Aug 23 2011 2:05pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Knife of Dreams, Part 19

Well, hey now! This here’s A Wheel of Time Re-read, oh yah, sure.

Today’s entry covers Chapter 31 and 32 of Knife of Dreams, in which I complain about the lack of a proper lack, vacillate between admiration and appalledness, and metaphorically compare a battle to the movie Fargo.

Sort of. If you squint. Hard. And use a lot of free association. Look, I have no idea, just go with it.

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 completely nonsensical cut text, and the post!

Chapter 31: The House on Full Moon Street

What Happens
Elayne is argung with Sumeko and Alise about the necessity of the Kinswomen sticking together at all times, while trying not to worry about the “small jolt” of pain she’d felt from Rand, which had to be something bad if even he registered it; she also worries about why he’s been jumping all over the place via Traveling ever since it happened. Sumeko is reluctant to obey, but Alise is on Elayne’s side, as three more Kinswomen have been murdered in the last week, bringing the probable total up to ten. They are interrupted by the arrival of a Red sister, Duhara Basaheen, who barges in and orders Sumeko and Alise out, and advises them and the rest of the wilders in the Palace to leave town altogether. Neither woman moves, and Elayne tells Duhara coldly that she is not welcome here, considering Elaida tried to have her kidnapped. Duhara says the woman who drugged Elayne has been punished, but Elayne knows that it was for letting Elayne escape, not drugging her in the first place. Duhara continues that she has been sent by the Tower to be Elayne’s advisor.

In spite of herself, Elayne laughed. Elaida had sent her an advisor? It was ludicrous! “I have Aes Sedai to advise me when I need advice, Duhara. You must know I oppose Elaida. I wouldn’t accept a pair of stockings from that woman.”

Duhara dismisses her advisors as rebels, and opines that the reason Elayne has so many Houses opposing her is because they know she does not have the Tower’s backing. Elayne replies that Elaida will be deposed and the Tower whole again under Egwene soon enough, and then no one will doubt Elayne’s backing. Duhara ignores this, and tells her that she will have to appoint a regent once she has the crown, so that she can return to the Tower and complete her training, as she is still only an Accepted.

Elayne rose and stared down at Duhara. Usually, someone seated held the advantage over someone standing, but she made her stare hard and her voice harder. She wanted to slap the woman’s face! “I was raised Aes Sedai by Egwene al’Vere on the day she herself was raised Amyrlin. I chose the Green Ajah and was admitted. Don’t you ever say I’m not Aes Sedai, Duhara. Burn me if I’ll stand still for it!”

Duhara tells her to think on it, and demands rooms at the Palace. Elayne tells her she’ll have to find an inn, and kicks her out. She asks Sumeko and Alise if Duhara made them doubt her; they say no, but Alise points out that Duhara believes what she says. Elayne sighs and says she will do so until Elaida is brought down, and dismisses them for bed. Elayne fights her insomnia for a while until Master Norry comes to see her with his spy Hark, who reports that Mellar has gone to the same place three nights now – a house on Full Moon Street owned by a Lady Shiaine Avarhin, and furthermore that there are two Aes Sedai there, by the names Falion and Marillin. Elayne is elated at the news that they’ve found two of the Black Ajah sisters, and gives orders to Deni that Birgitte, Vandene, Careane and Sareitha be sent for, and also that Mellar is to be arrested as a Darkfriend immediately, and Deni “needn’t be too gentle about it.” Deni is very pleased at the latter order.

With a little luck, tonight would not only snare two Black sisters, it might uncover a third, a murderer ten times over.

When Birgitte and the sisters arrive, Elayne explains her plan to go and capture Falion and Marillin that night. Birgitte is violently against the idea, but Vandene thinks it is an excellent plan. Both Sareitha and Careane raise objections, which disappoints Elayne, as only one of them objecting might have been a clue as to which one of them was Black.

Unless they both were Black Ajah. A bone-freezing thought, that, yet her plan took the possibility into account. “Falion and Marillin won’t know we are coming until it’s too late. If they’re gone, we’ll arrest this Shiaine, but we are going.”

They, the Aes Sedai’s Warders, and fifty Guardswomen ride out to the New City, Elayne cloaked to keep from being recognized. Hark leads them to the house, and Vandene’s Warder Jaem checks it out, returning to report the doors are unlocked, and that he’d found and tied up a drunken “big fellow” in the barn. Elayne and Vandene then each form circles, Elayne with Sareitha and Vandene with Careane, therefore ensuring that neither Sareitha nor Careane can channel independently. Elayne then inverts all the weaves and cloaks their channeling ability. They leave the Warders and guards behind and slip into the house and then upstairs, where they find Shiaine, Falion and Marillin in a sitting room. Elayne and Vandene shield and bind the three of them easily, and Elayne is gleeful as she informs them they are under arrest as Darkfriends.

Suddenly sparks danced all over her from head to toe. She twitched helplessly, muscles spasming, saidar slipping from her grasp. She could see Vandene and Careane and Sareitha jerking as sparks flickered across them as well. Only a moment it lasted, but when the sparks vanished, Elayne felt as if she had been fed through a mangle. She had to hold on to Sareitha to stay on her feet, and Sareitha clung to her as hard. Vandene and Careane were supporting one another, swaying, each with her chin on the other’s shoulder. Falion and Marillin wore startled expressions, but the light of the Power enveloped them in heartbeats. Elayne felt the shield fasten on to her, saw them settle on the other three.

[…] Four women Elayne recognized entered the room. Asne Zeramene and Temaile Kinderode. Chesmal Emry and Eldrith Jhondar. Four Black sisters. She could have wept. Sareitha groaned softly.

Asne gloats about her gift from Moghedien, a ter’angreal that can kill or stun from a hundred paces away. Temaile says that while she would enjoy “playing” with the others, Elayne is the only one they need.

“If you’re going to kill them,” Marillin said as though discussing the price of bread, “spare Careane. She is one of us.”

“A gift from Adeleas,” Vandene murmured, and Careane’s eyes went very wide. Her mouth opened, but no sound came out. The two women sagged and fell to the carpet. Vandene began trying to push herself up, but Careane lay staring at the ceiling, the hilt of Vandene’s belt knife protruding from beneath her breastbone.

The glow surrounded Chesmal, and she touched Vandene with a complex weave of Fire, Earth and Water. The white-haired woman collapsed as if her bones had melted. The same weave touched Sareitha, and she pulled Elayne down atop her as she fell. Sareitha’s eyes were already glazing.

“Their Warders will be coming now,” Chesmal said. “A little more killing to do.”

Run, Birgitte! Elayne thought, wishing the bond could carry words. Run!

Well, shit.

Exeunt Vandene, Careane, and Sareitha, instantly, stage right. Okay, then. Wow.

I remember I had to go back and reread that last bit again before I realized what had actually happened. And while I certainly appreciate the shock value of it all happening that fast (not to mention the shock value of speaking-role Lightside characters actually dying, because how often has that happened up to this point?), I feel like there’s something missing there.

Yes, this is probably incredibly nit-picky, but it just feels wrong that there’s no line describing Elayne’s reaction to Marillin’s revelation about Careane – or anyone’s reaction to it, for that matter – before Vandene makes her move.

A gasp, a blink, even just a moment of frozen silence – something. There needed to be a beat there, between the reveal and its consequence, and there… wasn’t.

It’s a minor thing, maybe, but I’ve come to realize that more often than not, the part of a Big Moment Scene that makes the big moment in it work is not the actual big moment, but the silence that surrounds it, and marks it out as significant. Watch any decently-edited action movie, and you’ll notice how often there is a second of total stillness right before something blows up, or the hero lands that game-changing punch, or whatever. Watch any decently-edited (and acted) drama, and you’ll notice how often there is a silent reaction shot just after another character drops a more metaphorical kind of bomb on the first character (and the audience).

The same applies when you’re reading as well as when you’re watching. The silences are important, man, is what I’m saying. You need those beats. You ignore them at your peril.

Anyway. All that aside, aw, Vandene. I guess it’s good that she got revenge for her sister, but man, that was bleak. Though I suppose technically it’s a hell of a lot more bleak for Sareitha, since it’s clear that Vandene didn’t care whether she lived or not after avenging Adeleas’s death, but the very-young Sareitha was presumably all about not dying, so, yeah.

I forgot a lot of the details of this whole operation, and I have to admit it’s better planned-out than I remembered it being; the bit where Elayne and Vandene hobble the other two sisters by linking with them was especially clever. That said, I keep wanting to conclude it was a stupid plan anyway, but I can’t come up with any concrete reasons why. Given the fact that Elayne couldn’t trust Careane or Sareitha, and that none of the other channelers in the Palace would be either willing or able to capture Black sisters, going herself was really the only viable option – other than simply leaving them alone, of course, but I don’t think any ruler would be okay with letting evil people capable of wreaking mass mayhem with a flick of the wrist just hang out in her city.

Enh. Maybe I’m just predisposed to regard anything Elayne does as foolhardy just because some of the things she does are foolhardy. Like the boy who cried wolf, or something. Which really doesn’t follow when you think about it. Though I admit that her belief that her Prophesied Pregnancy makes her invincible does quite a lot to tilt her more to the “foolhardy” end of the scale.

As a random aside, I love how Temaile only has one line in this chapter, and still manages to be the creepiest thing in it. Eurgh.

Duhara: shut up, Duhara. Seriously, did she actually think that was going to work?

I guess, yeah, she did. Probably because in pre-apocalyptical times, it most likely would’ve. Doesn’t make me want to flick her in the ear any less, though. Pfeh.


Chapter 32: To Keep the Bargain

What Happens
Birgitte feels something is wrong with Elayne, but can’t figure out what. Ned comments that Sareitha feels “muzzy”, but Careane’s Warders say she feels “confident”, and they should wait.

Birgitte nodded. Elayne was confident, too. But then, Elayne would feel self-assured walking an unraveling rope stretched over a pit full of sharp stakes.

Suddenly, all the Warders except Birgitte cry out and dash toward the house; the Guardswomen make to follow, knowing what Warders going wild like that means, but Birgitte stops them, saying Elayne is still alive, and they’ll need more swords to rescue her. She thinks to herself they’ll need more than that, and dashes back with the guards to the Palace. She feels Elayne moving northeast at a wagon’s pace. She orders that the Windfinders and Guybon be brought to the Map Room immediately. Dyelin joins them as well. When he arrives, Birgitte orders Guybon to gather all the cavalry and pike they have; they are going to Travel to just outside the gates and ambush Elayne’s captors as they exit the city.

“We certainly need to rescue Elayne,” Dyelin said calmly, “but she’ll hardly thank you if you give Arymilla Caemlyn by doing it. Not counting the men in the towers and holding the gates, almost half the trained soldiers and armsmen in the city are on the northern wall. If you strip away the rest, one more attack will gain a stretch of the wall. Crossbows and bows alone won’t stop them. Once they have that, Arymilla’s forces will pour into the city, enough to overwhelm what you propose to leave. You will have neatly reversed our positions, and worsened yours. Arymilla will have Caemlyn, and Elayne will be outside without enough armsmen to get back in. Unless these Darkfriends have somehow smuggled an army inside Caemlyn, a few hundred men will do as well as thousands.”

Birgitte glares at her and replies that Elayne’s life is more important to her than her throne. She warns Guybon that they will be facing Aes Sedai, and that all of their Aes Sedai are dead. She hopes to make up for that, but men will die in this rescue. Guybon only comments that it will be “interesting.” While they are waiting for the Windfinders, two Kinswomen (Julanya Fote and Keraille Surtovni) stop in to report that Ellorien, Luan, Abelle, Aemlyn, Arathelle and Pelivar broke camp that morning, and are now headed for Caemlyn; Dyelin speculates that they may have decided to support Ellorien for the throne, and plan to defeat Arymilla and take over the siege from her. Birgitte decides to worry about it after Elayne is rescued. Chanelle and the other seven Windfinders charge in then, furious about being forced to attend Birgitte, but Birgitte tells them Elayne has been captured, and she needs them to form a circle to make a gateway large enough for thousands of men and horses. Chanelle says supporting their war efforts is no part of Elayne’s bargain with Zaida.

“Use the Kinswomen. Use the Aes Sedai.

Birgitte stepped close to the dark woman, looking her straight in the eyes. The Kin were useless for this. None of them had ever used the Power as a weapon. They might not even know how. The other Aes Sedai are dead, she said softly. Someone behind her moaned, one of the clerks. What is your bargain worth if Elayne is lost? Arymilla certainly won’t honor it. Keeping her voice steady saying that took effort. It wanted to shake with anger, shake with fear. She needed these women, but she could not let them know why or Elayne would be lost. What will Zaida say if you ruin her bargain with Elayne?

Chanelle agrees reluctantly, but warns Birgitte they will provide transport only. They head out to where some twelve thousand soldiers have been gathered; Birgitte tries not to think of how many of them will die that day. As they are about to leave, Reene Harfor runs up with a wounded Guardsman in tow, who tells them that companies of mercenaries are attacking the Far Madding Gate from the inside, and there are maybe ten or even twenty thousand more men assembling outside it. Birgitte is torn, and finally orders Dyelin to take most of the pike and all the archers she can gather and defend the wall until Birgitte can get there.

Guybon looked at Birgitte, yet he said nothing, though likely he was wondering why she was not sending more. He would not challenge her publicly. The problem was, she did not know how many Black sisters would be with Elayne. She needed every Windfinder, needed them to believe they were all necessary. Had there been time, she would have stripped the sentries from the outer towers, stripped even the gates.

She orders Chanelle to make the gateway; they come through on a ridge by the road, and Birgitte sees a wagon surrounded by seven mounted women. Chanelle wants to leave, saying their job is done, but Birgitte tells her she wants her to see something.

Eight against seven might have seemed almost even odds, but not when the eight were linked. Not if she could make the eight take part.

The Black sisters are surprised, but soon attack, lightning raining down on the massed host. Guybon orders the soldiers forward, and Birgitte forces Chanelle to watch as they are mowed down by the Black sisters. One of them has a black rod which produces what Birgitte recognizes as balefire, carving a fifteen-pace-wide gap in the lines. Guybon orders a charge, riding into certain death, and Chanelle tells Birgitte she has no desire to watch men die.

“Then stop it.” Birgitte said. “If they kill all the soldiers, or just enough to make the rest break, then Elayne is lost.” Not forever. Burn her, she would track her for the rest of her life to see her free, but the Light only knew what they might do to her in that time. “Zaida’s bargain is lost. You will have lost it."

The morning was not warm, yet sweat beaded on Chanelle’s forehead. Fireballs and lightning erupted among the riders following Guybon. The woman holding the rod raised her arm again. Even without using the looking glass, Birgitte was sure it was pointed straight at Guybon. He had to see it, but he never swerved a hair.

Suddenly another bolt of lightning slashed down. And struck the woman holding the rod.

The counterattack sends the Black sisters into disarray, and Birgitte snaps at Chanelle to take the rest alive; Chanelle obeys, shielding and binding the women with Air. Guybon halts the charge, and Birgitte dashes toward the wagon, annoyed and impressed that Elayne had never once felt fear.

Okay, I pretty much completely forgot about this rescue and how it was achieved. And having been reminded of it, I really can’t decide if I’m more impressed by Birgitte’s cleverness in roping in the Windfinders, or more appalled at the method she uses to do it.

Don’t get me wrong, I see where she felt she had no choice, but damn. She basically fed people into a woodchipper in front of Chanelle until the Windfinder agreed to break it. Ye gods.

That is… well, it wasn’t cold, Birgitte certainly wasn’t cold about it, but it definitely was more than a little ruthless. Especially when you consider this was all to save one person. A very important person, yes, but still, one person.

That said, fuck Chanelle for waiting so damn long to stop the slaughter. I don’t exactly blame her for wanting not to be involved in other peoples’ fights in the first place, but I truly don’t understand how she could stand there as long as she did and watch people get slaughtered wholesale before finally doing something about it. And when she did do something, it was apparently mostly because she didn’t want to mess up Zaida’s bargain! Ugh. You stay classy, Chanelle. Frickin’ Sea Folk, y’all.

Charlz Guybon, by the way, has balls of adamantium. That Is All.

Birgitte also follows in the tradition of many a WOT character here, in that she totally fails at accurate self-perception. Yes, honey, you clearly totally suck at being a general/leader/maker of tough decisions. Just like Mat sucks at flirting and Perrin sucks at lording. Yup.

*rolls eyes*

On reflection, I take back what I said in the previous commentary about Sareitha, because in my opinion the person who that whole scene was actually bleakest for is not Sareitha, but Ned, Sareitha’s Warder. Because, well. Though I can’t be sure of this, I think it’s pretty clear that Jaem knew all about Vandene’s death wish, and to all appearances had made his peace with it long since. And Careane’s Warders were all pretty obviously Darkfriends, so whatever with them, but poor Ned, you guys. Poor dead Ned, since the lack of mention of them after this says to me he died along with all the other berserk Warders. I mean, I guess Ned knew what he was signing up for and all, but still. Raw deal, dude.

As a last note, continuing from what I was saying in the last commentary, one thing does have to be said about Elayne, and that is that she is entirely consistent as a character. Her fearlessness is amplified by this whole thing with Min’s viewing of her babies, true, but it’s not like she was especially shy about rushing into danger before this, either. Girl has always been stupid brave from the get-go, is what I’m saying.

I bring this up because I was originally going to make a remark about how the prophecy thing cheapens Birgitte’s admiration of Elayne’s bravery in this chapter, but really, I’m pretty sure that even if Min had never said a word about Elayne’s babies, Elayne still would have behaved pretty much the exact same way. She might not have been quite as blithely confident that she would survive her crazy stunts, but I also don’t think that would have stopped her from doing them, either.

Whether this is actually a good thing or not, of course, is an exercise I leave to the reader.

And that’s the end of that, you betcha! Have a lovely kidnapping-and-also-woodchipper-free week, y’all! 

Anne D
3. cheyinka
I bring this up because I was originally going to make a remark about how the prophecy thing cheapens Birgitte’s admiration of Elayne’s bravery in this chapter, but really, I’m pretty sure that even if Min had never said a word about Elayne’s babies, Elayne still would have behaved pretty much the exact same way. She might not have been quite as blithely confident that she would survive her crazy stunts, but I also don’t think that would have stopped her from doing them, either.

That's a really good point - I mean, random guy falls (or seems to fall!) into the palace gardens, is (or pretends to be) completely unaware of where he is, and her reaction is to go to him? That's years before Min's viewing. The only difference is that in TEotW she had Gawyn right there to protect her, whereas here she left Birgitte behind. (On the other hand, it's good she did leave Birgitte behind, since otherwise Birgitte would (probably) have died...)
Heidi Byrd
4. sweetlilflower
I think, like most of Elayne's plans, this one was both awesome and stupid. She is a very intelligent teenager, so we should expect elements of both outrageous stupidity and intriguing cleverness.
Bill Reamy
5. BillinHI
Leigh, No comments yet, but here is a *headdesk* to squee over:

Whoops, nevermind. That link didn't work like I thought it would.
Stefan Mitev
6. Bergmaniac
Elayne's plan wasn't that bad all IMO, certainly much better than many others throughout the series which worked fine both for her and for the other main characters. She just got unlucky that 4 other BA members showed up unexpectedly even for Shiaine, and they had some super weapon which was undetectable, otherwise they had little chance against Elayne's superior strength, angreal and knowledge weaves.

Duhara is a Darkfriend according to Verin's book, she might've intentionally been so obnoxious here as part of some Shadow plan. Though probably it was just the usual Aes Sedai arrogance and the stupidity of Elaida.Did she really think this was going to work? She knew Elayne for so many years, yet seem completely blind about her character.

Birgitte is great here, the Sea Folk are annoying as usual.

It's also annoying that Jordan decided to use "woman gets captured" plot yet again. At least this captivity was really brief, thankfully.

I agree with Leigh that the viewing doesn't make much difference in her bravery/foolhardiness. That's just the way she has always been.
Skip Ives
7. Skip
I always speed read through these chapters, and while it may not be inconsistent with Elayne's character, I have never really liked them. I'd almost rather go back to the bath scenes - almost.
8. Bandenjamin
I think a big part of the reason Birgette is there as Elayne's warder is to give the same level of caution she provides for Gaidal Cain, since both seem to be foolishly brave at times.
Adrian Roberts
9. Adrian1794
The comment Leigh makes about the pause after Careane is a good one usually but for me in this instance I think Vandene's reaction was so instantaneous that it over road any chance for a pause.
10. CPT
Wouldn't a better plan be to bring a couple dozen Kin with her? Elyane can lead one circle with the two suspicious Aes Sedai and 9 more Kin. Vandene can lead a second circle with all Kin. It doesn't matter that the Kin don't know how to battle with the power since someone else is leading the circle. Vandene's circle would the wait outside as backup.

Hindsight is 20-20, so it's hard to criticize Elayne's plan too much.
Kimani Rogers
11. KiManiak
Thanks, as always Leigh.

Elayne’s actions are too easy a target and I’m sure many will point out where the plan was indeed stupid (not to mention that I’ve probably posted on her stupidity and recklessness regarding this specific event several times already in this reread) so for this comment at least, I will try to focus on other things.

Duhara: Even before we knew she was Black, she came across as a major bitch. I do find myself agreeing with those who have argued that almost all AS (except for exceptional ones like Verin, Moiraine, etc) are often written as oblivious, incompetent, head-in-the-sand, just-plow-ahead types. Duhara’s tactics would in no way sway Elayne to heed her advice, leave Caemlyn and go to the Tower.

Which brings up the question, did Duhara want Elayne to possibly continue to stay in Caemlyn? But that doesn’t seem to really make any sense. She was doing a fairly competent job, and had a good shot of winning the throne. With the planned Shadow attack via the Caemlyn Waygate, chances are good that Elayne could rally a fairly strong defense. Wouldn’t the goal be to try to either remove Elayne or eliminate her?

So, either Duhara was written to be irritating and incompetent or she’s doing something that’s so crafty and conniving that I’m missing it. Hopefully, this is a RAFO for AMoL.

Careane: So even though the “who killed Adelas” mystery has now been solved for about, what, 6+ years now, I do recall that when I first read this I had given up trying to figure out who, as I recall enough red herrings had been left for all 3 of the main suspects to where I didn’t think it would be that obvious. Was Careane all that diabolical? I don’t think so. She was just able to exploit a situation where she poisoned 2 Aes Sedai and murdered 10 or so trusting Kinswomen.

As for the lack of “gasp” moment at her unveiling, that didn’t bug me as much. Elayne and the others were captive and had just recently been shocked, and were facing death at the hands of several Black sisters. Although an “It was you!?!” exclamation may have worked, it just as easily works to have no exclamation.

The Warders: Their racing to their deaths to avenge their murdered Aes Sedai gets me each time. Even Careane’s (I don’t recall having the impression that they were all culpable; I’ll have to doublecheck).
(Edit: After rereading that passage I definitely got the impression that Venr was a DF, but that Cieryl was probably not, and the reader gets no information on Tavan one way or the other).

Birgitte: Continues to be badass. I loved how she stood up to Dyelin (although that was nothing new) and then convinced the Windfinders to help (I’m sorry Leigh, but I have no problems with Birgitte’s methods. She did what she had to do to clean up Elayne's mess). She’s an excellent Warder, general and leader. If only Elayne would have used her for tactics and planning before bumrushing that house. Maybe Vandene and Sareitha would still be alive…

Guybon: I don’t know if Elayne has bonded him already (everything onscreen as of ToM leans towards her not having done it yet), but I think she should. I respect the honor and valor he displayed. I think he’d make her a good Warder.

Elayne: …Nope, not gonna do it right now. I will say that the woman is insanely brave…
Birgit F
12. birgit
Watch any decently-edited action movie, and you’ll notice how often there is a second of total stillness right before something blows up, or the hero lands that game-changing punch, or whatever.

That's probably a Japanese influence on Western cinema that has its origins in Japanese theatre. It's called mie in Japanese. Bullet time was probably also influenced by mie through anime.
RJ probably was more familiar with things happening quickly in war than with Japanese theatre conventions.
Robert Crawley
13. Alphaleonis
Elaine knew that the darkfriend who had murdered Vandene's sister was either Careane or Sareitha, so presumably Vandene knew this too? Vandene's reaction therefore was instantaneus when the clarification came as to which one it was. When I read this the first time, I remember being impressed with the swiftness of her action. A dramatic pause in this case would not have been as impressive to me.
Don Barkauskas
14. bad_platypus
I agree with KiManiak @11 that Careane's Warders may not have been Darkfriends; we know for sure from WH Ch 10 that only one of Asne's four Warders was a Darkfriend, and I'm pretty sure there's no in-text indication one way or the other about Careane's.
15. MasterAlThor
Ok I have made mention of this before. People we must make the distinction of whom is it we dislike. Sailmistresses and Windfinders, yeah some of them suck. Their attitudes about things are not what we would choose to have. But to say Sea Folk suck/fail/insert adjective. That doesn't work for me.

Consider all the Sea Folk that we have met. What an occational Master of Swords? Do we really have enough info to lump a whole group/race/country of people together?

Look at it this way. If we were to say, women suck, because all of our experience is due to a small percentage of them. How would that look?

Yes we are lumping all the Sea Folk together. Granted the author hasn't really given us much in the endearing dept. But we all like to extrapolate here.

So there is my rant for the day. Great job Leigh can't wait till the review of the next book. Let's get this show on the road.

16. Greyhawk
So how did the four Black Sisters (and presumably their Warders) get in to the building to ambush Elayne, et. al.? Weren't Brigitte, the other warders and soldiers watching the building?
Kimani Rogers
17. KiManiak
MAT@15 - Cool rant. I agree. There are certain Windfinders, Sailmistresses, etc that are rather frustrating/irritating/annoying. But we shouldn't come down on the whole group.

I also would apply this to the Seanchan. I like Tylee, Kadere, Musenge and some others. Some of the policies and actions of the entire group I may not appreciate, but then that's true of Far Madding and Amadicia and Tear (before Rand took over). So, except for when the Seanchan army is attacking our heroes or their allies, I think we probably shouldn't broadly say we are against them, either.

I still like the Windfinder that Nynaeve and Elayne met in TSR. She seems to be one of the nicer people in Randland, to date...
Evan Langlinais
18. Skwid
It amuses me that your go-to for "unbreakable stuff" is adamantium and not cuendillar.
Captain Hammer
19. Randalator
Greyhawk @16

There could be secret entrances (or even not so secret connections to neighbouring houses) in the cellar, they might have been dropped of by a shadow bigwig via gateway or one of them might know Travelling herself. There's quite a few possibilites...


Watch any decently-edited (and acted) drama, and you’ll notice how often there is a silent reaction shot just after another character drops a more metaphorical kind of bomb on the first character (and the audience).

Actually, I think that has become a ubiquitous if not even slightly stale trope, nowadays.


That's probably my favourite parody of that particular trope...
Vincent Lane
20. Aegnor
I don't think Elayne's plan was that bad at all. She had fairly reliable intelligence that the two Aes Sedai were alone with Shieine. Essentially her plan would have worked perfectly if it weren't for incredibly bad luck of the other four to showing up. I don't know why she gets such a bad rap for this. If the other four would have shown up earlier, they would have likely all been caught by surprise, which would have given Elayne the opportunity to either capture them all, or to escape (maybe without notice). If they would have arrived later, then Elayne with captors in tow would have been gone. They arrived, unexpectedly, at exactly the worst time. It wasn't even a well designed trap. It was just plain luck.


Actually this technique pre-dates film (Japanese or otherwise). Opera and theatre used it hundreds of years ago.
Leigh Butler
21. leighdb
Skwid @ 18:

Heh. I just saw Captain America, that's probably why. I have Marvel-brain.
Tomas Gerst
22. IamnotSpam
10 cpt I thought about that also but concluded that increasing the number of people involved with the circles would have made it safer but would have also made it less likely that the Black sister would have broke her cover to reveal herself. Doing my best to understand the plan thats the way I see it.
Wouldn't the dark friend warders not have been as crazed with
Careane's death as any other.
Kimani Rogers
23. KiManiak
This is just off the top of my head and during a very small window of availability, so it will be incomplete:

Why The Plan was bad:

Intelligence on the enemy, part 1: 13 Black Sisters were the original quarry for the Supergirls. Elayne knows that 3 are dead; 10 are unaccounted for. Just because you see 2, doesn’t only mean there’s 2 in the building. Or next door. Or close by.

Intelligence on the enemy part 2: At the encounter in Altara, one of the BA informs Nynaeve (paraphrasing) that Moghedien would be interested to know she’s alive. It’s logical to assume the BA are working with (at least one of) the Forsaken. (It’s debatable that Nynaeve shared that info with Elayne, but we have as much reason to believe that she did as to believe that she didn’t). Therefore, there’s always the possibility that a Forsaken could be close by. Or other DarkFriends.

Intelligence on the enemy part 3: What intel Elayne does have comes from a criminal. A rather observant and crafty one, sure. But still a criminal. Maybe it would be a good idea to gather some more intelligence, via alternate means.

Tactics part 1: To my recollection, the “plan” to bumrush and overwhelm any and all opposition in the house was rejected by her General and 2 AS, and was only supported by an AS with a death wish. Not a good sign.

Tactics part 2: No additional reconnaissance of the surrounding area was done (save Jaem checking out the barn). No verification that the target remains only 2 enemy channelers. No significant (channeling-capable) backup is included (or even informed, for that matter). No lines of communication set up to inform the strikeforce if more of the enemy comes in behind them (funny how things worked out, huh). No fallback plan if the $#!+ hits the fan.

Additional resources:
-Elayne had access to a number of additional channelers in the palace.
-Via the Amyrlin Seat, she would have access to even more (it is unclear where in the timeline this is, but its likely that either Egwene hasn’t been captured yet or that Elayne doesn’t know that Egwene’s been captured yet, so not even considering those resources is poor planning).
-Elayne has a connection with the Aiel, and could seek backup with Aviendha and other Wise Ones.
-Elayne could inform Rand (although this means she’d have to stop lying-via-omission and let him know that she’s pregnant; also have an actual conversation with him).
-Elayne has an angreal. Why didn’t she use it?

What’s the freaking rush: Mellar has been going to this house for awhile. There was no indication that the inhabitants of that house were going to make their move that specific night. Why not gather intel, develop a good plan and avail yourself of your various resources?

I’m sure there’s more, but all I can do for now…
Paul Boulos
24. PaulieX
A couple of things:

1. Sea Folk are annoying and stupid.

2 Sea Folk are annoying and stupid. (come on, you all know they deserve it twice)

3. Finally a scene where the bad guys act like bad guys. They don't keep their prisoners around to talk to and play with. They kill them. It was almost refreshing to actually see this happen. Even though I'm sad we lost some Team Light players.
Alice Arneson
25. Wetlandernw
It was a good plan. Not perfect, but then no plan is perfect, and the great captains will all tell you that "the best plan lasts until the first arrow leaves the bow." But it was a good plan, and it worked perfectly, right up until an additional 4 BA showed up with a truly nasty ter'angreal, to the surprise of all the baddies as well as the goodies. They had good intel, and it was perfectly accurate no matter how you feel about the source. As Aegnor said @20, the extra BA didn't outsmart Elayne - they just got extremely lucky and showed up at the right time with their nasty toy. Half an hour either way, and the outcome would have been very different. The fact that Elayne annoys you personally should not keep you from acknowledging that.

Sure, she could have sent more reliable spies - who probably would have been offed by Mellar/Hanlon before they could report back, but would only have confirmed Hark's intel anyway. She could have dithered around seeking more support from someone (Egwene, Rand, the Aiel, the Kin) who might or might not be able or willing to provide that support (but most likely not). Even if she could have gotten a reliable spy into the house, they'd have learned nothing about Chesmal, Asne, Temaile, Eldrith, or any Forsaken participation (which didn't happen anyway), because neither Shiaine, Mellar, Falion nor Marillin expected any of those things. When they were captured, they had no expectation of immediate rescue. They were completely taken by surprise, just as much as Elayne & Vandene. And in all that stevering around, "gathering intel, developing a good plan and availing herself of various resources" she would probably have lost her quarry yet again, and then you'd be criticizing her for being OOC indecisive and wasting her chance. She had good intel, she had a good plan, and she had perfectly adequate resources, until the snake eyes cleared the board - and there was no way she could have found out that was going to happen.
Don Barkauskas
26. bad_platypus
Greyhawk @16: Jaem specifically mentions a back door which is unlatched and opens to an alley; it's pretty clear that's not visible from where Birgitte et al. are staying. That ties in with KiManiak @23's "Tactics part 2" and in my mind is the only real mistake Elayne made: once they discovered there was a back door there should have been some sort of watch placed on it and a signal agreed upon for "someone's coming". Other than that, I agree with Wetandernw @25; it was basically a good plan with horrible luck.

IamnotSpam @22: The plan was to capture Falion and Marillin, not expose the BA in their midst. In order to make sure they could overwhelm the two target BA, they needed all 4 AS in Elayne's group. If they were unlinked, it then became 3 vs. 3 (or 2 vs. 4 the wrong way, if it turned out both Sareitha and Careane were BA). The way Elayne planned it, it was 2 vs. 2 but they still got the advantage of surprise and vastly superior strength in the Power, plus the BA in her midst couldn't easily switch sides in the middle.

(Although the plan does ignore one possibility: that Vandene herself was BA. That particular theory always appealed to me as a potentially great "Surprise!" moment.)

CPT @10: IIRC, at this point Elayne is still trying to keep the Kin innocent to the use of Power in combat. It's a noble (although not really wise this close to Tarmon Gai'don) position.
27. Jeribai
The one thing people seem to be forgetting is that there was no point in just the AS going in first. If you're going to bumrush a group of BA sisters, why not bring in the warders and soldiers just in case something goes wrong? I mean sure, it would have put Birgitte in danger as well, but with all those soldiers there, it's unlikely even 4 more stumbling in would've been able to stop all of them just rushing at them. Also, the point about setting up the Kin for a full circle was a good idea as well ... there's no point to not link with them and then go. Remember, the circle doesn't have to be together once it's formed.

Also, I felt that the line by Vandene of "A gift from Adeleas" was exactly the pause we needed. I think there's just so much happening, and the tendency is to read fast at important parts that the pause gets lost for some people.
28. macster
@8 Bandenjamin: That is a very good point. I wonder if that is another reason (besides Birgitte being ripped out of T'A'R prematurely and unexpectedly) why the Pattern didn't spin out Gaidal Cain any sooner than it did--because Birgitte already had a person to fill the Gaidal role during Tarmon Gai'don, Elayne?

@16 Greyhawk, @19 Randalator: Indeed, none of the Warders outside the house would have been able to feel channeling, while Elayne and the sisters wouldn't have felt a gateway if the weaves had been inverted. We don't know for sure that any of the Black sisters knew Traveling--but either Moghedien or Moridin could have taught them. On the other hand, if they knew Traveling, how come none of the Blacks used it during the breakout in ToM? I know they were all shielded and guarded by the Kin at first, but once Mellar and Jaq Lounalt started freeing them and the Kin were killed, they could have escaped at any time. Yet even after Elayne had been shielded, and none of the Blacks were shielded, it seemed they were just going to walk physically out of the dungeons. And it hardly seemed that they'd be afraid of Kinswomen detecting them, especially if they could invert the weaves. So, Occam's Razor: there were other entrances to the house, and after Jaem and the other Warders scouted it, they stayed watching one door and neglected to guard the others. That's how the other four got in undetected.

(Edit: Bad Platypus got there first, but that pretty much clinches it: there was indeed another physical way in which wasn't being watched. Which may seem like bad planning on Elayne's part, but why didn't Birgitte make sure all entrances were watched? Elayne isn't the only one who made a mistake, it seems.)

On a related note: we know now that Lounalt is a Darkfriend--which, while it might seem obvious based on his propensity for torture, I can recall being extremely displeased with since it meant the seeming awesomeness coming up, where Lounalt was to be used to interrogate the Black sisters, was actually a big mistake and in fact led to their release. But what of Sylvase? She seems pretty cool here in this book...but in Towers of Midnight something seems very wrong with her. The way she acts at the play--if I didn't know better I'd say she could channel and had been 13 x 13ed. Is she a Darkfriend too?

@22 IamnotSpam: We have no indication that things are any different for Darkfriend Warders who lose their Aes Sedai--the Warder bond is a thing of the Third Age, so it isn't as if Ishydin could have found a way to alter it so that Darkfriend Warders wouldn't rage when their Aes Sedai died. And why would he? At best, he'd consider the deaths of these Warders something inconsequential since they are mere tools of the Shadow, and at worst he'd approve of what happens to them, either out of his sense of superiority over all life or as a nasty tactic to use against the Light--"they're going to die anyway, why not in service to the Shadow and in a way that will demoralize the Light". Besides, in the next chapter Elayne explicitly thinks about the Warders, noting that not all of them are necessarily Dark but that all of them were struggling to break free and avenge their Aes Sedai.

@23 KiManiak: One point. Aviendha had already been taken away by the Wise Ones, and the Aiel were also removed by them and/or Bashere to go with Rand to Tear and then Arad Doman, so they were not available.

I remember being horrified by what happened to poor Vandene and Sareitha, and extremely, gut-wrenchingly pleased by Vandene's vengeance: Carenae "not diabolical"? Not only did she kill Adeleas, who I really liked (and made it so she'd never get to complete her book), but she was killing all those Kinswomen. I was especially broken up over Reanne, who was so excited about finally getting to be a Green... *wipes his eyes* Sorry. Personally I felt Careane deserved far worse, but I exulted when she died anyway.

Elayne's plan here seemed very excellent to me, just ruined by bad luck and circumstance. Now if you were talking about her interrogation of the Black sisters in Towers of Midnight...yeah, that was pretty reckless, stupid, and not well-planned. Although in Elayne's defense she had no way of knowing Lounalt was a Darkfriend, or to guess he might release Mellar and the others at all, let alone at the moment she was interrogating them. And look at it this way--if Elayne had not gone there that night, Lounalt would have freed all the Black sisters, Mellar would have had no reason to kill Chesmal, Eldrith, or Temaile, and they'd all be free to wreak havoc, not just Falion, Marillin, and Lady Shiaine. So while reckless and foolhardy, her plan did serve an important need for the Pattern. And I did still find her impersonation of a Chosen pretty cool and awesome. And creepy!

Which brings me to something I've been wondering and worrying about since reading said escape scene. I cannot recall, but is it ever said, in KoD, TGS, or ToM, what if any possessions were confiscated by Elayne when the Black sisters were captured? Was Lady Shiaine's house searched? I can only presume the sisters themselves were searched. So...where are the missing ter'angreal Liandrin's coven stole back in TDR? Does Elayne have them? I know she has the silver ring which allows access to the World of Dreams, recovered from Ispan, but where are the others? Were they hidden in Lady Shiaine's house in such a way that they couldn't be found? Did the Black sisters get them back during their escape? (I assume not, or it would have been mentioned during Elayne's POV after the escape.) Or...do the Missing Three have them (Jeaine, Berylla, and Rianna)? Or Moridin, who got them from Moghedien after he mindtrapped her, who got them when she took over the group back in Amadicia?

The reason this is important is that while I am fairly certain the balefire rod was confiscated after Asne's death, and most of the ter'angreal were related to dreaming and T'A'R and thus of no real danger, the dice ter'angreal are still unaccounted for. Considering their power can probably be used to counteract Mat's luck, it will be of extreme import whether the escaped Blacks have it to use during the Shadowspawn attack on Caemlyn, since we can assume Mat will return there with Moiraine and Thom so as to rejoing the Band. Of course Mat is so badass he likely can still win the day, but he has also been depending increasingly on his luck...
29. Derelict Phoenix
So this is mildly off-topic but this seemed like a good place to ask, What are the limitations of the circle? More specificly, how far apart can the members be and still channel? Can two channelers link, one step through a gateway, say to Altara, and still pull through the other?

Because if it they can I don't see the Seanchan surviving: Link a female channeler with an Asha'man, send her through a gateway to Seanchan controled territory and she is home free. As long as she uses only saidin, the weaves are invisible to the damane who would start to look for the male channeler. As long as the female is decent actor and avoids weaves that require hand moitions, she should be able to pass undetected. The female wouldn't even need to be strong in the power since she's relying on the Asha'man's strength. In fact, weaker channelers would be preferable because they would be harder for the sul'dam or damane to sense and if caught, less of a liability.
Jay Dauro
30. J.Dauro
We have seen before that Elayne got all of the lessons in tactics and strategy that Gawyn got, just not the actual fighting. Gawyn learned enough to at least raid the forces of a Great Captain. Elayne should have paid more attention to the value of Reconnaissance.

How does she know who is in the house?

Hark's exact report is:
"What else can you tell me about the place, Master Hark? Who else lives there besides this Lady Shiaine?"
Hark rubbed his nose uneasily. "Well, I don't know as they lives there, my Lady, but there's two Aes Sedai there tonight. I saw one of them letting Mellar out while the other was coming in. and the one who was coming in said, 'A pity there are only two of us, Falion, the way Lady Shiaine works us.'

This appears to be her reasoning for thinking there are only two Aes Sedai in the house. But the quote is far from clear. She really should have at least sent Warders to watch for a bit. (It's a whole different problem scouting a known location in a city, and trying to follow someone through the city. And hey, we have warders.) And maybe watched herself longer. Yes, she might have lost her quarry. But she might not have lost 3 Aes Sedai and hundreds of men. No way to tell for sure.

From what I read, the other 4 could have been in the house when Hark heard Marillin, Or they could have arrived while he was back reporting. Or come through the back door. Elayne's plan did not cover any of these.

They also fall prey to the typical Aes Sedai misconception that only Aes Sedai matter. All of them can be killed by other weapons. Just a hidden soldier and a horse bow could probably have killed two of them before they could react. (Of course this could also have been used against the Blacks as they try to exit the city. )

Later we get to see recon done right, when Karede tries to bluff Mat. Know your enemy and his resources. Even before he knows you are his enemy.

And no way Mat would have gone in on so little intelligence.
Alice Arneson
31. Wetlandernw
Jeribai @27 - On the other hand, if you're going in to surprise and capture two BA who are by themselves, why a) clutter up the place with and b) endanger a bunch of Warders or soldiers who have no way of either capturing or defending against BA? If you send in Warders or soldiers, the BA kill them with a wave, and the AS are devastated and semi-functional because their Warders just died for no reason. To take out BA, you send in the AS - linked, shields & bonds of Air prepared, with abilities masked and weaves inverted. You take them by surprise and arrest them while they're shielded & bound. Since you've got two circles agains two individuals, you've got it made in the shade.

I would actually go further and suggest that if all six BA had been in the room unexpectedly, the two circles would still have had a fair chance against them all as long as Asne didn't have her stinking little toy in her hand.

On the other topic, I completely agree that Vandene's murmur was exactly fitting, and all that was needed. Anything more would have disrupted the pacing of the scene, which we needed to "feel" as happening faster than we can read it.
Elijah Foster
32. TheWolfKing
Derelict Phoenix @29-

I am not entirely sure, but i believe that somewhere (it may have been The World Of Wheel of Time) it says that the link would still exist if one person were to be on the opposite side of the world as the person they are linked to.

As far as chanelling saidin from across the world, there is still the problem of being able to channel effectively at that far of a distance. Rand notes that it is more difficult for him to channel at greater distances in TFoH (I believe that is the right book).

I would assume this still applies to a circle because you are still getting the power from that person you are linked with, not just your own ability. (Remember when Nynaeve channeled through Moghedien even though she wasn't angry enough to channel )

That however bring up a question of mine. When you get shielded, are you still part of the circle and you just can't contribute? Are you removed from the circle? Does the strength of the circle cover you from being shielded even if you aren't the one melding the flows? And does the a'dam cut off a link if the person doesn't prevent you from channeling saidar right away? (this is assuming you get cut off from the circle if you are shielded, because if it doesn't you could still channel saidin if linked with a man)

Feel free to correct me if i am wrong on any of this (i do a lot of assuming)
33. Freelancer

Thank you for not doing the obligatory Pavlovian dogpile on Elayne. On analysis, her choices are sensible in this case. Once the report comes in about the Dark Sisters at Shiaine's place, she must arrest Mellar, having proof in hand that he's a darkfriend, and once he's jailed, then Adeleas' murderer, either Careane and Sareitha, is going to know that the jig is up, and then time is very precious. It was necessary to act then. Putting the suspects on the subject end of a circle is very clever, and also so reasonable under the circumstances that Careane has no reason to question it. The initial assault went flawlessly according to plan, based on the intelligence provided. Too bad there was more than what Hark was aware of, but them's the breaks.

As for the counterattack outside the city, Birgitte knew when she began forming her plan that many men were going to die. This is simply the way it is. She isn't cold-blooded, she isn't insensitive, and she isn't doing it just to get the Windfinders to join the fight. She would spend every last soul of those soldiers to get Elayne back, and it would be right. This is a monarchy, and when a man swore into service in those days, he swore his life away as already forfeit to the pleasure of his liege. They know it as well as Birgitte, and they charge anyway. If a general is anything but ruthless about prosecuting a battle once the plan is decided and initiated, they will fail.

While I understand the dramatic use of pauses, when Vandene shivs Careane without anyone having the chance to blink an eye, that was a little piece of awesome, especially since she knows what comes next.

MasterAlThor @15

Preach it.

Skwid @18

I think that what Leigh was going for by using adamantium wasn't so much "unbreakable", as dense, polished, heavy metal. In many legends, adamantium is metalized diamond. Cuendillar, while unbreakable, is not represented as feeling especially heavy or dense. Also, there is adamantium's broader recognition in the realm of fantasy.

KiManiak @23

Elayne didn't know any other channelers she could be completely certain of. She can't use the Kin channelers in an attack, she can't ask Windfinders to participate, and she isn't even sure that of Careane and Sareitha only one is Black. So she goes with only those she can trust, and the two suspects who are muzzled by circles.

And, should I be surprised that Wetlandernw went there first...
34. Freelancer
TheWolfKing @32

Your concerns are dealt with in the text in this case. No, it is very difficult to shield someone who is channeling, or is part of a circle. But the sparking attack on Elayne's crew causes her, and presumably the rest, to feel "as if she had been fed through a mangle", and they all lost Saidar, making it so simple to shield them that it was done quite casually.
35. Derelict Phoenix
I believe that the channeling/distance effectiveness was based on the distance from the channeler who was melding the flows i.e. the leader of the circle. The leader is pulling the power through the other person comparable to angreal, they can pull more or from the other half but it is still the primary channeler pulling the power. The other channeler/ angreal doesn't have to be next to the primary channeler, remember that Rand frequently channels without directly touching the fat man angreal or the access key. The primary channeler is drawing directly from the Source which is everywhere and nowhere so distance between channelers shouldn't affect that.

As far as the Shielding is concerned, I remember reading somewhere that you could only shield the leader of the circle as they are the only one directly holding the source; shielding the others does nothing because they aren't actually touching the source (recall that they have to be on the brink of embracing not actually embracing the source, which makes me even more sure that the effectiveness is due to the distance from the primary channeler not the other members). I'm not sure what an a'dam would do... I'd guess that you still contribute to the circle and the sul'dam wouldn't be able to control you till after the leader released you. ( Since people can not leave a circle once they've joined unless released as we were told in the BotW scene.) However, the sul'dam might be able to use the torture abilities of the a'dam to distract the primary channneler, as he/she is aware of the members of the circle in the same way an AS is aware of her warder.

I'm not sure exactly what you're asking in the last question. I think the adam only controls saidar... So if the a'dam is put on the primary channeler, they might be able to use saidin assuming they don't lose the circle out of pure shock. If it is put on one of the other members, it is the previous case I outlined.
Elijah Foster
36. TheWolfKing

What i meant by the last question was that if the a'dam didn't cut someone out of the circle(the leader of it), would the leashed person(still in the circle) be able to channel the saidin of the man they would be linked with, or would it have the effect of a man who can channel touching the a'dam?

thank for your answers, they make a lot of sense and clears up a lot.
Mark Locy
37. Tathas
Hi Leigh, long-time reader, first time commenter. I wanted to say that I have absolutely loved your blog. Because of the re-read I actually started caring about this series again, after pretty giving up after APoD, though my interest did get me all the way to CoT. I have had so many moments where I said to myself, "wow, she is right on," or laughed aloud.

Anyway, on to an actual comment: Did anyone think that the best thing Elayne could have done after being rescued was balefire the crap out of the balefire ter'angreal? I mean, wouldn't that have restored those balefired to life, or would it just have created some awful, time-wimey, paradox?
Alice Arneson
38. Wetlandernw
Tathas @37 - Welcome! And... not a bad idea, except that I don't think Elayne knows how to make balefire. (Given her pregnancy moods, this could be a very good thing...) If she could, though, the question would be whether she could hit the rod (or Asne, who used it) with a strong enough balefire stream to back the effects out that far. She's pretty strong, but even Rand's full-force whammy on Rahvin only backed it up by half an hour or so. It's a cool idea, though. :)

Now I'm wondering... have we actually seen the effects of balefire being reversed by balefire? We've seen death by lightning and Darkhound acid burns reversed, but I'm not sure about balefire. Anyone? My mind is too scattered tonight to be sure about this.
Kimani Rogers
39. KiManiak
I’ll just add a few more points to my previous post@23 and then address some of the comments folks made since then. And yes, this became a huge WOT, so:

Wall of Text Warning

Yeah folks, this was not even close to a good plan.

1) When you look at the information (and lack thereof) that the characters have (and not the information that the reader has) there are major problems. As I listed in my post @23 the number of BA participants can easily exceed the number initially reported if one just considers the likely players left. There’s the possibility that a Forsaken could be involved. There’s the possibility that other minions of the Shadow could be there. The only intel is based on a questionable source. This is not ideal for a direct, overwhelm-by-force type of attack.

We often have to remind ourselves to look at these events from the knowledge of the characters at that particular point in the story. The knowledge of the characters in this case is extremely limited. And the plan is to charge into a place that you know nothing about against a number of foes that you are not sure of with only a group of 4 people, one of whom you don’t believe you can trust? Without knowing about whether other adversaries may be coming up behind you or through the alternate, unwatched/ungaurded entrance (which a Warder just informed you about, as bp@26 pointed out)? I grant that they had a number of inverted weaves ready, but that’s the only preparations for the unexpected that are being made?

2) When you factor in that Elayne was trained for years by one of the Great Captains on strategy, tactics, etc, it allows the definition of what is a “good plan” in this circumstance to be held to a higher standard, and this plan is found lacking.

Wouldn’t a good student of a GC consider multiple sets of tactics when considering an objective? Factor in reasonable risks for the actual reward? Consider what intel they do and don’t have? Assess their available resources? Allow for contingencies? Secure as much of the battlefield as they can? Have a credible support and/or reserve force? Have some semblance of lines of communication and eyes on potential blind spots to minimize being surprised by an attack on your unprotected side or rear?

It’s fair to hold a trained tactician and a mission leader to a high standard when they craft a strike plan. This one does not appear to be up to snuff. Not even factoring in the results (which, by the way, highlight the flaws in the plan).

3) When you consider that any sense of perceived urgency in having to act is artificially created by someone objectively seen as fearless and sometimes impulsive, it makes this plan look worse and worse. There was no rush. None. To this point, Hark had followed Mellar to this house 3 days in a row. The only folks who knew those specific details were Hark, Norry and now Elayne. Hark and Norry had this information before Elayne did; if you believe that they are compromised, then you can’t trust anything they just told you. Otherwise, it’s safe to assume that Norry won’t betray you (and can ensure that Hark won’t talk to anyone else), so you can control any potential leaks.

This allows for reconnaissance, gathering intelligence, and finding how to best use your resources. This requires patience, wisdom and the consideration of as many factors as possible. That can help facilitate the development of some pretty good plans.

Let’s put it another way: If this were a game of chess, she is risking her Queen (almost literally, or I guess you could count her as the King in this scenario) and 2 pawns for 2 (or 3 if she somehow gets lucky, although she never thinks how it will happen) of the opponent’s pawns. A potentially high level sacrifice on her end for 2 (or 3) relatively insignificant enemy combatants. What’s more, she’s doing it without being aware of, or paying attention to, her opponent’s other pieces. She’s only going off the word of a source that she has no reason to believe is truthful or fully aware of the disposition of her opponent’s pieces (yes, I know you can normally see your opponent’s pieces in chess, just go with the analogy). And, she’s doing it as soon as she possibly can; when she could wait a few more moves, maneuver some more pieces into the fray reducing the potential risk, and then make sure it’s the lowest-potential-risk-highest-potential-reward type move.

Bad plan.

bp@26 – I do agree with the “bad luck” comment. I think Mat made a comment about luck on the battlefield a few chapters ago influencing engagements. Of course, as JD@30 pointed out, Mat would probably have not made anywhere close to the same moves given similar circumstances. Also, yeah the plan does ignore the possibility of Vandene as BA; but I don’t consider that to be one of its main flaws, just another one to consider.

macster@28 – as a follow up to your response to @8, I like the idea of Birgitte looking after Elayne for TG, as opposed to Gaidal (who is only an infant at this time). Also, I know that Aviendha and the Aiel have left to join Rand (as the reader was informed in A Different Skill in this very book). I was listing them as a possible resource to call upon, like additional rebel AS, or Rand’s forces.

Careane was “diabolical?” I tend to associate diabolical with criminal masterminds, or supervillian masterminds or the like. To me, Careane didn’t do anything special; she just poisoned and then killed 2 AS, and then killed 10 kinswomen while leaving non-obvious clues (at first, anyway).

Also, I’m with you in regards to being curious about what happened to those ter’angreal. I think Moghedien kept most of them for herself, but it’s possible that this group had some. I am curious to see what the dice ter’angreal can do and if they play a role against any of our heroes.

JD@30 – Good points (especially about how the 4 could have fallen prey to non-magical lethal force, like an unseen archer). But, maybe it’s unfair to compare Elayne and Mat in this situation. Elayne only trained under a Great Captain. Now, I would argue that the respective protégés of the Great Captains wouldn’t have acted like she did, either, but that is pure speculation…

Wolfking@32 – I also am curious about how previous existing links, the a’dam, and being shielded impact one another. I wonder what would happen if an a’dam is placed on someone who is already linked with another woman. With a man? Can someone who is leashed by an a’dam be brought into a link (the channeler just needs to place themselves on the edge of channeling, and I’m not sure if the a’dam specifically stops that, or just prevents the channeler from reaching saidar)? Also, if you shield someone who is linked, what happens to the other folks involved in that link? I wonder if we’ll find out in AMoL…

Free@33 – Nynaeve decided in ACoK that the Kinswomen would be involved in fighting the Shadow. I believe that Egwene and Elayne have come to the same conclusion as of ToM (but I’m not sure, so feel free to rebut that point if you like. Regardless, I would argue that all hands will be needed to fight the Shadow and a good leader and strategist wouldn’t keep potential firepower on the sidelines); Elayne is open to the idea in KoD (she dwells on it in the beginning of Nine out of Ten) but decides not to use them now to “let them preserve their innocence a little longer,” which is a questionable and somewhat arbitrary decision given the circumstances. And even then, Elayne asked Birgitte if she used the Kin to help with the rescue.

As I pointed out in my post@23, there were a number of potential resources she could at least explore using. If you think you have an enemy cornered in your territory and your plan is to overwhelm them with force, then the safest (and smartest) course of action is to totally and completely overwhelm that enemy with all kinds of force (outnumber them with as many as is plausible), not just with barely enough. In other words 10 against 2 is preferable to 4 against 2; and 20 against 2 is even better. You never know what that enemy may have up their sleeve…

Free@34 – The text has shown us that it’s hard to shield a linked channeler (Egwene in TGS for example, although she was also channeling through an angreal), but not what happens to the channelers who are part of, but not controlling, the link if the controller is shielded. Not sure if that was what Wolfking was asking, but I’m curious :-)
EDIT: I see that while I was typing this monster that DerelictPhoenix@35 added to this. Do you remember where you read that only the leader of the Circle could be shielded? Does it mention what happens to the other members of the Circle when the leader is shielded (shock, possible feedback leading to the possibility of being stilled, etc)?

Tathas@37 – Welcome! As to balefiring the balefire ter’angreal, I wonder if that would’ve worked or if you would’ve needed to “balefire the crap” out of Asne, who was using the balefire rod :-)
EDIT: I see Wet@38 also made some interesting points about reversing balefire.

God, this was a monster. My compliments to those who choose to read it all.
40. Derelict Phoenix
@39 It was in the old Tor question of the week for Robert Jordan. (A quick google turned up a record here: http://13depository.blogspot.com/2009/03/tor-questions-of-week.html. Week 8 specificly)
But to answer your question, it doesn't address the consquences of shielding to the circle members.
Douglas Miller
41. douglas
@37 and 38
There's an RJ quote in the WoT FAQ that says balefire is immune to its own effect. Death by balefire cannot be reversed by balefire.

As for shielding someone in a circle, I found another RJ quote that says you have to shield the entire circle all at once or it fails - the circle is effectively a single person for the purpose of channeling. See
Kimani Rogers
42. KiManiak
I’ve been watching TV (maybe not as effective as washing the dishes, but this is the method that works for me :-) ) and tried to put a finger on something that feels slightly, um... off... about the discussion here.

I think some folks may be confusing “I like the plan” with “It was a good plan.” If you like Elayne being courageous and rushing in to confront and attempt to overpower the BA, that’s your prerogative (cue Bobby Brown). Some of you may like the plan; I do not. Liking/disliking the plan is obviously subjective and we can agree to disagree.

But the quality of the plan? This was a simple plan, and I have yet to see a strong case for why it qualifies as a "good" one. It ignored certain factors; unnecessarily excluded assets and resources for no logical reason; didn’t allow for contingencies and had little flexibility if the original assumptions proved false; didn’t secure the “battlefield,” even though it occurred in a small pocket of hostile territory within the much larger controlled home field advantage. It didn’t allow for the possibility that time could be an asset, not an obstacle or a constraint.

It basically was a “Show up with (what you think is) a superior force and hope for the best” plan (Hmm, reminds me of a Sports Night episode where they discuss Napoleon and his “show up, then wait and see” plan). And it was also a “Hurry up and do it as soon as possible” plan.

Anyone trained by a Great Captain (or even just a competent teacher in strategy and tactics) should know a good plan needs more than that, I would assume. Shoot, history has taught us that brute/superior force alone is not always (or often) going to win the day. And rushing into a confrontation with a lot of potential unknowns when you don’t have to is rarely the wisest course of action.

What attributes of a generic “good plan” does this plan have? Participants, assets, location, supplies, resources, information, flexibility, contingencies; each of these are not adequately addressed, or not addressed at all. What are some of the attributes of a generic, or typical, good plan that we see exhibited by Elayne’s plan?

Guys, it was a bad plan.

A bold and courageous course of action, but a bad plan.

And I think I may have beaten Bela up and down the street regarding this topic about now. Darn summer TV reruns getting my brain going...
43. alreadymadwithshields
WolfKing @32, Freelancer @34
Indeed, shielding someone in a circle will be about as hard as shielding a single woman whose strength is equal to the combined strength of everyone in a circle. That is about the strength required to break a circle. Or alternately, almost as difficult as shielding each woman in the circle separately. We see the example in LoC when the Salidar delegation confronts Rand while linked. Rand must have known they would link to confront him, but he doesn't bother trying to figure out who to shield, he prepares to create 7 shields for 7 sisters. He doesn't stop to worry if he will be strong enough to break the circle, implying the strength required is the same if not less.
Roger Powell
44. forkroot

She's pretty strong, but even Rand's full-force whammy on Rahvin only backed it up by half an hour or so. It's a cool idea, though. :)
I pretty much beat this into the ground a few years ago in this forum (have we been at it that long?) but here's a quick refresher of the gist of my arguments:

You would unravel the pattern if you balefired someone back 1/2 hr. Rand only undid maybe 5 minutes of Rahvin's actions (which is still enormous) - what saved Mat (and Avi and Asmo) was that right after they were killed by Rahvin's lightning, Rand gated into the throne room and attacked Rahvin who fled to T'AR in the flesh.

Time runs differently in T'AR (albeit monotonically) and so what appeared to take longer (Rand and Rahvin's fight) was only a few moments in the real world.

Mind you, I'm not pulling a "Terez" and claiming the issue is settled. But I think I put together some pretty strong arguments back when we first debated this (I guess it was in TFoH reread.)

P.S. Wife is wondering what the heck I am doing on the computer when we are on vacation here in Maui ? Aloha to all, I best run off now.
45. Looking Glass
On Elayne's fearlessness: I agree that Elayne's tendency to disregard danger is a long-running character trait, but the viewing does have one notable effect- it lets her be as... adventurous while pregnant as she was before. Without that viewing, she'd be risking not just her life, but that of her unborn children. It's unlikely that she'd be nearly as cavalier about that as about her own well-being, and I suspect we readers would be rather less charitable about that sort of behavior as well.

the sole heir to a major nation getting killed or captured might have ramifications beyond her own personal well-being.]

Of course, she does still fail to consider that “you children will survive to be born” still encompasses a lot of nasty possibilities for her and kids both. Like, “you get captured by the BA, 13x13ed, and cheerfully hand your tots to the shadow”, for instance. This series being what it is (and not, say, A Song of Ice and Fire), something like that is unlikely to actually happen, but jeez, pay some attention to the possible hazards.

On balefire: well, half an hour won’t end the world; it’s not clear how much Rand’s stunt with the castle in TGS knocked out, but more than that. It was obviously Not A Good Thing, but the pattern’s still there. And it survived several cities’ worth during the shadow war, while the bore was completely unsealed. The pattern appears to be fairly resilient, all told.


Aside: Assuming the majority of the weirdness happening now is the shadow’s touch on the pattern (rather than just general end-of-days shenanigans), it’s sort of appalling to think about the overall atmosphere just of reality while the bore was open, above and beyond the actual war. I mean, now you’ve got ghost cities and random people suddenly vomiting beetles until their skin is empty and whole fields of crops rotting and all the rest, and that’s with the dark one partially sealed. Eeeeh.
Skip Ives
46. Skip
I would have staked out the building with good crossbowmen, and cut them down as they left the building.

Apparently, only Gawain listened to any of the lessons on military operations, and Elayne just listened to the histories of Andoran Queens leading troops into battle.
Alice Arneson
47. Wetlandernw
forkroot @44 - Good points; my scholarship was lazy on that aspect. I'd forgotten both the discussion and the fact that Rand & Rahvin jump into TAR very soon. IIRC, there aren't any "real-time" cues to tell us for sure how long Mat & Aviendha were dead, but it certainly doesn't have to allow for the "time" Rand & Rahvin spent leaping around the palace in TAR. And I'm betting a lot of that took longer to read than it did to "happen."

Also - ouch! ::tsssssss::

Mark Locy
48. Tathas
@douglas Well, you can't fault me for trying.
Bill Reamy
49. BillinHI
Still no comments on the post that haven't already been made (and better than I could have done) but here is the squee *headdesk* for Leigh:
Douglas Miller
50. douglas
forkroot @44
Balefiring a single person back half an hour is not going to unravel the pattern. The pattern would barely notice that level of strain. In the Age of Legends, people hit entire cities - tens of thousands of people at a minimum - with multiple days worth of balefire, and did it multiple times, and the pattern survived. That is the level of balefire use required to start posing a threat to the pattern as a whole, and even that can be recovered from if it's not repeated too many times.

The current blanket ban on balefire is pretty clearly a drastic overreaction. It may have been justified initially on the basis of the pattern being fragile and needing a respite to recover from the city-destroying blasts, but ever since the pattern restabilized after those balefire has been perfectly safe (as much as any deadly weapon, anyway) to use on any moderate scale. Constant daily use by tens of thousands of channelers might be different, and things like Rand's destruction of Natrin's Barrow are problematic, but in general the danger is greatly overhyped.
Mikey Bennett
51. EvilMonkey
I don't think Elaine's plan was a great one, I also think it wasn't horrible either. The force she had taken combined with the strength of the 2 circles she brought she had the force to take on all the remaining Black sisters out on the board with the aid of surprise. She had the drop on everyone in the house, would have had the drop on the 4 latecomers if they were in the room as well when she walked in. Could have still taken all of the women in the room if not for Asne's pain stick. She could and should have done at least a little more recon but I can see her reasoning. She felt she had a chance to clear a minor infestation in her city and a major purge on her allies and a shot at defeating an enemy in detail all in one shot. Her time constraints included letting a quarry get away to potentially gather more allies that would have made them considerably harder to crush later, a seige that was coming to a head in the next day or so according to her spies that those enemies could have had a hand in making more difficult, and the constant attrition of her forces by a traitor in her midst which made it harder and harder to move her troops around to counter the increasing frequency of attacks on her walls. Asne's pain stick was the only think that kept the plan from going without a hitch and if Elaine would have had the back entrance covered with hidden archers it probably still would have worked out anyway.
Don Barkauskas
52. bad_platypus
Derelict Phoenix @29, et seq.: There's a direct quote on this, with Adeleas and Vandene, in Ch. 4 of TPoD. (May be slightly off, as I had to piece it together from IdealSeek searches, since I don't have the books with me currently.)
Vandene could have gone several hundred paces before the link began to attenuate, but it would not break if she and Adeleas went to opposite corners of the earth, though it would have been useless long before that.

53. mike123
The adam works for men that can channel as well. Remember when Rand found the suldam in Seachan when he ran after Avi. He touched the a'dam and could feel sadair. I took from that that he was linked with her when he touched it. The a'dam also works like a circle as Elayne and Nyv reasoned out with their work with Mog. I dont know if the a'dam has the same limitations as far as needing the right ratio of men/women though, but it does form a closed circle as the evidence in the text indicates.
54. mike123
Elayne would have to Balefire the person not the item. Balefire only effects threads in the pattern. People have threads not objects, so hitting the item would have no effect from a time paradox standpoint.
Mark Locy
55. Tathas
@mike123 What about when Moggy balefired the boat that Nynaeve was in and all of a sudden it was sunk? I could be totally off-base here, or it could be a gaff, but I got the impression that the boat was damaged back in time.
56. mike123
Tathas, that is a great point and I had forotten that happened. I would make the assumption that the boat scene was a gaff or continuity error. If it was not, then perhaps the onging theme of the characters believing in something that is not the truth may come into effect. What I mean by that is that we have been told by AS that balefire burns threads out of the pattern. Since they cannot lie, they believe this to be true. It may still be possible that either balefire doesnot just effect threads of the pattern and does effect inanimate objects, or inanimate objects have threads in the pattern. More information is needed I would think.
57. thelostbannerman
Ok lost the thread count, Have not gone to all the other websites I am just reading the books and going off of LB's blog (which is awesome), but someone said that Gaidal Cain was just an infant is he not reincarnated as Oliver, Mat's protoge.
Valentin M
58. ValMar
I see the Health & Safety brigade is out! I suppose Elayne should have had the Caemlyn Local Council put tape around the area of the house and allow people to cross it only if they wear high-vis jackets and hard hats :)

I think El's plan was reasonable. Not without risks, but one cannot negate all the risks. The info from Hark was good- and with hindsight we know it was spot-on. Plotwise, the appearance of the other intrepid BA AS was so fortuitous that you would think there was a ta'veren in the area. Otherwise how the Succession plotline would've been solved so suddenly?

The one major mistake I could see was leaving the other door unguarded. But the fault here lies with the Warders. Also, did any of them think of bringing a crossbow- when they knew they were facing AS (nod to Skip @ 46)? A militiaman with a day's worth of training would've been more use.

If they had a couple of warders watching (Birgitte and Jaem) they would've seen the BA AS approach. The sudden alarm across the bond would've notified our AS of impending danger- and then who knows?
But overall, an elegant solution to the Succession plotline.
Alice Arneson
59. Wetlandernw
thelostbannerman @57 - No, this theory has been thoroughly debunked by both the text and the author. Time in TAR may move at a different rate than in the waking world, but it doesn't go backwards. The fact that Gaidal Cain was in TAR within the last year means that he can't have been born nine years ago. He is an infant, location and identity unknown.
Chin Bawambi
60. bawambi
Two things. The one not related to Bela is I like Tathas comment. I don't think it is a continuity error. I am reminded of the TAR battle between Rahvin and Rand - the inanimate objects kept flickering in/out for awhile within the castle after the major balefire battle. The permanence of the items within the castle shouldn't have been affected if balefire doesn't affect inanimates at all. Second puts me in Kimaniak's camp - it was a terrible plan. It wasn't any worse than the plan to attack the sisters in the Stone of Tear or the I'm going to follow Liandrin down the primrose path - our SG's just continually have a mental breakdown every time they try to deal with the Black. When your adversary keeps getting the upper hand stop underestimating them.
Douglas Miller
61. douglas
thelostbannerman @57
To back up Wetlandernw, there is a direct quote from RJ in the WoT FAQ that Olver is not Gaidal Cain - he's too old. Gaidal Cain was born at some point after the last time we saw him in T'A'R. I'd have to look it up to get the exact timing of that, but at the very most he is less than 2 years old. IIRC he could be a 1 year old, maybe plus a few months, but certainly no more than that. Olver is several years older than that.

One of the Asha'man mentioned he had a particularly ugly infant child in Towers of Midnight. That baby is my guess for who Gaidal Cain is.
62. Tim Buktu
Nice posts by KiManiak. To paraphrase Bedford Forrest, you win battles by getting there first with the most. Elayne couldn't do the first, so she needed to do the second, and had ample resources to ensure that she could. Instead, she chose to neglect them. Miserable economy of force means miserable plan. You'd think a Great Captain would have taught her about the basic principles of war.
63. Gabemar
I keep reading that Elayne was taught by Gareth Bryne, who is a great captain, but my understanding was that Gawyn was the one who studied under Gareth Bryne, since he was to be the the Prince of the Sword and the general of Elayne armies.

I thought Elayne has mainly been learning from Morgase on how to govern.

The plan was exactly what Elayne's character would do. It wasn't a great plan but it wasn't a bad one either.
64. macster
@39 KiManiak: Perhaps diabolical was too strong a word. But I do think Careane is a twisted and awful woman who deserved exactly what she got. Anyone who can pound a wrist-thick stake through someone's heart is not what I would call a sane and good individual. (It doesn't matter Ispan was BA, or that Careane could view her act as something to be rewarded for disposing of a traitor and a way for her to get ahead--the act itself is still repugnant and she clearly has no remorse or pangs of conscience because of it.) Call it a visceral response to her killing good people whom I liked, regardless of how 'awful' the actual killings were.

I am fairly sure that regardless whether he got them himself from Moghedien or they are still with the BA now under his control, Moridin knows exactly where the ter'angreal are, and they will play a role in either the attack on Caemlyn or the Last Battle. Because they've been MIA for so long, I can't help feeling they're a huge Chekhov's Gun waiting to be fired. Similarly, the conspicuous absence of Jeaine, Berylla, and Rianna.

I think the reason people are taking issue with the attacks on Elayne's plan is because while it would be prudent and the mark of a good leader to prepare for all contingencies and bring lots of back-up, what she did bring was enough for what she'd been told would be there. Should she have brought more just to be certain she won? Most likely yes. (Though the Windfinders wouldn't help unless forced to by the Bargain, the Kin have no experience in combat and would therefore have been useful as nothing but Power-batteries--and Elayne and the others already had plenty of Power in their circles to win, even against six Aes Sedai--and the rebel Aes Sedai are a bit busy with the siege of Tar Valon. That, and Elayne is still trying to hide the Bargain from them. The only ones I can think of who could have helped would have been Wise Ones and the Aes Sedai with Rand.) But the key here is, while she should have brought more back-up, and done more reconnaissance, what she brought was still appropriate for what she knew was there. More would have been safer, but I don't think you can argue what she brought wasn't enough if there had been only two. So while better planning would have prepared for contingencies, what planning she did do was accurate for the forces she'd been told about. It's not like she went in all by herself, the way she did to question Chesmal in ToM.

Seceral other points: you seem to be ignoring the fact that Birgitte and the other Warders knew about the other entrance but didn't guard it. And it wasn't even as if Elayne ordered them not to, she only asked Birgitte to watch Hark. I don't think you can argue that Birgitte would do nothing without Elayne's order, she has proven time and again she'll do whatever she deems necessary to protect Elayne. Just because she'd agreed to stay outside the house until called doesn't mean she wouldn't think of guarding all entrances. And the other Warders should have done the same. So even if the plan was bad and Elayne made mistakes, it would not have failed if not for Birgitte and the Warders' mistake. Two, you keep mentioning the possibility of Forsaken being involved. But ever since Moghedien's attack in Ebou Dar, Elayne hasn't seen her (not to mention she was always more focused on Nynaeve anyway); Sammael was directing the Darkfriends' efforts after that, but even if Rand never told her he killed him, she knows Illian fell to Rand which should suggest he's out of the picture. No one knows about Moridin yet, so other than knowing there are still some Forsaken unaccounted for (Semirhage, Mesaana, Demandred, Graendal), Elayne had no reason to suspect they might be involved here. And finally, both Sareitha and Careane brought up to Elayne your very points: that there might be more than just two, and that they have dangerous ter'angreal. Since she knows she can't trust one, possibly both of them, she dismisses what they say. Not wise, but I can easily see Elayne thinking that the very fact people she doesn't trust disapprove of her plan means it is actually a good one, and that is why they are trying to dissuade her from using it.

In any event, it hardly seem fair to blame Elayne for bad planning when the reason the plan failed was because Birgitte and the other Warders didn't do their part, and what she knew did match up with the resources she brought. I will grant you, though, that she should have taken more time to plan. If she had, though, with Mellar setting fires and bribing mercenaries, and Careane killing Kin, she could have fallen to the siege before she could ever have enough info to be fully prepared for taking out the BA.
Stefan Mitev
65. Bergmaniac
Gabemar @63 - that's explained in the next chapter:

"She had not trained with weapons, but she had received all of the other lessons Gawyn had gotten from Gareth Bryne. A queen had to understand the battle plans her generals gave her rather than simply accept them blindly."
Tess Laird
66. thewindrose
Hmmm. Wasn't there a great captin who decided to follow a pair of blue eyes.

So, Elayne should have sat and considered all possible angles of the plan, isn't she in the middle of a war of succession(I can hear the cries of the Elayne is always wrong club fans saying - 'why isn't she doing war planning'? I betcha would;)

Well anyways, while the 'plan' wasn't by any means perfect, it
show-cases one of the ideas that RJ found important. At some point, you have to act - and it's not going to be with all the information you need. For people who have that ta'veren thing going on, well let's just say they have an ace in the hole. Everyone else has to act or sit on their hands - and what is more fun to read?

Careane - serial killer. I find her scary. And am happy that it was Vandene who took her out. We will miss you Vandene, you were one of the more intelligent AS.

67. CharlesH
Skwid @ 18: Heh. I just saw Captain America, that's probably why. I have Marvel-brain.

I don't want to come off like a nerd or anything, but wasn't Captain America's sheild Vibranium, which actually destroys adamantium.
Alice Arneson
68. Wetlandernw
macster @64 - Very nice. As you say, it may not have been a great plan, or the best plan, but it was a good plan under the circumstances. Who else might Careane have murdered while Elayne plotted and planned? What else might Mellar have done with that delay (especially if he spotted the agents Elayne set to reconoiter)?

If one wished to be really annoying, one could point out that if the other AS hadn't wasted time arguing with Elayne, they'd have been there, taken their BA and DF captives, and been safely back in the palace before the other four BA showed up.

Except for the fact, of course, that the annoying author had need of the BA surprise entrance to capture Elayne, show off Birgitte & Guybon in their awesomeness, rescue Elayne, capture more BA, and end the siege. So if Elayne had gotten there quicker, so would Chesmal. If she'd gotten there later, so would Asne. If she'd brought more guns, so would Temaile. If they'd watched the back door, Eldrith would have killed the watchers. Sorry, guys, but even Gareth Bryne couldn't have come up with a plan that had any other outcome. :P

thewindrose @66 - So very true! IIRC, RJ specifically mentioned that fact: you never, never have all the information, and sometimes you have to act anyway. You do the best you can with what you have and hope for the best. Sometimes it doesn't work out very well, but the alternative is to sit on your hands while the world goes to pieces around you. I'd rather do my best and go down fighting for Team Light than be able to look back from the ruins and see all the things I could have done but didn't because I was waiting for more information.
Jay Dauro
69. J.Dauro
Folks, Elayne has NO RECONNAISSANCE.

She has a small conversation between two Aes Sedai, overheard by Hark, and what he saw outside the house.

" ... there's two Aes Sedai there tonight. I saw one of them letting Mellar out while the other was coming in. and the one who was coming in said, 'A pity there are only two of us, Falion, the way Lady Shiaine works us.' "

She thinks Lady Shiaine is inside, but does not know. She does not know whether there is a full staff 0f servants, 50 guards, or the entire Black Ajah. She assumes that the statement, "only two of us," means only two Aes Sedai.

Any guards or servants can ruin her plan. Yes, they can defeat the guards, but a bit of noise, and the Blacks are warned. Elayne knows the 13 BA stole ter'angreal, and knows they have one that produces balefire. She has no idea what exits there are. They enter the kitchen and then creep up a set of stairs, and manage to surprise them, but that's sheer luck. No idea of a floorplan. What if the two are not in the same location? No one to watch their backs inside the house.

I have to agree with KiManiak. She has time and the resources to do recon, and make a much better plan.

Heck, she knows that the two Blacks go out of the house, so can set an ambush in the open, probably one at a time where she can see they have no backup.
Jonathan Levy
70. JonathanLevy
38. Wetlandernw
Interesting question. Asmodean saw balefired walls in Caemlyn after Rand offed Rahvin, but that's only a good example if Rahvin balefired the walls. As I recall, most of the balefiring was done by Rand, not Rahvin.

Can't think of any other examples.

KiManiak @ 23 and 39.
I think your post in 23 covered it all. Elayne's plan addressed all the known dangers, and completely ignored the possibility of something unexpected happening. Most of her supporters here seem to dismiss the unexpected as 'bad luck' and believe that it's unfair to expect her to have planned for it, because it was, well, unexpected!

A good plan always prepares to deal with the unexpected, because something unexpected always happens.

44. forkroot
I had not connected the different time-flow in T'A'R with the BF-resurrection of Mat and Avi. It's a very interesting idea! Is there any confirmation for it, though? From RJ or a quotation in the books?

46. Skip
Haha! :)

54. mike123 55. Tathas
Good points, interesting discussion!
Birgit F
72. birgit
What about when Moggy balefired the boat that Nynaeve was in and all of a sudden it was sunk? I could be totally off-base here, or it could be a gaff, but I got the impression that the boat was damaged back in time.
JordanCon signing 17 April 2011 - Terez reporting

Marie Curie: Even a stone in a wall has a thread in the Pattern, right? You said so...
Brandon: As I understand it, Robert Jordan specifically said that even inanimate objects have a thread.
Marie: So, that explains why when, say, a stone pillar is balefired, only the portion that balefire hits disintegrates...
Brandon: Right...
Marie: ...because all of those little bits would have their own threads...
Brandon: Theoretically. And I was wrong on that for a while - I had to go back and look at interviews before I... Were you the one that sent me that?
Terez: Yeah, I tweeted that to you...
Brandon: Yeah...the boat that Nynaeve was on that got balefired...
Marie: She pointed out that inanimate objects...their threads are burned back. But that also explains why a person who has one thread tied to their soul would be completely eliminated by balefire.
Brandon: Mmmhmm.
Marie: So why did their clothes go away?
Terez: (laughs)
Brandon: Balefire does spread a bit, from what I've read.
Marie: Then why doesn't it for the column?
Brandon: It does, but it's like, you know...just a little bit.
Marie: Right, but if you use a pencil-thin bit of balefire, right, and I shot your shirt, why would the whole shirt disappear?
Brandon: Um, if it goes through and hits you, then you disintegrate, and it will spread out from you.
Marie: Then, that doesn't explain Nynaeve's boat.2
Brandon: No, it doesn't. ... I will be perfectly honest with you. I've worked through and tried to figure out the rules of balefiring inanimate objects quite a bit...because we've got the whole thing with Nynaeve and...
Marie: The rowers.
Brandon: Yeah. Well no, not even that...earlier than that with the balefire rod that's like cutting swaths through the palace in Tanchico, and it's just cutting lines through the palace, just slicing big holes...
Marie: Right. That's the stone pillars...the multiple threads...
Terez: It did the same thing in Caemlyn with Rand and Rahvin.
Brandon: Yeah. And that's searing little lines, but then you hit something living, and it all *poofs*. It actually becomes motes...like it hits and it spreads to the full, living thing, and then *poof* that all goes away. And so...the clothes are something I hadn't even thought of, but balefire does seem to spread a little bit...
Marie: You would think that, you know...where the balefire hit, obviously there would be a hole, the person would *poof*, and their clothes would drop.
Brandon: Yeah. But it's got to spread a little bit because of that. But then, you know, with the boat...yeah.
Marie: You can't imagine how many debates we've had on Theoryland about the boat...
Terez: Oh god...
Brandon: The boat is an outlier. You could argue a couple of things on it - distance and power level could both be involved.
Marie: And there are other outliers, like in TGS...um...
Terez: The palace?
Marie: Yeah, the palace...
Brandon: That, I did intentionally. Looking through everything that is happening, and saying, 'He is continuing to pump balefire into this thing, to expand it through into the entire thing...
Terez: So, it's a deliberate, directive thing...
Brandon: That's got to be possible, because in the Age of Legends...
Terez: Right, whole cities...
Brandon: Right, whole cities. And so there's got to be a force-to-spread multiplier. Does that make sense?
Marie: Sure.
Brandon: So, I'm using a force-to-spread multiplier. And so you could maybe make that argument with the boat.

2 Nynaeve's boat was filled with water on the moment of balefire, which is not explained by the rowers. This, along with an RJ report I tweeted to Brandon (which I discovered not long after I told him about the boat), made it clear that inanimate objects are temporally affected by balefire. However, this all seems to be explained by the fact that the bits that were cut from the boat were temporally affected, thus slicing the boat and causing it to be filled with water at the moment of the balefire.

Mike on Twitter - 19 January 2011 What would have happened if someone were to balefire Verin's cup of poison to remove its existence when it was consumed?
Brandon So far, I believe we've only see Balefire used to remove living things from the Pattern that way. Am I wrong? @Terez27
Terez There has been some serious debate over Nynaeve and her boat. Some think the rowers caused...
Terez ...the temporal anomaly, while some think it had to be the boat itself. I forget the arguments...
Terez I remember the argument now. The boat was filled w/water at the moment of balefire, which rowers don't explain.3

3 Not long after this, due to a random chain of events, we found an old report on a letter sent to Thomas Howard in 1997. (See below.) RJ confirmed that balefire does burn back inanimate objects in time as well as living things, which would appear to explain the boat phenomenon (which has been a hot topic of discussion at Theoryland for many years, and knowing us, this remembered but undocumented report was probably mentioned quite a few times in the earlier debates - before this database was created there was no easy way to track down half-remembered quotes).

Anthony Pero
73. anthonypero
Derilict Pheonix @ 29:

Link a female channeler with an Asha'man, send her through a gateway to Seanchan controled territory and she is home free. As long as she uses only saidin, the weaves are invisible to the damane who would start to look for the male channeler.

One major flaw in your plan:

In a 1x1 link, the male has to control the flows.
Anthony Pero
74. anthonypero
There are so many comments on this board right now that I want to address, and so little time, lol.

First off, there seems to be this huge, false, and kind of inane assumption going on by many posters that the BA are sharing all kinds of information wiht each other. Where are we getting that from? They are set up in hearts, they only know, at most, 4 other sisters (with the exception of Alviarian and the 13 blacks Elayne and Nynaeve chased... and, of course, Verin). They are not set up to share information easily.

Secondly, many of these are set up on tasks by different Forsaken, who are also not sharing information. So, does Duhura have some sort of master plan set up here that works in with other BA plots? Unlikely. LIke, less than 1% chance. She got scooped up by Elida and told to do something stupid. That is all. Her being BA is simply irrelevant to this scene. She probably doesn't even know that the other Black Sisters in the city exist. She SHOULD only know of 3 other black sisters period. Although, she would know the 13 since they outed themselves. So it's possible she ran into them... but they would be working for different masters.

Speaking of sharing information... this is exactly why Elayne makes the decision to do the deed right then, with no further information. She knows a member of the BA is in the palace with her as she's getting the information. There is no shield in place or mentioned to prevent evesdropping. The longer she waits for more information, the more likely it is that Mellar and the BA will find out she's on to them.

As far as why she didn't bring more channelers to circle with, the Aes Sedai are the only ones she can order around. Everyone else needs to be asked to participate. There is also the fact that they are going after BA. This is Tower business she's at right now. It should be handled by Sisters. I'm not saying that's the correct attitude, but it's the attitude that Aes Sedai have.

As far as why she didn't send the Guardsmen in to just shoot everyone with crossbows first... She's not trying to kill them, she's trying to bring them to justice. As a queen, and an Aes Sedai, this is the correct thing to do. Period. What chance to guardsmen have to bring an Aes Sedai to justice? None. They simply get mowed down. An Assasin can certianly kill an AS with a crossbow. But a guardsmen has no chance to arrest one.

Even Bridget knew she need to capture the BA, not kill them. She could have had 20 crossbowmen simple fill them with arrows. She didn't. Because that's not what the good guys do. They capture the bad guys and bring them to justice.
Anthony Pero
75. anthonypero
37. Tathas

The Blaefire ter'angreal was made with cuendillar. I'm pretty sure that cuendillar is the one thing balefire can't unmake.
Gerd K
76. Kah-thurak
The main flaw in Elayne's plan is, that she does not even consider to get reinforcements to execute it. She should have been able to contact one of Rands Aiel armies and get enough Wise Ones and supporting elite infantry to deal with the situation on a much more comfortable level. And this is only one of her possible options in this regard. She could also have tried to find Rand himself and let him deal with the situation with his superior ressources.

What I also find quite unconvincing is the unwillingness of the Sea Folk to fight the Black Ajah. It is good and well that they wont fight for Elayne in the succession. But against Darkfriends? They should have joined the fight out of their best interest.
Alice Arneson
77. Wetlandernw
anthonypero @ 74 - Some very good points. Team Dark doesn't share information any better than Team Light - and sometimes worse. Of all the six known BA in the room, only Marillin knew that Careane was BA. Marillin & Falion were surprised by the entrance of the other four. Duhara quite possibly didn't know about any of the others. Mellar & Careane may or may not have know about each other, but it appears probably not. Perhaps best not to give them a heads-up on one another, or time to do anything with it?

Excellent points about "bringing to justice" and "it's Tower business" which IIRC no one has really addressed before. Wise or not, in the circs, none of the AS would have approved of bringing non-Tower channelers into the scenario. You simply don't air the Tower's dirty laundry in front of the world. Additionally, Tower law doesn't allow for the preemptive killing of a Sister without a formal trial, so assassins are not a valid option. That's the difference between the good guys and bad guys. Well said.

Incidentally, Elayne did plan for the unexpected to some degree; she had four shields prepared, and probably Vandene did as well. That was in case both Sareitha and Careane were BA, but it would have served as well had there been additional BA in the room. The problem with "planning for the unexpected" is that it's the unexpected you didn't think to plan for that bites you, and it's simply not possible to plan for every eventuality. As I've said before, this wasn't a perfect plan. It may not have been the best plan. But it was a good plan, and its execution 10 minutes plus or minus would have made it work perfectly well.

The one thing I think they should have done differently was to bring someone (probably a couple of Warders, preferably with fancloth cloaks) along into the house to watch their backs in case Mellar or someone like him showed up. Given who actually showed up, I'm not sure it would have done anything but kill the Warders, but there might have been some warning that way. I still think the basic plan (go in with linked AS, as soon as possible) was pretty good; there were just a couple of details in the execution that might have helped. Then again, if the BA hadn't gotten the upper hand for a while, Careane would not have been exposed; Vandene wouldn't have gotten her satisfaction; there wouldn't have been MOAs for Guybon (adamantium FTW!) and Birgitte; the battle at the gate and the capture of Arymilla & co would not have gone down in such a satisfying manner...

Which once again proves why I'm glad RJ wrote this and not any one of us. A good plan, but not flawless, along with an unanticipated arrival, and BOOM! reversals flying everywhere, a whole bunch of smaller plots resolved, and the next twists (two books later) set up for us, all in three chapters. For all I've gotten frustrated with what seemed to be extraneous characters and plot arcs, RJ was a master of setting things up, making you feel the pain of the drawn-out frustration of the characters, and then snap! letting the spring go and leaving your head spinning with the number of things wrapped up all at once.
Rob Munnelly
78. RobMRobM
See, aren't Elayne chapters fun? Lots of good discussion going on.

Have to say I'm in Wet's good but not great plan camp. Keep in mind that until Hark's breakthrough, all efforts to reconnoiter Mellar ended in the death of the reconoiterers and Wet properly points out that delay may well have lead directly to more BA deaths among the Kin. Time was on the essence and Elayne properly figured that out.

Stefan Mitev
79. Bergmaniac
So let's review Elaida's "plan" when she sent Duhara:

1) Elaida knew Elayne was a really close friend of Egwene thus unlikely to switch sides in the Tower conflict.

2) Elaida thought she needed to have Elayne under control in some way and on her side due to the her foretelling about the Royal Line of Andor.

3) Elaida knew Elayne well enough to know that Elayne was headstrong and hated being pushed into doing things.

Yet despite all that, Elaida sent Duhara to offer terms, which were much worse than what Elayne had from the Salidar group. If Elayne had accepted, she'd have been back to Accepted, severely punished for "claiming" to be an Aes Sedai, and would've betrayed her closest friend. To have any hope of succeeding, Elaida should've offered at least to test Elayne for the shawl immediately and absolve her of a punishment for claiming to be an Aes Sedai. Elaida also should've offered more in terms of political support in the Succession struggle than the vague declarations Duhara made - at least one High Seat brought to support Elayne, for example. This wouldn't have worked either, but at least it had a chance for success from Elaida's PoV. Her actual offer was totally doomed from the start.
Alice Arneson
80. Wetlandernw
Bergmaniac - Oh, so very true! For somebody so smart, Elaida sure is dumb sometimes! It's funny, because she has shown a certain amount of skill in manipulating people in the past. Maybe she only sees certain people as needing manipulation, while others ("lower" than her) simply need to be smashed into their proper places. Since Elayne falls into the "lower" category - young, officially only Accepted (from the WT view), and someone Elaida observed growing from infancy to near-adulthood - she takes the smash approach.

Come to think of it, ever since she was raised Amyrlin she's been moving more and more people into the smash group... Which may indicate that she's always done that, and her increasingly bad decisions flow from her increasing sense of her own elevation above everyone else. While she knew there were others with power above hers (including Morgase, due to political if not OP power), she made the effort to know how to manipulate them. (I expect this would include not treating their children badly, or being too awful when it would be unacceptable to those in higher places.) Once she got into the place where a) she was in the "highest place" and b) she no longer felt she needed the support of those who put her there, there were no further constraints on her smash approach. No one needed to be manipulated or appeashed; they should all just obey without question. And... there goes what little good judgement she had ever displayed.

I'm not sure it explains everything, but it explains at least as much as "Fain-influence" twisting. If I had time to explore it further, I'd examine it to see if the two might be complementary. Anyone?
Heidi Byrd
81. sweetlilflower
I have been vacilating back and forth over the merits of Elayne's plan, but after reading anthonypero's post at 74, I have decided that the plan was the best in the situation. Since Elayne knew that a member of the BA just heard that the others had been found, she had to act immeidately. I mean, let's say she waited just one day to watch the house and learn more about the occupants. How, exactly was she supposed to ensure that neither AS sent a note to the house and warn the others? They both know how to Travel and invert weaves. Had she waited even a few hours, she never would have captured any of them.
82. Lsana

Do we actually have anything in the book that shows Elaida successfully manipulating people? The only thing I can think of is her coup, but the main reason that succeeded was that the first person she approached was Alviarin, who supported the coup for her own reasons. And even in that case, Elaida couldn't manage to persuade enough sitters to raise her without promising Alviarin as keeper.

Other than that:

1. Elaida tried to convince Morgase to treat Rand like a world-ending threat. She fails.

2. Elaida gets unceremoniously dumped by Morgase and sent back to the WT. Presumably she would have tried to convince Morgase not to do this, but apparently failed.

3. Elaida tried to ingrate herself with the supergirls. She fails.

4. Elaida tries to do...well, pretty much anything as Amyrlin. She manages an impressive record of something like 0-129.

If Elaida has any people skills, I don't know what they are.
Kimani Rogers
83. KiManiak
Yeah, gotta love these chapters. Definitely a lot of food for thought and discussion…

On that note, I’m all for putting down my stick and walking away (if only for a short while, maybe) from beating poor Bela in regards to “the plan,” to follow up with the comments from @79 & @80 re: Elaida, and by extension, Duhara.

Bergmaniac and Wetlandernw bring up some good points about Elaida, her treatment of her subordinates, and her expectations in relation to others seeing things her way and/or doing what she wants. Clearly Elaida’s expectation (if this is indeed what she sent Duhara for; do we have confirmation from an Elaida POV that Duhara was sent to Caemlyn to deliver those terms and/or that message?) that Elayne would return to the Tower when summoned is rooted in some altered perception of reality.

But I think it’s just as important, if not moreso to look at the messenger in this case, especially based upon learning in TGS that Duhara was Black Ajah. To date, the Aes Sedai have shown that if they are given an assignment by the Amyrlin, they will choose to interpret how effectively they wish to carry it out.

Excluding the fact that she’s BA, Duhara is a Sitter (and as I recall when Siuan was discussing the whole too-young Sitter thing, your average Sitter is about a 100 or so before being selected) and is therefore likely to be both politically savvy, and rather experienced in successful methods of persuading and/or manipulating others to try to accomplish her goals.

Put another way, I think it’s safe to assume that Duhara (or any politically astute AS) was aware that telling Elayne to betray her friend, prepare to select a regent, return to the Tower for a demotion and discipline, etc… well, that was probably not going to go over well, and had a strong chance of being rejected immediately. I think the reader should question what Duhara was really trying to accomplish here.

And when you add in the fact that Duhara’s BA, it adds all other types of possibilities. Was Duhara trying to just cause more discord within the ranks of the Aes Sedai? Did she receive alternate directions from Alviarin or one of the Forsaken? Was there an ulterior motive?

I’d like to believe that there was more to Duhara's sad and pathetic attempt then just another Aes Sedai who had reached a position of authority and respect within the Tower, but who is written to be incredibly incompetent, annoying and clueless in the execution of their actions.

I’m hoping AMoL shines a little more light :-) on the situation.
Douglas Miller
84. douglas
Lsana @82
1. She's up against a Ta'veren, and advocating something that is utterly at odds with appearances and against her subject's nature.

2. Morgase was acting under Rahvin's Compulsion at the time. No amount of manipulation by anyone would have sufficed.

3. If you're referring to the occasion I think you are, she knows practically nothing about any of them and they are all Novices or Accepted at the time. She lacks the knowledge to manipulate them effectively and the motivation to put much effort into trying.

4. As Amyrlin she goes into full bore "smash mode" on everyone indiscriminately.

Every example you gave is either Elaida not trying or Elaida up against an impossibly high standard.

With that said, I'd be hard pressed to find an Elaida manipulation example "on page" that doesn't fall into one of those categories. It seems like she only ever really used her people skills in backstory events, acquiring and maintaining her position as Morgase's adviser until Rahvin's arrival. The closest I remember her getting to even trying to display good manipulation skills for an achievable goal is, as you noted, the maneuvering to depose Siuan, but the end result is all we see of that and she had major Black Ajah help from Alviarin.
Don Barkauskas
85. bad_platypus
anthonyper0 @73: Good point; the other major flaw is the quote I posted @52.

anthonyper0 @74:
She knows a member of the BA is in the palace with her as she's getting the information. There is no shield in place or mentioned to prevent evesdropping. The longer she waits for more information, the more likely it is that Mellar and the BA will find out she's on to them.

This is an excellent point. Once the information is declared openly, she needs to act.

J.Dauro @69: Yes, some reconnaissance would be good, but is it realistic that they'd be able to get a floor plan of the house without alerting the occupants? Also, I believe that Elayne knew neither Falion nor Marillin had Warders, the house is hardly big enough for 50 guards, and a few guards and any number of servants could reasonably be expected to be dealt with fairly quietly. Thus, the "only two of us" is highly relevant. As Wetlandernw says, not a perfect plan, but a pretty good one that just went south.

Back to anthonyper0 @74: The lack of easy communication among the BA is a good reminder. I know that the BA Hunters in the Tower know about the heart system; does anyone else outside of the BA know this? I can't remember if it ever came up in any of the other BA questionings we've seen. If Elayne didn't know about the heart system, then she would have to assume the the mole would be able to get the information that they knew about the House on Full Moon Street to the BA there. Even if Elayne did know about the heart system, she would have to assume that the mole would have some way to get a message to the BA outside (by randomly being in a heart with one of them, for example), so either way I guess it's a moot point for this argument.
Valentin M
86. ValMar
KiManiak @ 83

I think you are right. One explanation is that Duhara was making sure Elayne stayed put so the Dark's plan for her could happen. Another is that Duhara is as derranged as Elaida.

Also, in case anyone missed it, I'm in the camp of "plan was reasonable, if not perfect". The warders should've watched the back door, simple emotion of alarm would've warned the "hit squad" of danger. But it had to happen the way it did.
87. Derelict Phoenix

Semantics... We know that female channelers outnumber male, at least currently. Taim says the BT will be able to match the WT in numbers but that was before Egwene's influx of novice. When you include the Wise ones and Windfinders who would be inclined to contribute against the Seanchan threat, you should have sufficent numbers to toss another 1-2 female channelers or however many it is you need into the circles.

Also these wouldn't have to be long missions. Say you use a circle of 7 females and 6 male. There are thirteen channelers so the female can lead. Say you've picked one of the kin, 'a kind grandmotherly type' who is fairly weak in the power and generally indescript, to be the lead channeler. After going through a few weeks of intensive acting training and physical conditioning, she uses her knowledge of Ebou Dari to open a gateway into her old bedroom. She steps outside looks at the Imperial Palace pulls Saidin and drops a handful of lighting bolts on the palace. She then follows the crowd running and screaming toward the gates, blasting any large concentrations of troops and freeing any damane with threads of Air. (These can be grabbed and rescued by other teams.) For some reason, she starts to get noticed. So she slips down an alley opens a saidin powered gateway and is home in time for tea. (The Saidin gateway leaves no traces for the Seanchan although that cat is out of the bag already thanks to Eliada...) If you are parnoid, you can have her planet hop around a few times to be sure and lose any pursuers. The whole sortie lasts less than thirty minutes. You can then launch additional sorties targeting known Seanchan bases, where since civilian causulaties are no longer a consideration you can use a considerably greater amount of power and more destructive weaves.

Since the Seanchan have no way of detecting Saidin, they have no way of detecting the gateway opening. Within a few months with a decent intelligence service, something at which the Aes Sedai allegedly excell, any concentration of Seanchan soldiers greater than a company for longer than the 2-5 days it takes to get a pigeon into Seanchan free lands to a waiting strike force would be impossible. Then you send in the ground troops. I'd suggest a healthy amount of Aiel (who are already ticked off) and Tower Guard. The Seanchan can't gather to oppose them without being harrassed by Saidin channelers. The Seanchan would be reduce to a invading guerilla force... a contradiction in terms.

Changes to the plan will be required but the core concept seems good to me...

Of course, this assumes a level of dedication and coordination that seems to be entirely beyond the WT. Getting any Aes Sedai to leave her feather bed in the Tower or merely commiting to a full year long war is probably a lost cause...
Mark Locy
88. Tathas
72. birgit Well, that answers that; thank you. Still, a little clumsy, especially with such an ordered and rich magic system. Still, I've found, time related magic is wonky wherever you are.

75. anthonypero Stupid cuendillar.
Alice Arneson
89. Wetlandernw
@several re: Elaida - Quite true, we don't see a lot of Elaida being smart "on screen" as it were. But somewhere in her backstory, she whizzed through Novice and Accepted training, acquired a reputation for intelligence, got herself made Morgase's advisor, and was apparently a good advisor in general. At least, Morgase is said to have always listened to and considered her advice before making a decision; the fact that after nearly 20 years she was still listening indicates that Elaida must have been at least a decent advisor. While that doesn't necessarily indicate great people skills, she was at any rate able to avoid alienating Morgase or any of the court that actually mattered. Even Galad & Gawyn seem to think of her with some respect, if not liking. (They wouldn't have been smash candidates, but they wouldn't have been worth much of her attention either.)

Granted that Elaida probably wouldn't have been chosen as the replacement Amyrlin, and might not even have managed the coup, without Alviarin's aid, not all those Sisters were BA. She at least had to have enough apparent skill and wit to be considered an acceptable choice. So while it's mostly by inference, it seems clear that up until the last year or so, Elaida has had enough intelligence and people skills to succeed as Morgase's advisor and attain (however questionably) the leadership of the WT. I can't imagine either of those having taken place if she had always displayed the level of wisdom we've seen in her lately.

Good suggestions about Duhara, too. It's quite possible that Elaida just told her to go be Elayne's AS advisor, and the rest of it was her own invention. Having served as Keeper in the past and Sitter at present, she's probably got her own ideas about the whole thing anyway, complicated by her BA directives. One wonders where she is now. Did she get word of the Tower purge, and disappear, or was she under other orders? Last time we saw her, she'd taken rooms in Caemlyn and was visiting Ellorien to show her displeasure with Elayne. Some political savvy there; maybe her primary goal is to keep Caemlyn as stirred up and unready for attack as she can. Any bets on whether we'll see her in the battle for Caemlyn that we all assume will be coming near the beginning of AMoL?
Don Barkauskas
90. bad_platypus
Derelict Phoenix @87: Except that it won't work because of the quote I posted @52.
91. Ouroboros
Skwid @ 18

Adamantium is inside the body, so having balls of that comes more easily to the mind. Besides, would you really want an AS channelling at your unmentionables?

Wetlandernw @ 38

I think that's part of what's up with Rand and Moridin crossing streams (balefire) in ACoS.

Wetlander @ 47

Shush! Don't draw attention to it.

Douglas @ 50

Not convinced. It's a chaos theory thing. If you balefire the wrong person at the wrong time it could have massive implications.

mike123 @ 53

If a man and a woman who can both channel are placed in a regular a'dam, they both die in pain. (TGH).

Gabemar @ 63

I can't remember where, but Elayne says that a queen must understand the plans her generals put before her. Oh, bergmaniac has it @ 65 *nods*

macster @ 64

Well, diabolical just means devilish, not ingenious.

birgit @ 72

At a guess, the lines cut out of the walls could be because the balefire just swept along the wall, briefly touching each part of it. If the wall was hit with a concentrated burst for a long time, it might have unravelled the whole wall.

anthonypero @ 75

Correct. Cuendillar is balefire proof. I suppose the weapon had to be otherwise it would unmake itself the first time it was used.
92. Ouroboros
@ many on finding a better plan.

Obviously, Elayne forgot everything she had learnt in her many lessons in urban warfare, crowd control, police actions, midnight raids, criminology, and arm chair strategizing.

Fortunately, she did remember the one important lesson. Starting a pitched battle with the power in a heavily populated city is absolute lunacy. It was bad enough outside the walls where men on horseback had a small chance of running away. What would have happened if someone had starting throwing fireballs or using balefire canon in the streets? Perhaps she was awake during the lesson on collateral damage.

Yes, she could have evacuated the area, put bowmen on every rooftop, set the house on fire to flush them out, and shot them down in the street. But the fallout would most likely have been appalling. All it would have taken would have been one of the baddies looking out of the window at the wrong moment and the game would have been up. Even if they had got everyone in place and got the BA out into the streets, there was nothing to stop them from weaving shields of air to deflect the arrows and burning everything in sight to stop the bowmen. The stealthy approach was the only possibility of taking them by surprise and thus avoiding a blood bath in the streets with half the city on fire.

As for taking time for recons, consultations, committee meetings and sending out for a channeller’s supreme with double warder, well, several have already said it. There was a black sister in their midst, and for all Elayne knew, she could have been in on all of the shadow’ry about the place, not just the murders. So, yes, hanging around and talking about it so that she could sneak of and warn the prey was simply not an option.

Alright, I’ll grant it that the queen needs to keep herself safe since the people rely on her to… well… be alive, but she’s also an AS, and they have a rather clear duty where fighting the shadow is concerned. Also, the palace was hardly full of powerful female channellers trained in OP scrapping who would have been willing to wade hip deep into a vipers nest. The Sea Folk SF were contracted out of the fight, and half of the kin would most likely have passed out at the thought.

Let’s give the girl a break for once?

Well, who’d have thought it, I’m defending Elayne. The end of days do be coming. Fortune prick me if they do.
Leigh Butler
93. leighdb
BillinHI @ 49:

Awwwww! That's the cutest *headdesk* ever. Even though it's more of a *headcarpet*, technically, but hey.

CharlesH @ 67:

I don't want to come off like a nerd or anything, but wasn't Captain America's sheild Vibranium, which actually destroys adamantium.

True. Nerd!

(Which would be the most quintessential example ever of pot calling kettle...)
94. Wortmauer
Elayne's plan: Needed a reserve force. I do agree that Elayne couldn't really get away with waiting for better intel or more planning. Someone was offing her allies in the palace every day. And given the Succession situation, she had no time to waste in dealing with an enemy weakening her position from within the walls of Caemlyn. And of course she had no way of knowing Team Dark was, if possible, even less efficient at communication than Team Light.

She also shouldn't have endangered herself. Though I know it's an absolute waste of breath to tell Elayne that a true general leads from the rear, it is a lesson she could stand to learn, maybe from her buddy Egwene. She's not so very different from her over-eager boy-noble Conail, the one who "thinks he can win Elayne the flaming throne with his flaming sword," as Birgitte says. Or, as skip@46 put so nicely,
Apparently, only listened to any of the lessons on military operations, and Elayne just listened to the histories of Andoran Queens leading troops into battle.
So, what should she have done, given her resources and constraints? Have a reserve and be in it. Form two circles, like she did, with Vandene and herself leading ... but with more participants. (Tower business? The Black Ajah has been killing Kin too. Use some of them.) Enough to give Vandene the strength to prepare, deploy and manage those four shields. Vandene goes in with a couple of guards. Elayne, along with most members of both circles, and a bunch of those pretty Guardswomen, would remain outside, around the corner, in reserve. She would eavesdrop on the house using Saidar so she'd know how it was going, whether and when to engage, whether and when to flee if necessary.

(And yes, I know perfectly well there is no possible plan that will outsmart an author who needs certain stuff to happen. Even ta'veren have to answer to Robert Jordan. That the plot needed something to happen, and therefore it was going to happen no matter what, shouldn't prevent us from discussing how it should have been prevented.)

Elaida's political acumen: It occurs to me that she had one huge advantage when it came to overthrowing the Amyrlin. What do Egwene, Siuan, and Elaida have in common? They're all in the 99th percentile of Power strength among Aes Sedai at the time they are elected. The text implies that consideration for such leadership positions is not based on strength in the Power ... but come on. This is the White Tower we're talking about. They're more obsessed with comparing their "endowments" than anyone I've ever heard of. Just imagine what a great market Aes Sedai would be for spammers. "Add 3 inches to your Saidar in 6 months!"

So, obviously Elaida had to convince a coalition to overthrow Siuan Sanche in the first place. But convincing them to support Elaida in particular? With Siuan and Moiraine out of the picture, the Supergirls not yet raised, and SWMNBN perennially presumed dead, I believe Elaida was the top 3 or 4 Aes Sedai.

It's also unknown how much was arranged by Alviarin. We presume Alviarin brought the Black Ajah to the table, but why couldn't she also have had a hand in bringing the other sisters into the coalition? We know she has the acumen, ruthlessness or whatever to rise to the head of an organization with considerably higher and sharper stakes than any other White Tower sub-organizations.

Yeah, I'm not convinced Elaida knows from politics. It doesn't take a lot of brains to know not to try and bully Queen Morgase.
Especially Elaida. Never mind that she lives on an island shaped like Tar Valon, she wants to build herself a taller phallic symbol than the White Tower itself. I mean, really.
95. Justinus
One lesson Elayne hasn't yet learned that she should: YOU ALWAYS LET YOUR WARDER GUARD YOUR BACK! ALWAYS!!!!

I've tried to look at the whole scenario from a more objective perspective, but there's no other way of looking at it. Elayne is stupidly and arrogantly reckless. There's no going around it. Stupidity seems to be a Trakand trait - both Gawyn and Morgase have consistently shown it in their decisions.
Stefan Mitev
96. Bergmaniac
Wortmauer @94 - "Though I know it's an absolute waste of breath to tell Elayne that a true general leads from the rear, it is a lesson she could stand to learn, maybe from her buddy Egwene."

Learn from Egwene? When has ever Egwene lead from the rear during a battle? Elayne did it in the next chapter successfully. In fact, during the whole Succession war she never lead from the front, only did it when a channelling was required to deal with the problem and she was one of the few who could do it.
Sara H
97. LadyBelaine
One thing about Elaida which always struck me as tragic and is always forgotten is that she was intelligent and ruthless and motivated and not-completely-meglomanical at one point (her accelerated schooling, her rapid rise, etc... )

What tipped her over the edge was her proximity to Padan Fain who briefly served as an advisor and who "brushed her" with the taint from Shadar Logoth. After that, she lost all her cunning and her grip on sanity.
98. alreadymadwithleading
Bergmaniac @96
Elayne never led from the front because Birgitte and Dyelin consistently (and uncharacteristically) find something to keep her occupied. It's the only thing they agree on. And the Palace Guard is in on it as well. Otherwise she'd end up always drifting ever closer until one day, thwack!
99. ryamano
@92 Ourobouros

and half of the kin would most likely have passed out at the thought.

Wasn't there one of the Kin who was extremely talented at weaving shields (not even a forsaken would be able to get out of her shield, according to her)? I don't know if she's still alive or not at that moment of KOD, but wouldn't she be useful at that kind of situation? Also, didn't the Kin grew a backbone, due to Nyanaeve and Elayne's actions before? They wouldn't balk at facing Aes Sedai anymore, according to what we saw at PoD and WH.

Of course, Elayne needed to be captured so the story would go forward and end this damn plot, but still, that doesn't take the biggest mistake of Elayne: she put herself (and her whole cause) at risk.
Heidi Byrd
100. sweetlilflower
The author will always get his way, but overall, I have come to regard this plan as pretty good given the circumstances.
Elijah Foster
101. TheWolfKing
I am quite a bit late on this, but i recall that someone said that the a'dam prevents linking. may have been Elayne on her studies of the a'dam. Therefore it would be impossible to stay in a link if you somehow got an a'dam on you. I would think that it would have the same effect as losing saidar in shock.

I may be wrong though. Pretty sure im not because i recall that it was elayne makingfuture plans with someone to somehow battle the Seanchan after the last battle. Does someone else remember this.
102. Shadow_Jak
Here's my 2 cents on the *plan*
(very much enjopying the discussion, lot's of good point on all sides)

Most everything has been pretty well hashed over. But consider this. About the only thing Elyane knew was that Marillin and Falion were reportedly there.

Consider the circumstances the last time Elayne met Marillin and Falion.
Marillin was in Tanchico in the company of at least two other Black's (Temaile and Jeaine) and one forsaken, Moghedien.
Falion was in Ubou Dar along with Ipsan (now dead), a passel of DarkFriends and one each gholam.

A little more caution was called for.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed this whole thread and wouldn't have it any other way.
Just continues to prove that all Trakands are equally... spontaneous. ;-)
John Massey
103. subwoofer
Life is busy as usual.

Not going to go into the comments as I could be here all day... come to think, there was a period of time where I was...

Anyways- Elayne's plan- blows. Just sayin', but generals usually don't lead from the front- ie. putting themselves in harm's way. Dowse the building with lamp oil and start the burning. No one could sense channeling then. Anyone shows their face- lightening, arrows, anvils falling from the sky.

Birgitte- Hero of the Horn. Folks would do well to remember that.

Whatshernuts sent to advise Elayne- well, she's a douche, but she was sent to do a job. Wasn't Elaida the Tower's chosen sent to advise Morgase? Same stuff, different pile. Where the whole plan fell apart was the lack of tact and understanding in regards to Elayne's status. Advise, don't threaten and dictate, you get a lot more bees with honey, instead of vinegar. Maybe she wasn't the best of advisors.

The AS dying. Well, war is hard. When you are caught up in the moment, survival and not wanting to let your mates down keeps you going. At some point your mind goes back to process events, and you deal or don't deal with it. Writing about it- time does seem to slow down and seconds stretch like forever. Good job RJ.

104. Ouroboros
Generals don’t lead from the front?

She paused, then went on. “When Andor goes to war, the First Prince of the Sword commands the army, but the Queen rides with them, too. Seven hundred years ago, at the Battle of Cuallin Dhen, the Andormen were being routed when Queen Modrellein rode, alone and unarmed, carrying the Lion banner into the midst of the Tairen army. The Andormen rallied and attacked once more, to save her, and won the battle. That is the kind of courage expected of the Queen of Andor. If I have not learned to control my fear yet, I must before I take my mother’s place on the Lion Throne.” (TDR:16

She ran down a list of Andoran queens who had shown courage in the face of great danger, until she realized it was a list of all the queens of Andor. I will be queen one day; I can be as brave as they. (TSR:54)

So, Elayne sees it as her duty to take an active role, and she sees staying behind as an act of cowardice, which is an obsession for her. She also spent her childhood watching her brother being taught about honour and duty (and to sing patters in a posh accent - G&S FTW). So, is it really a surprise that she goes in with the vanguard?

But that’s still not the important point. Elayne is by far the strongest channeller available for the mission and if she didn’t go in, those she sent in for her could have been massively out gunned, and the plan would have been a complete non-starter if half the channellers had been taken out in the first two minutes. So yes, leading from the front lines is not always the best way, but when you’re the only person who can do the job, you don’t have much choice.

I’m not saying Elayne hasn’t been wreckless in the past, and there’s eye-rolling aplenty at quite a lot of her actions, including those to come, but in this case, I think there’s something of a confirmation bias at work. “Elayne is often wreckless, therefore, this plan was wreckless.”

BTW, of course Vandene agreed to the plan, she’s a green sister, and they’re supposed to be the ones who do the fighting. And it’s hardly surprising that the black sister objects. Birgitte is supposed to keep Elayne safe, so neither is her objection a surprise. Simply put, the “vote” is hardly without bias.

If it had been me, I’d have used an invisibility weave and masked my ability, then searched the entire house from top to bottom, clubbing everyone over the head with air and cleaning up the mess afterwards; but then, I’m a sneaky bastard. I’d have then been slaughtered on the altar of hindsight by everyone and his/her uncle who had read about my exploits and spent four years debating the flaws in the plan, which is funny really, given that I only had a few minutes to work it out.

Even more significant is the fact that I’m not a woman, so, I’d have been killed for claiming to be the ruler of Andor.
John Massey
105. subwoofer

Don't have time to get into a wordy debate. Mat said as much. That's why he's all over the crossbow idea and subsequently, the canon idea- killing baddies while far removed from harm's way.General's may be in the forward areas guiding their troops, but usually the first person to stand up and say "charge" is the first person shot at. The fact that some character's do is the Star Trek Syndrome. How is the narrator supposed to talk about events retold through people if these people are not there? My suggestion involved not a lot of initial channeling. Kill them at a distance.

Leading from the front does involve risks but most realize that they are no good to anyone dead. Yes, Elayne was the strongest, but that does not mean she has to charge in. If need be, use the circle to have a giant fire ball blast the house from a distance. I can't emphasis the "from a distance" idea enough. They knew the folks were there, there was no need to go poke them with a short stick. That's why swords are better than knives too, and the whole Mat vs. two sword guys idea comes into play.

Edit- oh yeah, Joan of Arc lead from the front to. It was a great success, up 'til the time she got captured at Compeigne and later killed. She inspired her troops, but it didn't end well. Pity that some of those AS with Elayne became Red Shirts.

Gotta go. See y'all next weekend:D

Stefan Mitev
106. Bergmaniac
But Elayne is really not a general here. Her "troops" consist of the grand total of 3 Aes Sedai, and she's probably stronger than the three of them combined. If she stays back, it reduces the chance for success drastically.

As I said already, we see in the next chapter that when she had an army, she was content to stay away from the frontline surrounded by bodyguards.
Alice Arneson
107. Wetlandernw
woof - The biggest flaw in your approach is that it only kills; capture is not an option. It doesn't follow the law that an accused person must be brought to trial, judged, sentence and then executed. From our perspective, "they're BA - kill 'em like rabid dogs" but Elayne has said before, as learned from her mother, the Queen is not above the law. If the Queen, or the strongest AS in town, or the Amyrlin Seat, decides that she IS the law and doesn't have to follow the written law, you get Elaida. Even if it meant great risk, and possibly great harm, Elayne couldn't just bomb the house and hope they all died; it would not have been lawful.
Heidi Byrd
108. sweetlilflower
When I first read this arc, I agreed that this plan sucks. But, when you factor in time constraints, and the excellent point Wetlandernw just made; there really isn't another viable option. I guess some people will disagree no matter what, but put me in the "this was the best plan for the situation" camp.
109. Shadow_Jak
"'When I first read this arc, I agreed that this plan sucks. But, when you factor in time constraints"
There are no time constraints, except the ones Elayne created by ordering the arrest of Mellor.
What's the big rush?
Elayne wants an adventure, she *knows* she's safe until the babes come, so she grabs at this excuse.
She really should be paddled!
Alice Arneson
110. Wetlandernw
Shadow_Jak - There's a built in time constraint based on the risk of innocent lives. But... we've discussed that already. She must assume that word may get out, both to Mellar and to the hidden BA in the palace. Aside from that, she just learned that the Kin body count is up to 10, most likely being murdered by that hidden BA. How many more should she wait for? When you have proof that your high-ranking officer is a DF, how much more time do you give him to cause problems? And seriously, considering the lengths they had to go to just to finally have him successfully followed, what are the chances that anyone she sets to watch the house (to gain intel) will survive?
Heidi Byrd
111. sweetlilflower
Also, she KNOWS that a member of the BA just heard that she has found their little nest. She has to act quickly or the BA mole will get word ahead, or so she must assume. Seriously, there are some major time constraints on her ability to plan and spy.
Kimani Rogers
112. KiManiak
I’m enjoying reading the discussion and the valid (and not so valid) points brought up by those who are either “good plan,” “bad plan” or “just-good-enough plan.” I’ve said most of what I feel I’ve needed to say @23, @39 and @42 (I still think some are confusing “I like Elayne’s course of action based upon the outcome, plot development, that’s how RJ wrote it, etc” with “it’s a good plan,” but that’s just me) so I’m not really going to try to revisit most of my arguments again.

However, a couple of solid posts (and commenters) addressed the whole urgency/must act immediately perspective, and I wanted to answer those.

1) AP@74 and others brought up the likelihood that Elayne was factoring in that the BA could know that Elayne now knows about the 2 Black sisters in the house, and plans to move on them, since Elayne didn’t soundproof her meeting with Norry and Hark. Which was a good point, but there is no evidence in the following text that Elayne feels a heightened sense of urgency due to her lack of soundproofing the room.

After sending for Birgitte and the Sisters, a period of time passes before they could arrive (remember, they are supposed to arrive with their Warders and ready to ride), but Elayne doesn’t do anything to address the possibility that word could be passed out of the castle by one of them to alert the BA in the House on Full Moon Street.

This particular section is from Elayne’s POV and there is absolutely nothing in the text that has her worrying that the Black Sisters could find out about being discovered. She goes from worrying about getting them to talk (or lady Shiaine), to worrying about Duhara forcing herself upon Elayne as an advisor. Not one moment spent reflecting on the need to move right away in order to stop the BA from being warned.

There is no obvious (or I would argue, even subtle) textual evidence that Elayne felt she had to act quickly due to the possibility that her knowledge of the Sisters on Full Moon Street would be betrayed by Darkfriends, even the one in her midst.

2) There had been a BA doubleagent (that Elayne has been aware of) in their midst since Adeleas was murdered. The threat to innocent lives was and had remained present for awhile. One of the Kinswoman had just died, but she reflected that 3 had died in the last 10 days. They weren’t dropping by the hour and she had spoken with Alise and Sumeko to set up measures to protect the remaining Kinswomen. So the need to identify the BA in their midst was still important, but so was the need to protect the Walls, put out the fires in Caemlyn, locate more of the Queen’s Guardsmen sprinkled throughout the countryside and secure her throne.

Also, Elayne’s course of action with the BA in Full Moon Street wouldn’t, of itself, do anything to identify who the BA was in their midst. It appeared that Elayne was hoping the BA in the house would spill the beans about which of Elayne’s AS was the traitor. Or, that the mole would somehow betray themselves (“I must protect my Sisters in Shadow, even if it means betraying myself!”) during the confrontation.

Her “plan” was that the BA would be surprised enough or intimidated enough to betray themselves (never mind that Ipsan already showed that a captured BA can only tell so much; and that to date her mole had been smart enough to not tell Elayne or the others that she was indeed BA).

Elayne’s character to date appears to be the type who is courageous and somewhat fearless, but often impulsive and prone to rushing in before fully thinking the matter through. IMO, the text continues to support that portrayal of her.

Other then when it came to playing Daes’ daemar or other political actions, RJ never wrote her as a planner or tactician, folks (although, to be fair, she made a nice attempt with trying to manipulate the Borderland army).

EDIT: Sweetlilflower@111 - Elayne doesn't know (or even think) that her mole knows that Elayne has discovered 2 BA until Elayne had already made up her mind up to go to the house. She instructs Deni to send word to the Sisters to show up to the meeting with their Warders and prepared to ride; when the Sisters appear she then tells them.

Up until the point when she tells them in the sitting room, Elayne didn't consider the possibility that the mole may know that Elayne knows about the 2 BA in the house; and the reader also is aware that the mole doesn't know.
113. macster
First off, thanks for the kind words, Wetlander. :) And I have to be very grateful to the support and intelligent words from you (though that isn't a surprise!), thewindrose, anthonypero, Ouroboros, and others.

Now...though this has been hashed over and all the good, important points raised, I'm going to give this one more shot so, Wall o' Text warning.

The most common objections being made to the plan that I'm seeing are "she didn't gather enough info first" and "she didn't bring enough reinforcements or reserves". Setting aside whether what she brought was enough to take out two BA (which no one has tried to refute so I'm guessing that is accepted as a given), how was she supposed to get info, and whom was she supposed to bring? Let's run down the list.

Elayne has no spies. What she has is Master Norry and his network...and everyone Norry has sent has been killed by Mellar when they followed him. She has soldiers and servants, none of whom are good at stealthy intelligence work. She has Birgitte, who won't leave her side and is not known for being particularly stealthy or good at info gathering. She has the Sea Folk and Kin, who know nothing of these things either and have no network in the city. She has Aes Sedai, who only have experience with eyes-and-ears agents, it is never stated that any of those with Elayne have such agents in Caemlyn, and she knows at least one is Black so can't be trusted. And she has Hark, whom if you can't trust what he brought in his report on the House on Full Moon Street, I don't see how you can trust any further reports he brings. So...she really has no way of getting info. As for eavesdropping, if the sisters in the house are using a ward, listening in won't do anything except alert them to your presence. Bad idea.

Reinforcements. Again let's go down the list. We have the Sea Folk. They won't do anything without the Bargain. They have to be forced to act when witnessing a slaughter of an army. They clearly don't feel jeopardized by the siege since they can Travel out at any time and are only staying because of the Bargain and the Aes Sedai teachers. As to why they don't seem to care about the BA, simple: they're selfish. And also note, none of their people were being killed by Careane, so they had no personal fear of danger. (I would assume she wasn't ordered to kill any of them, either because the Kin, under White Tower control and in greater numbers, were seen as more of a threat, or because Careane/Marillin/Moridin knew the Sea Folk were not very reliable allies.)

The Kin themselves? Setting aside the fact many of them don't know combat weaves, have never been in battle, and would be terrified to be placed in danger like that, there's the point that as we see in ToM and was being set up for all along, Elayne wants those Kin who don't go to the Tower to have a base in Caemlyn to use Traveling and Healing for the sake of Andor. Throwing untrained channelers into what could be a pitched battle with fireballs and balefire doesn't sound like the best way to convince possible allies it's safe for them to stay in your city.

The Aiel? Well if you're talking regular warriors, even taking into account how good the Aiel are in battle you're talking the same situation as the Warders and Andoran soldiers--namely, they'd be of no use against the Power. I don't think Elayne would want to risk the lives of Rand's only real staunch allies against the BA in the streets of Caemlyn. As for the Wise Ones, even assuming she could get them to leave Bandar Eban and leave the Car'a'carn undefended (very unlikely, unless she invoked her first-sister bond with Aviendha or the high esteem the Wise Ones hold Egwene in), they'd do no better against balefire than anybody else in the real world.

(If it were T'A'R they'd be proof against it, if they were dreamwalkers with as much skill as Perrin, but even if Elayne had thought of, say, Amys or Bair going into the World of Dreams, shielding the BA there, and then she and her Aes Sedai could go into the house to shield and capture them in the real world too, she knows Liandrin's coven has had a long time to practice with dream ter'angreal and still have some in their possession. Melaine being pregnant would probably not be a good idea to involve, and if there are more than two BA in the house, they could shield and/or kill Amys and Bair. At the very least, they'd be warned and could get away in the real world before Elayne could get there.)

And as for joining circles and such, if I recall correctly the Aiel are still new to that (Perrin's group had to be shown by the Aes Sedai with him before they could link with the Asha'man), and unless the ones with the greatest strength in the Power came along (which is unlikely, they'd stay behind to protect Rand and his allies from the Seanchan and Graendal), that really wouldn't make much difference in the end.

The Aes Sedai? Well let's see. Setting aside the fact she is still trying to hide the Bargain from everyone (even Egwene!), Elayne has no reason to trust them or think they will help. The Salidar group is busy assaulting the Tower or scheming amongst themselves, and Elayne is well aware of Egwene's capture. She wouldn't want to interfere with Elaida being brought down, from without or within. The ones in the Tower--well, aside from being loyal to Elaida, she just got a lesson from Duhara about what the sisters there think of her. Even if she thought they would help her (which hardly sounds likely coming from people who want to make you put a regent on the throne, demote you to Accepted, and make you serve penance and re-enter classes), after the way they've treated her she wouldn't want to ask them for anything. Both groups also have the issue of there being unknown numbers of BA among them. Who can she trust and tell? How does she know whatever sisters sent to help her aren't of the Shadow and, even if they can't get word to the BA in the house, might not betray her in the middle of the assault? She can't afford to involve more Aes Sedai until she can be sure of their loyalty.

Rand and his forces? Well aside from the issue I just mentioned with not knowing if any of the Aes Sedai with him are Black, there's the fact that all those Aes Sedai are personally sworn to him or they follow Cadsuane. Regardless of which faction they came from, they won't do anything without one of them giving permission. She doesn't even know Cadsuane but after hearing tales from Nynaeve, I doubt she wants to go head-to-head with her just to see if she can pry some of her Aes Sedai away. (She has no way of knowing that Cadsuane would love to get her hands on BA.) As for Rand himself...she's trying to hide her pregnancy from him so the Shadow won't know her babies are his. He's a little busy in Arad Doman. He's also going mad. If she were to involve him he'd likely either come swooping in, guns blazing, wrecking Caemlyn, and allowing the BA to get away, or he'd send Asha'man which would amount to the same thing. For hopefully obvious reasons, she can't trust Taim to help her either. She can't even get Mat's help since she has no idea where he is other than in Seanchan-controlled territory.

Now, as to a point mentioned earlier about why the sense of urgency: aside from the fact she needs to lift the siege, she doesn't trust her own mercenary captains or Mellar, and she doesn't want the BA to get away, there's the deaths of the Kin. Going back to my point about trying to get them to stay in Caemlyn to serve Andor, she can't do that if someone keeps killing them off. And if we assume that the Kin have more of a backbone now, they could easily stand up to Elayne and say "No, we're not going to stay here with our lives in danger, we're going to the Tower where at least we know it's safe" (no comment on the irony of that statement) if she doesn't do something soon to stop the BA. So there is a reason to expedite things. And, of course, as anthonypero already pointed out, Hark's report having been made in the open so that they have to act before this info can reach the BA. (BTW, Elayne does know about the heart system: she discovered it when she, Nynaeve, and Egwene were questioning Amico back in TSR. But as pointed out, she has no way of knowing if any of the BA in the house know the BA in her own group.)

So, we're left with a lot of people Elayne either can't ask for help, could but isn't sure will help (or can be trusted), or whom she wouldn't want to endanger. She has no real way of gathering more info. Time is of the essence. As stated, she can't sit on her hands forever and has to act at some point. So she brought what she could, did what she could with what she had, and it would have been enough if the others had not shown up.

Other points: again I return to it, why does Elayne get all the blame when things would have worked out just fine if Birgitte and the Warders were watching the other door? I have yet to see anyone address this point, since of course it is always easier to blame Elayne for everything. And let's think about those Warders. We know at least one of Careane's was a Darkfriend, possibly both. But Sareitha's wasn't, Vandene's wasn't, and Birgitte certainly wasn't. So while you could make an argument that the Darkfriend Warders might have refrained from guarding the door because Careane told them to, thus allowing BA allies to possibly get the drop on them, that doesn't explain why the Lightside Warders didn't guard it. What could the Dark Warders possibly have said to convince them--especially Birgitte? And while you could say Elayne had to have known some of the Warders could be Dark and thus should not have trusted them to watch her back, she also knew some probably weren't, and Birgitte was there, so she had every reason to assume they'd make sure no one snuck in the back way. Except...they didn't. And this failure is...Elayne's somehow? Does not compute.

Lastly, the fact that Elayne should have prepared for every eventuality and every unexpected thing that could have gone wrong. Aside from the astute point made (by Bryne himself no less, a general who can do no wrong in anyone's eyes it seems) that you can't always know and prepare for everything but you still have to act and take risks anyway, there really is no way Elayne could have prepared for everything. Why? Because it actually is bad luck opposing her. Specifically, the Dark One's luck, his touch on the Pattern. Even if she really could think of everything, even if she had done everything you all wanted her to do, even if she were ta'veren, the Dark One could still twist chance and make something go wrong to undermine her plans. That may seem like as much of a cop-out as "Jordan wanted/needed it to happen this way" but it's still a true and vital part of WOT comsology. You can call that bad writing all you like, but the fact is, there is no way she could have prepared for everything. And if she had but had still been captured, you'd all be trying to find something else wrong in her planning to account for it, or you'd be complaining about Jordan's bad writing. Elayne-haters gotta hate, it seems.

For what it is worth, I don't really feel that much was lost by the plan not going as intended anyway. The only things that saddened me were the deaths of Vandene, Sareitha, and their Warders. In the long run though, Vandene was already seeking death anyway, the Warders knew the deal when they signed up, and the loss of two Aes Sedai really wasn't that detrimental to Elayne. Ending the siege, capturing Mellar, killing Asne, and capturing the BA (which in turn led to the deaths of a bunch more of them in ToM) far outweighs that. So I don't see why it is so important that Elayne's plan be proven to be bad. Other than, of course, Elayne-hate.

As a side note, thanks for agreeing with me about Careane, Windrose. That's exactly what I was trying to say: she may not have been diabolical (nor did I ever claim, Ouroboros, that she was ingenious :P ), but she was fairly sociopathic in the things she did. She may not have horrified me or engendered loathing and hatred the way, say, Temaile or Chesmal did (good riddance to both of them!), but what she did do was enough to make me infuriated with her and glad Vandene got her revenge.

On the Elaida front: let me just say that while I loathe her beyond all reason too (albeit with some moments where I did feel sorry for her predicament with Alviarin), I don't think she was ever exactly stupid or incompetent. Aside from all the points already addressed, even at the height of her Fain-induced megalomania she was able to recognize the signs of Tarmon Gai'don approaching, be horrified that the wards were failing so that rats were getting into the Tower, and upset about the state of Tar Valon. She may not have done anything about it, but at least she saw and understood it. Also, we have from New Spring that despite how much she personally disliked Moiraine and especially Siuan, she made sure they passed their Aes Sedai test (by cheating no less!) because she knew the Tower needed their strength. Even though she dislikes wilders, I don't recall her ever saying Nynaeve should be put out of the Tower, and her comments about Egwene being put out or at least that she should never have been raised Accepted let alone higher didn't come about until after Fain's tampering--and even then she still didn't dismiss her from the Tower. So there is some intelligence there.

What I think isn't being taken into account is what exactly Fain did to her. We saw the same thing happen with Pedron Niall. While we know neither he nor Elaida would ever have fully and openly supported Rand, prior to being tainted Niall would have been a lot more savvy than he was--look at how clever he was manipulating Morgase. (Yes, she was still recovering from the number Rahvin did on her, but what Niall did was still very clever.) If not for Fain distracting him with hatred of Rand, so that he became caught up in the fake Dragonsworn schemes with Carridin, I am sure Niall would have noticed what was going on in Tarabon sooner and put up a better defense of Amador; at the very least, he'd have paid more attention to Salidar and thus not earned the enmity of people like Valda and Omerna so that he wouldn't have been killed.

Similarly, Elaida would likely not have sanctioned something so stupid as putting Rand in that box, the attack on the Black Tower, Duhara's approach to Elayne (if that was even her idea), her ostentatious new palace, or demoting Shemerin, nor would she have allowed Alviarin to manipulate her as she did or disregard the Seanchan. At the same time, we know Niall believed he would save the world from the Dragon and win the Last Battle, while Elaida believed she would be the greatest Aes Sedai (and later, Amyrlin) ever by using Elayne to defeat the Dark One, and this predated their meetings with Fain.

So what he did, I think, was not make them more stupid or incompetent, he merely enflamed negative traits and blind spots they already had while making them disregard reason, logic, and moderation. That's essentially what the mindset of Aridhol was, after all: anything is justified if it will bring down the Shadow.

One last thing, to Wortmauer @94:
This is the White Tower we're talking about. They're more obsessed with comparing their "endowments" than anyone I've ever heard of. Just imagine what a great market Aes Sedai would be for spammers. "Add 3 inches to your Saidar in 6 months!"

You almost made me spray the monitor with soda. Congratulations on one of the most hilarious things I've ever read on this re-read! My hat is off to you for such an audacious and gut-busting comment--which is only so funny because it is true. As to your comment on Elaida and her phallic fixation...well I guess that means we know, even apart from her being Amyrlin and Meidani being a ferret, which one of the pillow-friends wore the strap-0n. *ducks out of the line of fire*
114. Shadow_Jak
@110 Wetlander
Always enjoy your posts. They are always very well thought out.
Well, almost always ;-)

Agreed, it is important to do something about the Black Sisters as soon as reasonably possible.
But for this "something"...
Is it reasonable to rik a pregnant woman?
Is is reasonable to risk the Queen of Andor?
Is it reasonable to risk a woman bonded to the Dragon Reborn?
If Elayne was killed along with the rest, would Rand, her Warder, have come rushing to his death?

I just don't see any possible way to balance the risk vs reward of this raid.
Best reasonable projected outcome-
capture two, or maybe even three Black Sisters, and a DarkFriend with no losses.
Worst reasonable projected outcome-
Loss of three non Black Sisters (includng the pregnant Queen of Andor), and all their Warders (including a Hero of the Horn and the Dragon Reborn).
115. Shadow_Jak
@111 Sweetlilflower
"Also, she KNOWS that a member of the BA just heard that she has found their little nest."

Yes, but only because she, herself, just spilled the beans to the other Aes Sedai.
116. Shadow_Jak
@112 KiManiak
Exactly. The "urgency" was all manufactured by Elayne
Alice Arneson
117. Wetlandernw
macster - Wow! I'm in awe. :) Well done!

Off topic, but it must be said... I've been catching up on the Kingkiller reread, trying to get to the point where I can comment real time. It's really made me appreciate this group!! There are good thinkers in both groups (some of them the same ones), but the quality of writing here is, I think, far better. In addition, the editing here is overwhelmingly better! I can't count the number of times I've been reading something there, and the "punch line" of a major point is completely lost because several key words are meaningless. Literally - they aren't words. They leave the sentence, and the argument, totally meaningless, because someone didn't check before posting. It made me realize how very rarely that happens here! And I really, really, really appreciate it.

Thank you!!
118. Shadow_Jak
@113 macster
"Other points: again I return to it, why does Elayne get all the blame
when things would have worked out just fine if Birgitte and the Warders
were watching the other door?"

The text doesn't state or really even imply, that they came in that door. They may have been in the house already or they may have come in through a hidden entrance or even a gateway.
Elayne's total knowledge of the house is what Hark saw from the street and what Jaem saw from the grounds and barn. (ie, Jack Squat)

Elayne should have expected more Black Sisters, Warders, Plain ole dark friends, and very likely a Forsaken close by if not in residence. Also traps, pitfalls, wards, *'angreal, Trollocs, Fades, and, oh BTW a gohlam of two.

She may have been well prepared for three (or maybe a few more) Black Sisters and a few dark friends. Maybe even a few shadowspawn. Not the rest. Certainly not for a Forsaken nor a gholam.

Remember, last time Elayne saw Falion, was at the Kin's *'angreal stash. Lots of *angreal went missing and the gholem almost killed her. Moggy was in town as well.
119. Shadow_Jak
@113 macster
As for alternatives.
First intellegence. Elayne should have no trouble installing someone in a house near-bye to see who comes in and out.

Good points all. So hold off on the frontal assault for now.
120. macster
@ Shadow_Jak: Fair enough. But why did neither Jaem nor anybody else, especially Birgitte, insist on searching for secret entrances? Even if Elayne took at face value what Jaem found and therefore didn't bother to have them search longer, surely Birgitte at least should have said "No, there may be other ways in, we need to make sure before you go barging in there and get caught from behind with your skirts down". And that still doesn't explain why they didn't guard the door they did find. It's not like there weren't enough of them to do it.

As for gateways, Elayne and the Aes Sedai would have felt them unless they were inverted, and while it is possible Moghedien taught members of Liandrin's coven before she scattered them, we have no evidence to prove they know how to invert. In fact if they did know how to invert, why couldn't they simply gate into the palace to kill Kin or kidnap Elayne? Why did Marillin have to contact Careane to do it for them?

She did take into account there might be other sisters. She dismissed it based on what Hark reported he had heard, the fact he had no reason to lie (because only by being honest and helping her would he receive her pardon and protection), and she didn't consider the possibility that the BA were putting on a show for Hark's benefit. Which I don't find unreasonable of her at all; if anyone had known Hark was there, he'd have been killed like the other spies who followed Mellar, and lowly peasant-types like Hark would have been beneath the notice of any Aes Sedai, let alone BA. So they had to be telling the truth in what they said.

As for expecting others, let's see...Warders can be held with the Power. Regular Darkfriends could also easily be handled through channeling. The very fact Forsaken exist and are not accounted for doesn't logically prove they're even close by--as I said above, Elayne hasn't seen Moghedien since Ebou Dar (and recall that up until WH Nynaeve was with them--if Moghedien had been around, there surely would have been another attack; Elayne doesn't know about the mindtrap or Moridin) and Sammael was killed by Rand.

As far as angreal, she only knows about the ones stolen from the Tower, most of which would be of no danger to her; even if the two BA had had the balefire rod, it wouldn't have mattered if they were taken by surprise and shielded. If there were Trollocs or Fades in the city, there would have been evidence by that point. Mat told them there were only a small number of gholam made so she'd have no reason to think more would appear--especially when there were no more dismembering murders after they left Ebou Dar, suggesting it had stayed behind with Mat. (In fact that was one reason Elayne was worried about him, Thom, and Olver.) The other threats you mention are again fairly negligible against four linked Aes Sedai with Warders waiting to be summoned.

Elayne could have guessed or considered some of those other threats might show up, but she had nothing to make her logically think they would, or anything more she could really do to protect against them even if they did. She could only take the risk and hope for the best--and again, as long as her intel was good and there were only two BA, what she had was sufficient.

Intel: again, whom would she set to do the spying? My point wasn't what methods would be used to gather the info, but who would do it.

Frontal assault has the benefit of surprise in its favor. But surprise only works if the bad guys don't get warned ahead of time. Even with the time she had to wait for everyone to arrive and get ready to head for the house, that was still more quickly than if she'd waited to gather more intel or be more sneaky. And even in that time period there was no chance for Careane or Sareitha to sneak away--I can't imagine she wasn't having them watched by Guardswomen or Kin.

And no, she didn't manufacture the urgency. First off, just because she didn't think explicitly "I must get to the house before the BA find out I know they're there" doesn't mean she hadn't considered the possibility. I know many people seem to think Elayne is utterly stupid, but being reckless and making mistakes doesn't mean a person lacks intelligence. Even though she hadn't warned Careane or Sareitha what was happening until they arrived with their Warders, she had to know they might have listened in on the conversation since she hadn't warded it. In fact, why didn't Elayne ward it, when she'd been so good about warding conversations beforehand? Couldn't it be she left it unwarded on purpose, as a lure to flush out the BA in her midst?

Anyway, the point is that even if it is admitted that Elayne telling her allies about discovering the house was what gave away the info, once that mistake had been made then the need for speed to prevent the BA from being warned was very real. Elayne making that mistake doesn't mean that rushing to the house afterward instead of taking more time to plan (and let the BA get away) was bad planning. In fact it'd be the opposite, making the best plan she could under the circumstances to make up for her previous mistake in spilling the beans.

Further need for urgency lies in my previous point re: the deaths of the Kin. Yes they'd been dying for a while, but at first remember that she initially thought they were running away; it was only recently it was discovered they'd been murdered. The more Kin get killed, the more allies she loses, the less Power she can draw upon, the more likely the Kin will flee Caemlyn for the Tower. If that happens, she loses a huge portion of channelers who are helping to keep Caemlyn supplied during the siege, transport troops at the walls, send out scouts, and so on. The sooner she can prevent more deaths or the Kin deserting en masse, the better. The same applies if the mole starts killing off Sea Folk and they decide the Bargain isn't worth their lives.

As for the other 'more urgent' needs KiManiak mentioned...Elayne already has soldiers and Guardswomen protecting the walls, putting out the fires in Caemlyn, and locating more of the Queen’s Guardsmen. She's already done all she can to secure what house loyalties she can get, Dyelin is constantly working on the six nobles who want to declare for her, she no longer has Bashere or the Aiel to help with the siege, she's used the Borderlanders to distract Arymilla, she's gathering money from banks and mining to finance the mercenaries...what more can she be doing she hasn't already done? But this, finding the BA, capturing them, this is something she can do that will make her feel active, feel she is making headway against the Shadow. She can possibly expose the mole in their midst, but just as importantly, she can prevent more killings, not have to let Mellar walk free any more, bring Darkfriends to justice so they can be tried and sentenced (including for Adeleas's murder, if the mole is exposed), and not have this constant fear and worry hanging over her head on top of the siege. It's a lot easier to handle an army if you don't have to worry about traitors around you killing your allies.

Does this mean Elayne likely was being her usual reckless self, leaping into danger because it was something she felt she could actually accomplish instead of just sitting around waiting for Arymilla to give up? Probably so. That doesn't mean, however, that the urgency in going after the BA was manufactured. All else aside, the reason she waited so long to go after them wasn't because other things were more important, or because the Kin's deaths didn't matter to her or she felt she'd protected them as best she could--it was because she didn't know where the BA was. If she had, she'd have gone after them a long time ago. Perhaps she should have tried to wait for more information, but as it was, she'd already waited so long for the info she did get, I can see why she'd immediately leap to striking once she got it.

Everyone reading gets to have the luxury of contemplating all angles, planning and organizing things minutely based on what we think could or should have been done to cover all bases. But being there right in the thick of it, having to deal with the succession, the siege, a pregnancy, dying allies, a traitor (or more) in your own camp...this doesn't make for the ability to address all options. Even taking that into account though, I think that based on the info she had, knowing there might be more dangers she hadn't counted on but having no confirmation of it and nothing she could truly bring to bear against it anyway, being as frustrated by her own storyline as most of the readers were, and finally receiving the info she needed so as to be able to strike out at her vilest enemies before they had a chance to flee, Elayne made the best plan she could under the cirumstances. No, it wasn't perfect. Yes, it could have been better. But it could have been much, much worse--and based on other things we've seen in WOT in the past, including the Supergirls' past plans, that isn't just an empty statement.
Birgit F
121. birgit
even if Elayne had thought of, say, Amys or Bair going into the World of Dreams, shielding the BA there, and then she and her Aes Sedai could go into the house to shield and capture them in the real world too, she knows Liandrin's coven has had a long time to practice with dream ter'angreal and still have some in their possession.

They could only capture the BA in TAR if they could make them go there. Maybe Eg figured out how the Forsaken drag people into TAR, but she wouldn't teach it to anyone because it is evil.
Valentin M
122. ValMar
macster @ 113

You get the "Great Wall of China Text" Reward! And I tend to agree with your points. Also your point about waiting to gather more intel. Indeed, she's been waiting and attempting to gather this info for weeks. Finally she got the intel and acted.
We know that the intel was correct. The argument that if she had taken more time to gather more info she wouldn't have been surprised by the other BA AS is neither here nor there. It was pure chance that they got there in the worst of time. By the same logic if Elayne had waited, in the mean time she might've tripped down a stairs in the palace and fallen on top of Vandene and killed her!

I am not disagreeing with those saying she could've done more preparations. But much of it was impractical, unsafe, or/and generally an overkill for the situation she was facing- 2 AS + entourage.
123. Ouroboros
Subwoofer @ 105: Ooh, dogfight dogfight dogfight! Sorry, sub, couldn’t help it. May you always find water and biscuits. ;)
124. Ouroboros
KiManiak @ 112:

Not putting the ward back up looks like a gaff, although Elayne's emotions are bouncing, as usual.

“Master Norry is here, my Lady)', with that Hark fellow. Said he'd heard you were up and wondered if you could spare him a few minutes.” He had heard she was up? If he was having her watched. . . ! The import broke through her grumpiness. Hark. He had not brought Hark since that first visit, ten days ago. No, eleven days, now. Ebullience replaced peevishness.

On the other hand, she may have not bothered putting it up because she was going to deliberately involve the mysterious murdidilliurdiller (sorry, watching the Simpsons this morning). On the other, other hand, that might have seemed suspicious and given the game away. Hmm, over analysing methinks.

Another point is that she orders Mellar's arrest immediately, so the cat is already partly out of the bag, there's no point in giving it time to start clawing the curtains. BTW, letting Mellar go about his business was not an option, he’s a prolific murderer and other nice things too.


There was nothing for it but to explain again from the beginning. Which Elayne did with a rising impatience that had nothing to do with her shifting moods. The longer this took, the more chance that Falion and Marillin might be gone by the time she reached the house on Full Moon Street. She wanted them. She intended to have them! She should have made Birgitte wait until everyone had gathered.

The text might not specifically state that she was concerned about them finding out about the ambush, but her concern that they would leave before she got there surely amounts to the same thing.

On your second point, saying that three deaths in ten days means that the threat of more murders wasn't significant makes no sense. It only takes someone going to the necessary on their own at the wrong time and that's it. And what if the black sister stops confining herself to female channellers to add to the terror tactics?

As for the need to put out the fires, protect the walls, and secure the throne... all of these are being hindered by Mellar and those who sent him. Elayne doesn't know who’s responsible for the fires but she might have considered the possibility that they were. And now it turns out that the BA is involved. I don't see how waiting for any length of time can be a good thing.

Wow! Ever decreasing circles. Getting dizzy. Going to stop now.
125. Shadow_Jak
The couldn't check for hidden entrances. Elayne, "The Warders remain outside..."

Warders watching the other entrances. Only two of the Warders are safe. Any of the other four could be Dark. "The kitchen door is unlatched, so is the back door". And certainly at least a front door. Likely too many doors for two Warders.

Gateways- Any Forsaken could have sent them (or accompanied them) through an inverted weave Gateway.

Other Sisters -
Hark said, "...there's two Aes Sedai there tonight. I saw one of them letting Mellar out while the other was coming in, and the one who was coming in said, 'A pity there are only two of us, Falion, the way Lady Shiane works us.'..."
Two points (asside from the obvious, unobserved time until their arrival):
First - She coukd easily have meant "only two of us" who screwed up enough to be stuck with being "worked" by a non Aes Sedai.
Second - Who the Hell is this Lady that 'works' Aes Sedai!?!
(Stinks of a Forsaken)

"As for expecting others, let's see...Warders can be held with the Power.
Regular Darkfriends could also easily be handled through channeling..."
If four Aes Sedai could sneak up on them and fire a weapon (which they did), anyone with bow, throwing knife, or rock or frying pan might have done as well.
(If Jeam had been allowed to come along, might have been different)
126. AndrewB
I have a question/critique. I know it has nothing to do with the chapters that Leigh reviewed above or the discussion of the comments to date. Nevertheless, it is really bugging me. Be warned. Wall of text to follow.

We are told that Moghedien csn do thing in the World of Dreams that Lanfear had never dreamed of. Yet, Lanfear always claimed the World of Dreams as her domain. {See Encylcopedia Wheel of Time, character summaries of Moghedien and Lanfear, respectively, for citations to the preceding}

Now fastforward to the World of Dream battle between Egwene and her allies and Mesaana and the BA sisters (ToM, Chapter 38). Eventually, Mesaana captures Egwene by placing an a'dam around her neck. Egwene realizes that she has the power to free herself from the a'dam by denying its existense. As the text provides:
"She made it vanish. 'It occurs to me, Mesaana,' Egwene said calmly, 'that Moghedien made a mistake. She accepted the a'dam.' ... 'In this place , an a'dam is as meaningless as the weaves it prevents,' Egwene said. 'It is only a piece of metal. And it only will stop you if you accept that it will.' The a'dam unlocked and fell free of her neck.' Mesaana ... folded her arms, eyes impassive. 'So, you have practed here.'"

We, the readers, have not been given any evidence that Mesaana had greater knowledge of the World of Dreams than does Moghedien. Mesaana does not express shock that Egwene did something that Mesaana thought impossible. (Contrast that to Moridin's reaction to Avi unraveling the weave when Avi left Ebu Dar.) Mesaana's reaction indicates to me that Mesaana would have done the same thing if she were in Egwene's shoes (i.e. Mesaana's enemy put an a'dam around her neck in the World of Dreams).

My problem is not what occured in ToM. My issue is with Moghedien in TFoH. From what we have been told, Moghedien may have the most knowledge of any living person of the World of Dreams. Yet, she let her self violate a basic premise of the World of Dreams (a basic premise, at least for experts, of which Moghedien is): that you can defy things by not giving the item power over you.

My question is why did Moghedien not remember that aspect of the world of dreams. Had she done so, she would have eventually defeated/killed Nynaeve. The a'dam was Nynaeve's last gambit. I can only come up with two answers -- both of which are not satisfactory. First, Moghedien's character is such that once cornered or captured, she gives up rather than fights. In TFoH, giving up means surrendering to the a'dam. After returing to Salidar, Nynaeve gave Moghedien forkroot tea. Since thhe drinking of the tea is a physical effect, Moghedien would not be able to wake up right away. Thus, she was easy game for Nynaeve to slap a real collar on her in the waking world. This explanation, however, neglects what occured in TSR. In TSR, Nynaeve shielded and wrapped Moghedien up in air. While Nynaeve was then dodging the balefire, Moghedien untied the knots to the shield. But Moghedien was as much captured in TSR as she was in TFOH. If her character was to give up when captured, she should not have broken through the shield.

The other alternative is that RJ decided to change his mind. (Although BWS wrote ToM, I will assume -- until told otherwise, that RJ left detailed notes as to how the battle between Egwene and Mesaana would play out.) RJ felt that this scene, as written, was how he wanted Egwene to defeat Mesaana. For this scene to occur, he had to overlook something -- i.e. Egwene took an action that Moghedien, the argued master of the World of Dreams, did not. More importantly, one of Moghedien's fellow Forsaken, acted as if Egwene's actions were not impossible. Further, no textual support exists that the other Forsaken had greater knowledge of the World of Dreams than Moghieden.

An author has the right to change his mind about his story. However, such a change did slightly effect how I though about the overall effect of the scene.

I realize that at this point in the re-read, it is not exctly the proper place for the above critisicm. However, I was re-reading that scene last night while riding out Hurrican Irene and it started to bug me.

Thanks for reading my musings.
127. Shadow_Jak
@120 continued...

Forsaken - when has Elayne encountered any of the dirty dozen original Black Sisters when there was not a Forsaken (or worse) around?

"As far as angreal, she only knows about the ones stolen from the Tower, most of which would be of no danger to her"
She was in the room when when darkfriends were carrying boxes of stuff away from the Kin's cache. OK, maybe she was distracted since she was busy being almost killed by a Gholam at the time.
(Did I mention that Falion was there too?)
Also many of the stolen Tower items were "purpose unknow".
And finally, what was her plan for the Balefire rod again?

"Mat told them there were only a small number of gholam made so she'd have no reason to think more would appear--especially when there were no more dismembering murders after they left Ebou Dar, suggesting it had stayed behind with Mat."
She last saw Falion AND the Gholam, same time/same place.
And it wouldn't be hard for a few nasty murders to go unnoticed in a war zone.

"Intel: again, whom would she set to do the spying? My point wasn't what methods would be used to gather the info, but who would do it"
Best choice would be the Kin. Contrary to an earlier post, they are very good at keeping a low profile. With Elayne's weaves for disguising and hiding channeling ability, should be a piece of cake. But plenty of others to choose from. Hell she's got a palace full guards, servants, and subjects. And Hark, of course, already proved he can do it.
Note: a "stakeout" is much easier than a "tail".

"And no, she didn't manufacture the urgency... "
(a few sentances later)
"...in fact, why didn't Elayne ward it (her conversation with Hark), when she'd been so good about warding conversations beforehand? Couldn't it be she left it unwarded on purpose..."
I rest my case ;-)

"Does this mean Elayne likely was being her usual reckless self, leaping
into danger because it was something she felt she could actually
accomplish instead of just sitting around waiting for Arymilla to give
up? Probably so."
And it made for good reading. I'm content with it.

Just saying, she was behaiving like a reckless childfor risking so much for so little and on so little info.
And contrary to being the victum of bad luck for being caught, she was actually the benificiary of very good luck for being rescued.

Same can't be said for the Sisters, Warders, and soldiers killed on her little adventure.

"No, it wasn't perfect. Yes, it could have been better. But it could have
been much, much worse--and based on other things we've seen in WOT in the past, including the Supergirls' past plans, that isn't just an empty
Truse, she's living up to her previous rep.
But I can't think of any other blunder that's directly cost so many lives.
128. Shadow_Jak
Imagine the headlines...
Late last night, President Obama heard from an unproven informant (a convicted felon) that two mid-level Al-Qaeda operatives and an unknown associate were sighted in a residentisl area of Washington. No other infirmation was available.
Naturally the Presedent gathered three Congressmen (including two possible Tea Party moles) and embarked on an early morning raid
(a few aids, Secret Servicemen, and Marines insisted on coming too, but were wisely left safely around the corner)
The results were just as spectacular as you would assume.
One mid-level operative killed (along with a Tea Party mole) and five more captured.
The President was captured, but quickly rescued with minimum losses, only the three congressmen, their aids, and a few thousand Marines.
In a statement afterwards, the president said, "I am saddened by the loss of life, but it had to be done. They died for their President"
The detainees are now enroute to Camp Guantanamo for (enhanced) interegation.
Tess Laird
129. thewindrose
"But I can't think of any other blunder that's directly cost so many lives."

Where is Isilel at for this one;)

I would venture that Rand letting Lanfear go any of the times that he could have killed her or captured her would be a good rebuttal. (I am hoping that Isilel will sense the need here. ) : )

AndrewB - I would take anything the Forsaken say/claim with a lot of salt(not just a grain). Every one of these highly selfish and self absorbed individuals thinks they are better than the rest. So Lanfear thinks she is Queen of the Night and her domain is T'aR. Moggy hangs out a lot in TaR because she can snoop on people and not be confrontational. Mesanna was a teacher - I would imagine she took a lot of students into T'aR, and students are very good at thinking of the impossible and having new idea's.
So that is my take on why you can have all the claims of greatness, and reconcile them.

130. Shadow_Jak
Thewindrose -
Yes, Rand did make plenty of blunders.
For instance,using Callandor against The Seanchan may well have killed more good guys than Elayne did here.
But hey, we all know that he's insane! ;-)

No, here I was actually speaking of the Supergirls exploits.
I think this one takes the cake...
although Nynaeves, river ship War between the Prophet and the Whitecloaks might be close.
But in fairness, that really wasn't all her fault.
Whereas this one is all Elayne!
131. Shadow_Jak
Me @128
Of course I realize that is a very flawed analogy. But hey, a guy's gotta have some fun.

Please feel free to substitute you preference of President, for "Obama", your choice of perceived enemy for "Tea Party", and your choice of real enemy for "Al-Qeada" in my example.

(edit for typo)
Valentin M
132. ValMar
Floorplans, stakeouts, etc. Common guys! This is WOT, set in late Middle Ages type of society. Not an episod of 24.

As for the comparison with the US president, I assume it wasn't a direct one but just emphasising to make a point. Otherwise it would be ridiculous- due to diff circumstances, not the blighted politics.
Elayne was the best qualified from the very limited personel pool at the time. Just like Egwene was for the blocking of TV :) But in the end that too turned out for the best.
Which brings me to the point about the causalties. If the siege had continued, more people would've died, with uncertain outcome.
Elayne was lucky in that respect but if it is better to have lucky generals than good ones, this applies even more for rulers. Once, apparently, if there were too many droughts, sickness among the horse herds, storms, etc, whoever was the chief of the suffering Bulgar tribe was sacrificed to change the luck of the tribe. This remains the practice in team sports to this day, the coach/manager playing the role of the sacrificial lamb.
Stefan Mitev
133. Bergmaniac
Dumai's Wells had a lot more casualties even if we don't count the Shaido (about a thousand Aiel, and it was all caused by Rand being really stupid. I consider it a way worse blunder not so much because of the casualties, but because it was so completely stupid from Rand not to get some Wise Ones, who he had hundreds of, to be his guards during the meetings and to screen the Tower delegations for saidar channellers above the prescribed number of 3.
Tess Laird
134. thewindrose
So, one thing all this has made me think about is this:
It may be a good thing that Rand has Min and Avi. Think about the power couple that would be just Rand and Elayne... In fact, I think the Pattern may be in on this. Look what happened when it was just LTT and Ilyena Moerelle Dalisar. Breaking of the world, that's what happened. I think the Pattern decided that 3 wives would avert the Breaking this time.

135. Shadow_Jak
Bergmaniac - Yep, Rand sure pulled some real boners.
But hey, he has the excuse of being stark raving bonkers.
He can always say, "Lews Therin made me do it"

Thewindrose - Yep, Rand too, needs a lot of looking after.
William Fettes
136. Wolfmage

There's no contradiction. You're forgetting that Nynaeve actively stops Moghedien from trying to unmake the adam.

Getting to her feet, Nynaeve fastened the proper image in her mind. She did not just imagine Moghedien leashed in the a ‘dam, she knew Moghedien was leashed, as firmly as she knew her own name. The sense of shifting, of her skin trying to crawl, did not go away, though. “Stop that,” she said sharply. The a’dam did not move, but it seemed to tremble unseen. She thought of blackwasp nettles lightly brushing the other woman from shoulders to knees. Moghedien shuddered, exhaled convulsively.“Stop it, I said, or I’ll do worse.” The shifting ceased. Moghedien watched her warily, still clutching the silver collar around her neck and with an air of being poised on her toes for flight.

So Nynaeve punishes her until she stops trying - at which point her basic cowadice kicks in.

There's also a part later in the same chapter which suggests Moghedien's ignorance of the adam lets her believe Nynaeve can read her thoughts, which probably stops her from trying to undo it any further.
Birgit F
137. birgit
Warders watching the other entrances. Only two of the Warders are safe. Any of the other four could be Dark.

If the Warders cannot be trusted, some of the guards could do something useful.
Jonathan Levy
138. JonathanLevy
126. AndrewB

I think the key to Moggy's submission to the A'dam is that when confronted with an unexpected setback her first instinct is to run, rather than to strike back. When Nynaeve first fought with her, she shielded Moggy after distracting her with the sad bracelects. Moggy's first reaction? Lift her skirts and run. This surprised Nynaeve, whose first reaction would have been to punch her in the face.

It's not that Moghedien surrenders after she's been defeated - it's that she wants to run as soon as something goes wrong.

When Nynave surprises her with the A'dam in TFoH, her first reaction is to panic. Thus she implicitly accepts that the A'dam can hold her, even as she struggles against it. Egwene doesn't struggle against it. She just ignores it, because it's just a piece of metal.
Roger Powell
139. forkroot
Back from Hawaii - to the land of 115 degree temperatures ::moans::

Yeah, I plead guilty of hyperbole regarding undoing the pattern by balefiring someone back 1/2 hour. In particular, Rand probably hit Natrim's Barrow with that much, helped by the Choedan Kal. Hence the "balescream".

With that said, I stand by my remarks that Rahvin was probably balefired back about 5 minutes or so and that T'AR time dilation did factor in to it. Without rehashing the whole multi-post discussion from a few years ago, the essence of the argument was based on comparing how many seconds other known balefire reversals went back, estimating power levels, blah, blah.

The consensus was that the numbers didn't "work" - that's when the whole point about T'AR came up and the possibility that the scenes with Rahvin in T'AR were compressed in real time.

(NB: "consensus" as in majority of posted opinion, not unanimity ... but go back and read for yourself if you care to)

apropos of nothing in particular ... where has jamesedjones been lately?
140. Ouroboros
Imagine the other headlines...

Obama wins the support of the Carringtons and adds another three thousand troops to his tally. This gives the President Apparent 6 houses to Clinton’s 5, but his opponent still has the larger force of arms.
Washington monument burned by republican supporters in the capital.
George Town residents fear for their safety as the republican White House claimant moves in on DC.
Obama's claim may fall as his descendance from Washington proves suspect.
300 die in missile strike aimed at Darkfriend cell; Obama dismisses it as collateral damage.

I can't see how this comparison makes sense. The political situation is completely different. History is literally full of kings (and some queens) who fought in battle. Indeed, it was expected of them. The idea that the ruler should sit on the side lines and not share the risk is not compatible with the politics of Jordan's world. Obama would be an utter failure in that system, assuming he lived past the presidential sword debates. Can you really judge Elayne's decisions by standards which won't exist for another three hundred years?

But all this is still beside the point.

Sulin’s eyes widened in incredulity. “You kept us from the dance of spears? We kept you from the dance. You were like a girl newly wed to the spear, ready to rush out and kill Couladin with never a thought for the spear you might take from behind. You are the Car’a’carn. You have no right to risk yourself needlessly.” Her voice flattened. “Now you go to fight the Forsaken. The secret is well kept, but I have heard enough from those who lead the other societies.”

“And you want to keep me out of this fight as well?” he said quietly.

“Do not be a fool, Rand al’Thor. Any could have danced the spears with Couladin; for you to risk it was the thinking of a child. None among us can face the Shadowsouled, save you.”

Sulin's point is simple. You don't endanger yourself when it isn't necessary, but when it is - you do.

As for this better plan? Elayne wasn't the only one there.

Birgitte has a thousand lifetimes of battle. Vandene must have studied warfare as a green, and even if she was determined to avenge Adeleas, she wasn't foolish enough to put others at risk if she thought the plan was wanting. Sareitha was no idiot. The warders were warders. The guardswomen all new there way in a fight and proved themselves more than willing to stand between Elayne and danger.

Could Elayne have asked for a better group of people to vet the plan? There may have been objections, but they still went along with it. And I don't think Elayne would have ignored good advice if it were given, she's not that arrogant.

So, who is really to blame for the fact that the plan didn't go off smoothly? Elayne, Those who accompanied her but did nothing to stop her, or the Darkfriends who captured her?

I'm willing to bet that we wouldn't even be having this conversation if nothing had gone wrong. Elayne has made mistakes in the past, some of them big ones, but often not ones for which she can be held solely responsible.
141. Ouroboros
macster @ 113:

How dare you stick your tongue out at me :) Only kidding. I was actually agreeing with you. I was saying that I have no problem with anyone calling Careane diabolical, since being so doesn't require ingenious planning. When someone says "a diabolical plan" I don't think it means brilliant or clever, just devious or unpleasant. So yes, Careane is diabolical, but no Moriarty. I didn't think you were calling her ingenious.

To be honest, I found the whole murder mystery rather underwhelming.
142. ValMar
Writing just to say that apparently I can log in only using Facebook, Google, Twitter, blah-blah. Hopefully this is just some technical issue and soon it'll be back to normal.
143. Shadow_Jak
Ouroboros @140 enre: me @128 and my silly Obama analogy
Just having fun. But there are some valid similarities

The risks versus the rewards is just plain silly.
A Queen taking part in a critcal battle to save her nation is one thing, or
the Dragon Reborn going to face one of the Forsaken.
Risks have to be taken when the reward is great enough.
But not here.

Sure, it worked out fine (for everyone except the dead) and it was really good reading.
But no way it was a good plan.
Kimani Rogers
144. KiManiak
I think it needs to be said that Elayne’s Bodyguard comes across as honorable, determined and all kinds of respectable in these chapters (I especially like Deni’s subtle show of appreciation of Elayne’s order to arrest Mellar). RJ once again did an excellent job writing minor characters and making us (or at least this reader) care about them.

Macster (and Orobouros) – re: diabolical – I meant to respond to this earlier (thought I did, actually, but I don’t see it on this page, so I must have forgotten). Yeah, I envision “diabolical” as something associated with a supervillain or criminal mastermind, but I guess it just does mean exceptionally cruel or wicked. The way Careane killed Ipsan and Adeleas was pretty wicked. So, my bad.

Also, I do enjoy reading each of your Walls of Text regarding Elayne’s “plan,” even though we obviously disagree (although I’m a fan of the WOT myself, as has been QED). No sense in me writing another WOT for rebuttals (I feel comfortable letting my previous posts stand) about our various differing interpretations of some of our contested points. However, a few minor clarifications (of things that I don't think should be contested, but I guess we'll see):

Macster@113 re: Aiel linking – The Aiel showed that they were capable of linking (“and as though they had been forming circles all their lives,” according to Sneaky Verin) way back in the prologue of TPOD, while they were still in Cairhien.

Elayne, Egwene & Nynaeve: I don’t believe that Elayne was aware that Egwene was captured, at this point in the text. Duhara certainly hadn’t commented on it, and I don’t believe that it was mentioned that Egwene informed Elayne via dreamtalking, or the like. (Also, are the timelines even synced up to where Egwene was captured at this point?)

Also, I don’t think Nynaeve and Elayne have spoken since Nyn snuck out in WH up to this point, so Elayne probably knows very little about Cads. I’m doing this part from memory though, so it’s possible that I’m misremembering those tidbits.

Ouroboros@124 – Never apologize for a Simpsons reference :-)
(Ok, not a clarification, but it still needed to be said)
Also, I appreciated the “Ever decreasing circles” bit.

Ouroboros@140 – re: “vetting” the plan – Birgitte and Sareitha were against the plan. Elayne ordered them to go along with it: “In any case, this isn’t a discussion…we are going.” Actually Birgitte and her “thousand lifetimes of battle” called the plan “a hare brained, crack potted scheme” and “bloody madness” and Sareitha was “no idiot” when she warned Elayne about the possibility of more Black Sisters and a trap.

As for Elayne not ignoring good advice, that is very much a matter of opinion, as Elayne was warned/reminded about the possibility of more Black Sisters, and the dangerous ter’angreal and still chose to act exactly the same as she had intended to before these possibilities were mentioned.

Anyway, more Elayne goodness :-) coming up in tomorrow’s post (including one of the scenes starring Elayne that I actually kind oflike, when she reacts to the 6 holdouts' implied insult of a request for a letter of safe conduct by being polite in writing, yet making sure to let their messenger know her displeasure with some snarky words).
145. Ouroboros
KiManiak @ 144

Not sure about the time lines but I don't think anyone not near the Tower knows about Egwene's capture yet.

Re. your comments on my comments.

I'll try to be more assertive with my Simpsons references in the future.

I'll give you the objections being ignored; that'll teach me not to skim read. *red face*

Sareitha's objection was firmly made, even mentioning the Balefire rod. Elayne does make a good point that “He could hardly have misheard something as simple as 'there are only two of us,'” but I think her annoyance at not being obeyed without question, (“Burn her, considering her standing with respect to them, they should have been jumping to obey rather than arguing”) which is made worse by her mood swings, led her towards dismissing Sareitha's concerns too easily. I don't think Birgitte's cussin' helped much.

My point was more that no one suggested a better plan. I don't know that Elayne would have considered one if it were made, perhaps it's just a hope that she would.

In any case, I think the risk was still worth it. Caemlyn was in trouble and the plot involving Mellar was a significant threat to both her safety and that of the city. She couldn't leave Mellar free to cause more problems or deaths, nor the black sister in the palace, and there was no telling what Shiain's people would do if they thought they might be caught. She had to act or risk a major problem in the city whilst trying to defend it from a siege at the same time.

I'm not saying that Elayne always makes well considered choices, or only takes reasonable risks, but this time I don't have a problem with it. Maybe it's just that the circumstances are close enough to the acceptability threshold for her to get away with it this time. Heh. Go me with the hedging!

I agree with you about the Bodyguard. Though, you missed out long suffering.
Robert Crawley
146. Alphaleonis
Shadow Jak

Yes your analogy was flawed. Because Obama and Al-Qaeda are both darkfriends, so his capture by them would have only resulted in a bunch of high fives.
Anthony Pero
147. anthonypero
It seems to me that whether we thought Elayne's plan was a smart plan or a stupid plan hinge on one knife's edge: is she obligated to try to take them alive, or is it just stupid to not fry them where they stand before they even know she's there.

If you believe that Elayne should have sent in the Warders to feather them with arrows or just fried them in the house, regardless of Tower Law or even Andoran law, then you are never going to be convinced that Elayne's plan was anything but idiotic.

I, on the other hand, am always going to be grateful that none of you are rulers or officers of the law in the country that I live in. This may be a war, but it's not a battlefield. This is a policing action, not a pitched battle. The rules are not the same between the two. Cowboy Up is not a legitimate option for Elayne and Company in this situation.
Anthony Pero
148. anthonypero
One other thing to consider here is that Elayne has two sets of priorities that are competing here: She is Queen, but she is also Aes Sedai. She has made a point of stating before that she will be both, and fully.

So, yes, she has a responsibility as Queen of Andor, but she also has, in her mind, and equal responsibility as the leader of the Aes Sedai in Andor to deal with the Black Ajah. Her being bred to be a queen will only heighten her sense of responsibility that she feels towards the Kin and Aes Sedai in bringing their murderer to justice. These particular BA also killed people in the tower. She was also set by the Amyrlin at the time to hunt and capture them. This command was not lifted by Egwene.
Alice Arneson
149. Wetlandernw
FWIW, Egwene was captured 19 days ago. There's no clear indication (as far as I can find on a cursory look) whether or not Elayne would know about this. We know Elayne hasn't had much luck in TAR lately, so most of her contact with Egwene was via Nynaeve or Aviendha. Nynaeve was gone long before Egwene was captured, but Aviendha only left 11 days ago. We don't have any certainty that she met with Egwene in TAR in the 8 days between Egwene's capture and her departure; if she did, Elayne would know, if not, not. IIRC, we don't have any reaction from Elayne, so I would guess not.
Kimani Rogers
150. KiManiak
AP@147 – I have no problems with how you decide whether Elayne’s action was “smart” or “stupid” for yourself. I'm just keying in on the "whether we thought" portion of your statement, as I find it not accurate.

Obviously, when you check out the various other opinions posted here, an obligation to take them alive is definitely not the ultimate measure that a large number of others used (myself included) when discussing the merits of the plan.

I never suggested in my posts @23, @39 or @42 that Warders “feather the house” nor that she should have “just fried them in the house.”

And I would add that it’s probably a good idea that none of us are rulers in a fictional land where an evil, nearly omnipotent entity is about to break free of their eternal, life-preserving prison, unless bested by 3 farmboys, 2 country girls and 1 sheltered princess.
Stefan Mitev
151. Bergmaniac
"Anyway, more Elayne goodness :-) coming up in tomorrow’s post (including one of the scenes starring Elayne that I actually kind oflike, when she reacts to the 6 holdouts' implied insult of a request for a letter of safe conduct by being polite in writing, yet making sure to let their messenger know her displeasure with some snarky words). "

This would be next week actually, unless Leigh covers 3 chapters today. The scene is in Chapter 35.

*edit* Of course, 5 minutes later Leigh made my post pointless since she included Ch. 25 in the new post. Oh, well...;)
Kimani Rogers
152. KiManiak
Berg@151 - Crap. How could I skip right over A Cup of Kaf, especially since it stars another of my favorite minor characters?
(Here's hoping Team Jordan gives Kadere a noble and honorable death in AMoL)

Thanks for the clarification; maybe Leigh will treat us to 3 today.
EDIT: And she did! Gotta love that woman. Berg, I still appreciate the clarification.
Anthony Pero
153. anthonypero

I shall rephrase: It seems to me that, for a large majority of the posts on this thread, whether we find Elayne's plan to be stupid or smart...

Just my opinion based on what I've read on this thread. Not implying that EVERY single post will follow this generalization.
Alice Arneson
154. Wetlandernw
KiManiak - Just because I'm OC that way... I think you meant Karede rather than Kadere. I've always assumed that being flayed alive resulted in the subject dying fairly soon, but if he's still alive I hope Kadere dies an ignoble and painful death.

Karede, on the other hand, is a good man. Personally, I'd like him to survive.
Kimani Rogers
155. KiManiak
Wet@154 - Whoops! I've been doing that off and on with those 2 in my head, too. Yeah, Kadere (the DF from TSR and TFOH to be clear) can continue to rot in whatever midden heap they tossed his sorry remains.

As for Karede (the Deathwatch Guard/General, of course), like I said, he's one of my favorite minor characters in WoT. But, I'm expecting a number of fan favorites (especially of the non-major-character variety) to most likely perish in powerful, moving and possibly gut-wrenching ways in AMoL and I've got a hunch that Karede will be one of those characters.

Here's hoping, if that is indeed the case, that he goes out in a noble and honorable way, and maybe acquires a little glory, in the process.

Of course, I'd be okay with him surviving too :-)

Oh, and since I'm the guy who was spouting clarifications and corrections to others on some minor (and some not so minor) details in some of my other posts above, I have no problem with being corrected here. No need to even put it on OC.

Turnabout is fairplay, or so I've heard :-)
Alice Arneson
156. Wetlandernw
What can I say - it was just too golden to miss. :) Normally I wouldn't say anything, but with those two particular characters, and knowing that you would see the humor, I couldn't pass it up.

I suspect you may be right about him being one of the casualties, and if so I hope he goes out in a blaze of glory and MOAness. I just hope it's against Team Dark and not against the WT or something. I don't think we're quite to the end of those hostilities yet.
Anthony Pero
157. anthonypero
Based on @BrandSanderson's recent tweet, I'd imagine even major PoV characters may find themselves on teh chopping block:

"Dang. I just pulled off something in #AMoL that is GRRM-esque. I'm not certain if I should apologize, feel awesome, or go take a shower."

158. macster
Most of what I would have said has already been stated, and much more succinctly, by Ouroboros, ValMar, and anthonypero. *accepts the award from ValMar, but is fairly sure he'll have to give it back to Wetlander quite soon* But for the interests of answering and acknowledging a few points...

@121 birgit: I wasn't suggesting the Wise Ones should drag the BA into TAR, just that Elayne might have thought to send them to the house in TAR, wait, and if any of the BA were using the dream ter'angreal, then they could have shielded them, allowing them to be shielded and captured in the real world too. But not only is your point valid, it suggests another reason why the Wise Ones wouldn't have been much use to Elayne.


- Elayne told them to wait outside. She didn't say they couldn't circle the house to search for more entrances, nor would they have had to disobey her command in order to do so--finding secret entrances doesn't require going into the house.

-You're right, with the possibility at least one Warder, possibly more, is Dark, Elayne couldn't trust them all to watch the other doors. But why didn't any of the Warders we now know to have been good, or especially Birgitte, not try to watch them anyway? Were they sticking together so as to watch the possibly Dark Warders? Or are we supposed to believe any of them, especially Birgitte, wouldn't think of such tactical reasoning, disobey Elayne, and make sure no one else could get in without their seeing it?

-Gateways. You are arguing that the BA or Forsaken could have been involved to explain how Elayne and her group was surprised, as well as to explain why she should have prepared better. But other than the fact we know Shiaine was given Falion by Moridin, and the fact Chesmal did not seem surprised to be visited by a Chosen in prison in ToM, we really have no concrete evidence any Forsaken were spending much time with them, let alone gating extra BA into the house that night. Why would they have been? Falion and Marillin were surprised too, so clearly the arrival of the others wasn't planned. Unless Moridin was listening in on Elayne's planning, he would have had no reason to gate the extra BA in (or have Cyndane or Moghedien do it) because he didn't know anything was going down that night. And if a Forsaken had gated them in for some important purpose, it seems odd they didn't hang around to make sure it was carried out, or come back when the BA was suddenly shielded--let alone be waiting outside Caemlyn for the delivery of Elayne, especially if she was to then be gated to Shayol Ghul or wherever. It still seems to me the BA just came in one of the doors not being watched, which again brings the issue back to why the Warders weren't on guard to make sure that didn't happen.

-You miss the key point on non-channeler reinforcements: even if they had managed to sneak up on Elayne and the others the same way the BA did, their bodies and weapons could be stopped by weaves of the Power (flows of Air if nothing else), because channeling can be done with split-second timing. That would not work, however, against Aes Sedai who could simply sever the weaves with other weaves. So if there had been extra non-channelers in the house, or they arrived later, I still think Elayne and her circles could have handled them.

-On the Forsaken being there, and the gholam: you're making a false analogy, assuming that because two things occurred in the same place, at the same time, and on repeated occasions, necessarily means the two are causally connected and will continue to be so. Or at least, you're saying that is what Elayne would have to assume to take that into account. Just because of the premises A) There are Forsaken (or gholam) loose and B) They have been seen with the BA it does not logically follow that the Forsaken or gholam must still be around, or have anything to do with the BA. Elayne is well aware that the Shadow's forces rarely, if ever, work together well, often at odds with each other, and considering how many times Falion and her group have failed, it should be surprising they are even still allowed to keep living, let alone receiving assistance from the higher-ups. (How does she know? If nothing else, there's the evidence from Tanchico that Moghedien was not telling everything to Liandrin and her group.)

Moghedien has been free since LoC...and after her attack on Nynaeve in Ebou Dar, has done nothing else to Elayne's group. And as I stated higher up, since Elayne does not know about the mindtrap, doesn't know Moridin exists, and Nynaeve was still at her side up until she left in WH, the fact no more attacks happened would have led her to believe that for whatever reason, Moghedien was no longer threatening them. (No more attacks had happened to Egwene or Nynaeve in TAR either.) So with Sammael gone (because as I said, she knew by this point that Illian had fallen to Rand), that just leaves Forsaken whose locations have never been known to the Light (Demandred, Semirhage, Mesaana) or ones too far away to be involved (Graendal). Ergo, the only reason Elayne would have to suspect Forsaken would be involved is...because they exist and are evil. Which is reason to be wary, but not to make specific plans for if they show up. Nebulous threats can't really be taken into account, particularly when they have bigger things to occupy them (Rand, the Tower).

As for the gholam, not only does she not even know if it was working directly with the BA, as opposed to say Sammael who had been left behind (and from what we've been shown of Sammael with Graendal, it's pretty likely he was indeed the one directing the gholam at that point), she has no evidence it is even around. Really, saying that its killings could be lost amid the siege of Caemlyn is just grasping at straws--there's no way people being ripped apart and having their blood drained could be missed. Especially when all the deaths going on during the siege have been at the walls, not deep in the city proper where the gholam would be. Not to mention, if the gholam were around and being used by the BA, surely it would have been sent after the Kin. The fact the Kin who were killed just disappeared, and then were later found smothered with the Power and such, would have made it clear to Elayne that the BA were limited in their resources--if they had a gholam, then they would have been using it. And while it's true the gholam is hard to control, the Forsaken can do so readily--so if the BA did have a Forsaken helping them, then again the gholam would have been used. Yet it wasn't. Occam's Razor (or whatever the Randland equivalent is) would have told Elayne there weren't any killings happening because the gholam wasn't there.

-The angreal. All the ones you mentioned with "purpose unknown" had also been noted as last having been studied by Corianin Nedeal, so Elayne would have assumed (and rightly so, I think) that they all had some connection to dreaming. As for the ones from the stash, two points. If Sammael or Moghedien had sent the BA to find it (I say this because at the time they had no idea who was behind the Shadow's search efforts), Elayne might well have concluded the Forsaken took those angreal for themselves rather than handing them out to random BA. Second, while I am not sure of how much time has passed since Elayne left Ebou Dar, she's been in Caemlyn long enough that she'd be wondering, if the BA had powerful angreal or ter'angreal, why haven't they used them by now?

As for the balefire rod, I imagine her plan was the same as the one she used: catch the BA by surprise, bind them in flows of Air, and then they wouldn't have enough time to use it. This would work for any angreal or ter'angreal they might have had, in fact. And if they possessed ones which greatly enhanced their Power usage or were very dangerous weapons, again I can see Elayne deciding that they would have used them to invade the palace, kidnap her, blast Kin wholesale, or what have you. They didn't, so they must not have them. Note: yes, that is faulty logic. But if that is the logic Elayne used, it would explain why she didn't take such things into account when planning. Which just means she made a mistake, not that the plan was inherently flawed--since again, if there had just been the two BA...

-Using the Kin to spy: they were already being killed off, so she wouldn't want to risk more. Not to mention she was already busy using them to scout out Seanchan territory for missing Kin, or gating around soldiers and food. As for her having servants, guards, and subjects to use, you missed the point that Hark was the only person Norry sent who didn't get killed by Mellar, let alone was able to find the BA house. Unless Hark was going to teach everyone Elayne could use how to properly spy, gather info, and make it back alive, no one else would really be able to help much.

-Lastly, the urgency matter again. I acknowledged Elayne made a mistake by spilling the beans about the house too soon. And I said that she likely deliberately left the conversation unwarded so as to flush out the mole. That doesn't mean she manufactured the urgency. If it was a mere mistake she made because she was eager to catch the BA, then that isn't manufacturing anything. And if she was deliberately trying to get the mole to give herself away, then it's still not manufacturing, or if it is it's accidental manufacturing. She tried to catch who was the traitor, it failed; but since in the process of trying to do that, it was given away that she knew where the BA was hiding, her hand was then forced in going after the BA before they could be tipped off. Regardless of how or why the info was revealed, once it was the need to get to the BA quickly was very real. You seem to be saying that Elayne deliberately made it so she had to rush to the house before the BA got away, because she wanted to put herself in danger and be seen doing something active and heroic. I am saying that she deliberately revealed what she knew so as to get the mole to reveal herself; when that didn't work, she then was forced to go after the BA immediately before they learned she knew where they were. All Elayne manufactured was a trap; when the trap didn't work and she was left with having overplayed her hand, she made the best of the situation and hurried to catch the BA she could actually identify before it was too late.
159. macster
@141 Ouroboros: Hah! Yeah, Careane was many things but she was hardly very devious. And as for the murder mystery plot, the only thing that bothered me about it was that RJ was so determined, it seemed, to keep us guessing as to which Aes Sedai was Black that he included a lot of red herrings which in retrospect seem hard to explain. Sareitha vanished after the chapter where Marillin told Shiaine about using a woman in the palace...so I guess she was just wanting to get away from the Windfinders? Or did she have some other secret Aes Sedai business? And her thinking Mellar was a great guy was just being a horrible judge of character? Even Careane didn't like him. Of course that could have been an act (though I think that's expecting a bit much of Miss Undevious), or she didn't know he was a Darkfriend...

@KiManiak: Yeah that is what I was getting at. If it isn't clear by now I never thought much of Careane's 'clever' planning (particularly since she was simply following orders from Marillin or Shiaine anyway), but I found her, and the acts she committed, detestable, cruel, disturbing, and horrific. Perhaps it is just me being oversensitive, but the only Third Age Darkfriend characters I found more worthy of being harshly dealt with are Mellar, Slayer, and Liandrin.

On your quick points: I stand corrected on the Aiel and linking. Still, I really have to doubt whether they could or would have sent many powerful Wise One channelers to Elayne, even if she'd had time to send for them, because of the reasons I enumerated above. I will have to check more closely on the timelines to see if Egwene was captured yet, and if she had been meeting with either Elayne or Aviendha while in the Tower, but even if she wasn't and hadn't been, I remember her offering to send troops to Elayne before to help her claim the throne and Elayne turned her down, citing the need for Egwene to bring down Elaida and reunify the Tower. So I am not sure if she would bother her, even to bring in BA. (Though I think anthonypero's point about her charge from Siuan compelling her to deal with the BA ASAP once she found them has great merit.) And as I said, she still can't be sure which of the Aes Sedai she can trust. As for Cadsuane...without knowing of her, again she'd be trying to obtain Aes Sedai she can't trust, who are sworn to Rand, without getting him and the Asha'man involved or drawing the Shadow's attention to her babies.

In the end, all I can say is there are so many variables, so much to keep track of, so many things to take into consideration, that even while acknowledging Elayne's plan could have been better, I think it is important to realize how much worse it could have been--and to note that with both bad luck and good luck having a part to play, it is gratifying and a relief to see the planning was at least good enough to minimize the damage, even if some believe she could have planned better so as to have no losses.
160. David DeLaney
Just a comment from an unrelated, also-multiple-plotted, webcomic:

"...and any plan vhere you lose your hat iz?"

"A bad plan."

161. hesuchia
I actually loved Vandene's reaction. It shows how prepared she was. She must've been watching both of them so closely, dividing between the enemies and the suspects. The very instant she got confirmation she, I want to say "pounced", but it was much smoother. No matter how hectic the scene was, no matter that they were so shaken by the breaking of their weave and being shielded, once she heard confirmation she was on it. And the whole "A gift from Adeleas" in a soft voice in that scene was so badass. It brought a bit o' tears and an emphatic "Bam! You go girl!" from me. No hesitation, no mercy. Sweep the leg, Vandene. Sweep the leg.
162. pbug
Whoa long time since someone posted here. Anyway, just read this scene for the second time and definitely thought that this was not well thought out, especially with so much at stake. If I had even an inkling that someone could die from this (or being taken prisoner indefinitely), I would have rather let things slip away rather than rushing in as Elayne had. The first time I read this I was sure something would go wrong, and after I just read it again I'm just kinda pissed. Oh, and don't listen to your Hero of the Horn warder either. Ech.

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