been discussed yet what the above would do to the kids? Would they come out little Vaders?

Still cant stand Elayne but the scream was pretty damn funny.
Wesley Parish
53. Aladdin_Sane
We laughed, we cried, we got caught in the rain!

( sings - offkey, of course ) you're the lady I've looked for, come with me and escape!!! (AAAAARRRGHGHGH! Lady Myrdraal, I never ... expected to ... see ... you ... here ... AAAAARRRGHGHGH!!!!!!! :)

Seriously, Arymilla's got some severe tactical problems. So we learn from one of the "Lady Shiane" chapters, she's been sending emissaries in to the Caemlyn Enemies Society, the resident DFs. Ditto Jarid Sarand ... and the Lady Elenia Sarand's not exactly trusted by Arymilla, either. Arymilla wouldn't hold the threat of Lord Nasin over her if she was trusted.

I also think the Aiel and the Saldaeans as part of the Dragon Reborn's forces in Andor, would've played a large part as well, albeit not purposefully.

You see, you have this large force sitting to one side, apparently uncommitted. But it is well known that its commander is firmly on one side of the battle. You cannot tell in advance what it will do. So you don't commit your full forces at any one point, to forestall it taking you out at your weakest moment. It's what Rand's supporters did in lifting the seige of Cairhien - leaving a sizeable number of their forces held back to prevent the uncommitted Aiel from attacking them at their weakest. And that is leaving aside the Borderlanders completely.
Stefan Mitev
54. Bergmaniac
"I'm even less sympathetic with her for complaining that her guards are doing their job. The contrast that comes to mind is Rand admitting the Maidens had the right to beat the snot out of him for acting the same way."
Rand has treated his bodyguards way worse, leaving off on a whim to go into danger time and time again, going away without a word for weeks, thus dishonoring them, even after he gave his word not to do it. Even the beating didn't change that. For all her grumbling about them, Elayne has been much more reasonable and kept the bodyguards around pretty much at all times.

The Sea Folk Deal - the thing that is the most implausible about it is that IIRC Elayne and Nynaeve didn't even consider the help from the Sea Folk absolutely necessary. They thought that they could've used the Bowl without them - it would've been more complicated and would've tken longer, but they considered it possible to figure out. In ligh of that, the Bargain is just way unbelievable. No wonder Jordan kept it offscreen, since I don't see how he could've written the scene in any plausible way.

Arymilla remarked later that she wasn't using all of her forces because she wanted to save the Andoran armsmen for dealing with the Borderlanders, and she was waiting for the arranging of the betrayal of the mercenary companies in Elayne's employ.
Band of The Red Hand
55. Gorbag
Concerning the fall of the Windfinder subsequent to that of the Wavemistress, etc, consider it this way: the Windfinder is an important part of the team; the Wavemistress sets policy, the Windfinder is part of the team to implement it, a major part. She's also a major part of the defense of the Seafolk.

I think the Seafolk would consider that in permitting her Wavemistress to fail so catastrophically - in this case shortened by one head - she had failed her team and should therefore be cut down in rank, and have to start all over again.
Tyler Durden
56. Balance
AndrewB @46: I like where your head's at as far as using historical context to add relevance to your argument. However, while I believe your reasoning on the future behavior of the Seanchan toward damane and marath' damane is solid, I have to doubt the outcome.

I think it would be incredibly difficult to commit genocide against a sub-group of a population that is capable of channeling. Especially using standard troops. Once word got out the sul'dam would rebel. Most likely they would take the damane with them. (Like taking your favorite hunting dog / rifle, whatever) Some weird symbiotic relationship could develop. Yadda yadda. Point is, even with a super ultimate coordinated assassination plan, these girls can still kick your ass. What was it? 30 some Aes Sedi (with warders and like 500 younglings) held off all the Shaido. And the AS aren’t exactly instruments of war. One bonded pair of sul'dam and damane gets free and you’re having a bad day.

So, while I agree with your argument that Seanchan society will have major upheaval, I don't think genocide is a plausible outcome.
john massey
57. subwoofer
I dunno, not all folks are evolved and forward thinking. And it's not just the non-channeler's vs. the channelers, the damane and sul'dam would be divided too, ingrained prejudice does not change over night, even to the down trodden, the status quo is dogma. For cultural shifts you have either evolution or revolution and for such a rapid and extreme change, this is going to be the later. I somehow don't see Tuon saying "yes, these damane are people too" and everybody is okay with it. I'm not even sure that Tuon would say something, unless she spent some good quality time being leashed herself and finding that it is not all shits and giggles.

... and those Aes Sedai were linked, different school of fish, linked women are harder to shield.

As for Sea Folk bargaining skills, that has always baffled me. I have a much younger brother-in-law that makes it his life's work to ask inappropriate questions at any random juncture. What he fails to understand is that folks don't have to answer his questions... ever. Now Egwene and Ny may not have been able to tell the Wave whatever to pound sand, but they could have Aes Sedai-ed up and been all mysterious-like, the way they are with Rand and Mat and Perrin. And even though the terms of the Bargain seem to be fairly er... craptacular, I am still baffled by the whole- "we're giving you this powerful ter'angreal to keep forever, one that you cherish, and in return you get all this bonus stuff too." Where were these girls when I had to sell my old Talon with a blown turbo? Shoulda brought a guy along with you when you stepped onto the lot.

Heidi Byrd
58. sweetlilflower
Don't have the books handy to check, but I remember Nyneave grumbling about how the SF basically kept them hostage until the negotiations were through. I seem to recall her saying they were shielded and forcibly kept onboard. Although, I could be thinking of the bargain between the SF and Rand's AS.... I'm sure someone can correct me.
Hugh Arai
59. HArai
Bergmaniac@54: I don't dispute Rand's actual behavior has been harder on his guards. Although I might dispute "leaving on a whim to go into danger". Rand is basically stuck with the Maidens as the one child of a Maiden who has returned to them, and as the Car'a'carn.
He has/had tremendous hangups about women doing dangerous jobs, but a channeler as powerful as Rand doesn't get pummeled by non-channelers unless he figures they've got the right.

There's a bit in Chapter 13 where a guard grabs Elayne's horse before she can ride close to the combat, Elayne snaps something at them like "What do you think I am, an idiot?", they let go, and a few moments later she rides in close to the combat. That's pure petulance and hard to understand from a woman who's been highly guarded nobility her entire life. Elayne actively recruited these guards. She certainly doesn't have Rand's obsession about preventing harm to women as a reason to keep evading/out-distancing them. So the attitude grates. YMMV.
john massey
60. subwoofer
@Sweetlil- I think you are right... but that has more to do with Elayne's and Ny's ignorance on setting up terms on coming on board a Sea Folk ship... kinda like the Mat fiasco when negotiating with the 'Finn. The girls got on the boat, but forgot about how they would get off... Perhaps a ta'veren type person around would have helped things- as Mat did tell them. Like I said, shoulda brought a guy with them before they stepped onto the lot.

EDIT: Hi GCL- waves back :D

john mullen
61. johntheirishmongol
@50 I thought it was more of a breaking of the trope of not taking any chances that was going on here. And in chap 31, although Elayne is temp captured, she still wins in the end, even if shaken up a little.
Band of The Red Hand
62. pwl
Ive been out of the loop for a while (hey everyone) but has it been discussed yet what the above would do to the kids? Would they come out little Vaders?

I've never seen such speculation, although I'd be interested to. Of course, when Jordan explained what 13x13 does to the person, it just pulls out their less savory traits and amplifies them. I saw no reason to assume it would affect the children in any nature way, although the nurture would be rather different. Whereas Elayne becoming horribly maimed might have an effect on the kids (nourishment, stress levels, medieval sepsis etc. have an effect on fetal health), I see no reason why an evil but otherwise perfectly healthy person would be incapable of the required "healthy kids". That's why the idea was so amusing to me.
robert heap
63. rapter
Long time lurker, first time poster.
Great job Liegh, through you I get more out of this saga than reading the books on my own. Please accept these chocolates, tied with ribbon in a heart shaped box.( no strings attached , I haven't even polished my shoes.)
Probably off topic but it occured to me that if The Wheel Turns and an age comes around. Our age (past? future?) has no channeling , where dose it go? To seal the bore takes all of saidar,saidin and true power leaving none in the world? This would solve many post sealing problems i.e. Damane, disparate life spans ,aes sedai etc. Possable?

P.S. Love this community, no flames, no bad (offensive )language,no rants or childish ramblings, (almost ) no Baggage, LOVE IT
Hugh Arai
64. HArai
johntheirishmongol@61: There's the small matter of a bunch of guardsmen getting fireballed,lightning bolted and balefired trying to rescue her. Lovely evidence of how well her protection extends to those around her.
Band of The Red Hand
65. Abraham Lincoln
One other huge reason for Arymilla's army not crushing Caemlyn from the get-go: there's a POV of Arymilla coming up in KoD at some point, and it shows that she doesn't pay attention to what her advisors tell her, she has no understanding of tactics, and she thinks that asking any of her followers for advice is a sign of weakness. So, there's all that too.
66. srEDIT
@ pwl 62 and gagecreedlives 52:

But we know from the Elayne-Aviendha-sisters ceremony (and other references) that certain weaves affecting a pregnant mother would also affect her unborn children. Which weaves and what effects are never really explored, but it's at least feasible that the twins would also have the worst of their nature brought to the fore.
Alice Arneson
67. Wetlandernw
I have a whole series of comments on the comments, but I’ll either post most of them later or not at all. I wanted to get this one done, though, as food for thought.

…but don't you think it would benefit a new captain to have someone very experienced and obviously very talented in place already? Now that you mention it, that’s exactly what happens. Consider this (multi-year) scenario:

A new Windfinder (let’s call her Alpha) trains under an experienced Windfinder (Tau, who we won’t see again); at a certain level of expertise Alpha goes to work on a low-ranking ship with a new captain (Eta) and the two form a team. Together they work their way up the hierarchy (however that works), knowing they will remain together until one of them dies, whether due to accident, illness or old age. Meanwhile, a few years after Alpha and Eta team up, Windfinder Beta has teamed up with captain Theta in the same fashion.

Eta, by now the captain of a raker, dies of illness at age 50, and Theta is next in line for that particular ship.

Now what? Should the experienced Windfinder Alpha stay on the ship, expecting the new captain, Theta, to dump her old Windfinder Beta? Should Beta be demoted to serving under Alpha, even though both are experienced and Beta has been working with Theta for a long time? Should Alpha stay with the ship and be demoted to serving under Beta? It’s not like either Theta or Beta are new and inexperienced, if Theta is next in line for a raker, and they've been working together for 20 years. Is it fair to Beta and Theta to tear apart their team for the sake of the surviving Windfinder Alpha?

So… with logic that may surprise the Sea Folk haters, Alpha takes all her experience, but not her rank, and goes to work with a new captain Kappa on a small ship. Since Alpha has given up her rank (more or less willingly, since she accepts the structures of her society), she doesn’t stand above Kappa except in experience. So now you have a new captain with an experienced Windfinder, forming a new team and working their way up together. No one else had to lose her job (Beta) or her teammate (Theta) in a struggle for seniority. Well-functioning, established teams stay together without disruption. Kind of a bummer for Alpha in the near term, since she may no longer have the political power or social status she used to, but she can work her way up again.

And of course, eventually Theta dies and Beta takes her experience (but not her rank) and goes to work with another new captain. Every Windfinder, except those who die prematurely, will go through this scenario 15-20 times in her life. Having served my time in corporate America and seen too many good teams broken up and good people made ineffective by “seniority” issues and management interference, I can see some definite advantage to the Sea Folk system.
Hugh Arai
68. HArai
Wetlandernw@67: Nice post. Hadn't thought about the advantages of maintaining the "teams". Another point is that while the Windfinder might have to keep helping her captains work their way up so that she can go with them, at least this way there is mobility. If every slot above you is filled with people who will be able to perform those duties for the next several hundred years, you really have no prospects at all.
69. Freelancer
Forgive me if someone else manage to squeeze this thought in amongst the Elayne hatred, but if so I missed it...

The reason for the scream isn't simply that Elayne is being told by everyone that she's wet. Following the battle, and the rainfall induced by Aviendha's dispersal of the storm, it seems everyone's (that is to say, everyone with matching chromosomes) first concern is getting Elayne warmed and dried. Then every single thing that happens after this point requires Elayne to stop on her way to becoming warm and dry, and deal with a new person(s). Each of those persons, who is unintentionally preventing Elayne from attaining warmth and dryness, pauses in their dialogue to inform Elayne that she is wet (as if she was unaware of same), and should immediately get warm and dry, the very condition which they are prolonging vis-a-vis their interaction.

It is upon exceeding her ability to continue bearing this absurd frustration that Elayne explosively decompresses in the form of a primal scream.

It's an exceptionally well-written bit of humor.

Now then... (A ridiculous phrase when considered grammatically) Yes, of course, Elayne isn't guaranteed complete bodily safety through Min's vision, only that she won't be dead when the children come to term. So her "fearlessness" appears quite foolish. And everybody focuses entirely on the foolish, never on the brave. If I was operating under the premise (valid or not) that I was effectively invulnerable, I'd be all "Where is my super-suit?!" Which is what Elayne is doing. It's understandable to me, SNL reference aside.

RE: The Windfinders. I have to ask the question, why do the Seanchan collar channelers? When we finally get a detailed answer to that, we learn that unchecked, those with phenomenal cosmic power who aren't constrained to itty-bitty living space, end up as cruel, despotic tyrants. The Sea Folk, it would seem, have learned a kinder, gentler way to prevent that. By tying a Windfinder's station to that of a ship captain who won't live very long in comparison, they ensure that the Windfinder doesn't get to spend long decades as the Top Banana. And worse than having one multi-centenarian overlord, there would be large coalitions of them, with the most powerful or senior at the top, who could pretty much ignore anyone who didn't carry as much authority. Their system precludes that for them, just as general elections and the 22nd Amendment do for us in the U.S. (Come on, 2012!)
Kimani Rogers
70. KiManiak
Hey, Leigh.

So, it looks like no one really answered your question about any updates on the status/location of Merilille and Talaan.

As far as I recall in the, what, 4.5 books (WH, CoT, KoD, TGS, ToM) since they’ve gone missing, we’ve had no mention of their status. Definitely one of the dangling plotlines that are still out there.

Here’s some suggestions on how they may be resolved:

1. (Another PLOD-like scenario) - Merilille and Talaan have joined Luca’s traveling circus. Talaan’s uncanny sense of balance (cultivated while on the decks of various Sea Folk ships) has her assuming Elayne’s old tightrope walking act. Merilille has displayed an uncanny connection with felines, and has trained the various cats and lions to follow her commands. After a few months, word travels that the Tower has a new Amyrlin, and that rumors of a division in the Tower were incorrect. Merilille gathers Talaan and they head to the Tower.

2. (Saved by the Rhythm scenario) - Merillile and Talaan headed north, but “accidentally” end up in Saldaea. Talaan’s uncanny grace (cultivated while on the decks of various Sea Folk ships) has her picking up the sa’sara in no time. Merilille and Talaan choose to avoid the Tower until the split is resolved, and have instead seduced several lords. The ta’veren-assisted coincidences lead to them being in place to secretly aid Ituralde’s efforts to defend Maradon (they see all the Asha’man and fear discovery, but couldn’t leave Maradon to the Shadow). Talaan and Merilille are about to come out in the open and defend Maradon to the last when Rand, Bashere and a host of Asha’man appear. Wishing to not be discovered, they decide that now is the time to go to the Tower.

3. (Tai’shar Malkier scenario) – Merilille and Talaan head north, but “accidentally” end up in the Silverwall Keeps, where there is a large gathering of Malkieri. Intrigued and swayed by some mysterious pull of the Pattern, Merillille decides to camp out for a few days. She observes a large caravan entering the gates on the Kandor side, with a familiar figure on a familiar horse leading it, obviously trying to travel incognito. She and Talaan decide to attach themselves to the back of the caravan. Just as they pass through the Arafel side she hears a call go up from the front of the caravan, proclaiming the King of Malkier traveling to battle and inviting all who wish to accompany him. They travel along with 12,000 others to Tarwin’s Gap where awaits a vast army of more than 100,000 Shadowspawn. Discovering that Lan’s plan is to attack, and swearing that the Tower will not fail Malkier and its people again, Merilille Travels to the Tower with news of Lan’s heroic act, and beseeches the Hall (as the Amyrlin seat is at the Fields of Merrilor) to send as many Sisters and Tower Guard as can be spared to aid the king of Malkier…

4. (Buried Nobleman scenario) – Merilille and Talaan head north to Tar Valon, but accidentally end up in the Black Hills. They come across a camp, where 2 women and a man are buried in the snow. They search and see that the two women, both Sisters, have died, but that the man in still alive. Merilille does what little Healing she can to help nurse the man back to health. She discovers that the man is Alsalam, King of Arad Domain. As she is deciding what to do the living legend, Cadsuane, appears at her camp. Merilille is grilled by Cadsuane as to what happened and what Merilille was doing there. Cadsuane takes Alsalam off her hands, mutters something about how the “boy” better be grateful, and then orders Merilille to take Talaan to the Tower and put her in White. Merilille scurries to the Tower with her tail between her legs…

5. (Darned Ter’angreals scenario) – Merilille and Talaan exit Caemlyn, and enter the Aiel camp stationed outside of the City’s walls. There Merilille is approached by a pregnant, red-headed Wise One named Melaine, who informs her that she “Dreamed” that she must send Merilille to Rhiudean in all haste, or else the Aiel are doomed. Merilille walks through the gateway into Rhiudean, and stumbles across an object. She absentmindedly picks it up while embracing saidar, which can only be explained by some ta’veren assisted pull or coincidence. The ter’angreal puts her in a trance-like state and sends her out of Rhiudean, in to the desert. She recalls little from the trance, other than that she uses Saidar to craft a disguise, meets someone familiar, refers to herself as “Nakomi” and speaks of many things, of which she vaguely recalls includes the “Car’a’carn,” and the “toh” of the Aiel; finally, she crafts some weave of Saidar she is unfamiliar with and she then places it on the familiar someone, and disappears into the night. After exiting the trance-like state, she returns to Camelyn, gathers Talaan, and then heads to the Tower.

6. (Boring, Most-likely scenario) – Merilille and Talaan head north to Tar Valon. They are delayed by the snow. When they reach the Tower, it is whole and they discover that all women are now able to place their name in the Novice Book. Talaan's name is entered, and she blends into the background of the 1000+ Novices. Merilille goes to her room in the Tower and disappears back into anonymity.

Unfortunately, my money is on number 6…
Hugh Arai
71. HArai
Freelancer@69: I focus on the foolish not the brave, as you put it, because of Elayne herself. She does brave things practically every day. The problem is, what she fondly calls " the kind of courage expected of the Queen of Andor" is mostly deathwish material. Someone failed to teach her the difference.
Band of The Red Hand
72. EmmaB
I actually have been pregnant (with twins, no less) and sure, there were times when I felt like screaming. The thing I found the most difficult to deal with wasn't the hormones per se, though, but the way I became "public property" as soon as I began to show. It got worse throughout my pregnancy, and then dramatically worse after the babies were born.

Complete strangers will come up to you in the grocery store, call you "Mommy", ask you questions involving your Lady Bits and fertility history, touch your body, and touch your BABIES (grrr smash). Wish I were kidding, but I'm dead serious -- three of the most common questions I was asked were if I'd had a C-section or a natural birth, if I breastfed, and whether I had used infertility treatment to become pregnant. Then, there's the neverending parade of advice. Eat this, don't eat that, do this to get them to sleep, never do this, and no matter what, someone will be sure to point out to you the many, many ways in which you are Doing It All Wrong.

I never screamed at any little old ladies in the Kroger, but there were definitely days when I came home and screamed at my husband instead. There are lots of things I miss about pregnancy and infancy, but the incredible loss of privacy is not among them.
Alice Arneson
73. Wetlandernw
EmmaB @ 72 - AMEN!!! It's been said that the only person on earth who will receive more unsolicited advice than a pregnant woman, is the mother of a newborn. And with twins? Probably double.

To all who find Elayne annoying: In addition to Freelancer's excellent summary of why Elayne had to scream in this chapter, add in the background of what EmmaB just said. RJ did a fair job of portraying it, but nothing is like living through it. Everyone's an expert, whether they've had a baby or not, and will ask you the rudest questions and give you the weirdest advice. It's more-or-less okay coming from people you love, trust and respect, but everyone and her cat has to get in on the act. Elayne wouldn't be showing yet, but everyone in the palace knows anyway, so... yeah. As the Daughter-Heir, she'd be used to being a public figure, but this lack of privacy is beyond enough.
Rob Munnelly
74. RobMRobM
Ki @70 - brilliant. How bout a few more.
- BA = bad news. Careane dimes them out, they are captured by BA when escaping Camelyn and taken to a hidden back room in the Black Tower. Experiments ensue to perfect the 13 x 13 technique, before turning to the WT sisters on the grounds.
- Love on the Road. En route to Tar Valon, Talaan decides she finds older women attractive and Merlille discovers a taste for tattoos and the two develop the first full time mutually supportive, lesbian relationship seen in the Wheel of Time world. They change plans and build a cottage in an undeveloped portion of the Caralain grasslands and grow hemp for creating sustainable, ecologically friendly clothing.
- Talaan Cassidy and the Sundance Gal. En route to Tar Valon, they use their channelling skills to break into a money lender's house to get some needed funds (since Mirlille didn't want to dip into her Tar Valon accounts and disclose their location prematurely). They are caught and are chased through the wilds of Andor by a possee led by the head of one of the lesser Trakand houses. They escape into Murandy but cornered with no escape inside the Nine Horse Hitch. They are shot down in a blaze of arrow fire as they unsuccessfully try to bust out.
- Etc. This is fun!

Band of The Red Hand
75. Marlène
Can't say chapters with Elayne are the ones I like the most , she's just annoying , like Egwene , I just want to slap her . Perhaps she's beautiful but she is just a bore , what Rand can see in her , I wonder ... Aviendha is much funny and Min funny and cool .

I am reading The Gathering Storm and the chapters with Egwene are the ones , in this book , that annoys me the most ;)
Captain Hammer
76. Randalator
Marlène @75

I am reading The Gathering Storm and the chapters with Egwene are the ones , in this book , that annoys me the most ;)

Say, that's a lot of marbles here on the floor. Are those yours, by any chance...?
Band of The Red Hand
77. Giacomo
Remember: close also counts in thermonuclear warfare.
James Hogan
78. Sonofthunder
Did I post here yet? No? Oops. Anyways, I agree with the sentiment of late that Elayne's scream is well-justified. And hilarious. Elayne's not my favorite character(No Elayne, Rand's not the only one to blame for your pregnancy!!), but I think I would be screaming in her place too. If I was pregnant. And a woman.

And Wetlander, you already said much of what I was thinking regarding the Seafolk ranking system, so thanks for saving my fingers the effort! Completely agree with your assessment. And even though it is unfortunate to go to "the bottom of the ladder", the Windfinder is experienced enough(and hopefully mature enough!), that her next progression will be much easier. Also, power-checks for channelers is a good thing. I think this is even better than the White Tower way of doing it, because at least Windfinders are integrated into society!
Alice Arneson
79. Wetlandernw
Freelancer @69 - Can't believe I forgot to say this the first time...

Aladdin FTW! :) My favorite line in the whole movie, right there.
Band of The Red Hand
80. Wwyatt
I am aware that Mr. Jordan said that Taim is not Demandred but I just a line by Taim where he said "these so called Aiel" and that is only said by those who knew them before the breaking. I want to believe that Taim is not Dem. Did Jordan change the plot because so many guessed it?
81. Freelancer
Wwyatt @80

You should know, that line to which you refer was a cornerstone of the Taim = Demandred belief.

I cannot bring myself to imagine that Jordan would alter his story because his readers picked up on an easter egg. That requires the simultaneous, mutually exclusive suppositions that your readers are exceptionally bright (else why include so many deeply hidden and veiled nuggets), and shouldn't be quite so bright (how dare they discover my secret plotline!). Ascribing such lack of authorial integrity, or fickleness towards both the story and his readers, to Jordan establishes a very high threshhold of cognitive dissonance.

I say this not to accuse you, but as the basis of my response to your question, which is no.
john massey
82. subwoofer
@Randalator76 LOL:D

@Freelancer, I'da just stuck with a simple "no". Even living under a rock as I do, I've seen that idea flogged to death, with the same net result.

Windfinders- well, the whole Mat/BotW sequence had me grinding my teeth at them, but regardless of that or the discussions herein I liked the Sea Folk for the way that they stood up to the Seanchan. When Mat asked the one Windfinder what she would do if he freed her, and she responded, showing that she still had not given up. I don't have the book handy but the thought was quite simply, I'll free the rest of my people, we'll fight our way to the ships and then out of the harbor no matter what the cost. They had my backing then and there. But they are still annoying at times.

Elayne- nope, spin it how you will, she is still annoying. All I have going through my head when she is doing much of the stuff she does is "wow, this is a palace born and raised, trained to take over the throne, Tower trained person screaming". Mind you, I gave her a pass because she is pregnant and does not seem to want to admit that maybe being pregnant does affect her moods, her abilities etc. What I find funny is that in most cases when a woman is pregnant she is limited in terms of having to stay off her feet, not lifting heavy stuff, resting, and so on, whereas Elayne seems to think that pregnancy makes her bullet proof.

Roger Powell
84. forkroot
G'day mate! Been a while.

I'm moving on (to other topics) .. I promise.

My 'musing' is that it's safe to assume Charlz Guybon is not a Darkfriend, based why that particular name was chosen (as JenniferL@5 referenced.) It would be pretty crummy to "reward" someone with a heroic character reference and then make the character a Darkfriend.

Nice analysis!

I was getting ready to mail my bumper sticker to Lannis until I read further :-)
Tricia Irish
85. Tektonica
Sub...Elayne can be annoying, but really..Wetlander stated it well and any woman who has been with child will concur...most pregnant women can do just about anything that was normal behavior for them before being pregnant. I rode horses and worked out at the gym and did yoga, just like I always did....until it became, er, awkward. If you're not in any medical danger, and you're not hugging the commode, most activity is good. No kid gloves needed.

The way everyone orders Elayne around, and knows better than she does, and then won't let her get dry, while stating the obvious fact that she is wet,would be very irritating to anyone! And of course, coming from her, the scream is very funny.

Wetlander: About the Seafolk....I see your points about keeping the power of a channeler in check, etc. I still think it's an odd system. Yes, it's nice to have someone experienced come back down the ranks and train someone new, but I find it odd that the two are linked in the first place.

If the Windfinders and the captains were not linked, the Windfinders could move from ship/captain to ship/captain. It would be a learning experience for both. I'm sure different captains and windfinders could teach other new tricks, ways of doing things, and expand their mutual knowledge, of the sea and command. Just a thought.

The demotion of one because of the untimely death of the other, doesn't seem like it makes for easy individual budget planning or economic stability...but then I don't know how that all works in the Seafolk community.
john massey
86. subwoofer
@Tek- oki doki, let me put this another way, Elayne has really burned my ass for quite a while, so now that she is pregnant it exacerbates it... but at least now she has an excuse.

As far as the horse rides, going to the gym, pottery class etc, yeah, I saw a lady doing that on a commercial but then the caption at the end attributed it all to O.B.

*Flees for bunker*

William Fettes
87. Wolfmage
The Seafolk system of Windfinder patronage is interesting, but the highly sophisticated answers being given about why it could be justified only works partially for me, as it’s still very non-meritocratic, and it also brings me full circle to thinking about the problematic nature of Elayne ruling both Andor and Cairhien, for practical purposes, indefinitely. Come to think of it, given the example of Sorilea, Morgase would potentially be even worse as she would slow without the limitations of the binding rod. Anyway, my point is if the need for checks and balances on Windfinders outweighs the arbitrary unfairness of demoting them, then what does that say about the unchecked possibilities of letting channellers become sovereign rulers? I mean, at least Windfinders are always subordinate to a cargomaster and sailmistress at all times, and their most senior positions are still underneath clan Wavemistresses and Swordmasters, as well as the Mistress of the Ships and Master of the Blades.

I get the feelings we're not really supposed to question Elayne ruling over Cairhien, but it's always struck me as both inappropriate and too contigent on nepotistic intervention by Rand to be owned by Elayne as a powerplay in her own right. In that light, Elayne's extra long-livedness only makes it more offensive.
Hugh Arai
88. HArai
Wolfmage@87: Well, we know Moiraine very definitely did not want to be an Aes Sedai queen of Cairhien, and we know Elaida very much wanted Elayne to be Aes Sedai queen of Andor. That pretty much sums it up for me :)
Stefan Mitev
89. Bergmaniac
Speaking of this, one of my main problems in terms of suspending disbelief in this series is that nobody seems to be considering that a channeller on the throne could easily means 200-300 years reign. All of Elayne's political opponents or allies among the nobility treat her as another regular noble - at least a few should've commented on the possibility of the same monarch ruling for centuries and reacted in some way (ie a High Seat declaring he can't support Elayne because he doesn't like the possibility of one person ruling the realm for such a long time). Morgase was also a channeller, but at least this could be handwaved by saying that few people know that even such weak channellers slow significantly. But everybody knows Aes Sedai live for centuries.

BTW, I think Jordan made a mistake by making the channellers live so much longer than the normal humans. It has played no significant part in the plot, and it created some significant problems in terms of plausibility - the afore mentioned non-reaction to Elayne's claim for the throne and what that would mean long term (not even Elayne herself has given that any thought IIRC), Siuan's raising to Amyrlin at such an early age, etc. And more importantly, the behaviour and thinking process of the Forsaken (except Moridin to a degree) and the old guard among the Aes Sedai really don't seem any different from regular humans except they are more arrogant, but that's due to the ability to channel, not longevity.
Don Barkauskas
90. bad_platypus
Wwyatt @80, Freelancer @81:

Also, RJ himself said so (Bridlington Today interview 22 November 2005, via the Theoryland quote database):
Q: Fantasy fans like to speculate about characters and plot lines in their favourite books. Have you ever picked up any ideas from reading fans' forums, FAQs or from the questions you have been asked?
RJ: No, I haven't. I've always known where I was going and what I wanted to do. When I first discovered the fan websites and occasionally saw that someone had puzzled out correctly where I was going or what I intended to do, I thought about changing directions or altering the story to avoid what they had deduced. I quickly learned, however, that as soon as anyone put up a theory on one of the sites, there would be at least one poster explaining why the theory was no good and even impossible for every poster who hailed it as the new Unified Field Theory. So I didn't change anything after all.

(Although, I guess if someone really believes that RJ would change the plot just to prevent people from guessing, they'd probably also dismiss the quote as RJ lying. It's good enough for me, though.)
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
91. tnh
My favorite communiqué of RJ's was when he strongly hinted to all his fans that there are secret codes hidden in ISBNs. If anyone had the focus and motivation to go after that one, they'll have discovered that he was telling the truth. The encoded information isn't all that interesting, but it's there.
Captain Hammer
92. Randalator
Bergmaniac @89

Morgase was also a channeller, but at least this could be handwaved by saying that few people know that even such weak channellers slow

Actually, Morgase is such a weak channeler that her slowing would not have mattered anyway. She has slowed by about 10 years (age 43, looking in her mid-thirties), maybe she can squeeze another couple of years out of it, but it won't raise her life expectancy significantly beyond what's possible for non-channelers. She'll be long-lived, unusually long-lived even, but probably not to completely impossible levels.

I suppose if she's lucky she could reach 120 or a couple of years beyond (the verifiably oldest real human being was 122, btw.). Technically, she could have a similar predispostition for old age, as well as the channeling-induced slowing, which would propel her past that threshold, but that's really taking it to the extreme and highly unlikely.

the afore mentioned non-reaction to Elayne's claim for the throne and what that would mean long term, Siuan's raising to Amyrlin at such an early age, etc.

Uh, actually that was the whole point of Siuan's raising. They had lost three Amyrlins within a couple of years, so they wanted a young Amyrlin who would live long under normal circumstances and guarantee a long reign and stability...
Hugh Arai
93. HArai
Randalator@92: That argument has always had a strong flavor of "hide your head in the sand". Siuan was raised at 30. Even if they'd picked someone a century older, they would still be expected to live at least another century under normal circumstances. Picking someone as young as Siuan was hardly necessary for stability or a long reign. They were just sacrificing Siuan to "whatever" was killing Amyrlins. Yep, that BA is just a myth alright...
Alice Arneson
94. Wetlandernw
Well, both of those are rather oversimplifications. Given the loss of too many Amyrlins in too short a time - some of which were old enough to be natural deaths - they really did want someone significantly younger. In addition, there were (surprise!) factions among the Sitters who could not agree on any of the more "normal" (e.g. 150-year-old) candidates. There were, of course, more reasons than that; it's a complex process. When someone finally proposed Siuan, it seems to have been as much relief as anything that made them choose her. There's a distinct possibility (though of course it's never mentioned) that some were suspicious of the recent deaths, and considered that Siuan was either more expendable or more likely to survive than the other candidates. Either way, it's a workable solution for someone thinking that direction.

In any case, Randalator's original point was valid - the AS did indeed consider the possible longevity of a 30-year-old Amyrlin, and chose her anyway. Whether it was because of or in spite of her youth would be a matter of individual perspective for every Sitter.
Band of The Red Hand
95. Wortmauer
Wolfmage@87: I get the feelings we're not really supposed to question Elayne ruling over Cairhien, but it's always struck me as both inappropriate and too contigent on nepotistic intervention by Rand to be owned by Elayne as a powerplay in her own right.
Oh man, don't get me started. (Eh, too late.) What offends me about the whole situation is not only the naked spoils system at work (technically it's not nepotism if it's just someone you're boffing), but how Rand and Dyelin and everyone else are such enablers for Elayne's sense of entitlement, which is already the size of Algeria. At least Elayne is not quite so arrogant as to pretend to be taking the throne on her own, she admits she's getting it gift-wrapped from her baby-daddy. I know the Andorans really wanted to see the Andoran throne that way too, to salve their patriotic pride, but was anyone really fooled by the claim that Andor "is not a conquered province"? Its government was overthrown twice in 12 months, fer gosh sakes, by Gaebril and Rand. Anyone willing to think about it should have seen that even if Rand didn't actively aid Elayne in securing the throne, there was an unstated threat: "Choose any queen you want, but if it isn't someone I approve of, i.e., Elayne ... well, surely you heard what happened to Colavaere?"

(Also, good thing Elayne's relationship with the Dragon Reborn is on the down-low, or everyone would assume he gave her the throne in hopes of getting lucky. And that it worked.)

So, Cairhien. If it's really a good idea to consolidate nations, why not Darlin and Caraline of Tear? She's got a strong claim, and Rand can trust her, the two reasons to choose his lady love. Plus, she isn't Aes Sedai. Plus, she doesn't seem to have a history of going into mortal danger just because she's bored with novice training. But this consolidation doesn't strike me as a great idea anyway; I'd rather see Dobraine promoted from steward to king.

I almost wonder if Aviendha is feeling sort of second banana. "You gave her a throne, what about me? All you gave me was a necklace." I think Rand should go invade Shara and set up Aviendha as Sh'boan there, just so she doesn't feel left out. Then she can duke it out with Demandred.
Band of The Red Hand
96. Wortmauer
Sorry, not necklace, bracelet.
Roger Powell
97. forkroot
I dunno .. I don't get too worked up over any of it because I'm waiting to find out whether there is an Andor, Cairhien, etc. in the future. If there is, then I'm going to be very annoyed.

C'mon folks! This is supposed to be the END OF THE AGE. These things come along every 3-4 millenia and CHANGE THE WORLD. You might recall that the transition from the Second Age to the Third Age was, um, kinda stressful.

I'm not saying I'll only be happy if humanity is knocked back to the Stone Age, but the changes to Randland as we know it should be profound enough to qualify for "end of an Age" status ... otherwise this whole thing was a 14-book false alarm.
Stefan Mitev
98. Bergmaniac
The Sun Throne is a pretty poor gift though, assassinating monarchs, planning coups and plotting is the national pasttime of the country after all. If I were in Elayne's place, I wouldn't have taken it in a million years. I'd have prefered to see Dobraine as King there, he did plety for Rand and seems capable and doesn't like plotting that much so he could've been a good choice to try to reduce the Daes Dai'Mar obsession, which has hurt the realm a lot in the last decades.

But on a more objective level, I think if the two nations survive mostly intact, Cairhien could benefit from the personal union with Andor. Let's not forget that Cairhien has been in serious decline since the Aiel War, and then had a long civil war during the timefrme of the series. They've been unable to produce enough food to feed their population due to the farmers being scare dto go back to the Eastern Cairhien after the Aiel War, the lucrative trans-Waste trade is over, etc. So they could use closer ties with the richer Andor, and this would help militarily too.

I don't expect a major Breaking like the last one this time. There's too much setup in ToM for the world after the Last Battle, and it seems that it won't be all that different at first.

@Randaltor - I don't buy this for the reason Harai stated. I suspect Jordan hasn't made up my mind to make the current age Aes Sedai so long-lived by the time TGH came out and then had to retcon it a bit with this explanation, though I am probably wrong. Was there any mention fo the Aes Sedai longevity in the first two books - I can't remember...
Alice Arneson
99. Wetlandernw
Bergmaniac - "I suspect Jordan hasn't made up my mind..."

Say what? I can't parse that one...
William Fettes
100. Wolfmage
Randalator @ 92

Can I ask what you're basing that on? I take your point that Morgase is the weakest, most negligible channeller in Randland; 13th Depository ranks her at 1 on a 21 level scale of Saidar ability. So if we intuitively accept some relationship between strength and slowing we might conjecture that she would slow the least of any channeller. But I’m not sure we really have any firm evidence to give year figures to that intuition. After all, Sorillea is ranked 2 on the same scale, and she is probably one of the oldest living Wise Ones based on her reputation and Min’s hint about her viewing.

Now, maybe it makes all the difference that Sorillea is just weak in terms of her ability to weave, whereas Morgase can rarely and barely even embrace the power, and outside of the exception case of Malden, cannot weave anything even when she does manage to grasp the Source. I don't know.
Charles Gaston
101. parrothead
Unless there's another major Breaking, in which case they'll have more important things to worry about, I think Murandy is about to become an Andoran province. They're pretty well surrounded. There's the Seanchan to the southwest. But then there's Illian to the south (and remember who the king is...), united Andor/Cairhien to the north, and Ghealdan to the west who is Elayne's vassal or ally or something. And Roedran picked the worst possible time to make a power grab for himself (that whole business with the Band). He managed to unite the country, but then the crisis disappeared without a sharp resolution and perhaps not so much enthusiasm for facing off against their traditional rival who is suddenly doubled in size. The nobles are going to be smarting from the loss of their own authority and could probably be bought off. It's almost like some weird inversion of the divisions of Poland.
William Fettes
102. Wolfmage
Wortmauer @ 95

Thanks, I knew nepotism wasn’t quite the right word, but I couldn’t think of anything better that was comparatively pithy!

The Andor situation is suitably complicated. I agree with you entirely that Elayne owes a lot to Rand regardless of her somewhat tenuous starting position, and all the hard work she had to do to stave off her rivals and consolidate her hold on Camelyn. As I’ve argued here before, this would all be moot if Rand hadn’t taken Camelyn back from Rahvin, stabilised Andor militarily and politically, and pre-emptively ratified her succession claim.

But I can’t really get worked up about that because Elayne obviously has a legitimate claim, insofar as any hereditary succession-based Monarchy can be said to be legitimate. It does make her rage at Rand about his phrasing and the Lion Throne display come off as a little ungrateful. But even there I can see a legitimate reason for a Monarch to be hyper-conscious about the treatment of their ceremonial seat of power, as a signifier of Royal prestige, authority and tradition. It also goes without saying that perceptions of independence count in such matters, and probably doubly so with the prospect of a succession war in the offing.

With Cairhien, I feel it’s different because Elayne’s claim is only elevated above other worthy claimants because of Rand. Unlike Andor, where House Trakand was presumptively the ruling House, and Rand's intervention basically preserves the pre-Rahvin status quo, Elayne’s claim as a Damodred seems to me no better than other members of powerful Houses. I mean, presumably Houses Saighan, Damodred and Raitan have successors to the position of High Seat by now; what about them? And with Lord Dobraine being so evidently suitable for rule, House Taborwin must be considered too. Only Rand’s active intervention enables these worthy claims to be ignored, and the whole issue to be kept in abeyance long enough for Elayne to even be considered.

So, it definitely bugs me that the only textual allusion we get to these dynamics is Dark Rand's paranoia over Dobraine's sense of entitlement. It would be nice if someone told Rand that a local High Seat was more suitable, even if he ended up overriding them.

Bergmaniac @ 98

Good point. Yes, it's definitely a note of consolation that the impending end of the current age probably means that many if not all extant national borders as we know them are going to be overturned in the New Age to come anyway. It's much easier to stomach if you compartmentalise it as part of an inevitable deterministic process, as opposed to gratuitious collusion driven by Rand's member.
Tricia Irish
103. Tektonica
parrothead@101: As for Murandy....could it be that Roedran = Demandred, which would explain a lot about the action there ;-)

As for Elayne ruling in Cairhain....I think it's a big stretch...she really hasn't ruled much in Andor, yet. I'd prefer to see Dobraine or Caroline, but at least Elayne has the desire to be a good ruler and not a tyrant, and as said above, there may not be an Andor or Cairhain after TG.
Captain Hammer
104. Randalator
Wolfmage @100

That's based on the appearance of several old channelers of different strengths. Reanne Corly was 412, about as strong as Sheriam and had "hair more gray than not and a face full of what might have been smile
lines" (ACoS, ch. 23) having worked with the Power a lot but not as much as she could have. Alivia is two years older, stronger than even Lanfear and described as having "fine lines at the corners of her blue eyes and threads of white in her golden yellow hair" (WH, ch. 11). Having been a damane she worked with the Power pretty much as hard and as long as possible. Sharina Melloy has a potential greater than Nynaeve but never worked with the Power and at 76 years looks like a regular old woman. Morgase at age 43 has worked a bit with the Power despite her smallest possible potential and has slowed 6 or 7 years perhaps. Nynaeve with her remarkable strength had worked quite a lot with the Power by EotW and already looked at least 5 or 6 years younger than her 25 years.

So it seems that the ammount of Power a person uses determines how much they slow. The more powerful a channeler is the more often he can channel and the more power he can channel overall. Ergo, the stronger the channeler, the longer the lifespan. Channelers in the AoL could live up to 800 years

Sorilea has hardly worked with the Power at all that's why she looks very old. But I'd put her age somewhere around 100-110 and not around Cadsuane's 270. There would be significant talk about her were she really that old. But all we've heard is Aiel rumour about a wise one untouched by age who died from a snake bite at 300. There's no way someone as prominent as Sorilea could live beyond all natural thresholds without it being mentioned anywhere/by anyone.

Based on those observations I come to the ~120 years I give Morgase...
William Fettes
105. Wolfmage
Good theory. I definitely think you're onto something with the usage theory. But I do think you're way off base with Sorilea's age. I think she's at least 150-200. You're forgetting Min's viewing about her which strongly suggests she is shocked by how old Sorilea is. There would be nothing shocking about Sorilea being around 100.That's not necessarily fatal to the theory, as Sorilea may channel more than you think.

Also, I'm not sure we can accept looks as anything close to an authorative measure of slowing. I think the more objective measure is total lifespan. Given that survivorship amongst Aes Sedai is obviously tainted by the Oath Rod, the most relevant cases would be amongst Wise Ones, damane, Sea Folk and knitting circle members.
William Fettes
106. Wolfmage
Here's the quote from Lord of Chaos:

A frown creased her forehead. "How old do you think Sorilea is? And that Colinda. I saw— No. No, it doesn't have anything to do with you. Maybe the heat is affecting me. When I know, I always know. It must be the heat.
Combine this revealing remark with her being known as the oldest Wise One (remember there is competition from 'grandmotherly' Bair and Colinda) and Cadsuane's (probably wrong) belief that Sorilea is as old as herself, and I think it's probable that Sorilea is somewhere between 150 at the low end, and about 250 at the high end.
Captain Hammer
107. Randalator
Wolfmage @106

As I said, the issue I have with that is that Sorilea's age should and would be talked about if she was that unusually old.

"Mora was a remarkable woman. It was said she was approaching her three hundredth year when she died from a bloodsnake's bite, yet she looked as young as either of you. I was only a girl, but I remember her well. She knew many things, and could channel strongly. Some women age more slowly than others, like Amys here, and when it is a woman like Mora, tales are born. Someday I will tell you the story of how Mora moved a mountain. Supposedly, at least."

(LoC, ch. 15)

That's the sort of stuff I would expect for Sorilea as well if she were really as old as some theories make her. Yet we have never seen anything like this, neither concerning her age nor her feats (discounting the occasional hyperbole regarding her strength of will).

On the other hand, if someone like Rand would assume that she's 90+ when she's actually 110-120 Min's comment would already make sense. Now let Min's Viewing be not only about Sorilea's age but about her living another decade or two and Min's incredulity is perfectly reasonable without turning Sorilea into the stealth bomber of longevity.

Granted, she still could be 200+ but then I would side with Bergmaniac in this case saying that RJ screwed it up, as her age would have been too much of a non-issue and should have been brought up more...
Don Barkauskas
108. bad_platypus
Edit: Changed "faster to slow" because it just sounded wrong. :-)

Wetlandernw @99: Replace "hasn't" with "hadn't" and it makes perfect sense.

Wolfmage @105,106: The quote could (as you say) be interpreted as Min having a viewing about Sorilea that implied she was old, or it simply could be that she was incredulous about the viewing involving Colinda. I looked back at the immediately preceding text and it didn't help. It's likely that you're right and Min saw something about Sorilea, but not necessarily. (I guess the upshot is that I'm quibbling with the word "strongly.")

At any rate, the stronger you are, the more you slow. This is in the text, in ACoS, Chapter 24, Elayne speaking (emphasis added):
"We slow, Nynaeve. Somewhere between twenty and twenty-five, we begin aging more slowly. How much depends on how strong we are, but when doesn't."

This is Elayne repeating the teachings of Takima, so it's probably reliable. And RJ confirmed it (Knife of Dreams book tour 13 October 2005, Harvard Coop - Allen Bryan reporting, via the Theoryland quote database):

Q: Does the rate of slowing depend on your strength in the Power?
RJ: Yes: Basically; you age at 1/X your normal rate, with X being dependent up to a point on Power strength. The Power acts as a natural rejuvenator on you; even at the point of death you won't look or feel worse than a normal 65-year-old.
Stefan Mitev
109. Bergmaniac
One relative of Sorilea is mentioned in TFOH - Feral. He's younger than Rhuarc, and she was considering him as possible match for Aviendha, so he's probably 30-35 at most. The grandfather of this guy was the son of Sorilea's sister, which is a strong indication she's not 200 years old or more, but 100-130, something like that.
Roger Powell
110. forkroot
Good point on Sorilea's age - although I think Sorilea was just messing with Avi about Feral. Her plan all along has been to keep Avi and Rand together and let the natural chemistry do the rest. She wants Rand "attached" to the Aiel in another way - remember, she's trying to save the "remnant".
Alice Arneson
111. Wetlandernw
bad_platypus @108 - Replace "hasn't" with "hadn't" and it makes perfect sense. Well, not really in context. The rest of the sentence was:

I suspect Jordan hasn't made up my mind to make the current age Aes Sedai so long-lived by the time TGH came out and then had to retcon it a bit with this explanation, though I am probably wrong.

If you make it "hadn't made up his mind" it makes sense. I just had to give Bergmaniac a poke for not proofing before he posted. He usually doesn't let things like this slip in. :)
William Fettes
112. Wolfmage
Randalator @ 107

I accept the relevance of the tale of Mora to the extent that it pushes back against the idea that she is 200 – 300 years old. I agree that range would be sufficiently remarkable to beg some questions about her age, but I’m not arguing that. I think she is most likely around 130 – 170 which is less remarkable -- especially when her extra lifespan has not been signified by obvious outward agelessness. An age in that range is not too hard to explain at all IMO. I mean, when you look like a wrinkled leather boot stretched over some emaciated sticks, it’s not like you’re shouting to the world that you’re bathing in the fountain of youth. A discrepancy of a few decades is a lot easier to hide in plain sight than a discrepancy of a century or more. Also, combine this with the general deference Wise Ones receive in Aiel culture, and Sorilea’s domineering curmudgeonly and irascible reputation amongst Wise Ones, and it’s not hard to see why she would escape questioning about her age and many other matters.

That brings me to my next point: I must reiterate that I don’t put much weight on looks. Slowing still counts as slowing even if you don’t do it gracefully. The most potent versions are reserved for uber-channellers, and obviously it does appear to grant you a kind of supernatural cell regeneration which keeps you looking young. But I still think you can have lesser forms of slowing which map much more closely with normal cell deterioration – ie. outward aging. My theory doesn’t suggest that Sorilea looked ageless for most of her life, and only over a period of centuries did she gradually began to look like her current self. I think she more or less aged like a normal person, but simply enjoyed that process stretched out over a little more time than a natural lifespan.
John Fitzingo
113. Xandar01
@ 11. Psionandon

I kinda like your wacky theory, gives an interesting twist to the relationship. I will have to keep that in mind on my next re-read.
Band of The Red Hand
114. GRAY27
I initially stumbled upon this thread looking for one specific answer and after reading some very entertaining, but non related posts, I thought it might just be easier to post my own question.
Did I just miss it, or do we find out later, but who is responsible for the storm that materializes over Caemlyn that Aviendha disperses? The whole scene seemed very incongruous to me and I have yet to see any answer as to the origin of it. A little help please?
Alice Arneson
115. Wetlandernw
GRAY27 @114 - I don't recall it ever being discussed. I think I've always assumed that it was part of the freakish weather that's been going on ever since they used the Bowl of the Winds, but I can't prove it. The only place I've seen it addressed (not that I've looked much) is on encyclopaedia-wot, where a footnote reads, "This appears to be another random, bizarre event rather than an intentional attack of some sort."
Judy Carmona
116. Farstrider
Leigh@26 and AndrewB@46:
I had the same knee-jerk reaction to Charlz Guybon when I first read his name. I think it tickled something in my brain because of the similarity of his name to Charl Gedwyn, the darkfriend Asha'man.

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