Sep 20 2011 2:16pm
The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Gathering Storm, Part 1

The Wheel of Time Reread on Tor.comGreetings and salutations, people! Welcome back to the Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers the Prologue of The Gathering Storm, in which Prophets are down, (plough)shares are (taken) up, and of necessity, a trade is made.

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!

So, most of you reading this are already well aware of the events surrounding TGS and the books following, but as I acknowledge that there are those of you who might not be, here’s a very brief summary:

As I mentioned in the previous post, Knife of Dreams was the last book in the Wheel of Time series that Robert Jordan completed and published before his death. Subsequently, his widow and editor Harriet McDougal decided to ask up and coming fantasy author Brandon Sanderson to finish the series, using the notes, research and pre-existing material Jordan had left behind. I don’t think I need to get into too much more detail here about the specifics of all that; either you already know all about it, or you can read about it elsewhere.

Thus it came about that the last three books in the Wheel of Time series are (or will be) written by both Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, beginning with Book 12, The Gathering Storm. Which, as you may have noticed, is the novel we are about to begin recapping today.

I confess, I have a small amount of trepidation about this. Not a huge amount, but a little.

Turns out, it makes a little bit of a mental difference writing these posts when one of the authors whose work you will be dissecting is someone who (a) you’ve met, liked, and (very) sporadically hung out with in a social context, and (b) is at least theoretically likely to actually read said posts at some point.

However, it really is only a small amount of trepidation, because I feel pretty confident standing on my record of being honest and forthright about my opinions, both negative and positive, and that everyone, Brandon included, understands that I state them not to be either pointlessly cruel or mindlessly sycophantic, but because they are the truth, and the truth is what is owed.

Otherwise what’s the point of doing this in the first place, right?

And… yes. There’s probably a lot more I could say on this subject, but I think the above sums it up about as well as it’s going to get summed at the moment. And so, without further ado, I will finally get to the damn Re-Read part already. Game on!


Prologue: What the Storm Means

What Happens
In the Borderlands, Renald Fanwar sits on the porch of his farmhouse and watches the strange, unnatural black and silver clouds in the distance, like none he’s ever seen before. For a moment he thinks he sees them jump forward toward him and cries out, but then they return to their earlier position, and Renald tries to convince himself he is addled with worry over his crops, which have failed to sprout. Thulin the blacksmith comes over the hill, driving a wagon which Renald realizes carries all Thulin’s mobile possessions as well as his wife and daughter. Thulin tells Renald that he buried his anvil and tools, and asks Renald to take care of them if he doesn’t return. Renald asks where he is going. Thulin tells him there’s a storm coming, and so he’s heading north. Renald doesn’t understand, and Thulin says there will be an army up there, and they’ll need smiths. He starts explaining to Renald how to turn his farming tools into weapons, and tells him that if he comes north, to bring all the provisions he has. Dazed by all this, Renald asks Thulin why.

“I don’t know what that storm is. But I know what it means. I’ve never held a sword, but my father fought in the Aiel War. I’m a Borderlander. And that storm means the end is coming, Renald. We need to be there when it arrives.”

He leaves, and Renald’s wife Auaine comes out of the house. Renald tells her what Thulin said, and Auaine thinks that they should listen. She sends him to inform the farmhands. After, he pulls out his small forge and, after some hesitation, begins melting down his best scythe to make a polearm. One of the farmhands, Veshir, approaches and asks what they are doing, leaving the farm to rot, but Renald knows Thulin was right, and tells Veshir that if they don’t go, it doesn’t matter if they planted crops or not. He pounds the anvil, shaping the scythe into a weapon.

As he worked, the peals seemed to form words. Like somebody muttering in the back of his head. The same phrase over and over.

The storm is coming. The storm is coming...

He kept on pounding, keeping the edge on the scythe, but straightening the blade and making a hook at the end. He still didn’t know why. But it didn’t matter.

The storm was coming and he had to be ready.

Falendre tries to hold herself together, as an example to the other sul’dam, as the hard-eyed young man asks if she will deliver his message. She says she will, and stumbles over calling him “my Lord Dragon.” One of the marath’damane (Nynaeve) tells him that she still wants to Heal the sul’dam and damane, to their horror, and Falendre pleads that they will receive aid in Ebou Dar. The man tells Nynaeve to let it go. Nynaeve tells him that he knows sending the damane back isn’t right.

For a moment, his eyes were even colder. Not harder. That would have been impossible. But for that long moment, they seemed to hold caverns of ice. “Right was easy to find when all I had to care for was a few sheep,” he said quietly. “Nowadays, sometimes it’s harder to come by.”

The marath’damane and Asha’man and soldiers begins filing back through their hole in the air, and the young man asks her to repeat her instructions: she is to tell the Daughter of the Nine Moons that he bears her no malice for the attack, and he still desires a meeting with her, as there must be peace between their peoples, and also that Anath was actually the Forsaken Semirhage. Falendre is still stunned at the idea. The Dragon Reborn tells her that the High Lady can find him in Arad Doman, where he will stop the fighting there as a gesture of goodwill, as he does not blame either her or Falendre for being manipulated by Semirhage.

“In a way, I rest more easily, now. I worried that one of them would have infiltrated the Seanchan nobility. I should have guessed that it would be Semirhage. She always preferred a challenge.”

He spoke of the Forsaken with an incredible sense of familiarity, and it gave Falendre chills.

He dismisses her and leaves. Falendre frets over the consequences to her once she delivers her news and the message, and thinks that perhaps she might not deliver that message right away.

Lieutenant-General Tylee Khirgan watches her army march down the road below. It has been two weeks since her fight with Perrin Aybara against the Aiel, and she hopes that it will never happen that she has to fight against Aybara, and not just because she likes him. Mishima approaches, a bit more respectfully now that she has been raised to the Blood, and she asks him what he thought of Aybara; Mishima opines that he was a bit too “driven,” but a good soldier. They discuss the recent odd sightings of men who then disappear, and Tylee comments that she thinks the trees should have started budding by now, but they haven’t. Mishima only comments that “trees don’t bleed,” so he isn’t interested, but Tylee feels it is of a piece with the strangely rotting food and the disappearing people. She thinks Perrin knew more about the cause of it all than he’d said.

We can’t afford to be fighting these people, she thought. It was a rebellious thought, one she wouldn’t speak to Mishima. She didn’t dare ponder it.

She sighs and turns to Mishima, only to find he has an arrow through his throat. Something enormous charges her, and she is thrown from her horse, screaming a call to arms. Before she kills the thing that attacked her, she sees that it is a hideous blend of man and boar, and now hundreds more of the creatures are pouring out of the trees. She cannot understand how the things had gotten so close to Ebou Dar, and charges down the hillside to join her army, more monsters in pursuit.

Graendal is lounging in her palace when a gateway opens and a (very pretty) messenger in Moridin’s livery comes through to tell her that her presence is required. Graendal is annoyed, but knows she has no choice, and so walks through the gateway to a strangely hot black stone building, which she realizes from the scenery outside must be in the northeastern Blight. Demandred and Mesaana enter, and she notes their surprise at her presence, and so pretends she knows what is going on to irritate them. She reflects that Demandred annoys her. She knows what the rest of the surviving Forsaken are up to: Mesaana is in the Tower, Aran’gar with the rebel Aes Sedai, Semirhage with the Seanchan, and Cyndane and Moghedien hunting the two ta’veren Aybara and Cauthon, while Moridin is marshaling the Great Lord’s forces, but Graendal still doesn’t know what Demandred is doing. She considers that he might have infiltrated the Borderlander army, but she has spies in that camp and yet has heard nothing. Moridin enters, and Graendal appreciates how much more handsome his new body is from his old one. Mesaana immediately says that they must rescue “her,” but Moridin counters that Semirhage deserves her imprisonment, as she was not supposed to try to kill al’Thor. Mesaana says that the fireball was an accident; Semirhage intended to capture him. Moridin roars back that she failed, and forbids Mesaana from going to her aid.

Moridin looked down, flexing his left hand, as if it were stiff. Graendal caught a hint of pain in his expression.

“Let Semirhage rot,” Moridin growled. “Let her see what it is to be the one questioned. Perhaps the Great Lord will find some use for her in the coming weeks, but that is his to determine.”

He orders Mesaana and Demandred to tell of their preparations. Both are humiliated to be interrogated in front of Graendal, but Mesaana answers that she is “perfectly poised,” and the Tower will soon be hers, and the Aes Sedai will fight on their side this time. Graendal thinks that Aran’gar has claimed that the rebels will win, and wonders who is correct, and whether it matters. Demandred simply says that his rule is secure, and he gathers for war.

Graendal itched for him to say more than that, but Moridin did not push. Still, it was much more than she’d been able to glean on her own. Demandred apparently held a throne and had armies. Which were gathered. The Borderlanders marching through the east seemed more and more likely.

Moridin dismisses them abruptly, and turns to Graendal and tells her the Great Lord approves of her initiative; being present for this meeting was her reward. He tells her that al’Thor is going to Arad Doman, and while he must not be harmed, he also must not be allowed to establish peace there; Graendal must prevent it. She agrees, and goes to leave, but he stops her.

He seemed to be staring at nothing, just looking at the black stones of the far wall. Strangely, he looked a great deal like al’Thor—of whom she had numerous sketches via her spies—when he stood like that.

“The end is near,” Moridin said. “The Wheel has groaned its final rotation, the clock has lost its spring, the serpent heaves its final gasps. He must know pain of heart. He must know frustration, and he must know anguish. Bring these to him. And you will be rewarded.”

She nods, and returns to her palace to plot.

Rodel Ituralde watches the Seanchan advance on the fortified city of Darluna, a hundred and fifty thousand strong, with flying beasts to carry messages and at least a hundred pairs of sul’dam and damane.

Ituralde would have traded ten thousand soldiers for one of those flying beasts. Other commanders might have wanted the damane, with their ability to throw lightnings and cause the earth to heave, but battles—like wars—were won by information as often as they were by weapons.

He watches as the Seanchan scouts reach the gates and demand entrance for the army, and one of Ituralde’s officers, Lidrin, breathes that “they didn’t notice.”

There was one problem with superior scouts like the raken. When you had access to a tool so useful, you tended to rely upon it. And reliance like that could be exploited.

Ituralde tells him to give the order, and the “farmers” in the fields outside the city grab their weapons and attack, accompanied by a sortie from the city.

The Prophet climbs a hillside with the tattered remains of his army — less than a hundred men — and raves to himself about the filth surrounding him, and dreams of the glorious day when the Lord Dragon would rule all the land and his Prophet would be at his side. He curses Aybara and fantasizes about strangling him.

The Dragon had appeared to him the night before the attack. Appeared in glory! A figure of light, glowing in the air in shimmering robes. Kill Perrin Aybara! the Dragon had commanded. Kill him! And so the Prophet had sent his very best tool, Aybara’s own dear friend.

He decides Aram’s failure meant he had been a Darkfriend too. The Prophet reaches the top of the ridge, and determines that he will push north to Almoth Plain, where he will begin to rebuild. He enters a clearing.

“Hello, Masema,” a quiet voice said.

He sees the speaker is Faile Aybara, and screams for his followers to take her, but arrows fly from the trees and cut his men down; one bolt strikes the Prophet. He wonders why the Dragon had not protected them, and then he whispers that it was his fault, and falls to his knees. Faile walks up to him and pulls a knife with a wolf’s head on the hilt. She thanks him for helping to assault Malden, and stabs him in the heart.

“Sometimes, a wife must do what her husband cannot,” he heard Faile tell her women as his eyes fluttered, trying to close.

She orders that Perrin is never to know of what happened here, and the Prophet remembers his name, Masema, and the day he’d earned his sword, and his father’s pride.

It’s over, then, he thought, unable to keep his eyes open. He closed them, falling as if through an endless void. Did I do well, Father, or did I fail?

There was no answer. And he joined with the void, tumbling into an endless sea of blackness.

Back in 2009, I attended the very first JordanCon in Atlanta, as I recounted to all y’all, at length, right here on Tor.com. And among many other wonderful events that happened there, one of the most amazing was that we were privileged to be allowed to listen to an audio recording of Robert Jordan himself, taped about twenty days before he passed away, describing a scene from the prologue of what was then the final book of the series. Here’s what I said about it then:

I can’t claim that I specifically remember what Mr. Rigney’s voice sounded like when I met him five years ago, but I would have remembered if it had sounded any different from what a big, self-assured man generally sounds like, so hearing what he had sounded like near the end was something of a shock. The voice on the tape was hoarse and cracked and exhausted and determined, and altogether... I hesitate to use the word “eerie,” for fear it seems disrespectful, but, well, I can’t think of another way to describe it. Combined with the scene he was actually describing, which was entirely for the purpose of creating a sense of ominous foreboding, the effect was... I don’t know what it was.

The scene was simple, with largely nameless characters who are unlikely to appear in the larger narrative, starting with a farmer sitting on his porch, watching a cloudbank in the distance, one which is behaving in a manner unlike any clouds the farmer had ever seen before.

[…] The thing I remember most was the repeated phrase: “The storm is coming. The storm is coming.” He said that over and over again.

It was sitting in that room in Atlanta two and a half years ago, and listening to that recording, that I remembered when reading the opening scene of this prologue, and I can’t tell you how much it added to the feeling of… well, as then, I don’t even know what the correct word to use might be. Again, “eerie” seems like a slightly disrespectful term, but it probably comes closest to what I felt, then and now.


I also had the slightly more mundane thought that this opening scene was the most prologue-y Prologue we’ve had in the series since, well, TEOTW. Of course we got right back down to the more WOT-prologue-like wrapping-plotlines-up business after that, but right there, for a moment, we had what I personally think prologues should be: a scene that was more about setting the tone and establishing the atmosphere than it was about progressing the plot.

So that was nice. It’s also nice that even with the plotty stuff after the first scene, this is the first Prologue short enough to actually contain in one Re-Read post since TFOH.

And, of course, the other thing that has to be said about my reaction when reading this prologue for the first time (and again just now) is that, to me at least, it was immediately obvious that there was another writer at the helm.

This is one of those things upon which I really don’t know how much emphasis it is worth placing, because I honestly can’t determine whether it’s a thing that, if you weren’t a person who has been analyzing the Wheel of Time literally almost line-for-line for the last two and a half years (!!), like, say, me, you would ever even notice otherwise. I think you would, but I can’t be sure, and so I dither on how much to make of it.

It’s just little things, at least thus far. A turn of phrase here, a vocabulary selection there; words and sentence fragments and italic emphases that I can tell Jordan would never have used, just from reading all his words that went before. Little itty bitty things, so small that I hesitate to even point out specific examples, that nevertheless jump out at me and say different from before.

And as I’ve said before when talking about what I admit I think of as The New Books in the series, either way I don’t think it is fair to call this a criticism, as such. Brandon had been, from the beginning, very upfront about the fact that he was not going to attempt to slavishly imitate Jordan’s writing style. He said (and I agree) that to do so would be an exercise in futility, not to mention disrespectful in its own way, and so he wasn’t even going to try it. And he was right to approach it that way, I firmly believe.

So it’s not a criticism, per se. But there’s no point in pretending that I don’t notice it.

And there’s also no point in pretending that, sometimes, it doesn’t throw me out of the story, a little bit.

But it is what it is. I’ll probably talk more about this later, but for now we’ll leave it.

As for what actually happened in this Prologue, I honestly only feel the need to comment on two things: Moridin and Masema.

(I’m not commenting on Demandred, because I give up on frickin’ Demandred and his whereabouts, personally. He’s somewhere, okay, and we’ll find out in AMoL, I’m sure, and beyond that I am exhaustified and y’all can fight about it in the comments if you want, but I’m done. Phooey on you, Demandred!)

So, yeah. First, Moridin, and his oh-so-interesting little arthritic flare-up in his left hand that Graendal notices, concurrent with his extreme irritation at Semirhage, who just so happened to have charred Rand’s left hand off in the previous book.

Coincidence? I THINK NOT.

We’ve long been given hints, of course (and we’re going to get oh so many more soon), that there is some kind of semi-mystical connection between Rand and Moridin, which I (and, I presume, many others) assume came about because of the infamous crossing-the-True Power/One Power-streams incident in ACOS, but this is the first real indication (that I recall) that it’s not a one-to-one correspondence, at least. Because, you know, Moridin still has a left hand, and all. So, lucky for him, I guess?

I persist in being convinced that this connection is somehow key to how Rand will end up resealing the Dark One in his prison like new at the Last Battle, but I also persist in not feeling the need to speculate any further than that on the hows and whys of it all, because I like to be surprised, so I’m-a gonna leave it there. Ain’t I a stinker?

Then there is Masema. And aside from my vague wonderings over who exactly impersonated Rand to him in his dreams (though based on Graendal’s observations it almost has to be either Cyndane or Moghedien), my Lord, the conflicting feelings I have about his particular shuffling off of this fictional mortal coil, let me show you them.

On the one hand, YAY MASEMA IS DEAD. He sucked, I’m not sorry he’s gone, awesome show great job. Extra helpings of glee all around, because now the Plotline of Doom isn’t only dead, it’s really most sincerely dead. So, yay, yes.

On the other hand: what the hell was that?

Sorry, but from a froofy meta narrative feng shui perspective this felt all wrong. The only redeeming value to Masema’s entire existence was the way I was looking forward to him finally meeting up with Rand again, and getting deliciously (and, hopefully, savagely) disabused of the notion that he was anything other than a seriously delusional douchebucket and a monstrous embarrassment to Team Light. Then kill him, fine. Or leave him a broken shell of a man, whatever, I’m not picky.

But this, this was just… random. Yes, you could argue Faile had cause to kill him, and she did, by proxy, but again, going from the froofy meta outlook, it should have been someone with more direct cause; someone who had been hurt by Masema’s Propheteering ways personally. In my humble opinion, Faile was… just not the right person to end him. Maybe this only makes sense to me, but if Faile should have gotten to kill anyone from the Plotline of Doom, it should have been Sevanna, not Masema. But she didn’t even get that much, grr.

It should have been someone else. If it couldn’t have been Rand, it should have been Perrin. Or, hell, I’d even have preferred Alliandre, who at least had a very personal axe to grind with the Prophet.

Really, though, it should have been Rand to confront and remove him from power (whether by killing him or otherwise). And I understand that logistically that would have been very difficult to pull off, and I also agree that Rand already has too many balls in the air as it is, but… well.

It just bugged me. And with that you will have to be more or less satisfied.

Hopefully more satisfied, as we always aim to leave you pleasantly full here at Wheel of Time Re-Read. Just like Snickers! But less likely to raise your cholesterol, at least in theory. Yeah, I have no idea what I’m even talking about anymore. Say goodnight, Gracie, and I’ll be back next week with Moar!

Brian Coutinho
1. Rathulfr
Yay FIRST!! That is way cool.
This is the first book I really had to wait for. (yes, I came to the fold rather late and I read the first 11 books in all of three weeks cradling my monitor (wires and all) on my bed cuz I couldn't find the paperbacks in any of the local book shops) and I remember reading the prologue trying to figure out who had written what parts (and being rather disappointed cuz I couldn't quite catch RJ's voice.) but soon I stopped to care. (When I wasn't reading Mat or Perrin anyway)

About the reread, I really enjoyed the Renald Fenwar part, I loved teh mood it set for what (in my mind at least) was the last book of the series.

And I finally get to say this; Leigh, THANK YOU. This is fun.

EDIT: To add a little more flesh to the overly excited "Yay, First!"
Kael Hollowell
2. Kael Hollowell
The Gathering Storm already?! Kudos to you Leigh Butler! Keep up the splendid work!
Katie Pi
3. Darth_Katie
I liked how Faile got Masema. It was a good scene.
Heidi Byrd
4. sweetlilflower
It doesn't bother me that Faile killed Masema because it shows her ruthlessness and devotion towards Perrin all in one go.
Stefan Mitev
5. Bergmaniac
The change of authors is clear from the start, and that's inevitable. I am glad that Sanderson sensibly decided not to try to imitate Jordan's style at all costs.

I really like the first part of the prologue, it sets up nicely the mood for the rest of the book and also shows us the PoV and the reaction of the common people to the momentous events in the world, something which we've had too little of it in the last several volumes, with all the main PoV characters being Kings/Queens/High Nobles of some kind.

Nice to see a relatively short prologue for once too, I think Jordan really went overboard ever since LoC with their length.

I am just happy Masema is finally dead. Too bad Perrin was a dumbass and didn't kill him four books earlier, it would've saved us from the PLOD too. I have no problems with Faile killing him either, she has more common and political sense than Perrin, and is ruthless enough to do what has to be done even if that's a murder. This scene made me like and respect Faile quite a bit more.
Kael Hollowell
6. Greenish-Yellow Ajah
I can tell that the prologue feels different, especially with spending such a small amount of time on each bit, but I can't tell the minute details that you clearly can. I do remember being really glad to get some damned ANSWERS in the prologue!

Also, I LOVE the bit about "Prophets are down, (plough)shares are (taken) up"...so perfect!
Rajesh Vaidya
7. Buddhacat
There a couple of tics that Brandon has that have become very noticeable to me over the last two books: Use of "froze" - e.g., "Egwene froze", he froze, she froze, etc; and the repeated use of "glance", even when stare or gaze would have been more appropriate. I especially recall the "novices glanced at her with hope" usage during the Tower Attack, when in fact the better choice would be for the novices to "gaze with hope." Glance implies a momentary look and turning away.
LT Tortora
8. Lucubratrix
I definitely noticed a change in authors at first, but the story is good enough, and Sanderson did a good enough job, that I mostly stopped noticing after a little bit.

It doesn't bother me that Faile killed Masema. I think it would have been a little too neat if Rand had done it, and he's got more important things to worry about, anyway. He can't deal with every little problem, right?

..Then again, maybe I just sincerely never cared about the whole Prophet storyline to begin with, and so don't care how it ends.
Keith Buttram
9. Wookster125
First post that I have had to wait on since I started reading the re-reads a few weeks ago.

I enjoy most of Leigh's comments. While we differ a lot on some of the social commentary, she is definitely articulate, witty, and opinionated. Gotta love that!

I have also read most of the comments, so I feel almost like I know some of the more consistent commenters.

Re: the prologue. While it is exciting to see the regular folk preparing for battle because it shows it is all coming to a head, it is also sad to know that peaceful people have to take up arms with the chance to die or lose loved ones in the upcoming battle.

Re: Forsaken meeting. I knew bad things were in store for Rand with Moridin telling Graendal, "He must know pain of heart. He must know frustration, and he must know anguish. Bring these to him. And you will be rewarded.” I just didn't expect it to be what it was. Wow!

Re: Masema and Faile. I remember thinking when I first read this that Masema's death was a little anticlimactic, but I was more relieved than anything that he was out of the picture. And I would think that after all the complaints that I read about Faile's captivity being demeaning because she couldn't save herself and was forced to rely on her husband to save her, that the fact that she was the one to save her husband from Masema and his craziness would be appreciated. To paraphrase Faile, she did what her husband couldn't.

Re: Rodel Ituralde. Glad to see what he is up to. I like him.

Re: Tylee. I like her.

That's it for now.


PS It is going to kill me to wait a week for the next post!
Kael Hollowell
10. ryamano
Regarding Graendal: this is the first time I was sure Graendal had killed Asmodean. She's being rewarded here, being able to see Moridin's meetings with other Forsaken and get information from then. Why would she be rewarded? It could just be random Forsaken politics, but in fact it's Moridin rewarding her for having killed a traitor (Asmodean).

Regarding Masema: I'm still confused about the logistics of how this assassination happened. Faile has just been rescued from Malden, she has to administer hundreds of thousands of refugees and soldiers, and the Asha'man are too tired to make gateways. I don't remember if Cha Faile participated in the battle, but I think they did not, so at least that makes sense (they're well rested enough to spend time to track a guy in the aftermath of the battle). Still, this scene makes it seem that Faile tracked down Masema with a band of her followers and killed him. I think this would have taken some time (maybe days). Wouldn't her lack of presence be noticed in her camp or by Perrin? I think Perrin wouldn't let her leave out of his sight after what happened in book 7!

Regarding Ituralde: I like his story because I like military stories and military history and it's interesting to see what one brilliant general would do to fight an army that has magic.
Kael Hollowell
11. Rand's Dad
I think the "Masema gets the axe super quick like" was a victim of there being too many threads to tie up.

I imagine that one of Brandon's first tasks was to organize everything that still needed to happen, and prioritize them. Masema's end should have had more to it, but utimately it was low priority and the screen time needed to be reserved for other things that are more important.

I feel that the new books are moving at a quicker pace, that, had he not gotten sick, Robert Jordan would not have kept. Were he alive and well, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the series stretch to 15 or 16 books.
Kael Hollowell
12. RFS
Faile taking out Masema makes very good sense considering the culture she was raised in. Perrin might be horrified, but for those in Saldea (Saldaea?), I see each partner seeing it as their own duty to aid the other... without being requested to do so, nor letting them know either, as that woudl make the other partner weak. I think for Faile it makes perfect sense for her to take out Perrin's enemies silently whenever Perrin cannot take them out publicly. I also think the reverse might be true... she might appreciate Perrin disposing of Berelain in some manner as long as it was silent/private, because it would be an example of one making their partner's life easier without suggesting they are too weak to do it themselves.
Kael Hollowell
13. JLHanke
Great job, as usual, Leigh!

I totally agree with you on the pleasant surprise at the Prologueyness of this Prologue - I like that it it more concerned with tone than events (at least at the beginning).

Regarding the differences between BS and RJ, I'm sure they've been discussed ad nauseum, but I don't think that I am pulled out of the narrative nearly as much as you say you are by certain phrasings, etc. That's probably mostly because I haven't basically LIVED in the minutae of these books to the extent that you have. I definitely THINK I can pick up some differences regarding how some characters are written and some other changes, but it just doesn't pop out as much to me.

The main thing that DOES strike me as noticeably different in tGS and ToM compared to the RJ-only books is a major difference in structure. RJ tended to string together several chapters of a particular POV before switching to another POV for several chapters. Of course, this is a generality, and he did also throw in single chapter POVs, especially of characters like the Forsaken who do not have nearly the "screen time" of our heroes. However, especially early on in the course of a given book, RJ tended to stick with one POV or group POV for several chapters, even in the later novels when the storylines diverged.

Brandon (don't want to offend him and just use BS here!) chose to break things up considerably more. It's not QUITE as obvious in tGS as in ToM, but take a look over at the book pages on the WOT Encylopaedia - it's pretty striking. I haven't read much of Sanderson's work (did read Elantris, but haven't made it to Mistborn or Way of Kings), so I'm not sure if this is his default structure or an exception, but he seems to like to progress each POV a little in a single chapter and then move on to a different POV in the next chapter. As the end of tGS builds, he does stick with POVs for a little longer, but things jump around in ToM a LOT.

This is not necesarily better or worse, but it's the single difference that I noticed the most in my reading. Generally, I would say I prefer RJ's structure a bit, but there are advantages to both methods.

The other "difference" in tGS from many of the earlier books actually is not a difference, since it started in KoD. All three of the last books decidedly have a feel of moving towards the endgame in aMoL, instead of a feel of more loose ends opening up than being closed. This Prologue is no exception, with Masema's death, etc. Still don't know how RJ/Brandon will finish up everything in 1 more book, but it certainly does feel like we're moving towards an ending (or is it a beginning, or a middle, since there are no beginnings or endings on the Wheel?).
Bonnie Andrews
14. misfortuona
Oh wow... look what the Storm blew in.
I've been looking forward to this book for a long time.
And while I definitly noticed a different hand at the wheel here, I never found that it was jarring at all.
Brandon is not Robert Jordan.
He is however an incredibly tallented author and as one of us crazy fans, the best choice (IMHO) Harriet could have made.

I recall also being quite conflicted by the Masema death scene, but it didn't happen immediatly or last long. I was so relieved to have this particular batshit crazy character out of the story that I didn't mind so much the way of his passing.

Moridin??? Many questions in my mind over him, but this passage makes me wonder.
“The end is near,” Moridin said. “The Wheel has groaned its final rotation, the clock has lost its spring, the serpent heaves its final gasps. He must know pain of heart. He must know frustration, and he must know anguish. Bring these to him. And you will be rewarded.”

Are these words from the Dark prophesy (can't recall name), knowledge that has come from past battles, or something he's picked up through the link to Rand?
Anyway Glad to be back.
Mis-sed y'all!
Kael Hollowell
15. dlinderholm
Hooray, I've finally caught up to the re-read! And darn, I've caught up to the re-read so now I have to wait a whole week for the next post!

I agree, even as one who has not spent the last couple of years nose-deep in Wheel of Time, the change in the writing style was definitely noticeable. Hard to put your finger on exactly what, but there were many passages that just felt different. Still very enjoyable, but not quite the same (I'm sure there will be plenty of time to discuss more major differences *cough*Mat*cough* when we get there...).

Regarding Faile killing Masema - this didn't really bother me. Actually, I rather liked it - finally she did something useful. It had become apparent long past that Masema was beyond any redemption, so any confrontation with Rand would have had an inevitable conclusion - and would only have served to cause Rand more distress (and distracted him from more important matters). Faile did what was necessary, and expedient - there was no need to keep Perrin et. al. tied up shepherding a rabid dog halfway across the continent when there is far more important work to be done. Yes, it would have been more satisfying for Rand to be the one to off him in a cosmic justice sort of way, but I think this ignominious end is more... I don't know how to put it except "realistic".
Captain Hammer
16. Randalator
re: Masema

Yep, that left something to be desired. I was quite vocal about my conviction that the whole Masema-PLOD-business was seriously bad mojo and would screw things up really really bad. Which...didn't really happen. Huh. I'm glad that this nutjob is no longer around, don't get me wrong, but pay-off this had not. Though it really should have had seeing that this was built up over the course of 8 freakin' books. That's 17 years for crying out loud, and all we get for all the pain and suffering is "stab, you're dead"? Bit underwhelming, that.

So, bye Masema, your existence was long, annoying and very pointless...
Margot Virzana
17. LuvURphleb
Yes i also thought it was a random way for masema to go. Hes only been around since the beginning and hes been the prophet since bk five. And since RJ never got rid of him sooner i expected some big.... Something. With Faile killing him its... Sort of anti climatic not that im not thrilled to know his bland story arc is finally blissfully done. (he he double negatives)
Kael Hollowell
18. Lsana
I remember pretty well my reaction to reading the first section. I loved seeing a really "Prologue-y" prologue for the first time in a while. I thought that the language was quite beautiful, and even without Leigh's experience, I too thought it was eerie. But...

What is the deal with no one in this world being able to communicate? I was used to it with the heros, but even random farmers apparently can't just say what they mean. Most of the conversations in this section should have been four lines long:

"A storm is coming. We must head north."
"Why would we do that?"
"Because the storm is a metaphor for the Last Battle, and we need to go join the armies."
"Oh. Right."

Instead, we have guys going on for pages using this storm metaphor when it is obvious that the listener doesn't get it. Why?

Just had to get that off my chest.
Kael Hollowell
19. faculty guy
Leigh, thanks as usual. I always enjoy these re-reads and your comments are always lively.

Well, I'm going to comment and draw fire, and I only beg everyone to be civil here. I actually LIKE the two Sanderson books BETTER than I have liked the last several books that Jordan actually wrote.

I realize this is close to blasphemy. And I really don't mean to disrespect Jordan. Obviously, he created the entire WOT universe and deserves credit for its existence. I've been reading the books off-and-on since the 1990s. But I think the middle books dragged, and CoT was the worst (as pretty much everyone agrees). Yes, KoD was somewhat better, but I still was frustrated by the slow movement of the overall plot, and felt that new plotlines and characters continued to be introduced (e.g., Rodel Ituralde, who was mentioned in early books but only comes on stage in a major way in CoT). Basically, I was ready for the plot line to start CONVERGING FASTER.

And then came tGS, and WOW! THINGS HAPPENED. Semirhage appears, uses the Sad Bracelets, and is killed! Rand meets the Empress! Rand balefires a villa and appears to kill Graendel, and seems about to pass beyond rescue from becoming almost as bad as the DO. Verin is revealed! Egwene saves the tower from a Seanchan attack, reunites the Tower, and becomes Amyrlin! And, finally, Rand has an epiphany and returns to his gentler self (although we only see the results of this in ToM).

To me, it just seemed that the pace picked up tremendously. And I LOVED IT. Yay Brandon Sanderson.

Who knows why Jordan let the series slow down so much after (IMHO) TDR. I thought, originally, that once Rand realized "who he was" the series had about two or three more books to go. I think it was CoS that made me realize that the pace had become stagnant - although it probably happened earlier, in tSR. In fact, I stopped reading the series after CoS for a few years, until there were several more books to read - I just felt that "waiting" two or three years for a book that was only marginally going to advance the plot was just not worth it!

Who knows how much Jordan's illness had to do with all this. Again: let me stress that Jordan CREATED WoT and deserves tremendous credit. Maybe Jordan, also, would have picked up the pace at this point. But, to me, the two Sanderson books have been a breath of fresh air.

Anyway: I'm really looking forward to aMoL. My compliments to Sanderson for two great books.
Kael Hollowell
20. wcarter4
I was in that room in Atlanta that day too. Mr. Rigney was a true trubador. Listening to the recording of him tell the story of the prologue gripped me in a way no one else ever had. That room did not exist. The people around me were. not. there.
Even in his last days, his body a shell of his former self, he had a powerful gift.
Brandon Sanderson has done a great job of handling the rest of the series so far, but I do not envy him the task.
21. Greyhawk
Rand's Dad @ 11. I second your post. I cannot see how Jordan could have finished in even the three books that Brandon is writing. In fact, I suspect that if we were to catch Brandon in an extremely candid moment he might even concede that he would have liked to spread it over 4 books. There were just so many plot threads, etc. to wrap up. I also felt the Masema ending was somewhat abrupt, but on balance was more pleased to put it in the "completed" pile than anything.
Chin Bawambi
22. bawambi
Several times in the series (Masema included) RJ killed off characters that I will call "lawful evil" to use DandD terminology in off-hand ways. So I was quite satisfied that he died at the hands of Faile b/c douchetastic didn't rate dying at the Dragon's hands.
Susan Brownhill
23. SusanB
I am so excited to get to this book in the reread. Now that I have kids I don't get to read as much as I used too, so I've only read this once. I'm looking forward to reading this with everyone & reading all your opinions. Thanks Leigh, for doing this.
I'd also like to add that I think BS is doing a great job. I love his style & have become a big fan of his as a result of his introduction here. I think he was a great choice to finish the series.
As for the faile/masema scene, that was my favorite in the prologue. I love faile & it was great to see her triumphant. (I cheered out loud during this scene). And I love her for protecting Perrin from the consequences of killing masema himself. I love that it was short, simple & to the point. I don't see any other way masema could have been killed. If he had made it to Rand...Rand would have pronounced him guilty & had him hanged. He probably wouldn't even have stood around to watch. It would have made him a little more sad, a little harder & he would have moved on. No benefit to the story. At least this scene gave Faile some power & dignity back after the PLOD. And got rid of Masema quickly.
Though I do agree with a previous poster, that it is odd that Perrin would let Faile out of his sight long enough for her to find Masema.
Chin Bawambi
24. bawambi
@faculty guy - I can't always tell the difference between the two but I'm right there with you. My buddy who introduced me to the series stopped reading in the middle of CoT and never came back. We had discussions over the years before we knew that Harriet was the editor that maybe RJ got a new one around FOH. I would rate the writing RJ1 (through TSR),BS,RJ2 (FOH and later). I love the whole series but Brandon's writing is cleaner for me as well.
Richard Chapling
25. Chappers
Here I am with another of my not-yet-infamous nitpicks...

The BBoBA/Guide shows that (as might be expected) the Blight goes in an annular shape around the Blasted Lands, which surround Shayol Ghul. So, how can it have a northeast?

And perhaps to my advantage, I hadn't reread the series since KoD came out before reading tGS, so the difference wasn't that obvious to me (or I was too busy being surprised that the plot was moving so fast).
26. graftonio
The wait for this book seemed longer than usual becasue of the death of RJ but I Was so happy to be reading a new book I overlooked a lot of the differences of style.

That is until we get to the chapters with Mat. Up until then the differences were small, more action less description. I didn't think BS really got a handle on writing Mat until near the end of ToM. Maybe it was just because at the end of KoD we get Mat being a total Badass and he really doesn't do anything in this book but walk towards Andor and Joke ALOT. Mat was a funny character but Brandon portrays him more like Ryan Reynolds and I picture him more like Bruce Willis.
Kael Hollowell
27. Klingren
Thank you, Leigh, for putting so much time into this reread. I, like many of the posters here, have been reading WOT for a very long time. I was a senior in college, and in early 1990 stumbled upon these 2 really cool-looking books on display in the mall bookstore (books one and two). My roommate and I each bought them, and for several days and weeks would excitedly discuss where we were in the story, and theorize what we thought would happen next. We have kept in touch for years, with the conversation almost always coming back at some point to WOT. Little did I know or expect, while devouring the first 2 books, that 22 years would pass before I might see the story finished.

I have truly enjoyed following your rereads and must say that since the release of TGS, I have been anxiously waiting for this book's reread. Why?? Because I found TGS to be the best book since TSR. For all of the differences in style, voice, or pace, this was a great freaking book! Things finally happened! And even though we had lost Robert Jordan, his story was going to be finished, and what a great way to start that process. I loved this book even for the aforementioned differences. (FWIW, I think that Brandon responded very well in TOM to the problem with Mat in TGS). I must truly commend Brandon Sanderson for taking this project, and for treating it with the care and respect that we all have for WOT.

To the prologue.....the one reaction that I remember most clearly was regarding Faile and Masema. I said to my old college roommate after the prologue had been released something to the effect " Holy Crap, Dude, I don't know who wrote that scene, but I don't really care, because that was freaking awesome! Masema finally got his just desserts, and maybe I don't hate Faile as much as I thought."

Anyway, thanks again, Leigh for bringing this project to life, and for giving all of us something to look forward to every week.

Nadine L.
28. travyl
Since I'm not native to the english language I didn't notice the different choices in vocabulary and such but like JL Hanke (13.) I noticed the change in the structure considering the POV - and I think Brandon Sanderson did a wonderful job there - I remeber several times when I shouted out loud of his "unwelcome" timing to change the plotline, when I just wanted to go forth with the previous one... -

So I agree there are differences (frankly I disagree about Mat, but we will come to that) - and I agree we have to thank Jordan's wife for her choice of author and Brandon Sanderson for his willingness to go on with the work, it is wonderful. - Thank you "Team Jordan".

1) Leigh, of course I thank you as well, I am really enjoying your comments and appreciate your work.
2) JLHanke: I do recommend you to read Mistborn. I eagerly await the 8th of november to read the rest of the alloy of law.
Charles Gaston
29. parrothead
I also picked up on the difference in style; I think it was inevitable, and am glad that Sanderson - and Harriet, lest we forget - chose to go in the way that they did. Any attempt to mimic Jordan's style would have a) failed and b) been worse. That's not to say that I don't have issues with the new ones (mainly word choice and characterization, esp. of Mat, Gawyn, and Egwene), but OTOH, my favorite series continues, and will get its ending! As Siuan would say, "something about fish".

Faile killing Masema: awesome! Always liked her. So much better than anyone with the last name Paendrag (Old Tongue for "narcissistic millstone"). In-character for her, too. If I recall correctly, she volunteered to do this way back in book 8, but Perrin vetoed that plan.

Tylee: still on my good list.

Graendal: maybe it's because we've gotten the most characterization of her, but she's definitely my favorite amongst the Chosen Forsaken. Certainly couldn't stand her as a person, but I like her as a character.
Brian Coutinho
30. Rathulfr
Chappers @25, Everything north of the Mountains of Dhoom seems to be blight, so yes it does have a North East (Somewhere above Shiener or the Aiel Waste). That being said, every place does have a north, south, east and west, depending on where you're standing (unless of course you're standing on top of the north pole then, well, everything from there would be south, but you still would have a SE and NE)

About the whole Faile/Masema thing, my only thought (at the time) was "Finally he's out of the way" and no, didn't really care how it happened.
Captain Hammer
31. Randalator
Chappers @25

First of all, keep in mind that the BBoBA consists of in-universe knowledge, so information like the extent of the Blight must be taken with a grain of salt, as it could be false. There are (intentional) mistakes in the book.

Anyway, given the general Randland-centric view the whole story takes, Shayol Ghul being located in the Randland Blight and Graendal operating exclusively in Randland (as far as we know), Graendal would probably only consider the Randland Blight when thinking about locations. Consequently the "northeast" comment, while still giving any geographer with a sense of dignity a massive headache, would make sense from her perspective...
Jennifer McBride
32. vegetathalas
I also felt thrown out by Masema's end. For me, it was a checkov's gun thing. The Wise Ones talked about how necessary it was that Masema got killed before he got to Rand, so I was looking forward to seeing the fireworks that would go off if he didn't get killed. I understand the necessity of speeding forward to an ending, but it sort of put a point on the general feeling of 'wish they'd done that five or six books ago.
Kael Hollowell
33. Tyrion Sedai
JLHanke@13: While I agree in general the shifting POV style can work just fine, I think in TOM it is a mistake due to the different timelines of the stories. There's even a certain character showing up in two stories with the later appearance in the book actually being earlier chronologically. Now, I don't think timeline differences are a problem for occasional one-off POV shifts, but when you're jumping between stories 6 or 7 times I question whether it's the right choice, as opposed to just front-loading the older timeline and getting it caught up to the present. But I imagine the TOM reread will get into all this.
Kael Hollowell
34. Taryntula
I'm glad Faile got him. While it would have been nice to see Masema face-off with Rand, I don't think Perrin would have ever killed him. So, in lieu of that, the woman had to do what her man "couldn't" (read: wouldn't).

Ding, dong, the Prophet's dead!
Roger Powell
35. forkroot
Offing Masema wasn't murder. Faile appeared and Masema ordered his men to attack her. What ensued was melee with no quarter. Morgase might have deemed it unlawful combat though :-)

JLHanke@13 (And SusanB @23)
Most of the regular posters on the re-read use "BWS" to refer to Brandon - sometimes a middle initial can be very handy!

Welcome back! Now stick around y'hear?
Roger Powell
36. forkroot
A couple of loose ends from the Prologue:

1) What the heck were Trollocs doing near Ebou Dar? Presumably they waygated in (or maybe came via Portal stone) ... either way someone high up on Team Dark brought them down there deliberately. But it wasn't for an attack on Ebou Dar (we'd have seen that by now.) So for what then?

2) What/where is the hot black stone building in the Blight? Some have speculated that Moridin has set up shop in the ruins of Malkier, but I doubt that Malkieri architecture would be so gloomy.

There's a lot we don't know about the Blight - I suppose that's on purpose.
Kael Hollowell
37. Mysterium
The repeated use of the word "blast" (as a swearword) always sticks out to me more than those others. Ultimately, though, he is doing a bloody good job.
Thomas Keith
38. insectoid
Greetings, friends! I have returned. To quote a very wise wizard:

'(...) We meet again. At the turn of the tide. The great storm is coming, but the tide has turned.'

which is the wrong story, but I suppose could easily be applied to this one:
The storm is coming. The storm is coming...

WALL OF TEXT—watch for bugs as you climb...

I had not intended to sit out the entire Knife of Dreams Re-read, but I needed a break from commenting. (I suppose it could be because I didn't really feel I had much to say about KoD; it was the last book I didn't have to wait for, and only had a little bit of awesomeness in it, compared to TGS, the book I had to wait for. ;) ) From commenting only; I still read every post, Re-read and Read of IaF, the day it went up, and you, Leigh, still make me laugh out loud with your witty commentary.

While I was gone, I had plenty of time to:
—read programming books and code to my heart's content;
—go job-hunting;
—finish ASoIaF. This probably took the longest; those books are LONG, y'all. And heavy. ;)
But I've wanted to start commenting again for a while, so here I am.

The storm is coming: I always thought this was a great beginning to the Prologue—as Leigh says, a more prologue-y Prolouge than the wrap-up-loose-ends-of-minor-characters kind of Prologues we've had. Though I didn't have the benefit of hearing RJ read it, I still like that scene more than the rest of the Prologue.

As for the change in writing style, I'm not going to go too much into that, because we all noticed it, but I believe Brandon did a wonderful job, especially by ToM, of presenting the material in his own style.

Let's see, blah blah Seanchan...
Rand: Rand's familiarity with the Forsaken is creepy, all right.

...blah blah more Seanchan...
Forsaken Coffee Hour the Third-or-so: Moridin's phantom pains via Rand are very interesting. Does this mean that he can also feel the pain in Rand's side from the never-healing wounds? Or worse yet, anything from his Warder bonds? ... I think Graendal is as annoyed as all of us about wonder what Demandred is up to. But the conclusion that he holds a throne and has armies may narrow down the possibilities a bit.

...blah blah Ituralde...
Masema's death Was rather abrupt, I agree. Perhaps Faile was taking revenge for the Prophet sending Aram to try and kill Perrin; that's the only logical connection I can think of. His death is just as well, if one of the Forsaken had been manipulating him, as seems likely.

Mis-sed you too @14: I'm glad I'm not the only one who took a break. Real life FTW?

Still buzzing around...
Sam Mickel
39. Samadai
Hmmmm. What if The place where Moridin lives was his all along? If that was his base of operations during the War of Power and beyond into the 3rd age, that could explain why he has such a huge collection of Angreal/ter'angreal there.
Or he could have found it after the Strike at Shayol ghul(during his 40 years of wandering) So he goes around collecting all the items of power he can find so that when the age turns again he has a bunch of weapons for his dreadlords. He keeps them safe in an area where no one will go exploring. Again during the Trolloc Wars and Hawkwings reign and 100 years war. Plus Ishmael was free up to 17-18 years before the beginning of EoTW, so he could have had plenty of time to find and stash even more one power items. what better place to keep them than in the blight.
We keep speculating that the random men channeling against Ituraldes forces and Perrins in ToM are Taims faction of renegade Ashaman, but with Moridin free to collect men who can channel for the last 15 years or so, they are probably all students of Moridin( Taim being number 1)
And in other news I really have no idea where I was going with this since I sarted it earlier today and have just been able to finish it, so I am going to post it anyway. :P
Tricia Irish
40. Tektonica
Oh boy! The Gathering Storm....here we go....Leigh, your timing should be just about perfect to finish up just before AMOL I know you planned it that way, but bravo, and thanks, as always.

Mis!!! **waves ecstactically** Where have you BEEN? (Of course I have been mostly in Lurk mode, myself.)

Bug! Samadai! The old gang is drifting back!! **waving**

Masema's death was kind of a "what the h**l just happened" moment for me. Faile? She's kind of random, unless it's some kind of payback for ruining Aram, and attempting to kill her husband, which would make sense from a Saldean pov. Good riddence of bad rubbish, I say. I don't think getting him to Rand would've been productive. On reread, I found I really felt for Masema in his last moments, when he was talking to his father in his head. Had he been possessed by a Forsaken as well as having visions of "fake angel Rand"? Thoughts anyone?

Brief summary of my Demandred thought:
1. Graendal states that "Moridan marshalls the Great Lord's forces." (The Black Tower?)
2. Demandred states his rule is secure.
3. Graendal thinks he must have a throne and armies, so probably the Borderlanders....so it's probably not. But she states earlier that there's no hint of him from any of her spys with the Borderlanders.
4. Conclusion: Dem has a throne and an army and is in Murandy posing as King Roedran. (Mat's second (? brain fart) built one for him.

Facultyguy@19: To a degree, I agree with you. But maybe a quicker pace is just my preferred style. The center books drove me crazy with their minutia, and lack of plot advancement. I discovered these books later than most, so I didn't have to wait in between those, thank goodness. The pace did pick up a bit in KoD, and then, the tragedy of RJ's loss.

Brandon's doing a great job. There have been a few hiccups in tone and word usage, but in geneneral, I don't think anyone could've done a better job, or been more humble about it. Thanks to team Jordan for seeing this through for us, and Brandon for doing a bang up job.
Kael Hollowell
41. Fledge
Like many others, I also commend Brandon Sanderson's writing. In his own books, he is talented in writing concisely and yet still allowing you to care what happens to the characters. For me, this style makes the books fast paced and as exciting as they used to be in the earlier books of the series. I have nothing to say but a big thank you for Brandon!
Roger Powell
42. forkroot
The bug is back! Welcome back!

I guess my main problem with Demandred being Roedran is that it's hard to think of whatever army Roedran could scrape up (even with Talmanes help) as much more than a speed bump for Team Light.

OTOH - If Demandred has all of Shara, including a pile of channelers, then that could be a force to be reckoned with.

As for Moridin marshalling the Great Lord's forces - again, if it's just the Black Tower .. well that's a major annoyance, but not enough to really threaten Team Light by itself.

We've been given scraps of evidence that Team Dark has a big force in the Blight - we've seen hordes of Trollocs already, and there appear to be unaccounted-for Dreadlords, although they have been hanging back somewhat.

Certainly one possibility for the mysterious Dreadlords is the male Aiel channelers who went to the Blight to die. If some of them had been captured and forcibly turned instead, that could provide a substantial channeling force as well as an explanation for what we saw in the ToM epilogue.
Thomas Keith
43. insectoid
Thanks for the welcome Fork! It's good to be back.

I finally updated my Profile (it needed work). :)

Tricia Irish
44. Tektonica
Forkroot@ 42:

To tell the truth, I'm pretty sick of the whole Demandred bruhaha....he hasn't done doodly. We haven't seen him anywhere except the DF socials. This whole line of speculation started I think because of RJ debunking the Taim=Dem theory. He's probably the least interesting of the Forsaken, except that he's a mystery. So he could be in Shara, or Murandy or even with the Borderlanders??? The only problem I have with Shara, is we haven't seen much of it either. A few reminiscences by Jain FS, a mention by Graendal that two of her pets came from there. Should a whole new place/culture be introduced in the last book? Could happen, I guess.

The turned Aiel as Moridan's army of Dark makes some sense given out quick view of them in ToM, but again, now? I know the 13x13 or 13 +13, if you insist, turning has been foreshadowed. But, it certainly never was mentioned in context of Aiel. I don't know....another left field development in the last book. Odd.
Kael Hollowell
45. adaptr
Hi Leigh,

Always loved your re-read, actual guffaws can be had many a time :)
I even enjoyed the FAQ for years, and have been on rasfwrj in years past - sad how it devolved after the books kinda stagnated...

I never felt the need to comment before, until the style of BWS came under scrutiny (-ish) - so here goes:

Yes, I noticed it very easily, BWS is quite a different writer than RJ was, a lot less flowery (in the Tolkien way) BUT by no means detrimental to the telling of the story as such.
However, as several posters have mentioned before, the use of certain words can temporarily draw me out of full immersion, or at least make me go "uh, Jordan would never have said that".
These aren't actual gripes, or even worth mentioning on their own, were it not for one nagging thing: epic fantasy has its very own style of writing, where modern words or phrases are either avoided or omitted altogether in lieu of their more true-to-the-period archaisms (in the case of WoT, late 16th century western Europe) and phrasings.
Words like "scrunched up", while even used by Jordan occasionally, are decidedly 20th-century turns of phrase.
Which means that I am not hating what I think I hate. Meh.
Annyway... I suspect that I, too, may be looking through the wrong end of the kaleidoscope of dhoom (tm) at our favourite epic, and should just shut up and be happy that the story, it is moving in a forward direction.

It will be interesting to see what we think of aMoL, as it has been sooo long in the waiting ( and will likely top 1000 pages if I think what all has to happen in it!)
Kael Hollowell
46. AndrewB
Prior to TGS, Faile had been my second least favorite character. (Nynaeve is the character I dislike the most.). However, her appearances in TGS (ToM as well) have lead me to reavaluate her character. Which is apprapo (sp?), since Faile reavaluates her own character in these books. I like how she enginered the death of Masema and her follwers. The fact that she struck the killing blow was also appropriate. If one is going to sanction the cold blooded murder of another person, he or she at the very least should participate meaningfully.

As Faile mentions in the scene later in TGS (where she and the others honor the memories of the Brotherless and the Maiden), she came of age in Malden. She went from being a spoiled rich kid to being a true lady ( -- the female equivalent of a lord). I am not entirely sure that I will completely like Faile, but I am slowly gaining respect for her (as a character). That said, I do not think that I will shed any tears if she and Perrin do not survive the Last Battle.

Thanks for reading my musings.
Anthony Pero
47. anthonypero
@26. graftonio

Mat was a funny character but Brandon portrays him more like Ryan Reynolds and I picture him more like Bruce Willis.

48. Shadow_Jak
Trollocs vs Kylee- (and Jordan's Trollocs vs Sanderson's)
Initially I didn't realize we were even seeing Trollocs here.
The discription didn't fit.

Sheer size is always a big part of Jordan's descriptions of Trollocs.
But unusual size was never even mentioned here, that I can recall.
(don't have the book handy)

The way I read this section, they came across as about man-sized, instead of towering head and shoulders taller .
Anthony Pero
49. anthonypero
As far as the integration of BWS's writing-style and Jordan's... I think BWS and Team Jordan made a mistake.

BWS has strongly implied on his blog and twtter that whole swatchs of all three books were written by Jordan before he passed, and he is not touching them. I get the impression that Brandon is writing the rest of the book, editing it as he normally would, then integrating it with what Jordan already wrote, then shipping it off to Harriet for editing. Inevitably, this leaves the book with two distinct voices, and TGS especially suffers for it. I would personally have prefered for the scenes that Jordan wrote to be rewritten by BWS to make the tone and style of the book internally consistent. I get the feeling that either a) ToM had significantly less material that Jordan wrote, or b) this was done on Tom, because it felt a whole lot more consistent than TGS did, or, possibly c) Brandon decided to more closely mimic Jordan on ToM and did a better job capturing the feel, so his scenes stuck out less.

Anyway, just my opinion. I have nothing to add on pointless plots. As others have said, Masema wasn't a big enough dog to get put down by Rand. He served his first useful function by making Faile useful for the first time. That's what we call Irrelevant Character on Irrelevant Character violence. It would have been even more satifying to have it happen off screen. And for Faile to have died in the attempt. :D
50. Shadow_Jak
Off topic...

Only yesterday noticed the sample chapters from 'The Alloy of Law".

Good stuff! Can't wait to see the rest.
Now I'm gonna have to go back and finish the original series.
Anthony Pero
51. anthonypero

Don't have the book in my hands right now, but Leigh's recap says:

She sighs and turns to Mishima, only to find he has an arrow through his throat. Something enormous charges her, and she is thrown from herhorse, screaming a call to arms.

That seems to qualify as a description of large... assuming Leigh didn't just throw it in there on her own.
Kael Hollowell
52. dlinderholm

I agree that Shara seems very unlikely for Demandred. At some point one of the forsaken thinks to him (or her) self that the Last Battle will take place in Randland proper, and all of their machinations have been pointed at the familiar nations. It is clear that some (or all) of the forsaken scouted out the world in general once they were awake, but it is equally clear that they concentrated almost exclusively on the continent we all know and love. Yes, Semirhage established her base with the Seanchan, but they had to have already been mobilizing the Return long before she showed up - so they were a ready power base for goings-on in Randland. Bringing Shara into it would seem to be just too out-of-left-field for the final book in the series.

Demandred migth be Roedran, securing Murandy as a southern beach head for Team Shadow in TG, but I don't think that has been the center of his plans - sort of a fall-back as the other Forsaken have lost their positions. I think his primary focus has been the Black Tower and Taim; as far as my (admittedly murky, even after reading the re-read) memory serves, Roedran only very recently started being active - as in, after the fall of Sammael's Illian. I could be remembering wrong, of course.
Anthony Pero
53. anthonypero
dlinderholm @ 52:

I agree that Shara seems very unlikely for Demandred. At some point one of the forsaken thinks to him (or her) self that the Last Battle will take place in Randland proper, and all of their machinations have been pointed at the familiar nations.

This whole line of reasoning has always bothered me. Why does a Forsaken thinking this mean that it's true? They've been wrong about so, so, so many things, why would anyone use this statement as fact? We also know that Ishmael/DO hasn't revealed his whole plan to any one Forsaken... so why would one Forsaken thinking Shara is irrelevant mean that it actually is?

To me, someone says, "Oh, no, that place isn't important" I immediately think to myself, "Oh yeah, it's important!"
54. MasterAlThor
Wow. The Storm is blowiing in all kinds of people. Some I know (Hi guys long time no see). Some I don't (Helloooooooo new people).

It is amazing that a series of books could bring together so many people from all over the world. We have people from Down Under to Istanbul. Or is it Constantinople??? Anyway or fearless leader deserves much praise for all the heavy lifting. Thanks Leigh. When this all wraps up I will have an Epic Thank You for you.

By the way, I see you are still on you Looney Toons kick. With a bit of Wizard of Oz thrown in.

Well this book was sooooo anticipated that I was afraid that it would let me down. Team Jordan didn't disappoint. And this prologue as Leigh discribed was done very well. I liked it. Now I have to wait until next week to get into the meat and potatoes. Ugh.

Kael Hollowell
55. Narg's name is Narg
I very much agree with @faculty guy

I enjoy both RJ and Brandon's writing styles. I stopped reading after Winter's Heart because by the time CoT came out I'd forgotten most of what had happened and didn't feel like rereading the series just for one more slow paced book. I've reread them all recently, and taken together the slow pace isn't an issue like it is when reading one book every other year.

I was nervous about starting tGS, but Brandon's faster plot resolution has made this book action packed. I don't know whether this is the way Brandon normally writes, or because he's forced to wrap up so much in 3 books, but the increased pace has won me over and I'm looking forward to aMoL.
Corey Sees
56. CorwinOfAmber
I really enjoyed the Faile section of the prologue. She was just so incredibly useless through the the whole PLOD that I really needed her to do something, anything, to redeem herself.

Re: Demandred
I'm with you, Leigh. I'm passed caring where/who Demandred is. If I was forced to guess, I'd say Murandy, but really I just want to be surprised in AMoL.

In fact, that last statement is true for a lot of things about AMoL; I just want to sit back and enjoy the ride when it gets here.

Also, I really appreciate what Leigh said about Sanderson's writing. Yes, it's different than Jordan's. He was clear about that from the beginning and has never pretended to be anything else. I think he's doing an incredible job at a task I'd never want.
Thomas Keith
57. insectoid
Shara: My mom compared the importance of Shara in the Last Battle (in WoT) to the importance of, say, Qarth and the far East countries in ASoIaF. It seeems unlikely (to me, anyway) that these places would be mentioned, evened visited a little, without coming back into play at some point.

(Or, if you'd like a LotR comparison, the Haradrim showing up at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.)

Kael Hollowell
58. Jean Gary Diablo
The idea that Demandred could be Roedran is intriguing since he's one of the few Kings/Leaders we havent seen or heard much of thru the entire series. The idea that he could amass a large enough army to impact the outcome of Tarmon Gaidon is highly suspect, unless he managed to get a hold of AOL weaponry, such as shock lances.

What it really brings to mind and what would be incredibly funny is if BWS treats Demandred's reveal like the episode of Buffy where they try to keep some fearsome demon from appearing in Sunnydale, but fail to do so and when it finally appears, they all cower in fear until they realize that it's about 6 inches tall ("Actual Size" per Giles big book of monsters) and Buffy (or Elayne maybe?) stomps on it.
Kael Hollowell
59. petelaw
Demondred = plains filled with troops and docks fat with warships. Smoke, warcalls and banners flew........etc.
Men did not wisper that this might be the end of time. They yelled it.........
The Tower of Ravens was broken as prophesied and a murderer openly ruled in Seandar.

Just my opinion.
60. Shard
I agree with Leigh, I was looking forward to Perrin dragging Masema all the way to Rand for a public execution. *sigh*
Kael Hollowell
61. Wortmauer
I agree that the RJ/BS hybrid model turned out well for the purpose of wrapping up in less than a million words; I have a feeling that if RJ had lived, despite his determination that AMOL would be the 12th and final volume no matter how big it got, it would have gone well north of a million words. Though I'm not saying I wouldn't have been glad to read every word.

BWS's skill in plotting / outlining definitely show too. I understand RJ's notes and scenes amounted to a lengthy checklist of things that needed to happen, but not in a detailed timeline or book outline form; BWS had to organize that checklist into books, chapters, and scenes, and had to fill in much of the detailed plot. And in this (barring just a couple of specific scenes), he did a marvelous job.

We're also lucky to have BWS's work ethic; either RJ or most other authors that might have been selected would have taken considerably longer to get those million words out the door. Say what else you will about him, Sanderson can produce, consistently. As he'll tell you, he isn't the fastest writer out there, but he never slows down and never seems to get hung up with Meereenese knots.

I'm also thrilled, for BWS's sake and for my own, to see the career boost that this gig has represented for him. He was already a rising star, and I have no doubt he would eventually have taken his proper and deserved place in the SF+F world ... but without the WoT angle, how long would it have taken for me to hear of him and read his work?

I'm not thrilled at how his prose style (especially, but not only, his vocabulary) clashes with RJ's. It takes me out of the story. BWS's prose in BWS's books works very, very well; BWS's prose in RJ's books, not so much. But we'll get to that. The prologue wasn't bad in that regard.

On the story itself:

Moridin: I dunno, I'm still kinda disappointed that Ishamael returned at all after the Stone of Tear in TDR. The other Chosen consider him half-mad, too philosophical and too megalomaniac for his own good; I would have liked to see the Dark One agree (particularly on the megalomania) and let him stay dead. Instead, essentially, the Dark One affirmed that Ishamael's high philosophy and megalomania are grounded in reality, that he really does know something they don't know. I'm not sure why this bothers me. I guess I wanted to see a real power struggle for Nae'blis. What I got instead was "Power struggle? Heh. Of course the Nae'blis title was reserved for the teacher's pet all along. But wasn't it fun watching all you guys plot and scheme for it?" Of course it was a joke on the remaining Chosen. But I felt like it was a bit of a joke on the readers, too.

Demandred: I'm with Leigh. He'll show up and we'll be happy to see why he isn't Ta-eem.

Masema: I wasn't disappointed at his end. Maybe I should have been — but it was about time Faile did something that made me cheer. Some would say that her actions in Malden showed a brave character, but I just couldn't get on board with the way she was selfishly manipulating Rolan. It was as underhanded as anything she did in TSR. End-justifies-means. The assassination of Masema redeemed her a little. He needed to go away, and I really can't disagree with Faile that this was the way that would cause the least harm to either Perrin or Rand. Oddly, while this scene too was end-justifies-means (in that Faile didn't give the Prophet a trial or a hearing or anything before taking justice into her own hands), it felt like justice. Also, I guess it was an early reassurance that TGS really meant business regarding loose ends. We know we're not going to get all the loose ends tied up, but it was encouraging to me to see one happen right off the bat.
Kael Hollowell
62. Wortmauer
Tyrion Sedai@33: Now, I don't think timeline differences are a problem for occasional one-off POV shifts, but when you're jumping between stories 6 or 7 times I question whether it's the right choice, as opposed to just front-loading the older timeline and getting it caught up to the present. But I imagine the TOM reread will get into all this.
Sanderson has talked about this. RJ had let the timelines for the major characters drift a bit, and obviously they'd eventually need to get back in sync. Team Jordan considered trying to do this in TGS, but they felt, between the long wait since KoD and the new author, that TGS couldn't be another "move the chess pieces into position" book, like CoT which was mostly setup for KoD. It needed to "hit it out of the park," with a strong focus and some satisfying arcs, not 15 minutes of minor cool stuff for each major player. This is why TGS was mostly focused on just two stories — Rand hitting bottom, and Egwene becoming Amyrlin in truth. Front-loading the characters whose timelines were behind Rand's and Egwene's would not have left sufficient space in the book for that. Omitting the out-of-sync characters entirely, so they could be caught up in ToM in one fell swoop, would have been a mistake, too. (Remember how Mat was entirely missing from TPoD? Was not a popular decision.)
And, let us not forget, Cadsuane hitting bottom ... Semirhage's.
James Hogan
63. Sonofthunder
A storm is coming.

Yes!! I remember reading this prologue and being amazed and thrilled at all that went down. Masema gets offed - finally!! It really should have happened a few books ago by one of the Wise Ones. But this was just as good. In my opinion, Masema didn't deserve to be dragged all the way to Rand at this point. And Faile being the one to do it is perfect. As she's so fond of pointing out, it's the wife that has to do the dirty work. Perrin would never be able to kill Masema in cold blood, we all know that.

As for the rest of the prologue...well done. The Brandon/RJ compare/contrast is almost impossible not to think about when reading, but I feel that the more I re-read, the less I notice. ToM is definitely more cohesive in this respect, and I feel that given a near-impossible task, Brandon's done far better than I ever imagined. I was quite worried and while Brandon's writing isn't RJ's...well...he's not RJ. So I can't really complain! I'm sure we'll discuss some of the more glaring examples later on(*coughcoughmatcough*), but for now, I just want to tip my hat to Brandon and Team Jordan for a job very well done with these last couple(and I'm sure the last!) books.

Oh and Demandred is definitely in Seandar. *Someone* had to take advantage of the massive military infrastructure over there once Semi crossed the ocean.

And now I'm going to finish my cup of kaf and prepare for work.
Gerd K
64. Kah-thurak
"I agree that the RJ/BS hybrid model turned out well for the purpose of wrapping up in less than a million words; I have a feeling that if RJ
had lived, despite his determination that AMOL would be the 12th and
final volume no matter how big it got, it would have gone well north of a million words. Though I'm not saying I wouldn't have been glad to read every word."

Actually I think that RJ would never have been able to finish the series in three books. Let alone one. Just think of the sequence where Rand travels to Ebou Dar after nearly killing his father. Brandon was able to handle this with a few paragraphs, but for RJ a character going to Ebou Dar meant at least one book ;-)

The prologue is another perfect example. Brandon is just much more discilplined than Jordan was. He is able to keep in mind, that a prologue is a prologue and not half a book, while Jordan could never resist to include every good idea that came to him into the story. And even though a lot of these ideas were good, in their sum they really hurt the series and made it so much longer than what would have been ideal.
Kael Hollowell
65. macster
I have been eagerly awaiting to see what you'd have to say about the new books, Leigh, so I was very glad for this day to arrive! I have to say that while I can see why you'd be wary of commenting on Brandon's work the way you did Jordan's, I'm sure he knows you and your personality well enough by now to take it all with a grain of salt. And eerily (hah!) I can almost imagine what that reading of Jordan's sounded like, because you described it so well.

Not much to say that hasn't already been said. Count me in the camp that I was glad to Masema was dead, and I am glad Faile killed him. Indeed, looking ahead to what happens next in ToM, while I can see some very interesting plot complications if they had taken Masema prisoner (or just brought him along) when they encountered Galad and the Whitecloaks, what with the riot back in Samara, at this point we didn't need more complications. And Masema would have made everything with the Whitecloaks turn out much worse, perhaps not even reach a good conclusion at all. Plus even if Perrin could have taken him to Rand, I don't know what purpose that would have served in the story. We've already seen plenty of Rand feeling agonizing guilt for his decisions, and also him becoming harder and colder (a la the scene with Falendre here). Rand in fact was already on his way down to the nadir of He Who Fights Monsters--a very bad time to bring Masema to him, I think, as it could possibly have led to him actually approving of the Prophet's methods, especially if it were post-"The Last That Could Be Done" (great chapter title BTW). A definite disaster there. If instead Rand had killed him...well, it'd have been nice to see Masema's whole world crash down around him but otherwise, still no real point to the plot. And since I couldn't see Rand somehow turning Masema around and making him a true force for the Light, he really would have been of no use in the Last Battle except, again, to die.

So with all of that being the case, it was best he died now. Alliandre would have been cool to see do the deed, but I prefer Faile since he was such a thorn in Perrin's side and she's his wife. She may not have the best reason for killing him (aside from the Aram thing), but it could be argued such things are actually her role in Perrin's life--she was the one for the job because she could actually do it and was in the right position related to Perrin, not because she actually had a claim on his life.

I also agree with Tektonica...despite all he did and what he became, I did feel sorry for Masema in his last moments. It's not entirely his fault--even aside from the Forsaken or possibly the Black Ajah manipulating him, clearly the light of Rand declaring himself seared his mind and drove him mad, not to mention the whole ta'veren "breaking all bonds" aspect of the Dragon Reborn. And his final thoughts remind us who he once was--a man who when we first met him was surly, taciturn, and hated Aiel, but he was still a Borderlander, an honorable Shienaran. In fact I find myself comparing his thoughts about his father to that Tear Jerker moment in ToM's prologue when the Kandori commander of the watchtower gives his sword to his son just before they go into what must surely be a suicidal battle. Whatever he became, Masema was once a brave warrior...it's a shame that Rand's presence in the Pattern can bring about such a fall and twist a man to evil in the name of good. Just another example of how the savior is at times a destroyer.

The fake angel Rand: if it isn't Cyndane or Moghedien (or even Demandred) I still like the idea if might be a Black Ajah--either one of the Aes Sedai with Perrin, if they are Dark, or one of the missing members of Liandrin's coven. Based on Sanderson's answer when asked about this, I hope that means we'll find out who it was in AMoL.

Demandred: I think he is Roedran. Though he could also be in Seandar. And I like the theory on Theoryland I read that he may actually be in a number of places, running numerous fronts for the Shadow, and will thus bring them all together for the Last Battle. This could explain why a great general would be in Murandy--that that's just one base of operations for him. As for Shara...well, Jordan said repeatedly that the action would never go there, and with the need to wrap up the series and the book so big it had to be split in thirds, I can't see something big like that being added in even if Jordan or Harriet had changed their mind about including it. But, there's nothing to say armies from Shara couldn't be whisked away and brought into battle, without the need to actually go to the place in the narrative or spend too long describing their origin.

I wonder myself about where those Shadowspawn at Ebou Dar came from. Could this be Fain's work? Whoever is posing as Sammael? An attempt by Cyndane or Moghedien to try and get at Mat, whom they mistakenly believed was in Ebou Dar still--or Perrin, who they believed was with Tylee?

I have my own issues here and there with Sanderson's word choices, vocabulary, grammar, and so on, but overall the writing is still excellent, exciting, intriguingly informative, and even emotionally powerful. So while he isn't Jordan, I think he will continue to tell the story to us well.
Kael Hollowell
66. litg

If it makes you feel any better, I think Masema was so far gone in his delusions that any confrontation with Rand, far from breaking him, would simply convince him that The Lord Dragon had somehow been corrupted by the Shadow and that Masema must now take up the cause (after killing The Lord Dragon, of course). People that far gone will use any rationalization to save their world view.
Anthony Pero
67. anthonypero

Totally agree. He would have thought Rand was a fake, somehow.
Douglas Miller
68. douglas
66 @litg

That, or Masema would have decided Rand was an impostor.

Either way, he was far too gone in his insanity and fanaticism to let something so minor as an edict from his religious idol oppose his worldview.
Mikey Bennett
69. EvilMonkey

Remember, this is told a Seanchan POV. They have Grolm which are comparable in size to Trollocs. Therefore, the size wouldn't be quite as unusual to them as it would be for some of the Randlanders who have never seen Trollocs before. Tylee notes that they are enormous, but I think it was handled right. No need to dwell on size when it is comparable to something in their own experience.

And as far as Faile goes, this is the beginning of the time where she becomes a character I can sorta like. I hated her introduction into the storyline, eased up on the hate once she was in Two Rivers, went almost immediately back to hate after Dumai Wells, and even though she showed some strength of character in Malden, her POV's were consistently my least favorite chapters. Her actions here were decisive, assured, and FAST, a perfect compliment to Perrin's slow, plodding style. And with this scene she is finally showing why she's a good match for our hammer-weilding, wolf-talking Superboy, and thus makes me hate her less. Maybe she'll undergo a complete transformation in my mind from being unlikable to Made of Awesome like Nynaeve did. Remains to be seen.
Kael Hollowell
70. Lipton
Hi all! I've been reading these re-read posts for a very long time (you are one entertaining person, Leigh) but I hadn't felt that I had anything to contribute to the conversation because, well, it had been a while since I'd read most of the WoT books. In fact, I wrote them all of after CoT (even though I'd been a huge, obsessive fan) and I wasn't even planning to read the final books. I guess that once WoT has you it never really lets you go.

Anyway, now I have things to say! I'm fascinated by the bond between Rand and Moridin. The few glimpses we get of Moridin's reactions to it are tantalizing and Zen!Rand's last little POV in ToM makes me think that there are still interesting ways in which that bond could play out. I find Moridin to be fascinating, nearly as much as I find his philosophy to be repulsive.

Many people have commented on Masema's execution and I'm pretty firmly on the satisfied side with how it played out. The thing is, as satisfying as a Dragon Reborn smackdown might have been, politically it would have been a catastrophe. Just think about how bad the Dragon's reputation has been and how much worse it became when the Dragonsworn started looting and pillaging across the hinterland. The Dragons, and his allies', reputation was blackened merely by the a namebased association with Masema's followers, if they actually were seen together it would be catastrophic. One of the things I really appreciate about these books is how accurately the portray the ways that stories change and how rumors often bear no resemblance to actual events. Even if Rand had killed Masema, people would still see them together thus making the association permanent and lending a kind of legitimization to everything Masema's Dragonsworn did. Rand can't personally have anything to do with those people.

Faile did the right thing when she handled the matter herself. Because sometimes you need to handle things out in the open and sometimes you need to do it SEAL Team Six-style.

I really get the feeling that the PLoD didn't have the storytelling oomph that Jordan planned on it having. Most of us just got fed up with the way that Perrin was stuck up his own a$$. I have a feeling that if we'd seen it on television, rather than having to slog through Perrin's POV, it might have transmitted better.
Kael Hollowell
71. Lipton
One last thing (apparently I had more to say than I thought). I really loved the Prologue's first POV. I have such a powerful memory of reading it for the first time and being caught up again by this world. It was also a good way to transition from Jordan's writing style to Sanderson's. Jordan was very visceral while Sanderson seems to be more forward plot motion-oriented. So that first POV reminded me of all of the things I loved about WoT while moving me into this new world that still resembles so much of the old.
Kael Hollowell
72. Desertpaladin
Here's the problem that I see with everybody wanting Masema to actually get to Rand, and why I find it brilliant that he doesn't get that. Yes Masema was getting all mind tripped by somebody, but as a prophet for the "Lord Dragon" it makes sense that his ultimate goal would be to join with the Dragon. The fact that he doesn't achieve this goal, in fact he dies doubting himself to a degree is awesome and couldn't have happened to a better guy.

If he actually met up with Rand and was disabused of his wrong thinking before being executed it would give him a legitamacy that he doesn't get by being killed by Faile. Faile's killing him robs him of that chance and to me that's why it's perfect.

Really it kind of speaks to him as a character in a cool way (Don't get me wrong he sucks, but bear with me here). Masema's last thoughts are if he failed or not and directed at his father. If he'd actually met Rand and been executed by him he likely would have felt that he had succeeded despite the fact that Rand would have to execute him, because he has been addressed by Rand in a formal setting. The fact that Rand basically ignores him like an unwanted stephchild robs Masema of any legitimate claim to being the prophet of the Dragon.

Masema just seems so lost throughout the books (Sure there's the crazy outer coating) but his end really drives that point home. He's not sure if he succeeded or not.
Skip Ives
73. Skip
Sorry for the wall o' text in advance:

On the voice: By and large I didn’t mind the changes in authorial voice. Yes you can tell the difference, especially if you read Brandon’s other works. He misses on Mat’s voice in this book, though I thought it was because he made him too literate. Mat never really read anything, and some of his humor was too Lit Major; but overall I think he was a very good fit for a WOT book.

On the pace: RJ always said the pace would be picking up by this book, so I don’t think Brandon really increased the pacing any more than was intended.

The first five books spread the characters out and manifested their personal power. The middle five books are the second act, the characters have to deal with set-backs and the travails of having power. Second acts always seem slow, it is part of their nature, the moments of awesome were enough to keep me reading.

KoD represented the turn into the third act, where all of the frustrations of the second act begin to be resolved. Elayne, Lan/Nynaeve, and Loial deal with issues that have plagued them and they are freed to move toward TG. TGS takes care of the evilRand and Tower split separate plot lines to a large extent, and ToM deals with Perrin and Mat. That leaves AMoL mostly free to deal with the central plot that requires all of the major players to stand on the same stage again, wiser and stronger than they were when they separated in act one.

Masema: He was headed in the same general direction as Perrin, so I don’t see an issue with the logistics of Faile finding him. I have no issue with Faile ending him, as others have said, it seems very Shienaran of her. I never expected Rand to finish this plotline and Perrin would be moping if he killed Masema as cold bloodedly as Faile did. I actually liked the Masema POV, the reveal that he was being used makes sense of his mix of insanity and cunning.

Demandred: Don’t really care who he is, but I always kind of thought that he was running the Black Tower operations. It explains Taim’s mannerisms and vocabulary (and why Taimadred looked so good), and it is about the only place with any military power left in Randland that could be run by a Forsaken. It also makes for nice symmetry in the prologue – Mesaana in the White tower, Demandred in the Black. But now that Traveling is out of the bag to almost every military power, I guess that makes anywhere in the world a viable place.

Final point: The e-book version of EotW is still $3 for the rest of this week. I got it, and being able to read the e-book is so much easier than my hard or soft covers that I’m buying them all again. I’m already on LoC again. If you don’t already have them, you have to at least get EotW.
Hugh Arai
74. HArai
Lipton@70: I really get the feeling that the PLoD didn't have the storytelling oomph that Jordan planned on it having. Most of us just got fed up with the way that Perrin was stuck up his own a$$. I have a feeling that if we'd seen it on television, rather than having to slog through Perrin's POV, it might have transmitted better.

Personally, I think the reactions to Perrin's plot line are mostly tied to whether the people involved like Perrin and/or Faile. People get on Perrin in this plot line for two main things: His fixation on Faile and his reluctance to be a lord.

Let's start with his fixation on Faile. This isn't unique behavior, we have Lan's for Nynaeve, Min's for Rand, Egwene's for the White Tower, Gareth Bryne's for Siuan, Gawyn's for Egwene. Out of all those, it seems to me that the pairings people complain about are the ones involving characters people dislike for other reasons as well - Faile and Gawyn. No one complains that Lan is so focused on Nynaeve he offers to break oath to Moiraine, or that his focus on her keeps him from suicide when his bond breaks. I claim that's because Lan is cool and people like Nynaeve, not because he's any less obsessed than Perrin.

As for Perrin's reluctance to be a lord, all three of the ta'veren start out seriously reluctant along these lines. Perrin is the one that gets stuck with the people he grew up with being the ones he has to send out to die, and the people that were his direct authority figures all his life being the ones asking him how to do the things he knows they can manage just fine by themselves. He's the one forced to tear the Two Rivers they all know and love apart in person. Of course he's going to take quite a while to get his head around it. Yet people dump on him, while all Mat's kicking and screaming about becoming a general and a lord is 'amusing and cool'. It's the same thing, people just like Mat and give him a pass.
Chin Bawambi
75. bawambi
@ insectoid - the references to Demandred could be even further removed from view as in Appendix B mentions of the northern battles in the War of the Ring.
Kael Hollowell
76. Wortmauer
HArai@74: Personally, I think the reactions to Perrin's plot line are mostly tied to whether the people involved like Perrin and/or Faile. People get on Perrin in this plot line for two main things: His fixation on Faile and his reluctance to be a lord.
Maybe for some people, but not for me. Indeed, I didn't mind at all his reluctance to be a lord. As you say, Mat has the same issue, and so did Rand in the early days. Though repetitive, it's not a theme I got tired of.

It is true that Perrin isn't the only one who loves his wife a lot. But you can't compare him to Lan, Bryne and the others. Perrin is the only one who derailed an entire campaign of many thousands of soldiers, including four distinct military forces (Two Rivers, Ghealdan, Mayene, and Seanchan, not even counting the Prophet's huge though undisciplined following), for about 18 books, just to rescue one girl. Yes, it was also supposedly about Alliandre, who actually matters in some way, but I don't think he saw it that way. If Alliandre hadn't been taken, or Maighdin or the others, I'm pretty sure Perrin's actions would've been exactly the same.

(And yes, I know Dumai's Wells too was about diverting thousands of forces just to save one person, but you have to admit the Dragon Reborn is worth it in a way Perrin's wife really isn't.)

If Lan were leading his unwanted Borderland forces against Tarwin's Gap and he suddenly received word that Nynaeve was being held captive in, say, the Field of Merrilor, do you think Lan would take his whole army down a side trip to go rescue her, leaving the Trollocs in the Gap for later? I don't! That's the difference between Perrin and all those other characters. The rest, except probably Gawyn, would have put duty over love. Perrin would've let the Trollocs have Tarwin's Gap if Faile was in trouble elsewhere. There is some indication that he has learned his lesson and will fix his priorities in the future. Guess we'll get there.

Anyway, my annoyance with the PLOD was not just on Perrin's codependency issues. It's also who was in it. The Wise Ones in Perrin's camp are, like all Wise Ones, mostly obnoxious, especially when they have Aes Sedai apprentices to boss around. The Aes Sedai apprentices are mostly obnoxious, when the Wise Ones let them speak at all. Berelain is obnoxious, if less than usual for her. Galina is obnoxious. Masema is obnoxious. Sevanna and her Wise Ones are, like all Wise Ones, mostly obnoxious, and not just because they have Galina to boss around. The rest of the Shaido are obnoxious, with their haphazard ji'e'toh, perhaps the only thing more tiresome than real ji'e'toh. Gallene and Arganda could have been cool — I sense that they are fundamentally cool dudes — but all that jockeying for the honor of their respective forces gets old. Rolan and his Brotherless could have been cool, but his scenes are all about Faile manipulating him, and that's not cool.

Who was enjoyable to read about in the PLOD? Hmmm ... Gaul. Elyas. Tylee and Mishima. Tam. Grady and Neald. Maybe Annoura. And some other characters who didn't get much screen time, like Bain and Chiad. But overall, it wasn't enough. Too many obnoxious people saying and doing obnoxious things, not enough of the other.
Kael Hollowell
77. Delafina
The change in authors was profoundly obvious from the first paragraph. I'm an editor, and was a lit major in college, but I honestly think it would have been obvious to anyone.

To me the quality of the writing seemed a lot more consistent than Jordan's had been since FOH, but that consistency came at the price of Jordan's frequent flashes of brilliance and profundity. Sanderson tries to be profound -- heck, both the actual contents of the book and its status as the first third of the closing chapter of such an immense saga demand it -- but it's just not there.

What kept me reading WOT was the hints of mystery that were around many of the narrative corners, and the virtuosic world-building.

I thought actually getting resolution on most plot threads would be an adequate trade-off, but the resolutions to so many of those threads -- Masema, Morgaine, etc. was so disappointing that it hasn't been.
john mullen
78. johntheirishmongol
Hopefully this will be the end of the talk of the PLOD. I didn't really care who killed Masema, though I might have had more fun with it if it was the Forsaken that was messing with his head if he had done it. I am assuming that was Moridin. Faile occasionally has a point or two of fun, but then reverts to being annoying and silly. Hopefully, there wont be any more of it.

While BWS voice is a bit different, I didn't find it that offputting. I was less bothered about Mat than a lot here seem to be, perhaps because I thought that with major life changes, like marraige, there are often changes in your personality.

I am still wondering how the next book will cover everything needed unless it is longer than Way of Kings. Either that or it will feel rushed. And I do hope there will be an epilog that covers what happens in the future, and not just a finale. Especially since there was already a vision of the future with Rand's kids.
Kael Hollowell
79. Sevanna
Am I the only one to have clearly seen that Therava is Demandred?
Kael Hollowell
80. Narg
No!!! Demandred is Sevanna. I saw it in a dream.
Kael Hollowell
81. Gorbag
Actually, according to the Law of the Conservation of Characters, it is Narg who is Demandred.

There is only one Trolloc with a given name in the entire series, so who else would Demandred be? Read the precis of Demandred's character in LoC's prolog, and the precis of Narg's in EotW, and ... who else could it be?

"I got a job as a petrol pump, for the government undercover!"
Mikey Bennett
82. EvilMonkey
All 3 Superboys have so far had 2 realization moments, The realization of their powers (and the badassedness thereof) and the realization of their role in the stoppage of the end of everything. Rand, being the tip of the spear, gets everything early and has been pretty much running the world, or at least a major player in it since book 6. Mat got off to a much later start in the realizations department, but since he's the playful rogue and gambler its accepted. Yet for all his internal dialogue of not wanting to be a lord and general, by the time his band pulls up outside Salidar he's made peace with his place in the grand scheme of things. You would think that Perrin, who realized his powers even earlier than Rand and got his leadership degree even earlier than Mat, would have wrapped it up and figured it out by now. In my mind the reason he doesn't is because of Faile. Rand's women both know and accept his responsibilities involving being a savior and they are active in their participation to the cause. Faile is not. She doesn't understand Perrin's role and is basically fighting against the Pattern on his behalf. She want him to get away from Rand and have his own base of power, not necesarily a bad thing, but her insistence could cost the world, which she doesn't understand. It causes Perrin to suppress, so that issues you thought he had dealt with ages ago keep poppin up. We all thought he had conquered that leadership stuff back in TR, but it still kept poppin up in the PLOD cause he only learned his lesson halfway.
Greg Bjorklund
83. midwest
I am actually happy with the way Masema was finished. He was man who was created and driven by delusion, ultimately leading his followers to a slaughter, than quietly killed to no fanfare or significance. He deserved to disappear into oblivion. He can't become a martyr. I also believe it is more realistic to a real world solution. Rarely is there a big dramatic capture/killing, but a well executed plan that effeciently gets the job done. He was a rabid animal that just needed to be put down.
Rob Munnelly
84. RobMRobM
@81. If not the king of Murandy, my money's on Else Grinwell being Demandred.
WOT Dragons
85. WOTNoDragons
The Gathering Storm! – Double yay & huzzah!

(Slight wall of text warning: I seem to have got a bit carried away.)

Great job as always on the re-read Leigh. Without meaning to sound ingratiating, I think it must be really challenging to make your commentaries engaging, fresh and funny as you so consistently manage to do – kudos indeed!

After RJ’s untimely death, I didn’t ever imagine that another Wheel of Time epic would, or even could ever be published. Needless to say, I felt - - I don’t know really? – robbed? Gut-shot? I know that’s not a fair thing to say - or a reasonable one, (after all, I never knew or met RJ) but I guess the fact I felt so bad about only “losing a story,” is perhaps a simple testament to just how brilliantly I felt the story had been told up to that point.

The reason for mentioning this, is to preface the point that when I heard a while back that another author had been contracted to finish the WOT and that it would be published as 3 additional volumes! Well let me just say, *happy dance* did not cover it – not by a long chalk! So when I first got my paws on a copy of TGS, I was just sooo glad to have a new WOT volume, that I was prepared to forgive almost any amount of difference in style or content - although there are perhaps hypothetical limits to how far such forgiveness might stretch ;-).

So perhaps if Thom on say reaching Hinderstap had told Mat that he, - “intended to look for a better inn with free Wifi :-)” then ok – I’d have been a bit disappointed (not to mention catapulted from the story) to say the least! However, any slightly less obvious (but noticeable) uses of new or 'different' phrases, idioms, or linguistic structures would (and did) have my complete and utter acceptance; such was my delight at just being back in the WOT world again.

In truth, I (like many of us I guess) could sense a different hand on the authorial tiller at times, but the effect was (to me) only a subtle one and given that BwS stated upfront that he wasn’t going to clone RJ’s writing style, I think he managed to achieve a relatively seamless blend between the two styles; which must have been tricky to accomplish given that some chapters were perhaps in a more completed state (by RJ) than others.

BwS definitely surpassed my expectations in terms of story telling quality and I’m slightly ashamed to admit that at times, I found reading TGS a more enjoyable experience than some of the earlier WOT books. I know RJ said on occasion that he liked his readers to ‘work for it,’ and on many occasions I recall having to do just that: re-reading a previous page to tie up the answer to an earlier question - because the conversation was written in such an intricately interwoven way between speech and complex POV narrative.

Whereas in slight contrast, I felt that the style adopted by BwS was – well, - a bit easier to ‘mentally digest’ and the occasional extra spoon-fed titbit of recapped information made it more straightforward for me to grasp what was going on.

In terms of the actual prologue, what can I say? – ‘Brilliant’ just about sums it up for me.

At first I was a bit miffed that Masema got his just deserts in a bit of a ‘meh - what was that’ kind of a scene, but on re-reading Leigh’s re-read, I think Faile was spot on in putting the Prophet into the witness protection program the way she did.

I think that Faile could instinctively see that once Perrin had made several visits to the privy to ‘ endlessly think things through’ that he’d have remembered his original mission from Rand: to deal with the prophet. Faile would (I think) have understood that Perrin’s rather naive sense of justice would have meant that he’d try to arrest Masema (and would have probably succeeded) and that he would then insist that they bring him to Rand (alive) for trial.

Given that they have 100,000 displaced Randlanders to manage, and that looking for Rand with dozens of prisoners (Masema included) in tow could take many months that they couldn’t spare, and also afford them too many opportunities to escape, I think Faile would have instictively known that there was only one viable option, but that if Perrin found out, he’d have been livid – so she just ‘took care’ of Masema & simply didn’t tell Perrin. So yay for Faile I say. (Plus her revenge for poor Aram: with him being duped in to being such a hapless assassin.)

And as to her being annoying because she was always manipulating Rolan – well, those Mera'din chose to side with motherless Shaido dogs, and sometimes when you make your bed you have to lie in it!

Also, Rolan was chasing Faile - not the other way around, so if she manipulated him, - then imo it serves him right! (I know he didn’t deserve to get his head hammered in, but afterall, that wasn’t Faile’s fault.) Faile and all the Randlanders were slaves in all but name in that Shaido camp, and so imo, anyone who was not gai'shain was their legitimate enemy – pure and simple.

BTW, was it Masema’s own actual Father he was metaphorically asking? Or was it the Dragon Reborn he meant - imagined as a messianic Father figure? Or the Creator even?
Kael Hollowell
86. Greenish-Yellow Ajah
Parrothead @29: "As Siuan would say, 'something about fish.'"

LOVE it!
Kael Hollowell
87. azuarc
I rarely comment on the reread. I always enjoy it when I go back and catch up with the couple months I missed on. But I do want to ask one simple question that begs asking:

ARE you going to finish before AMoL is released? Because if so, you better hurry up. It took four months to reread the previous book. It was the only one on the once-per-week plan, but the others are in at least as many installments. 8 months from now to do 2 books is April, which I'm pretty sure comes after March. On top of that, as I recall, the reread got thrown off quite a bit as you were reading an advance copy of TGS and ToM, so I suspect it's inevitable that some of the interrim time will get lost.

Not saying I want you to do things differently, or trying to pressure you, Leigh, but you might want to keep your foot on the gas.
Debbie Solomon
88. dsolo
Wall of Text Warning

While I love WoT, there were times with RJ's writing style that I wanted him to just get on with it, and quit describing dresses and how much honey went in the tea. I love the world he created, and the characters. I even like Faile, Nynaeve and Cadsuane (although they do tend to be annoying - headstrong people usually are). The reason that I still like them is their compassion for others. All of our superboys and supergirls were essentially teens when this series started. Just barely old enough to vote, and not old enough to go into a bar in our world (except for Nynaeve).

Faile has been trained to run a large estate and manage people. She feels this responsibility keenly, but frequently handles things poorly. She will grow into this. Look at Moraine of NS and Moraine of EotW. She isn't experienced enough to understand Perrin's objections to being a lord. It's obvious to her that he is a leader, and he needs to just get over it. She does have enough insight into him to know that she needs to escape or he will be derailed. Unfortunately, she doesn't manage this. She does have enough sense to know that he would feel terrible if he knew that Rolan was helping her when he killed him and that he probably wouldn't take care of Masema. To me, Masema was a rabid dog by this point and not redeemable. I'm glad he ended that way.

Nynaeve's anger management issues seem to be related to high level of frustration. Consider that Wisdoms are generally older women, she was fighting an uphill battle to be taken seriously. She went from being underestimated by Two Rivers, to being condescended to by the Ais Sedai. Their methods might work on malleable young girls, but must have been especially galling for someone who has been fighting to be taken seriously for years. Part of the AS problem is their "this is the way we've always done it" attitude. Egwene is just what they need to shake things up. By thinking outside the box, she has increased the power of the Tower and created alliances with other women who were trained to channel in a different way. Schools are now starting to realize that everyone learns the same way. Some learn through repetition, some by visualization, some by hands on and that is why some school programs are offering a variety of teaching methods. The Wise Women and the Kin proved that the AS were not the be all and end all of saidar training.

As for Cadsuane, she reminds me of Dumbledore when he tells Harry that he had forgotten what it was like to be young, and that he had made mistakes. Cadsuane has become an expert at working with men who could channel that had either had become megalomaniacs or lost lambs. Rand is her first experience in dealing with a "Dragon" that is really trying to understand what is happening to him and wanting to do the right thing. Her "stern aunt" approach works with the pitiful men who don't know what's happening to them or the egotistical men who think that they are the "Chosen one" and deserve adulation. She is soothing to the former and puts the latter in their place. She is another one who needs to forget about "that's the way we've always done it". The treatment of the Real Dragon Reborn vs the False Dragons would have to be different. Moraine finally realized this and Cadsuane is slowly realizing it. It probably didn't help that Cadsuane came from a city where men were subservient to women.

I've always felt a bit sorry for Perrin. He has to be slow and deliberate, because he doesn't want to hurt people. He's the one who went home to check on Two Rivers, and he had to deal with his whole family being slaughtered because of who he was. There was also the feelings of guilt because he never though about writing. His was also the most easily noticed change. He could hide his wolf senses somewhat, but not his yellow eyes. Like the others, he's been snatched from his comfortable existence and dragged across the world. He's had to run from Trollocs, Darkfriends, the Forsaken, the Whitecloaks while developing new abilities and an obvious change in his physical appearance. I know it's been over 20 years for us, but it's only been 2 or 3 years for him. That's a lot of changes. All three of the Ta'averen have had to deal with major changes, but Perrin is the only one who had to also deal with the murder of his entire family and the almost destruction of his home village (and everyone he had grown up with). Mat and Rand are leading armies that are composed of men who were already soldiers or at least to fighting. Perrin is leading his playmates and their older brothers and fathers. They were farmers, blacksmiths, innkeepers, shepherds when they came to him. Rand may feel bad when an Aiel he knows dies, in his service, but they were warriors when he met them. The people that die with Perrin are his childhood friends and neighbors. It's the difference between having an acquaintance/co-worker die versus a family member. It's not just sad, it's devastating. Especially if they died because of a decision you made. I don't blame his for being emo. He earned it. That said, the PLOD should have been resolved in 2 books. Dragging it out made everyone seem less sympathetic.

Great job, as always Leigh. Not only do I love your insightful comments, I really love your various pop culture references. I also think BWS is doing a great job. There were many MOAs in this book and ToM.

I don't think Demmy is in Seandar (because that was Semi's gig) and I don't think he's DT because there was already a Forsaken among the Ashamen. I think he's going to be in Shara. It's been mentioned casually too many times. I also think that the faux Aiel will turn out to be Sharan.
Kael Hollowell
89. Wortmauer
azuarc@87: ARE you going to finish before AMoL is released? Because if so, you better hurry up. It took four months to reread the previous book. It was the only one on the once-per-week plan, but the others are in at least as many installments. 8 months from now to do 2 books is April, which I'm pretty sure comes after March.
Actually, word on the street is that March 2012 is doubtful. Brandon intends to turn in his draft late this year, but his editor has asked for more time to edit than she took for the last book, so the release date could come anywhere from March to Q4 2012. I'd guess Q3 (Jul-Sept).
90. orionrav
hi everyone....
I started reading WoT three years ago and believe i wish i had started it earlier,but since then i've read all the books atleast 7(seven) times....
I wanted to know if anybody is as crazy as that.....
Kael Hollowell
92. yasiru89
I've seen transitions from one author to another before and this counts as one of the smoothest. Perhaps the extra prologue-like quality of this prologue helped and I especially liked how Brandon started off unapologetically, without trying to emulate RJ. It would have been easy to put a foot wrong right at the beginning, and when I first read it with relief that this hadn't happened, I knew he'd do an amazing job (which he certainly has so far).
The Fanwar scene was instrumental in that regard to setting a subtly alien tone to the book that almost masked at times (especially in the Rand viewpoints) that a new author had taken on the task of seeing us through to a conclusion.

As far as scenes go, I found the Forsaken meeting the least significant (except with regard to the conjecture on Moridin's connection with Rand, I suspect it might be what the 'turned Callandor' vision Min had was all about), while the Seanchan vs Trollocs part I found more interesting than Leigh seemed to have. Apart from the repurcussions it's going to have, I liked being in Tylee's head, and was pleased how naturally Brandon managed to pull her off.
Poor Mishima though. He really didn't like meeting Trollocs after all, Perrin.
And... as surprised as I was to be thinking it, poor Masema. The man's delusional and waged a senseless campaign that probably turned more people against Rand than forcibly for, but he seemed sympathetic there towards the end.
That Faile killed him was apt I think, both to show that he didn't deserve better (that Rand never met the man probably worked in Rand's favour, because even if Masema was reprimanded at such a meeting, however severely, there would still be doubts about how much of it was real- especially considering Perrin would have brought him. Perrin, who the nobles who were at Cairhien still believe as far as we know, was banished by Rand. What's to say the Prophet isn't another ruse?) for all his religious convictions and to show that not all deaths are reasonable in chaotic times, not even those of the ones who wrought senseless death themselves. And it elevated Faile in my eyes somewhat too, not that I ever disliked her the way some have or still do.

Ituralde is one of the most badass of all lately introduced characters in this genre I reckon. More of him to come, and I hope he takes an active part during the aMoL strategising parts too, his liege returned or no.

Off to a good start anyway.
Kael Hollowell
93. Stone Dog
I agree that BWS did the right thing in not trying to mimic RJ's writing style, but if there are any chapters that were completely written by RJ I would prefer to see them included exactly as he wrote them even if this creates a clash of styles in the book.

As a matter of interest does anyone know if there are such chapters? Avienda in Rhuidean seems very like RJ to me - so similar to Rand's experience in TSR and both sequences among my favourites in the series. Also I believe the final chapter in the final book was completed by RJ. Hope they publish it exactly as he intended.
Anthony Pero
94. anthonypero
stone dog@93:

Would you happen to be Stone Dog of Stone Dog's Hold?

As far as if RJ completed scenes, based on BWS blog, I'd say so:

Please note this section:

When I reach a section that Mr. Jordan finished, I insert it, then keep going.

To me that would imply that, yes, there are chunks of text that Jordan finished. He was working on A Memory of Light for over a year before his illness was announced, and he worked on it before he got really sick for a while. Then my understanding is that he stopped writing scenes and focused on collecting materials and writing materials that would help the next author finish, when it became apparent he wasn't going to be able to finish it.

As far as Avienda's scene... Brandon is not allowed to comment on what he wrote and what RJ wrote per Harriet's request. However, Brandon was tweeting while writing a particular scene that many of us think was the Way Way Forward ter'angreal scene. I think Brandon wrote that, but that is speculation.
Anthony Pero
95. anthonypero
I answered your question stone dog, but apparently since I added a link to Brandon's blog, I got flagged as spam... which is kind of ridiculous... You'll have to wait until a moderator aproves it.

Speaking of which, Mods... is there any way to get a whitelist on that Spam Filter? Brandon's blog, Dragonmount, FAQ, Encyclopedia WOT, etc... IT would be awesome if we could link to these resources on this blog without being flagged.
Roger Powell
96. forkroot
The Fanwar scene was instrumental in that regard to setting a subtly alien tone to the book that almost masked at times (especially in the Rand viewpoints) that a new author had taken on the task of seeing us through to a conclusion.
You do know that this chapter was 100% RJ don't you? It's probably the only one we know that for sure.
Roger Powell
97. forkroot
Speaking of which, Mods... is there any way to get a whitelist on that Spam Filter? Brandon's blog, Dragonmount, FAQ, Encyclopedia WOT, etc... IT would be awesome if we could link to these resources on this blog without being flagged.
Totally agreed. Heck, I've been spam flagged for URLs that point right back to this re-read.
Kael Hollowell
98. yasiru89
forkroot @96-

Leigh mentioned the scene being described on tape up there, but is it confirmed that Brandon had no hand in it for the book at all? If so, then I owe him more credit than I thought. I might have mistaken the 'eerie' feel of it for touches of his style creeping in.

The rest stands though, since Tylee has been consistent since, etc.
Grolm Ster
99. Grolmster
Greetings y’all. Long time lurker - 1st time contributor.

I heart you for this site Leigh - you are a star.

Has any one else thought that with the exception of Mr Nae’blis, that quite possibly the rest of the Forsaken are the biggest suckers of all in this saga?

“The end is near,” Moridin said. “The Wheel has groaned its final rotation, the clock has lost its spring, the serpent heaves its final gasps. He must know pain of heart. He must know frustration, and he must know anguish. Bring these to him. And you will be rewarded.”

Moridin/Ishy seems to recognize that if Team Dark can dump enough of a crap-pile of misery and anguish onto the Dragon, then there is a chance that finally, after 1000’s of ‘end of an age’ battles, that for once, he will finally submit to the DO.

If Rand does submit enabling the DO to break free, then Ishydin knows that the DO will kill the Serpent, break the Wheel, rip up the Pattern and the Age Lace, and that it will be Game Over! And not just game over for Team Light, but a total ‘end of all things’ game over - Time included.

So in such circumstances, Ishydin would get his desired wish for eternal oblivion; with no more endless rebirths having to face and battle the Dragon ad-nauseam every few thousand years. And ironically enough, mad LLT would also get his wish for total and absolute death if the DO got his victory.

Considering that the Forsaken do seem to like living in the lap of luxury & being surrounded with the very best of everything - including a legion of servants/slaves at their beck and call, it does then seem slightly odd that their very aim in fighting for the DO’s freedom will (if successful) be their total undoing. Because with the possible exception of Ishydin, all the other Forsaken only signed up for Team Dark in the first place - lured with the seductive promise of power, wealth, status and immortality. So this being the case, do they realize that a DO victory would therefore be a total betrayal of all their dreams: ruling Randland as quasi-evil demigods under the DO's total dominion.

So when Graendal returns to her palace to plot – if she has any smarts at all she should figure this betrayal out and sign up for Team Light asap. – lol.
Roger Powell
100. forkroot
but is it confirmed that Brandon had no hand in it for the book at all?
A fair question. I'd have to defer to someone who was at JordanCon and actually heard the tape.

FWIW, I agree with you that overall the transition was pretty smooth. I hold what I think is the majority opinion which is that Brandon did an outstanding job and nitpicks are limited to Mat being slightly "off" in TGS (cleaned up in ToM) and occasional grumbles about 20th/21st century turns of phrase creeping in.

In fact, I'll go further and assert that IMO it's unlikely that any other author would have done better than Brandon and most would have done far worse.
Kael Hollowell
101. yasiru89
Something about the sentences in that Fanwar scene... and maybe that the characters were a little too... frank... for RJ, though I might be imagining it all.
It seems ToM Mat had more of RJ than Brandon, but Brandon writes Perrin best. I could never tell a difference with Perrin save for maybe a 'technical' stumble or two like you mention in the prose itself. Egwene he does really well too. The trouble with Mat was the different sense of humour I think. Mat needs more internal grumbles and less frequent but more poignant cheek when it actually comes to that.
That its so hard to pin exactly what seems off on occasion is probably the highest praise that can be given an author continuing another's work.
102. birgit
BTW, was it Masema’s own actual Father he was metaphorically asking? Or was it the Dragon Reborn he meant - imagined as a messianic Fatherfigure? Or the Creator even?

It's his own father. At the end he is thinking about how he got his sword when he was young.
Kael Hollowell
103. s'rEDIT
@dsolo 88:

Schools are now starting to realize that everyone learns the same way.

From the rest of your comment, I infer that you forgot to add a negative to this sentence, i.e., you intended it to say that "everyone does not learn the same way," right?

We're in TGS? How did we get here? Well, for many of you, it's been two years plus . . . amazing!

Leigh, you're a champ!
Kael Hollowell
104. JimF
Heeeere we go! The last three (I still believe that AMoL will become TWO books) installments of an incredible journey, a reading experience that has occupied me - at times beyond reasonable - for the better part of 15 years.

Brandon does a great job, but initially the difference in phrasing and other things (Jordan was a master of names. I love the names he generated by the drove. Brandon's names just don't enthrall me at all.) create a nagging sense of wrongness. I think when we get to Mat later in this book or next (I forget the exact plotline, having only read the two BS books twice each ;)) I was really put off for a while. But by the end of this book I was fully in the swing of things, and ToM is a great read. So thank you, Brandon Sanderson, for completing RJ's magnum opus so well.

And of course, to the lovely Leigh, thank you for your inimitable skill, energy and force of expression in conducting this reread.
Debbie Solomon
105. dsolo

You are correct. I meant to say that not everyone learns the same way. Thanks for clarifying that.
Kael Hollowell
106. Stone Dog
anthonypero @94
Thanks for that information - much appreciated.
I am not Stone dog of Stone Dog's Hold, just a lurker. I read all of Leigh's posts and browse the comments but vary rarely post on here myself. Stone Dog was just the first name that cam into my head when I decided to post something.
Eric Hughes
107. CireNaes
So I'm checking up to see if anyone has posted and there is a cricket that I can't find in my office. Just left the thread up and let the cricket have its day.
Cameron Tucker
108. Loialson
Strange, there seems to be a cricket over here as well. Must have creeped into the bunker somehow.

So...how about a poll?

Brandon recently tweeted about the possibility of some main chars not lasting through AMOL.

Who do you think is the most likely to get offed by the end of the series?

Mine are:

1. Lan
2. Thom
3. Moiraine (took long enough to get her back though)
4. Gawyn
5. Amys
6. Rhuarc
7. Perrin
Kael Hollowell
109. Bill.Buchanan
I appreciate the re-reads and the discussions they generate. I am suprised that in the discussion of Masema's death at the hands of Faile, that no one drew a parallel to the death of the false Dragon Couladin. Couladin was set up by Asmodean with all of the physical signs of the real Car'a'carn. In the battle between the forces of Rand and Couladin, we might have expected a one-on-one show-down between the rival contenders for Car'a'carn. It never happened, of course. Instead Mat met Couladin on the battlefield and killed him. It felt right to me. Rand doesn't have to win every battle personally, but there are some battles that only he can win.
Thomas Keith
110. insectoid
CireNaes @107: The cricket is twitching for a new post, obviously.

...no, I'm not the cricket. ;)

WOT Dragons
111. WOTNoDragons
@ birgit 102
Thanks for the clarification. - That'll learn me for not checking the actual chapter before posting a question. ;)


If I had to back a horse in the ' where's Demandred' race (now that Taim’s pulled up lame ;)) a real rank outsider with long odds might be Darlin. After all, he does hold a secure throne and he has been marshalling an army for war. A simple weave of illusion and Demandred could have replaced the original Darlin with relative ease. (With all Min's viewings still accurately applying to the original - rather than the imposter) I'm sure that there must be a 100 reasons why this idea can't hold up to closer scrutiny, but as a 100:1 long shot this horse might be worth a bet! -:)

Sorry if this idea's come up before in any previous discussions.
112. birgit
Darlin can't be Demandred because he was present when Rand lined up the nobles at the Stone and looked at them to find Darkfriends in ToM ch. 13. If he can identify a Darkfriend with a look, he should be able to find a Forsaken.
Kael Hollowell
113. AndrewB
Loialson @108:

I agree with you that Perrin and Gawyn do not survive the last battle. With respect to Perrin, I think it would be nice if one of the 3 Superboys does not survive. (As a reader, I do not like when all the heroes live happliy ever after. Sometimes fiction forgets that in war, good guys die as often as bad guys, even leaders.) The Dark prohecy that was set forth at the end of the ToM can be read to say that Perrin will not survive the Last Battle.

I have a feeling that Rand will survive the Last Battle. Most of the world may think he is dead, but the foreshadowing we have had throughout the series would indicate that he is able to survive. We have been told that Mat will also survive. (Team Jordan said that at one point, there were plans for an outrigger novel involving Mat and Fortuona taking place after the Last Battle.)

Further, we have the dream/vision of people crying and somebody important on his/her death bed. Maybe Perrin is close to dying and his followers are apprehensive. If I am not mistaken, this vision had not come to pass.

I also agree that Gawyn could be another character who does dies at or before the Last Battle. There is Egwene's dream that he has a fork in his life. Down one road, he lives a long life and dies in bed. Down the other fork, Gawyn is not long for the world. It would be highly ironic if, after embracing the true concept of being Warder to Egwene, he does not live a long life. (I do not find Gawyn as annoying as others do on this re-read.)

Other chartacters who I do not think will survive.
a) Alanna -- it will be interesting to see if her death would affect Rand vis-a-vis the Warder bond.
b) Cadsuane -- her stated goal was to see Rand make it to the Last Battle in such a pysche as so his victory would not usher in an age of darkness. Rand's ephiphany at the end of TSG seems to have ensured Casuane's goal.
c) Nynaeve -- like, Perrin, it would be nice if one of the Supergirls died. Since I do not like Nynaeve (and very much like Egwene), she is as good as a candidate as any Supergirl.
d) Bashere and Tenobia -- if Perrin does survive, then the death of these two will allow Faile to be queen and Perrin her consort (in addition to his title as Steward of Two Rivers)
e) Paitar, Ethenielle, and Easar - this way, all of the Borderland monarchs can die (in addition to Tenobia); it would be interesting if Lan somehow survived and became the ruling monarch of a unified Borderlander kingdom.
f) Fain -- I cannot imagine how Fain can survive. That said, I have no guess as to who will kill him. It would be ironic if one of the Forsaken kills Fain.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Kael Hollowell
114. elliesaurus
Forgive me if I'm interrupting the flow of a conversation, but I just realized the newest reread was up, and had to comment on the RJ/BrS differences. :)

Overall, I loved TGS and ToM as much as the rest of the series. It's still the same world, same characters, same story, only now we have a different captain at the helm . However, the thing that really gave me a hard time when it came to immersing myself in the story was the dialouge. Not speech patterns and rhythms, but the vocabulary. It felt...contemporary, which WoT is anything but, and that threw me off. After a chapter or two I got over it, though, and ToM was MUCH easier to dive into when I'd adjusted to the changes.

My only pet peeve of Mr. Sanderson's is his use of "Bloody ashes" instead of "Blood and ashes" or "blood and bloody ashes". Small, but it's like someone suddenly saying "Damny" instead of "damn".

And since I'm the only WoT fan in my area that little curse-rant has been building up in me since TGS was released. -goes back into lurker mode now to enjoy the ret of the conversation-
Kael Hollowell
115. taloncarde
“Sometimes, a wife must do what her husband cannot,” he heard Faile tell her women as his eyes fluttered, trying to close.

This may have been said already, forgive me, but the prologue line from Faile really really hit home at the signing when it was read by Harriet. wow
Jonathan Levy
116. JonathanLevy
114. elliesaurus

Welcome to the bandwagon. Quite a few people have voiced that very complaint, including that damny fixation with bloody ashes. :)
WOT Dragons
117. WOTNoDragons
Curses! Grrrrh, shnargle, grumbl - - -

Well, I said it was a long shot! – That’ll double teach me for betting on outsiders!

The one benefit of having such a lousy memory, is that when I re-read anything, half of it has been forgotten – so it’s almost like a brand new read. :-)

OTOH, hang on. Okay, so Rand Sedai ‘sees’ regular non-channelling DF’s - but a fully loaded Forsaken like Demandred might be a different kettle of fish altogether. Probably not though. So Darlin now 10000:1 - Ha.
Thomas Keith
118. insectoid
JL @116: I'd swear your login had a space in it the last time I saw it. (It's been that long.)

"Bloody ashes" isn't so bad... After all, if you mentally replace 'ashes' with 'hell', it sounds just fine! ;)
Captain Hammer
119. Randalator
elliesaurus @114

Actually it's more like people suddenly saying "damn" instead of "goddamn". It is a shortened version of the original curse. ;)

I don't get why some people get so hung up on this. It fits well within the established language and derives logically from an established turn of phrase.
Kael Hollowell
120. DeJulis
The "bloody ashes" thing gets me as well, simply because the established phrase has been with us for 10 or 11 books already. Whether or not it "fits," it still comes off as strange; it's especially jarring if you've been reading one phrase for over a decade. Language evolves over time, yes, but the world in the books only covers a few years. Not long enough for curses to change.

It never really made sense to me that Brandon, a self-styled fan of the series, could take established phrases and change them and not feel that he was "doing it wrong." Whether or not you're going to mimic Robert Jordan's style, at least keep the curses the same.

Most of the dialogue, even through Towers of Midnight, seems off to me as well. Every character in Brandon Sanderson's two books seem to have suddenly taken up pausing, followed by "well, here's my reasoning" when they get into any discussion. Everyone in the White Tower is made to look more foolish than they really should be, simply because they suddenly have to pause and think before they spout some nonsense.

Aviendha's voice is one of the bigger ones that I notice each time I read The Gathering Storm, as well as Mat. She kind of says all the same things (soft as a wetlander, etc), but she sounds more petulant. The whole thing with her "punishment" just made her arc sound really childish.

All that aside, the story is still fun to read. It's just too bad that the characters suddenly took so much of a shift. Any "wise" character suddenly sounds like the stereotypical wise old master imparting wisdom on their intelligent, but as -yet-unlearned, student. Any one else seems to have taken up beating their heads on desks so thoughts don't come as fast as they used to.
Jonathan Levy
121. JonathanLevy
118. insectoid

It did! But when I updated my account details a month or so ago, it refused to let me save my changes as long as there was a space in my name. I had to choose between replacing it with an underscore and getting rid of it :(

I also noticed that Leigh's login changed about half a year ago. I used to have a bookmark to tor dot com searching for all posts by Leigh_Butler (this dated from when the WoT re-read page did not always have a to the most recent post). One day the page came up empty, and I had to start searching for "Leigh Butler". Or maybe it was the other way around.

Yeah, I don't like it without the space :(

119. Randalator

I don't get why some people get so hung up on this. It fits well within the established language and derives logically from an established turn of phrase.

Come on.

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel Wants.
The look of the eyeless is terror.
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become traditions.
Men! Always thinking with the hair on their torsos.
Duty is heavier than a mountain, Death is lighter than a piece of string.
Under the light and by my hope of salvation and reincarnation.
The Dark One and all the Forsaken are bound in Shayol Ghul, bound by the Creator at the moment of genesis.

These all meet your criteria. They really wouldn't bug you?
Captain Hammer
122. Randalator
JonathanLevy @121

No, you really misunderstood what I said. You've gone and replaced certain words (sometimes with words like genesis that shouldn't be in the Randland vocabulary at all), not shortened a particular phrase in a very plausible way. What you've done is something like "Blood and freaking ashes" which would of course bug me. But "bloody ashes" is something quite different.

Idioms and sayings are very rarely used with a synonym replacing one of the words, so obviously what you produced is very jarring. They are however prone to the occasional shortening, which is just what happened with "bloody ashes". There are already variations of the phrase floating around in Randland, so this is just another we haven't seen on-screen so far.

For example I wouldn't be put off by a character saying "The Wheel weaves..." or "The look of the eyeless..." instead of actually quoting the whole saying. ;)

Also anything I said applies to this particular case and nothing else. I can understand how certain "modern" words BWS used clash with RJ's prose and people might be put off by them...

Edit: Actually, come to think of it, I think we might have seen a precedent for this by RJ. I seem to recall that Rand occasionally quoted only part of "Duty is heavier than a mountain" to himself. So why shouldn't there be a shortened version of "blood and bloody ashes"?
Don Barkauskas
123. bad_platypus
WOTnoDragons @117:

Darlin also fails the "We haven't seen Demandred's alter ego as of CoT" test, as he appears in TDR and ACoS.
Kael Hollowell
124. macster
@various on Masema: Good points, all, on what would have happened if he had met Rand. Especially @92 yasiru's point about the fake banishment of Perrin making any reprimand of Masema look suspicious.

@74 HArai: Indeed. People give passes to their favorites and tear apart the ones they hate, and use any kind of convoluted reasoning to justify it when in the end, it's all just "I refuse to consider I could be using a double standard because X character is clearly so detestable and no right-thinking person could like them". It's sad really.

@77 Delafina: YMMV. While clearly not all of it was profound, I found myself moved and wowed by many scenes Sanderson wrote: Egwene's speech to Elaida just before being beaten, as well as after the Tower is unified; Rand's talks with Nynaeve, about how she cares for people when he cannot and about how he wants her to keep her passion and "being an Aes Sedai means whatever you want it to mean"; Thom's conclusions about Hinderstap; the forging of Perrin's hammer; Masema's final thoughts; Verin's death scene; Perrin learning who Boundless was; Rand's moment on Dragonmount and his reunion with Tam; and of course various parts of Moiraine's rescue.

@82 EvilMonkey: Good point re: Faile

@88 dsolo: Right on the money about Perrin and why he has such a difficulty with the leadership mantle the other boys don't.

@109 Bill Buchanan: VERY good point. And ironic too, considering Masema's feelings about Aiel, that he should die the same way Couladin did.

@115 taloncarde: Talk about profound and moving!

@120 DeJulis: While I can't be positive, I'm fairly sure RJ intended for Aviendha's character arc to go the way it did, so whether or not the voice was correct I think he wanted her to seem petulant--she was after all being rather childish in accepting her punishment up until she got the backbone to stand up to the Wise Ones and demand equal respect. I think it was the last gasp of her ingrained tendency to defer to the Wise Ones. She may have resisted becoming one at first, but once she accepted it, the Aiel subservience to Wise Ones kicked in and she had to overcome that before she could truly be one of them.

As for the "Who will die?" poll: Gawyn and Perrin. Not only was there Gawyn's doom-filled dream about a long life alone vs. marriage and early death (the dream made it not clear which matched up with which, but it would be too easy to think marriage will lead to a long and happy life) there's the fact he is Egwene's Warder and First Prince of the Sword, a doubly dangerous position to have--and we know both Caemlyn and the White Tower are in danger. And then there's those Bloodknife rings... As for Perrin, aside from the Dark Prophecy there's the fact he is supposed to be there one more time for Rand (which smells of Heroic Sacrifice, and I don't think we can call the moment on Dragonmount this), and there's the fact he has so many parallels with Thor who dies in Ragnarok thanks to Fenris. Things will likely go differently in WOT, but that could be literal if he gets killed by Darkhounds while fighting Slayer. I just hope if that is how it happens, he gets to take Slayer with him.

Note of course this doesn't mean I want them to die (no, not even Gawyn--he's finally redeemed himself in my eyes), just that I think it is very likely. Lan could too, but it seems too obvious he will with all the hopeless Last Stand set-up and the numerous prophecies, dreams, and foreshadowings suggesting it. I suspect Red Herring again. As for who Nynaeve will be crying over...it'd be nice, so to speak, to see her doing it for Perrin, considering she seems to have forgotten about him and shown very little concern or caring for where he went or what he's been doing since he went back to the Two Rivers. Even Mat has earned concern from her, grudgingly! It could also, of course, be Rand as a prelude to the "three women on the boat" dream.

The man dying in the narrow bed...that one has always stumped me, particularly the fact people are singing in both joy and sadness while the funeral is being prepared. The only person I can think of offhand whose death would bring both joy and sorrow is Rand. I can't see that applying to Perrin. I wondered if it might be Ituralde, as there was a scene in Maradon where he was lying on a cot after having been injured in the fighting--his men would have bewailed his loss while the Trollocs (and the Darkfriends in the city) would have celebrated it. But who knows. It makes me wonder...we know Min's viewings always come to pass, and the prophecies seem to always come true, but weren't we told Egwene's dreams are not definites, but possibilities? And that as the Pattern unravels those dreams become less reliable and might not ever come true? Perhaps the "man in the narrow bed" dream, and a few others, are ones which were averted because of some action taken or not taken.

On a related note, it will be fun when the series is finally over to go back and see if we can figure out for sure where all the unfulfilled dreams or viewings came true. Here's my thoughts on which ones have been fulfilled, and speculation on unfulfilled ones:

Rand building a wall with him on one side and her on the other, her and Elayne and others she could not make out. "It has to be done," he was saying as he piled up stones. "I'll not let you stop me now."

-The WOT Encyclopedia theorizes this is Rand vs. Egwene and the others at the Field of Merrilor, which is certainly possible, but I always took it to mean Rand hardening himself and building barriers between his heart and everyone he cares about. Could it be both?

A storm, great dark clouds rolling without wind or rain while forked lightning bolts, every one identical, rent the earth.

-While this could still be part of the Last Battle to come, much of the destruction of the Shadowspawn at Maradon seems to fit this.

Twice, right on top one another, she dreamed of taking by the shoulders and trying to turn him to face the other way against his will. Once he brushed her hands away roughly; the other time, she was somehow stronger than he. The two blended together hazily.

-This was Egwene trying to get Gawyn to choose between submitting to her authority and him refusing to obey because he was so determined to protect her. Resolved when he finally becomes her Warder.

In another he began swinging a door closed on her, and she knew if that narrowing gap of light vanished, she was dead.

-Gawyn rushing to save her from the Bloodknives; made literal because of the gateway which nearly closed on his foot because of Perrin bringing the dreamspike to Tar Valon.

She stands before an immense wall trying to tear it down. It's made of black and white disks. She can't tear it down.

-Egwene trying to tear down the walls between the Ajahs, during her imprisonment in the Tower.

She's strapped to a block as a headsman swings. Somewhere, someone is running and if they run fast enough the axe will stop.

-Again, Gawyn rushing to save her from the Bloodknives. Though this could also be some future danger, where the Seanchan attack the Tower a second time, or an averted future where Elaida was going to execute her a la her third trip through the Acceptatron.

A golden female hawk touches her and they are tied together.

-Egwene is soon to wed Gawyn; Berelain is going to marry Galad, so they will be sisters-in-law.

Mat, weighing two Aes Sedai on a huge set of balance scales, and on his decision depended...She could not say what; something vast; the world, perhaps.

-Some have theorized this was Mat weighing staying in Caemlyn to follow Verin's letter vs. going to rescue Moiraine. But while him choosing not to read the letter may have doomed Caemlyn, that doesn't seem to have anything really to do with the rescue of Moiraine. I think it's more likely this refers to him deciding whether or not to rescue Teslyn and Edesina from the Seanchan.

A woman playing with puppets, and another dream where the strings on puppets led to the hands of larger puppets, and their strings led to
still greater puppets, on and on until the last strings vanished into
unimaginable heights.

-Was this one just a metaphor for the various intrigues and manipulations going on? Or could it have been referencing something specific? From the context it may refer to the same thing Perrin saw, Liandrin manipulating the Supergirls while Lanfear manipulated her. Other possibilities could be the chain of Women Behind the Women (Elaida-Alviarin-Mesaana), or Siuan trying to manipulate the Tower re: Rand only to have it blow up in her face because there were other plots she had no inkling of. Or even Moiraine.

In another a woman, face shrouded in shadow, beckoned toward great danger; Egwene did not know what, only that it was monstrous.

-*scratches head* Tuon, since she's dark-skinned, and got him into major trouble with the Seanchan armies? Verin (since she was technically Black) sending him to Caemlyn? Moiraine, because she was trapped in Finnland at the time? This one always confused me.

As for everyone's favorite dream about the Seanchan woman with the sword...we know from ToM that Egeanin is going back to the Tower with Joline, Teslyn, Edesina, Domon, Juilin, and Amathera, and that the Tower is about to be attacked again. Her reaching it in time to prevent or stop that attack seems likely. Though there is always the possibility it could still be Tuon, and her saving Egwene is in the form of her attack coincidentally stopping another Black Ajah campaign (perhaps that is what Alviarin is being saved up for?).

Just some fun speculation.
Kael Hollowell
125. Wortmauer
macster@124: Indeed. People give passes to their favorites and tear apart the ones they hate, and use any kind of convoluted reasoning to justify it when in the end, it's all just "I refuse to consider I could be using a double standard because X character is clearly so detestable and no right-thinking person could like them". It's sad really.

I guess you skipped past my post @76, where I thought I gave some pretty good reasons not to like the PLOD that went into quite a bit more detail than "because I hate character X".

Frankly, your cluck-clucking about how my inability to see past my own blind prejudices is "sad really" was mildly offensive. It reads as though you don't believe those of us who disliked the PLOD are willing and able to actually think for ourselves. If @76 didn't convince you otherwise, I don't suppose anything else I say will either; so I'm mainly just posting this in case you didn't notice your dismissive and condescending tone.

Speaking of blind prejudice and thinking for oneself, respectively, a handle that combines the words "Mac" and "hipster" ... no, I won't go there. (:
Jonathan Levy
126. JonathanLevy
122. Randalator

Yes, I did misunderstand you. But I still disagree. :)

First, we already have a shortened version of 'Blood and bloody ashes'. It's 'Blood and ashes'.

Second, the relationship is the other way around. 'Blood and bloody ashes' is a stronger, exaggerated version of 'blood and ashes'. It's not that 'blood and ashes' is an abbreviation of 'blood and bloody ashes'.

There are several reasons to see it this way: The shorter version is used more often; the longer version is used in more extreme situations; and the shorter version was introduced first.

Generally speaking, oaths are short by their nature and get extended for stress. "***hole" is not an abbreviation of "****ing A**hole". "S**t" is not an abbreviation of "B******t". Pardon my French.

Thirdly, the relationship between 'Blood and bloody ashes' and 'bloody ashes' is entirely beside the point. The point is that 'Blood and ashes' has been replaced with 'bloody ashes'. For 11 books you had dozens of 'blood and ashes'/'blood and bloody ashes' and zero 'bloody ashes'. But the new books have several 'bloody ashes' and zero 'blood and ashes'. This is the difference which gets under my skin. Sanderson changed the language of Randland by altering a very common oath. That some justification can be made for the change is irrelevant. It should not have been changed at all.

It's like reading a newspaper from another English-speaking country and finding the same things said in slightly different ways. You know what they mean, and you see the connection to what you're used to hearing. But there's no denying you're reading The Scotsman instead of The New York Times.

Perhaps Sanderson listened to the audio books instead of reading the paperbacks, and misheard 'bloody ashes' for 'blood and ashes'. Either that or some editor made a last-minute search/replace.

Maybe 10 years from now we'll find out :)

124. macster

A storm, great dark clouds rolling without wind or rain while forked lightning bolts, every one identical, rent the earth.

I think the identical lightining bolts are a reference to the Damane dresses, which have a lighting bolt on them. This would then refer to the Seanchan conquests.
127. birgit
She stands before an immense wall trying to tear it down. It's made of black and white disks. She can't tear it down.

Egwene first tried to undermine Elaida's AS, but then she realized that Elaida doesn't need help to fail and tries to keep the Tower together instead.

She's strapped to a block as a headsman swings. Somewhere, someone is running and if they run fast enough the axe will stop.

The Gathering Storm Book Tour, Powell's Books, Portland, OR 19 November 2009 - Samadai reporting

Amalisa: Has Egwene's dream of having her head on a block and an axe falling come true?
Brandon: "It has not; she is still in danger of that happening." Then he looked at us and said, "It may or may not also have something to do with Min's vision of Gawyn either saving or killing Egwene." Big smile on his face for that one.

WOT Dragons
128. WOTNoDragons

Fair point. Although I was suggesting that Demandred could have replaced Darlin rather than that he was Darlin all along. At some point after Darlin is made king, Demandred could have gateway'ed in to the Stone, removed Darlin, (imprisoned him) wove a mask of illusion and used compulsion on those who knew the real Darlin well enough to spot that he'd 'changed.'

I think this would work, but at some point the original Darlin would need to be rescued so he could fulfil Min's vision & marry Caraline.

There is also the problem with either Darlin or Roedran being Demandred; in that his gathered army might not be all that willing to fight against the Dragon's forces - once they realise that that is their 'King's' objective, and a large scale mutiny from within could be difficult for Demandred to then prevent or contain.
Hugh Arai
129. HArai
If Lan were leading his unwanted Borderland forces against Tarwin's Gap and he suddenly received word that Nynaeve was being held captive in, say, the Field of Merrilor, do you think Lan would take his whole army down a side trip to go rescue her, leaving the Trollocs in the Gap for later? I don't!

I don't see this as the slam dunk you do. He offered to abandon Moiraine and Rand to go with Nynaeve. That's abandoning the Dragon Reborn and his Bonded Aes Sedai solely because Nynaeve was headed to a dangerous city. It wasn't Lan's sense of duty that prevented that, it was Nynaeve's. Perfect demonstration of just how strongly he feels about her considering how duty-bound he truly is. To answer your hypothetical example, I think the odds are better than even he'd turn the troops over to someone else and try to rescue her himself or with a small group if he could get there, say with a couple of people able to gate him.

Emotions drive people hard in the WoT, just like in RL. Gareth Bryne abandoned Andor first over Morgase and then over Siuan. Gawyn abandoned everything over Egwene. Rand's assault on Rahvin was triggered for no better reason than because Ravhin was thought to have killed Elayne's mother and Rand is in love with Elayne. It was worth it to them. Just like Faile was worth it to Perrin. Also, I don't think it's reasonable to accuse Perrin of "derailing" Alliandre, Masema and his Dragonsworn, or especially Tylee and her Seanchan troops. None of those people or their troops had any real intention of joining or working with Rand. If any of them do now, it's because of Perrin (or at least his ta'veren nature), not despite him. You can't derail something that isn't on the tracks to begin with. The troops from Mayene are on Berelain, and she's been playing her own game. Ditto the Wise Ones. The Two Rivers troops were certainly "derailed" when Faile was taken, but that's hardly surprising. She's the wife of their chosen Lord. They weren't likely to just shrug and go on. That leaves Grady and the other Asha'man assigned to Perrin as pretty much the only people involved whose orders Perrin actually overrode.
Anthony Pero
130. anthonypero
@Death Poll voting:

Someone mentioned how Fain would be offed. It's been pretty obvious to me since TDR that Fain is a Gollum-esque figure, in the same way that Moiraine is a Gandalf-esque figure. More than just archtypes... the storyline prototypes are there as well. Because of this, I can't imagine a situation where Fain does not play a significant "third-party" role in the finale. Somehow his Mordeth/DF badassery powers will come in to play in the destruction of the DO. He will die either by Rand's hand or as a result of something Rand does in his battle with the DO.

Perrin lives. Period. Mat lives. Period. Rand lives. Period. I personally think Rand and Min will live through the Last Battle and leave the World with the Ogier when they open the Book of Translation. This also has a Lord of the Rings corellary. The Elves leave Middle Earth for the West on their magic ships and take Frodo and Bilbo with them to their eternal reward.

I also think Jordan has a built in, in-story explanation for these similarities. I really think the story of the Lord of the Rings could be viewed as another Third Age Turning of the Wheel. Which is a fascinating thought in it's own right to me.
Kael Hollowell
131. macster

Touchy much? No, I didn't skip your post, or disregard it, in fact I thought your reasons for disliking the plot were valid and reasonable, even if I did not agree with them because I was able to overlook those things for the sake of the fact that I like both Perrin and Faile. (See, the blindness can work both ways.) And because I think HArai's point regarding Perrin vs. Lan is also valid.

I didn't mention you by name, so I am not certain why you think I was targeting you with my statement, particularly since you admitted there may be people who do let their likes/dislikes of certain characters influence their judgment. I was mostly referring to the large number of Egwene/Elayne/Nynaeve haters, and some of the Faile ones too. Perhaps I should not have generalized, yet the fact that I did doesn't mean I was including you in that group. I do think there are people who, because of their like or dislike for certain characters, can't think for themselves, or can't express their opinions with anything more substantial than said like or dislike, and I do think that is sad. It is something I can also be guilty of and try to combat. It is not something I ever said applied to you. So please try not to be so sensitive. :)

And making fun of my user name? That's hardly appropriate or even relevant, it's just an ad hominem argument. And not even an accurate one, since it's a reference to my RL last name, with the "ster" added for humor value. Yes, you did go there...and by making assumptions too.

@126 JonathanLevy: Ah yes, a very good point. In which case that may have meant any number of battles with the Seanchan, the attack on the Tower, or something still in the future.

@127 birgit: Indeed. And since that was made on signing tour for Gathering Storm, i.e. before Towers of Midnight was published, my interpretation is still accurate--when Sanderson said that, the part with Gawyn rushing to save her from the Bloodknives hadn't happened yet.

@129 Very good points, all.
Alice Arneson
132. Wetlandernw
Being a week late to comment, I won’t comment on the comments, just toss in a couple of things for what little they’re worth.

I’ve been trying to figure out who Mesaana’s woman-on-the-scene was. From what Mesaana said, it sounds like she must have seen what happened, but there’s no one with Rand who I can believe is Mesaana’s agent. My best guess is Elza, reporting based on what she heard from those who were there, possibly not wanting to admit that she couldn’t finagle being there. Anyone have any other thoughts?

@many re: Masema – Like many others, I was looking forward to Rand giving him what for, and his resulting realization that he was totally wrong from day one. Looking back over the last few books, though, I think it’s clear that he’d gone so far off his head that it wouldn’t really have worked. He was a madman, and the kind of confrontation I had wanted to see would have required enough sanity to recognize the error of his ways. I suspect RJ was setting this up for the last several books, and that having him put down by Faile like a rabid dog was the plan all along. It’s almost a cleaner death than he deserved, considering all he’d done, but how accountable can you hold someone who’s lost his grip on sanity altogether, and as a result was wide open to manipulation by a Forsaken? All things considered, I think it was the “right” ending for him. (I’m not sure I’d wish for him the kind of return to sanity and recognition of all the horrible things he’d done, like LTT. His last moments, when he was almost sane, were sad enough, and made me sorry for the boy who had so wanted to do the right thing.)

Lots of things in the comments that I’d like to “set straight” but it wouldn’t be of any use – especially with the new post up. But hey, I’ll post this anyway, just for giggles.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
133. tnh
Macster @124/131, please turn down the fire a little. We're discussing a work of fiction. It's normal for readers to root for characters they like.

Wortmauer, consider the idea that when someone is being "mildly offensive", the easiest way to frustrate their designs is by not getting offended.
Kael Hollowell
134. macster
@133: I'm sorry if you, like Wortmauer, think I was trying to be offensive. I was not. I'm sorry that he got offended. I already explained that I was making a generalized statement (which I probably shouldn't have) that he somehow assumed was directed at him personally when it wasn't. And I didn't think the statement itself was any worse than ones I have past seen made against people who hate Elayne, Egwene, Nynaeve, and so on. Perhaps I should have worded it better, but I was only trying to say that I find it disheartening when people have no better justification for their position on an issue than "I don't like that person". Surely we can be more balanced and rational than that. But this statement wasn't even meant for Wortmauer at all, or even any particular person, just a comment on a general trend I've seen in the WOT fandom. (And I'm sure it exists in other fandoms too.) The fact he got after me for supposedly condescending to him, when he agreed there are people who probably do let their likes/dislikes color their judgment, and that he chose to take a potshot at my name, would seem justification for me to be annoyed. But instead, all I did was explain what I meant, that it was not directed at him, and also ask he not take cheap shots. And...this makes me the bad guy?

That said, I apologize to Wortmauer for making him think I was looking down on him. And you can consider the matter dropped.
Alice Arneson
135. Wetlandernw
macster - FWIW, I was pretty much stunned when Wortmauer took that one personally, because as far as I could tell, you were addressing a lot of people that clearly weren't him. But... it happens occasionally, and there you have it. BTW - you need to register so I can say things like this in your shoutbox instead of the thread. :)
Kael Hollowell
136. Wortmauer
(Huh. Thought I'd posted this already, but it doesn't seem to have shown up.)

macster, it's cool. No doubt I overreacted anyway. And I apologise for the line about your handle, which wasn't intended to be taken seriously.
Kael Hollowell
137. macster
Apology accepted, and I apologize again for focusing on the irrelevance of the line about my handle instead of realizing it was meant as a joke. It probably doesn't help that when I coined my user name I didn't even think of other meanings or associations it might have. Perhaps I need a better one...
Anthony Pero
138. anthonypero

You are ready, say your vows, take the Black, and receive your new name... ;)
139. orokusaki
Yeah, I'm way late to the party.

I'm gonna have to agree with the majority here and say that Masema's death at the hands of Faile isn't out of place. I don't think a meeting with Rand would have done any good; Masema would reinterpret anything Rand said to support his insanity, even being chewed out. Nor would being killed by Rand; Masema would have taken it to be a glorious part of Rand's plan (assuming he knew Rand was killing him), or something crazy like that. That's not satisfactory for those of us who strongly disliked the whole PLOD and/or Masema in particular. Perrin would also have been in a weird position of having to basically murder Masema, and it wouldn't fit his character.

In the end, Faile was the only one that made Masema's death satisfactory at this point in the wrapping-up-of-plot-lines Mr. Sanderson had to deal with. We can all agree we're glad he's gone. ;)
Kael Hollowell
140. mrexperience
@19 Faculty Guy!!!!
Yes finally someone who agrees that the last two books were more enjoyable. I used two criteria: 1. did the events in these books feel real? Did they tug at my emotions, make me laugh etc. My answer: yes,yes.
2. Was there more happening with the plot. Yes.
BS also managed to mantain the integrity of the characters pretty well. Mat has a great sense of humour but can tend to whine when he's at the extremes of emotion. So the Mat at Hinderstap was in a strop! it follows. Once he got used to the idea of being married he was the same old mat.
The 'Tam in two places' critisism for ToM IMO is misplace. I think it was brilliantly done. To intertwine two plot lines while splicing the time line? That takes some 'balls of adamantium' to quote the learned Leigh.
Sorry but I uphold none of the critisisms and endorse all of the praises for BS's work on this.....despite cherishing every volume of RJ's.
Anthony Pero
141. anthonypero
mrexperience@140 RE: Tam's timeline

I highly doubt that BWS would have structured it that way in something he was doing from scratch. This was a result of creating two story break points from one novel to create three novels. Certain plotlines got left in weird places, when normally they wouldn't be structured that way. Tam's timeline is one of those, because Rand's timeline raced so far ahead of Perrin's. If A Memory of Light had been one volume instead of three, or three volumes released all at once when they had all been finished, the plotlines would have stayed more closely in sync.
Bill Stusser
142. billiam
I totally agree with you that the story structure was altered to make one big finish into three installments.

I know a lot of you aren't going to agree with me but everything that happened in TGS and ToM could have fit into one book and without the messed up time line. The fact that things happened had nothing to do with the change in writers, it was all planned out before RJ died.

BWS writes differently than RJ and that's not a bad thing or a good thing. Brandon is a great writer, I really appreciate that he is finishing WOT up, but IMO RJ was a tighter writer. BWS uses a lot more words to explain things.
Richard Hunt
143. WOTman
I think that the end of Masema had to go down like that. Perrin would have done everything he could to "bring him to justice" in front of Rand, and Faile had to do what she had to provide closure. I frankly am super happy that this plot line has ended, I know that Perrin is embarrassed about the whole thing as he should be.

Time (WOT) itself created the plot adjustments in order to wrap up things in a timey manner. Yes I believe that Jordan knew as it was his style that it would take three books to wrap up the story.

I don't really care too much with these death polls, I would just like to enjoy the story no matter where it takes me, this is not my story - just sayin

I see the Seanchen ending up with Rand because of both Perrin - Tylee is moving up the ladder quickly an has much respect for him, so also with Fortuona as while she got intimidated with Rand and called the strike on the white tower, when Mat arrives (Taveren you know), I think there will be a reversal on her part. She is caught btween a rock and a hard place because she really needs to consolidate her hold here before she can actually go back and take the throne back from whomever. I just hope she sees more omens pointing her towards that conclusion also.

I feel good about the how the ending is shaping up and I'm excited and dreading the end at the same time (What will have to look forward to?)

As for the Author change, well I'm neutral on it, I think it went well and I can't change if I even wanted do - "what you can't change give me the strength to endure"
Richard Hunt
144. WOTman
I forgot to mention that I believe that Rand will survive and LTT will get his wish and I am still puzzling Moridan/Ish/Luc especially Luc I think there will be much revelation coming.
Kael Hollowell
145. Dorianin
I'm sorry, but for the first time i must disagree with you incredibly astute observations of our favorite epic: the person most harmed by Masema was not Rand, but Perrin. Depite how much (I, at least....) despise the whole Plotline that will Not Die, and Perrins character in general, he was the one most affected by Masema's machinations(eh? eh? c'mon....)...and Faile was the perfect character to kill him off. I have to admit, by far my favorite prologue, other than TEOTW.
William McDaniel
148. willmcd
I'm glad to see that so many commentors have such a positive vibe about BWS here, because I also think he did a great job on a herculean task of walking in RJ's shoes for the last three books. Not all WoT online communities are so kind; a few weeks ago I was nosing around on dragonmount.com and found thread after thread of people ripping of BWS, speaking of him as one might speak of a child murderer. Yes, there are anachronisms present, but I enjoyed the last books of the series, and I agree with others that if RJ had written them it might have taken 6 books instead of 3.

That said, the thing that jarred me most about the prologue was two characters (Ituralde and Renald's blacksmith friend) talking about "retirement", which seems an awfully contemporary-Western-world concept. I am no history expert, but did a tradesman like the blacksmith really "retire" before he was too old to physically lift a hammer any more? Ituralde as a member of the noble class I can see, but I doubt that the average worker in the renaissance had enough money stashed away to take it easy for the last 20 years of his life.

But as I criticize, so also must I praise: Rand's remark to Nynaeve that "Right was easy to find when all I had to do was take care of a few sheep" was brilliantly written.

I liked the Renald perspective, something a first for WoT. We see things through the eyes of a "common man" not associated with the heroes, giving us a glimpse of daily life in Jordan's world. I also wonder offhandedly if his usage of the obscure idiomatic expression "sure as eggs is eggs" might be a subtle reference to the Genesis song "Supper's Ready", of which the last movement, which is about the battle of Armageddon, is titled "Sure as Eggs is Eggs". Is BWS a Peter Gabriel fan?

I liked the use of the "outsider's perspective" of the captured sul'dam to show us how frighteningly "hard" Rand had become. This was a favorite tactic of RJ's.

Fine use of irony with the death of Mishima, who back in KoD Ch12 expressed a desire to see a Trolloc. He was killed by one, but never got to see it as the arrow unexpectedly took him in the throat.
Robert Crawley
149. Alphaleonis
Just a bit confused by the farmers (borderlanders) packing up and going north. Where are they headed, into the Blight? I know this will probably never be seen, much less answered, but in the middle of following the AMOL and WOR rereads, I am also doing my own reread of WOT and just started TGS.
Captain Hammer
150. Randalator
@149 Alphaleonis

I doubt that they're headed for the Blight. The most logical assumption would be that they're going either towards the nearest capital (where one would assume the Forces of Light to gather before being deployed) or directly towards Tarwin's Gap, the traditional place of Shadow vs. Light related battle antics...
Anthony Pero
151. anthonypero
I actually don't think they know where they are going. They are following instinct/the will of the pattern/etc... As far as where they end up, one would assume with one of the armies, but we don't know that for sure.

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