Aug 30 2011 2:02pm
The Wheel of Time Re-read: Knife of Dreams, Part 20

The Wheel of Time Reread on Tor.comWhat ho, WOTerians! It’s a Wheel of Time Re-read, here to confound your politics and frustrate your knavish tricks! Or something like that!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 33 through 35 of Knife of Dreams, in which Chicks Kick Ass (whoo!), Fantasy™ brand coffee is drunk, and one of Our Heroes finally, at long last, gets to change hats.

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

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

And now, the post!

Chapter 33: Nine Out of Ten

What Happens
The Black sisters had hogtied and blindfolded Elayne and tossed her in a wagon, but she refuses to feel helpless, comforting herself with the thought that Min had said she was safe until her babies were born. She feels Birgitte leap to a place a mile ahead of her, and wants to laugh.

The bond said Birgitte was aimed at her target, and Birgitte Silverbow never missed.

She sobers, though, at the thought of the soldiers dying out there for her, and for the deaths of Vandene and Sareitha.

No guilt, though. Only by letting Falion and Marillin walk free could they have been spared, and neither would have countenanced that. There had been no way to anticipate the arrival of the others, or that strange weapon Asne had.

She feels the lightning strike, and moments later her shield vanishes, but she cannot see to channel herself free, and so must wait for Birgitte to do it. Birgitte frees her, and tells her the Windfinders decided not to risk their bargain, and Elayne snorts. The Guardsmen and Guardswomen raise a cheer as Elayne emerges from the wagon; she smiles to see Guybon is wearing her personal sigil as well as Andor’s lion, and considers possibly making him her third Warder. She inspects the prisoners; Asne is dead, and her three Warders are berserk in their restraints. The others, to Elayne’s bemusement, soon get into an argument over whether Marillin should defer to Temaile, and Elayne orders them all gagged. Birgitte reports that Arymilla has emptied her camps for an all-out assault, and has twenty thousand men or more at the Far Madding Gate, including some turncoat mercenaries on the inside. Dyelin is holding the gate until Birgitte can get Elayne back inside. She also tells her about Luan and the others’ imminent arrival. Elayne knows from what Reene Harfor’s spies told her that Arymilla herself will be at the Far Madding Gate, aiming to ride into Caemlyn. Guybon tells them that minus casualities from the rescue, they have about ten thousand on hand. Birgitte tells Elayne she’d better not be thinking what Birgitte thinks she is.

“If they’re through the gate,” Elayne said stubbornly, “it’s unlikely they closed it behind them. We’ll take them in the rear.” It was not all stubbornness. Not entirely. 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. “If the gate is holding, we’ll have them trapped between us and the wall. Numbers won’t count so much in Low Caemlyn. Arymilla won’t be able to line up any more men across a street than we can. We are going to do it, Birgitte. Now somebody find me a horse.”

Birgitte gives in, but only after warning her she isn’t going to lead any charges like in a “fool story.” They make preparations, and convince Chanelle to change the gateway to put them outside the Fad Madding Gate behind Arymilla’s forces. Elayne is ecstatic to see the gates are still closed. Elayne’s forces are forced to charge early when someone in Arymilla’s troops notices their approach, and Elayne sees that the gates are opening for a sortie, but she doesn’t know if they are Dyelin’s men or the renegade mercenaries. But then they start shooting at Arymilla’s people, and Elayne is amazed at how many men Dyelin managed to dredge up. Arymilla’s forces are pinned from both sides, and it quickly becomes a slaughter, until cries for quarter finally go up.

Elayne sat down on her saddle properly. It was done. Now to learn how well it had been done.

The mopping up takes some time, but at length Guybon brings Arymilla, Naean, and Elenia to Elayne, who tells them they will be her “guests” until they can pay the ransom for the war they caused. Elayne knows they are already financially ruined. In shock, Arymilla says her Jarid is still out there and will avenge them, but Elenia yells at her that he won’t. Lir Baryn and Karind Anshar are more resigned. Sylvase Caeren announces that Caeren stands for Trakand the moment she gets in Elayne’s earshot, to the shock of everyone, especially Arymilla. She tells them her grandfather “suffered a seizure,” and Sylvase is now confirmed as the High Seat of her House. Elayne welcomes her support, provisionally, and Sylvase asks for custody of Elenia, Naean, and Arymilla.

“I believe my new secretary, Master Lounalt, may be able to convince them to throw their support to you.”

For some reason, Naean gave a loud cry and would have fallen from her saddle if a Guardsman had not grabbed her arm to support her. Arymilla and Elenia both appeared ready to sick up.

“I think not,” Elayne said. No proposed conversation with a secretary produced those reactions.

Sylvase accepts her refusal, but warns her to be careful of all three. Lir Baryn and Karind Anshar both suddenly throw their support to Elayne as well, ignoring Arymilla’s screams about betrayal. Elayne knows perfectly well that Lir and Karind are just doing what they can to save their own necks, but also knows that this gives her nine out of ten great Houses, so she accepts both declarations and orders that the banners for Caeren, Baryn, and Anshar be restored to them. She rides toward where Dyelin is waiting for them.

“You’re awfully quiet,” Birgitte said softly. “You’ve just won a great victory.”

“And in a few hours,” she replied, “I’ll learn whether I have to win another.”

There was quite a wrangle in the comments to the last entry over whether Elayne’s plan to capture Falion and Marillin was a bad plan or not. I think most of the points made on both sides were good ones, but on reflection I think I have to agree with Elayne that she executed the best plan she could within the time constraints she had, and the intervention of totally unforeseen (and unforeseeable) events doesn’t change that.

The time frame being the deciding factor, there; ten people had already been murdered — ten channelers, to be exact, i.e. people Elayne (and the Light) could frankly ill afford to lose, even aside from the general Murder=Bad formula — so I really don’t blame her for wanting to dig the canker from the rose ASAP before it could do any more damage. So to speak.

As someone once said (and I’m paraphrasing here), a good plan executed in timely fashion is worth a thousand perfect plans executed too late. Anyway, it’s over now, for better or worse, so I’mma move on.

It was kind of hilarious that the Black sisters started fighting over precedence, of all ridiculous things, while trussed-up as prisoners. That and Elayne’s eye-rolly reaction got a good chuckle out of me.

As for Arymilla’s Last Stand, I was struck with two thoughts while reading about it. The first, of course, is just the obvious one of holy crap this siege is actually over Yay, but the second and much cooler one was my sudden realization that, with the possible exception of Jarid Sarand, every single key player (in the sense of commanding officers) on both sides of the battle was female. And even better, this isn’t something anyone in the story feels the need to comment on or even notice.

Which is not something you get to see every day, to say the very least. I won’t deny that I grinned a pleased little grin at the notion, either. Like I said, I have my issues with gender politics in WOT, but when it comes to Chicks Kicking Ass, Jordan almost always got it just right. Aw yeah.


Chapter 34: A Cup of Kaf

What Happens
Karede enters the Seanchan encampment in east Altara, noting that there are no raken around, and all the men are armored as if ready for battle on a moment’s notice. The sentries spit as his company goes by, and Karede instructs Musenge and the others that they are to ignore any insults given them, even though he badly wants to answer them himself.

It seemed everyone believed the filthy tale of Guards’ involvement with a girl pretending to be the High Lady Tuon and extorting gold and jewels from merchants. Likely they believed that other, whispered tale about the girl, not merely vile but horrific. No. That the High Lady was in danger of her life from the Ever Victorious Army itself went beyond horrific. That was a world gone mad.

Karede enters the command tent and asks to speak to the camp commander, who turns out to be Banner-General Gamel Loune. Knowing that Karede technically outranks him, Loune reluctantly offers Karede kaf, which Karede accepts. After they drink, Karede tells him he has heard there are “difficulties” in this region, and wants to know what he will be riding into. Loune tells him that in the last week there have been “four sizeable engagements and upwards of sixty ambushes, skirmishes and raids” over three hundred miles of territory; he believes there are at least six different armies involved, but no one can find them or figure out where they came from. Loune further believes they must have Aes Sedai or Asha’man with them, as soldiers have been killed by explosions not caused by the Power. Karede privately disagrees with this last, thinking that if the enemy had Aes Sedai or Asha’man with them, surely they would have just Traveled out of the region altogether with Tuon, although he acknowledges that it seems not all Aes Sedai and Asha’man know how to Travel. Loune says they haven’t even managed to take any prisoners.

“I know we’ve killed some – the reports claim it, at least – but they don’t even leave their dead behind. Some fools have begun whispering that we’re fighting spirits.” Fools he might consider them, but the fingers of his left hand hooked in a sign to ward off evil. “I’ll tell you one thing I know, Karede. Their commanders are very good. Very, very good. Every man to face them has been fought off his feet, outmaneuvered and outfought completely.”

Karede nodded thoughtfully. He had speculated that the White Tower must have tasked one of its best to kidnap the High Lady Tuon, but he had not been thinking along the lines of what people this side of the ocean called the great captains. Perhaps Thom Merrilin’s real name was Agelmar Jagad or Gareth Bryne.

Karede asks if Loune is in charge of the plan to pin the enemy down, and Loune is grateful that he is not; General Chisen’s forces are coming through the Malvide Narrows to provide reinforcements. Karede decides he knows what Merrilin’s plans are now, and thanks Loune politely for the kaf before taking his leave. As the Deathwatch Guards ride out, Karede tells Musenge they are headed northeast for the Malvide Narrows.

“The Light shine on us that we arrive before the High Lady.” If they did not, the pursuit would continue, all the way to Tar Valon if necessary. The thought of turning back without the High Lady never occurred to him. If he had to bring her out of Tar Valon, he would.

As always, I enjoyed the acknowledgment of Mat’s bad-assedness as a military strategist here a great deal, because it never fails to make me happy when people are forced to admit Mat is awesome — even when they don’t actually know who they are talking about.

That said, I also really liked the much more subtly communicated impression that Karede is no slouch in the strategy department himself, since unlike Loune or the rest of the Seanchan in Altara, he instantly figures out that “Merrilin’s” (heh) real target is Chisen’s reinforcements.

Which is awfully clever of Mat, too; you say “mountain pass,” but Mat says “perfect ambush opportunity.” Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, heh.

This is random, but I snickered while reading this chapter because I remembered a discussion I read somewhere once (possibly right here on Tor.com) about how it seems that by mutual unspoken agreement, virtually every single invented culture in SFF, no matter how fantastical and/or alien, possesses some type of suspiciously coffee-or-tea-like hot stimulant beverage.

And you know, even at my most cynical, I can’t bring myself to believe that this would not be true. Coffee as a universal constant is a theory I can get behind, y’all. Mmm, coffee.

And, yeah. There’s really not a whole lot else to say about this chapter, as it’s basically just a set-up for what happens next in Mat’s storyline, so I’mma move on some more!


Chapter 35: The Importance of Dyelin

What Happens
Luan et al have arrived outside of Caemlyn two days earlier, but have not laid siege to the city. Elayne thinks that perhaps that is because they know that she is supplying the city via Gateways, but is still wary, knowing that even with her new allies she does not have the numbers to match their collective armies. Elayne has been trying to get Danine Candraed to commit to Trakand, to make the tenth House she needs to win the throne, but Danine continues to dither. Now Hanselle Renshar, Arathelle’s grandson, has come to ask for safe passage on the High Seats’ behalf, which Elayne finds incredibly insulting. She writes a short, terse note guaranteeing their safety and gives it to Hanselle.

“Here.” she said, handing the sheet to the young man. Her voice was ice, and she made no effort to warm it. “If this fails to make them feel safe, perhaps they might try wrapping themselves in swaddling.” Thunder boomed for punctuation.

Hanselle leaves, and Elayne asks Dyelin if she’s sure she doesn’t want to be queen. Dyelin is sure, and tells Elayne she will be a better queen than Dyelin, partly because of her connection to the Dragon Reborn, but mostly because of herself. Elayne is humbled by the praise. Elayne hears reports from Reene and Norry on various issues; Norry reports that the Darkfriend prisoners are being closemouthed except for insults, especially Mellar (whom the Guardswomen had beaten thoroughly at his arrest), and Elayne tells him to ask Sylvase for the use of her “secretary”. Later, Elayne suffers through her daily exam from the midwife, Melfane Dawlish; she is still a bit horrified that Melfane actually tastes her urine, even though Melfane tells her she can tell some sicknesses from a change in the taste. Elayne is glad, though, that Melfane had finally stopped the ridiculous bland diet everyone else had had her on. Over lunch, Birgitte theorizes that Luan et al are coming to talk about the Borderlanders, since there’s no way they are coming to throw support to Elayne, and Elayne agrees.

“Unless they’re going to demand I surrender Caemlyn.”

“There’s always that,” Birgitte said, sounding almost cheerful. The bond said she was anything but. “We still have watchers in the towers, though, and Julanya and Keraille have gotten work as laundresses in their camp, so we’ll know if they begin to move against the city before the first man sets out.”

Elayne goes to the Grand Hall to receive the High Seats; the other nobles who support Elayne are there too, and Elayne warns Conail and Lir in particular from taking umbrage at anything said, as Dyelin has warned that Ellorien is likely to be “provocative.” Catalyn demands to know why they should hold their tongues if goaded.

“I’ve never allowed anyone to poke at me and walk away unscathed.”

“An ox responds to the goad and does as the ox-herd wants,” Dyelin said drily. “The same way you will be doing what Ellorien wants if you respond to her goads.” The crimson remained in Catalyn’s cheeks, no doubt from embarrassment, now.

The High Seats enter, and Elayne notes that Luan, Ellorien and Abelle are a separate group from Arathelle, Pelivar, and Aemlyn. Ellorien immediately makes a snide remark that she is surprised Elayne isn’t already sitting on the throne, and Elayne answers calmly that she has no right to it — yet. Ellorien sneers that she will be waiting a while if she thinks Danine will ever declare for her. Elayne asks if there is a purpose to this meeting other than insults, and Luan replies that they are there to ask for a truce.

“A truce? Are we at war, Luan? Has someone declared for the throne that I haven’t heard of?” Six sets of eyes swung to Dyelin, who grunted.

“Fools. I told you and told you, and you wouldn’t believe me. Perhaps you’ll believe this. When Sylvase, Karind and Lir sent their proclamations of support, I sent my own. Taravin stands for Trakand, and the whole of Andor will know it soon enough.”

Luan says, a temporary agreement, then, to join forces against the Borderlanders. Elayne tells him the Borderlanders do not want a war with Andor; they told her they are looking for the Dragon Reborn. Ellorien is incensed that Elayne treated with them, declaring she had no right without the crown, but Elayne counters that she met with them on her authority as an Aes Sedai, not as Queen of Andor. She further points out that as a result of her actions, the Borderlanders are crossing Andor peacefully, instead of causing a war that would “soak Andor in blood and cripple her for a generation,” and Andoran farmers are even making a profit from selling them food. She demands to know what Ellorien would have done differently, and Ellorien sullenly remains silent. Abelle then asks what she plans to do about the Black Tower, and Elayne tells him bluntly she can do nothing about it, except to remind the Asha’man that they are on Andoran soil, and subject to its laws.

For a long moment they stared at her, all six of them unblinking.

“Pendar stands for Trakand,” Abelle said suddenly, and right atop him, Luan said. “Norwelyn stands for Trakand.” Lightning flashed overhead, brightening the colored windows in the ceiling.

Elayne kept herself from swaying with an effort. Birgitte’s face was smooth, but the bond carried amazement. It was done. She had eleven, and the throne was hers.

Slightly dazed herself, Dyelin asks the other four for their support as well, in the interests of the good of Andor. After a moment, Arathelle, Pelivar and Aemlyn add their allegiance as well, but Ellorien refuses, and announces her intention to return to her estates. Elayne reminds her that Tarmon Gai’don is coming, and she won’t be able to stay there long; Ellorien replies that when the time comes, House Traemane will ride with the Lion of Andor, and leaves. Elayne notes she said Andor, not Trakand, and reflects to herself that things were never this messy in stories.

Still, she had the throne at last. There was still the coronation, but that was a formality now. As she led the procession from the Grand Hall, chatting with Luan and Pelivar, thunder rolled overhead like martial drums beating the march for Tarmon Gai’don. How long before Andor’s banners had to march to the Last Battle?


*happy dance*

Praise the Lawd, y’all, seriously.

Although, overall I will say that I didn’t find the Andoran succession storyline nearly as deadly this time as I did originally. I actually somewhat enjoyed it this time through, protracted bathing and a surfeit of Windfinders notwithstanding.

Possibly because I’ve been staring at it so hard? But then again, close Re-read scrutiny of the Perrin/Faile/Sevanna debacle only intensified my hatred of that whole plotline, so that’s probably not it.

…On reflection, that’s definitely not it. Let’s just say, it is not a coincidence that the Perrin/Shaido Plotline of Doom incorporated what is (in my opinion) WOT’s single biggest instance of Fail regarding portrayal of its female characters, while Elayne’s storyline from Ebou Dar on represents frequent examples of the same at its best. So, yeah.

Ellorien: I’m kind of torn on how to feel about her being all Snidely McCrankypants throughout this whole business. On the one hand, Morgase had Ellorien frickin’ FLOGGED, and I’m pretty sure that that qualifies as more than reasonable grounds for being, if you’ll pardon the pun, royally pissed. On the other, that was Elayne’s mother, not Elayne, and surely it would behoove a High Seat to take that into consideration when deciding what’s best for the country and all, right?

Right. But flogging, man… I dunno.

On the gripping hand… has anyone at least tried to explain to Ellorien et al that Morgase was not exactly herself when she did all that? I can’t remember. Eh, probably wouldn’t have helped, anyway, even if Ellorien and the rest had believed it, which they probably wouldn’t have. Maybe this comes up again later on, but I don’t remember it if it does.

Tasting urine: Ah, so THAT’S why I decided not to become a medieval(-ish) midwife. I knew there was a reason!

Still, I’m pleased that Elayne finally managed to find someone to advise her on her pregnancy who apparently has, you know, actually dealt with pregnant people before. Seriously, whoever thinks that when you’re eating for two (or three, as the case may be) that that’s the perfect time to cut down on the caloric intake needs to be smacked around for a minute. Even I know that! Sheesh.

Although, Melfane is not quite so enlightened in other areas:

“Pity he can’t learn my craft, but no one would buy herbs from a man. Or have a man midwife.” Melfane laughed uproariously at that ridiculous notion.

All double standards are stupid, but this one about herbs strikes me as especially ridiculous. How can a person’s gender influence whether you can memorize what various herbs do? Well, it can’t, obviously. Pfeh.

And as for no male midwives, well, the only-recently-reversed trend of male OB/GYN practitioners outnumbering the female tends to put the lie to that notion. While I’m obviously much happier with female physicians finally getting an even slice of the pie (at least in this field of medicine if nowhere else), I’m not simultaneously going to claim that no babies got successfully born while the profession was still male-dominated. ‘Cause, you know, I’m pretty sure they did. Get born, I mean. Call it a hunch.

So, the moral is, kids, sexism is stupid, in either direction. I feel like I may have made this point before!

Hanselle Renshar: So, am I the only one who saw that name and immediately started going, “HAHHN-sel? Han-SULL?” Just me? Okay.

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you clearly did not waste enough time watching Looney Tunes as a child. You’ll want to fix that, yo.)

So, bye, Queen Elayne! Congrats on finally getting your Crownening through committee! See you in TGS oops I mean ToM!

And see you guys next week, when I do believe we might be wrapping up this puppy. (Holy crap!) Later!

Matias Miguez
1. meiyas
Execellent post as usual.
get ready for a royal marriage!

First post!
Daniel Smith
2. Smittyphi
Faile is finally rescued
Elayne is finally queen
Mat is still awesome

Stuff is happening. And we get The Gathering Storm after this. I'm giddy
Stefan Mitev
3. Bergmaniac
3 chapters today. Yay!

Anyway, I am one of those rare readers who actually like the Succession plot to a degree, but even I was happy to see it ending, it was about time. Good to see Elayne being competent and making the right decision both in terms of army tactics and in staying away from the fighting (hough Birgitte and the Guardwomen probably wouldn't have let her get onto the front line anyway).

Chapter 35 also has one of the funniest moments in KoD:

"Catalyn demanded. Her red dress, embroidered with broad bands of gold at the hem and on the sleeves, did not suit her coloring, especially when her plump cheeks were crimson with anger. Her chin was raised. Perhaps she wore that large enameled pin bearing Haevin’s Blue Bear where she did so she would be forced to keep her chin high and look down her nose at everyone."

Ah, the irony...

BTW, Elayne doesn't appear in TGS.

Karede is cool here, and his decision that it must be Thom who leads the army is both logical and hilarious.
Mike McCaffrey
4. earlgrey
"every single key player (in the sense of commanding officers) on both sides of the battle was female" Gotta be to be Queen.
5. Kadere
Queen Elayne is not in TGS, so you'll be seeing her in ToM.
Jonathan Levy
6. JonathanLevy
Re: Coffee

From Morgase's description, it seems that Seanchan coffee is Turkish (Arab) coffee. It's not quite the same as Taster's Choice. Have you tried it, Leigh?

For those who haven't, Mark Twain described it best
(The coffee is served in the last paragraph.)

Also, Leigh - permit me to correct a small typo:

"Let’s just say, it is not a coincidence that the Perrin/Shaido Plotline of Doom incorporated what is (in my opinion) WOT’s single biggest instance of FailEEEEEEEEEE regarding portrayal of its female characters"

No charge! :)
Jeff Weston
7. JWezy
At least Elayne didn't have to use her "speaw and magic hewmet"...

Hmmm... perhaps that is what the helmet Ter'Angreal is?

SmittyPhi@2 - Almost a haiku, there, perhaps a bit of edit:

Faile is rescued,
Mat is full of awesomeness,
Elayne is fin'lly queen.
8. Darth Touma
On a totally unrelated note, Leigh.. Will you be attending Dragon*Con and the WoT track?
Daniel Smith
9. Smittyphi
@Jwezy 7

Heh, I didn't think about that. I still call Faile "Fail" instead of "Fah - eel" or however it's phonetically spelled so I had to say again to make it right. We can change Elayne to "Elayne is now queen" to make it look cleaner.
10. Ryanus
Though there was one part in 33 that you skipped that I found the most hilarious for some reason.

In the middle of the Black Ajah being snippy about who's in charge there was also that lovely moment when they demand to know how they were found. And find out about Elayne's warder. Then devolve into an arguement about rather or not they should have listened to the rumor about a female warder...

Just struck me as hilarious that they would so completely dismiss that despite all evidence supporting it being true. You'd think they'd at least take into account that she might have a Warder at all.
Margot Virzana
11. LuvURphleb
Haha. I thought it was supposed to be fail since failes plot is horrible whilst elaynes plot is awesome!
TGS. All i really like is egwenes part where she is super mcsupercool aes sedai. Than in ToM she reverts to her dumb self.
Cant wait for the end part of mats superb amazing ironic marriage.
Sorcha O
12. sushisushi
I know we'll never find out, but what's the bets that Sylvase's grandfather had a seizure while chatting with her secretary? I might just have a suspicious mind, but the timing of her ascension to High Seat of her House is awfully convenient.

I love Birgitte's comment about Elayne acting like she was in a fool story. The end to this Succession could easily be recast as a fairytale, I think, with the princess kidnapped, rescued by her Warder and attacking the besieging army from outside to win her throne. Who knows, by the time it goes through a couple of song cycles, she probably *will* be leading the charge back to Caemlyn…

I'm probably in the minority who likes the story of Elayne's succession precisely because we see the fairytale princess becoming queen from the inside and it's a lot more frustrating, annoying and downright *slow* than most stories would have you believe.

A point on Karede and the fake Tuon. What's the other horrific whispered tale about her? That she can channel? Or did I miss something here?

Someday, Leigh, you'll have to do a comparison of the gendered medical practices of Wise Women and the Maesters.
Anne D
13. cheyinka
I find it a matter of some amusement that I used that midwife scene to explain to someone (who didn't believe me) that blood sugar really could be measured by testing urine. (Neither of us had access to a computer or the reference section of the library, but both of us remembered that scene.)
Mark Lawrence
14. incurablyGeek
I really liked the Elayne plot thread because it establishes her as someone who deserves to be Queen in her own right.
Rob Munnelly
15. RobMRobM
The Cup of Kaf chapter is a minor favorite of mine. Beautifully crafted all the way though, filled with nice little touches (the realization that failing to offer kaf might be a sufficient insult to trigger a duel, the two personal assistants sharing parallel aboriginal/devoted servant backgrounds, the surprising conviviality while talking shop over the battles) and, of course, replete with indirect Mat-praising goodness (as Leigh noted). It provides additional support for my strong theory that the Seanchan are not inherently bad, and will be a well-integrated part of Randland by the end of the series.

Re the Elayne chapters, to reiterate my thoughts from earlier posts, I actually like the succession plot line a lot - my only substantial problem is that it involves too many aggravating people (Kin, Sea Folk, Birgitte-Dyelin sniping) to be truly enjoyable.

I remain fascinated by Sylvase and whether she is merely smart as a whip or smart as a whip and secretly evil - and, if the latter, what is her agenda.

Anthony Pero
16. anthonypero
I can already see this thread will be no where near as much fun as the last thread :)
17. Psionandon
Hanselle. He's so hot right now. Hanselle.
Ted Herman
18. WinespringBrother
Thank the Light that Caemlyn is no longer under siege. Oh, wait...
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
@16. Oh yeah! I bet you never knew that Karede is gay and used to engage in widespread spanking and figs and mice activities at the Nine Horse Hitch. Did you?
Anthony Pero
20. anthonypero

Been a long time since I busted out that acronym, but the reference deserved it.
21. Helen_Joan

I disagree that the Seanchan will be well integrated into Randland. Just look at Avienda's forwards trip through the crystal columns in ToM
Anthony Pero
22. anthonypero
I think if the Succession Plotline had not happened parallel to the PLoD, I might look less favorably on its pacing. We also got a whole book off from it, which we DIDN'T with the PLoD.

Still, KoD has to be the best book in the series simply for ending them both within 10 chapters of each other
Anthony Pero
23. anthonypero
I'm always game to argue Way Way Forward Machine stuff, but that's almost as touchy as Elayne and Egwene.
Debbi Chambers
24. dchambers59
@Smittyphi 9

If we change it to "Elayne is now queen," it becomes only 16 syllables and is no longer a true haiku. Perhaps "Elayne has become queen" or "Elayne kicked rivals' butt" could work?
Daniel Goss
25. Beren
It depends on how you pronounce Faile

The book's pronunciation (Fah-eel) would leave you with
Faile is rescued, (5 syllables)
Mat is full of awesomeness, (7 syllables)
Elayne is fin'lly queen. (6 syllables)
total of 18
Which would leave the new line "Elayne is now queen" as giving the requisite five syllables to end the haiku with 17

I would recommend re-wording as "Now Elayne is queen." but that's just me.

Can't believe I'm picking this nit, but . . . it's a slow day at work. Whatcha Gonna Doo.

Leigh Butler
26. leighdb
Bergmaniac @ 3:

BTW, Elayne doesn't appear in TGS.

Oops. Thanks for the correction.

Jonathan Levy @ 6:

I have not, but I suspect Turkish coffee might be a little much for my tastes. I'm a lots-of-cream-and-sugar kind of girl.

Darth Touma @ 8:

No, unfortunately. Maybe next year!
Roger Powell
27. forkroot
My only issue with the succession plot line is that Tarmon Gaidon is imminent and either one of two things is going to happen:

A] We truly have an "End of the Age" and the result of the cataclysm is such that "Andor", "Cairhien", etc. don't exist -- in which case the succession plot line is almost pointless (OK .. a united Andor can get a lot more troops to TG, so not totally pointless)

B] We don't have an "End of the Age" in which case the entire WoT series becomes (IMO) diminished.

By the end of AMoL, we're going to have gone through 14 volumes of an incredible epic fantasy - all the time told that the Dragon is reborn, TG is coming, it's the end of the Age, blah, blah. Any way you slice it, that's a LOT of anticipation. Anything less than a world-reshaping conflagration is going to disappoint me.

Now, to be fair, although there was a distinctive event that could be said to have ended the Second Age (the Strike at Shayol Ghul), the "breaking of the world" went on for some time.

So whatever momentous event occurs with Rand at SG (we presume) perhaps the repercussions will take a while to settle out. So maybe "Andor" is relevant for more than one more month, I dunno.

Some have suggested that the loss of access to the True Source would be an "Age-changing" event. In that scenario, TG is fought, some countries survive, and then everybody adjusts to a world without Aes Sedai, ter'angreals, and so forth.

I'm curious as to what others think. Would you be disappointed if the "End of the Age" is not cataclysmic enough to wipe out Andor, etc? What other sorts of "Age-ending" things could happen?
Debbi Chambers
28. dchambers59
@Beren 25

Good point! At which point "Now Elayne is queen" is most excellent.
Anthony Pero
29. anthonypero
@27: Aviehnda's Way Forward Machine would certainly constitute and end of age scenario. I've posted elsewhere that it makes sense on a number of levels... and it makes sense as an end to "channelling" the Aes Sedai way within 400 years. Not that the ability is lost, just the knowledge to do it consciously.
30. Ouroboros
Ooh, resolution. Who'd have thought it?

You know what they say, "you can take an Aes Sedai to water but you can't stop her clawing for deference". Actually, I know no people who say that.

The only problem with coffee is that you can't drink it in the last quarter of the day, at least not at the strength I have it.

Bergmaniac @ 3: Irony indeed. Reminds me of the vail in TSR. Schnargf, schnarf, schnarf.

Jonathan Levy @ 6: It’s normally served with water to help wash it down. And there’s about three weeks of caffeine in one cup. Nice link too. I especially enjoyed the scrubbing.

JWezy @ 7: Kill d' wivals? Oh mighty warrior that will be qwite a task. how will you do it, might I enqwire to ask?

sushisushi @ 12: Hmm, grandpa’s seizure is certainly suspicious, but ol' man Caeren was pretty far gone so it might have been natural causes. Either way, Sylvase is creepy.

The other tale?

Thom shook his head gravely. “They're looking for an impostor, Mat. Somebody claiming to be the Daughter of the Nine Moons. Except the description fits her too closely. They don't talk about it openly, but there are always men who drink too much, and some always talk too much as well when they do. They mean to kill her when they find her. Something about blotting out the shame she caused.” (KoD:11)

I assume this means that some people think Tuon herself - not an impostor - is extorting; as though the heir to the throne would need to extort anything. Any better offers?
31. Lsana

I presume the "too horrible to mention" story is that some of the Seanchan army is actually hunting Tuon to try to kill her.


Yes, I absolutely would be disappointed. In a thread a while back, I mentioned that the "casualties" I most wanted to see in the final book were Andor, Cairhein, Tear, the White Tower, etc. If we hit the End of the Age and it is less cataclismic for Randland than WWI was for Europe, I have to consider that an epic fail. This is supposed to be the End of the World or near enough. It ought to be more than a speed bump.
32. alreadymadwithmadgramps
On the mountain pass, Leigh, Mat didn't actually plan on ambushing anybody. He just wanted Chisen's army out of there so that he could slip through.

sushisushi @12
Possibly. But then again, it's pretty much accepted by everyone and her grandfather(including Sylvase) that the man was on his last legs.
The one horrific is that she's engaging in extortion. The other horrific is that the Ever Victorious Army is trying to kill her.
33. macster
@12 and 15: I mentioned this on the previous thread but it got lost amidst all the Elayne-bashing, but I also have my eye on Caeren's High Seat. Clever and manipulative Sylvase may be, and I loved seeing her completely undermine Arymilla, but the scene after the play in ToM really disturbed me. Is there any chance Sylvase might be a channeler, a learner perhaps? Because the monotonous voice and vacuous eyes really reminds me of the 13 x 13 trick. I don't see how such a look could be faked, and it appearing in the same book we see what happened to poor Tarna and Mezar seems like too much a coincidence. If it is just Sylvase always was a Darkfriend and secretly so cold and heartless...damn.

On the one hand, Sylvase seems like she'd be a more effective Darkfriend than any others near Elayne, certainly more than Mellar or Shiaine was; on the other hand, we just got rid of serpents in the bosom, now we have another? Not to mention the Shadow in general seems to be getting more competent, which makes me fear for what happens, regardless of whether she is willingly Dark or not. Not to mention it's a shame such a competent and clever woman is also seemingly evil. (On a related note, while it is cool that almost all the commanders on both sides of the Succession plot were women, having some of them be selfish, evil, vindictive bitches doesn't help much on the equality front.)

Last note on Sylvase: Lounalt was revealed as a Darkfriend. Why didn't Elayne bring this up with Sylvase? She had plenty of time to worry about the impending invasion, the planned assassination on Mat, and Mellar escaping with the medallion copy (that's going to be bad, This I Foretell), but she didn't even once think "Hmm, Sylvase's secretary she was using to torture and question people was Dark. I wonder if she had any idea?" Granted, she was a bit busy recovering, helping Mat take out the gholam, and helping him and Aludra with the dragons, but even so it seems odd she never asked Sylvase about it or even thought about her. An oversight that may well be costly.

@21: The Way Forward Machine only shows what will (or may) happen if nothing is changed. Presumably if Aviendha prevails on Rand to fix things (like by including the Aiel in the Dragon's Peace), and if Mat works on Tuon (particularly on the matter of releasing the damane), that future will be prevented and the Seanchan can thus be integrated fairly harmlessly.

On the issue of there being a true World-Shattering Event: Andor may well fall, or at least be badly damaged, since the siege of Caemlyn at the end of ToM may well be meant to parallel Arthurian canon and the attack on Camlaan, which didn't turn out well at all for the forces of good. (They did win in the end, but at frightful cost.) In which case the point of the Succession storyline was either to lull the reader (or more likely the characters) into a false sense of complacency--not to mention Andor kind of has to be untied before the heavy end of the hammer can fall on it--or it really will be that Andor's united power will be key to winning the Last Battle, but afterward it will be severely damaged or limited.

Beyond that, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Tear does fall; the Borderlands are already in grave danger--Saldaea was saved by Rand but could fall at any moment, last we saw of Kandor it was about to be swarmed under, we know there is fighting in Arafel which may be why Alanna ran off, and Lan's Last Stand at Tarwin's Gap has Doom written all over it (yes, Min, we get it, Nynaeve is going to lose somebody). Even if Lan himself somehow survives, I doubt Shienar is coming out of this unscathed, and no matter how much we might want it to, Malkier will probably not get restored. And speaking of doom, the constant references to how weak Cairhien has become without a ruler for so long, then Elayne rushing the coronation and nabbing all of the Cairhienin army, seems to be an anvil-sized hint that the sun will soon be setting on those slash-dressed Daes Dae'mar-lovers. Which despite their flaws does make me a bit sad, considering we have met a number of good Cairhienin. I especially fear we'll lose Dobraine for real this time, but, people have to die for this to have depth. So I suspect there will indeed be some real cataclysms.
Anthony Pero
34. anthonypero

@21: The Way Forward Machine only shows what will (or may) happen if nothing is changed. Presumably if Aviendha prevails on Rand to fix things (like by including the Aiel in the Dragon's Peace), and if Mat works on Tuon (particularly on the matter of releasing the damane), that future will be prevented and the Seanchan can thus be integrated fairly harmlessly.

That is total presumption. We don't know that the Way Forward Machine shows futures that can be avoided. We know that the Pattern certainly allows for absolute futures, or Min and Elaida's giftings wouldn't exist. Heck, the entire Prophecies of three people groups wouldn't exist.

It could be that it is exactly true, completely avoidable, or something in between. The specifics of people and day to day menutia may change, but the overall themes and key events still take place. The point is we don't know, so please don't phrase it as if, in the words of another series, "it is known."
Elijah Foster
35. TheWolfKing
I always thought it would have been awesome if Mat came in to save the day from Arymilla's attack on Caemlyn. But this would kinda be impossible because Mat is not anywhere near there. Still i thought it woulda been a cool thing because it might have made Elayne respect Mat more.

Karede- I have always thought he was cool even though he's Seanchan and has stupid beliefs.(In my opinion and hopefully everyone who has ever read WOT)

When elayne makes the comment about making Guybon her third warder, it made me think of rand. And while im 99% certain that Rand will fake his death with the help of Alivia (I think this because of a bunch of Min's and Nicola's veiwings and foretellings respectively.) Anyway, thinking of rand, i hope he pulls a Paul Attriedes from Children of Dune. Except for coming back as he did( I wont say what because i dont want to ruin it) I hope Rand comes back as a warder/advisor to elayne that people dont know is him but think he might be.
Stefan Mitev
36. Bergmaniac
A lot of stuff in ToM would be pretty pointless if there's a global destruction in Tarmon Gai'don and most countries and institutions are wiped out. Egwene's plans for closer ties between channelling women, the deal for the political status of Two Rivers, Elayne's deal with the Kin her claim of the Sun Throne, etc. That's why I don't think it will happen. Then there's the outriggers idea, which suggests that enough of the Seanchan continent survived for Mat and Tuon to reclaim few years after the Last Battle. So I don't see a global destruction and most countries being wiped out. There would be a lot of casualties, sure, but it won't be anywhere near as bad as the Breaking.
37. SNuBoi
Why does the age have to end destructively at all? The Second Age did but is that enough evidence that all ages end that way? Do we know of the end of any others?

And actually, didn't the Second Age begin when channeling was discovered? That does not sound cataclysmic at all. Maybe they don't all go out in an earth shattering bang.
38. AndrewB
Chapter 35 has one of the great lines in WoT. It occurs after Ellorien refuses to grant her support for Elayne after the five other High Seats declare for Elayne. "She has the throne, ... The rest is fluff and feathers."

Count me among those who enjoyed the majority of the succession plot. I like political intrigue in my fantasy. That said, I could have done without the Windfinders.

Thanks for reading my musings.
Tess Laird
39. thewindrose
Man - doom and gloom in the comments;)

I say it is time to celebrate - Elayne got her queening(and I am going with the Chess definition here, you dirty naughty thinker you!)

There is something wrong with our girl Sylvase - and she is not Lanfear:) I know some of you understand that one(it is about midway in). There is definitly a aura of wrong around her, or she had a really bad childhood. (I think I read about her childhood at the 13th D.)

See you in next in ToM, Queen Elayne!

Justin Levitt
40. TyranAmiros
One comment about healers being women in the Third Age: there's actually some logic to it, given that many healers and herbswomen are channelling, knowingly or not. I see the story as somewhat of stereotypes and anecdotal evidence being solidified as tradition and then "fact"--and traditions often change glacially. Now that Saidin is clean, I think we'll see some changes here.

Oh, and another comment--I took a history class on early modern England in college from a professor whose specialty was medical history. The belief that only women could be midwives was pervasive in England in that era, and when 18th century male doctors tried to give advice or assist, they were highly distrusted.
41. Shadow_Jak
I'm pretty certain, that even in this enlightened age of ours, most mid-wives are still women. But i don't claim to be an expert.
42. Lsana

Avi is hoping to change the future of the Aiel from what she saw in the way-forward machine, but even before the Aiel/Seanchan wars, it was pretty clear that the Seanchan weren't "integrating" into Randland. They kept their own customs, including both the a'dam and slavery in general. Aiel or no Aiel, that doesn't sound too integrated to me.


You may be right, but that doesn't make it any less lame for the Apocalypse to come and go and leave everything more or less how it was. I'm not making a prediction with my casualty list, just stating an opinion.


There are different ways for things to be cataclysmic. The Second Age ended with phyical violence and a literal remaking of the world, but there are other ways to break the world. The discovery of functional magic could certainly be one of them, a discovery that would change everything and that the existing social institutions couldn't survive. I'd be okay if Rand did something like that: his science academies discover something that upturns the world-order the way that channeling did. Perhaps there is still an area on the map called "Andor," but it is no longer the nation that Elayne grew up in.

Again, I'd look at real history. Think of what the 20th century did to Europe. Some nations, like the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires, simply ceased to exist. Others, like Russia and Germany, have changed so radically that it's hard to call them the same places. Hardly any country escaped unscathed. A similar argument could be made for Africa, where virtually none of the countries on the map even existed in 1900. A fantasy apocalypse should be able to beat out one century of mundane history.

Or, if you feel real history is the wrong comparision, consider the Compact of 10 Nations that existed before the Trolloc wars. Exactly 0 of those still exist in the "present day" Randland. Few are even remembered, except by devoted historians and Mat. Similarly, all the nations that existed before Hawkwing are gone and forgotten. If the "End of an Age" means anything at all, it must be at a minimum as disruptive as previous events in the age.
Roger Powell
43. forkroot
And actually, didn't the Second Age begin when channeling was discovered?
The Portal Stones are from an Age before the Second Age. Since they work via channeling, we can conclude that channeling was known before the Second Age began.
44. Shadow_Jak
Now chapter 33 shows us a couple of examples of REAL urgency.
1. The Queen to be is captured by Black Sistes and is on her way to the bad guys camp - Right NOW!
That's urgent! That's Critical!
Good job Birgitte! Excellent, spur of the moment plan

2. The Bad guys are stoming the gate and about to break through into the City, Right NOW!
That's Urgent! That's Critical!
Good job Elayne!

"No guilt, though. Only by letting Falion and Marillin walk free could they have been spared, and neither would have countenanced that. There had been no way to anticipate the arrival of the others, or that strange weapon Asne had."

That's the thought that really makes me want to gag. It should read.

"Bloody buttered onions what a disaster. Thank the Light for Birgitte and my loyal subjects for pulling my young ass out of that incredible mess. May all who died for my silly adventure rest in the Creator's Palm
(after he's finished smacking himself in the forehead over what I just did)
If I ever do something this silly again may I fall butt first into a spanking ter'angreal.
45. Shadow_Jak
Gee I feel better.

Believe it or not, I really did enjoy this whole plot thread.
But then again, I also enjoyed Perrin's so called PLOD.
Guess I'm just weird.
46. Faculty Guy
I realize that commenting on the end of ToM is premature here in the KoD finale, but Avienda's Way-Forward machine vision keeps coming up . . . here in regard to whether the End of the Age will bring about chaos and misery.

One thing that Avi noted emphatically and found painful in her vision of the future was that HER CHILDREN caused the destruction of the Aiel as a people. One clear way to keep this from happening would be for her to NOT HAVE ANY children! I'm just wondering if Avi will return to Rand but in a "Platonic" relationship. I know this would violate several "foretellings" of her having quadruplets, but I do believe that child-bearing is something she could make a conscious decision about - it's not a matter of fate if a woman decides to make avoiding it a number-one priority.

Just wondering.
47. Shadow_Jak
Lot's of good dialog in 'A Cup of Kaf'

'Keep the men out of trouble," he (Karede) told Musenge. "If that means accepting insults, so be it."
'There'd be fewer insults if we killed a few of the," Musenge muttered.
To which Hartha, the Ogier First Gardener, (love that Title!) replied,
"After we rescue the High Lady, we can kill as many of them as need killing, Musenge."
Bob Weld
49. WaitingShadows
I admit that it seems that apocalyptic event would have to shatter every nation and "break every tie that binds", but it also seems that they are building Andor and Tar Valon as being probable places for resistance to TG (and its aftermath) to unite. Apparently the shadow is interested enough in Andor to attempt a major assault. It could be random, or a case of "where they least expect it", but then why not Tear or Murandy. Because those places do not have people whom The Pattern (RJ & BrS) is using. Egwene has Tar Valon, and is already rebuilding (but I'm sure much more will be needed after TG). Andor has Elayne and Birgette.

The other main characters seem to have rebuilding duties (Mat has the Seanchan Empire (from Arad Doman to Altara), which he may or may not influence enough to change the prediction of the WayForward Ter'angreal, Perrin has Ghealdean, East Andor and/or the western borderlands. Nynaeve has the eastern borderlands. Darlin may or may not cover Tear and Illian, but IMO Andor and Tar Valon will be the places where civilization doesn't collapse completely after TG. Seanchan will be in a severe flux after the damane revelation, the borderlands will be completely overrun, and the attack alluded to at the end of ToM seems to indicate that Caemlyn will be weakened, but Andor is a pretty big nation, and with Perrin arriving in spectacular fashion just in the nick of time (I hope) Andor will remain in existance until after TG.

A final point: I am guessing and know much less about WoT history than most, but I would say not all nation immediately fell after the Breaking, but by 1000 years later when the Trolloc Wars took place, everything had changed. Same goes for the 100 years war. Sure not all the nations still exist a millenium later, but I bet a few lasted some years.

Of course, this post is all my uneducated opinion as a reader and I concede that I could be completely wrong on every point. Just wanted my voice to be heard.

Also, I sincerely hope that channeling doesn't disappear in the 4th age. The 5th would be fine with me. That leaves 5, 6, 7, and 1 with no chanelling, being rediscovered at the beginning of age 2. I wonder where this modern Earth would fall?

Thanks Wetlandernw @51, my compass points were backwards. Boy is my face red...
Alice Arneson
50. Wetlandernw
forkroot @27 - Will there be cataclysm at the end of the Third Age? Wow, we have some very divided opinions on this.

I think Tarmon Gai'don will be terrible, and the loss of life will be tremendous. I also think there will be a certain amount of ongoing battle after the LB is done and the DO sealed away. However, I sincerely hope that Aviendha's "wayforward" vision was a misuse and malfunction of the columns, and the things she saw will not take place. In point of fact, I doubt that we will know much about that; I think the book will end before Aviendha is even pregnant, much less raising kids (unless it's in an HP-variety "19 years later" sort of epilogue, which I really hope does NOT happen).

I think there will be some serious reorganizing of the political landscape, and possibly some reorganizing of the geographical landscape as well, though I don't think that will compare to the Breaking. Remember that at the end of the AOL, there was a massive Power war that lasted about 10 years – followed by 100 years of men going mad and using the Power to essentially rip the geography to shreds. Assuming that Rand is more successful than LTT was, there will be no Breaking, only the Battle. I think that will be quite enough death-and-destruction for anyone.

I think that many of the nations will still exist, but in altered forms. Boundaries will change in some cases, and forms of government may change as well, but aside from the massive loss of life in fighting the Last Battle I don't believe there will be the level of upheaval that came with the end of the previous Age.

Here’s one potential scenario for political reorganization: We know that a massive Trolloc attack is coming upon Caemlyn via the Waygate. What if there is a similar attack on Cairhien, at or near the same time? Caemlyn has Mat and the cannons to fight back with; Cairhien has virtually nothing. Since I don’t think the Trollocs will stop at the fifth, there may be virtually nothing left to rebuild this time. They have already, to some degree, accepted Elayne as Queen; the two nations, with some modification, could easily become one.

I suspect the Borderlands will suffer massive damage, and many or all of their leaders will be dead by the end. Depending on the remaining infrastructure, there may be some consolidation there as well. However, with the Blight receding, I think it altogether possible that Malkier may be reestablished if Lan survives.

I have more guesses, but they’re all just guesses based on what I think should happen, not any textual support.

Ouroboros @30 - re: coffee... it all depends on your metabolism. I've been known to drink cafezinho just before going to bed, and I sleep just fine. Then again, I never have managed to drink enough coffee to keep me awake; I think I did accomplish a case of the jitters once, with a concentrated effort...
Alice Arneson
51. Wetlandernw
WaitingShadows @49 - Not to be nitpicky, but I think you have your compass points reversed. Perrin is linked with Ghealdan, the west end of Andor (formerly Manetheren) and the western Borderlands, while Nynaeve (i.e. Malkier) is in the eastern. I think Elayne would have more than a little objection to Perrin trying to take over Caemlyn.

Like you, though, I don't think channeling will disappear at this juncture. It doesn't make any sense. If nothing else, the Portal Stones weren't created in either the second or third Ages, so... when? Not the first, which knew nothing of channeling. That leaves 4, 5, 6 or 7. (Sorry, forkroot, I'm with SNuBoi on this one; I seem to recall that the second age began with the discovery of channeling. Or at least what is called the second age by some, and age long past, an age yet to come... Feel free to prove me wrong.)
Roger Powell
52. forkroot
(Sorry, forkroot, I'm with SNuBoi on this one; I seem to recall that the second age began with the discovery of channeling. Or at least what is called the second age by some, and age long past, an age yet to come... Feel free to prove me wrong.)
I don't think I can really prove anything but AFAIK the only text that says anything about the discovery of channeling is some of the excellent fanfic that Samadai posted here on the reread. Or am I missing something?

Seems to me that if we accept that the Portal Stones truly did date from an Age prior to the Second Age we pretty much have to accept channeling going back that far. I think the reference to the Portal Stones being from a previous Age came from Verin, so there's always a possibility that she was wrong.

Certainly there's hints in the text of the First Age being our age (or something close 7*N turnings of the Wheel before/after). There are Thom's stories of Mosk/Merk, Alsbet, etc and there is the purported Mercedes emblem in Tanchico. The further back "our" Age is, the less likely that even those bare hints would have survived.

Of course our Age isn't over with :-) Maybe we're due to discover channeling and make some Portal Stones in the centuries ahead?
Elijah Foster
53. TheWolfKing
About portal stones, maybe they were there when the world was first created. If thats not true they probably have to get destroyed before they can be created again, so that takes out the 4th age or at least a lot of it. Or maybe they get destroyed in the 5th who knows. Or maybe they are just a one time occurence, not everything has to be exactly the same as the last time that age appeared.

As far as the fast forward device goes, I believe that that is the future for that point in time. Things may have happened already to change it.

As much as i hate to admit it though, the seanchan future,is in my opinion, at least 25% likely to happen, because of the whole "who are the Aiel after Rand is done with them" thing. Avi still seems to be on the path of telling her kids to ask "who are the Aiel after Rand is done with them" which leds them to the decision to fight the seanchan.
54. ican'tremembermyusername
@27 and 31 - I agree the age should end, but I don't see why it should end quickly. The events set in motion by the last battle could take a generation to shake out, and for Jordan a generation would mean at least another 20-30 books. I would not expect to see many of the nations disintegrate immediately. I would, however, expect to see hints and forewhadowing, or the start of that process as some of the open-endedness left unresolved at the end of AMoL.
Jonathan Levy
55. JonathanLevy
44. Shadow_Jak

If I ever do something this silly again may I fall butt first into a spanking ter'angreal.

LOL! Does Silviana's office qualify as a spanking ter'angreal? :)

All your sentiments about what Elayne should be thinking are spot on - I'm sure she'll think them when she's 40 or so.
Jonathan Levy
56. JonathanLevy

(unless it's in an HP-variety "19 years later" sort of epilogue, which I really hope does NOT happen).

From a literary perspective, I think the wayforward scene is an excellent alternative to the HP-variety "19 years later" scene.

Which tends to imply that the vision is true in some sense - even though it may not be unalterably fixed.
57. birgit
I don't think I can really prove anything but AFAIK the only text that says anything about the discovery of channeling is some of the excellent fanfic that Samadai posted here on the reread. Or am I missing something?

Isn't that from the BBoBA?
The Ages probably aren't about political borders, but about technology/magic. The nations change within ages. The Second Age started with the discovery of channeling and was a high civilization based on channeling (male and female). The Third Age was a low tech time where only women were channelers. In the Fourth Age there are again male and female channelers and scientific technology (gunpowder, steam engines etc.).
Anthony Pero
58. anthonypero

The Portal Stones are from an Age before the Second Age. Since they work via channeling, we can conclude that channeling was known before the Second Age began.

You are not taking into account the cyclical nature of the Wheel. They could be from the 7th Age, or 6th Age, for all we know, and those ages could know channelling in the same way the 2nd and 3rd ages do. We just don't know. But "from an age before the Age of Legends" does not implicitly mean the 1st Age. They could be from all the way back in a previous 2nd age. They could be from 3 or 4 turnings of the wheel ago.
59. alreadymadwithportals
anthonypero @58
Extending the thought further, one can't really imagine an Age where there weren't Portal Stones. Since they've so far been indestructible. Perhaps there were Ages where they were unknown or unseen, but so far a Portal Stone always stays exactly where it is. So even accounting for these Ages, it may well be that there have always been Portal Stones. Created at the same time as the Wheel. For what purpose? Perhaps not only to serve as portals to other worlds so much as anchor the various worlds together.
Rob Munnelly
60. RobMRobM
AP@16 - told you this wouldn't be so dull.

Helen @21 - It's been said by others above, but I don't see see the ToM Wayforward Machine (tm) depiction of the future as immutable. (Indeed, if that bleak depiction is the future of Randland why bother reading AMOL?) The fact remains that most of the center of Randland is unpopulated and RJ/BS text has been very clear that Seanchan farmers and folk are hardworking, pretty normal folks. We've also seen many examples of very commendable Seanchan officials (several of them we see in the Cup of Kaf chapter, plus Tylee plus ...) who would be worthy additions to Randland culture. The only barrier are the less desirable aspects of Seanchan culture, notably the a'dam and the slavery tradition, which will get resolved in AMOL between Fortuna and Rand, almost certainly with the heavy involvement of Mat (and possibly through the deux ex machina tactic of Fortuona being forced to channel and becoming disgraced for some portion of the story).

Roger Powell
61. forkroot
anthonypero@58 and alreadymad@59
I have no problem with the idea that the Portal Stones could be created in one Age (that knows channeling) and survive through later Ages. What I have a problem with is the idea that these things would not at least be known about in those Ages.

If we live in a previous Age, we would certainly have remarked by now about the existence of strangely runed indestructible stones that are scattered around the world. You'd have to come up with some artificial construct where all the Portal stones are undersea in this Age (or invisible, or whatever).

I think all that fails Occam's test. Why not go with the simplest explanation and just assume that the Portal Stones were created in the first Age, and that our "Age" preceded that?

Isn't that from the BBoBA?
The Ages probably aren't about political borders, but about technology/magic. The nations change within ages. The Second Age started with the discovery of channeling and was a high civilization based on channeling (male and female). The Third Age was a low tech time where only women were channelers. In the Fourth Age there are again male and female channelers and scientific technology (gunpowder, steam engines etc.).
I took a quick look at my copy of the BBoBA and didn't find anything to support this. Did I miss something?
62. Freelancer
Turkish coffee, FTW!

Nothing to say about the text, except that Karede is a good guy to have as an ally, too bad he's not on our side...

Pie? Really, Leigh, pie? A somewhat unfortunate location to choose that simile, don't you think?
63. XLCR
I know, let's just blow the whole thing up! An end to everything!
........................oh wait................uummm...........gosh, I guess that's been done. Michael Moorcock did that with Elrik................Well, I suppose that's out, can't be TOO derivative, after all.
Roger Powell
64. forkroot
Agreed about Karede - Tylee Kirghan too. Here's hoping that Team Light unites for AMoL ... If we can believe Rand/LTT he's going to be tied up at SG, leaving the bulk of the fighting to everybody else.

RJ left plenty of hints that it's going to take everything that Team Light's got, plus a bit of luck to survive TG. I strongly suspect that we're going to see a bunch of nasty surprises from Demandred and others pretty soon.
Valentin M
65. ValMar
Liked the Succession plotline. Like Karede.

On the question of the End of the Age- I don't think wholesale destruction is necessary. As people already wrote, the last "Age change" came at the end of extremely destructive and long war. Which ended with a bit of a cock-up. Followed up by an Apocalypse.
This time around the idea is that there won't be a cock-up and the Dark One won't be just sin binned but kicked out permanently, for the naughty boy he is. In general a better outcome than the last one.
There are many factors which cause states (e.g. Andor) to exist or not to. They can fail slowly and imperceptibly like the Western Roman Empire, or can be snuffed out in a Spring like the Mongols did to a few. And vice-versa.
Amadicia gone in few weeks. What will be the fate of Cairhien? How long will it take for Ghealdan to fail? What of the Borderlands? And so on.

Fortunately nobody really knows what's going to happen in the end of AMOL, one thing is certain- Randland will be very shaken-up. Nations may still exist practicaly and "officially" right then, but in Generation or two?
Even as things stand by the end of the latest book, we can see plenty of developments which will change the political map of the land.
All this even without mentioning Men AS coming back, the Seanchan, new Technology- Academies, Gunpowder warfare!
Anthony Pero
66. anthonypero
@ RobMRobM:

Why would the Seanchan taking over as the dominant power three or four generations from now make AMoL not worth reading?!?!? Does Rome's destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 make the story of Israelites returning form exile unreadable? Does the US bombing of Japan and subsequent westernizing of Japanese culture make The King and I pointless? I really, really don't understand people's objection to this. As Nicola's fortelling says "The Last Battle done, but the World not done with Battle." Life goes on, people get conquered. Sometimes the world is improved, sometimes it's not, but it does go on. Sometimes it's not as easy as better or worse. Take Rome's conquering of Europe. There were aspects of Roman culture that we would consider absolutely abhorent, much worse than the cultures that Rome superceded and destroyed... and yet on the whole, the world became a better place, a thousand years later, because of what Rome created.
67. s'rEDIT
@anthonypero #66: The King and I took place in Siam (which became Thailand) not Japan.
Rob Munnelly
68. RobMRobM
AP @66. I was being somewhat sarcastic in claiming that AMOL would not be worth reading but, as I recall, the Wayforward machine gives an excessively bleak view of Randland's future - and, in particular, for the children and grandchildren of Rand. A good news "Yeah, we defeated the forces of dark" coupled with bad news "But, boo, we're going to be taken over by Seanchan and many of Rand's kids and grandkids will be killed off" is not the type of ending I envisioned as the concluding work of a 15 book epic series. The vision gives a challenge to Avi to take action to overturn the vision that will be a significant (and, probably, significantly enjoyable) thread in AMOL.

Hugh Arai
69. HArai
People don't think the Dragon Reborn facing the Dark One at the Last Battle to determine whether or not the Dark One breaks the Wheel of Time is a sufficiently important event to mark the end of an Age?

Tough crowd.
70. alreadymadwithstones
RobMRobM @60
Well duh... Both PLOD's are dead. Of course it's time for rejoicing. Long live the queen!

forkroot @61
Because they are indestructible, even to the considerable knowledge of the Age of Legends. If the Age of Legends does not know how they were constructed, or possibly even when, it DOES NOT follow that they were created in the immediately previous Age with less knowledge. My point is that they may have been around since the Wheel began, and in Ages where they "did not exist", they were probably simply unidentified or unseen. Or known by other names.
71. Wortmauer
forkroot@43: The Portal Stones are from an Age before the Second Age. Since they work via channeling, we can conclude that channeling was known before the Second Age began
You and lots of other people has been assuming that, because it's possible to use the Portal Stones via channeling, that the making of the Portal Stones implies channeling. To me, this is not obvious. I think it's quite possible that the makers of the Portal Stones used them in some way that had nothing to do with the One Power, and thousands of years later, someone in the Second Age was studying them and figured out that the Power would make them do stuff.

This is a little bit like Corianin's twisted stone ring "ter'angreal", which I put in scare quotes because I see no reason to believe it uses the One Power in any way. The Aes Sedai call it a ter'angreal because they don't have a word for a magical artifact that is not tied to the One Power — in fact they seem to have trouble with the very concept of magic that is not Power-based. (Ask Elyas about that sometime.) Elayne can duplicate the stone ring, but I think that's entirely empirical, she has little understanding of how her artifacts actually work, so that's no argument that it actually uses the Power. Likewise, then, the Aes Sedai probably call Portal Stones ter'angreal, and probably believe that they are inherently tied to the One Power, but that doesn't make it so. Rand's use of the Stones seems to have had as much to do with his ko'di concentration on the objective, as his Saidin.
Portal Stones may not be literally magic; they may just be sufficiently advanced technology, which amounts to the same thing, right?

Age of the Portal Stones: This is a puzzle. They are weathered, which means they aren't magically enhanced to be indestructible (cuendillar or whatever Whitebridge is made of). And yet ... how many thousands of years can a granite tombstone or plinth, in the open air, retain its lettering? If the AoL was 3000 years long (do we know how long it was? I don't own the BBoBA), those things are at least 6000 years old. Do we have any examples of stonecarvings that have lasted that long with enough detail remaining to read symbols? In open air, I mean, not buried in a layer of other rock or whatever. (I doubt it, partly because nobody had invented symbolic writing that long ago.) So anyway, what substance that is not magically enhanced to be invulnerable would weather so slowly?

Way Forward Machine and the Nature of Prophecy: There's a pretty sharp difference in the inevitability of prophecy based on whether you're inside or outside the story. In-world:
Even prophecy can fail if the one prophesied is slain or gentled.
— Siuan, TGH, Chapter 5, A Shadow in Shienar
"Perhaps," Rand told him curtly. He had lived too many prophecies to believe any of them meant exactly what they said. Or even that they insured anything. In his opinion, prophecy set the conditions that had to be met for a thing to happen; only, meeting them did not mean the thing would happen, just that it could.
— LOC, Chapter 2, A New Arrival
And ... I thought Moiraine said something similar, but I can't find it now. However, Siuan and Rand are not genre-savvy, and they don't know Robert Jordan. We know very well that when RJ puts a prophecy in canon, it's pretty much an ironclad plot guarantee. For this not to be true, he'd have to be trying to subvert the epic fantasy genre in a fundamental way that he clearly is not.

Of course, RJ's canon prophecies should be understood as though spoken by an experienced Aes Sedai constrained by the First Oath. (Which, come to think of it, many of them probably were.) RJ will try and trick you if he can.
72. AppleBrandy
I actually have never heard of a male midwife, which is a very different thing than an OB/GYN.
The fact that we have OBs at most births in this country is a bit messed up. Midwives can handle most of what happens, OBs should be for hard cases.
Valentin M
73. ValMar
HArai @ 69

That's a point I intended to make but forgot as I got sidelined. Totally agree! But if people insist on mountains of corpses and people running around screaming "We're all doooomed!" I guess this will happen too.
I just don't think the slate has to be wiped clean to usher in a new Age.
Roger Powell
74. forkroot
I particularly like your point that the stones might have worked in another way and using channeling is just a way to activate them much like using a weave of Air to flip a light switch is a way to activate a machine without the True Source having necessarily been required.

Because they are indestructible, even to the considerable knowledge of the Age of Legends. If the Age of Legends does not know how they were constructed, or possibly even when, it DOES NOT follow that they were created in the immediately previous Age with less knowledge.
Do we know for sure that there was less knowledge in the First Age? I'm not sure we know what the transition from the First to Second Age entailed. I agree though that if the First Age was less technically advanced it is unlikely that the Portal Stones were created in that Age.
My point is that they may have been around since the Wheel began, and in Ages where they "did not exist", they were probably simply unidentified or unseen. Or known by other names.
One of the issues with a circular cosmology like WoT is that since each Age comes around again, you pretty much can't have anything "always there", unless it was produced by the Creator himself.

If they've been around "forever", then they shouldn't be weathered at all as even infinitesimal wear would eventually destroy them given enough turnings of the Wheel. (That's sort of analogous to Ishy's argument about fighting the Dark One, isn't it?)

Alternatively, anything not produced by the Creator has to be initially produced in some Age. In this case the Portal stones were created in some Age and presumably for them to be created again when that Age rolls around, they'll have to have been destroyed beforehand.
(By the way, this applies to things like the Bore too - I think Harid Fel made this point?)

It follows that the Portal stones would not be indestructible, just "seemingly indestructible" (kinda like cuendillar) since they would indeed be destroyed in some Age.

In turn, there would be times when the Portal stones wouldn't exist. If we truly live in an iteration of the First Age (or any other Age), and we have no recorded observation of the Portal stones, it seems most likely that we are in an Age (or part of an Age) when they don't exist.

I think that fits the evidence the best, but feel free to disagree - nothing short of a pronouncement by Team Jordan could resolve this with certainty.
75. AndrewB
In my opinion, the wide spread warfare which Randlanders believe inevitable during the Last Battle will result in widespread famine. This would be due to locations of actual battle, the total number of Randlanders who die during the Last Battle and the general populace not being in a position to adequately farm the land. I believe that this famine will last at least a generation. Like Rand outlined in TGS, the Last Battle will not be one gigantic battle where the good guys face the bad guys. Rather, it will be a "Randland-wide series of massive engagements -- on the scale of what took place during the Trolloc Wars. If I am not mistaken, the Trolloc World touched the entire known world (i.e. Randland).

It would not surprise me that after the Last Battle, a period akin to the Dark Ages results (I apologize if anybody is offended by my use of the non-politically correct term "Dark Ages." However, I do not know what the politically correct term for the period from the fall of Rome to the start of the Crusades and "Middle Ages."). So long as channeling does not disappear (which I do not believe will happen), I do not forsee rampant plague. I cannot see how the plague can survive in a world where channelers can readily heal the sick.

So to conclude, I do not see the victorious side having a massive V-Day type of celebration. The survivors will be doing whatever they can just to make ends meet.

Thanks for reading my musings.
Bob Weld
76. WaitingShadows
AndrewB @75: I agree completely. TG will be a fought all over Randland , and that the fallout from those battles will devistate much of the WoT world. The story does however, seem to be setting characters up to rebuild the various regions of Randland. Since Elayne and Egwene are pretty much already ready already (sorry), that indicates to me personally that those areas will be both where the majority of the resistance will come from and where the support will come from after. Also, who's to say what will happen to the universities in Tear and Cairhien? Maybe only the one in Andor survives (or vice versa of course).

(For some reason I am almost wishing Randland had electricity so the universities could set up an ARPANET and exchange e-mails. Not really, but it sounded funny in my head.)

About the portal stones, it seems to me that they weren't necessarily Indestructable so much as that they resisted being moved or relocated. I know we haven't seen one shatter or anything, but I seem to recall reading about one that had fallen over on its side, and I think the one by Rhuidean was worn very much by the sands, so much that it was almost unreadable. It's late and I should already be asleep, so I'm too lazy to actually fetch the book, but I have a strong assumption that it's not so much that they will always be there, but that if they are there (since they are there in dozens or potentially hundreds of different worlds) they must be in the place that they are in other worlds.

Also, I like the idea that maybe something other than channeling was the original means to use portal stones, but I am having trouble making it work in application. Obviously there are no switches to flip (or probably any moving parts at all). Granted, it could be very advanced technology, but in general it seems the more advanced the technology, the more fragile device is. I could be wrong, I am sure there are many examples of extremely advanced sturdy technology, but the way this was described it never seemed like something new, but something very old. I doubt Quinn's Timer would have held up for 3000+ years.

I just can't think of anything other than channneling that would be used to operate the stones. I even considered the Matrix-y our-consciousness-creates-our-reality possibility, which would explain how Rand used it with the ko'di and the stones are focus points where someone's thoughts activate the object, but then, why couldn't anyone use it? Maybe they are originally from an age with telepathy, which proceeds from/becomes channeling, which is why only channellers can use them? And just like that I am going around in circles. The point is that the above seems pretty unlikely IMO. I don't know, but I thought I'd mention it.
Jonathan Levy
77. JonathanLevy
66. anthonypero

Re: Bleak future in the Wayforward machine.

Avi's visions are bleank for the Aiel. That's not to say that they're bleak for everyone. Perhaps most Randlanders are content to live under the Seanchan dictatorship, and are not at all troubled about how the human vermin known as Aiel are dealt with in the Waste.

Consider the Roman Empire under Marcus Aurelius. The average Roman never had it better, and a few wars in Germany did nothing to change that. Perhaps it even improved things a bit, by reducing the price of slaves.

76. WaitingShadows & others

Very interesting Portal stones discussion.

Regarding how to activate them, as they lack moving parts - here are two suggestions:
1) Singing. Remember the Talisman of Growing?
2) Dreaming - Perhaps they're connected to T'A'R independently of the One Power?

Hmmm... Portal stones resist being moved, right? Does that resistance extend to the vertical dimension? Because during the breaking, land was cast down to create seas. Might you not have a Portal Stone floating 50 meters above the surface of the waves, where there used to be land? Perhaps 1000 meters?
78. birgit
I took a quick look at my copy of the BBoBA and didn't find anything to support this. Did I miss something?

I thought the information that channeling was discovered in the AoL was from the BBoBA (the Ring of Tamyrlin was supposed to be created by the first channeler). The theory about the difference between the Ages is my own.

Portal Stones cannot be moved, but they can be worn down by errosion. If the Ages are long enough, the Stones could be eroded completely by the time the Age in which they are recreated comes again.
Indestructible cuendillar is another problem. If it is really indestructible and people create new cuendillar in some Ages, the whole world should be filled with cuendillar eventually.
Anthony Pero
79. anthonypero
67@ s'rEDIT

Good catch. Sorry. Pick some other late Japanese empire story then. The point still applies... I just mangled it :)
Anthony Pero
81. anthonypero
Another good example would be the story of Anastasia. Simply because the Lenin's revolution made the story irrelevant doesn't make it any less of a good story.
Roger Powell
82. forkroot
I thought the information that channeling was discovered in the AoL was from the BBoBA (the Ring of Tamyrlin was supposed to be created by the first channeler).
I think Samadai did such a good job with his fanfic that we now think we read it somewhere in WoT canon :-) AFAIK, there is nothing in any of the texts about this, although I'd be happy to be corrected.
Portal Stones cannot be moved, but they can be worn down by erosion. If the Ages are long enough, the Stones could be eroded completely by the time the Age in which they are recreated comes again.
Yes, if they erode then they are not indestructible, hence not eternal and thus there is a time when they don't exist.
Indestructible cuendillar is another problem. If it is really indestructible and people create new cuendillar in some Ages, the whole world should be filled with cuendillar eventually.
Ah, but we find out in TGS that cuendillar is not indestructible! We know that it can be destroyed by TP-based balefire (at least).

This leads to another thought ... if balefire truly removes an object from the pattern (technically it removes the entire set of sub-objects (atoms?) that comprise the object, at least per BWS) ... then we have another problem with the circular cosmology. Given enough turnings of the Wheel, over time, balefire will remove all the matter in the universe.

I'm beginning to think Ishy is right ....
Hugh Arai
83. HArai
Given enough turnings of the Wheel, over time, balefire will remove all the matter in the universe.

Balefire burns threads from the Pattern, but the Wheel weaves. To me, that strongly implies more and more Pattern as we go...
Alice Arneson
84. Wetlandernw
Just a couple of random thoughts...

Portal Stones: Verin tells Rand that even the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends didn't understand them, although those with enough strength used them with the OP. I would suggest that there are other ways to use them, other sources of power that would be used to activate them. As noted by others, it's not possible to move them because they are anchored by their counterparts in other worlds, but it is possible to destroy them, if only by wearing them down sufficiently. (I suspect dynamite would probably hasten the process...) But they could have been created in an Age without the OP but with a different "technology" that allowed access to the alternate worlds as well as a different power source. The AOL AS just figured out how to use the OP to operate them.

Cuendillar: In this age, it's considered indestructible, although as forkroot notes, it can be destroyed using the TP. I would suggest that in other ages, other forces or substances might be discovered that would affect cuendillar differently. A particularly concentrated acid, some form of electricity, the right kind of laser, the presence of microwave radiation... The best option would be something ubiquitous but not hazardous to human life, like a certain level of UV radiation, that would break down all the cuendillar in the world over the course of a few hundred (or thousand) years, so that by the time the AOL comes around again, it's a new discovery.

All that to say that within the world-building, there are possibilities of other technologies in other ages that would explain both the existence and disappearance of Portal Stones as well as the disappearance of cuendillar. Just because the OP is the only way to understand it in the third age doesn't mean it's the only way ever.

Re: the beginning of the AOL:

Week 18 Question: Who were the first channelers, and how did they learn? By trial and error? Are there any Ages where channeling does not exist?

Robert Jordan Answers: The first people to discover the ability to channel learned through trial and error, with fairly high casualty rates until they learned enough not to kill themselves accidentally. Their appearance marked the beginning of the previous Age to that of the books, or at least the end of the Age before that one. Yes, as I have set things up, there are Ages when no one has any idea of how to channel or even that the One Power exists. Our own, for one. (The Wheel of Time turns.)

I knew it was there somewhere!
Bill Reamy
85. BillinHI
Jonathan Levy @ 77: Portal stones can't be moved? Hmmmmm, there is a story that there is (or was) a stone on the leeward coast of Oahu (somewhere between Nanakuli and Makaha, where I live) that people actually moved, but it returned to its original spot overnight. Supposedly the stone is still there (in its original spot) but I can't find the details of the story now. That story probably involves the menehune moving it back, but maybe not. Menehune are the small people (elves, if you will) that do their thing at night so as to be unseen by us regular humans.
86. s'rEDIT
RE: activating portal stones

This may seem too naive, but no one has mentioned the possibility of touching a stone, e.g., following one of the engraved designs in a particular direction or in a particular order with one's extended forefinger, for instance/? This would be more complicated than flipping a light switch, more like a password on a computer/?

@anthony pero: sorry, didn't in any way intend to imply that your point was invalidated by the slip; just couldn't resist chiming in on a RW fact I happened to know.
87. Wortmauer
AppleBrandy@72: The fact that we have OBs at most births in this country is a bit messed up. Midwives can handle most of what happens, OBs should be for hard cases.
Does the OB generally preside? I thought they were "for the hard cases," standing by at the hospital, in case they're needed. Anyway, people do disparage the modern obstetrics industry sometimes: "Women have been giving birth for thousands of years, why do we need doctors and hospitals and drugs now?" But, according to the always-reliable 'pedia,
At the beginning of the 1900s, maternal death rates were around 1 in 100 for live births. The number in 2005 in the United States was 11 in 100,000, a decline by two orders of magnitude, although that figure has begun to rise in recent years, having nearly tripled over the decade up to 2010 in California.
If that statistic is correct, it implies that 100 years ago, given an average of 3 children per family, and a schoolroom of 20 kids, there was a better than even chance that someone's mom had died in childbirth. In summary, as Ovid reportedly said some 2000 years ago, "Let other men praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these."
88. Wortmauer
forkroot@82: This leads to another thought ... if balefire truly removes an object from the pattern (technically it removes the entire set of sub-objects (atoms?) that comprise the object, at least per BWS) ... then we have another problem with the circular cosmology. Given enough turnings of the Wheel, over time, balefire will remove all the matter in the universe.
If you're going to bring thermodynamics into it, recall that the Law of Conservation of Matter is really the Law of Conservation of Energy, where matter is an extremely concentrated form of energy. The One Power is clearly a form of energy, and it is drawn from the True Source, which (at least the way I read it) is both infinite and outside the world, so you don't really have a closed system. Without a closed system, there is no Conservation of Energy.

Transmuting energy from the One Power into matter, to replace matter lost to balefire, is an exercise for the reader.
89. Hawkstar
Thanks for the re-reads Leigh.

I am a long time lurker, this is my first post. I know it is a little late in the game to be getting involved but something is bothering me about this cyclical time/portal stone discussion. If the wheel turns and Ages come again is there evolution? Or did the Creator put everything in place at the beginning. I don’t have the book in front of me but, IIRC, when the Super Girls are in Tanchico in SH ( I think) in the palace Nyn sees a Mammoth skeleton (and other ice age mammals) , which are now extinct in this age. Does this mean that at some point they will evolve again or did the Creator place fossils to be found as some in the real world believe? If evolution does occur within the turning of the wheel then the ages need to be much, much longer than approximately 3000 years each.

BTW, This forum has added a metric F***ton to my enjoyment of the series. Thanks to all that post here.
Hugh Arai
90. HArai
Wortmauer@88: OP turns Wheel, Wheel weaves Pattern, Pattern incorporates matter/souls/fate? The Wheel would be doing the transmuting by weaving for some fun value of weaving.

Hawkstar@89: Given the example of the Cauthon family having a firm grasp of horse breeding, the underlying mechanics appear to operating at least in the present Age. Several references to genetics in the last Age as well: the first that comes to mind is that Aginor's day job was as a biologist with poor ethics as far as genetic experimentation.

So evolution appears to have occurred/be occurring at least this time around. I don't think we have much information on exactly how closely each turn of the Wheel resembles the last except that souls are apparently conserved. Maybe it would be giant land squids instead of mammoths next time or the time before.
91. Wortmauer
Hawkstar@89: If the wheel turns and Ages come again is there evolution? Or did the Creator put everything in place at the beginning. I don’t have the book in front of me but, IIRC, when the Super Girls are in Tanchico in SH ( I think) in the palace Nyn sees a Mammoth skeleton (and other ice age mammals) , which are now extinct in this age. Does this mean that at some point they will evolve again or did the Creator place fossils to be found as some in the real world believe? If evolution does occur within the turning of the wheel then the ages need to be much, much longer than approximately 3000 years each.
Never mind evolution per se. RJ's playful clues to the contrary, it's pretty hard to reconcile WoT's circular time cosmology with our "real world" anyway. Beyond evolutionary biology, you will find that archeology, geology and astronomy/astrophysics give us ample reason to think time is not circular, especially not if an Age is on the time scale of thousands of years.

Basically you just have to go with it. Or, if you want to have your cake and eat it too, go with the theory that something very similar to our Age, complete with Mosk and Merk and Mercedes hood ornaments, has come before, but millions of years ago. Eventually either Rand, Ishamael, or the Dark One himself managed to break the Wheel, there was a cataclysm that more or less literally "bombed us back to the Stone Age," and we've had linear time ever since.

The skeletons in Tanchico? I don't think they're extinct, I think they're from Shara or Seanchan or the Isle of Madmen, or maybe from another Portal Stone world, like grolm. You see an unfamiliar skeleton in a museum, you think extinct animal, but that's just an assumption.
Roger Powell
92. forkroot
Welcome! It's certainly not too late to get involved, and we're glad to have you. We've got several books left in the re-read as well as the upcoming "A Memory of Light" (usually abbreviated AMoL) to discuss.

You may find it useful to register your name, as it will allow you edit your comments (nice for removing embarrassing typos that slip past the preview stage.)

Excellent! Several key points from the Creator himself:

A) Our time is indeed an Age (and one without knowledge of the True Source or channeling)

B) Channeling was discovered at the beginning of the "the previous Age to that of the books, or at least the end of the Age before that one" - Presumably this means at the start of the Second Age or the end of the First Age although a hair splitter might note that the "books" (specifically TEoTW Prologue) begin in the Second Age so this could mean that channeling was discovered early in the First Age or at the end of the Seventh.
Bob Weld
93. WaitingShadows
@77 Jonathan Levy - I hadn't thought of any of that. I would guess based on this enlightenment that T'A'R seems pretty likely. I believe the first person we see using a portal stone is Lanfear (or Ishy, but pretty sure it was her) and it was done in T'A'R. Though that could just be that's where she felt the most comfortable.

@86 s'rEDIT - I liked your idea a lot, just because it reminds me of a labyrinth/mazes set (that's not exactly it, but I bet it covers the same kind of stuff) that I got as a gift once, talking about medatative calmness and things like clearing your mind and tracing the patterns. Some of the papers weren't even mazes, just patterns of lines, but it was all very interesting (and odd).

As to the evolution comments, it would be amusing to think one of the reasons RJ said there are ages where channeling is forgotten altogether is that maybe one of the ages is prehistoric for the most part. I don't think there would be no humans, but I bet they would be far more backward than Randlanders, perhaps living in caves or something. I have no idea, just thought I'd throw it out there. With cyclical time and all, maybe one of the age ending events throws the environment completely out of whack and the planet becomes more favorable to those kinds of developments (of course, in this reality it could just as easily be because of the DO. Maybe that's his backlash at the age where channeling ends? Here have a bunch of giant hungry lizards. Once again, I have no idea, just thought I'd throw it out there while I eagerly await Leigh's next post.

Also, I know this age is 3000 years, and presumably the last one was too, but it could be they call it the wheel for convenience and conciseness, since it rotates over and over again. What if its more like a treadmill with three ages on one side about 3K each, 2 on the other about 4.5, and two languid or streched ages in the middle (like ours, which by all evidence is linear, much like the earth seems flat when standing on it). Wow, that is pretty far out there, but I figured, why not?
Sandy Brewer
94. ShaggyBella
One thing I wanted to comment on was that Elayne is one of the few who is actually worried about the Last Battle. She is trying to consolidate her 2 countries' armies, invest in Alludra's dragons, etc.
The Borderlanders aren't even where they are supposed to be.
Also Elayne has accepted that she probably won't have Rand around afterwards.
Roger Powell
95. forkroot
In ToM, we learned why the Borderlanders did what they did (assuring the identity of the Dragon via fulfillment of prophecy). In the epilogue it is implied that Rand then help them Travel back to the Field of Merrilor.

So... strange as it may seem, the Borderlanders were and are where they are supposed to be.
Sam Mickel
96. Samadai
Forkroot @ 82

Thanks for saying that. I am always happy to keep you entertained. More stories coming soon.
Jonathan Levy
97. JonathanLevy
93. WaitingShaadows

We could extend that theory. Why do we assume that each age is 3,000 years? Perhaps age #6 is a stone age which lasts 30,000 years?

Wife calling - will try to elaborate later.
Anthony Pero
98. anthonypero

The OP at @93 assumed 3000 years ages because they are cuaght up in the metaphor of a wheel with seven spokes. The spokes being the ages. But of course, that is a merely imagary for philosophers, and breaks down at that point. Even the the spokes are evenly distributed on the wheel doesn't mean the ages are the same length.
Roger Powell
99. forkroot
Gosh ... and here I thought the gaps between the spokes were the Ages and the spokes indicated the transitions....

I guess that shows the danger of metaphor :-)
Roger Powell
100. forkroot
And it turns out that the transitions between Ages require the Wheel to spin out important individuals (such as LTT) who are involved in the key events of the transition.

This was the original derivation of the term "Spokesman" and "Spokeswoman" - which in turn were corrupted to the term "Spokesperson" when the Age of Political Correctness came around.

:: runs wildly for bunker, dodging rotten fruit ::
Sam Mickel
102. Samadai
@ 100 Age of political correctness. That was the age when the Dragon served the dark one and all was lost in the resulting conflageration.
Greg Hawkins
104. greghawkins
If the wheel spins out key individuals that influence the pattern of the ages and technology/scientific advancement is the impetus for the transition from on age to the next, can you imagine poor old Newton or Einstein being called forth by the Horn with all the other heroes? Kinda made me giggle thinking about Matt's reaction when bunch of scientists and philosophers come walking out of the fog. *snicker*
Btw Couldn't register as Hawkstar... bummer
105. macster
@34 anthonypero: You are quite right that what I said was a presumption--I stated so myself when I said presumably if Aviendha and Mat act upon Rand and Tuon, the future shown to her may change. I never meant to imply that the Way Forward Machine unequivocally shows the real future, or that what it shows can be changed. I was merely stating that if what it shows is real, it might be the case that Aviendha can act to prevent it from coming to pass, either wholly or (more likely) in part. My apologies if I came across as too definitive, but I'd similarly ask you not to assume what I was stating was undeniably true.

The point I was trying to make was in response to Helen's comment @21, and in support of RobM @15. Rob has already explained and defended his stance, but let me clarify as well: whether or not the Way Forward Machine does show the real future, and whether or not it can be changed, I was trying to point out that what the Way Forward Machine shows can't be used as definitive proof that the Seanchan can never be integrated into Randland society.

Yes, as Lsana states @42 they aren't showing signs of integrating yet--but not only does that say nothing about what they might or might not be willing to do in the future, that is also assuming the collaring of channeling women isn't discontinued. If it is, as it seems must happen if the Seanchan are to work with the Randlanders in the Last Battle, then that removes the biggest obstacle to them integrating. Perhaps people are forgetting that integration can entail many things. I don't think Rob was suggesting the Seanchan are going to give up every aspect of their culture, any more than the Randlanders will give up theirs--in fact Tuon saw the wisdom in allowing the Altarans to keep their customs (thanks to Setalle Anan's influence, I believe?), so she may extend that practice in other lands.

Which means, if we assume that the future Aviendha saw can be averted or altered, and if we assume that the a'dam will be done away with, then yes, the Seanchan can become integrated. It seems pretty clear they aren't going anywhere, so unless you subscribe to the theory that this resettlement is part of what will "break the world" and end this Age, integration is going to have to happen somehow. It will likely not be painless, and there are certain assumptions which have to become fact before it can happen, but I don't think it is impossible--nor that what we see in the Way Forward Machine, assuming it is the real future, can necessarily be used as evidence against it happening. If what Aviendha saw wasn't real, it's irrelevant; if it was, it could still be changed; and even if it can't be changed, nothing in the vision really suggests integration can't happen. Quite the opposite in fact, since it seems the Seanchan were already in charge of Randland and there were various accords and compacts between the nations to keep everything peaceful and balanced. What happened to the Aiel (because they instigated war against the Seanchan, it should be noted) really doesn't say anything about whether the two societies had integrated or were capable of it.

On the note of the end of the Age...I do agree that it may not necessarily end the way the last Age did, there are many forms "destruction" can take and the simple fact of the Last Battle itself, the many likely casualties, the cleansing of the taint, all channeling women being tied to the Tower--this all is plenty of change and upheaval without every nation being shattered or whole populations and geographical features eliminated. But I think Jordan/Sanderson is quite capable of causing a lot of death and hardship without destroying everything, and the points I made regarding what might possibly end up ruined by the end of AMoL were geared toward that direction--not naming everything I think will or should fall, just pointing out there are lots of possibilities for nations or peoples which could fall by the wayside without there being a complete world-shattering apocalypse.

@thewindrose: I actually had not even considered the possibility that Sylvase could be a Forsaken, let alone Cyndane specifically (which is rather silly of me, considering how easily we've seen the Forsaken replace or masquerade as previously known people, and Sylvase doesn't even have the channeling issue to worry about). But it is good to know that possibility has been ruled out. Of course not being a Forsaken means she can still be a Darkfriend, and I have to question whether any upbringing, however horrible, could account for her being perfectly fine with Lounalt's methods, not questioning his Dark status, and her cold, emotionless facade. Any one of those could be explained, but all three...?

I have to also be both amused and admiring over how a 'simple' question of whether channeling will be lost after the Last Battle segued into a complex and philosophical discussion of how/when Portal Stones were created and how they work. Only on this re-read! *grins*

Myself, I confess to being curious of the source of the seven-colored steps around them which ended up being appropriated by the Aes Sedai for their Ajahs. Were they adopted because of the Aes Sedai who studied the Stones and learned channeling could activate them? ("We channeled to use them, the Stones must be ter'angreal, so let's use their colors to represent groups of One Power users.") Or is there some deeper meaning related to the other worlds which they discovered? Whoever created the Stones would have created the colored steps, so they must have had some meaning to them. If the Stones are tied to where they are because they literally tie the different worlds together, do the colored steps have something to do with that? Do the colors have some significance when traveling to certain worlds? Or am I just wondering about loony theories just to occupy myself?

@102: Talk about hitting the nail on the head...
Anthony Pero
106. anthonypero

Fair enough (spits in hand and holds it out) ;)

Actually, I personally think the Way Forward machine vision, if true, is one way the Seanchan could become "integrated" with Randland. By conquering it, but in turn, having their culture conquered by the native population. This would be extremely ironic since the culture that is exactly what happened in Seanchan to Hawkwing's heirs. They conquered the native population, but were in turn conquered by the native population's belief system.
107. yasiru89
Ugh, this seems to happen rather often when I read the reread commentary here, but I take issue with the claim that Perrin's Faile-rescue (take it for a pun if you will) storyline had some of the worst female character depictions while Elayne's succession storyline had some of the best. I might go so far as to say it might well be the other way around. But it's surely worth mentioning that I may be biased (or not biased) in that I found both these storylines about equal in how unsatisfactorily protracted they seemed. And having read through these in succession and not waited for the books to come out, I didn't feel the frustrations fans must have felt as the books were coming out either.

On to the characters, I have to, naturally, concede bad-ass by nature characters like Birgitte, Aviendha, the Wise Ones (these last two don't stay for the whole of it) and Dyelin. I'll add Sylvase too actually, for nothing but her couple of lines at the end of the siege where she pledged her House's support for Elayne. I could almost wish Elayne had taken the torture option for both the nobles and the Black sisters, which might have prevented the ToM debacle. Elayne is brave, but not hard enough. And that might weigh in on why her plans (not so much political ones, which are her forte), sometimes reasonable if reckless, tend to have unsavoury consequences.

I'm not sure if I missed something or if Leigh confused the female High Seats (and women getting that position is more likely, and even preferable I would think, for a throne that only a woman can take) for commanders on Arymilla's side. On Elayne's there's obviously Birgitte, who probably stands at or very near Mat's or the Great Captains' level where commanding an army is concerned even if she's not been a general very often in her past lives. But on Arymilla's side?

The 'Chicks Kicking Ass' certainly applies at this climax, but that doesn't undo how almost every character (with a few obvious exceptions) in the storyline (almost all of them female) have been petulant and spoiled (whether the nobles or the Sea Folk or the Kin or the Aes Sedai). They were powerful surely, in the Power or by virtue of what political standing they held, but a powerful character is not a good character, in gender equality terms or otherwise.

Compare Perrin's storyline. Let's look through the villains first. We have Galina, who is dismissible by virtue of being a Black sister (I didn't take them or Shiaine into account for Elayne's storyline). We have Therava, who has a mean streak and is perhaps even a little evil if not an outright Darkfriend. Despite this, Therava is, true to the nature of Wise Ones (who I hold in much higher esteem than Aes Sedai), even if for the Shaido, has redeeming qualities where politics is concerned. In fact, her hard-as-nails outlook is what strengthened the backbones of her peers after the Shaido were broken if I recall. Then there's Sevanna. She's also a mean, and maybe fringe-evil character, but power-hungry too, and what defines her is this ambition. I don't think ambition is ever a bad thing in itself, and Sevanna, letting her lust for power run unconstrained, is trying to secure power the only way she can- as a Roofmistress. She's deluded in her belief that she could ever become Rand's wife and Roofmistress over all the clans, but this is a matter of unrestrained ambition blinding her. Certainly words like inept or spoiled don't apply to her, no matter how she took to lavish things or was tricked by Sammael (where she had a backup by having all the channellers with her). On a larger scale, the 'rulers' of the Shaido (the Wise Ones and Sevanna) are generally much better than anyone on Arymilla's side.

Now look at almost everyone else. Perrin is perhaps the counterpoint to Elayne in how reckless he's being (though for better reason perhaps), so those two cancel each other out in that I never considered Elayne and Perrin... isn't a female character.
Berelain, especially in hindsight considering her goal as revealed in ToM, is to be commended for putting aside her interests to help Perrin with the rescue after that first unfortunate rumour-fuelling night in her tent. People don't seem to like her, sometimes believing her no better than Sevanna, but here's the difference- her ambition certainly is restrained, and she makes use of everything she has (including herself) to protect her politically disadvantaged nation. She's steadfast for Rand too, and that takes courage and the wisdom to see the true danger of the times (the last of which sometimes even Elayne and Egwene don't seem to have). This is why, her soldiers are more than merely fond of her (as Perrin notes during CoT as a cheer goes up when she publicly pledges against Gallene's advice that she'll see Faile's rescue through to the end). Even on the Seanchan side, Tylee is one of the best female characters in the series. She gives me hope that the Seanchan can be reasoned with. Far more than Egeanin/Leilwin, who still has compunctions about betraying the Empire and who seems to have let the sul'dam go just to clear her conscience.
The Aes Sedai are better for being apprenticed to the Wise Ones, though Perrin failed to see (and perhaps still doesn't) the stability of the dynamic there. Faile redeems herself for all her jealousy-induced transgressions as a Shaido captive, where her leadership qualities truly shine. Morgase is perhaps the most courageous of the lot considering all she's gone through and then enduring this after believing she could settle into the Lady's maid role for the time being. Even Alliandre, after initial panic, decides to make the best of it behind Faile.
So which set of characters better surmount the circumstances they become embroiled in? I leave the conclusion to you.

Of Ellorien, et al. I think they do know of Morgase having been under the control of one of the Forsaken, but, as expected, they don't believe it. They probably think the Dragon Reborn killed her when he took Andor. I hope Ellorien can be reconciled somehow. Perhaps a meeting with Morgase can be squeezed into aMoL.

On Karede, seeing as he is a decorated Banner General of an elite branch of the Ever Victorious Army, I pretty much expected him to be one of the best strategist there, even apart from the plot requirement that he be the one to try and unravel the thread Mor threw him.
108. David DeLaney
>If that statistic is correct, it implies that 100 years ago, given an
average of 3 children per family, and a schoolroom of 20 kids, there was a better than even chance that someone's mom had died in childbirth.

And a not-insignificant chance that several had. Think a minute about your basic fairy tales (many of which date from then or before): there's a reason stepmothers, evil or not, were a staple ingredient. Anaesthesia, for childbirth or otherwise, is also a fairly recent innovation - mid-1800s? As is reliable contraception that women can use without involving the guy in it.

So yeah, the olden days were in NO way a golden age in this respect (or, as Leigh can probably point out in her sleep, in several other important ways relating to women...).

Alice Arneson
109. Wetlandernw
Re: maternal death in childbirth - These statistics can hardly be blamed on the presence of midwives vs. obstetricians, however. So many other factors have changed to affect the death rates that the presence or absense of a medical doctor (male or female) is all but in the noise level.

(BTW, Dave, anaesthesia for childbirth is often a really, really bad idea. And the majority of cases don't need it.)

Back to the book, though, Melfane's attitude isn't all that strange. Not so long ago, the presence of a man at childbirth was nearly unheard of in most cultures; even today, there are cutures where it's just silly to think of a man being "midwife" (even if he is an MD) to a birth. After all, what do men know about it? :p
Anthony Pero
110. anthonypero

Yeah and what do catholic priests know about marraige? ;) j/k. I know you were joking Wetlandernw. Just wanted to point out another example. Priests provide marriage counseling all the time; some of them are quite successful at it. You don't have to be married to learn about establishing and maintaining relationships. You don't have to be able to bear children to learn about the female reproductive system. In fact, sometimes direct experience can cloud this issue, and cause us to think that all circumstances match our experience. One of the benefits of having an "outsider" become an expert in an area is that they can provide a broader perspective that more easily incorporates the experiences of others. It can be extremely difficult to accept the validity of someone else's experience when it directly contradicts our own.

The idea that our own experience can lead us to the wrong conclusions is a strongly recurrent theme in The Wheel of Time, exemplified by Nynaeve, the Aes Sedai in general, Gawyn and Galad, the women's circle and the men's council in the TR, etc... In otherwords, almost anybody with experience. As the series progresses, our three ta'veren also start to make erroneous deductions based on their previous experience.

In our society we tend to strongly value personal experience over any other factor. Experts are people with "real-world" experience on things. And certainly, "real-world" experience can provide a deeper understanding of a subject... but not always. "Real-world" experience is extremely subjective. I love how RJ plays with this throughout the series.
Tess Laird
111. thewindrose
AP - I don't know why, but your discourse made me think of: I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV. :D

I like your thoughts on how RJ was using in character 'real-world' experience, and agree.

Portal Stones - rainbow steps = Flower Power

A Cup Of Kaf - I really enjoyed this chapter - I agree that is is great to hear about our main characters though the thoughts of others. This chapter also confirmed that Karede is one of the Seanchan great captains.

112. macster
@anthonypero: *grins, spits in hand, and shakes yours*

Also...that's bloody brilliant. With the way Jordan loves and uses irony, I wouldn't be surprised at all if that is what happens...Hawkwing's heirs got assimilated by the Seanchan culture, and now the Seanchan get assimilated by Randland culture. Balance, the Wheel weaving the Pattern, poetic justice. Considering the Seanchan inherited their sense of order from Hawkwing, and he had one of the best justice systems and most peaceful, educated, prosperous empires ever, I think Randland could actually use the Seanchan's expertise. Certainly better than the constant squabbling between Houses, the enmities between Illian/Tear, Tear/Cairhien, and Andor/Cairhien, and Daes bloody Dae'mar. (Okay, that exists in Seanchan too, but that's politics in general for you, and perhaps some of those excesses can be curbed by people like Perrin, Elayne, Mat, and the better Aes Sedai.)

In fact, if that is what ends up happening, you're absolutely right about that being a great form of integration. Because if the Aiel get included in the Dragon's Peace, so that Rand can find uses to direct their warlike tendencies, then all that needs to be done is to remove their other reason for going to war--which if the Wise Ones with Perrin are any indication would be all the Shaido Wise Ones who were collared by the Seanchan. And since the a'dam needs to be eliminated in general if there is to be peace between the Seanchan and Randland, that kills two birds with one stone. Almost as if the Creator designed it that way. ;)

@107 yasiru: *applause* My hat is off to you...I couldn't have said that better myself. While I do love Birgitte, Aviendha, and Dyelin, and I also thought Vandene was pretty awesome (if Sylvase really is a Darkfriend, I can't count her, though what she did to Arymilla was still pretty damn cool), you're absolutely right about all the women around Elayne paling in comparison to those in the Perrin/Faile storyline. I loathe Sevanna for her nasty, petty greed and ambition, but I would never say she isn't a smart, cunning, strong-willed character. Same for Therava (she also gained points in my book for what she did to Galina), and I never really had anything against the other Wise Ones except for their inability to see Sevanna was leading them wrong and refusal to accept Rand. And again, their deciding to return to the Waste showed me they have some brains and courage after all--courage to realize when they'd erred and thus remove themselves from the conflict so their people can recover.

You're also quite right about Berelain--while I hate the way she kept making plays for Perrin (and her explanation in ToM for why she did this didn't change my mind, considering how weak, flimsy, and self-justifying it was didn't make her look any better IMO), I have never thought her to be a bad person, a bad leader, or anything but a formidable woman and strong ally you want on your side. I was actually ecstatic when she finally met and fell for Galad since it meant she'd be leaving Perrin alone and I'd not feel guilty any more for liking her. (That, and their 'courtship' was fricking hilarious!) Alliandre, I'm still not sure if we can fully trust her, her POV in ToM raised some suspicious points and didn't really prove she walks in the Light, but she is at least a good and strong leader.

About Morgase, no question--finally, after all that poor woman has been through, she has proven stronger than her oppressors, done some good, and now she can hold her head high and be happy with Tallanvor (at least until something bad befalls one or both of them in the siege of Caemlyn...). And I couldn't be happier. As for her and Ellorien meeting, Ellorien did say her troops would march to the Last Battle; if she hears about the Shadowspawn attack she could well show up there to help save the day.

One point: you may be right that having the nobles and BA tortured might have been a better decision, but considering Lounalt turned out to be a Darkfriend, would that have even worked? He might have just told her he was torturing them when he really wasn't. Not to mention we know the BA couldn't have given up anything even under torture due to their Black oaths (see Ispan). So while it did cost the lives of a number of Guardswomen and Kin, and Mellar got away with the medallion copy, the way things turned out may have been for the best. At least Eldrith, Chesmal, and Temaile are dead, and they learned of the Shadowspawn attack. Not that it made any difference in the end, since Mat didn't read his letter... Sigh.

@thewindrose: LOL! So the ones who created the Portal Stones were that Age's hippies? Or perhaps the precursor to the Tinkers/Da'shain Aiel (is there even a difference?)...
113. Sian at WK Part Time Jobs
Roger Powell
114. forkroot
Re Mat and Verin's letter: Verin underestimated Mat's resolve to be free of Aes Sedai entanglements. Strange to say though, it's a good thing. Can you imagine what would have happened if he did open the letter?

It's likely Mat's sense of duty would not have let him skip off to the Tower of Ghenjei if an imminent invasion of Caemlyn would require the Band's intervention to stave off. Although Caemlyn might fare better, the world would suffer. The Aelfinn were quite clear about this: "Give up half the light of the world to save the world".

So ultimately Mat's rescue of Moiraine was more important than saving Caemlyn. It's a good thing Verin miscalculated.
Valentin M
115. ValMar
yasiru89 @ 107

Good comparison between the characters in these plotlines. They help explain why I like reading Perrin's story too, if not as much as Mat's and the Succession.
I do not enjoy the Shaido camp passages though. IMO Sevanna is among the most detestable characters in WOT. As to her intelectual abilities- she is nothing more than "street-smart". Her character suited her circumstances + Forsaken involvement = her advancement within the Shaido clan.

Also would like to underline my agreement re: Berelain- she gets more stick than she deserves, IMO.
116. yasiru89
macster @112:

Vandene always had this 'dead woman walking' aura to me ever since her sister's death. You could always tell that she'd go out taking the killer with her. The Galad and Berelain thing was all the funnier since we saw it coming. Somewhat in the way of Mat and Tuon actually.
I wonder if Tallanvor is with Morgase at the Field of Merrilor or if they're parted. I hope the former.
I could hope Ellorien might have gathered her armsmen already. She's very likely not with Elayne and I don't think the Band has any chance in Caemlyn alone. Mat wants to go there but he might be delayed because Grady would mention Rand being on the other side when he opens the gateway. Though Rand might be going to Andor too if he's to do something about the Black Tower.

I completely forgot that Lounalt was a Darkfriend. That might not have worked to the good after all. But Elayne's policy of basically ignoring her captives didn't pay dividends either.
118. macster
@114 forkroot: Very good points, all. I wonder if this plays into the interpretation I'd seen made about Egwene's dream of Mat weighing two Aes Sedai on a balance scale with "something vast, the world even" at stake. I had always assumed this meant his decision whether or not to rescue Teslyn and Edesina from the Seanchan (meaning he wasn't weighing them against each other, but rescuing them vs. not rescuing them), but maybe not. Maybe it was whether or not he'd decide to read Verin's letter instead of going to the Tower of Ghenjei, which would fit that dream more.

Only reason I am not sure is a) Egwene had that dream quite close to Mat making his decision in Ebou Dar and way ahead of him weighing Verin vs. Moiraine (not that proximity matters much, considering how far ahead of time she had the "Mat dicing with a bloody eye/Thom pulls Moiraine's jewel out a fire" dream) and b) Mat never actually weighed Verin against Moiraine--he just kept debating whether or not to open the letter before leaving, but no matter which choice he made he still intended to leave. The only way that decision might apply to the dream would be if we'd gotten to see him open the letter, and then have to decide whether to stay or go. And I would also contend that while Mat would consider defending Caemlyn important, he could conceivably have left Talmanes and the Band to go after the Shadowspawn and still left for the Tower...though he would likely have viewed that as abandoning his loyal men. Urgh.

All of that said though, I do agree that Mat going was more important than him staying (though we still don't know yet specifically why Moiraine is so important). And as for Caemlyn's sacrifice being needed--that's another Arthurian parallel, since if I recall correctly Camlaan's fall made it possible for Mordred to be killed and defeated, even if it also cost Arthur in the end.

@116 yasiru: Yeah, since I never thought Vandene was the killer I could tell she wasn't long for the world either. Still didn't lessen the shock of how and when it happened though.

I am pretty sure Tallanvor is still with Morgase, but the question is did she go with Elayne to Merrilor or is she minding the shop in Caemlyn? I forget. If she is with Elayne, who IS minding the store? Dyelin? That could be bad if she is Dark after all. It could also be bad if she ends up getting killed by the escaped BA/Mellar. Ellorien probably did muster her troops when Elayne left for Merrilor, since despite her feelings about Elayne that's the only way she could make it to the Last Battle. So whether she could/did meet Morgase remains to be seen.

In the meantime, I do wonder who if anyone will be able to save Caemlyn. The Band might have to do it alone--which makes me wonder if Min's viewing around Rand of two dead men on a field with lots of dead Trollocs refers to Caemlyn, and the pipe represents the one Roedran gave Talmanes meaning he will die in the Band's defense of the city, as some have theorized.

If so, who's the other dead man--Roedran? That would be interesting if he really is Demandred. And could even be possible, if the other possible rescuers for Caemlyn get involved--the Black Tower, post-Taim's death, Pevara and Androl's awesome alliance, and Logain's glory...which may refer to not just getting rid of Demandred's lackey, but Demandred himself. Whether Mat and Moiraine will make it back to help via Grady, or Rand returns to deal with the Black Tower, remains to be seen...

Sadly true about Elayne. Though with the BA unable to tell her anything even if they wanted to, I have to wonder what more she could have done to/with them. We can only hope there's a good ending to this, preferably something involving the deaths of Falion, Marillin, Shiaine, and Mellar. Guess it depends who all those Aes Sedai always seen going in and out of the city are, and whether the missing members of Liandrin's coven show up.

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