Aug 2 2011 2:03pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Knife of Dreams, Part 16

Jumping Jehoshaphat, it’s a Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 25 and 26 of Knife of Dreams, in which I half-heartedly kick a defunct beast of burden, allegedly squee at manly serenades, and shamelessly flaunt my belletristic fetishes. Oooh!

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 25: Attending Elaida

What Happens
Tarna heads through the altered Tower, careful not to enter any other Ajah’s territory; she doesn’t think anyone would actually attack the Keeper, but knows the situation will become “irretrievable” if someone did. As she walks, she considers the troubling problem of whom among the Red to approach regarding the possibility of bonding the Asha’man as Warders; not only who would not be repulsed at the notion, but who can be trusted not to run to Elaida with it if told. So far, Tarna can only think of one name. She finds Elaida in her sitting room with a very nervous-seeming Meidani, who Tarna notes is dressed for either a ball or “a seduction.” Elaida dismisses Meidani, and then laughs.

“We were pillow-friends as novices,” she said, rising, “and I believe she wants to renew the relationship. I may let her. She might reveal more on the pillows than she’s let slip so far. Which is nothing, truth to tell.”

[…] Tarna kept her face smooth with an effort. Pillow-friends were common among novices and Accepted, but girlhood things should be left behind with girlhood. Not all sisters saw it so, certainly. Galina had been quite surprised when Tarna refused her advances after gaining the shawl. She herself found men far more attractive than women.

Tarna tries to convince Elaida to let the Sitters know about Meidani and the other ferrets, but Elaida refuses, paranoid that some of the Hall may be working with them. Tarna reports that there is no news on the location of the seals on the Dark One’s prison, and that work is progressing slowly on unblocking the harbors, mostly because the other Ajahs besides the Red are dragging their feet to obey Elaida’s orders. Infuriated, Elaida tells Tarna to post an order saying that the Sitters of each Ajah are to receive a daily penance from Silviana for every day that Ajah fails to send a sufficient number of sisters to work on the harbor chains, and the same for any Ajah that continues to send sisters to the negotiations with the rebels.

Tarna drew a deep breath. Penances might work and they might not, depending on how set the Sitters were, and the Ajah heads – she did not think things had gone so wrong that they might refuse to accept penance at all; that would be an end to Elaida for sure, perhaps an end to the Tower. But posting the order publicly, not allowing the Sitters a scrap to hide behind and maintain their dignity, was the wrong way to go about it. In truth, it might well be the very worst way.

She tries to suggest an alternate course, but Elaida will not let her. Tarna gives up and reports that Egwene spends half the day in Silviana’s study, and she is sure the girl will break soon. Elaida approves, and orders that Egwene is to attend her that night to serve supper for Elaida and Meidani.

Mat and his party have stopped for a meal in the woods, on their way to a smugglers’ pass through the Damona Mountains that Vanin just happens to know about. Mat deliberately provokes Tuon with his bad table manners and then ignores Aludra when she chides him for wasting her fire-strikers to light his pipe, and thinks of how happy Luca had been to see them go. Both Seta and Bethamin are now being taught to channel, and Mat thinks Seta seems oddly content about it. Mat is relieved to have left the gholam behind, sure that it will continue to follow Luca’s show, and that he will have a while more to be with Tuon before having to send her back. Amathera screams when she spots a blacklance, a large poisonous snake, but Mat tells Juilin to let it go when it only goes to escape rather than attack.

“A strange man, who lets poisonous serpents go,” Tuon said. “From the fellow’s reaction, I assume a blacklance is poisonous?”

 “Very.” he told her. “But snakes don’t bite anything they can’t eat unless they’re threatened.” He put a foot in the stirrup.

“You may kiss me, Toy.”

He gave a start. Her words, not spoken softly, had made them the object of every eye. Selucia’s face was so stiffly expressionless her disapproval could not have been plainer. “Now?” he said. “When we stop tonight, we could take a stroll alone-”

“By tonight I may have changed my mind, Toy. Call it a whim, for a man who lets poisonous snakes go.” Maybe she saw one of her omens in that?

Taking off his hat and sticking the black spear back into the ground, he took the pipe from between his teeth and planted a chaste kiss on her full lips. A first kiss was nothing to be rough with. He did not want her to think him pushy, or crude. She was no tavern maid to enjoy a bit of slap and tickle. Besides, he could almost feel all those eyes watching. Someone snickered. Selucia rolled her eyes.

Tuon folded her arms beneath her breasts and looked up at him through her long eyelashes. “Do I remind you of your sister?” she asked in a dangerous tone. “Or perhaps your mother?” Somebody laughed. More than one somebody, in fact.

Grimly, Mat tapped the dottle from his pipe on the heel of his boot and stuffed the warm pipe into his coat pocket. He hung his hat back on the ashandarei. If she wanted a real kiss… Had he really thought she would not fill his arms? Slim, she was to be sure, and small, but she filled them very nicely indeed. He bent his head to hers. She was far from the first woman he had kissed. He knew what he was about. Surprisingly – or then again, perhaps not so surprisingly – she did not know. She was a quick pupil, though. Very quick.

When he finally released her, she stood there looking up at him and trying to catch her breath. For that matter, his breath came a little raggedly, too. Metwyn whistled appreciatively. Mat smiled. What would she think of what plainly was her first real kiss ever?

To his disgruntlement, though, Tuon only comments that he is feverish from his wounds, and they are arguing about whether he needs ointments when they are interrupted by approaching riders. One of them is Vanin, and the other, to Mat’s great surprise, is Talmanes. Talmanes offers his condolences about Nalesean’s death; Mat assumes that Egwene never took Talmanes up on their offer of protection, and hopes Talmanes didn’t bring the entire bloody Band into Altara. Talmanes tells Mat that he’d been wrong about Egwene; she really was the Amyrlin Seat, and that she’s off besieging Tar Valon at the moment. Teslyn and Joline overhear this and attempt to get more info out of Talmanes, but Mat cuts them off, asking about the Band.

“Oh. No, I only brought three banners of horse and four thousand mounted crossbowmen. I left three banners of horse and five of foot, a little short of crossbows, in Murandy with orders to move north to Andor. And the Mason’s Banner, of course. Handy to have masons ready to hand if you need a bridge built or the like.”

Mat squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. Six banners of horse and five of foot. And a banner of masons! The Band had only been two banners counting horse and foot when he left them in Salidar.

He demands to know how he’s supposed to pay that many men, and Talmanes explains to him that their severance package from King Roedran equals a year’s pay for all the Band, and besides, the Dragon Reborn is sure to give Mat grand estates, considering Mat grew up with him. Mat is less than enthused at the notion, but doesn’t say so aloud. He introduces Selucia and Tuon to Talmanes, giving Tuon no titles, but Talmanes bows very low, and Mat knows Vanin tattled about Tuon’s status to Talmanes. Mat decides they will go meet Talmanes’ contingent and leave Altara the same way they entered, to avoid the Seanchan, but Talmanes reports that the pass they used (the same one Vanin had been guiding them to) is now blocked by a rockslide and is impassable. Mat tells Vanin to find another one, but Vanin explains how extremely hazardous that could be. Mat decides he needs time to think.

So I submit that making the title of this chapter “Attending Elaida” but then making the icon Mat’s dice was both (a) confusing and (b) mildly panic-making, as I had some terrible idea, first time around, that Mat was meeting Elaida, which I think we can all agree would be extremely no bueno. On SO many levels. Fortunately, of course, that is not what we are dealing with here, but I think it probably could have been made a little bit less confusing, in my opinion.

As always, reading about Tarna makes me sad, post-ToM. I wonder if there’s a way to undo the 13x13 evilifying process, but I sadly suspect there is not.

Pillow-friends: Oh, no, I’m going to talk about this again! Fire in the hole!

…But not a lot, really, because I’m pretty tired of the subject myself. But I couldn’t let Tarna’s internal monologue on the matter pass without a comment, which I’ll quote again here for convenience:

Pillow-friends were common among novices and Accepted, but girlhood things should be left behind with girlhood.

Riiight. Yes, let’s all chuckle at that silly immature time in college when we experimented with adorable fake fads, like lesbianism. And then we’ll get back to the real world, where only creepy and/or desperate people try to keep going with it! Le sigh.

I don’t think it was really sufficiently impressed upon me, on first reading, just how badly the Tower was falling apart at the seams by this point. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t remember registering that the Ajahs are by now verging on frickin’ armed camps within a demilitarized zone, but now it’s like an airhorn in my mental ear. Seriously, you’re going to let your pissy in-fighting trump making sure an entire city doesn’t starve, by not fixing the harbors? Dude. NOT COOL. Ugh.

And the rest of Tarna’s POV is basically blah blah blah Elaida Is A Moron, so let’s move on to the actual interesting part of the chapter, which is of course Messieur Matrim and the most hilariously publically vetted first kiss ever. Good thing he has, er, advanced training in the subject, eh?

I tend to waver back and forth on my approval of the Mat/Tuon pairing in general, usually in sync with how long it’s been since Tuon said or thought something that pissed me off, but I thought this bit with the kiss was extremely cute and sweet – in its own inimitable WOT way. Which is why I had to quote the whole thing, of course. Heh.

(He even got a do-over! Aw.)


I was so excited to see him show up, you guys, you have no idea. Actual plot movement FTW!


Chapter 26: As If the World Were Fog

What Happens
As they ride, Tuon listens in on Toy’s conversation with Talmanes, though she is distracted by the revelation that Toy grew up with the Dragon Reborn, and even more by the fact that he had successfully lied to her about it. She is also distracted by the memory of their kiss. Toy is incensed that Talmanes left a man named Estean in charge, and Talmanes explains that Estean may be a fool, but he will listen to Daerid (a commoner) where Carlomin and Reimon will not. Toy growls that that is going to change.

That red hand symbol Talmanes wore was intriguing. More than intriguing. Much more. Of an old and distinguished House, was he? But Toy was the one. He remembered Hawkwing’s face. That seemed utterly impossible, yet his denial of it had plainly been a lie, as plain as the spots on a leopard. Could the Red Hand be Toy’s sigil? But if so, what about his ring? She had almost fainted when she first saw that. Well, she had come as close to it as she had since childhood.

Toy and Talmanes discuss their crossbowmen, and both Tuon and Selucia are very intrigued to hear that the Band possesses a new kind of crossbow that allows up to eight quarrels to be fired a minute. Selucia asks in sign language what this “Band” is, and Tuon signs back that it is Toy’s personal army, obviously. She finds it odd to think of Toy commanding an army when he seems like such a “buffoon” and a “rapscallion”, though she admits he showed an “unexpected” side of himself in the street brawl in Maderin.

A formidable man, though with a peculiar weakness. For some reason, she found that strangely endearing.

She wishes she could ask how he got the hanging scar, but thinks it would shame him too much to ask. She observes Aludra, and does not understand why she is here, and worries about Thom, who is obviously a spy, probably for the White Tower. She thinks sometimes that Toy is part of a White Tower plot, though she does not see how that is possible. She comments to Thom on the strange coincidence of Talmanes finding them here, and Thom replies that as Mat is ta’veren, he often finds what he needs before he even knows he needs it. Mystified, Tuon demands an explanation of the term; Thom is amazed she doesn’t know of it, but explains. Tuon dismisses this as an obvious superstition, and then sees an omen telling her to stay with Toy.  They soon arrive at the camp, and Tuon notes with surprise the eager excitement and affection with which the men greet “Lord Mat’s” return. She is also surprised at the neatness and discipline shown by the camp and the men.

Suddenly a man began to sing in a deep voice, and others joined in, the song spreading rapidly.

There’re some delight in ale and wine,
and some in girls with ankles fine,
but my delight, yes, always mine,
is to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.

Every man in the camp was singing, now, thousands of voices roaring the song.

We’ll toss the dice however they fall,
and snuggle the girls be they short or tall.
then follow Lord Mat whenever he calls.
to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.

They cheer and laugh until Toy raises his spear for silence, and gets it instantly; Tuon notes he is not soft with discipline, then. Toy makes a short speech telling the men he means to get the Band home, and they will have to live up to their reputation for moving fast to do it. The men all nod, and Toy asks for maps; Tuon is furious to learn of the existence of one that tracks the Seanchan troops’ movement, and tries to think of how to get it and destroy it. The party is soon settled on stools with tea while Toy has a reunion with his officers, who all seem very fond of him. Tuon shakes her head when she notes the respect they all show to the marath’damane, and Setalle Anan comments that Tuon still doesn’t quite believe that she is in a different world now, does she.

“Just because a thing is a certain way.” Tuon replied, “doesn’t mean it should be that way, even if it has been for a long time.”

“Some might say the same of your people, my Lady.”

“Some might.”

Toy gets deeply involved in going over the map with the Seanchan troop movements (shooing off the Aes Sedai), and Talmanes and the other officers come over to Tuon. Talmanes bows to her and gives her a reassurance that “Lord Mat” always keeps his word, meaning his promise to her, and Tuon demands to know if he is a lord or not. Reimon laughs and replies that he is not, except to them; Mat hates nobles, and they consider it an honor to be among the few that he likes. Tuon asks how Toy expects to get this many men out of Altara undetected.

Reimon laughed again. “If I know Mat, he’s planning us a battle. The Band of the Red Hand rides to battle again. It’s been too long, if you ask me.”

Selucia sniffed, and so did Mistress Anan. Tuon had to agree with them. “A battle won’t get you out of Altara,” she said sharply.

“In that case,” Talmanes said, “he’s planning us a war.” The other three nodded agreement as if that were the most normal thing under the Light. Reimon even laughed. He seemed to think everything was humorous.

“Three thousand?” Toy said. “You’re sure? Sure enough, man. Sure enough will do. Vanin can locate them if they haven’t moved too far.”

Tuon looked at him, squatting there by the map, moving his fingers over its surface, and suddenly she saw him in a new light. A buffoon? No. A lion stuffed into a horse-stall might look like a peculiar joke, but a lion on the high plains was something very different. Toy was loose on the high plains, now. She felt a chill. What sort of man had she entangled herself with? After all this time, she realized, she had hardly a clue.

Perrin sits on a ridge above the aqueduct terminus of Malden and consults with pack leader Snowy Dawn, who assures him irritably that the wolves will be there in two days. He and Mishima go down with the carts to the windmill house; Gaul and the Maidens meet him outside and assure him no one’s been in there since they last scouted it. They enter the house, and the Seanchan cart drivers begin unloading the sacks of forkroot and dumping it into the aqueduct. The party entering Malden via the aqueduct begin filing in: Seonid, her two Warders Furen and Teryl, Masuri’s Warder Rovair, Elyas, Tallanvor, twenty of Faile’s followers, and fifty Two Rivers men, led by Ban al’Seen. Perrin makes a point of speaking with each of them, before they get in the pipeline, and most of them assure Perrin they will do nothing to endanger Faile. Gaul enters last, to Perrin’s surprise, and Gaul implies that the other Maidens goaded him into it. Perrin desperately wants to go himself, but knows he cannot. Mishima offers to grease the axles of the windmills to quiet them, but Perrin tells him they can’t risk changing anything.

Mishima regarded him for a long moment, his face half-hidden by moonshadows. For once, he did not seem put off by glowing yellow eyes. His scent . . . He smelled as if he saw something unexpected. “The Banner-General was right about you,” he said slowly.

“What did she say?”

“You’ll have to ask her, my Lord.”

Perrin leaves and returns to where Grady is holding the gateway back to their camp open. Perrin knows Grady and Neald are both tired, but Grady assures him they’ll be all right. Grady comments that the damane in the Seanchan camp make his skin crawl; he tried to talk to them about losing their leashes and they freaked out. Perrin tells him they have other concerns at the moment and to leave it alone. He goes through, back to camp, and sees that a raken has arrived with a message. He finds Berelain, Annoura, Tylee, Balwer, Aram, Lini, and Breane in his tent. Lini is distinctly cold to both Perrin and Berelain, still believing that Perrin had cheated on Faile with Berelain; Aram is upset that he wasn’t allowed to go to Malden, and soon stomps out, no doubt to go see Masema. Tylee tells him she has news: there are seven thousand Whitecloaks on the march some fifty miles from Tylee’s camp, heading north. Annoura adds that Tylee believes them to be deserters, as Eamon Valda had sworn fealty to the Seanchan Empress.

“Something over a month ago, however,” the Gray sister went on. "Galad Damodred killed Valda and led seven thousand Whitecloaks to leave the Seanchan cause. A pity he became enmeshed with Whitecloaks, but perhaps some good has come of it. In any case, it appears there is a standing order that these men are all to be killed as soon as found.”

Balwer seems agitated by this news, and Perrin tells him they are not concerned with Whitecloak deserters. Balwer replies that actually, he might owe this Galad person a debt. Tylee tries to get Perrin alone for the next piece of news, but Perrin tells her to speak, and she tells him there are two large parties of Aiel heading toward Malden from the southeast and southwest, and they will reach the town in three days.

Suddenly, everything seemed to ripple in Perrin’s sight. He felt himself ripple. Breane gave a cry and dropped the pitcher. The world rippled again, and Berelain clutched his arm. Tylee’s hand seemed frozen in that odd gesture, thumb and forefinger forming a crescent. Everything rippled for a third time, and Perrin felt as if he were made of fog, as if the world were fog with a high wind coming. Berelain shuddered, and he put a comforting arm around her. She clung to him, trembling. Silence and the scent of fear filled the tent. He could hear voices being raised outside, and they sounded afraid, too.

Tylee asks, shakily, what that was, and Annoura says she does not know. Perrin tells them it doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is that in three days this thing will be over.

Faile is feeling the pressure; twenty more wetlander gai’shain have asked to swear fealty just that day, and they are starting to advocate an uprising. Rolan is trying to convince her to play a “kissing game” when Galina comes up, looking half-mad, and Rolan takes his leave.

The finger he drew softly down her cheek before walking away made her shiver. To Aiel, touching someone’s cheek in public was as much as a kiss. It surely had felt like a kiss to her. Harmless? Somehow, she doubted that any game that involved kissing Rolan would end with just kissing. Luckily, she would not have to find out – or hide anything from Perrin – if Galina proved true. If.

Galina demands frantically to know where Faile has hidden the rod, but Faile demands a reiteration of her promise to take Faile and her followers with Galina when she escapes. Galina slaps her, but Faile stands her ground, and Galina finally snarls that she will take Faile et al with her when she goes. Faile offers to get the rod right then, but Galina tells her to meet her the next morning in the south end of the town, in a building Galina will mark with a red scarf. Faile is puzzled, but Galina hisses at her to do it or she’ll regret it. She runs off; Faile is uneasy about her unhinged behavior, but doesn’t see how an Aes Sedai could weasel out of a promise stated that bluntly. She prays she is right about that.

Well, this was a ridiculously long chapter, too. Three, three POVs! Ha Ha Ha!



Seriously, that was awesome. I grinned, a lot. There may have been a slightly embarrassing amount of gleeful hand-clasping, too. And maybe even a squee or two. But you can’t prove it!

As I’ve said on many an occasion, Tuon is not always or even usually my most favorite character, but her scene in this chapter is one of my favorite bits of KOD. And of the series as a whole, in fact; it’s definitely at least in the top twenty. This is because I am such a total sucker for the conceit of the outsider’s POV.

It is one of my favorite things when a well-known (and loved) character, who we generally only see from the inside, is shown from a stranger or relative outsider’s perspective instead. I just find it fascinating every time. And it is even better when that outsider POV consists of the outsider character coming to realize that our well-known character is as awesome/cool/badass as we already know them to be.

I’m aware that this is a rather specific literary kink, but I don’t care. It makes my heart happy, y’all.

Plus it doesn’t hurt that Mat’s been playing the “lion stuffed in a stable” role for FAR too goddamn long in my estimation, so seeing Tuon finally get an inkling that he’s so much more than that was extremely gratifying, to say the least.

I also completely missed this tidbit from Tuon’s thoughts before:

Not everything had fallen out as it had to, yet. There was still a chance this could all go awry.

I’m assuming this refers to the fact that she hasn’t yet completed the marriage ceremony, but I’m intrigued to think that perhaps there is even more to Lydia’s prophecy that we haven’t heard yet. Needless to say, I am both very excited and extremely apprehensive about Tuon and Mat’s presumed reunion in AMoL.

Perrin: …um.

Yeah, I can’t summon up much of anything interesting to say about this interlude, other than my relief that it establishes a firm end date for This Damn Plotline. Which, you know, is justification enough in and of itself, so there’s that.

Though I am kind of interested to know what exactly Mishima was talking about; what did Tylee say about Perrin? (There’s that outsider POV thing again!)

The only thing worth noting, really, is the “ripple” phenomenon, which happened once before during a Faile POV and now has happened again. I have to say, I’m not a hundred percent sure what the deal is with this (though I suspect it’s part and parcel of the whole “rearranging reality” hiccups the Pattern’s started having lately), but whatever it is, it sounds incredibly scary to experience.

I do note that Berelain managed to wrangle a Perrin-hug out of it. Of course she did. And meanwhile Perrin’s all, “why do people still think we had an affair?” Argh.

Perhaps hypocritically, though, I still want to kick Lini for believing it.

Speaking of dubious fidelity, here’s a topic: if Faile had decided to sleep with Rolan in order to guarantee her escape, would you condemn her for it? Or is it a case of extreme circumstances calling for extreme measures?

I myself am… uncertain. Discuss!

And with that, I run away! See y’all later!

1. mrc1ark
Not to defend the pillow friend dealio to much but there is at least some real world precedent that I am familiar with. At Smith College (an all women school) they have a term for a particular group of women there: SLUGs. This stands for Smith Lesbians Until Graduation. So the concept of women experimenting with that while in a learning environment consisting of all women isn't completely made up.
2. AndrewB

Thanks for another great post. Several comments.

First, you noted that as "Tarna heads through the altered Tower, careful not to enter any other Ajah’s territory; she doesn’t think anyone would actually attack the Keeper, but knows the situation will become “irretrievable” if someone did." At this point, I had concluded that the situation had in fact become "irretrievable." Chalik one victory up for Fain.

Second, I loved the by-play between Tuon & Selucia in Tuon's PoV chapter. Very funny. Leigh, I also liked how you referred to Mat as "Toy" in that part of the recap -- even when you were not directly quoting something from the story.

Third, re Tuon thought that "not everything had fallen out as it had to, yet. There was still a chance this could all go awry." In hindsight, I took this to mean that the third prong of Lydia's prophecy was not yet complete. Mat had as of this moment yet to release Tuon. I do not believe the thought in this chapter will have consequences in AMoL.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Benjamin Moldovan
3. benpmoldovan
Mat scene: coolness

Fidelity: well, Perrin considers the possibility, and would forgive her if she had to do it, so that's good enough for me, I guess.
Then again, maybe it would be better to escape yourself and take a big risk, than to dishonor your marriage just to escape that situation. When I was first thinking that, I was thinking along the lines of “better death than dishonor”. But maybe it wouldn’t be death, but slavery without any remote possibility of escape. To me that would actually be harder than risking death to avoid dishonor. I don’t know what I’d do.

4. BFG
I always thought that 'not everything had fallen out as it had to, yet' referred to the fact that Mat hasn't 'let' her go yet. It's not till after that that she completes the ceremony (I see AndrewB got their first)

With Perrin, it goes to show how focused he is - the world ripples three times and he doesn't care - just needs Faile. But it's easier to say that knowing that it's almost over .

Personally I'd probably condem Faile. I know, prison, stress, fear and all that stuff (all very good reasons), but I find Faile very difficult to warm to. That's not to say that her actions/feelings are unreasonable just that I don't like her.

The only thing I have to say about the ripples were that I thought Perrin and Faile experienced the same ripples and it was a way of noting that the timestreams had caught up. But then I also thought that Failes noted when Rand (and Nyn) cleansed the source so my recollection is probably quite poor.
Rich Bennett
5. Neuralnet
This part where Mat reunites with the band is one of my favorite WoT moments... Tuons POV is great

And I think the "ripple" was the entire WoT community sighing with relief that the Perrin rescuing Faile thread was finally going to be done
Roger Powell
6. forkroot
Regarding fidelity: Desperate times call for desperate measures. Faile is perfectly aware of the big picture (at this point, more so than Perrin.) She knows Perrin is ta'veren and linked to the DR. She also knows that he won't rest until she's rescued. By no means is it rationalizing to say that the fate of the world depends on her getting back to Perrin - hence desperate times.

What's interesting is that we also get Perrin's take on it. He's OK with whatever she had to do - when he first rescues her, she smells guilty. He mistakenly assumes that she feels guilty because she had had to cheat to survive (actually she feels guilty for Rolan's death.) From his internal POV, we see that he is OK with whatever she had to do.
Roger Powell
7. forkroot
One more thing - sometimes a re-read is enhanced because we know what's coming. Other times ... well ... every time I see Tarna being competent and cool makes what's coming in ToM that much more sucky.
8. Megaduck
"A battle won’t get you out of Altara,” she said sharply.

“In that case,” Talmanes said, “he’s planning us a war.”

Single most badass exchange in all of WoT, hands down. Part of why I like Mat more then Perrin or Rand is that he's the most humanly relatable. He has a big army and he knows how to use it, this is compared to Perrin who really doesn't know how to use it and Rand who has super powers.

I'm not sure what to say about the Pillow Friends but I do agree with arc1mrk. The 'This is just a childhood thing' is in RL to and not just in girls schools. I'm not sure if that makes this more "Realistic" or not.

If Faile slept with Rolan I would be firmly into the "Did what she had to do camp." The problem with Death before Dishonor is that it eventually separates the world into the dead and the forsworn. (Ok, totally channeling Miles Vorkosigan in that one.)

In my mind it would be similar to her being raped in that it's not really a free choice on her part. Therefore she is not to blame for it.
9. Dank
I come down very firmly on the side of 'do whatever you have to to survive and escape.' Your marriage doesn't mean much when you're dead. I think a much more interesting question is how to judge Rolan's part in this thread. Would any relationship between them be tantamount to rape? Or does the fact that he's risking his won life by protecting her somehow mitigate that?
Kate O'Hanlon
10. KateOH
I agree with mrc1ark re: saphism in the Tower. We're talking about situational sexuality as well as inate homosexuality. For the women who turned to pillow friends for lack of other options it is realistic that they left itbehind them after they were raised and are somewhat embarressed about it now, and associate it with childishness.

Of course what would also be realistic would have been any positive portrayals of 'lifelong' homosexuals. *sigh*
Captain Hammer
11. Randalator
re: fidelity

Desperate times, desperate measures...I'm very pragmatic...

Also, I agree with mrc1ark re: pillow friends.
12. BFG
I think the biggest problem I have with this storyline isn't really anything to do with Faile at all and is just my general frustration with Perrin, who after the first few books had an amazing storyline but seems to have been stuck here forever and to a certain degree that frustration has transferred onto pretty much every character in the same place. Equally well her POV does seem to suggest that she's starting to 'lust' after Rolan - it's not purely an escape ploy (although I probably need to reread these bits with regard to her POV in the last 2 books).
Ben Frey
13. BenPatient
I think Leigh has a bit of a hang-up with the whole pillow friends thing. That "type" of relationship being discussed, at least within the tower, is exactly the kind of thing I ran into in college. Ask an average girl if she's ever kissed a girl. As them if they are straight. Ask them when they first kissed a girl, and when they last kissed a girl.

A strong pattern will emerge, and it is the stereotype.

Consider for a moment, Leigh, that you're coming from a modern, "enlightened" perspective, and that's decidedly NOT what WoT is. This is at best an early Renaissance culture. Do you really think that women went around calling themselves lesbians?

And is it really that unlikely that a straight woman in that culture would find it inappropriate, even disturbing, for another woman to carry on with a practice that many consider (rightly or wrongly) a "coming of age" phase that some women go through.

I get the feeling that you have some kind of anger towards RJ for not making 10% of WoT openly homosexual. The truth is, he avoided talking about sex pretty much all the time. He wasn't comfortable writing about it. If that's because he couldn't do it "seriously" and thus decided not to do it at all, then that is fine and good, because No Sex Scenes > Lame Sex Scenes. We have had what, 3-4 actual "sex" scenes in the entire series? Maybe not even that many? There's an even chance that none of those would have been homosexual in nature, even with a modern "gay ratio."
14. JasonD
re: Pillow friends

"Galina had been quite surprised when Tarna refused her advances after gaining the shawl."

I have had several female friends who have experimented with other women, only to discover that it was just a phase in their lives and they basically grew out of it. Sometimes, the ones they experimented with got hurt when they didn't think it was just an experimental phase, but that's a risk you run. College is a time for experimentation for a large majority of people who are actually able to go, and if we are running with the "White Tower = University" analogy, then it's not far off. I'm sure if the Black Tower wasn't being run like a military boot camp/brainwashing Dreadlord factory, most of the men there at the Soldier and Dedicated level would be doing keg stands and sneaking into Tar Valon for panty raids. Imagine that!
Kate O'Hanlon
15. KateOH
BenPatient: "I get the feeling that you have some kind of anger towards RJ for not making 10% of WoT openly homosexual. The truth is, he avoided talking about sex pretty much all the time. He wasn't comfortable writing about it. If that's because he couldn't do it "seriously" and thus decided not to do it at all, then that is fine and good, because No Sex Scenes > Lame Sex Scenes. We have had what, 3-4 actual "sex" scenes in the entire series? Maybe not even that many? There's an even chance that none of those would have been homosexual in nature, even with a modern "gay ratio.""

This comes up a lot when people complain about gay people being underrepresented in *insert genre here*. No one's asking for more sex scenes when they say they want more/better gay characters. To suggest that the two are one and the same is to say that gay characters are inherently sexually explicit, or that to signal someone's orientation requires sexual explicitness, neither are the case.

We've got 4ish sex scenes in the books, but way way more than the characters represented in those scenes are known to be canonically straight (or express, exhibit interest in the opposite sex exclusively so that we can only assume they are straight). You don't need sexually explicit content to show straight characters, you shouldn't need it for gay characters.
16. wcarter4
@ JasonD
Gateway assisted panty raids...imagine the endless possibilities...

*Ahem*-on to a slightly less kinky matter, I actually read Faile as actively considering Rolan's offer to take her away from the camp to protect Perrin. In her eyes if she had had to sleep with Rolan to avoid being raped and/or murdered in the Aiel camps by the drunken Shaido or during their initial escape if would be for one reason and one reason only--to protect her life and that of Perrin. Note that she noticed other Gaishan doing so and did not condem them even in her own mind.
She has no way of knowing that Perrin has more than a couple hundred people with him. She DOES know that he would persue her--against thousands of the most dangerous warriors around. In her mind the only way to get back to him is to escape BEFORE he gets to her and gets slaughtered.
If Galina can offer that without her having to make certain sacrifices, great. If not, she would do what she had to and escape from Rolan--a task that would surely seem less daunting in her mind than escaping all of the Aiel and Wise Ones.
That's not cheating. That's a sacrifice of self and something she seems fully aware she would carry as a secret shame, not because she cheated on her husband, but because she would be afraid of the hurt it would cause him to know what she went through if he ever found out.
Birgit F
17. birgit
I'm sure if the Black Tower wasn't being run like a military boot
camp/brainwashing Dreadlord factory, most of the men there at the
Soldier and Dedicated level would be doing keg stands and sneaking intoTar Valon for panty raids.

The difference between the Black and the White Tower is that a third of the Ashaman have wives while novices and Accepted are kept away from men.
18. ryamano
Leigh, you left one of the good parts of this chapter out of the re-cap!

You left out the part where Talmanes is describind King Roedran of Murandy. If you're part of the loony camp that believes in the theory that Roedran=Demandred (as I am) then you should have put an emphasis on it.

Talmanes says that Roedran was becoming all ambitious by the time the Band left him. Roedran believed himself the new strategic mastermind of this world, some kind of Napoleon, Alexander, Caesar. He was seen quoting from the strategty book Mat referred to (Comadrin's). But this all seem very odd, not at all fitting with the description other people, who know Roedran, have of him (lazy). We see those descriptions from Siaun Sanche, Elayne's and Morgause's POV. Put that with the fact that Murandy, to this date, hasn't allied itself with anyone until now and you can smell something fishy there. Maybe Demandred is behind the attack on Caemlyn? Maybe his Murandian forces will attack Andor just as everything is falling apart?
Alice Arneson
19. Wetlandernw
Re: the defunct beast of burden – if it makes you feel better, remember that this is coming from Tarna’s perspective. For her, pillow-friendliness was a girlhood thing, and when she got the opportunity for what she viewed as better options, she had no desire to continue with the lesser. She makes it clear that others did not agree, but being who she is, she just thinks they’re a bit lame for having a different view.

And that is all. Poor pony.

Mat and the kiss – as you say, totally hilarious. “Do I remind you of your sister? Or perhaps your mother?” She may have had no actual experience, but she’s got ideas, for sure! (And that without Hollywood, too.) I have to say that this time through, though, I was a little annoyed that his first thought afterward was to wonder what she’d think of it, rather than just one little return to appreciating her… Still, I love that scene. It cracks me up every time. And the little stinker is so into self-control that her only comment is that he’s feverish from his wounds. Of course, he rather deserved that, since she could obviously see right through his smile to the smirk. I’d never noticed before – you could read this either way: she just didn’t want him (or anyone else) to think she was rattled by it, or that she knew he was smirking a little and wanted to take him down a peg. Either way, it work. Stinker.

(FWIW, I think this is one of those passages that makes me realize just how young and inexperienced she is in certain ways, however accustomed she is to assassinations & politics. And unlike some, I find it totally believable that she hadn’t done a lot of experimentation with men; if nothing else, she’d be pretty reluctant to put herself in intimate circumstances with someone who could be an agent for one of her siblings.)

I was scanning through the chapter looking for something else, and I came across this line, from Tuon’s thoughts, just following the part Leigh quoted about him being a buffoon and rapscallion: “He had seemed very much in his element as Tylin’s pet.” ROFL!! Knowing, as we do, how much he hated that role (not Tylin, just the reputation part), it’s hilarious that he came across to others as being “in his element” there. Poor Mat.

Here’s another thing that some find annoying but I find hilarious – Tuon’s assumptions about superstitions and omens. I know we beat this one to death earlier too, but the bit where she dismisses Thom’s explanation of ta’veren as obvious superstition and then promptly sees “an omen” that tells her to stay with Mat. Equally funny, I find our readerly assumption that Thom is right and Tuon wrong to be just as culturally biased. The interchange between Setalle and Tuon which Leigh quoted is… apt.

“A lion on the high plains.” Oh, yeah. That made this chapter, even more than anything else in it, and I love this chapter as a whole. That line, though – that makes me shiver just a little.

“If Faile had decided to sleep with Rolan in order to guarantee her escape, would you condemn her for it?” I’ve never quite decided, so I’m glad I didn’t have to.
Alice Arneson
20. Wetlandernw
BenPatient @13 “…because No Sex Scenes > Lame Sex Scenes.” That too! I’ve always been grateful that he left out the kinds of scenes he knew he didn’t write well. Ye Olde Cut to the Fireplace is just as effective in letting the reader know what happened, and far, far better than inserting a badly-written scene that kicks you out of the story completely.

hvns2btsy @15 “You don't need sexually explicit content to show straight characters, you shouldn't need it for gay characters.” And when a primary aspect of your book is the need for cooperation between men and women, you don’t need gay characters to show it, so why insert them artificially? The WoT is long and tangled enough as it is, without a lot of characters who don’t fit the theme and must have their irrelevance be constantly explained away.

Ryamano @18 – Not belittling your theory (I’m suspending judgment on this as yet – I want to be surprised) – but if Roedran was Demandred’s disguise, why would he be perusing Comadrin’s strategy book? I don’t quite see Demandred thinking he needs to study up on warfare; the only thing I can imagine is that he wants to see what goes for “military wisdom” these days, but he’s so scornful of the 3rd-agers that it doesn’t seem likely.
Noneo Yourbusiness
21. Longtimefan
I think it is really interesting that Mat comments on the size of the Band having grown considerably.

Two banners when he left them with Egwene and now twelve banners all together. That is a lot of growth based on just a reputation. (and following a separate army (at a distance) that is going to lay seige to the White Tower)

This may put the "Egwene does not respect Mat's leadership acumen" in a bit of perspective since the Band was much smaller when he last saw her than it will be if they meet again.

I am certain two banners is not a small force but it is six times smaller than the band that left Egwene when she departed to lay seige to the Tower and Talmanes was the man in charge during the growth.

I am just saying.

I will also say that I thought the ripples were a way of aligning Perrin and Faile in the story time line. Same ripples, different places. I say this mostly because it helps with orienting the characters in time.

It is nice that there is a solid plan and rescue afoot. It is about time for the separation of Perrin and Faile storyline to end.

On the whole fidelity thing I will just say, if Perrin claims he will do anything to rescue Faile could he expect any less of her to do "anything" if it ment getting away and back to Perrin? It is a mindset that is a bit to singluar but in the end it did show the results the characters were looking for.

If I was Perrin I would forgive Faile if she did what she had to do to escape. Would Faile be able to forgive herself? I would hope so.

As for the pillowfriend comment (what? If you have been reading these posts and all the adjunct comments then I suspect you may know I would have something to say. :P )


There is only so long one can run in a circle. So I say Argh. argh, argh, argh.

The point of the books in the over all story arc is the harmony of men and women working together. Therefore it is impossible for any subject that would counter that Idea to survive in the story.

I do not agree with how narrowly the situation has been defined (men and women only work together if they are married or bonded) but I understand the theme and reason within the story context so I see why it happens.

The specific quote is at odds with the quote from the author claiming that relationships between same sex people did happen and were accepted but just not on screen and were so accepted that no one ever commented on them. (the actual quote is way back in some other post and I do not know where to look for it.)

I have moved past expecting a reasonable same sex relationship in the storyline. It is not possible because of the underlying theme. I am annoyed at the inclusion of them because of the lateness in the story and the general existence is always demeaned. The few relationships that do appear are niether serious or approved of.

The series would be better off if they were removed all together and left as a flaw of unrealistic social behavior.

Basically the repair is worse than the mistake.
Kate O'Hanlon
22. KateOH
Wetlandernw @20 Men and women don't have to be romantically interested in each other to cooperate... that's really depressing. And for me, it's the crap-ton of details abot all manner of stuff that Jordan saw fit to include that makes the absence of gay characters who aren't evil really glaring.
Anthony Pero
23. anthonypero
Faile and Rolan from a husband's point of view:

If my wife had to seduce a guard to save her life and escape, or acquire help, and return to me and my children... Yes, I'd want her to do it: but I'd never want to know about it.

Now, if she had to give into to pressure from someone to sleep with him, and that person helped her escape... that's rape. And I'd want to know. And I'd want to DO SOMETHING about it.
Anthony Pero
24. anthonypero
Ryamano @ 18:

Quoting Comadrin isn't evidence that Roedran is Demandred, it's evidence that he's not. According to Enyclopaedia-WOT, Mat remembers meeting Comadrin, which puts his lifetime and writing firmly in the Trolloc Wars. While it's possible that Demandred has heard of Comadrin since escaping his prison, it's not really concievable that Demandred would be quoting him or studying him. Demandred's knowledge would be greater than Comadrin.
25. singlehanded
@BenPatient - I would like to note that Robert Jordan wrote many a lurid sex scene in his Revolutionary War novels. So much, in fact, that I quit reading them. Not that I was sensitive... but because they were intensely graphic. And not the best. But that is in the eye of the beholder, you know. It ought to be noted that I picked up one of those novels after reading through CoT. Needless to say I was shocked.
Charles Gaston
26. parrothead
(building on what Wetlandernw @ 19 said) I think it's important to note that we're only getting Tarna's take on post-shawl pillow-friends, which, as noted in that same bit of internal monologue you quoted, is not at all universal. I think it was a few chapters ago that Romanda disapproved of Delana and Hamila, not because they were both women (sorta), but because Hamila was not Aes Sedai, and even worse because she was clearly the dominant partner in the relationship. Also the initial reaction from the Tower BA hunters way back in book 8 (can't recall names at the moment); they thought that two of them were simply pillow-friends excercising discretion, a wise move in an increasingly divided Tower when they're from different Ajahs, and did not consider it childish or really any of their business. My point is that while Tarna clearly was Gay Until Graduation, it comes across as her personal attitude, not an institutional one.

But that's easy for a self-described yuri fan to say.

More obstinate cultural posturing from Tuon. Blagh. I really wish Setalle would out herself, just to see the look on her face. Although yes, you are right, seeing Mat from a fresh set of eyes is awesome.

Scenes like this, I really wish Faile had been the one to finish off Rolan. And if a certain Mayener skank had gotten in the way of a stray arrow...ah well.

Interesting theory re: Demandred. I do recall at least one of the Forsaken warning some of the others not to underestimate this Age; might have been Graendal, might not. For all I know it might have been Demandred himself. Either way, perhaps he did take such advice to heart and decide how best to fight on their own terms.
Anthony Pero
27. anthonypero
@ BenPatient, @singlehanded --

Much of this is genre related, not author related. When RJ started writing the WoT it was 1988. There wasn't a whole lot of sex going on in the genre, which is to be expected, considering the demographic back then was mostly male teens and pre-teens.

Historical fiction... well, that's a whole different genre. And the Fallon books came close, very close, to historical romance.
Kate O'Hanlon
28. KateOH
This has just remined me that there was tons of sex in Jordan's Conan /shudder... granted I was 11 when I read Conan so maybe my definition of 'tons of sex' has changed since.
Anthony Pero
29. anthonypero
SO, I have a question for all the Tuon haters out there:

Is it her cultural bias that is the problem... or her culture? Her cultural bias is no more or less strong than the Sea Folk, Cairhienin, Illianers, Borderlanders, Aiel, etc...

The only difference is these are subcultures (except the Sea Folk and Aiel) of Randland as a whole. The Seanchan come from a COMPLETELY different, entirely unrelated culture. Why should she feel any differently than she does? Especially considering she is in her early 20s, therefore she already knows everything there is to know about live and how it should be lived?

When I try to judge a characher (or a real person, for that matter), I try to separate a persons' cultural background from their own inherent qualities. This is a lot easier to do in fiction, where we actually get to hear some of their inner dialouge, than in RL.

Is Tuon brave? Is she loyal? Does she show kindness? Does she exibit self-control? Does she express her joy and displeasure honestly? Like many characters in this book, Robert Jordan uses her to illustrate a Real Life truth: many of our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. Tuon has a strong sense of self assurance, confidence, and she is extremely intelligent. That is a real asset in many situations. Many of us fail in some of our endevours for lack of these characteristics. Without this, many of us never get the job we really want, or we don't have the courage to ask that special someone to go out with us, or marry us, etc... Sometimes we even admire other people for their boldness, mostly because we aren't. But bold people, intelligent people, confident people suffer from their own problems proportionately.

Tuon is blind to some truths that we as readers know to be true because she already knows something else to be true. Massive intellects of bygone eras believed LOTS of crazy, crazy stuff. We believe our own share of crazy, crazy stuff. And the smarter you are, the more confident you are in yourself, the harder it is to see that you are wrong. Strength and weakness in the same trait.

Try bringing Ptolemy to 2011 and telling him that we revolve around the sun, not the other way around. He and everyone around him for the next 1500 years would tell you you're crazy. And think you were all morons. I promise you that Ptolemy is smarter than you are. And yet he's still wrong.

My point is, Tuon really can't help her cultural bias, any more than we can help ours. She's not even aware that such a concept exists, for crying out loud. They don't exactly have mass media and the interwebs.

Characters like Tuon, and Egwene, and Mat, and Faile are why I love Robert Jordan as an author. I can't STAND Faile. At all. But she is such a realisticly drawn character. Her motivations, like everyone elses, are nuanced, well thought out, and consistent. The breadth and depth (and variety) we get from close to 20 really important characters is just... unmatched in my reading experience. Which is extensive.
Alice Arneson
30. Wetlandernw
I haven't read Jordan's other books, but from what others have said, he included plenty of sex scenes - and they really weren't very good. It may be simply that it didn't fit this genre, or that he realized they weren't that good, or... a variety of other factors, that made him leave most of it out of WoT. Whatever the cause, I'm glad. I generally find that I dislike reading sex scenes, because IMO not many writers are actually good at it. I'd just as soon they left the sex implicit rather than dragging me through their attempt to describe it.

Then again, I dislike the whole concept of peering through bedroom windows IRL, and I'm not thrilled about it in my reading either. If the details don't have anything to do with the actual story, I'd rather not read them; usually the fact of the relationship is all the story needs.
Eric Hughes
31. CireNaes
About Comadrin and Demandred...

Demandred is no doubt a skilled tactician and a great leader. However, war has changed. Tactics evolve with the primary and secondary weapons that are used. New takes on old technology really change how war is waged (i.e., Mat's new crossbows). One reason the rest of the world was so curious about the American Civil War was to see what rifled muskets were capable of. And that was just the beginning. Rifled artillery, repeating rifles and pistols, land mines, breach loading cannons, exploding rounds for artillery, modernized navy's. It really was a dramatic shift, but still looked somewhat similar to what went on before that. So imagine an AoL general looking to see what the primary infantry weapons are (not shock lances anymore) and what the best way to use them should be. What passes for airborne reconnaissance nowadays? Seems like the Seanchan have that one in the bag, but everyone else doesn't. How can I use that to my advantage with the Shadow Spawn that are available to me?

Some core principles stay the same and will always be helpful, but if Demandred wants to stay relevant then he will study up on what technologies are used for warfare in Randland. I find it highly realistic that one of the more dangerous Forsaken would do something like that. Not that I'm saying I'm totally behind his alias being Roedran, but I think this is one of the better theories that bounces around the WoT forums.
32. Justinus
re: Perrin
I'm one of the 99% of the WOT-reading population who, upon reading this part, just WANTED to get this amazingly protracted plotline OVER WITH! My constant thought then was, and still is, that why didn't it ever occur to Perrin to just have Grady or Neald hop back to Cairhien and collect a few Aiel clans to surround and overwhelm the Shaido from all sides right from the start?! Has he forgotten someone's discovered Traveling?! Is he not aware that there are some few hundred thousands spear folks lying about just cooling their heels where he left Rand?!
Genevieve Williams
33. welltemperedwriter
It's a minor point, but since somebody mentioned the Renaissance I feel compelled to observe that depending on where and when you're talking about, homosexuality during the period was by no means strictly taboo. The Italians in particular sought to imitate the ancient Greeks in more ways than one. So to speak. OTOH, I read this bit as more that Aes Sedai are supposed to put themselves above human passions, or at least give the appearance of doing so.

Also, haha on the Smith thing...I went there and people did indeed use the term. Conversely, not every Smith student who dated other women stopped doing so after she graduated.
Roger Powell
34. forkroot
I was scanning through the chapter looking for something else, and I came across this line, from Tuon’s thoughts, just following the part Leigh quoted about him being a buffoon and rapscallion: “He had seemed very much in his element as Tylin’s pet.” ROFL!! Knowing, as we do, how much he hated that role (not Tylin, just the reputation part), it’s hilarious that he came across to others as being “in his element” there. Poor Mat.
It took me a long time to pick up on how much Mat was in denial about his new found love for nice clothing. RJ used a light touch on this (BWS made it more obvious in ToM.)

What I think Tuon was picking up on was how easily Mat was slipping into the role of a "well-dressed lord" despite his denials.

Speaking of (now) Fortuona - she's at her best around Mat. That's been noted by other posters and this chapter affirms that. We've done a bit of hand-wringing on how she regressed some in TGS and ToM.

What I had missed was this from the Epilogue in ToM:
She was in her manor house a few leagues from Ebou Dar. Now that Semirhage was going, Graendal had begun placing some strings around their new, childlike Empress. She'd have to abandon those schemes now.
This could explain some of Fortuona's behavior of late. Now with Graendal being taken out of the picture, it also sets up a chance for Fortuona to do some major rethinking and eventual reconciliation with Team Light, IMO.

EDIT: Changed "Tuon" to "Fortuona" (may she live forever) as appropriate.
Alice Arneson
35. Wetlandernw
anthony @29 - Since I'm not a Tuon-hater, I can't really weigh in, except to say


once again. As much as we like or dislike other people, we like or dislike characters because of their personality and our own. One of the reasons people feel so strongly about these characters is the fact that they're "too real" - so well drawn that they remind us of people we know, love, hate, cringe to be around, love to tease... whatever. Personally, I like Tuon, even while I alternately laugh and cringe at some of her cultural biases. IMO, she and Mat are eminently suited to one another, precisely because of those characteristics that provide both strength and weakness depending on the situation.

Oops. I wasn't going to weigh in on this... Ha. Likely story.

Incidentally... I was listening to Carmina Burana last night, and I really hope there's a serious MOA for Tuon in AMoL to match the music at the beginning: Fortuna, Imperatrix Mundi! It'll give me serious shivers.

(And once again, I'm reminded that RJ most likely came up with Fortuona as her Imperial name and derived Tuon from it, not the other way 'round.)
Roger Powell
36. forkroot
And the smarter you are, the more confident you are in yourself, the harder it is to see that you are wrong. Strength and weakness in the same trait.
Yep. Reminds me of the old saying: "It ain't what you don't know that'll get you in trouble - it's what you do know that ain't so!"
37. llcoolj
Re: "pillow friends"
I agree with mrclark on the experimental phase when in an all girls "school" environment. One other thing to consider is that upon becoming a full Aes Sedai, it would make sense that having that kind of relationship within the tower might be frowned upon because you are not longer in a school environment, all of a sudden you are in a "business" environment. Being pillow friends with someone more powerful such as a Sitter or worse, the Amyrlin, can cause issues with favoritism or being treated harsher because of the relationship. Even today having a relationship with a person gay OR straight in the workplace is taboo. It would make sense to me in that environment that it could result in some kind of "childish" stigma if you make an issue of being openly involved in a relationship with someone inside the tower.
Anthony Pero
38. anthonypero
@ the RoeMandred crowd in general

Or, it could just be a King sees a bunch of armies on his land for a long time, and False Dragons abound (and a real one now), and he simply doesn't want to be swept away.

IMO, at least, ToM shored up what Demandred has been up to. The "Red-veiled Aeil" are almost certainly from Shara, IMO. Demandred has been building Tolkien's "Army of the East". If there are elephants with them, I may actually cry foul.
39. Greenish-Yellow Ajah
re: Pillow friends

In New Spring (and from a stray Elaida thought), we do learn that Moiraine and Siuan were pillow friends. In New Spring, they certainly don't give it up right away on attaining the shawl, as Moiraine kisses Siuan for healing her later that day. I'd be curious to know whether they hooked up during Moiraine's brief trips to the Tower between NS and EotW and before each one fell in love with a guy. Might shed some light on whether they were bi or LUSTY (Lesbian Until Shawl in Trying Years).

It also would NOT surprise me to learn that some of those sister-wife situations in the Aiel Waste have sex between the wives either with or without the husband.
Alice Arneson
40. Wetlandernw
For those who use the ripples as a time marker for Perrin & Faile... FWIW, according to Steven Coopers chronology, the two events are actually about 5 days apart. (The Seven Spokes chronology agrees within a day or so; theirs is a little harder to follow, though.) Not that he couldn't have it slightly wrong, but RJ was pretty consistent in keeping his timeline straight and providing enough clues for the obsessive fan to get it straight as well. So... take it for what it's worth. I admit that it seems odd for only those two specific groups to feel the ripple, and yet for it to be five days from one to the other, but there it is.
Valentin M
41. ValMar
Anthony and Wetlander @ 29, 35

I very much agree. I also like Tuon- in general. In reading stories like this or history one has to take into account the setting when considering the characters. E.g. I watched Sherlock Holmes recently (the best version, with J Brett) and the appauling (to my own moral context) view Watson and Maycroft had towards the suffragettes and women's rights. Sherlock also had a bit of an opinion on women. I still think that these three gentlemen are great and pity the times which shaped some of their views.

On the chapters themselves, Mat's stuff, especially with the reappearance of Talmanes, made me extatic. I'll go off re-read these parts now... almost...

forkroot @ 34

On Greandal's potential involvement with Tuon being the marked difference in her character. I pressed Brandon on this specific issue when he came in London few weeks ago. He said Fortuona's view had hardened because she is back among the Seanchan and away from Mat's, et all's, influence. When I specificly asked of Greandal's suggested involvement he said there's nothing in it.
42. ryamano

Why are those sharp toothed Aiel at the end of TOM most certainly from Shara? From what we've seen

1) Sharans are dark (the one that appears trying to sell silkworms is described as having dark skin, almost like a Seafolk, probably more like an African. The Sh'botay and Sh'boan Graendal captures are also described like that).
2) Aiel trade with Sharans. Rhuarc tells Rand news of them and that they cheat at trading.
3) Shara is in civil war. Part of it may be due to Graendal's actions. Part of it may be due to the Dragon being reborn.

But nowhere is it said that Sharans have filed teeth or have some Aiel customs or look like Aiel. Those Aiel at the end of TOM, to me, are either Aiel male channelers who were corrupted or Aiel that were corrupted by Fain.

Anyway, I think making Shara and Seanchan be in civil war was a way Robert Jordan / Brandon Sanderson found for those continents to not appear in the series. When people ask "Why didn't the Dark One invade those lands" or "Why didn't those lands help Rand", it'll be said "They were too busy with the civil wars, posing no threat to the Dark One, but at the same time being of no help to the Dragon Reborn".
Noneo Yourbusiness
43. Longtimefan
@ 40 Wetlandernw,

Thanks for checking on that and clearing it up. You are always reliable for in book references and information. :)

It is odd that the ripples would be 5 days apart. Maybe it is significant though because of the location.

Now that Perrin is near the same location the ripples may just be something that happens in that area.

On the other hand it may be something that happens when there are no buildings to rearrange when the pattern is shifting.

The rooms and hallways changing in the Tower and the palace in Camelyn may be the same effect or a similar one when the pattern bends under a significant change.

I wonder if Demandred is unleashing balefire under the Dark One's orders to unwravel the Pattern.

The ripples and the rearranging of physical space could be more than a "bubble of evil".

I know it seems odd to say this and it is just a random thought with no book evidence since I am spinning it out of my mind right now with no books at hand but the "bubbles" seem to have a more individually distructive focus and the ripples/rearanging seem to have more of a pattern wide focus. Even the ghosts seem to be more pattern tearing than "bubble of evil" based.

While it was an in book character who said that the theory on bubbles of evil (I am going to stop using quotes because I have no idea why I was using them to begin with.) was that it was bits of evil floating through the pattern and then attaching to a random thread in the pattern causing a malignant event it is still a plausible theory. In book characters may not know everything but they know something.

The ripples and the rearranging of physical space is not so much evil bursting onto the pattern as it is the pattern changing completely.

To me that is more of a thread burning thing than a bubble of evil thing. This then leads to the question of are these reactions to previous balefire usage (dark hounds, mashadar, et all) or are these reactions to current balefire useage that is happening off screen?

Or is this just some random conjecture that is not going anywhere? :)

I suggest that Demandred is using balefire for the Dark One because of the half remember quote when the book goes all caps and says "WOULD YOU UNLEASH BALEFIRE..." something something something. I thought the Dark One was talking to Demandread at the time.

Could this secret unraveling of the Pattern be part of the reason Demandread has been so sneaky and secretive about his actions. It may only be part of what he is doing to sow chaos and carve out his share of the world to rule and under cut the other Forsaken to become Nablis but it does not take that much time out of the day to balefire a couple of barns or a small army in a far away land that no one gets to read about.

Ramble ramble ramble.
Tricia Irish
44. Tektonica
I'm breaking my own rule here by not reading the comments first, but.....SQUEEEEE!! This Mat chapter is one of my top 5 in the series.

When Tuon FINALLY sees that Mat is smart, is a tactician, is respected and loved by his troops...HIS troops....She realizes she doesn't know him. I hope she also realizes that maybe she didn't use her time with him in the best possible way. She was just going along with the foretelling, and being the Empress-to-be, she expected him to fawn all over her, the way the rest of the Seanchan nobles do......when in fact, maybe she should have done some recon herself. Oh yeah....he's much more than Toy. (And I'm glad the kiss left her kind of stunned.)

I'm glad Talmanes is back too...with The Band. And I just got that the Whitecloaks seen heading north are Galad and his followers...nice time line evidence.
45. singlehanded
@anthony - Noted. I agree. I actually tried reading the Fallon books at like 16-17 years old.. in the midst of a highly conservative religious phase in my life. Oh my how the tide has turned.

On another note... the red-veiled Aiel are the creepiest things I have ever read about in fiction. I mean, come on... one of our most beloved people groups in the series is now the victim of some highly destructive doppelgangers? Count me out.

Fidelity: I side with those who would side with Perrin. On the other hand, being a male who can't quite fathom being in the situation I would hope my reaction would be as his is. I do feel that the worst portion of agony that would come from a situation like that (Faile sleeping with another man to ensure freedom) would be felt by the one commiting the act. Having to carry that around would destroy me, but I agree that death is final and dishonor is not. IDK.
Captain Hammer
46. Randalator
Wetlandernw @20

The WoT is long and tangled enough as it is, without a lot of characters who don’t fit the theme and must have their irrelevance be constantly explained away.

Actually, the correct approach would be to have gay characters whose sexual orientation is of no importance to the plot. Why would it have to be explained constantly that there are gay characters in WoT? Why can't they just BE gay? Having gay characters and constantly justifying their existence or turning their sexual orientation into a plot device is not good writing.

Some interesting and entertaining info on that subject
John Massey
47. subwoofer
@Wet- I echo LTF's comment, thanks for that tidbit:)

@Leigh- minor quibble- it was not a new fangled crossbow that fires 8 quarrels/min, it is a crank that works on the crossbow, later on RJ goes into great detail to describe this. As a bow hunter I also appreciate his commentary about how it is easier to have a bunch of guys train on a crossbow because it is an easier to use weapon, the only drawback is the time it takes to reset it. Exactly- lazy dang no sighting crossbow using gnahgnahgnah... grumble.

One of my favorite Mat snippets was left out where Tuon was making comments just beyond Mat's hearing when he wipes his hands on his coat. Setalle cheerfully supplies Mat with the needed translation-

"She might have said men are pigs," she murmured without lifting her eyes from her embroidery hoop, "or just that you are."
..."She may have said you're a mud-footed country lout with dirt in your ears and hay in your hair, Or she might have said-"
"I think I see the direction you're going," he(Mat) told her through gritted teeth.


Ch 26 is packed full of fun stuff too. Tuon discovers Mat's lie by omission- see? It bugs her too. I am also liking that Tuon is honked off by folks speaking so fast and yet-

"Excuse me," Talmanes said, "but would you say that again? I apologize. I must have dirt in my ears."

- heh, it is all about perspective. Tuon also muses how she saw through Mat's lie about Hawkwing-

Toy was the one. He remembered Hawkwing's face. That seemed utterly impossible, yet his denial of it had plainly been a lie, as plain as the spots on a leopard. Could the Red Hand be Toy's sigil? But if so, what about his ring? She had almost fainted when she first saw that.

Wheels within wheels be turning in that little head. Maybe she stops calling Mat "Toy" soon, that is really starting to grind.

It's good to hear about some good hard numbers as to the size of the Band. I didn't quite grasp how large it was when Mat first started out, and now it has grown by leaps and bounds. Latrines have quadrupled.

It bums me that Tuon can't wrap her head around the ta'veren thing, but as AP points out, it takes a special kind of person to shake their entrenched dogma, and as Tuon needs a Truthspeaker, I sincerely doubt being surrounded by "yes" men has helped any. Even though Thom tells her that

"it's said that Artur Hawkwing was the strongest ta'veren anyone has ever seen, perhaps as strong as Rand al'Thor. I'd have thought you of all people would...."

So why the heck would they lose sight of the pattern and ta'veren and relegate their beliefs to how birds fly and the march of ants? Semirhage has much to answer for.

Elaida- douche. Women are on the verge of open hostility, spank them for not listening... good plan that. Are we sure she isn't under complusion or just plain taint crazy? I know she channels Saidar, but still, ask yourselves, "would a sane person do this stuff?"

Faile- no comment.

Balwar- yay.

Lini- yay.

Galina- douche. Here's one time I do wish the character's were a little more perceptive and not all "shut up, she's Aes Sedai" bs. If one of Faile's party could have figured this out...

Edited for the quote thingys.

All in all I loved these chapters... without the Perrin plod... and Elaida... gah, well even so, I still liked these chapters.

Captain Hammer
48. Randalator
sub @47

re: Elaida

I think she is tainted, but by Fain, not saidin. She has always been a megalomaniac but ever since her meeting with Fain she has thrown reason and common sense completely out the window and just been guided by paranoia, pettiness and sheer insanity...and Alviarin...
John Massey
49. subwoofer
mmmmm... Couple of things-

Beyond the obvious tendon popping bit on the goblet of wine--"They defy me again. Again!" crackpottedness-

"She took another long drink, draining her goblet, and glided across the carpet to refill it. She drank too much, of late. Tarna had even seen her drunk once!

There was the bit-
She looked over her shoulder, her face a mask of serenity. Her eyes still glittered, though.

Not sure if she is hammered or grade A loopy. I hear what folks are saying about Fain, but IMHO Elaida would need to be in constant contact with him to be really nuts. It is like an Aram and Prophet model. It took repeated visits to Masema to drive Aram loons, I think the same could be said for a woman as powerful a channeler as Elaida is.

Anthony Pero
50. anthonypero
@subwoofer re: Seanchan and Ta'veren:

Actually, I think the BBoBA implies that the almost no one left in Seanchan actually has ANY of Hawkwing's blood. It appears that the army Hawkwing sent sort of made like the Greeks in Egypt Ptolemy-style, and simply acceeded to the culture at large in order to rule it.

In other words, what they believe now is almost certainly based on what the Pre-Hawkwing Seanchan believed, rather than on what the Pre-Hawkwing Randlanders believed. In otherwords, the nearest common descendant for belief between the Seanchan and Randland is the AoL. I really don't thin Semirhage has anything to do with it, or twisting prophecies, or ANYTHING. I think it's simply 3000 years of drift. I think the Seanchan prohecies are a bastardization of native Seanchan prophecies and the Randland prophecies. For a RL analog, see the theory that the Pentetuch was based on four distinct sources that were composited together around 700 BCE.
Jay Dauro
51. J.Dauro
I find it odd that no one has mentioned one of my interesting points in this chapter, which becomes apparent after TOM. Here we see that Balwer and the Aes Sedai know of Galad killing Valda and leading 7000 children away from the Seanchen. But in TOM they do not know who is leading the group that captured Basel Gill. I would expect Balwer would have at least suspected the connection.

Justinus @32
You mean the Aiel that think that Perrin has been banished by the Car'a'carn? Yes, they might believe that it was a feint, but in that case, it is a feint no longer. And Perrin was instructed not to contact Rand until the job was finished.
52. Lurking Canadian
Every time I read this bit, I'm temporarily convinced that this ripple was related to the backwash from Rand's destruction of the palace in the next book. Then I read more carefully and realize that Perrin was definitely finished in Malden before Rand balefired the palace. Then again, maybe balefire backwash travels backwards in time. It must be some kind of synchronization signal, but nothing quite fits.

And Tuon is a monster. I care not what her culture taught her. Jefferson Davis was just doing what his daddy told him was right, too.
John Massey
53. subwoofer
@AP, naw, it's classic writing 101- look around for the guy with the black hat and blame them;)

Anyways- I was under the impression that the Blood, especially the High Blood all had a link back to Hawkwing. There may be a case of "the blood runs strong in this one". Much like TR blood being traced back to Aemon's time, I am very curious about Tuon's bloodline back to Hawkwing.

I hear you about assuming an empire rather than becoming an empire.

Roger Powell
54. forkroot
Not sure if she is hammered or grade A loopy. I hear what folks are saying about Fain, but IMHO Elaida would need to be in constant contact with him to be really nuts. It is like an Aram and Prophet model. It took repeated visits to Masema to drive Aram loons, I think the same could be said for a woman as powerful a channeler as Elaida is.
I don't think the analogy holds. Masema had to convince Aram through argument, force of personality, or whatever. Fain corrupts by his very nature. We start to see this in TGH when the Shiernaran guards in the dungeon become sour and evil over time.

With that said - I sympathize with your general premise, only because Fain interacted with Elaida for such a brief time. I don't know about "constant contact" but certainly more contact than the one meeting.

I guess we'd have to chalk it up to Elaida already having serious character flaws, thus magnifying Fain's ability to corrupt her more readily.
55. Geminaut
Stray thought on Tarna and 13x13-ing: It should be entirely possible to Heal a Turning. There are three steps, though I'm unsure what order they should be done in. First, Sever the Turned channeler. Then, use Nynaeve's newfound Taint-Healing technique to look for any DO 'thorns' and remove them. Finally, have a channeler of the opposite gender Heal the Severing. Voila! Good as new. :)
Joel Salomon
56. JCSalomon
Leigh wrote:

Seriously, you’re going to let your pissy in-fighting trump making sure an entire city doesn’t starve, by not fixing the harbors?

That’s nothing. Look up the siege of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.; with the Romans besieging the city, a three-way civil war was raging inside the walls. One side’s favorite attacks was to set fire to their opponents’s food stores.
57. Jigglypuff
Tuon's chapter is one of my favourite moments of the series. I like the way Matt is called Toy for the whole POV and the lion quote at the end. And the singing. And the Band. And the whole thing.

Thanks to Leigh for highlighting the outsider/self-realisation trope. I hadn't realised that so many of the great WoT moments involved this trope and why they are so satisfying.

Perrin's sections are better in retrospect, knowing that his plot line will soon be wrapped up. I wonder if this chapter is supposed to show these Two Rivers boys being cool, but for me it shows how lame Perrin is compared to Matt.
58. Greenish-Yellow Ajah
Randalator@46: Dumbledore much?
craig thrift
59. gagecreedlives
Just to add to what forkroot already said

"I don't think the analogy holds. Masema had to convince Aram through argument, force of personality, or whatever. Fain corrupts by his very nature. We start to see this in TGH when the Shiernaran guards in the dungeon become sour and evil over time"

IIRC Fain corrupted the guards just with his nature but I thought that the whole reason he went first to Amador to see Niall and partly later to see Elaida (the other part to get the dagger) was to corrupt them into making sure they wouldnt ally themselves with Rand at all. As unlikely as that was anyway.

So Fain has a corrosive effect on people naturally but if he is actively trying to corrupt somebody how long would it take to tip them over the edge?


Reading this part still gives me goosebumps

Reimon laughed again. “If I know Mat, he’s planning us a battle. The Band of the Red Hand rides to battle again. It’s been too long, if you ask me.”
Selucia sniffed, and so did Mistress Anan. Tuon had to agree with them. “A battle won’t get you out of Altara,” she said sharply.
“In that case,” Talmanes said, “he’s planning us a war.” The other three nodded agreement as if that were the most normal thing under the Light. Reimon even laughed. He seemed to think everything was humorous.
“Three thousand?” Toy said. “You’re sure? Sure enough, man. Sure enough will do. Vanin can locate them if they haven’t moved too far.”
Tuon looked at him, squatting there by the map, moving his fingers over its surface, and suddenly she saw him in a new light. A buffoon? No. A lion stuffed into a horse-stall might look like a peculiar joke, but a lion on the high plains was something very different. Toy was loose on the high plains, now. She felt a chill. What sort of man had she entangled herself with? After all this time, she realized, she had hardly a clue.

Alice Arneson
60. Wetlandernw
Greenish-Yellow Ajah @58 - Which had to be revealed by the author outside the books, because she couldn't find a way to make it fit into the books? What's your point?
Kimani Rogers
61. KiManiak
Thanks as always Leigh. A lot of discussion and comments to catch up to.

I enjoyed reading Tuon finally “seeing” Mat. I agree that it’s often enjoyable when others are finally clued into something/someone that you’ve known has been awesome for a long time. Kind of a “welcome to the party; what took you so freaking long?” feeling. And Mat finally reconnects with the Band. About Damn Time.

As for Faile sleeping with Rolan: If that’s the only way she thought she could get free, and it worked, then, so be it. She would have done what she felt she had to in order to get free. Isn’t the first rule of the PoW to do what they can to escape? (Or maybe that’s the 3rd rule, after stay alive and don’t give up state secrets)

AB@2 and others – yeah, I also thought (with the benefit of hindsight) that the last bit Tuon was waiting for was for Mat to release her, as she explains later on in KoD.

Longtime@21 – The Band grew in size during the time that the Salidar rebel’s army grew in size and for similar reasons: locals saw 2 large armies and decided to join up with one or the other.

AP@29 – re: Tuon – Yeah, I don’t have a big problem believing Tuon believes what she believes. I’d like her to see things the way the “enlightened” Randlandians see things (and to fully realize what she has in Mat). But she’s a product of her environment just like the 2R folks, the Aiel, the Borderlanders and even the Athan Miere. What’s more, she was raised to believe that when she became Empress her will or perspective would be essentially unquestionable, and above any other’s. In her worldview slaves (both of the normal and Power-wielding variety) are a part of life, a centuries-old claim to land that was once part of a no-longer-present Empire is still valid, and ta’veren is nothing but superstition.

Geminaut@55 – re: 13x13 – Not that I think this would work (It’s still unclear as to whether that can even be Healed or reversed; I think the best we’ve gotten is a RAFO), but why sever them; why not just shield them instead? Seems a lot less messy.
Birgit F
62. birgit
but why sever them; why not just shield them instead? Seems a lot less messy.

Shielding doesn't undo the Oaths, but severing does. It is unlikely that shielding has any effect on 13-13, but if it depends on the ability to channel, severing might undo it like the Oaths.

Tuon's opinions don't really change that much when she returns to the Seanchan, she just is back in a position where she can do something about it. Even in this chapter she thinks about leashing the marath'damane and convincing Setalle that da'covale are a good thing:

Eventually, the traitors would be punished, and the thief, the property restored to its rightful owners, and the marath'damane leashed, but those things had to wait on what was more important.

Mistress Anan argued against leashing marath'damane, as might be expected, and even against keeping da'covale of all things, yet they were discussions rather than arguments, and Tuon had made her concede a few points. She had hopes of bringing the woman around eventually.

63. Megaduck
anthonypero @24

While it's possible that Demandred has heard of Comadrin since escaping his prison, it's not really concievable that Demandred would be quoting him or studying him. Demandred's knowledge would be greater than Comadrin.

I disagree for similar reasons that CireNaes does. For one thing, war has changed and they are not using shocklances anymore. I would say it’s the equivalent to a modern day general going back and trying to organize an army with swords but it’s worse than that.

Demandred’s an amateur, or at the very least, he’s self taught. By the time of the AoL all of the martial arts had faded to being sports at best. One of the FO even states how they took the ancient art of swords and learned to kill with it again. The generals in the AoL were learning as they go trying to reinvent the art of strategy.

So the modern general has two thousand years of institutionalized experience to draw on including sword and pike tactics while Demandred does not.

Comadrin also has the advantage of living in a time with a thousand years of fighting behind him as well as teachers who would have spend their entire lives fighting. This is in addition to spending his entire life learning the art of war like Demandred did.

In other words Comadrin’s knowledge would probably be greater then Demandreds.
craig thrift
64. gagecreedlives
Comadrin's knowledge probably would be greater but would Demandreds ego allow him to consider the possibility let alone start quoting somebody else out of a book.

Plus I cant see Demandred letting the band go that easily. Why wouldnt he just use compulsion to make Talmanes stay?
John Massey
65. subwoofer
@Fork& GCL-

mmmmm, good points. Fain's power comes from Shadar Logoth and Mordeth. Seems to me that I remember Moiraine saying something about her presence holding the evil at bay. Something about the One Power and it keeping the taint back and said Mat would be okay as long as he stays close. I'll have to look this up after work... it was many thousands of pages ago and little baby has left me sleep deprived.

More later...

Rob Munnelly
66. RobMRobM
Ah, life is good. These two excellent chapters are key reasons why I enjoy KoD, especially after all that has gone before over the past few books.
- What Leigh said re POVs where someone else looks at an old favorite and realizes greatness.
- The lion on the high plains image is perhaps the best in the entire series. Brilliantly written.
- Love all the Tuon-Seluccia and Tuon-Setalle back and forth.

Not much else to say - this is good stuff.

Rob Munnelly
67. RobMRobM
Oh, I believe Rodran = Demandred theory. Not certain but very far from unlikely. Foresaken discussions make clear he is masquerading as someone royal. There aren't too many options to choose from. It's either Murandy or Shara, and Murandy is central, close to Andor, and its King is building an army (as D is said to be doing). Makes sense to me.

The point of the Comadrin book is that, per Mat, it is really good at miltary strategy and tactics. I can easily see D figuring out he can learn from it, especially given the changes since the AOL.

Valentin M
68. ValMar
I also believe that Roedran = Demandred theory is credible for the reasons already given above by others. As for the Comadrin book, it could also be a way for Demandred to explain the sudden improvement in military theory of "Roedran".
Or it could be a red herring. I am in the camp of the RAFO readers. Specific things I am keen to see how they pan out (e.g. Moiraine's return) otherwise I let the Author do his work and take a pleasure of the story's twists and turns :)
Anthony Pero
69. anthonypero
I just don't see how referencing a book that is NOT AoL time period can serve as any kind of evidence/proof for RoeMandred. The TaiMandred theory had a lot more going for it, including AoL references. There's nothing remotely compelling about RoeMandred. I guess he could be masquerading that way... but how/where is he building up an army of any sufficient numbers to do anything against 100,000+ Aiel and 100,000+ bordermen. He could be, but it would be... lame.
70. Megaduck
Personally, I do find TaiMandred a better theory but wasn't it jossed? (Heck, Taim even says 'let the lord of chaos rule' which is exactly what the DO tells Damadred.)
Julian Augustus
71. Alisonwonderland
Valmar @41:

I watched Sherlock Holmes recently (the best version, with J Brett)

Interestingly, I couldn't stand Jeremy Brett, thought he was constantly overacting. My favorite Holmes was of a far earlier era: Basil Rathbone. As always, this difference of opinion reflects the more the differences in the viewer than any inherent rightness or wrongness (a fancy way of saying "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder"). Cheers.
Valentin M
72. ValMar
Alisonwonderland @ 71
Jeremy Brett didn't overact or underact; he acted exactly as he meant to ;) But seriously, I think that it was intended to be so- to portray his eccentricity. After all this series was noted as being particularly faithful to the original material.
As for being the best, I was joking a little. Basically, I enjoy Grenada's version very much whilst being indifferent to the rest. Well, Data wasn't bad as Sherlock :)

anthony @ 69

I agree that the fact that Murandy is too central to build a significant force (though it's not necessary to face by itself all of Rand's forces- just enough to cause mayhem at the back of Light's forces) is maybe the biggest point against Roed=Dem theory.
I am afraid that by this stage from wherever Demandrerd shows up it may feel lame.

If he suddenly appears from Shara with a massive army without any real support from the text from the previous 10 000 pages will feel hollow.

If he's in Murandy- one would feel that more would've come to our protagonists' ears of dodgy/significant/remarkable events there. The place is the most centrally located country in WOTland! It will feel as if it was kept all quiet artificially by the author. After all 200 000 Borderlanders passed through it on their way to Far Madding without a word or accident...

OTOH given Murandy's location it is notable what a little role the state has played in the story so far. Every other country has had a significant part to play except Murandy. So unless its role was just as a red herring for Demandred something's got to happen there.
Brian Cavanaugh
73. jagahanas
Fidelity: It would be acceptable only if she didn't enjoy it, but from her thoughts, it sounds like she would enjoy it.
74. Justinus
J.Dauro @51
The charade was intended for the wetlander nobles in Cairhien. Perrin's mission was never intended to be hidden from the Aiel. In fact, there are Aiel in Perrin's party. If anyone asks where a few Aiel clans are heading off to, they can just truthfully say they are taking care of the Shaido problem, the way they're supposed to in the first place. Perrin's original mission is finished - he already has Masema at hand.
Tricia Irish
75. Tektonica
I've always been a supporter of the Roedran=Demandred theory. And I agree with you, ValMar, that almost any entrance on Dem's part at this late stage will seem lame...forced. I just don't think he'll sweep in from Shara with an army of Sharan channelers, as there has been so little mention of Shara, and no scenes set there. It would just seem very DEM to me. ?

Roedran hiring The Band to train his troops and reading more recent battle tactics seems logical. Masquerading as a Royal, seems to fit with the FS strategies. Maybe we'll see him sweeping into Andor behind the trollacs in MoL. Well, we'll find out something about him then anyway. RAFO.
Jeff Weston
76. JWezy
anthonypero@23: My pespective is a bit different - I would definitely want to know if my wife had to give herself to a guard to escape/survive. Not for me, it would tear me up. For her, because she deserves to be told (by me) that it is OK. The secret-keeping is where the trouble begins, IMH.

ValMar@72: Amen. The key point for me is that I love the original stories, and the Jeremy Brett versions are the closest to canon. Basil Rathbone played a fine detective, but only a so-so Holmes.

In a bit of a surprise for me, I like Benedict Cumberbach/Martin Freeman in Sherlock. It is an interesting blend of old and new that doesn't pretend to canon, but instead revisits the characters to look at them from a modern point of view without changing their essential natures. I didn't expect to like it, but life is like that, sometimes.
Julian Augustus
77. Alisonwonderland
About the ripples. At this point in the book no one had any idea of the cause. But, might have ToM supplied a clue? I am thinking that we know the power Spike was planted somewhere in that vicinity, and support may be in the fact that only Perrin's group and the Aiel in Malden, but no other group in Randland, feel the ripples. Wetlander digging up the fact that the ripples were felt five days apart by the two groups still cannot be explained, but I suggest the Spike is as good a cause for the ripples as any.
Anthony Pero
78. anthonypero

I wasn't implying the Taimendred theory was correct, I was just saying it was a better theory. Inprevious posts, I stated my belief that Demandred has taken control of Shara, and will be bringing in their armies (including channelers). And he may already have, in ToM. i.e. "Red-Vieled Aiel". I also joked that if they have elephants, I'll cringe, because it will be too-much of a Tolkien rip-off.
Hugh Arai
79. HArai
OTOH given Murandy's location it is notable what a little role the state has played in the story so far. Every other country has had a significant part to play except Murandy. So unless its role was just as a red herring for Demandred something's got to happen there.

It's hard to say. I think it really just depends how it gets presented. After all, we didn't see much of anything happen in Kandor, but that viewpoint in the prologue of ToM still felt awesome not tacked on. For that matter, there hasn't been much action at all shown in the Borderlands at all since the gang left Shienar, but I don't think the lack is going to spoil what happens in AMoL.
Captain Hammer
80. Randalator
Alisonwonderland @77

It can't be the dreamspike because it hasn't been planted yet. The Asha'man can still open gateways on the day of the battle as seen in KoD, ch. 29. In fact, Graendal didn't receive her dreamspike from Moridin until ToM, ch. 5 AFTER Rand balefired Natrin's Barrow. Between ToM, ch. 5 and ToM, ch. 26 there is at least one temporary test of the dreamspike by Slayer (ToM, ch. 18) but it's only in ch. 26 that Grady and Neald discover that they can no longer open gateways. Also neither the test(s) nor the permanent placement in ToM cause the ripples in reality.

Last but not least, take a look at the description of a balescream: "A wave of wrongness washed over her, a warping in the air, the pattern itself rippling." (ToM, Prologue). Remind you of anything?

I think the ripple-effect is just that, the Pattern rippling/wavering/dissolving for a moment. Just as we established earlier, the Pattern is under a tremendous strain and those ripples are a consequence of that just like the re-arranged buildings are...
81. MasterAlThor
Ok I am a day late, so I am not reading all the comments. Although I am sure the usual supects (Wet, Sub, Long, etc) are making some wonderful comments.

So I thought I only had one comment to make but I guess I actually have two.

I don't know if you are aware but you just insulted some hetero women out there. Just because some think like Tarna doesn't mean they think others are creepy or desperate. My wife experimented and she moved on. She doesn't think anything of what a lesbian person is or isn't. I don't believe she is in the minority here either.

The Faile thingy. I can't say that I would agree with Faile sleeping with Rolan to escape would be a good idea. As it is Faile and Co are having candlelight vigil for those that helped in the next book. It appears to me that if she had slept with him, she would have had even more feelings for him. This would have definitely hurt her marriage to Perrin.

Well that's all I got for now. Time to read some comments

Birgit F
82. birgit
Seems to me that I remember Moiraine saying something about her presence holding the evil at bay.
"What's wrong with him?" Egwene asked, and Nynaeve added, "Is it catching? I can still treat him. I don't seem to catch sick, no matter what it is."
"Oh, it is catching," Moiraine said, "and your ... protection would not save you."

tEotW ch. 41

OTOH given Murandy's location it is notable what a little role the state has played in the story so far.

Murandy isn't really a unified country. People are more loyal to the local lord or city than the nation.

I also joked that if they have elephants, I'll cringe, because it will be too-much of a Tolkien rip-off.

The Seanchan do have s'redit.

What is that strange +1 button in the comment box? I had to disable javascript to get the old comment box because I couldn't write anything in the other comment box.
Noneo Yourbusiness
83. Longtimefan
Just a random observation about character voice in this chapter. I have always been impressed by the uniqueness of Tuon's voice when it is her chapter. She brings the certainty and unusal thoughts about her culture to a very beliveable forefront in the story. It makes her chapters interesting to read even if her personal ethics are to far away from the readers personal choices.

Just thought I would mention it since this is one of her more exceptional chapers wherin she re-evaluates her position with Mat both romantically and politically while still maintaining her certainty about herself and her position on most other subjects.
Valentin M
84. ValMar
JWezy @ 76
Indeed- in many of the adaptations there's a detective called Sherlock Holmes with a sidekick called Dr Watson and that's just about it. Sometimes even the time period is different ;) I watched one of the new ones with Cumberbach/Freeman- with the taxidriver. Seemed alright- Cumberbach appeared to me somehow reptilian. Anyway- the last of the 3 episodes is tonight, might watch it.

HArai @ 79

Fair point. Presentation is key and that's way RJ/BS are the authors and I merely a reader. As for the Borderlands- Kandor was a key location in NS. As for the rest- it was always expected that when TG came there'll be action up there, as in Maradon. Otherwise these nations are far in the north, separated by hundreds of miles of empty lands, aloof in their struggle with the Blight. Not that surprising that our heroes didn't go there.

birgit @ 82

That Murandy isn't a unified land doesn't make a difference in my observation that we've seen too little of it, given it's location. Altara isn't united either. Maybe something's cooking in there? Unlike Shara, many innuendos have been made about Roedran's activities. We will see.

Longtimefan @ 83

Good point on Tuon's voice. Yet another credit to Mr Jordan.

MasterAlThor @ 81

On the Faile thingy. I think you are very right to point out one potential effect on the dynamics of the situation.
I don't know whether Faile's liking of Rolan would've made things better or worse- it would certainly have made them more complicated.
85. Greenish-Yellow Ajah
Wetlander @60--

My point is that a person's sexual orientation doesn't have to be explicitly addressed in the books for the author and the books to have an impact on how people think about orientation. Being gay was part of who Dumbledore was and how JKR thought of him, but it wasn't labeled as what he was, probably partially because none of the Hogwarts teachers were in relationships. Still, a lot of people were saw it as a big deal (one way or the other) when JKR outed Dumbledore in an interview. For many of those people, it didn't matter that Dumbledore's orientation wasn't stated in the book, it just mattered that JKR said it.
Sorcha O
86. sushisushi
Geminaut@ 55 & birgit@62 Hmmn, the theory may be sound, but I don't see Tarna or Mezar (or any other 13x13'ed channeler) being willing to be guinea pig for that experiment. You would have to capture them, shield them and then sever them forcefully, like the erstwhile False Dragons. Not easily done if they are also gone doggone mean and ornery. Although there is a chance that the severing by itself might work to release them?

gagecreedlives@64 Wasn't there a theory about the pipe that Talmanes got from Roedran, that it was partly metal and had been enchanted with a Finder, so that Roedran/Demandred would be able to find Mat?

JasonD@14 Um, I'm hoping that a 'panty raid' isn't what I think it is and is just a scouting of unattended underwear. I can work out 'keg stand' from context as a party with a beer barrel, but I find this fraternity stuff just really odd and a bit disturbing. (am SO NOT googling 'panty raid', either, hoping some nice American will explain what the strange terminology means).

Am too brainfried for any more coherent comments, other than yay for Mat and the Band reuniting and boo to poor Tarna trying to do the right thing and being squashed by PsychoElaida. Also, get on with it Perrin, we're getting bored here!
Noneo Yourbusiness
87. Longtimefan
@ 81 Master Al Thor

That is a very good point about the emotional entangelments that Faile may have to work out if she had to chose the Rolan option of escape.

I think that it is much more relevant to wonder about how Faile would deal with the situation since she has to live through the actual experience where Perrin's reaction may be important but he only has to deal with it mentally. (not that any form of practical psychology existis in the series for either of them to work their way through something outside of their own personal strengths.)

Knowing that a person you care about had to go through an ordeal can be emotionally difficult but going through the ordeal itself lays harder on the psyche.

I say that if I was Perrin that I would be ok with it and I guess that is a bit to short of an answer. I would understand that it was a non violent an possibly safer option than fighting from the inside to escape. As Perrin in the books is truly and perhaps a bit fanatically devoted to Faile he would tell himself to be ok with anything that kept her safe and on the surface it would be true. His internal turmoil (in my opinion) would not cast her in a bad light but instead turn on himself for not saving her fast enough that she had to use other means to escape. In his rush to forgive her anything he would just turn all negative feelings against the person she had to use to escape and against himself for not being there in time to keep that from happening.

Both Perrin and Faile are teenagers (well barely 20 is practially a teenager) and with the limited perspective and emotional turmoil inherent to the age range (as written). Perrin was shielded from the world by living in a quiet village and Faile was shielded from the world by living in a court (even if it was the borderlands)
I agree that Faile may have conflicted emotions about Rolan if she had to go further to secure her escape. Partially though I think the conflict would have been because of the appropriation of kindness other than affection. It is possible to appreciate the kindness without turning it into romantic interest. Faile (as written) is completely devoted to Perrin as equally and completely as he is to her.

The confusion they both feel at finding a different person slightly attractive is understandable in the context that "Romantic love" is said to blind a person to all others and leave them only interested in the "one true love".

As with all things that are shown to be perfect by absolutes there are unseen flaws in the idea that worry people when no one else talks about the issues and claims that if it is not in adherence with the Ideal then it is not true.

I still think that Perrin would have forgiven Faile but I wonder how she would have forgiven herself.
I will grant that Morgase had a very different situation but the general position has some similarities. The character as written feels that she is strong enough to move past it but the person inside is still affected by the memory of the decision.

Very little that people chose to do happens without memory.

There is no strength in forgetting, it exists in true forgivness.
Noneo Yourbusiness
88. Longtimefan
Dear Greenish-Yellow Ajah,

Hello and welcome. :)

I want to start off by saying that I completely agree with your point that orientation does not have to be the crux of characterization.

I hope you have read all the comments in the many, many, many posts that this re-read has had so far. It is a daunting task but I would suggest at least a good perusal. This particular subject has been discused at length several times.

While I agree with your comment in principle I must side with the general overview that the underlying theme of the story is that men and women must co-operate to live in a functional and successful world. This is the Author's intent (I believe. I do not know if it has been directly stated by the author at any time prior to his unfortunate passing)

As a person in a relationship with someone of the same gender I do truly feel a similar frustration with the representation of limited if negligible and possibly negatively viewed same sex relationships.

This personal feeling aside there are two things that I have had to come to terms with and it was not easy.

One, the books are written. They cannot change. Please do not see this as a victory for the people who you may not agree with when they present their views on whether or not same sex relationships are appropriate. That is not relevant to the books it is only relevant in the conversations a person may have with another person about the general subject.

No one is winning or losing here.

If you are displeased by an individual comment please remember that as a person you have the ability to change a person's mind only by your actions and if they are good then good opinions will spring from them and if they are combative then (as I have learned) combative opinions will spring from those as well. Very few people learn from an argument. Discussion, possibly: argument, probably not. :)

Two, the Author did not mean to dismiss or demean anyone in his presentation or lack of same sex relationships. This I do believe. I cannot say with certainty but the intent just does not seem to be there. It is more of a passing accident than an intentional jab.

Please, read my comments in previous posts if you can find them and you will see that I have been less than consilatory on this subject on various occasions. I am still going to be unhappy with any comments that dismiss same sex relationships and try to post something to show a counter point but I do not feel that it is important to see them in this particular series.

If anything I would rather the few that are there would be removed or rewritten but that is not possible either as I have stated in point one, the books are written.

Of course I will still say pointed things about the inconsistency of the author's general statement that homosexual relationships are a matter of course in the world and therefore no one comments on them and then when ever such relationships appear in the series they are generally shown to be something that is hidden or disapproved of in some fashion. But that is just me. :) generally I am a nice guy.

I often wish that tone was available in text because I speak in a very direct and perhaps unforgiving way but I do not mean anything I say to seem half as cruel as it may read. (or insert other aggressive adjective as may be appropriate.)

Perhaps I just forget to type enough smiley faces. :) They do make everything one types to seem more jocular and that is ok but I do intend some of the things I say to be serious, just not mean. (well very mean, maybe a little frustrated)

I hope that you are enjoying most of the rest of the re read and I look forward to you going black someday so we can all be friends here on Tor which has some of the best commenters of any web site I have ever been to.

Everyone is almost always polite and when they are not they are generally able to admit making a mistake and trying to work something out. It really is great here.

Edit to include hvns2btsy @ 22

I also completely agree that in real life men and women can get along and work together without having to be romantically involved. I realized that I had ment to comment on that but have forgotten to several times.

It is an aspect of the series that romantic balance is part of the key to finding a way for men and women to work together instead of standing apart as the untained Saidar has given women more power in the general culture. There are far to many points to be made about how the books are redressing the imbalance and leading to the yin/yang harmony symbolized by the seals. (and far to many other points to be made about how the imbalance is not always truly a society turned on its head from our own but that is niether here nor there.)

The simple p0int is this. As complicated as the series may be it is a simple concept. Good is good and bad is bad and men and women have to get along to survive the trials and tribulations of a world where you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have The Wheel of Time, The Wheel of Time!

When the book never seems to be liv-ing up to your dreams, it is time to turn that frown about and learn what you can about The Wheel of Time.

It is basically a story about four girls who live over a bakery and get into trouble. uh, maybe. :)
Alice Arneson
90. Wetlandernw
Greenish-Yellow Ajah @85 - If a character's sexual orientation doesn't matter in the book, why does it matter at all? If people are seeking validation for their own lifestyles or viewpoints, it seems to me that fantasy is a strange place to look. If they're not seeking validation, what does it matter if there are (or are not) characters who hold to those lifestyles?

IMO, authors shouldn't feel compelled to include "politically correct" viewpoints in their writing if those viewpoints have no relevance to the story. It's one of my major gripes in fantasy, because I've seen far too much of it - authors including something that has no purpose in the story, merely because it's "the done thing these days" to make sure they don't offend a particular group of people. (This is not limited to sexual orientation; I've seen it with other issues as well.) It generally interferes with the storytelling; if it's not important enough to the author to make it an integral part of the story, chances are the inclusion will be awkward and often not very well written.

Then you end up with things like this, where most of the readers couldn't care less, and those who do care are divided between "there should be more because it's important to me;" "there should be none because I think it stinks;" and "there should be none because he really didn't know how to write it." Sadly, of those who care, far too many fall into the first category: "there should be more, regardless of how clumsily it's shoehorned in, whether or not it has anything to do with the story, because I need validation." I have a lot more respect for someone like the guru on theoryland, who is gay but who thinks the subject could readily have been left out of WoT completely. IIRC, he felt that RJ didn't really know enough about it to write it well, and since it had so little to do with the story, it would have been better to leave it out altogether. Then again, he's comfortable with who he is and doesn't need Robert Jordan - or J. K. Rowling - to tell him it's okay.
William Fettes
91. Wolfmage
Re: Mat

Echoing many other people, I’ll just say these are some of my favourite chapters in WoT. “As If the World Were Fog” is a terrific execution of the outsider POV and a great use of the main character reappraisal trope. The chapter title is also a lovely riff on the title of Comadrin’s book which strongly features timeless Art of War themes of obfuscation, speed and surprise. It just works on so many levels: Tuon vis-à-vis Mat, the new crossbow cranks, and the guerrilla campaign against the Seanchan.

I also thought Mat's kiss and Tuon’s reaction were terrific. Great writing.

Re: Fain

I agree with forkroot, Fain’s taint can’t really be compared to non-magical types of malignant influence, such as a frenzied crowd or a religious cult. The power of his influence may very well increase with frequency of usage / duration of proximity, but it’s inherently a powerful magical effect, especially with people who have brittle personalities like Elaida.

Also, remember Fain primarily directs his taint toward Elaida’s view of Rand. The victim may very well experience collateral effects which taint their judgement and ability to trust in general, but the primary nexus of the taint concerns Elaida’s views about Rand.

Re: Faile

Can’t see how anyone could possibly hold it against Faile if she had slept with Rolan in order to survive. Necessity is necessity.

Re: Pillowfriends

There were many historically prominent gay people during the Renaissance era, especially amongst the great artists of that period. So the historical argument actually runs the other direction. Obviously they didn’t necessarily have the conceptual background to think of their predilections as a sexual identity the way we do. But equally obviously, they did have meaningful long-term lovers and partners, some relatively openly. These behaviours weren't subjectively considered to be a mere adolescent experimentation either by themselves or others.

So, there really is no defence for WoT being written in a way that excludes non-evil homosexual people based on the setting. RJ has said numerous times that his world-building palette was incredibly inclusive, because he felt he had a licence to borrow ideas and lifestyles from any culture which had a presence in the modern melting pot of America. Accordingly, the almost complete absence of non-evil homosexuals from the series is pretty glaring when you compare it to his otherwise robust commitment to showing the actual diversity of the human condition. This omission is pretty obviously due to a mixture of authorial oversight and authorial discomfort. How forgiving we are prepared to be about this kinda depends; it’s perhaps slightly easier to understand such an omission when you consider the unsophisticated nature of the genre at the time tEotW was published. For the later books, including the most recent sequence, not so much.Presumably that's why Brandon is remedying it despite his personal views on the subject.

And to state what should be bleeding obvious – none of this depends on writing homosexual sex scenes or inserting new gay characters after the fact with some hackneyed plot reason for their relationship. Homosexuals aren’t post-facto exogenic entities to be incorporated after the story is finished as a begrudging concession to political correctness. They’re real people who’ve existed in all human societies, who are a basic feature of normal human diversity. The act of constructing a world without them is inherently an act of sanitising revisionism. To characterise their presence or absence in a text as an innocent option to be considered after the fact, as a matter of lexical priority, or as a "lifestyle" that must be driven by strict plot relevance, is a very revealing antediluvian attitude to take to the whole subject.

That said, I wouldn’t have a problem with the whole pillow friends thing if there were other settled gay characters. There’s nothing wrong with having a transient form of sexual experimentation or bisexuality, as long as that isn’t the only expression of heterodox sexuality. If that's your only expression then you have a problem, especially when it appears selectively driven by the arbitrary acceptance of sexy female-female physical relations over the icky homosexual relations of men.
92. Freelancer
The "situational sexuality" isn't limited to females. How many jokes, movie scenes, or other references are there to male prison-based homosexuality? And one doesn't need to research too far into the past to find accounts of foxhole affairs between military men who are otherwise not so oriented.

Rather than stripe the series for a failure to address such an issue to your liking, be glad for whatever portion of the loaf is there. I have no use for taking the author to task in this way.
Alice Arneson
93. Wetlandernw
A thought occured to me this evening which may or may not merit actual discussion. (Also, it occured while I was mincing onions rather than washing dishes, so it may be completely invalid.)

Most of our Randlanders seem to view prophecies (including viewings, Dreams, and Foretellings) as things that will happen. In some cases, it gives them something to plan for/against (e.g. the Seanchan attack on the WT). Sometimes it's something to watch out for, and accept it when it happens (e.g. marrying the Daughter of the Nine Moons). Generally, though, it tells you what will happen, and you have a chance to do what you can to make the best of it. Even being ta'veren is something that is fated, and you just sort of... live with it.

Tuon (and the Seanchan in general) seem to have a different perspective. We see just a few references to their prophecies (Crystal Throne and Wolf King are the only ones that spring to mind); an it's arguable that they see those prophecies in the same way Randlanders do. But mostly we see their references to omens and, in a very significant case, "fortune-telling" (i.e. Lidya's Foretelling), which is a cultural misperception anyway per the author. The difference that occured to me is that they see such things as aids to decision-making rather than fated events. They see an omen, and make a decision based on it. They see an omen and prepare for rain. They see an omen and expect someone to die. Whatever. In this section, "Tuon sees an omen telling her to stay with Mat" - not that she's fated to stay, but that it's what she should do - and so she continues with him. It seems to me that she sees Lidya's Foretelling the same way:

Beware the fox that makes the ravens fly, for he will marry you and carry you away. Beware the man who remembers Hawkwing's face, for he will marry you and set you free. Beware the man of the red hand, for him you will marry and none other.

After her initial shock at seeing Mat's ring (the fox that makes the ravens fly), she calmly watches as he "marries her and carries her away." She asks about Hawkwing's face, and is unsurprised by his response (either the lying about it, or the fact that he remembers). She sees the red hand and recognizes it, but has to determine whether it is Mat's or Talmanes' banner. She then waits for the final phrase to be fulfilled, when Mat sets her free, and then does her part: "him you will marry." Unlike Mat, who may be reluctant but knows he'll do it whether he wants to or not (it's his fate), Tuon sees all the omens come together and then decides to complete the ceremony.

Okay, this may be all arm-waving about nothing. Is there something in this? Am I losing my marbles? (DON'T ANSWER THAT!) Are there other things I'm forgetting that totally wash it out? Does it have any significance?

::You may be right, I may be crazy, but it just may be a lunatic you're looking for...::
Noneo Yourbusiness
94. Longtimefan
@ Freelancer,

I will agree that it is pointless to "stripe the series for a failure to address such an issue to your liking".

However I cannot be glad for such a negatively presented few crumbs that only reinforce the over all conciet that such issues are limited to only one gender and are generally unacceptable. Even if it is only from the character's point of view.

The task to which the author is being taken is that including the behavior as only onscreen when it is between two women who are in a situation that encourages the behavior more than the personal motivations and interest of two people who care about eachother outside of limited access to the opposite geneder and then in those situations making the commentary within the story dismissive only encourages the attitude expressed by many of the posts that it is only something "other" people do and it is not important or relevant.

It may be a topic that generates discussion and that may be for the good or bad but the starting point of the discussion is not even handed.

The limited inclusion of the topic in the story is relying on too many socially accepted stereotypes that are not the whole truth of the existence of people who are interested in real relationships with a person of the same gender.

I will agree that it is not the authors job to write the whole truth of any characters existence but considering the complicated and nuanced world building over the course of 10 books the author has made a mistake even if it was unintentional.

Maybe calling the author on it is less than productive as the books are finished and cannot be re-written but the point stands that if someone wishes to point out the flaw it is probably because the individual may not feel that a limited and negative portrayal of people in same sex relationships is something to be accepted out of hand just because it is easier to let it go.

As for all the "jokes" about prision based homosexuality. Those are generally negative in connotation and intent. Not really something that helps people see men in a same sex relationship as something that should be considered on the same level as a heterosexual relationship.

Even though both are just relationships with the same ups and downs and benifits and flaws that all relationships have.

I am not saying anyone has to agree that there should be more positive portrayals of same sex relationships in the series. There are not any and adding more in the last books will not change anything.

What I am trying to get across is that it is reasonable to find the few references in the series to female only same sex relationships flawed and possibly negative to the concept of same sex relationships in genersal.

The continuation of a dissmissive attitude towards a type of relationship may not affect people who are not in those kinds of relationships but it does have a subconcious reinforcement on any pre-existing distain.

If it is uncelar what I mean by dismissive attitude just read the comments about why the inclusion of homosexual relationships are unneccesary by replacing the word homosexual with heterosexual.

It is not about being politcaily correct it is about being socially aware. My relationship is not political, it is social, just like all relationships. Attitudes make it political but at the end of the day it is just two people living in the same place sharing bills and working and talking with people we hope accept us as good indivduals who support eachother.

Making the point that it is different is not helpful. It allows people to see it as separate instead of similar.

Within the series it is always seen as different. Something people have to be discrete about or grow out of. Well, women since it never happens to men up to this point in the series.
Noneo Yourbusiness
95. Longtimefan
@ 93 Wetlandernw,

I think that is a very interesting point about the difference between prophecy and omens.

Even if Mat was given no choice because the Alfinn? (Snakey ones) flat out told him that he would marry the daughter of the nine moons and Tuon was presented with a Fortelling that she used omens to reinforce her reasons for remaining in order to fulfill there is an emotional difference within the characters and the individual motivations behind their actions even though the Patten has pretty much determined it would happen anyway. :)

Mat is resigned to it and seems to be dragging his feet but accepting it as a foregone conclusion.

Tuon seems to be interested and accepts that it will happen but looks for further confirmation to encourage her actions to fulfill the Fortelling.

I think she believes it will happen just like Mat believes it will happen but her approach is sort of a curious determination instead of a resigned one.

If that is not what you were thinking of then I guess I missed the mark but it is an interesting observation and I like it. :)
Alice Arneson
96. Wetlandernw
Longtimefan @95 - That's more or less it, except that it seemed to me that Tuon considered completing the marriage ceremony as something she could choose to do - or not do. Mat didn't feel like he had any choice, because it would happen no matter how much he tried to run away. (Not that he tried, of course.) But Tuon, while she expected it to happen, still seems to have felt like she had the option of walking away from it, that the final decision was still hers to make.

As you say, the Pattern had determined it anyway, so the difference is only in the perspective of the character. Still, it seems like Tuon had more sense of free agency than Mat, whether it's true or not.

But maybe that's part of it all; a character who feels she has a choice will use the information available to make the best choice possible - in this case, by following the omens. The character who feels he has no choice but equally desires a good outcome will (one way or another) do what he can to make the best of it. The end result is the same, oddly enough. In the end, Mat probably had just as much chance of walking away as Tuon, but because of their respective characters, neither one did.

Clever Pattern. :)
Sandy Brewer
97. ShaggyBella
Fun chapters,
I remember Faile and Perrin getting into an argument after she got back how he insisted that he did not sleep with Berlain, but it was OK if Faile slept with her captors. (Perrin's point of view.) It really made Faile mad when he said that. Double standard.
I did like the Mat/Tuon parts of the chapters, especially after they met up with Talmanes. Mat was very irritatied, chewing Talmanes out for everything he could think of and Vanin avoided him after spilling the beans about who Tuon was. Tuon finding out about his DR connection. Mat thinking what Rand could do if he stuck him with titles and estates. Oh, and Talmanes + Nerim....(maybe?)
And how Mat puts a lot of thought into his first kiss, not too bold, no 'slap and tickle' and gets called down for it.

One thing I have been wondering about in the first chapter of TOM...the wind blowing:

The wind continued eastward, and soon it was playing with the masts of half-burned ships at the docks at Takisrom. Out into the Sleeping Bay, it passed the attackers: enormous greatships with sails painted blood red. They sailed southward, their grisly work done.....Men did not whisper that this might be the end of times. They yelled it. The fields of Peace were aflame, the Tower of Ravens was broken as prophesied and a murderer openly ruled in Seandar. This was a time to lift one's sword and choose a side, then spill blood to give a final color to the dying land.

Who would have red sailed great ships? The Seanchan ones probably all sailed to Randland with the Return.
Who is the murderer sitting on the Crystal Throne? Could Demandred be involved? Could the red Veiled Aiel be on the ships? I haven't heard much of this and I love mysteries!
Anthony Pero
98. anthonypero

Maybe calling the author on it is less than productive as the books are finished and cannot be re-written...

And dead. Which makes it even less than less than productive. Not that you don't present a compelling argument. You do, for the most part.

When I read this thread, however, and your defense of your position, it seems to me that if I were to believe your position, it would also be necessary to believe that this reflects the atitude of the author towards the subject. After all, as you say, he wrote 11 books in this story, and over 10,000 pages. An oversight like that couldn't happen on accident. Not with that much written. And yet I notice everyone is very careful not to say this.

Why? It seems to me that this would be the main reason for even bringing up the topic. Otherwise, what is the point of bringing it up and dissecting the motivations of fictional characters in relation to real-world issues, except as an extension of the author's point-of-view? If we're going to have this conversation, and I'm all for having it, can we at least be up front about what's driving it?
Noneo Yourbusiness
99. Longtimefan
I am only going to look at writing style in this comparison and try to avoid the other aspect of this subject.

I just realized that the interesting parellel between the chapters is that in both "relationships of opportunity" between Mat and Tuon (I say this because it is foretold and because they are basically captor and captive even in the losest sense) and Elaida and Miedani (who are very much captor and captive) is that both situations are part of a "game".

Tuon is going along with being a captive because of the fortelling and she knows that it must happen but as she has joked about making Mat a cupbearer or some other servant she may think that she can fulfill the marriage and then set him aside if he is not worthy of being her husband. She thinks she has options so she is good to her word but is not serious about respecting someone she thinks of as "Toy".

It is an adventure to her and one she thinks that she will come out on top of regarless of the end result. In her mind she is in charge even if she is a captive.

Mat often approaches things as a sort of game. That is part of the Trickster personality. The playful attitude belies the underlying need to "win" what ever game chance may have landed the Trickster in.

Because each of them over time becomes more aware of the other persons worth the game evolves into a relationship between developed individuals and not just surface personalities worn as masks to protect the individual inside.

Elaida and Meidani are also involved in a game and are not interested in developing a relationship but in "winning".

Granted Meidani is participating under duress both from Elaida who thinks she can get information out of her about the Rebel Alliance and from the faction she supports in the Rebel Base. (all of a sudden I am afraid I spelled Rebel wrong. It just looks wrong but when I add other letters it looks wronger, hmmm, anyway)

In a similar format the two parties involved are not looking for a real relationship but one of opportunity to gain some information.

Mat and Tuon may have started off involved because they were in a game with destiny and not really certain it would be anything more than a problem to be delt with when the game was over.

The parallels are interesting and they do diverge as they are presented one after the other. One game moves to a level of realization that it is not just a lark but that serious business is taking place and the other game is revealed to be completely contrived and controled with no real interest in the relationship or the other person.

This is an interesting bit of parallel writing. Subtle and creating shades of contrasting behavior and realizations in similar situations.

That is all I have to say on that. Just an observation on structure.

Edit to Observe that the Faile and Rolan situation also fits into the game playing as a relationship of opportunity where each party is more interested in what can be gained by being thrown together more than interested in the individual themself.
William Fettes
101. Wolfmage
anthonypero @ 98

How could it not be a reflection of RJ’s views? Pretty obviously RJ was sufficiently uncomfortable with homosexual identity that he failed to include a single, named, benign male character with a non-ambiguous homosexual identity. And most of the committed pillowfriends who are candidates of a homosexual identity are portrayed as major bitches. As you say, when you write that many books, with a complex cast of thousands, and reference extensive minutia about fashion, food, language, morality, logistics and what-have-you, it’s just not plausible to say such an ommission is accidental.

But does everyone really avoid saying this? I don't think so. Leigh has, at least parathetically, said as much when this topic has come up in the past. I called it "authorial oversight and authorial discomfort" just a couple of posts above. There’s also Terez’s blog post on the subject and Abby Goldsmith’s. So, I don’t think there’s any great obfuscation going on here. That said, it's probably true that the language being used is very careful and temperate because naturally we all love the master dearly, and obviously live, breath and celebrate his work, so we don’t want to impugn his name over a flaw that is, after all, of a piece with his generation and his Southern sensibility.
Noneo Yourbusiness
102. Longtimefan
@ Anthonypero 98,

"Why? It seems to me that this would be the main reason for even bringing
up the topic. Otherwise, what is the point of bringing it up and
dissecting the motivations of fictional characters in relation to real-world issues,
except as an extension of the author's point-of-view? If we're going to
have this conversation, and I'm all for having it, can we at least be
up front about what's driving it"

The point of dissecting the presentation (not the motivation) of fictional characters for me, at this time (previous comments in other posts are not currently under discussion I would think), is not to disparage the attitude of the author towards the relationships presented but to observe the writing is re-inforcing attitudes that may have social impact outside of the fictional work in the behavior of people in real life.

It cannot be corrected but it can be discussed not as an accusation against the author but as a relevant opinion that the same sex relationships shown in the book series have the possiblity of presenting only one side of an idea and a negative side at that.

Not an actively agressive side wherein any kind of violence is suggested as appropriate but as a much more acceptable form of dismissal wherein the relationships in question are agreeably allowed to be of no real value.

I will say it right out, I am not accusing the author of being homophobic or intentionally disparaging to homosexual behavior.

I am saying that the strong theme within the story that men and women must work together to live in a world where they can survive the agents of evil that threaten the very fabric of reality itself does not allow for any other kind of relationship than heterosexual ones and therefore it is unneccsary for there to ever be any homosexual relatioships but unfortunately as they did eventually appear in the work they were required by the theme to be unimportant.

It is the theme not the authors personal intent that limits the presentation of the "motivations of the fictional characters".

I can seperate the theme from the author. I see no malicious intent on the individual's part but I do see a flaw in the overall "realism" of the worldbuilding which includes very specific clues that the fictional world is an offshoot of the current world in which the readers exist.

In what may be a poorly developed analogy let me run in this other direction.

If the series had presented the Aiel concept of having two wives as the norm for all relationships and people with only one wife were observed to be immature or foolish. If they were treated as less than fully realized relationships it is possible that people who were in single wife based relationshps would take issue with their relationships being presented in a fictional work as less.

Even though it is fiction it has an impression on the opinions of the reader. It may not give the reader a direct idea but it does create support for ideas the reader may already hold.

It may not be the authors intent to make single wife marriage look bad but if the over all theme is that two wives create a stronger household for surviving a fictional apocolypse then all the relationships of importance will be those with two wives.

Just because that is not the current societal norm does not mean that there are not people who would debate the positive and negative affect this presented idea would have on the attitudes of people in reality even though they are presented in a fictional work.

I will not call the author a homophobe because the work only presents limited aspects of homosexual relationships any more than I would call him a racist for having a predominantly caucasian character roster nor a xenophobe for having everyone speak the same language with some variance in accentaion. These are just aspects of the work that follow the themes the author chose to work with when building the story.

(pre-industrial european politics and the ablility for all the involved characters to communicate with eachother (even when they chose not to. ))

These are not bad choices but they are points to have disscussions about because the reality of the world we live in is not always reflected in the fictional world that is presented as similar if not decended from our own.

I hope that clarified things.

I am honestly not trying to dance around anything. I am just trying to say things in a way that is not attacking anyone or making accusatory statements. It is not my intent to be combative I am just trying to find a way to explain why even fictional presentation of ideas can affect real life attitudes and how that may create difficulties for real life people.

Probably though I am not being as clear as I would hope. I am obtuse like that sometimes. :)
William Fettes
103. Wolfmage
I don't agree with the claim that the theme of gender balance requires the non-existence of diverse sexuality. Gender != sexuality. You might as well say Balwer is a threat to the theme because he is portrayed as an asexual man. It's pretty silly.

The four widely recognised sexual orientations: heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality are all compatible with the theme of gender balance.
Jonathan Levy
104. JonathanLevy
5. Neuralnet

24. anthonypero
Interesting point.

35. Wetlandernw
If Tuon gets "O Fortuna!" then shouldn't Mat get "In Taberna"? ;)

63. Megaduck
The question is not whether Comadrin might know something which could be useful for Demandred. The question is whether Demandred would be willing to admit it. If Alexander the Great had been carried forwards in time to 800 AD, and found himself leading 500 men-at-arms, would he think it necessary for himself to sit down and start reading books about war? Would he not think that his lifetime of experience to be of greater weight than what can be learned from a book?

I see 64. gagecreedlives has made the same point.

22. hvns2btsy
26. parrothead
33. welltemperedwriter
37. llcoolj
46. Randalator
85. Greenish-Yellow Ajah
88 & 94. Longtimefan
90. Wetlandernw

ASOIAF shows how easy it is for a proper and right-minded author to include male homosexuality without any fuss, awkwardness, or plot convolutions - and also without disguising the prejudice prevalent in medieval society. One particular line in aDoD (very minor spoiler) comes to my mind, which I think stands out as a shining example of inclusiveness and open-mindedness, and I wish to share it with those who stand up for the LGBT community, as I am sure they will feel a warm glow of gratification towards GRRM for leading the way in choosing not to exclude them as a group from his literary works.

(Edit: to hide very minor spoiler - use www.rot13.com to decrypt - I couldn't get the white-out to stick)
"Gur srznyr fynirf funerq nzbatfg uvf zra. Gur creshzrq oblf ur jenccrq va punvaf naq guerj vagb gur frn."

Bunker!!!! Bunker!!!! Where's the bunker!??!?!?!?!?
William Fettes
105. Wolfmage
Harsh or not, that is a valid example of how to do it properly Jonathan Levy. Even if the only male homosexuals were drowned slaves at least they exist in the world and other characters know it. And, of course, we know GRRM included much more than that, such as Ser Loras and Renly.
Leigh Butler
106. leighdb
104, 105:

JEEZ, YOU GUYS. Please, no ASOIAF spoilers! Especially in the WOT re-read threads! Sheesh.
Jonathan Levy
107. JonathanLevy
Sorry Leigh! I forgot you were the same Leigh who is doing the ASOIAF read :(

Will be more careful, I promise!
Noneo Yourbusiness
108. Longtimefan
Hi Wolfmage @ 103 :)

While I also do not agree that "the theme of gender balance requires the non-existence of diverse sexuality. " I do not feel that the underlying theme in this series is attempting to show that maliciously.

I am making an observation that the theme is presented in the series as limited to only balance being achieved by men and women developing romantic relationships or being warder bonded. (yes Balwer is an exception much like Elayne/Bridgette warder bonding is an exception but niether of them are strong enough exceptions to disprove the theme)

perhaps a critical observation but not against the author or even the theme in itself but the limitation placed on the theme and then the subsequent inclusion of relationships outside of that theme that are insignificant in the overal story but do support by design the limitation of the underlying theme.

And that is pretty much what the end of that. I have just erased about 8 paragraphs because I am saying the same thing over and over.

As for other authors doing what other authors do. I am only dealing within the structure of the series as presented by this particular author, not a comparison with other authors. Discussing other authors only muddies the discussion and obscures the point of within the series structure.

Edited to rework the first paragraph because I do not do well with double negatives. And I think it still reads awkwardly.
109. Greenish-Yellow Ajah
@Longtimefan and Wetlander--

First of all, if I sounded upset in my posts, it was unintentional. I fall into the first of Wetlander's categories @90, the people who really couldn't care less. I was just interested in the discussion and noticed some parallels with the interview with JKR and the reactions people had to it. Yeah, I'm sure there are some comments I missed on the topic (I've been away for a while, last I was reading and posting was about the time TOM came out), but the interview that sparked the thoughts was recent enough that I probably didn't miss _that_ much that was relevant to my example.

I don't dislike or disapprove of any of the comments people have made, nor do I wish the books had been written differently in that sense. I was just throwing out a thought to add to the discussion (which I don't see as argument or anything of the like).

I'm not new around here, just back after a hiatus and someone that at first didn't post much at all. I haven't really cared about doing anything to get my name in black instead of red because I just haven't seen anything I wanted to do that I couldn't do with a red name.
Alice Arneson
110. Wetlandernw
GYA @109 - The biggest advantages of going black are the ability to edit posts (like if you realize just after you posted that you forgot to delete the "scribble" paragraph, or something just reads wierd because you didn't complete the editing) and the avoidance of the captcha tiresomeness. Oh, and being able to use shoutboxes. If none of those matter, there's no real reason to do it. But fwiw, they don't use your account to bug you or anything, and you don't have to put in any more detail than you want.
Hugh Arai
111. HArai
Longtimefan@108: Not sure what theme of balance you see being developed between men and women by the Warder bond. The Warder is subordinate, always. To my mind, that's about as balanced as Elaida.

As far as romantic relationships, I guess I can see balance in that they are all over the spectrum, but a vague averaging out doesn't strike me as a "theme" of male - female balance.

Now things like the saidar/saidin halves of the One Power, and requiring mixed sexes to link to do the most significant channeling, those strike me as deliberately balance-themed. Furthermore, it's a balance that cares only for male and female souls. It doesn't care if the males or females are homo/hetero/bi/a- sexual. Just have to have some of each.

I guess I just don't see your "deliberate balance theme = male/female hetero relationships" connection.
Anthony Pero
112. anthonypero
Wolfmage@101 said:

That said, it's probably true that the language being used is very careful and temperate because naturally we all love the master dearly, and obviously live, breath and celebrate his work, so we don’t want to impugn his name over a flaw that is, after all, of a piece with his generation and his Southern sensibility.

I guess that's my point in my previous post, though I'm not making it very well. If this is all "a peice with his generation and his Southern sensibility"... why are we discussing it? What is the reason, purpose, endgame... is it to educate other posters? Change their opinions, etc? Simply make people aware that there are people in this community (tor.com) who live a different lifestyle, so we can take care of what and how we say things? (That is in no way, shape or form meant to be taken as a negative comment. I don't think sensitivity to this issues is ever wrong)

I'm really just struggling to see the point of... making this point.
Anthony Pero
113. anthonypero
@wolfmage and @longtimefan:

Let me rephrase that last post a bit. What I am trying to understand is this.

What am I supposed to learn from your comments? How am I supposed to apply what you are saying to my life?

If the answer is: "Nothing, I just wanted to point it out because it annoys me," then great! I can simply ignore what you are saying. But it really seems like I, and others on this site, are supposed to be learning something and adjusting behavior based on the comments I am reading. So my questions are directed at that. Cause I'm not getting it.
114. yasiru89
Again with the 'woe is the homosexuals' critique where it is not warranted. Aes Sedai consider themselves 'of a different flesh', and remain mysterious, aloof and isolated figures all their lives. With a marked lack of interpersonal relationships- even among themselves. This is what one might reasonably take away from Tarna's take on 'pillow friends', and not some forced modern take that lesbianism is a fad. (Come to think on which, a lot of things would become fads to Aes Sedai, considering how long they live. And yes, that is to say that anything fades given long enough.)

I sometimes wonder about people who read fantasy with seemingly no idea in what ways and how much of a real world commentary it is. Not everything is some pertinent issue that's so obviously staring you in the face and demanding you speak up for some ever-so-blatantly oppressed group (and I mean that with the sarcasm it deserves) or another. In general, the more a story diverges from reality, the more subtle or general the social, political and historical commentaries. So we've not had homosexual characters with 'serious' relationships in tWoT. We really do get it. Move on, please.

That said, I believe that KoD became really great because of the key events that befell Rand, Mat and Perrin. With the Mat/Tuon storyline the strongest. Plus we have a change once again to see Mat in the role of general- almost nothing in this series beats that.

Having taken up the series late and reading the series from tEotW to tGS in one go, I was never as annoyed by the Faile retrieval plotline as other fans clearly are. But even to me, knowing that the conclusion came in this book, KoD was even more enjoyable on second reading.
Captain Hammer
115. Randalator
anthonypero @113

What you can learn learn from this discussion is this: It is important to know such sensibilities and how to approach them correctly, because unawareness (for whatever reason) can lead to other people being hurt even if you don't mean any harm.

RJ chose to include homosexuality in WoT despite not being completely comfortable with the issue and therefore left out a significant part of the spectrum of same-sex relationships. On occasion this led to somewhat unfortunate implications for those who are aware of this particular issue. Those very people are pointing out these problems to make others aware of the issue and help them avoid making the same mistakes.

yasiru89 @114

So we've not had homosexual characters with 'serious' relationships in tWoT. We really do get it. Move on, please.

Apparently you do not get it. It's not just about the lack of serious homosexual relationships but also about the kind of sexual relationships we DO see which paint a not quite so fortunate picture of homosexuality. Male homosexuality is virtually non-existent (with one tiny exception) and the female homosexuality we get to see "on screen" is either a silly phase or a symptom of man-hating (Galina!).

You can write epic phantasy without gay characters, no problem, but if you choose to include homosexuality, try to do it right or might inadvertantly offend the more socially aware part of your audience...
Noneo Yourbusiness
116. Longtimefan
"Though I am kind of interested to know what exactly Mishima was talking about; what did Tylee say about Perrin?"

I am going to speculate that it was something along the lines of Perrin being more astute than he seems in military matters and tactics.

Perrin's character has always been direct and thoughtful.

His rash actions in pushing his followers towards rescuing Faile may seem out of character to the in book observers or at least headstrong and blunt.

Tactics are generally not so forward so a person behaving in a direct way may not be initally seen as skillful in military actions.

Re: Wiermeron in all his Darkfriend motivated dumassery was often portrayed as rushing head long into the battles which was pointedly not what he was asked to do nor was it advantageous. Rand knew this and thought he was just a poor leader, Wiermeron knew this and did it on purpose because he was in opposition to what Rand wanted. (being all darkfriendly and what not)

I would suggest that Perrin's behavior of singleminded and somewhat direct rescue may have shaded the first impressions of any military people he meets (Tylee and Mishima) and when they observe him closely they see that he is clever and honest.

Something that apparently is not that common in the world of WOT.

So, yeah, Perrin is getting some stuff done and the rescue storyline will conclude soon and the temporary alliance with the Seanchan will bolster his reputation amongst them just incase there are any other encounters in the future. (probably, since the Seanchan are not going anywhere)

Just a thought.
117. walkerhound
try to do it right or might tnadvertantly offend....socically awaer ...aucience
of course that implies that first it is in fact inadvertent and second that the “socially aware” audiences are on the same page. ya I know that in this context sociallyaware=supportive of alternative sexuality to atlest some degree J.
For example the way religion is ignored in some many stories especially those that are “real” world based or at least other wise trying for high releasom (hard-scife/fantasy) always really annoys me. So ya I do spend a lot of time’s nit picking it’s absence in particular works as a blow to believe ability. However I’ve got to honestly the 9times out of 10(even when I spend time trying to winnow ‘em down I only get about 7out of10) when an author goes to the trouble to included some examples in there stories …..well frankly I still end up being annoyed be ‘em.
The thing is there are some subjects that are just hard to talk about with out staking out some sort of stance on ‘em . in other words most people have some thing(s) that there interested in and or passionate about and they don’t like to see ‘em disregarded it brakes the wall for them in one way or the other, but at the same time the views on those things are never as universal as we individuals like to think.

“I demand that X,Y and Z be represented more often/realistically/ect” OK here ya go “….but not like that”
118. yasiru89
For Randalator @115-

Your notion of 'doing it right' is what you're 'not getting'. It's easy to leap to put a spin on a phenomena, but rather more fruitful to stop and think a bit. There's reason aplenty for the absence of male homosexuals- we've never had occasion to see any in a meaningful context! The Black Tower has been largely absent till ToM, and for scenes in military camps, these are always seen through the eyes of key characters and seldom the men serving. These are the sorts of settings you'd expect, since I'd rather not have random characters for whom out of the blue expository prose must come in and explain (presumably at politically correct length) their homosexuality. In that regard, given the extent of the reader's exposure to the White Tower, the cases of female homosexuality are not amiss.
But again, you ignore what I had to say about this being a fad or phase or what not. It's the nature of the Aes Sedai institution to be a self-sufficient creature with 'a painted mask for a face'- not some sort of veiled insult to the more 'socially aware' (that's putting it too nicely for me, but have it your way) folk.
In Galina's case your argument is just fallacious, much the way people tend to equate correlation and causation. That Galina is Red and likely hates men is one thing, and while it means something for why her attentions are then focused on females, does one necessarily cause the other? Just because people can take away some foolish conclusion or other easily, even where counterexamples abound, doesn't mean it's there on purpose to trip you.
119. yasiru89
It's sad that there's automatically an 'agenda' whenever something is overlooked even when completely legitimate, and even more likely justifications exist.
Pleasing these 'socially aware' nitpickers is impossible whatever you do. There's no 'doing it right'- there's just no doing it at all going by their way.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
120. tnh
My question is who came up with the idea that this represents a "Southern sensibility." Clearly, they weren't hanging around with the right Southerners.

Anthonypero, we live in a changing world I amar prestan aen, and writers who make whole worlds of their own get caught by the changing social discourse. In my own lifetime I've seen homosexuality go from being something that was seldom discussed, and then only in heavily encoded form, to an everyday matter of civil rights and caterers. I fully expect to see it become prosaic and a bit dull by the time I die.

Our understanding of human sexuality has changed so substantially over the last fifty years that I sometimes find it difficult to explain to twentysomethings how little we used to know, and how much of what we knew was wrong. When you read 20th C. science fiction and fantasy, and pay attention to composition and publication dates, you can watch those changes percolating through the genre's understanding of how peoples and societies work. We went from gender-essentialist robots and NPC lusty tavern wenches to our present enlightened state in which there are still tavern wenches and gendered robots, but they're fully rounded characters.

Fantasy got hit especially hard by the change wars because magic, religion, and sex always get tangled up with each other. Tolkien wrote the only epic fantasy universe in which sexuality isn't an issue because it barely exists, and then mostly by inference. Other storytellers and worldbuilders wrestled with the subject with greater and lesser degreeso of success. (The exception being Fritz Leiber, who seems to have always had it sussed,)

Jim Rigney was right there in the middle of the changes. He was a smart and thoughtful man, but the world his forebrain knew was one his hindbrain hadn't grown up with. He did his best. A century from now, readers and critics will be able to look at his work and identify which bits and tropes and characterizations are artifacts of the change wars. That's not so easy for us, though, because we're living through those changes. It means we have to discuss society and sexuality in The Wheel of Time, trying to sort out which elements he was presenting as universal facts, and which were specific to the circumstances of that part of the story.

Others are of course welcome to disagree, but that's my take on why WoT discussions always stray into these subjects.
Captain Hammer
121. Randalator
yasiru89 @118

There's reason aplenty for the absence of male homosexuals- we've never had occasion to see any in a meaningful context!

If you had read my previous comments you might have noticed that this argument is already twelve different shades of wrong:

I don't expect male homosexuality to be inserted in a "meaningful context". In fact, I mentioned inserting male homosexuality as a plot gimmick as precisely the wrong way to tackle that issue.

The Black Tower has been largely absent till ToM, and for scenes in
military camps, these are always seen through the eyes of key characters and seldom the men serving.

This only accounts for the absence of male situational homosexuality which is by far not the most common form.

These are the sorts of settings you'd expect, since I'd rather not have
random characters for whom out of the blue expository prose must come in and explain (presumably at politically correct length) their

Once again, please do read my previous comments. Explanations and justifications for homosexuality are what I DON'T want to see. But inserting a character who simply IS gay, no justification, no explanation, actually serves to flesh out said character.

And you might not have noticed because it's easy to miss, but there is the occasional small expository text within WoT...

But again, you ignore what I had to say about this being a fad or phase or what not.

Because a) I wasn't talking about Tarna's views specifically (which I supported for this particular aspect in my first comment, by the way; you might want to read it) and b) my issue is not with the situational homosexuality in the WT, but with the lack of non-situational homosexuality in the world outside the WT.

Just because people can take away some foolish conclusion or other
easily, even where counterexamples abound, doesn't mean it's there on
purpose to trip you.


And again. Please. Do. Read. My. Previous. Comments. I went out of my way to express that I didn't see this as RJ's intention but as an inadvertent subtext. And beyond what I mentioned (pillow friends, Galina style lesbianism) we simply don't get to see any other homosexual relationships. Where are all those counterexamples of yours?
Anthony Pero
122. anthonypero
I'm still confused on how you are supposed to have a character be a gay character, have the audience know the character is gay, but not mention or feature sex, and not delve into insulting stereotypes. I mean, I suppose you could have a woman hit on a guy, and he could say "sorry, you're just not my type." Otherwise, why would it ever come up? I've never once had someone just tell me they were gay.

I'm just struggling with this whole thread. Are y'all saying that where RJ erred was to bring it up at all? Wasn't the whole thing in response to him fielding comments about the lack of homosexual characters? Is RJ supposed to include that little tidbit in his character spreadsheet, so he can keep tabs on the balance between lesbians, experimenters, and gay men? I think I'm just going to shut up now about it. I don't mind the discourse, I'm just struggling to be polite at this point. Going away now.
123. hermione2134231
You can read RJ's blog posts about sexuality in WoT, in short he says homosexuality isn't unusual or stygmitized in general. However most of our PoVs come from the parochial Two Rivers people, so... :)
124. Dilsnik
Someone earlier posted about the Seanchan belief in omens:"So why the heck would they lose sight of the pattern and ta'veren and relegate their beliefs to how birds fly and the march of ants? Semirhage has much to answer for."I think the pattern that rules Randland is much like the Matrix, so omens can be interpreted, like the repeating black cat was, in the matrix. The point of it being a Pattern, is that if you know the key, you can figure out what comes next. E.g. 2,4,6,8, and next comes... In the same way, a line of marching ants can be significant.
Noneo Yourbusiness
125. Longtimefan
@ Dilsnik
what an interesting observation. The Seanchan have found a different coping mechanisim within the concept of "The Pattern" controling general fate.

Granted not every little thing has the same importance in the overall Pattern but each observation of the "omens" recognized that the event could have an effect (unrelated as it might seem).

In a threads of fate cosmology it is possible that a trail of ants crossing the road are connected in some way to the weather or any other in book event.
Alice Arneson
126. Wetlandernw
Longtimefan @116 & a couple of others... I went back and scanned through the only chapters with Tylee and Mishima, and I found only two real possibilities for what Mishima was thinking. One was her comment in chapter 12, that "I think your life might make a story." The other was in chapter 4, when she quoted the Wolf King prophecy.

As neither of those seem entirely likely in and of themselves, my guess would be that he referred to something Tylee said in a conversation we didn't see, possibly referring to one of those two. It doesn't make a lot of sense, really, but I honestly can't find anything else Tylee said that comes even close.

Dilsnik @124 - Thank you! I think you hit something that was noodling around in the back of my mind, and couldn't quite get hold of. The idea that the Pattern can be read (at least to some extent) if you know the right things to look for, is a good observation. It seems quite reasonable that it would display itself in certain smaller patterns, for those who are willing to work out the subtleties. I'd love to ask Team Jordan if this was the intent!
Noneo Yourbusiness
127. Longtimefan
@ 126 Wetlandernw,

Well, I will freely admit that it is just a speculation on my part not really supported by any in book references to conversations between Tylee and Mishima.

It was spectulation on what a military person may say to another military person regarding an individual they have made an agreement with in what is generally a military excursion.

It is possible that the reference is about the Wolf King prophecy because of of this...

" For once, he did not seem put off by
glowing yellow eyes. His scent . . . He smelled as if he saw something
unexpected. “The Banner-General was right about you,” he said slowly."

with the glowing yellow eyes being one of the strong wolf connections in The Wheel of Time series it is possible that Tylee may have come to believe that she really is dealing with the Wolf King of the prophecy and confided that to Mishima.

What could be more unexpected than to stand in the same room with a man prophecied to be a part of Tarmon Gai'don (or whatever the Seanchan call the Last Battle)

Maybe Tylee and Mishima can still convince themselves that the apocolypse is a few years off still but seeing the Wolf King means that it will happen in this lifetime. Well for Tylee any way. I think Mishima found the reality of Trollocs a little to certain.

At this point Tylee's life has the makings of a good story for the Seanchan as well.

If Mishima suspects that Tylee is correct and Perrin is the Wolf King then it is possible that Seanchan manners would make it difficult to just say it to him outright. Proper respect and fear of retribution and what not.
William Fettes
128. Wolfmage
Totally my bad @leigh, sorry.

andyperv @ 112

There's no real end game. As far as I'm concerned, this is just like any other topic of discussion that comes up in the course of Leigh's re-read. I've no particular end in mind, such as convincing x number of people of my arguments. That kind of need for closure or consensus isn't something I bring to anything I talk about here, and certainly not in cases like these where it’s obvious that behind the difference of opinion are intractable differences about the very nature of homosexuality. Surely it's enough to simply say this is a forum where anything germane to WoT can be discussed with appropriate civility?

I mean, why would there need to be a specific point beyond the enjoyment I derive from sharing my ideas about WoT with other fans, teasing out the complexity of the various plots strands, themes and characters, celebrating what I feel works, and pointing out what I fell is less successful, including certain idiosyncrasies? I mean, I've previously discussed, in more depth I might add, far more esoteric matters about WoT, including the fungibility of pain in ji'e'toh and the moral legitimacy of the White Tower procedural law. Now, perhaps those discussions also struck people as pointless or gratuitous, but that’s not my problem.

yasiru89 @ 114 & 118

That’s just the thing, we don’t accept that WoT treats human sexuality adequately and obviously part of that stance is a rejection of the conceit that the setting and POV locations do enough to explain the omission. I mean, that should be obvious. Or do you really think that long-time re-read members and genre aficionados, like myself and Randalator, don’t have strong considered views about what the POV dynamics of the series do or don’t allow. We’re members in good standing here with a level of knowledge about the series that rivals that of anyone else here, so it’s pretty weak to think you can simply characterised thoughtful, considered observations as thoughtless and forced commentary.

You also scored a bit of an own goal there by decrying exactly the opposite of what was said by us in relation to not wanting overt explanations of why a particular character is homosexual, and other forms of hackneyed writing. That suggest to me you aren't really paying much attention to what is being said, and are simply waiting to launch the next salvo.

walkerhound @ 117

The inclusion or omission of religion from fantasy is definitely a topic worthy of discussion. Accordingly, I would be very happy to discuss that issue separately albeit with the reservation that specific social codes and religions are historically contingent, and therefore, in a different category to sexuality which is innate and non-contingent. Even societies with an extremely prejudicial attitude towards homosexuality, including strongly punitive laws, and a culture with no accepted understanding of sexual orientation, will exhibit sustained homosexual behaviour privately.

yasiru89 @ 119

Calling us impossible to please nitpickers is a total cop out. Nothing we’ve said is even that difficult, let alone impossible.

tnh @ 120

Terrific post. That is definitely how I feel too. RJ certainly was a supremely thoughtful writer. Nothing about my dissatisfaction with the adequacy of the portrayal of sexuality in the series goes against that. That thoughtfulness is exactly why I bear no anger or outrage about this issue.
129. AndrewB
Wolfmage @128 -- Since you (and walkerhound @117) brought up the subject of religion in fantasy (albeit tangently), which by extension includes WoT, I have a question to throw out.

In series like WoT where prophecy is central to the story, can you have a religious society. It strikes me as two exclusively contradictory ideas. A society can either beleive in a diety (one or many) or they can believe in a prophecy. What I mean is that either it is God's will or it is the will of the prophecy. I have not read enough different series to think of an example of where a society believes in dieties as well as prophecy co-exists.

The only example I can come up with is David Eddings' Belgariad. I refer to the Ulgos and the followers of Torak. Ulgo society beleived in UL and also adhered to the prophecies. Likewise, Torak was the center of his priests' lives. However, that may not be a great example. The peoples of the Belgariad beleived in gods. However, the gods were not almighty -- they were subject to the prophecy themselves. Moreover, the people of that land knew the gods were subject to the prophecies.

I wonder if you can set up a fictional society that has its populace beleive in the a god as do people in our society while at the same time beleiving that their fate is controlled by a prohecy. I admit that I am not a very religious person. For me, religion is about traditions and not the spiritual aspect.

(I realize that for others, spirituality is a major -- if not critical - component of one's religion . I am not saying that religion has no spiritual aspect to it and is only about traditions.)

For those who believe that God is the almighty entity (my use of entity is for lack of any other word that I can come up with), could you then subscribe to a belief in a prophecy that in some form or another is equal to or superior to God? This may be why religion is not a major focus in fantasy novels where prophecies are often a key component to society.

I apologize if I offended anybody. That was not my intent.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Hugh Arai
130. HArai
Dilsnik's idea got me thinking about the prophecy discussion a few threads ago and I've started forming a crazy idea. If the Foretellings (and so things like the Karaethon Cycle"), Min's viewings, and Seanchan omen-reading are all just ways of reading the Pattern, maybe they just differ in "range". If we tie in the idea that the Wheel of Time is cyclical, maybe some of the methods of reading the Pattern can actually pick up on the Pattern of other turns of the Wheel.

- Done basically with observation and memorized patterns alone.
- limited to the near future of this turn because you actually have to see the omen happen.

Min's viewings:
- Done instinctively with a talent so they have more "range".
- Maybe they always come true because they're solely reading this turn of the Wheel. I think that's likely since Min has to actually go and view the person. It just feels like she does more of a real-time snapshot interpretation.

- Also done with a talent, but you can Foretell about people you don't know, have never seen and quite possibly will never see. So quite a "range".
- Maybe whether or not they "always" come true depends on whether or not they're reading this turn of the Wheel. After all, throughout the series there's been the idea building that the Dragon has fought the Dark One many times with mixed results - never losing badly enough the Wheel shattered, never sealing the Dark One away completely.
So if you Foretell about someone like the Dragon, who is in every cycle,which version are you Foretelling about? So maybe all the Foretellings are "true" just not necessarily this time around. That would explain how people like Moiraine and Ishamael can both believe the Prophecies (Light and Dark) and believe that Rand could die before TG.

Hmm. Yep, that's looney alright. I think I like it for the moment though :)
Stefan Mitev
131. Bergmaniac
I mostly like those chapters. I still remember how happy I was that Mat finally, after crawling with the bloody circus for ages, got reunited with the Band and I could sense he'd get into the thick of the action soon instead of spending chapters explaining the best way to buy a horse cheaply and other boring stuff. Plus we got a Tuon PoV and it's usually fun t see Mat from the outside. Though her having not even had a real kiss at age 20 is a bit hard to believe.

Elaida is still a complete idiot, what else is new...I wish Jordan hadn't made her such a caricature. She should've been removed from power by her own Hall long ago, she had so many failures and did pretty much all she can to make all Sitters and Ajah mad at her, how was she still at power at this point?

The PloD is finally near its end, about time. Admittedly Perrin's plotline is much better in this book than in the previous two because he at least do stuff, some of which pretty clever, instead of whining about Faile all the time and failing to find a hundred thousand Aiel for months even though he had Travelling available which was completely ridiculous.
William Fettes
132. Wolfmage
AndrewB @ 129

Interesting question. I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say that deities are incompatible with prophecy, all things being equal. I think it’s more a matter of distinguishing between the different conceptions of god and the nature of the prophecies in question.

For example, you might have a deist conception of god, which is very much hands off and non-interventionist. Under this conception there is probably not much scope for prophecy to interfere with that kind of god’s authority. The existence of prophecy would only raise issues about the qualities possessed by that god, such as omnipresence and omniscience. And those issues aren't insurmountable; theologians can and do make distinctions between total omniscience and the more limited ability to know anything you want to know. This distinction presumably would work just as well for dealing with the problem of prophecy as it does for free will.

It also depends on the source and status of the type of prophecy. Is it a supernatural ability? Is it mysticism? Is it god-derived? Is it a kind of certain foreknowledge, or is it more like a shifting framework of probabilities. These distinctions matter in terms of how much of a threat prophecy poses to any deity.
133. Freelancer
Longtimefan @94

You took a tangent away from the intent of my comments. Previous comments had suggested that only women had circumstances of same-sex interactions which were apart from their base orientation. I offered examples of commonly understood cases involving males.

There are several disparate complaints being aimed at Jordan over this larger business. One suggests that it is wrong to portray same-gender intimacy as only a "passing phase". Well, in cases and places which bear any similarities to life in the White Tower, it happens. And that is the only aspect of the issue which I was addressing. Context is everything.

The last thing I care about is political correctness for its own sake. I believe that very few if any of us have had the breadth of life experience to match the author. I am certain that very few authors possess the capacity to have constructed such a massive story woven with threads of as many different cultures, myths, histories, and behaviors. Why did Jordan choose to mask profane language in the WoTverse? A fairly simple question to answer. Consider that the same concerns informed his choices on where to draw other limits, and recall that they are precisely that, his choices. For him to have done otherwise would have resulted in a less organic story. Gainsay his choices all you will, he never wrote this story to make someone comfortable with themself, or to provide attendant support. Read carefully, and you'll find that he had some absolute reasons for writing it that all too many people completely miss.
William Fettes
134. Wolfmage
anthonypero @ 122

With respect, I think that’s just a failure of imagination on your part.

First, it’s obvious that not featuring sex, whether out of personal discomfort or the precept of only writing what you know, is not a real obstacle to including gay characters. Every single nominally heterosexual character in WoT (see any mention of a betrothal, marriage, Cairhien noblewoman education, cuddle, kiss, cutting eyes or whatever else that signals sexuality) who doesn’t get an on-screen sex scene is a counter-example to this. So it’s just not a real objection.

Second, referencing personal intimacy is not just limited to sex; it’s a broad continuum that only includes sexual acts at one end. But there’s also sentimental affection, admiration, infatuation, jealousy, possessiveness, covertousness, and intellectual attraction, to name a few examples. The emotional palette is exactly as rich as it is for any heterosexual relationship, and so the vocabulary can be virtually identical if needs be. So it’s obvious you can do a credible job of portraying homosexual affectation without violating the precept of writing what you know, especially if you realistically assume homosexuality would only be a minority presence. GRRM has proven this very distinction by ruling out writing on-screen homosexual sex scenes, whilst including genuine homosexuality. It’s really not hard.

What else? Well, you could have more asides like the one about the White Tower servant, whereby someone communicates their familiarity with people past or present who are known to not like the opposite sex. It's a great way to tell us something about attitudes to sexual morality in different cultures, including prejudice or openmindedness. Hell, even if you only wrote two more of these asides in a non-oblique way, it would be a huge improvement over that one sentence tucked away in one book. You could have a suggestive description of a popinjay in one of the dozens of cases we are introduced to new locales via the wide-eyed Two Rivers folks. You could have a tavern patron arguing with their implied partner as part of the background details of a scene. You could have a partner seeking out revenge for some earlier harm that befell their lover. You could have some sniggering gossip about the reputation of a certain High Lord or Lady's proclivities. (Hurin's encounter with the servants in Barthanes' manner was a ready-made opportunity for us hearing something like that.) You could have a sub-culture in a far-away city we only hear tell about through one of Thom or Noel's stories, where such practices are more open than everywhere else in Randland. You could even *shock horror* actually have a real named character who is in a relationship, or wants to be in a relationship, with someone of the same sex; maybe even another named character! It’s shocking I know, but it’s possible.

That's just off the top of my head, and doesn't even scratch the surface.
135. yasiru89
For Randalator @121-

The counterexamples are exactly the other 'pillow friends'. You go out of your way to show how Galina is in another category altogether, rather than consider that she's just a case where a lesbian character just happens to be evil. Ah, but I digress, it seems we've come to a point that there can be no evil among whatever group the current fad is to champion the rights of. That really does explain a lot about how you people think.

On a person simply being a homosexual being something that 'fleshes out their character'- I disagree. Simply inserting some trait that can't be explored in terms of motivations (it can be explored in terms of relationships certainly, but the initial omission will continue to nag) just for the sake of it being there to please these 'socially aware' individuals is just disingenuous writing. Situational homosexuality would make more sense, as it does with the Aes Sedai, who must also, as new initiates grapple with the reality that few men can handle the Power in a woman. I daresay that might sway the choice for some.

For Wolfmage @128-

Good lord! My sincere apologies! I didn't know you were a 'genre savvy aficionado' with 'knowledge rivalling any here'. Do you expect me to bow, then?
Please refrain from appealing to authority. Your own least of all. That is pretty weak, and utterly ridiculous. I have no ill consideration of you, or anyone else here. In fact, I would consider anyone posting highly knowledgeable about the series (and the genre, if you like) right until they say something to contradict that view. Is it too much to ask that you make some effort to show that what you say really is thoughtful and considerate rather than puffing yourself up because you know you can't take the blow of reasoned argument and declaring everything you say simply must be rational and profound!

On the other point, as I said to Randalator, I believe we have a fundamental difference in opinion. I do not believe homosexuality is a random thing to be thrown in there like hair colour, just to appease folk who pull these miraculous 'thoughtful and considerate observations' out of thin air with nothing to support them beyond not squaring with their own beliefs and agendas. People are shaped by more than their biology, but I doubt this is the place for that debate.
136. Shadow_Jak
Funny, I've read and reread these chapters countless times... without ever realizing that I missed so much gay stuff. Guess I'm just dense.

You guys sure know how to take all the fun out of some really good chapters. Some of the very best in the whole series.

Frankly (I'll be Frank.", she says. "No, I'll be Frank, you were Frank last time!" she replied)
I've about had it up to about here ::beak high on a hawk headed aTrolloc:: with alternative lifestyles in alternative universes.

Does anyone even remember what set this all off?
(If so, PLEASE DO NOT tell us!)
137. Shadow_Jak
OK! I feel much better now!

BTW, about Mishima's comment...
"“The Banner-General was right about you,” he said slowly."
Right about what?
Obviously something naughty about how he fills out his trousers.
(Mishima's agreemment marks his preference)
138. Saetana
Regarding "pillow friends", this is hardly an unusual occurrence in all-female or all-male institutions, the teenage years and early twenties are times of experimentation in many fields of endeavor, including sex, and its common enough in single sex UK boarding schools. Those AS who continue to have relations with women are probably the equivalent of modern lesbians, although some women choose to be with other women because of bad experiences with men (this would cover a fair portion of the Red Ajah, most of whom don't really like men at all) rather than actually being born lesbians which, to me at least, actually makes them bi-sexual, they make a choice in that direction, whereas someone who is born "gay" (just as an aside, why do we have different terms for same-sex relationships for men and women?) has no real alternative other than maybe celibacy which is something many AS seem to practice in any event, regardless of sexual orientation. I didn't get the impression that pillow friend relationships were at all frowned on and they come up pretty early on in the series. Tarna's opinion was a personal one and coming from the point of view of someone who presumably had one or more pillow friends in her youth but as she got older preferred to have her sexual relationships with men. Including pillow friends in the story seems logical given the all-female nature of the White Tower.

As for including more homosexual or bisexual characters in the books, frankly I could care less either way, I have no problem with inclusion or non-inclusion but I would rather it be left out (as any real sexual scenes of any description are) than badly written. Just to take an example, I read a lot of erotic romance around a particular subject that I happen to have real-life experience of, and, whilst there are many authors that attempt to tackle this genre, there are few get it right. Those few are people who have real-life experience themselves or those rare authors who have done a ton of research to get it as close to correct as they can. As for those who say, well just make a few characters gay anyway, to me this would just be a nod to political correctness and, as another commenter pointed out, how on earth would we know they are gay without some scene or context that brings the subject up? I have no idea whether RJ had a problem with same sex relationships or not and it seems nor does anyone else, given this fact I cannot see why a few people are so bothered about the lack of gay/lesbian characters in the books. Frankly, it wouldn't add anything to the world-building, it would just make a minority of readers happier and the rest of us shrug our shoulders with indifference.

I was so glad to finally be reaching the end of the storyline of Faile's captivity, aside from it taking up way too much of the story I lost all respect for Perrin as a character over that situation and the fact that it turned out well and served a greater good (stopping the majority of the Shaido plus Masuma's lot) was pure accident and nothing of his doing - he would have happily let the world go burn if he could rescue Faile, this selfish attitude in comparison to the other SBs and SGs really stood out. Fortunately he begins to redeem himself in TGS and ToM but I still don't like him the way I used to in the very early books of the series.

As for Faile and Ronan, in a situation like that you do what is necessary, plain and simple.

I actually like Tuon, what I hate are the mores of Seanchan society. However, her beliefs are cultural in nature and the way Mat totally dismisses Seanchan omens is a great example of the way Tuon feels about the differences on this side of the ocean. We know for a fact that t'averen and the snakes and foxes are a reality, Tuon does not. However, a few Seanchan have managed to rethink their cultural position - Tyree, Eaganin and Alivia, to name just three. Is Tuon's entrenched position on damane to do with her exalted position or is she really so intractable? Only MoL will provide the answer to that one (hopefully).

It was great to see Mat reunited with the band again as he and Rand are my favourite characters from the series, Mat's more light-hearted attitude to life makes a great contrast with Rand's seriousness. Finally Tuon gets to see more of the real Mat, presumably her "fortune" now starts to make more sense as in the end she marries him for his connection with the Dragon Reborn and his status as a general rather than for love, although I think she is halfway there on that as well.
William Fettes
139. Wolfmage
yasiru89 @ 135

Way to deliberately misconstrue my words! I wasn’t actually trying to claim the authority of expertise over you. I claim no special expertise except that I have read the series more than I care to admit, certainly more than most, though I don't have an edetic memory.

I was just saying I found your attempts to belittle the points being made with a rather perfunctory and dismissive hand-waving reference to the POV perspectives and locations of the series were not a serious attempt to grapple with what was actually being alleged by two long time posters with a record of making serious contributions, not to mention our illustrious hostess, Leigh. This lack of real engagement was made doubly obvious when you ridiculed a strawman method of gay-friendly writing that was explicitly ruled out by both Randalator and myself in two seperate posts as exactly how NOT to write gay characters. My point was that your objection did not constitute a real argument against our points because it was based on mere insistence that we were ignorant of basic facts about the POV structure. My post just tried to point out that, as hardcore fans, we could hardly not be conscious of everything that the POV structure allows and doesn’t allow in how we form our views about the omission of homosexual characters. Leigh brought up the issue in her OP, and in previous posts.
Do you also think that she, as past editor of the WoT FAQ, and someone who goes to the trouble of writing thousands of words each week to the series, is similarly just ignorant of something so fundamental about the series? It just doesn't pass a basic sniff test.
140. Shadow_Jak
Mishima's comment...
"“The Banner-General was right about you,” he said slowly."

Actually, I was just reading in TGS where Tylee comes before Tuon and tells her about the Trolloc attack.

There seems to be a good possibility there....
Tykee suggests something to the effect that perhaps these people would make better allies than enemies.
That (along with the ubiquitous bird related omen) convinces Tuon to put off the Tar Valon attach and meet with Rand.
141. Shadow_Jak
if Faile had decided to sleep with Rolan in order to guarantee her escape, would you condemn her for it?

My first thought/gut reaction was...
Hey, it's OK as long doesn't enjoy it!
(as I beleive someone else commented))

But of course that's not true. If she was going to do it, it only makes sense for her to go at it with zeal and enthusiasm...
She should be totally convincing... the better to slip a knife in him when the time came.

So yeah, I'm OK with her sleeping with Rolan as long as she kills him if the opportunity presents.

She could say, "That was for rescuing me...
and this (8 inches of steel) is for capturing me and all the pain and torture that brought)"
Roger Powell
142. forkroot

.... and the female homosexuality we get to see "on screen" is either a silly phase or a symptom of man-hating (Galina!).

I generally don't jump into this particular discussion, but I have to disagree with the above. Ailil (Cairhienien Noble) and Shalon (Sea Folk Windfinder) are portrayed in a lesbian relationship that is neither juvenile nor man-hating. What is portrayed though, is a relationship that is apparently against social norms for their respective cultures since they go to lengths to conceal it.

This appears to contradict statements from RJ that homosexual relationships were accepted as a matter of course (working from memory on this one, don't have the exact quote handy.)
143. Shadow_Jak
Shalon wanted to conceal it because she was married and thus cheating on her spouse.
144. yasiru89
For Wolfmage @139-

Unlike you, I don't presume, at all, on the intelligence or expertise in forming an opinion, of anyone. These things simply don't lend any weight to arguments. If this is the 'sniff test' in this community, then I fear very much for what passes for logic. It's what I imagine it would be like to speak to a bunch of 'progressive' Whitecloaks who are Aes Sedai like sticklers for their hierarchy of Power (or, in this case, how 'illustrious' one is).

What's being asked for is asked for simply to appease the 'socially aware', but you feel the need to be disingenuous about this by doing so in some contrived 'natural' manner that contributes absolutely nothing to the story because it didn't spring from a plot or character requirement therein. Diversity for its own sake is just posturing. If we can't see eye to eye on that, I'm afraid it is futile to argue any further.
Hugh Arai
145. HArai
forkroot@142: As Shadow_Jak says, Shalon was cheating on her spouse, making her concealment no more indicative of their relationship being against social norms than the behavior of the married Cairhienien women who tried to trip "Lord Rand" into bed at Barthanes's party.
William Fettes
146. Wolfmage
yasiru89 @ 144.

Your bizarre ex nihilo attempt to taint what are substantive, engaged arguments as some kind of unthinking 'progressive' political agenda tell me everything I need to know about where all this dismissiveness and hostility is really coming from. In retrospect, I'm actually surprised you didn't tip your hand earlier with some kind of howling references to the 'homosexual agenda'. Similarly, your studious evasion of the list I provided of credible scenarios of how to organically incorporate gay characters without sex @ 139 obviously shows you aren't interested in remedying the epic failure of imagination that goes into maintaining the conceit that gay characters cannot be integrated in a story without it being contrived. Frankly, the lack of good faith and commensurate substance in your responses, and what it implies about your views toward homosexuals, is odious, and I don't have any time for it. That is all.
Alice Arneson
147. Wetlandernw
AndrewB @129 - Wow! You and I have very different understandings of the relationship of God and prophecy. They most certainly aren't mutually exclusive; in fact, prophecy usually implies the existence of God. Prophecy doesn't come from a vacuum; even in fantasy, it is usually given by an intelligent, omniscient, omnipotent Being to tell people what to watch for and what to expect when certain things happen. (Even in Eddings' Belgariad & Mallorean, the two Prophecies have personalities and powers that are more than simple prophecy. In that case, very explicit methods were used to deliver the words, but they came from beings (intelligences?) greater than the average human. Greater than the non-average human, for that matter.)

In WoT, I’ve always assumed that the Creator and/or the Pattern (as the Creator’s agent) was responsible for providing the prophecies, as well as granting Foretellings and Dreams. Certainly Min’s viewings seem to be a device of the Pattern (like spinning out ta’veren) to give an advantage to Team Light and return the Wheel to its proper balance. Whether the actual method is an infodump of some kind, or simply allowing an individual to see bits of the Pattern which are still future, it seems obvious that it is part of the overall plan of a higher intelligence.

@115, 142, 143, 145 - By way of further enlightenment...When Verin discovered Shalon & Ailil’s secret relationship, you get this:

“They put up with days under the question to hide that?” Cadsuane said incredulously. Bera and Kiruna had had the pair howling!

Verin’s eyes twinkled with suppressed mirth. “Cairhienin are prim and prudish, Cadsuane, in public at least. They might carry on like rabbits when the curtains are drawn, but they wouldn’t admit to touching their own husbands if anyone might overhear! And the Sea Folk are almost as straitlaced. At least, Shalon is married to a man with duties elsewhere, and breaking marriage vows is a very serious crime. A breach of proper discipline, it seems. If her sister found out, Shalon would be – ‘Windfinder on a rowboat,’ I think her exact words were.”

It’s pretty obvious that the affair itself doesn’t bother either Verin or Cadsuane, and they are respectively amused and incredulous that Shalon and Ailil were so determined to keep it secret. The Cairhienin apparently like to pretend that sex doesn’t exist, so Ailil wouldn’t admit to an affair, no matter the gender of her partner. Likewise Shalon’s worries are not in regard to the gender of her partner, but to the fact that she had an extramarital affair at all.

So… I agree with forkroot, that Randalator is incorrect in the quoted statement about “a silly phase or a symptom of man-hating,” as this is neither, however temporary its nature. I disagree that this contradicts RJ’s statement, though; the reasons for concealment have nothing to do with the same-sex nature of the affair.

yasiru89 @144 - I highly recommend letting it go. Wolfmage is perfectly willing to continue the debate, even though nothing new is being said, until you turn purple and your head pops off. He will not convince you, nor you him, and it's not worth the effect on your blood pressure.

I speak from experience. Trust me - trying to regain your natural color and reattach your head is difficult at best. Unless you're purple by nature, in which case the difficulty is decreased by about 1/3.
148. yasiru89
Again, the 'line' was never that homosexuals could not be incorporated without it being contrived. Your suggestions, which I'm sure are well worth someone's time, stand as they are. My claim was that incorporating them just so you have a few present to quell what can only be an agenda, or a sad psychological need to crusade for whatever is (regardless whether erroneously or not) perceived as downtrodden, would be just so. And once again, it's irony itself that someone who professes to want homosexuals that 'just are' without care for motivations, would be so disparaging in presuming motivations for what I've had to say. At least I've been the more honest one here in calling to question motivations. Have a good day.
149. yasiru89
For Wetlandernw @147-

While your concern is noted, I am not the one who has been 'personal' about this discussion, whether about silly 'credentials' or whatever else. As such, I would worry more for Wolfmage's blood pressure.
150. Narg
Tuon folded her arms beneath her breasts and looked up at him through her long eyelashes. “Do I remind you of your sister?” she asked in a dangerous tone. “Or perhaps your mother?” Somebody laughed. More than one somebody, in fact.

Mat sighed in exasperation. He breaks his "No business before pleasure" rule, just for her, and this is what he gets?

"No," he replied, in quite some irritation. "You remind me of my mother's brother Carl. He wasn't a particularly good kisser either. My father's brother Jack, on the other hand ..."

He was interrupted by a shriek from a horrified, disbelieving Tuon, echoed by a couple more from an equally horried Selucia and a disbelieving Setalle, who then promptly fainted. "You're a countryman, aren't you? You're supposed to be pure and innocent! Youre not supposed to act like Seandar lowlife!"

"You don't know Jack," Mat said, stoically, replacing his pipe on his head and lighting his hat in some frustration. "Well, I do, and not only was he a better kisser than you, with better moobs, he also taught me everything I know - except for how to seduce horses. He never taught me that, and I'll never know why."
151. BFG
Re Perrin and Tylee... Does anyone remember/know what the Seanchan Wolf Kind prophecy actually is? I can't remember if anythings been said yet in the books and would be intrigued at least partly because in Randland unless people have had a direct connection with Perrin they tend to think wolves are 'bad'. If the Seanchan think differently - well it would be interesting.

Lurking Canadian @52 - I'll agree that some of the Seanchans thoughts are monstrous but I don't believe that Tuon herself is. So far nobodies been able to convince her logically that her thoughts regarding (e.g.) damane are wrong. It will be interesting to see how further exposure to non Seanchan culture would effect her (so it's a pity that she's back with them), but more particularly exposure to the SG or Cads, or one of teh few other Aes Sedai who don't come across as idiots:)

tnh @120 - you say what I would want to say far more eloquently than I could manage. Although being one of those 20 somethings I can't say that I can fully understand the changes that have happened.

@129 AndrewB - I guess it would depend on the Gods, and in part come down to free-will as opposed to determined (not sure of the correct terms). If you believed in Gods and determinism (or lack of free will) then there should be no problem with prophecy (it's simply a prediction for the future) - the interesting thing here is that you wonder what the point is of prophecy? If it's all set and nothing can change then what's the point in it? Alternatively if you believe in Free Will then maybe prophecy could be considered as guidelines? Something that could change? Not sure, but I suspect I'll be musing on this for a while.

@131 Bergmaniac - I don't find it odd that Tuon had never had a proper kiss at 20, she's been brought up in a very strict hierarchal (sp?) society, and (trying ot think of a less snobby way to put it and failing) who over there is her equal? What I love from that is how it effects Matt to.

@132 Wolfmage - so many ways this topic could go.

@138 Saetana - get an idea that Tuon is reasonable after TG based on Aviendahs second walk through the pillars.

@141 Shadow_Jak - If I seperate my dislike of this storyline from the question. Then in a general sense 'do what you have to do' just about covers it. But there are a few points where she seems to find him attractive. His attitude is closer to the attitude that she seems to want Perrin to have and after he's dead she regrets it. It's not until her conversation with Berelain when she shows how much she actually does 'get' Perrin that I start to like her.

@147 Wetlandernw - I think I agree at the moment (still haven't had time to understand it fully) that I find prophecy harder to understand without some sort of God.
Birgit F
152. birgit
“The Banner-General was right about you,” he said slowly.

Mishima says this after Perrin points out that greasing the windmills is not a good idea. Tylee probably said something about Perrin being a good general who pays attention to every detail.

A society can either beleive in a diety (one or many) or they can believe in a prophecy. What I mean is that either it is God's will or it is the will of the prophecy.

That assumes that the source of the prophecy is separate from the deity. If the prophecy is the deity giving a priest hints about his/her intentions, there is no contradiction.

So maybe all the Foretellings are "true" just not necessarily this time around.

The Foretellings are probably about this turning of the Wheel, but they might be from a different "world of if".

However, a few Seanchan have managed to rethink their cultural position - Tyree, Eaganin and Alivia, to name just three. Is Tuon's entrenched position on damane to do with her exalted position or is she really so intractable?

Tuon is a suldam. If she admits that suldam are marath'damane, that threatens her own identity. Tylee and Egeanin cannot channel, changing their opinion about damane has nothing to do with them personally. Alivia has been a slave for centuries, it makes sense that she prefers a culture where channelers are respected instead of enslaved.
153. Narg
Oops, just forgot to add that the above quote is taken directly from the

Mat and Tuon Pseudepigrapha, chapter 2, paragraph 16, written and edited by Matrim Cauthon and Fortuona Paendrag, FA21, Aemon Hawkwing Publ., Seandar/Emonds Field.

It may be found in all reputable bookshops, usually as the direct result of massive bribes unrelated to the purchasing of books themselves (I had to seduce the bookshop proprietor, can you believe that? Then she wanted to take me to meet her rellies. I skipped bail and fled the country!) but is usually found in backstreet bookswap stores run by sleazballs with direct connections to the Crystal Throne (and consequent immunity from prosecution for obscenity).
154. Gorbag
Speaking of Dr Watson ... no, I mean, Sherlock Holmes, the only Sherlock Holmes film that I've seen that was absolutely true to the stories, was The Hound of the Baskervilles, the one with Spike Milligan taking a break from Harry Seagoon, in it.

Where else can you see the famous misogynist being told by his mother that she remembers when he was a little girl? :)
Anthony Pero
155. anthonypero

Approximately 12% of the Bible can be construed as "prophecy", so I would say at least to Western thinking, prophecy and the concept of Diety are inseperable. Now, FREE WILL and prophecy would be an interesting debate. One we've had many times on this board already.
156. BFG
Tuon is a suldam. If she admits that suldam are marath'damane, that threatens her own identity. Tylee and Egeanin cannot channel, changing their opinion about damane has nothing to do with them personally. Alivia has been a slave for centuries, it makes sense that she prefers a culture where channelers are respected instead of enslaved.

Except Tuon has already admitted she could learn to channel, her argument is that she chooses not to and that makes a difference, so maybe she doesn't have that far to go?

There are also a bunch of captured suldam in Andor, some are choosing to learn, others are insisting they should be collared. I can't remember if there's much resolution on this.
Roger Powell
157. forkroot
Wetlandernw@147 - I accept the correction (Shadow_Jak and others pointed it out too, but you provided a great text quotation). It's clear from Verin and Cad's view that in Far Madding, a same sex relationship (at least female) is no big deal.

I should also hasten to point out that one of Randalator's points stands: No positive male same sex relationships are portrayed.

Make of this what you will. I have steadfastly avoided interjecting my opinions on this subject.

I personally find tnh@120's take on the whole issue to be enlightening and well written.
Hugh Arai
158. HArai
Except Tuon has already admitted she could learn to channel, her argument is that she chooses not to and that makes a difference, so maybe she doesn't have that far to go?

I would say the opposite. Because she's so personally involved she's likely have extremely entrenched opinions. She only falls on the "right" side according to Seanchan beliefs because she's apparently not a spark and can choose. I'm thinking it would kind of like being the teetotal child of alchoholic parents.*

*I don't insist on the accuracy of the analogy, I don't intend to offend anyone, and feel free to correct me. Just please try not to totally derail the discussion.
159. Freelancer

I'm just struggling with this whole thread. Are y'all saying that where RJ erred was to bring it up at all? Wasn't the whole thing in response to him fielding comments about the lack of homosexual characters? Is RJ supposed to include that little tidbit in his character spreadsheet, so he can keep tabs on the balance between lesbians, experimenters, and gay men?

Yes. That is precisely what they are saying. Their worldview demands fairness and balance regarding an aspect of culture that they insist, via oh so subtle declamations of "awareness", "enlightenment", (insert your favorite passively inverted insult here), is misportrayed in a work of fiction.

Did I mention that it was fiction, and under no commandment to meet the social expectations of anyone but the author? Ahh, but therein lies the rub. This egregious assault on modern, socially aware, enlightened culture by the author simply proves his bona fides as a neanderthal throwback Southerner.

That is indeed what they have said, in very nearly so many words. If only you were as advanced as they, it would have been as clear to you.

Presented with all due respect to those whose opinions matter most.
160. BFG
HArai @158 - It's the timing of it that makes it interesting. She's only learnt that she could channel on this trip. During which time she's only been exposed to the three Aes Sedai, who lets face it aren't shining examples. She also sees that despite what people say about them being respected, her primary observations will be of Matt...

I know it's possible to say that the fact that learning she has the potential to channel hasn't changed her opinion could (easily) suggest that she is entrenched, I'm hoping that she could be more open minded. Especially as she's getting proof of Randlanders being right about other things (Trollocs for example).
161. fudgyvmp
took me a moment to get it but letting the snake go isn't some seanchan omen, its because Tuon knows her husband will let her go. so she let's him kiss her to see if he'll let her go, that doesn't come up though for her, sso its just foreshadowing when mat does let her go. that's also why she's thinking about there being something else.
Alice Arneson
162. Wetlandernw
yasiru89 @149 – I gave up worrying about Wolfmage’s blood pressure a long time ago. He thrives on this sort of thing. Just trying to spare you… and maybe insert a tiny bit of humor? Oh well.

BFG @151 – Ask and you shall receive:

When the Wolf King carries the hammer, thus are the final days known. When the fox marries the raven, the trumpets of battle are blown.

(KoD, Chapter 4)
163. BFG
Wetlandernw @162 - thanks!!!

So when is Matt going to get that horn?
Noneo Yourbusiness
164. Longtimefan
@ Freelancer,

Let me be perfectly clear and concise to you and to anyone who may be confused.

Demeaning and dissmisvie portrayals of ideas in fiction re-enforce demeaning and dissmisvie ideas in real life.

Your comments and the comments of others who share your "favorite passively inverted insult" of it being an "agenda" or a "fad" or anything else that agreebly allows for the disscusion to be pushed aside is exactly the fucking point.

Your entire comment is belitting to anyone who brings up the point that the portrayal of same sex relationships in the fictional work are limited and generally dismissed or demeaned by in book observation or negative character development.

You put words in the mouths of people you do not agree with by calling the author names for them. "This egregious assault on modern, socially aware, enlightened culture by
the author simply proves his bona fides as a neanderthal throwback

How is that even sensible?

Had the author presented only straight relationships through the entire series of the book it may have felt unrealistic to some but it would have been less controversial.

When questioned however the comment back from the author was that same sex relationships were taken as a matter of course.

This statement is not supported by the text. In the very singular example of the affair between Shalon & Ailil the discussion in character may seem to see it as nothing to be concerned with but then there is a lenghty explaination on why it had to be a secret and why both parties were embarrased. Maybe it is a matter of course but it is also shameful and socially damaging to the in book characters. That is the most positive portrayal in the whole series.

In Cairhienin during the Feast of Lights the uptight populous let all their inhibitions free and yet even in Perrin's observation of the events not one mention is made of any one pursuing, dancing or kissing anyone who is not of the opposite gender and there are several observations.

This part was written before the question about the lack of same sex relationships so the statement that it was a matter of course had not been made yet or probably even thought of.

My position is that it would have been better for the author to just say "no, there is not any" and just kept writing. I do not think he would have lost that many readers and I would not thought less of him for just sticking to the story. I may have thought less of the realism of the world building but I would not have thought less of the author.

They are two separate things.

Thank goodness this was not written in the 1840's or we would have to listen to all those abolishonist jerks talking about how Seanchan slavery is wrong and pushing their fadish social agenda on fictional characters like Tuon to change her mind about leashing the Aes Sedai and having slaves.

yes, I am drawing that corallary and I am not going to over explain it.
Alice Arneson
165. Wetlandernw
Longtimefan @164 - I've generally agreed not to get into this discussion with you, since we had it out long ago and decided to just enjoy the book together anyway. However, there is an egregious error in your comment @164 that I cannot pass without correction:

In the very singular example of the affair between Shalon & Ailil the discussion in character may seem to see it as nothing to be concerned with but then there is a lenghty explaination on why it had to be a secret and why both parties were embarrased. Maybe it is a matter of course but it is also shameful and socially damaging to the in book characters.

I’ve said this before and apparently must say it again. The reason for the lengthy explanation and secrecy has nothing to do with gender – it’s quite clear that the shame and social damage have to do with the fact of an affair. That they were both women is useful in story (duh – that’s why he wrote it) since these particular women are in positions useful to Cadsuane via blackmail, but it’s not the source of the shame. Had RJ chosen to give Toram Riatin a brother instead of a sister, it could have been a cross-gender affair and been equally shameful to both parties. Dismissing the status of this affair as an example of acceptance in Randland does your argument no good. It makes you look like you’re determined not to allow RJ any credit in this regard.

Most of your other points are valid given your world view, but then so are Freelancer’s. However, also without explanation, I must also say that I do not accept your corollary as valid. But you already knew that.
Sam Mickel
166. Samadai
As someone who likes to write and has written many stories, not including the little bits I post here. I have also written my own fantasy trilogy. I would never include alternate lifestyles in my books, not because I am afraid of them, but because I know I couldn't write them well. If an author writes something into a book just to appease some of his readers, but he does it horribly because he has no experience with it, is it the fault of the author, or those that demand he put it in there?

anyways, just my 2 cents worth.

chapters are awesome. Perrin is really starting to shine in the book. Tuon finally having her eyes opened in regards to Mat is just great.
Hugh Arai
167. HArai
If an author writes something into a book just to appease some of his readers, but he does it horribly because he has no experience with it, is it the fault of the author, or those that demand he put it in there?

In my own opinion, the key phrase to your question is "just to appease some of his readers". If that's the motivation then the fault is the author's. Telling the best story the best way the author knows how is the author's job. Reader appeasement shouldn't enter into any of the choices made. For one thing, readers are highly unlikely to react to anything in a story in a uniform fashion (as you can tell from these threads). An author will be far better able to judge if they honestly think they wrote the story the best way they know how.
168. MasterAlThor
Congrats folks you have just managed to tick Freelancer off. Way to go nice job.

I don't agrre with you last comment. Slaves vs Homosexuality. You should know better. There is never an equivalent between the two. Orientation has nothing ever to do with ownership. Please don't do that again.

Also, your comment that dismissive in fiction leads to dismissive in real life makes a huge assumption. That people have no thoughts of their own and must read in order to form an opinion. I have a mind and I put it to good use. Don't you think others would do the same.

I ain't jumping down your throat here, but I believe that you have let this get too personal for you. I have said it before, you know who you are and that is all that should matter.


PS Edit
169. Shadow_Jak
MasterAlThor @168

Thanks MAT. Nice injection of sanity there.
170. Shadow_Jak
Megaduck @8

Enjoyed the Miles Vorkosigan quote

I owe a huge thanks to whomever it was that mentioned the Vorkosigan Saga on this reread a few months back...
(Was that you also Megaduck?)

Great Series and free to read online! Wow!
Just finished reading and now re-reading them all.
(gotta do somethng between WOT books, eh?)
171. Wortmauer
Samadai@166: I think it was Wolfmage who already said it pretty well, but there's a pretty huge difference between having a character known to be homosexual, and having a character known to be engaging in a same-sex relationship, with or without sex.

To see what I mean, I'm not going to go on this research quest, but, as a thought experiment, imagine dividing the named characters in WoT into five lists:
1) certainly or presumably heterosexual
2) certainly or presumably homosexual
3) had at least one same-sex experience, but may be bisexual or "until graduation"-sexual
4) asexual, or may as well be
5) orientation cannot be deduced from the text

Of course there'll be a lot of characters in list 5, people we don't really know that much about. But my point is the huge imbalance between lists 1 and 2. There are so many characters on list 1, quite a few (females) on list 3, but ... is there anybody on list 2 who isn't either Black Ajah or
Therava? I can't think of any, offhand. And for that matter, I can't think of any males on lists 2 or 3.

I think the disparity of lists 1 and 2, and how that contrasts with RJ's external pronouncement that homosexuality is normal and accepted in Randland, is the issue. To say "well, there's no room in the story to portray very many gays," as several have said, is to belie that difference. It's not like list 1 is composed entirely of characters who are kissing on-screen! If that were true, most of the cast of thousands would be on list 5, leaving just a handful of names on list 1. Instead, most of list 1 is, e.g., Rodel Ituralde, who has a wife, or Aram, who tends to flirt with girls. We could have found out Ituralde had a male partner, or that Aram liked boys, and it would've had basically no impact on the story. Especially if, as RJ asserts, nobody in his world thinks that sort of thing is any big deal.

Summary: to pretend, as RJ did, that homosexuals were prevalent in Randland - well, it wouldn't have been at all hard to actually show it. I think he should have populated list 2 with at least one man and one woman who isn't evil. And I don't think that's asking to disrupt his story for PC. (You might not know it from this post, but I'm not really very PC myself.)
172. Shadow_Jak
Just for fun, I'd like to point out that list 1 might not be all that large either.

For instance, both Rand and Aram could easily be bi, eh?
All Rand's on-screen encounters were initiated by the girls.
And Aram did indeed chase after at least one boy, Perrin. Couldn't pry him away. Perrin even comments once or twice that Aram smells jealous.

And how about Tam.
Relatively young healthy male. Widow for how many years?
Never remarried. No sweeties that we are told about.
If fact... Speaking of Tam, and his wife Kari...
When Tam found the baby Rand on Dragonmount, he thought something like, "I knew you always wanted children, but you couldn't have any of your own."
Now how did Tam know she couldn't have her own child? Well, if she's a guy, that would work, eh?
And Tam never remarried.
But he does spend a lot of time around Bran Al-vere...

Just saying,maybe there is more here than you think.
Not to mention all the time Hu and Tad spent in the Stable together, ;-)
Noneo Yourbusiness
173. Longtimefan
Dear Wetlandernw,

You are completely correct. The shame is not based on gender but on having the affair outside of marriage.

I am not going into why that does not change my point but I want to acknowledge that I agree with you on why there is shame.

I am not reading the comments after yours as I have decided to stay away so I do not say things that make me seem as angry as I may have come across.

I am not angry at the persons commenting but I am frustrated by some of the terminology as I am sure some people are frustrated by my terms.

As much as you and I may agree or disagree I am always glad to see your comments. I really did like your other observations on other subjects and tried to go there to get away from the other topic but I find it difficult so I am just moving on. (to stay away from the topic not going with the other topics)

Yes I know this means I will never explain my corollary and I know you are just staying awake nights over that. : ). (smiley face for the light heartedness!)

The thing about omens is interesting and I agree that a deity and omens can exist in the same pattern based universe. There have probably been other comments on that I am going to let other people run with that ball. I will see what the next re read brings up on Tuesday but I am not in the mind space to come back here for a while.
Theresa Gray
174. Terez27
Wohltemperierten Schreiber @33

Depending on the culture, it was defintely taboo in most of Europe between the 13th and 19th centuries, but the traditional unspoken (or secret subculture) nature of the issue led to a certain laxity that disappeared when the issue became more publicized in the late 19th century due to urbanization, which was not an overnight development, of course (you start to see evidence of gay subcultures a couple of centuries before that in England, and other nations had reputations in England for being fabulous getaways, most especially Italy). And of course, the aristocracy was always able to get away with a little more than the average man. But even the liberal art of the 19th only hinted, and there is of course a great deal of debate as to whether these extremely romantic friendships and almost-threesomes of the 19th century are really implying everything we attribute to them. The unspokenness is so much a part of the culture(s) that you see it even in private correspondence between lovers, which sometimes makes for some really challenging reading.

Anyway, it's easy to see how that laxity which came from unspokenness makes a contrast with the uberconservative century or so that followed Foucault's Maginot (which seems to now be coming to...not the end, but an end). But it was by no means an easy life for someone whose preferences were more toward the purely homosexual end of Kinsey, assuming you buy into Kinsey. Have you read Chopin's letters? They're pretty amazing, but at the same time, often heartbreaking. He's a little post-Renaissance, but I get the impression that Europe in general was only getting bolder on that front, and Chopin lived most of his life in the cultural hub of Europe. London was hot too, but Paris was a little bit wilder, more hip. Certainly more gay-friendly than London, but that's not saying much.

But all of that is, of course, irrelevant to WoT, since RJ said that there's no taboo in his world. Tarna seems to be evidence against that, but perhaps her mild prejudice is the worst of it.
Eric Hughes
175. CireNaes
@ Prophecy/Free Will/Divinity

The best explanation I've heard came from reading a book on being a pastor during the same year I was learning Koine Greek. The premise deals specifically with the function of Voice when dealing with verbs.

In Greek, when one speaks in the active voice, one initiates an action upon another object. When one speaks in the passive voice, one receives an action that another initiates. Now here is the fun part that has been lost in a good portion of modern vernacular (or at least must be teased out to such a degree that poetic beauty is compromised).

The middle voice is active participation in the results of an action that another initiates. Two wills are in operation, neither to the exclusion of the other.

So from a standpoint of theological interaction with the world you have the active voice. This is typified in paganism (and I use the word in it's most active sense). Putting the "gods" to work through one's incantations or rituals. Canaanites enjoyed masturbating onto their crops in hopes of Baal's blessing by appealing to his primary impetus for being. You see its modern equivalent where one starts to bargain with God as a way out of her or his "problem." Think of Philipe's conversations with God in Ladyhawke.

Now with the passive voice you have the more pessimistically flavored religiosity in which one comes to grip with the phlegmatic virtue of life. "Que Sera Cirrhosis" so to speak. The impersonal and fated will of the gods/goddesses. Good ol' Greek trajedy.

With the middle voice you have a wonderful functionality that I have heard coined as "active or willed passivity." Ideally, one wills to participate in what is willed. This is what I think RJ had in mind when he designed his WoT theology and is the best part of Rand's epiphany and newfound peaceful demeanor. Christian orthodoxy loves to hang its hat here (as do I). It begins with learning how to appreciate the large part passivity plays in one's life. Life is undergone. We receive and enter into what is already present. Our genetics, environment, parents, country, educational systems etc...all are in place before we exercise our free will through attentive participation (or flawed repurposing). When done through Christ this can be accomplished without the fear of being tyrannized. In RJ's system tyranny is solved by the Creator and by proxy the Pattern through a multitude of second chances. That is the "grace" found within WoT. Grace is only broken if the key participant refuses to attentively participate in a constructive manner thereby unraveling the Pattern and freeing the DO.

Prophecy in WoT functions like an identifier to help all the participants know when the key participant is in play and then ideally they will enable that key participant in making the right choice thereby preserving RJ's duatic system of grace that is the Pattern (second chances allowed through containment of the DO). The additional measure of being Ta'veren will "assist" those around the key participant in making the right decision and act as an additinoal buffer for those wishing to disrupt the key participant.

Hence the Fisher King analogy that RJ shoves in our faces a few times throughout the series.

Edit: for grammar.
Anthony Pero
176. anthonypero

That was fascinating. More please!
177. XLCR
Just had to post to say, Yeah!, my favorite part of the book, Mat back with the band and showing off his awesomeness!

Homosexuality? In twenty years people will be looking back and wondering what all the fuss was about, anyway.
Alice Arneson
178. Wetlandernw
CireNaes @175 - Well done!! That was probably the best treatment of free will + sovereignty that I've ever seen in such a brief summary. Wow! Makes me wish I'd had a chance to study Greek! (Who was it that, when asked how he reconciled free will and election, said something on the order of "You don't have to reconcile friends"? Sounds a bit Spurgeon-esque. Will have to look it up.)

Anyway, thanks! That was great.
Charles Gaston
179. parrothead
You know, I really get tired of being told "oh, you just dislike Tuon because of her culture". That works both ways, especially for those who've voiced a rather intense dislike for a character of whom I'm rather fond. "Oh, that's just her culture, oh that's just how she was raised, oh, you're just imposing your own set of values and in the process exposing your own prejudices and blah blah blah blah blah." Would you like to compare the two?

Faile leads an army into battle to save her new husband and her new home. She does so out of a combination of love, and duty in the war against the Shadow. Tuon, safe in the Ebou Dar palace, orders a nighttime raid to enslave and kill as many people as possible in an act that, in the absence of formal hostilities, can only be called a crime. Her motivation for this is to remove a major obstacle in the way to becoming the despot over two continents.

Faile plans her own escape so that her husband does not have to risk himself and the lives of their people in the effort. It doesn't work out that way, but that's out of her hands. Tuon rejects a request for a ceasefire just long enough to deal with that pesky little end of all existence thing because the terms of it don't involve the entire world abasing itself at her feet.

Now that that's dealt with...With the whole conversation on homosexual characters, odd that no one has mentioned Arrela Shiego. Minor character, yes; I had to look up her name, she's one of the members of Cha Faile held in Malden; but it's made quite clear that she's a lesbian. The fact that there is no such equivalent term I think does reinforce Jordan's assertion that it is not regarded as an object of condemnation. Grouping people under a heading (race, orientation, nationality, whatever) is useful only to bigots and the ones opposing them. In the absence of such bigotry, the group loses cohesion and the term itself loses meaning. Perhaps that's why we have not met very many gay characters. Although personally I'm convinced that Asmodean was bisexual. He spends all his time lying around indoors sipping wine, playing the harp and getting snuggly with Isendre; just give him an opium pipe and puffy shirt and he's pretty much spot-on Byron.
Julian Augustus
180. Alisonwonderland
Wetlander @93, 95:
The two situations are not as different as you think, and in my view doesn't involve "choice" by either Mat or Tuon. Consider the actual words of the prophesies: in Mat's case, he was told he is fated to "to marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons". As far as Mat was concerned, all he had to do was identify who in heck was "the Daughter of the Nine Moons", and in his mind, the deal was set. As soon as "High Lady Tuon" was revealed as the "Daughter of the Nine Moons" he (unwittingly, it is true) spoke the marriage vows.

Now, consider Tuon. She wasn't given a name like Mat was, but she was given a number of clues about the person she "will marry, and no other". All she had to do was to check off the clues as they were revealed, to make sure she was marrying the right man. So, the ring was just the first tip-off that it might be Mat. She spends the rest of the time in Ebou Dar studying him to see if some of the other clues fit. When he grabs her in the stables and indicates he is taking her along, not just tying her up and leaving her behind, another plank in the prophecy is fulfilled, so she relaxes and goes along with him without creating any waves. Next, she questions him about Hawkwing (clue #3) and decides he is lying, so in her mind clue #3 is a yes, but it could possibly be a no. Talmanes turning up with the band and the red hand banner might have caused her some trepidation at first, but she eventually finds out the banner belongs to Mat and not Talmanes, so that is clue #4 fulfilled. It is only when clue #5 (Mat letting her go) is fulfilled that she knows for certain the prophecy referred to Mat, and she immediately marries him.

In short, the reason she took so long is not because she thought she had a choice in whether or not to adopt the terms of the prophecy, but because she wanted to be absolutely certain she had the right man. There really is no difference in the essential reaction of the two to the different prophecies.
Eric Hughes
181. CireNaes
@176 & 178

Thanks. That's one of the better explanations I've come accross as well. I just condensed it, added much better examples then WoTified for direct application to the thread. If I have time I'll go a little deeper.
Jonathan Levy
182. JonathanLevy
119. yasiru89
Pleasing these 'socially aware' nitpickers is impossible whatever you do.

In fact, if you look at post #105 you will see a socially aware nitpicker who has been pleased. If you decrypt the quote which I put in post #104, you will see the quote which pleased him.

There is a delicious irony here. I invite you to savor it with me. But we must do so discreetly so as to avoid spoilers from another series.

In addition, I also recommend following Wetlandernw's advice in 147. This is not an attempt to assign fault or responsibility, or to dispute any of the points you made in 149. It's just good advice. :)

@several - interesting insights about Tylee and Perrin.

136. Shadow_Jak

You missed all the gay stuff? You must have been reading without your PC glasses on. Don't you know that causes blindness? Shame!

But on another point I must disagree with you. The earnest and passionate discussions which this subject sparks off can be a hilarious read, in the right frame of mind. No better way to pass the time until the next post. :)

150. Narg
William Fettes
183. Wolfmage
Wortmauer @ 171

Yes, well said. It’s worth re-emphasising that the observation being voiced here is grounded in the cosmopolitan nature of the world RJ created. Having a putatively neutral or supportive culture simply amplifies what are legitimate demographic expectations around the distribution of homosexual behaviour and cases functionally tantamount to homosexual identity. Of course, it’s open to any author to reject such a distribution by using a different species in their work, genetic variation, cultural modifiers, magic or simple fiat. But obviously that’s not the case here, because RJ has explicitly confirmed that WoT has a supportive culture.

I dispute that this criticism is about the need to affirm a ‘worldview’. Is it a worldview to accept that homosexuality has not been listed on the DSM of psychological illnesses since the early 70s? Is it a worldview to accept the consensus in the behavioural and social sciences that homosexual identity is not chosen, but rather formed in early childhood as part of a mix of genetic factors and the early uterine environment? No, I don’t believe so. But my side of the debate has been flippantly accused of political correctness gone mad whilst we all tiptoe around the fact that the other side in this debate is substantially composed of people who reject those facts about sexuality. Doing a search for 'lifestyle' in this thread is quite revealing in this regard.

Hence, I reject the label that this is a social campaigning. Perhaps Longtimefan is a gay person with a special interest in wanting more positive representations of homosexuality in genre literature. But I’m not gay and I don’t have any particular dog in that fight. What interests me more is the realism, the internal coherence of the background demographic and cultural factors, and the sophistication or lack of it in how the book portrays sexuality across the board. My problem is that WoT has a putatively cosmopolitan culture supportive toward homosexuality, but there are almost no identifiable male homosexuals, and very few women who are not transiently experimenting with bisexual behaviour.

The point is that all the heavy lifting of how you might explain such an omission must be done by the POV dynamics. And several of us, including Leigh, Terez, and Randaltor do not accept that the POV structure is really sufficient to explain this. I listed a bunch of examples @134 to give a small survey of where I’m coming from for the benefit of people who apparently have trouble imagining how you might incorporate homosexuality in the text organically, without a plot specific reason. Someone else suggesting the hedonistic frenzy of the Feast of Lights celebration, which is another good example. These examples are meant to show that regardless of the plot and POV constraints being settled, you can have a gay presence that's much more proportionate as a random sample of the Randland population.

Jonathan Levy @ 182

What irony? I’d say you’ve misread me pretty badly if you think anything I’ve said here was out of an ideological need to see positive gay characters triumphant in the text. The good writing I’m calling for here is simply based on the encounters you’d expect given a realistic distribution of heterodox sexual behaviour and identity throughout the world, subject to the prevailing culture. So, if there’s an intolerant culture, then of course you ’d expect to see things like persecution and callous indifference. Homosexual victims are entirely consistent with what I’m saying is good writing.

Now, having said that I lack a desire to see positive or heroic gay characters as a matter of demographic realism, I will just add the one qualification to that point: I do nonetheless want to see interesting named gay characters as more a matter of taste / pique. After all, it's been a long time since Omar from The Wire was on TV, and I think it's an area where they're lots of room for improvement.
184. Saetana
For anyone who is looking for well-written fantasy set in a land where men and women have relationships with whoever they choose, their own sex, the opposite sex or both and, with this being completely acceptable within the mores of their society (note this is not the same for other countries represented, accurately enough, in the books), I would recommend the two Kushiel trilogies by Jacqueline Carey (another Tor author). The one commandment of their god Elua was "love as thou wilt", and so they do ;o)
Jonathan Levy
186. JonathanLevy
183. Wolfmage

My understanding of your position was exactly as you explained it in post 183. As for the irony which I personally perceive, I have already transgressed once in this thread with inappropriate spoilers, and I fear I could not explain myself properly without doing so again.

In retrospect it was foolish of me to have mentioned the source of that quote :(
William Fettes
187. Wolfmage
Jonathan Levy @ 186

Fair enough. I interpreted your comment as you saying there was some kind of tension between my interest in the cause of adequate treatment of homosexuality within a text, and my agreement that the ASOIAF scene was a positive exemplar. I thought you were implying the apparently grim end of the victims didn't sit with this purpose, in the absence of anything else I could think of that might be ironic in the sequence of commentary.

However, I'm not familiar with the scene in question, so it's entirely plausible I'm missing something here. If you don't feel you can elaborate, I guess I'll just have to take your word for it that this wasn't your point.
Alice Arneson
188. Wetlandernw
@165 & @173 - In fairness to Longtimefan, I should point out that there is indeed a difference between "not negative" and "positive." I would even agree that the portrayal of the Shalon/Ailil affair is a neutral portrayal; the fact that it's a same-sex relationship is neither applauded nor decried in the text. IMO that fits just fine with RJ's statement that it exists and it's not a big deal.
189. s'rEDIT
Just a few comments on the comments (whew! what an avalanche!):

@84 ValMar: I grinned at your suggestion that Cumberbatch's Holmes is "reptilian." I couldn't decide whether you knew or not that he's been cast as the voice of Smaug for the Hobbit film(s)?

@120 tnh: Thank you for the voice of reason; I was able to struggle to the surface and catch a breath before proceeding back into the heavily charged (though mostly civilized) discussions about RJ's inclusion, or not, of homosexuality. I will say no more on that subject other than to add my vote of appreciation for your input.

@175 CireNaes: Your explanation of what is lost in translation from the Greek was enlightening and encouraging. I'm with Wet in my response to you . . . many thanks!

@178 Wetlandernw: Please give us the exact citation if you are able to locate it. I need it!

Thank you all again. I've been reading for a week and just now managed to catch up with the rest of you!
Alice Arneson
190. Wetlandernw
OT post!

s'rEDIT @189 - This is the best I've found this morning. I don't know if it's actually in one of his books or not; I have a friend who can probably tell me.

Criticising his Puritan Faith, one pastor asked Spurgeon how he could reconcile his Calvinist theology with his fervent evangelism. Charles Spurgeon replied: “I do not try to reconcile friends.”
I'm pleased to see I was right about it being Spurgeon! :) Then again, there was a good chance, because my pastor quotes him regularly.

Valentin M
191. ValMar
s'rEDIT @ 189

I didn't know. What a coincidence :)
193. s'rEDIT
Twitchy already, are we?
Rob Munnelly
194. RobMRobM
Damn - my first lost post in a while.

Before I was improperly curtailed by Tor.com, Internet Explorer or some combination thereof, I was trying to comment that we haven't had this type of brouhaha post in a while. I'm pleased at the level of civility and quality points made in the discourse. Nice job by all.

195. MasterAlThor

Exactly what facts are the other side ignoring? Maybe you consider me part of the other side. I don't know why. You see I believe that there are multiple sides to this arguement.

1Those who want to see more positive homosexual relationships

2Those who aren't interested in seeing more

3Those who could care less (These get labeled as not being inclusive)

4Those who don't really fit into any of the above

The only thing I don't really care for is the attempt (IMO) to make Robert Jordan's world anything other than Robert Jordan's world. Why try to add characters now at the end? Why out someone now? None of that makes any sense unless you are trying to appease a segment of your fanbase.

People wil critique his work and find fault with it in some way. Hey we all have a right to do that. I myself have a small complaint about his all white heroes. Let me clarify that all white main heroes. But even with that complaint, I still find that this is one of the best written series of books that I have ever read. I don't allow for my problem to color the way Iook at the books. I believe that some have.

I am not saying that anyone's opinion here is not valid (well if you say something incredibly stupid or you attack people that we all respect I might have something to say). I just wanted to ask you what exactly you meant. I ended up saying a whole lot more.

196. MasterAlThor

I stand in awe of your posting ability. I agree with the others that was great. More pleasde.

Eric Hughes
197. CireNaes

Actually, I consider Greek the harder language of the two I had to learn. I much prefer Hebrew. It is grammatically efficient and the more advanced concepts are a lot easier to learn. Greek is just plain messy. I would feel "comfortable" translating Hebrew only having a professional Masters. With Greek, you really do need your Doctorate to translate it well.

As far as things being "lost" in translation, it's really the beauty, flair, or even puns of the original language that is hard to recapture. You can communicate the meaning just fine in the vast majority of cases. That being said, I'm not a fan of formal equivalence.

Any Bible you pick up that was translated (or revised) in the last 30 years is phenomenal work. Not that the older ones are bad, just not as nuanced. For my own exegetical work, I reference the NJPS and LXX (Old Testament only), The Message, NLT, HCSB, NKJV, ESV, and NASB. My favorite translation to just plain read for my own enjoyment and edification is the NLT. My favorite translation to study from is the ESV. I use the NA27 and BHS for the original languages.


I like Spurgeon quite a bit. Even though I'm only a 2.7er.

@Sexual Inclusivism

For those of a more conservative ilk. Read Schmidts' "The Straight and Narrow" For all the others. If you have spiritual conservatives in you lives that you care about who ascribe to a faith/ethical based reason for rejecting sexual conduct outside of non-incestuous marriage between one man and one woman then it's a great read for maintaining connectivity and civility for those relationships.

I am an Evangelical (I'm sure this is shocking for most of you to read that ;) My baby sister, who is very dear to me, stated she was gay two years ago. We talk (and debate) regularly. She wants more than anything to convince me that she is in the right. I feel exactly the same way about my viewpoint as well. I highly recommend the book.

This is an issue that cannot be disconnected from one's worldview, nor can it be disconnected from one's feelings. Consequently emotions are running high in the thread right now and conversation has died out. Remember to always take a few deep breaths before posting. I know I always do.

Edit: For grammar.
Rob Munnelly
198. RobMRobM
Where is Woof when we need him. Getting awfully close to two hunny....
Rob Munnelly
200. RobMRobM
We're there!

On a substantive note, I share the concerns of those who are of the view that if RJ/BS were going to discuss alternative sexual practices in the WOT-verse, more care should have taken that such practices could not be easily dismissed as mere childish tendencies. But ... as I have no "skin in the game" (literally or figuratively), it is not a significant issue for me.

Also, I have to note again how much I enjoy these chapters. Really good stuff.

William Fettes
201. Wolfmage
MasterAlThor @ 196

As I don't want this to get bogged down in a debate over the scientific literature around homosexuality, I won't reiterate the specific facts that I believe should be commonly accepted. I'm not here to convince people of that anyway.

The reason I inserted those facts above was more to confront what I felt was the elephant in the room. I was trying to point out that I found it a bit rich to be belittled for allegedly imposing outside values on the debate, by a side evidently dominated by social conservatives, whose lurking discomfort with homosexuality at least augments their defensive posture in this debate. I brought up the broadly accepted scientific view of sexual orientation simply because it was something I could readily point to in the thread, by way of phrasing, that betrayed the presence of different outside values on their side.

The point of this exercise was just to say: let's not ignore the strong moral disapprobation about homosexuality many people feel, and how that disapprobation cannot help but colour their normative acceptance of the minimal homosexual presence in the text. Accordingly, I’m certain many people on that side feel the minimal presence of homosexuality in WoT is a welcome refuge from the proliferation of more inclusive content which challenges and assaults their comfort zone on this issue. I mean, even the small presence that is there is rather easy to ignore. So, I'd say it's a rather important factor in their appreciation of WoT's approach, and no doubt they are highly motivated to defend it.

Being circumspect, and writing in a way so as not to offend people is generally good, but sometimes it can mask the real issue in a way that more brutal honesty such as @ 185 (before it was deleted) does not. Once you confront that this discomfort is doing at least some driving in defence of the status quo, then you can hopefully start to seperate the good faith arguments from the stalking horses that can't be accepted at face value.

The only thing I don't really care for is the attempt (IMO) to make Robert Jordan's world anything other than Robert Jordan's world. Why try to add characters now at the end? Why out someone now? None of that makes any sense unless you are trying to appease a segment of your fanbase.

Yes, I agree that any criticism has to be grounded in accepting the broad paramaters of the text as a whole, and a rejection of the idea of inserting post-facto gay quotas. I don’t believe I’m making such an argument, however.

My argument is more along the lines of comparing how the reader's subjective exposure to homosexuality matches up against what we know about the objective demographics of homosexuality in Randland, as informed by authorial comment about the world, what we do see in the text, and the absence of any move to displace the normal biological presumption. It's also, more generally, about evaluating how sophisticated the treatment of homosexual behaviour versus identity is in the text. On the first issue, I would say there's a discernable gap between what we might expect if we were given a plain statement of fact about the level of homosexuality in Randland, versus what the POV dynamics and the odd narrarative aside reveal. This gap, I do not believe, is credibly explained. If we perform the catergorisation exercise Wortmauer designed @ 171, it's pretty evident that the distribution is way off compared to what a random sample would show. On the latter point, I would also say that the treatment of homosexuality identity is not as sophisticated as it could be given the heavy emphasis on transient bisexual experimentation.

People wil critique his work and find fault with it in some way. Hey we all have a right to do that. I myself have a small complaint about his all white heroes. Let me clarify that all white main heroes. But even with that complaint, I still find that this is one of the best written series of books that I have ever read. I don't allow for my problem to color the way Iook at the books. I believe that some have.I am not saying that anyone's opinion here is not valid (well if you say something incredibly stupid or you attack people that we all respect I might have something to say). I just wanted to ask you what exactly you meant. I ended up saying a whole lot more.

I agree that this is one of the best written fantasy series ever made. I admire RJ's beautiful, poetic prose immensely. I would not be here contributing if I did not share that view. I also think RJ was one of the most thoughtful writers I've ever read in the way he dealt with dialogue and characterisation, and the myriad complex issues and themes he has teased out to an Age Lace in the series. I have no doubt that WoT will, in this regard, assuredly stand up to the test of time. He is a giant in a genre that lacked anywhere near his level of sophistication when he started writing. And his contribution has immeasurably improved that genre by sheer force of presence.

Ironically, it's probably this baseline immense level of appreciation and respect for RJ that liberates me from being too worried about making the occasional criticism. Nobody is perfect, and RJ was so good that whatever flaws there are in the text are very minor and certainly not enough for it to spoil anything for me. Perhaps, this may not be apparent to someone who simply reads the criticism as a casual affront to RJ. But I don't view it that way at all. I would hardly be invested enough to make these kinds of arguments if I did not love both the work and the man himself.
Roger Powell
202. forkroot
OK - so everybody else has had their say ... I'll break down and offer my thoughts.

Wolfmage - You (and other posters) have succeeded on convincing me on one key point. It is clear that RJ's reported remark about homosexuality being generally accepted/no big deal in the WoT does not match up with what he actually wrote. What he actually wrote is a lot like what I would have written (if I had talent) -- not surprising since we were born about the same time, grew up in a time when homosexuality was not talked about in polite company and derided in impolite company.

Like me, he probably had to wrestle with a bit of discomfort with how to handle his feelings about it. Like me, he probably made a bunch of friends including a number he cared about and respected that just happen to be gay. Like me, he probably felt more at ease contemplating young female experimentation vs full consenting adult male relationships. And like me, he probably advocated tolerance, tried to display tolerance, but didn't really want to explore the details of gay relationships.

So I guess I'm projecting a bit of cognitive dissonance on RJ. He talked one game (at least in the one off hand remark) and wrote another. I think that in the end, what he wrote was more carefully considered than remarks made in interviews or signings and thus more truly reflects how he built his world.

It seems that the majority of posters will readily agree that as the author of his world, he gets to set the rules. If we concede that the moral views in the WoT world are more closely aligned with the American culture a middle class white male born in the 1950s experienced during his formative years, we can readily understand how that world might differ from what the same author might verbally advocate (lightly) in the cultural swirl of today.

So my take on it is: The text rules. Furthermore, if you think of WoT moral views as similar to those of the 50s and 60s it's possible to read and enjoy the text from two entirely different perspectives. If you are uncomfortable with homosexuality, it's not present much in WoT. If you are comfortable with it and remember how suppressed it was in the 50/60s, then you can view the WoT world as similarly suppressed and are free to speculate on the sexual inclinations of, say, Basel Gill at your leisure. The text rules!
203. rootfork
It appears you are arguing that the text takes precedence over what the author says in interviews and the like. Do you realize what you are really saying? I bet you don't! What you are saying is:
wait for it .....
Taim really is Demandred!
Anthony Pero
204. anthonypero

Let the Lord of Chaos rule... MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
205. s'rEDIT
Nice summary forkroot. Well-reasoned and reasonable.

CireNaes, I am in awe. Glad to have "met" you (totally agree about the NLT too).
206. yasiru89
For JonathanLevy @182-

I would rather not. I don't step lightly, let alone yield in arguments for the sake of political correctness as presumably you might. As it stands, I have made my case. The author isn't the readers' b*tch that he's obligated to insert characters for them to identify with.
Anthony Pero
207. anthonypero
lol. Authors insert characters for readers to identfy with all the time. It's called smart marketing.
208. yasiru89
Marketing, not to be confused with quality writing.
Anthony Pero
209. anthonypero
They go hand in hand for professionals. If a tree falls in the forest, but no one reads the book that is printed on it's paper...
210. yasiru89
Not if every line you write is boggled down with intrusions and chains of expectation from outside.

But I take issue with your claim more broadly. Are all great works of fiction immediately recognised and popularised and lauded? Clearly not if you bother to take even a cursory glance at history. Then, if it takes time for their value to be established, are the literary greats who produced them, who enjoy only late popularity (if that) 'unprofessional' or not great writers? A contradiction, I would say.

Some writers, perhaps Robert Jordan included, write for themselves, setting as a challenge to produce something of quality and the popularity the work enjoys is incidental. Fantasy fiction has departed with this honest and natural way and become more like romance with its poor quality pandering to the audience ever since imitating Tolkien became the norm, but I think and hope for the future that some series retain a basic integrity (The Wheel of Time included). This sense of entitlement from what you read is misplaced and comes perhaps of xenophobic sentiment. Let an author develop his or her work as they like and if not pandering to certain groups is indeed poor marketing, let the market decide that (the market has in this case).
Anthony Pero
211. anthonypero
This sense of entitlement from what you read is misplaced and comes
perhaps of xenophobic sentiment. Let an author develop his or her work as they like and if not pandering to certain groups is indeed poor marketing

Wow. Pretty harsh statement there. Its kind of enlightening about you that you get me pinned down as an entitled xenophobe from Authors insert characters for readers to identfy with all the time. It's called smart marketing.

And of course, if that wasn't a statement on me, personally, may I suggest you reconsider your use of the second tense?
212. yasiru89
I don't identify you in particular as anything, else I would have mentioned you specifically. On the other hand, if you are one of those to whom my objections apply (continuing from the debate far above, which I had not checked in some time), by all means, 'if the hat fits, wear it'. Or at least, reflect on it.
The form remains, read it as 'one' instead of 'you' if that's important to you.
On the other hand, how you took the statement is certainly rather telling of you.
Anthony Pero
213. anthonypero
Interesting. Here we were having a back and forth, we were the only ones commenting on the thread in... 6 months. But I'm not supposed to put the word "you" into the context of "me." :) And then, after stating that, you reiterate my connection to the words xenophobe and entitlement through implication, even going so far as to emphasize the word you rather strongly, thereby connecting it with your previous statement.

But you're right, it must merely be my own guilty conscious pulling at me. You in no way intended that meaning to be implied at all.
Alice Arneson
214. Wetlandernw
Not to interrupt this pleasant conversation y'all are having, but I have to step in and point out a couple of details on a slightly different tangent.

A great many of the literary greats of the past did not depend on their writing for their livelihood - at least not in the sense that "if this book doesn't sell, I'll lose my home." Many of them either had another living, of which their writing was an outworking, or they had a patron who provided for their needs while they did their work. In the latter case, while they may not have had to consider too much in the way of what their readers wanted to see, they absolutely had to consider what their patron wanted to see.

The situation for a large number of authors today is somewhat different. If, as with Mr. Rigney or Mr. Sanderson, they wish to make a living as a writer, they have to write what will sell. While that certainly can be done while maintaining the author's own integrity and vision, marketing concerns and audience expectations are serious considerations for them. It seems to me that an author has a fine balance to find: he has to balance what he can write well and convincingly, what he wants to write, what his publisher wants to publish, what his readers want to read, and what will sell well enough and quickly enough to pay the bills. It takes a remarkable person to do all of that consistently, which is why there are so few really good authors.

While I personally object to the idea that (for an example) an author should be obligated to include, in a positive light, characters whose lifestyles are objectionable to him personally, I can still understand the pressure to do so. This is especially true in these days when every word and character can be analysed publicly in a forum like this, and very public criticism leveled at an author who fails to please a particular contingent. The most unfortunate effect, I think, is that too often an author decides to try to please a vocal minority by including something he's just not good at writing; while it may (or may not) please that group, everyone else is stuck with reading poorly written scenes that don't fit well.

And... that last bit went off on a tangent, but I'll leave it. :)
215. yasiru89
For anthonypero @213-

Of course, it's naturally all about you. Everything that comes out of my mouth, or rather, typed at my hands, is meant to make snide implications about you.
Of course, you mistake for some sort of roundabout slight what was an invitation to reflect on the conditions I gave for whether you fit into the group I specified, but for whatever reason you step delicately about the issue. (Now that last, for illustration's sake, is implication.)

For Wetlandernw @214-

What you generalise depends upon era, but I will say this- it is ultimately up to the author how they strike the balance you claim necessary. You (and here, lest the same problem anthonypero had arises anew, 'you can be replaced with 'one') can criticise what the author does, even punish them by not buying their work, but to judge a thing on whether the author is inclusive enough for politically correct tastes is asinine garbage.
I don't care what light a group of people want themselves cast under, it's the preposterous idea that they are owed inclusion that bothers me, whatever the group may be (it seems the criteria is for the group to be socially 'in vogue' at a given time, whatever it is).

I can only hope that perhaps someday, when we can accept our differences as a matter of course instead of withdrawing into them in preemptive defiance and wanting them specifically addressed anywhere and everywhere, this contemporary social spin is rightly dismissed and the work judged by its own merits.
Alice Arneson
217. Wetlandernw
yasiru @215 - Whether you (or I) like it or not, though, the decision to include or not to include is still up to the author. If he feels that a failure to include something will have too many negative consequences (whether financial, personal, business, or whatever), he can choose to include it. Alternatively, he can decide that for whatever reasons of his own, he won't include it, and take the risk.

Never fear; at some point, the winds of political correctness will shift, and people will look back at the literature of our time and wonder why this or that issue was so irrelevantly stuffed into so many of our books. At that point, not only will the work be judged by its own merits, it will be judged as to how well such inclusions worked and whether they were necessary or relevant. On the other hand, it will also be judged by the standards and expectations of that time, many of which will be just as subjective, frivolous or irrelevant as these.

It's like the guy who decided a couple years ago that Huckleberry Finn needed to be rewritten because it's just too offensive the way it stands, completely ignoring the fact that what offends him now is virtually opposite the way it offended people at the time. In every time frame and every group, there are those who are going to be offended by something. Give it enough time, and any book will be criticized for the opposite of the criticism it received when it first came out.

Still, the balance is up to the author. If someone clamors for inclusion loudly enough, to the point where a failure to include them might negatively impact the author, it's up to him to decide whether or not to take that risk. It might annoy you (or me) to have someone criticizing a favorite author for inadequately representing their point of view; in fact, it's rather a pet peeve of mine for several reasons. But you and I don't control the author's decisions (unless we're the author) any more than we can control what other people think they are owed.
218. yasiru89
For Wetlandernw @217-

I take it in faith that you weren't trying to set up a 'straw man', because your first paragraph reiterates much of what I've been saying over so many posts, except making the author the subject. It is up to the author how they handle their work and if they bungle things up because of outside pressure, that's also on their heads. There is no question about any of that.

However, this should certainly not discourage us from reflecting upon our own expectations as readers and whether we are justified in them. If enough commit to such reflection individually, there is a collective effect, thus easing the artificial social shackles on the author.

I agree with you on the most part on the rest, except that works are doomed to be judged under the light of prevailing social and political attitudes forever. Criticisms of a worthy work are cumulative (as opposed to just snapshots under so many contemporary lenses), and impressions of bygone times are not entirely discarded when a new critique comes through. This allows not just the work, but the attitude it was judged under to be taken into regard (and yes, at the given time- but this happens over and over, so there's a sense of refinement to the process of critique, and hope too that, given humanity learns from mistaken attitudes, an 'essence' of critique emerges from this cumulative and retrospective effort which is free of social convention as an attitude, but can appreciate it objectively).
219. hesuchia
Don't get me started on the fidelity thing. I have very strong feelings against cheating that pop up viscerally, and even if it's logically justifiable in the scenario, I can't help how it makes me feel, which is upset. Part of me would rather die than cheat, since if I die I'll die gosh-darn 'clean'. And the way she's starting to start seeing Rolan as more "beautiful" everytime we see her POV, it started scaring me since she's becoming more attracted to him. Also the fact that her only thought about it is "hiding it from Perrin" instead of much inner conflict about it. I know I'm coming from an unpopular viewpoint, but it knots my stomach :(.

And yes Perrin is a blind idiot: the way Berelain touches his arm again (like earlier when Galina's POV said she touched him in a 'familiar' way) and *that's* when he wonders why people think he had an affair? I really don't remember how this part turns out (except something to do with him brushing off Berelain's flirtation like she's just a little girl or something) but I interpreted her "patience" and "resolve" to mean she figured out he wouldn't lose focus on Faile and so decided to wait til Faile gets back to resume her stupid contest.

There. After my angry thoughts are aside and catharsisized: hooray Mat and Tuon! I remember the first time reading that I didn't really like her. She was cold and distant and Mat deserved someone happier and warmer (she could do with more of that, but still). Knowing her prophecy in hindsight now and such, it seems this is one long session of her wanting to figure out what the heck Mat is before she marries him (dating, yay).

The kisses were cute (especially since everybody got to watch and comment). I was afraid she wouldn't give him a second chance at one to really let him shine, but she did. Also what made me laugh was her own POV where she calls him "Toy" in her own head. It's funny enough that she calls him that all the time, but now we know that she really thinks of that as his name. It's become a funny word.

And yes, that whole "paradigm shift" you've mentioned in another re-read chapter somewhere happened again here. He's looking at the map and she suddenly "saw him in a different light". And the way she shivered. She thought she was tagging along with a "buffoon" but now she sees that he can be frickin dangerous, especially put together with his knife fighting in that other chapter. Yay!

Also it was awesome to get her perspective on their kiss haha. First, I love how the request came out of nowhere and how shocked everybody was. Also, she acts like the cold noble type, but apparently she gossips (for lack of a better word) a bit with Selucia about what it's like to kiss boys, and that the description paled in comparison. She passed it off as checking for a fever (she's so good at unnecessarily keeping Mat in check like that), but she can't hide from herself! So overall it was nice to see the thoughts behind that impassive face. Later she mentions that she didn't marry for love, which was sad given that he's falling for her, but apparently unbeknown to her self, she is attracted to him (she called him charming, witty, and amusing in her head, and again enjoyed that kiss). She's not used to feelings like that and probably can't understand that kind of love yet, but from my perspective at least, she's falling for him too, albeit at a much slower pace in a more restrained manner, without the experience to put those thoughts together with corresponding feelings.

So hooray.

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