Tue
Oct 4 2011 2:00pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Gathering Storm, Part 3

The Wheel of Time reread on Tor.comTo Re-read, or not to Re-read, that is – well, actually that’s not in question, is it? Nope! Yay!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 3 and 4 of The Gathering Storm, in which it’s existential crises for everyone! Including me, sort of!

…Yay?

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

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

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 3: The Ways of Honor

What Happens
Aviendha, Heirn, Rhuarc, and five other Aiel scouts are watching a group of Domani refugees straggle by near the manor where Rand is staying. Aviendha reflects on the strange ways of wetlanders, and is surprised to feel pity for them, which she thinks is due to Elayne’s influence. She is struggling with her own role now that she is no longer a Maiden but not yet a Wise One, knowing she must be a leader too some day, but is not sure how to do it in this time of change. Rhuarc decides that the refugees are no threat, and they continue on. Aviendha thinks of Rand al’Thor and her determination to marry him, but not until she has honor to bring to the marriage. She is puzzled by her treatment by the Wise Ones since they had summoned her from Caemlyn; they are punishing her, but she cannot figure out what she has done to earn that punishment.

Asking would—of course—only bring more shame. Until she unwove the problem, she could not meet her toh. Worse, there was a real danger of her making the mistake again. Until she sorted out this problem, she would remain an apprentice, and she would never be able to bring an honorable bridal wreath to Rand al’Thor.

Her party returns to the main body of Aiel, and meets with Amys, Bair, Melaine, and Nadere. Rhuarc mentions that the clans are uncertain of what Rand al’Thor wishes of them regarding Arad Doman; he asked them to “restore order,” but not to conquer, and Aiel are not city guardsmen. Melaine opines that it is still better than idling in the treekillers’ land, and they set out for the manor. Bair chastises Aviendha for going scouting like a Maiden, and Aviendha worries that they think she has grown soft in Caemlyn, and that it might be true. Amys asks what Aviendha thinks of Rand’s demands of them in Arad Doman, and Aviendha says she thinks it a strange request, but that Rand has strange ideas even for a wetlander; she doubts that Rhuarc is uncomfortable himself, but is merely voicing the concerns of others.

“And al’Thor himself?” Amys asked. “What do you think of him?”

“I love him,” Aviendha said.

“I did not ask Aviendha the silly girl,” Amys said curtly. “I asked Aviendha the Wise One.”

“He is a man of many burdens,” Aviendha said more carefully. “I fear that he makes many of those burdens heavier than they need be. I once thought that there was only one way to be strong, but I have learned from my first-sister that I was wrong. Rand al’Thor... I do not think he has learned this yet. I worry that he mistakes hardness for strength.”

Amys questions Aviendha’s certainty that she will marry him, and Aviendha tells her of Min’s viewings about them, but then admits that the viewings do not guarantee she will marry him, only that they will love each other. Amys accepts this, and proposes to discuss Aviendha’s punishment. Fishing, Aviendha supposes that her time in Caemlyn made her weak, but Amys disagrees, saying that she thinks it made her stronger, in fact. Aviendha is confused, then, as to why she had been given no more lessons, only set punishments.

It was almost as if the punishment was the thing the Wise Ones wanted her to learn, but that could not be. She was not some wetlander who needed to be taught the ways of honor.

Amys then sets her a humiliating punishment: to separate and count the different colored seeds in a sack. Aviendha is astonished, for this is useless work, and therefore much more shaming than being set to hauling water or something similar; it is almost as if the Wise Ones are calling her da’tsang. Aviendha chokes back tears, and renews her determination to discover what her mistake had been.

Commentary
I’ve seen comments to the effect that some people didn’t much care for Aviendha’s story arc in TGS, but I have to disagree, personally. I had a suspicion of where this pointless punishment thing was going from the beginning, but not in a “crap, that was too easy to guess” way — rather it was in pleasant anticipation of events folding the way they needed to. Aviendha’s “graduation” into full Wise One-ness is woefully overdue by this point, so I was happy to see it finally set in motion.

I’ll talk more about this later, no doubt. The thing that actually caught my attention most in this chapter, though, was Aviendha’s remark to Amys about Rand, which I quoted above.

Hardness vs. strength is a comparison that crops up over and over again concerning Rand, and in Jordan’s worldview (one which is continued via Brandon) it is no accident that it is continually the female characters who bring this issue up. (Though that is not an absolute; if I recall correctly Bashere also said something similar about Rand at some point.) This is one of the gendered points he made that I do actually agree with, conditionally.

I tend to be very leery of endorsing sweeping generalizations about either gender in terms of personality traits applied across the board, but nevertheless I do feel there is a certain germ of truth in the contention that men and women (in Western society, anyway) are… encouraged, shall we say, to have different approaches as to what constitutes “strength.” Nynaeve summed it up a few books ago (I think in TFOH) when she quoted the proverb (which was a WOT-ization of a real-world saying) about the willow that bends with the wind, versus the oak that refuses to, and thus breaks before it.

I think there is a tendency to believe, when brute strength is at one’s disposal, that sheer muscle can prove a remedy to all problems — whether that be actual muscle, or military prowess, or social clout, or monetary superiority, or whatever. If there is an obstacle in your way, knock it down, this mentality says; let nothing stand in your way. And since all of these versions of strength have been those historically more readily available to men than to women, well, there you go.

The problem is, there are some obstacles which cannot simply be knocked down or muscled aside. And if everything you have is invested in simply bulling through whatever is in your way, what happens when you encounter something which does not submit to such treatment?

Food for thought.

 

Chapter 4: Nightfall

What Happens
Gawyn watches the village below as a small company of Gareth Bryne’s soldiers gather the villagers in the square and inspects the village. He notes that the soldiers are very respectful; nothing is taken without being paid for, and no young men are pressed into service unless they volunteer. He is grateful that this group has no Aes Sedai with them. Next to him, Jisao thinks they should attack, but Gawyn decides against it, fearing it would lead Bryne back to Dorlan where the Younglings are holed up in between raids on the rebels’ army.

There was only so much you could do with three hundred men, however. Particularly when you faced one of the five Great Captains.

Am I destined to end up fighting against each and every man who has been a mentor to me?

Gawyn thinks of Hammar and Coulin; he had thought he was over their deaths, but fighting against Bryne had resurfaced his guilt over killing them. Gawyn still doesn’t understand why Bryne had joined the rebels instead of being in Caemlyn to help Elayne, though he acknowledges the same could be asked of himself. He is beginning to realize that he might be fighting on the wrong side. He had tried to convince himself that Elayne and Egwene had had no choice in being on the rebels’ side, but now he is not so sure.

[Egwene] had chosen a side. Hammar had chosen a side. Gareth Bryne had, apparently, chosen a side. But Gawyn continued to want to be on both sides. The division was ripping him apart.

Rajar pulls up next to him as they head back to Dorlan, and Gawyn asks him where they went wrong, but Rajar doesn’t understand the question. Gawyn says they are in a hole, and Elaida does not seem anxious to get them out of it, but Rajar opines that their place is not to question the will of Aes Sedai. Gawyn thinks that their assignment is a deathtrap, and futile besides, and that it seemed almost as if the Amyrlin only wanted the Younglings out of the way. He wonders, then, why he continues to follow Elaida’s orders. He hopes that the Aes Sedai back in Dorlan will have a better suggestion on how to proceed.

Commentary
Second-guessing things is an annoying but fundamental aspect of human behavior, and this chapter is a sterling example of it, both literally, in terms of Gawyn’s thought process, and on a meta level, in terms of my thoughts about it re: our change of authors in the series.

‘Cause on the literal level, here’s Gawyn, finally having the doubts that we’ve all been yelling at him to have only since freakin’ Book Four, but on the meta level I’m almost kind of like, and isn’t that convenient?

Which I’m pretty sure — no, I know — isn’t fair on my part, and yet.

One thing I can tell I’m going to have a lot of trouble with from now on in this Re-read is exactly this kind of second-guessing: is something happening because it’s at long goddamn last time for it to be happening, or is it happening because Brandon is just as big a fan as I am (or more), and this is the thing that WOT fandom has been clamoring for since forever and a day?

The thing is, I’m positive that this is a bullshit claim to make, because Harriet and Alan and Maria, let alone Brandon, would never be so cavalier with Robert Jordan’s work as to change a character’s entire arc from wherever Jordan originally intended it to go just because anyone else thought it should go a different way. Obviously, the mere idea is just plain stupid, and I truly believe that.

But I would be lying if I said it didn’t ever cross my mind, even so.

Especially in this instance, where Gawyn has been, prior to this, SO maddeningly stubborn in clinging to his loyalty to Elaida in the face of all the overwhelming evidence that he was an idiot to do so. I guess to have him suddenly, finally, exhibit signs of actual sanity after nine books of the polar goddamn opposite… well, it’s a sharp enough gear shift that maybe I can be forgiven for having sort-of-existential doubts about the provenance of it.

Even if they are unfounded. And they are unfounded. So there.

On a less uncomfortable topic, I am digging how to-the-point these two chapters are — relatively speaking. I’m pretty sure anyone who wasn’t a WOT fan would probably find that statement rather astounding, but for us, oh yeah. It’s like, why hello there, succinctness! Fancy meeting you here!

Goes to show, not all changes are bad ones.


And that’s what I got for this installment, me chickens! Enjoy your week, and I’ll catch you next time!

145 comments
ftbleighjkjk
1. ftbleighjkjk
The pace of this book in comparison to, say, the previous all of them, was definitely a not-unwelcome change. It's a bit like sinking into a hot tub; at first you're all "ie ie eeee" and then you're like, "ahhhh".
Still a bit sad it's not Jordan, but this ain't bad at all.
Can't wait for some of the chapters/scenes to come.
Sam Mickel
2. Samadai
It took me all of 5 seconds to figure out what Aviendhas punishments was all about. but still great scene. She really is beginning to understand how Rand is thinking. Gawyn, is starting to actually think about what he should be doing
Sorcha O
3. sushisushi
All I can say is hurray for succintness and starting to hurtle clippety clop towards an end (not *the* end, for are only endings and beginnings, yadda yadda, but it will be nice to see this one finally arrive). I suspect that the difference between RJ and Sanderson is that if RJ was still writing this, each of these pieces of the respective characters' arcs would take about six chapters to complete and we'd maybe have about hit Arad Doman by now. I know he's The Creator, but there's a lot to be said for moving the story smartly onwards, particularly when both writer and audience are starting to anticipate the finale. Because both of these chapters involve setting up characters to make significant moves to where they need to be for the Final Battle, Aviendha as an Aiel Wise One and Gawyn at Egwene's side.
Jeff Weston
4. JWezy
In fact, Gawyn's behavior is so unexpected that I found myself wondering for a moment if he had been compelled. Then, I thought "Naaaah, he's just a doofus."

Seriously, this kind of action to one's own detriment and to the detriment of those one loves, and the near desperate inner monolog of rationalization of those actions really makes you think compulsion. It's only the fact that I can't seen any purpose or convenient suspect that makes me dismiss the notion.
ftbleighjkjk
5. Ed L
FYI, the link to this post isn't presently on the frontpage of the re-read.
ftbleighjkjk
6. Aduiavas
I love this re-read Leigh :) I think I said it once before, but I want to say iy again :) Thank you!

As for these two chapters, Gawyn truly have suspected that Elaida wanted him out of the way for a while, but he just haven't done anything about it...
Noneo Yourbusiness
7. Longtimefan
I don't really have much to say on these two chapters. I did find the "lesson" Aviendha had to learn to be important but it did strike me as somewhat frustrating that it took her so long to figure it out.

Granted the character was frustrated as well but that is not the most enjoyable mood to read.

I am glad Gawyn is figuring out how "complicated" his lack of decision making has been.
Roger Powell
8. forkroot
Samadai@2
Agreed about Avienda's punishments - I might have even beaten you by a second. Given that I'm not usually fast to catch on to WOT mysteries, I'd say that one was pretty obvious.

--
I completely agree with posters who found Brandon's more direct style a refreshing change; however I'm coming at it like many of the fans on this re-read. We had been waiting four years for TGS, and we were anxious to get moving. Brandon's style scratched that itch and was frankly necessary if there was to be any hope of wrapping up in (three!) books.

I'll say it now - RJ was completely delusional about finishing in one book. If he had tried, he would have butchered his masterpiece in the process. Had he lived, I am 100% sure that he would have come to the same conclusion as BWS and would have extended the series as needed to finish it properly.

Even then, he would have had to pick up the pace like BWS did. We did see signs of that in KoD.

Backtracking ... I suspect that people who pick up the series now and are able to read through without having to stop and wait a few years for the next installment might notice the style and pacing transition in TGS much more.
Brian Coutinho
9. Rathulfr
I actually enjoyed Aviendha's arc in this book - and I found her thoughts at some of the punishments hilarious.

Gawyn was meh. For some reason I was hoping (after all his hardheadedness) that he would have to face Egwene as Amyrlin before he finally gave up on the younglings. This way shows growth in him I suppose, but still...
Roger Powell
10. forkroot
Let me further add that I can totally relate to RJ right now. This last weekend I participated in the culmination of a two year project, where I had to scramble like mad - even reorganizing the schedule a day because I had made a poor estimation of how much was left to do on a particular project.

Folks - it happens ... especially with creative endeavors (and harrumph software development). Sometimes it's just hard to predict when you will be "done" in time and/or in resources (like book pages.)
Debbie Solomon
12. dsolo
Unlike many readers, I don't hate Gawyn, but I have been wanting to give him a smack in the head for the longest time. Perhaps he obeys Elaida because she was his mother's advisor, and he's still delusional enough to believe that AS don't lie. He was also angry at Siuan, which clouded his judgment. Like Rand, he is mistaking hardness for strength. His stubborness in following his chosen path is the obstinance of youth. I think these two chapters were put together to point out the folly of youth in acting without questioning. Both of them will begin to mature when they develop critical thinking skills. It's always better to understand why you are doing something rather than assume that those in charge are omnipotent. Part of being an adult is making hard choices and taking the responsibility for them.
ftbleighjkjk
13. AndrewB
The pacing of the books. I may be alone on this opinion, but I think that had RJ lived to complete TGS, I think the pacing would have been the same as was written by BWS. The first 3 books had a much faster pacing (possibly due to the fact that he had less storylines). Nevertheless, I believe that RJ realized he had to pick up the pace in order to proceed to put the characters in the proper place for the Last Battle.

Re Gawyn. I do not dislike him as much as other posters. I am intrigued by the following "what-if." What if TGS had unfolded in such a way as that Gawyn brought the Younglings with him when he abandoned Elaida's cause. It could have been the Younglings who were the troops that Bryne and Siuan led to rescue Egwene.

I understand why Gawyn felt he had to leave alone. The other Younglings were loyal to the Tower; Gawyn was loyal only to Egwene (at least in TGS, that loyalty is to Egwene as Gawyn sees Egwene -- a misguided puppet; rather than who Egwene sees herself -- the true Amyrlin).

I will come back to this what-if when I rant about the inclusion of the Bloodknives in the WoT storyline.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Tricia Irish
14. Tektonica
I found Avienda's arc frustratingly long. I miss the Aiel, as they just haven't had much to do in the recent books. I hope Avienda getting her Big Girl Job at the end of this book, brings the Aiel back into play in spades.

As for Gawyn...one of my least favorite characters, due to massive idiocy. He did seem to finally be coming to his senses here. Shocking! However, don't forget...he gets to be a dufus again soon. This was just a rare moment of clarity/questioning, that sets him on his new path. I think seeing Byrne, his old mentor, was an important catalyst in his questioning of his loyalities.

An yay! for picking up the pace! I'm pretty sure RJ would've had to have done the same and would've realized that one book just couldn't take care of all the plot lines and details.
ftbleighjkjk
15. Paulie
On the topic of style differences between RJ and BS...Mat is definitely a different shade. I sense more of the rogue in Mat when reading him as written by BS. I don't say this is a bad thing...just something I noticed. Also, noticed a dramatic shift in plot speed and in directness. Though, once into the "meat" of the book...those things aren't as noticeable.
ftbleighjkjk
16. dlinderholm
I wasn't so surprised by Gawyn's behavior, I think there were plenty of indications before that this was coming. This re-read has really reduced my annoyance factor with Gawyn; his behavior from the tower coup on is bone-headedly stupid if you know what the reader knows, but if you look at what he knew his actions generally made sense (mostly-irrational hatred of Rand notwhithstanding).

I really have to lay a lot of the blame for his seeming idiocy at the feet of the Supergirls and Siuan; none of them bothered to tell him anything leading up to his momentous acts in the tower coup (which, I think, made a lot of sense), and with those actions he was solidly committed to Elaida's side. His loyalty is clearly not fickle, and it takes a lot to cinvince him that he made a terrible mistake - not in the least because he doesn't want to believe that killing his teachers was a mistake.

I think, however, it has been clear for a while (the last several books) that he basically is only remaining loyal to Elaida because of the Younglings and his hesitation to change loyalties period (sort of a sleep in the bed you made mentality). At least as far back as LoC he had a pretty good idea that at least some of the Tower AS are out to kill him and/or the younglings, but that really only strengthens his resolve to lead (and protect) the Younglings. It is only through long observation of the mismanagement of affairs in general and the realization that everyone he loves and respects seems to be on the other side that he comes to accept that continuing to fight on Elaida's side isn't just sleeping in the bed he'd made in the coup, it was continuing to make (or requiring him to make) equally bad mistakes.

He's still a little bit of a head-desk, but not nearly as bad as my first (or second, etc.) read through impression of him.

And no, I don't mean to imply that his stupidity is the fault of the Supergirls - just that they absolutely had a hand in setting his course through, surprise surprise, lack of communication (he's just a man and would get underfoot, no need to tell him anything; never mind that he is in love with Eg and sworn since birth to protect El).
Marcus W
17. toryx
I didn't enjoy Aviendha's trial in this book. I don't disagree that she had to learn the lesson she learned but I didn't really like reading about it. I also didn't like how she avoided Rand, although given how nuts Rand was it's surely for the best.

Like some others, I figured out what the Wise Ones wanted of her after about two minutes of thinking about it. Mainly, though, Aviendha's struggle here just bored me.

I think that the shift Gawyn makes is probably exactly what RJ had in mind but I don't think it would have been as sudden if he'd written it. Sanderson is very much a grab-the-bull-by-the-horns writer. There isn't much transition between one frame of mind and the next with him. I also think this is a reflection of his tendency to tell us things about the character rather than show us.

So I have no doubt that Gawyn's transition was intended from the beginning but I think it was done overly hasty here for my own preference. I'd have liked a little more transition which, granted, would have annoyed most readers.

Over all, though, I hated the Gawyn chapters. He just irritates the hell out of me.
Thomas Keith
18. insectoid
Yay, new post! Great job Leigh.

Aviendha: Meh. I figured out where her arc was going early on, and spent the rest of it wondering why she was too stupid to figure it out.

Gawyn:
Am I destined to end up fighting against each and every man who has been a mentor to me?


Only if you pick the wrong side. Stubborn idiot.

Other than that, not a lot to say, except: what does the link text refer to?

Bzzz™.
j p
19. sps49
Count me among those who had no clue what Aviendha's punishment was for. I did make the Sevanna connection immediately at the revelation, though.

I recall complaints about how Semirhage's capture felt rushed (I felt that way, too), but no realization that it was still 100% Jordan.

And I hate Gawyn chapters. Gah.

ETA:- quad panel fight at the Order of the Stick today!
ftbleighjkjk
20. Lsana
I guess I must have been one of the few who didn't figure out the purpose of Avi's punishment. I did guess that she hadn't actually done anything wrong, but I figured that the purpose was for her to get over the mentality that she quoted in the beginning; that being too proud to ask was a Maiden thing, and when a Wise One needs to know something that she doesn't know, she asks, toh be damned.
Roger Powell
21. forkroot
Re Gawyn

RJ (and BWS after him) has been very consistent (and realistic) where all of the young characters (Rand, Mat, Perrin, Nynaeve, Egwene, Avienda, Elayne, Tuon, Galad, and Gawyn) have had to grow up "on screen". They've all had head-desk moments - RJ just advanced their character growth at different times, so we tend to beat on the laggards.

RJ did a great job of presenting older, wiser characters whose head-desk moments had occurred before the time frame of the main series (except we got a peek in New Spring.) So Lan, Moiraine, Bryne, Rhuarc, Verin, have gentler arcs (although they still grow.)

Does anyone remember what a jerk Mat (yes ... our beloved Mat) was in the first two books? He didn't have hardly any POVs so it wasn't rubbed in our faces as much - but he really grew up in the TDR, TSR, TFoH arc.

Nynaeve is another good example - she's come so far by TGS/ToM.

Tuon is still due some growth (or Team Light is screwed) in AMoL.

TGS marks the beginning of a character growth spurt for Gawyn (finally!) as he first comes to grips with which side to support and then later understands how he must relate to Egwene.
Kimani Rogers
22. KiManiak
Hey Leigh. Thanks again for another fine installment of the reread.

I recall being so glad to get an Aviendha POV so early in this book. Since they tend to be few and far between (I think the last one was in ACoS), I always appreciated them.

This was a good portrayal of who Aviendha had grown to become: observant; insightful; secure in her love yet not overly blinded by it; etc.

This was a good way for Team Jordan to show us (not just tell us) that Avi has earned her place beside the Wise Ones. She just needs to discover that for herself; a pity it takes a good portion of the book to do so (if I recall correctly).

And… I don’t really have much to say about Gawyn (or maybe I have too much, and I just don’t want to get into it right now). If I recall correctly, I wasn’t really a fan of his arc in this book.

It took him this long to explore the possibility that maybe he’s on the wrong side? That maybe he doesn’t know what he’s fighting for? Maybe the Amyrlin wants him out of the way (she only sent the Younglings away from TV to “escort” the Rand kidnap squad, and then never sent back for them even though TV is under siege… by his mentor)?

Yeah, too much to say and I just don’t want to get myself started anymore than I already have.

As for the potential for second guessing how the last 3 books are written, I’m sure we could potentially discuss that ad nauseum (and we probably will), but I will say that when I first read TGS and ToM, I did less speculating about who wrote what and just enjoyed the story (I kinda liked TGS’s version of Mat, but I’m sure we’ll be discussing that when we get there) and the pace. I agree; things we’re actually happening in this book! I remember being so thrilled (still am, btw).

forkroot@8 – I agree that I thought RJ would have an incredibly challenging time trying to finish the story in one book. To this day, I find myself wondering how he could have adequately addressed some of the major plot points.

AndrewB@13 – I like your what-if scenario, but I do think the loyalty of the Younglings would have been a major hurdle for this to occur. I don’t know if its believable that all of the Younglings would switch sides, just because Gawyn did (they’re not all in love with Egwene, after all).

forkroot@21 – Yes, I recall Mat was a jerk. I was definitely not a fan of his in the early novels. He has gone through tremendous growth (while still being quite the rogue). Nynaeve, too.
Nadine L.
23. travyl
I did like Aviendha's storyline. I don't really remember if I found out what it was all about as fast as others, but for me, it doesn't matter. I thinks it's completely believable that she herself didn't figure out the cause of her punishment, and so I just enjoyed what would come next. There is some repeating in her musings - but since so many re-readers keep pointing out that RJ wouldn't rush any character changes, I am grateful that the whole realization process took her some time and wasn't done in one chapter.

BTW: in the last comments there is a proposition how RJ could have fitted the remaining story in one book (see anthonypero 67. of the last part).
John Massey
24. subwoofer
What's this Gawyn getting his head outta his ass after 9 books? How is this possible? I dunno if I want to chalk it up to Brandon taking the helm or this series finally winding down and the need to wrap up some of these story arcs. It's not that Gawyn is my favorite whipping boy... I can rattle off a list of Forsaken that fits the bill, but geeze, the boy is a sack of hammers. On a personal level, being in a leadership role for a fair chunk of my professional career, sometimes it is hard to let other's take charge, or follow somebody's lead even if it is going in a direction you don't want to go or if you personally think you can do a better job, but dang it, from day 1 I said- Gawyn should not have killed Hammar. Gawyn has much to do to redeem himself in my eyes, I don't care how spiffy he is with a sword- you don't kill your teacher... unless your name is Vader.

Aviendha... not saying I have issues with her story arc, it's just that the big controversy with her happens on her trip to the rings and the story that unfolds, all this right now is filler, folks don't have to work at NASA to figure out what's going on here, unless you're the one having stuff happen to you.

As for the tree thingy, back in the day, Tanya Tucker sang a song about being strong enough to bend.... I wonder if RJ listened to country? The best analogy I can come up with is toilet paper- some types are really strong... but need to er... bend, to do their job properly, some are pansy like and heh... blow in the breeze, not much good either. It's a balance. Reminds me of my time in the army with military grade- read John Wayne- toilet paper, rough, tough and don't take no shit from anyone. 1ply with chunks of raw bark still in because it went through the processor the mighty 1 time. yeeee. Rand, buddy, ya gotta come 'round, nobody wants to go through a whole roll.

Woof™.
Simon Southey-Davis
25. Glyph
Leigh, on strength vs hardness, bending vs bulling through, and the gendered presentation of those:

That distinction seems to be at the heart of WoT's gender politics, written right into the fabric of the world as the yin/yang duality of the One Power (literally - even down to the use of the taijitu to represent the ancient Aes Sedai). So, the female Aes Sedai must bend with the flow of saidar in order to direct it; but the male must stand fast against the torrent of saidin or be destroyed by it.

If I'm reading your post here correctly, you tentatively agree that there is a rough split between the genders in those approaches to strength (though I'm leaving the nature/nurture aspect way over here for now). OTOH I recall you commenting angrily on the 'men dominate, women submit' approach to the One Power in previous posts. I was wondering where your lines lie between those two points, and how much overlap you see between them?

This is kind of a half-formed comment; I haven't sorted this all out for myself yet, just thinking aloud...
Thomas Keith
26. insectoid
Sub @24:
... but geeze, the boy is a sack of hammers.
I had a feeling you might say that. :P

Bzzz™.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
27. ZEXXES
I think a lot of people underestimate Gawyn's feelings about his mother and how that influences the decisions that he had made in the past and his persistance with remaining with Elaida.

I believe that his belief that his mother was killed by Rand is enabling him to ally with groups that he believes brings him the best chance of avenging his mother's death. Elaida, being so hostile towards Rand, fits the mold of his line of thinking. And while his association with the Tower Aes Sedai isn't ideal for exacting that revenge, its the best situation he can get at this time. Otherwise I feel he would have gone to his sister already.

Another thing I've noted about him is his growing swordsmanship prowess and how he has already surpassed so many of his mentors. I don't know if he is in pre-lefty Rand league yet or even Lan's league, but I suspect that he is or could at least hold his own. Which brings me to his brother Galad, who had up until this point been a superior swordsman and had taken to the art much quicker than Gawyn. But that doesn't mean that he has remained so and I like to think that Gawyn has surpassed his brother without knowing it.

Now on comments about Rand's notion of strength. He is indeed incorrect about how he needs to be strong, as we the reader and every character can plainly see. But I'm not sure about Leigh's comments about the differences between a man and womans notion of what strength is. Woman are always of the opimion that a man's notion of strength has to do with bodily strength and how that influences men's exertions mentaly and physicaly.

So I would beg to differ, the reality in my eyes is men have many factors to weighing strength amongst themselves. Physicality is definatley one of them whether it be brute force, speed, dexterity or endurance. But strength of character is huge with men. How weak a man's mind is, can be noted and held higher than his physical strength. Knowledge, wisdom, instinct, skill consistancy: these are held higher in the minds of men or all General's would be the greatest of brutes. The abilty to lead, incorporates many qualities or lack thereof in a man or woman's abilities as a leader. But the main quality in a commander and a soverign is his ability to do the soulfully hardest things. Order men to charge a fortified beach; to slaughter whole towns; to leave no one: man, woman or child alive; to send a platoon to recover one man so a mother is not left childless. And on top of all of it, at the end of his long, painful, torturous road, Rand knows he must die. That embodies strength.

His mistake is believing that he must not feel. He believes that it is his burden and for whatever reason his destiny and it chose him and he must carry it alone, sparing everyone his pain. So he believes he must be hard as well as strong. He's not wrong about how strong he needs to be, but how hard he needs to be. He needs to know that he can feel and that people should be allowed to help him when he feels he can go no further. He needs to allow his friends to carry some of the burden for him, so he is not crushed before his time.

So very sad.
Elijah Foster
29. TheWolfKing
@27. ZEXXES
Woman are always of the opimion that a man's notion of strength has to do with bodily strength and how that influences men's exertions mentaly and physicaly.
Maybe you didn't mean ALL, but maybe you did, I'm not going to change your opinions, but I don't think all woman believe that all men judge their strength by how strong they are physically, but it would seem that a good many do. But, otherwise I completely agree with what you said about everything.


Also, I think lots of girls judge a mans strength by how physically strong he is. ie. many highschool girls.

@ Everyone: I feel the need to say this, so I will. I am a man, errr a young man, but because I am in highschool, I see how highschool girls fawn over the strong guys. So FYI, I have experience in this.
ftbleighjkjk
31. ClintACK
Hunh. Am I the only one who thought that some of Gawyn's stubborness was compulsion, way back when? There's a scene, back when Moridin and Samael were running around in disguises spreading chaos (like giving the Shaido the idiot boxes) -- and Gawyn meets with a traveling merchant who tells him that Rand killed Morgase. I remember being convinced that this was Samael spreading chaos, and that Gawyn's refusal to believe otherwise, like when he met Egwene in Cairhien, was magically-induced.

His role in the Tower coup is more confusing -- but mostly because we didn't see it first hand, and haven't heard any detailed accounts of it. If all we had were a few offhand remarks, consider how odd some of the exploits of our main heroes would seem. (You rushed downriver as fast as you could get there, then blew a hole in the wall of the Stone of Tear using fireworks??? You made an alliance with insane Masema and the Seanchan, and sold hundreds of women into a'dam slavery??? You put Mazrim Taim in command at the Black Tower, and never went back to check on things??? Okay -- actually, that last one still doesn't make sense to me.)
JAMES MCCLELLAN
32. ZEXXES
29. TheWolfKing
I agree with your implication of All encompassing notions, it was purposeful, as Leigh tends to be very purposeful about the subjects of man's attitudes towards women as they compare in this series of books. I think she has a flawed view, generaly, in terms of understanding mens sense of honor. Most women do, generaly, but not strictly. Most women have to be taught honor (I know that statement will bring ill ire) as most men know it almost instinctually from birth. But I do think understanding things such as honor, courage and compassion, for the most part, are misunderstood between the sexes.

But I will also say that men who follow strictly Manly Honor follow it in such a way that very few woman understand. To men, any truly honorable man is respected above all other virtue in a man. Men have and will follow honor to their deaths without question if called for, unless of course he is a coward.

But to be short about my error of generalizations, I give you these to think about:

"Men!!!" she says, irratated. "Women!!!" he says, with foul temper.

How many times....? think about it.
ftbleighjkjk
33. Dolphineus
Shame on you Leigh!

The way Jordan writes, he puts characters in places where they must make a difficult decision. To get to the "right" answer, that character must challenge their ingrained thinking/training/tradition etc. They have to confront things they've "always known."

Tuon has. Avienda has. Elayne, Galad, Morgase, Egwene, Suian, Byrne all have.

Gawyn was raised in a palace. The son of a queen. He was taught war by Byrne. His whole life he has known you follow orders and don't question authority. The general gives orders and you follow then. The queen gives orders and you follow them.

He is a soldier. Its not his place to question the Amyrlin. Sure, there have been some hints that Elaida wasn't his biggest supporter, but he knows the general may, if necessary, commit troops to an action knowing they almost certainly will die.

He also has no idea what is going on in Aes Sedai land. He doesn't know Elaida is a colossal screw up. He doesn't know what the division is about. He doesn't know Egwene is Amyrlin.

Sure, we saw it coming a looong way off, but we have a lot of info he doesn't.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
34. ZEXXES
He STILL doesn't know his mother isn't dead. A fact that will blow his poor little world up.
John Massey
35. subwoofer
@Insectoid- wha? It's not like stupidity is an unknown characteristic of Gawyn. Sometimes I feel like the only way he could appear more foolish is if he were a twin...mind you his sister has been beaten with the idiot stick a few times.... and the way Morgase handles Tallanvor smacks of sheer... gah... let's just say that there is a family trait of carrying their brains in their proverbial scabbards from time to time. There are some flashes of brilliance, but that may just be Elayne playing with that red rod thingy again, although the brightest thing she has done was bond Birgitte.

I will say that Gawyn would be a very likely candidate for folks to die in the Last Battle. Think about it... he's not going to live forever, his relationship with Egwene is bound to hit that snag, Egwene is going to be in harm's way- that's a gimme, so Gawyn seems to be prime for general fodder purposes.

Woof™.
Stefan Mitev
36. Bergmaniac
I was hoping for another chapter to be included today, after all Chapter 4 is just 5 pages and nothing much happens...Oh, well.

Anyway, I am another one of those who didn't figure the point of Aviendha's punishments until very late, like a page or two before it was revealed. So I had no problems with the reveal being too predictable, not that I care much about this usually. I mostly liked Aviendha's POV through TGS, but was a bit bothered that she wasn't even speaking to Rand. OK, she wants to be a Wise One before marrying him, I get that, but Rand could've benefited a lot from having another person who he loved and could fully trust to talk to during this period, and she could easily sense his mental state yet didn't even try to help him in any way.

What's the deal with Min's viewing about Rand's three women anyway? In TGH Elayne said that Min has told her Elayne'd have to share her husband with two other women, yet here apparently it's not about marriage. And when did Min told Aviendha about the four babies she will have?

It's amazing that even having to fight his mentor Bryne and realising that Elaida wants to see him killed didn't make Gawyn leave the Tower Aes Sedai immediately. As he himself noted in this chapter, at this point he was fighting in a war against a faction which included his sister, who he had sworn an oath to protect and is supposed to serve, the woman he loved, and his mentor and the closest thing to a father figure he had for most of his life. Why the hell he even needed to hear Egwene was a prisoner in the Tower before deciding to switch sides? Let's not forget that before the Tower coup he was basically an exchange student in the Tower, who didn't owe allegiance to the Amyrlin. I can understand why he took Elaida's side during the coup, but why did he stay after that, especially after Cairhien, is still a mystery to me and apparently to himself too. At least he finally stopped being an idiot in his next chapter...
Bill Stusser
38. billiam
The Aviendha arc is a perfect example of the differences between RJ and Brandon and why I believe RJ would have finished the series in less books than Brandon (maybe not one book like he said but probably two).

RJ most likely would have done the whole arc in one chapter. Probably would have started off with Aviendha doing some useless task and she would have then thought back on all the other tasks the wise ones had had her do. Then she would have gotten fed up with the whole thing, gone to the WOs and demanded to be treated as a WO and the whole thing would have been done.

I know a lot of people don't agree with me about WOT being finished up quickly after everything but RJ always seemed to speed things up when it was time for the third act.
ftbleighjkjk
39. Jeribai
A few things. I'm along with the Gawyn haters ... although I think characters like him, along with all the painful lack of communication in books 4-10 were necessary to not have it be all too easy. The thing I never understood is why he took so long to start thinking about switching sides after meeting Rand at Dumai's Wells and being let go. If I were him, that would've immediately started those wheels turning.

As for Aviendha, my big question is why she hasn't seemed to have ANY communication with Min. I mean they're basically first-sisters, even if they haven't officially gone through the process like her and Elayne ... and they share the same man. She's been away for a while, so why would she not spend a few minutes catching up with Min on how their man has been lately?
JAMES MCCLELLAN
40. ZEXXES
@38. billiam

It would have been a rather large third act. No, I too believe RJ would have ruined the series beyond sense of respect, if he ended it in one book. There are just too many threads, to many storylines, too many... 'Geez just too much!

Hell! I'm still skeptical that it can end satisfactorily with just one more book.
Charles Gaston
41. parrothead
Aviendha: Not gonna say much, other than occasionally wondering how the Aiel survived the harshest environment in the world for millenia, with the whole "not telling/asking what is wrong" thing. I knew something was going on, but not that this was basically her graduation.

Gawyn: One of his better chapters. Enjoy it, because they're few and far between. It's not that I dislike the guy, I actually feel sorry for him - though not as much as his mother - and much of the later stupidity is sadly shared with someone else who at this point is High Octane Awesome. I know I'm looking ahead, but I think in ToM in conversing with Elayne he does sort of get at his biggest problem. He's been raised in a palace with the finest teachers and (assuming he has daughters) way up in the line of succession to one of the strongest thrones in the world. Now he's stuck playing second fiddle to a shepherd from the ass end of nowhere. The same guy who allegedly killed his mother, really did knock up his sister, has a history with his girlfriend, also has something going with Min (in TSR and I think TGH there were possible sparks re: Min/Gawyn; didn't go anywhere since both were already well-caught, but still...), is leading armies, taking thrones, administering justice - doing pretty much everything Gawyn has been raised for - oh yeah, and he's the doomed lunatic savior of the world, too. "Inferiority complex" doesn't cover it.
Anthony Pero
42. anthonypero
I find Gawyn completely believable and he doesn't bother me. His siding with Elida in the tower coup is perfectly reasonable, given the information he had. He grew up with Elida, and Suian Sanche was playing games with his sister and the woman he had fallen in lust with.

His irrationality over his mother's "death" is also perfectly understandable. Even in Rand didn't directly murder his mother, as Egwene told him, Rand still, from his point of view, caused the problem. Then, to pour boiling oil all over him, he is told that his sister, whom he is supposed to protect, is IN LOVE with this man who will no doubt lead her to her death as well... I totally get where he's coming from. All this, and he's like, what, 18 years old now? 17 when the tower coup occurs? Trust me, 18 year old men are not exactly known for their deductive skills, nor for their temprance, nor for their level-headedness.
Scientist, Father
43. Silvertip
When I was in my early teens, a historic ice storm hit Kalamazoo County, where my family lived. We were driving back home from my sister's family, who lived far enough North to only get snow, and I'll never forget exiting the rural interstate, no clue what was going on, onto a small town with not ... one ... light. Bloody spooky.

Anyway, there was a tremendous amount of damage. The park in downtown Kalamazoo took decades to recover.

Our own neighborhood had several kinds of trees. Along the road, we had hickory, which is an extremely hard wood. They ignored the ice completely -- there were tiny twigs with well over an inch of ice on them. On all sides. Didn't even bend.

Then there were the birches. They were so flexible that they basically laid down horizontally on the ground. A few days later, the ice melted, and they sprang back up, most of them in pretty good shape.

The trees that were devastated were the maples. They bent just so far ... and accumulated more weight ... and couldn't bend any more ... and snapped. They weren't strong enough to be a hickory or flexible enough to be a birch (sorry, paperbark), and they didn't survive.

Not sure what this is a metaphor for -- be what you are and stick with it, maybe. But it's a nice story.

S
Elijah Foster
44. TheWolfKing
@43. Silvertip

Gotta say, I really like that story.
T C
45. Freelancer
And if everything you have is invested in simply bulling through whatever is in your way, what happens when you encounter something which does not submit to such treatment?


Why, you browbeat it for a knuckledragging oaf who only thinks with the hair on his chest, that's what you do.

As if.


RE: Second-guessing the Gawyn "changes"

You are correct, of course. Every single character has undergone such changes. That Gawyn was slower to his than others, or that it occurred at this point of the overall story, has zero to do with Brandon, and everything to do with the plot structure which already existed. Brandon, as you say, wouldn't dare craft a revised plot arc, and Harriet wouldn't let it pass. That said...

Especially in this instance, where Gawyn has been, prior to this, SO maddeningly stubborn in clinging to his loyalty to Elaida in the face of all the overwhelming evidence that he was an idiot to do so.


His loyalty isn't to Elaida. He knows she is trying to erase the Younglings. His loyalty is a severe jumble, this is sure. Loyalty to his sister and mother certainly includes, in his life history, loyalty to Aes Sedai. Overlaid on that was his past uncertainty over his sister's whereabouts, and that she was as likely to show up at Tar Valon as Caemlyn, so where should he be? His loyalty to the Younglings, and his leadership-borne desire to keep them alive, makes him stay with them because many of them are convinced that the Tower Aes Sedai can do no wrong, and should be obeyed no matter what. They have become a hazard to themselves on that count, and Gawyn feels responsible for them. Not easy to walk away from that. So, when he became sure that his sister was in, or on her way to, Caemlyn to assume the throne, this last loyalty, plus bad weather, stayed him. Now, he's also trying to keep his men alive against Gareth Bryne and the rebel army, and can't walk away from that either. Not yet.

I find it all very realistic. Too much fantasy literature is one hand-wave after another getting the hero into and out of trouble. The slow, often undramatic struggles faced by the Lightside forces at various points of this story are compelling to me in large part because of that realism.


Oh yeah, and the Aviendha bit? It wasn't veiled nearly enough. By the second scene where she can't figure out why she's being treated so, I'm wanting to get out the clue-by-four and bop her one.


RE: War, how it is prosecuted, and why. Those of you who didn't serve during OIF/OEF, there is little chance that what you think you know about the circumstances surrounding any of it is as valid as you suppose. Trust me on that, and leave it alone, unless you care to really open that can.
ftbleighjkjk
46. alreadymadwithgawyn
anthonypero @42
IIRC he's about the same age as Rand.
ftbleighjkjk
47. macster
I...actually don't have a lot to say this time. Probably a function of these being such short chapters which establish character-arc movement that is necessary and/or has been long-awaited, so they don't prompt much commentary from Leigh or the rest of us.

I will say that I figured out what was up with Aviendha (Sanderson did a great job here mimicking Jordan's style of having characters rhetorically contemplate and reject ideas that are, of course, the right ones--namely, that the punishment was indeed the lesson), but not how it would play out. If I'd sat and thought about what the Wise Ones are doing more, and recalled how Sevanna declared herself, I probably would have got it--but I was so eager to read the book and find out what happened that I didn't have time for that, so it was still somewhat surprising and satisfying for me. Mostly because it made sense to me that stubborn Aviendha who had learned to obey the Wise Ones implicitly wouldn't get it right away, and because I had to laugh at how they basically were doing their best to make her so angry she'd tell them "screw you, I'm not doing this any more because I'm better than this"...which would prove she was indeed their equal and ready to join them. It just seemed so fitting, for Aviendha herself and the Aiel overall.

As to her staying away from Rand...yeah, considering what happens to Min, probably a good idea. After all if she'd been there when Semirhage struck, she would just have been shielded and thus still just as helpless. I expect she did speak to Min off-screen, and this could explain another reason she's avoiding Rand, and also how she got her insight into his hardness/strength dilemma.

I also never had a problem with Gawyn, at least not with how he was written. Reading him be such an idiot was annoying, yes, and I think if Jordan hadn't gotten bogged down in the details of extended plots he would and should have progressed Gawyn faster. But in terms of Gawyn's character, background, position in the story, and available knowledge, everything he does is logical and valid--it just isn't right.

Which goes to show another reason Jordan, despite his occasional failings, was such a good writer--because for the most part we get annoyed, not because of how he wrote something or characterized someone, but because of how well-written characters were who annoyed us. I.e., Jordan was good at writing characters who seemed real to us, right down to their idiocies, prejudices, mistakes, and flaws. I think dlinderholm @16 explained Gawyn's mentality and thought processes best. That's why it was so satisfying for me to see him finally overcome his teenage boy attitude, mature, and do the right thing--mostly. I particularly enjoyed him proving Egwene wrong in ToM, not because I am an Egwene-hater but because she actually was wrong and needed to see that, particularly in light of her upcoming showdown with Rand.

I agree Jordan couldn't have gotten it done in one book and did it justice, maybe even not in two. As for him vs. Sanderson, all I can say is while the vocabulary and syntax would have been different, and sometimes Sanderson did state the obvious or tell rather than show, I actually appreciated the difference. Jordan may have felt his readers should work for it, but after a series this long and so near the end, there's something to be said for not beating around the bush and just coming right out and stating things. And it's not like Jordan never used simple language or statements at the right moment to be effective. Some of the most memorable lines for me, and, I think, for many others (and note they came from the early books before Jordan got bogged down in too many plot-threads) were simple ones, like the part in TSR when Rand sat on his bed after the bubble of evil and remembered a shepherd named Rand al'Thor.

I can't guess how many of Sanderson's simple yet profound statements were his, how many came from Jordan, and how many were conclusions he reached after re-reading the series before writing, but I will say the two styles go together better than most people think, IMO. It's more like Sanderson peeled away a lot of the excess verbiage and description and got right down to the essence of what was driving these characters. It's a shock compared to what came before, and I can see why it bothers some people, but I think if you study the early books enough, you can see some of the same themes and points were there all along. They just needed to be teased out.

Would I like to see how well-crafted and complex they would have been when shown and described by Jordan? Yes of course. But it seems to me that complaining about Sanderson's way of doing it is not only a bit silly--he's not Jordan, no one is, and he didn't try to be, so whining about it won't change anything--it's also partaking of what TV Tropes calls "They Changed It, Now It Sucks". And all I can say to that is, since I fully believe that Sanderson has the heart and essences of these characters, events, and plots right even if he gets the description/presentation wrong (or at least, not in a style to everyone's liking), I think it actually hasn't been changed. What has changed is the ornamentation, the outer covering, the window dressing. Underneath, where it matters, I think the world and the characters are the same. And that is why, in the end, I can read these books and love them despite the obvious differences in style.

Lastly, the hardness/strength dichotomy. I have to wonder what Sorilea had to say about Aviendha's comment on that--she wasn't there when Amys spoke to her, was she? Anyway, I think ZEXXES described perfectly what Rand's thinking should be--indeed he does need to be strong, there's nothing wrong with strength and it can in fact be a good thing, especially in this sort of situation...but he shouldn't be hard.

And I have to wonder if Glyph @25 is on to something. Leigh had a problem with the saidin/saidar dichotomy. Since that was also about fighting vs. surrendering, does she believe that that sort of thinking was a sign of Jordan unconsciously supporting and passing on gender stereotypes? Or was she suggesting that because of the way saidin and saidar work, people in Randland were mistakenly applying that way of thinking to gender and social relations overall? I.e., as long as the way you use the Power remains separate from how you act toward other people, there's nothing wrong with it--fantasy literature is full of examples of 'mental discipline' and other ways of acting/thinking which must be adopted in order to use magic, and one can even argue that you have to think or act differently for certain roles--going to war, making decisions as a leader, and so on. Adopting that to do a task, then dropping it when you're done isn't a problem. What matters is keeping that separate from the rest of your life, not allowing it to color your thinking at times when it shouldn't.

In which case, the problem with saidin/saidar isn't necessarily that making them the way he did was Jordan reinforcing gender stereotypes, but that people (both in-universe and out-of-universe) could use them to justify the stereotypes. That Rand can think, "Well, I have to be strong/hard overall because that's also what I have to do to master saidin," which is a false analogy of the highest order if ever I saw one. And probably another good example of Jordan not only showing how such faulty thinking comes to be, but also leading into his point about the genders working together. Rand thinks this is how he needs to be, but the way for him to win is to be strong but not hard, to stand up against some enemies but learn to bend for others, to know when to fight and when to surrender (outside of using saidin that is)--preparing him for working with women, as he will clearly need to. Thoughts?

...and okay, I did have a lot to say after all, but I was right that it wasn't about the chapter themselves. :P
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
48. tnh
Captain Obvious, WolfKing, Zexxes: If you want to talk about how you think WoT relates to the Iraq War and the bombing of Hiroshima, feel free to start a new thread in the Tor.com forums. There's no way this thread can accommodate those subjects without going completely off the rails.
Birgit
49. birgit
I don't know if he is in pre-lefty Rand league yet or even Lan's league, but I suspect that he is or could at least hold his own. Which brings me to his brother Galad, who had up until this point been a superior swordsman and had taken to the art much quicker than Gawyn. But that doesn't mean that he has remained so and I like to think that Gawyn has surpassed his brother without knowing it.

sleepinghour on Twitter 8 November 2010 Who is the best swordsman in WoT right now? Lan, Galad, or Gawyn?
Brandon Lan. Then Galad. Then Gawyn. Gawyn is luckier than he thinks he is.

And when did Min told Aviendha about the four babies she will have?

Probably when she had the viewings about El's and Avi's babies in WH ch. 12 and they got drunk together to try to ignore what Rand and El were doing.
Captain Hammer
50. Randalator
re: Aviendha

Yeah, caught that one from the get go, which I'm not usually prone to do. But in that case literally the first thing that popped into my mind was "Well, Sev- She Who Must Not Be Named was a Wise One because she said she was. So just tell them you're a Wise One and get on with it already".


re: Gawyn's enlightenment

To be fair, that arc started all the way back in LoC. He is disgusted by the ASs' treatment of Rand, has suspicions about the AS motives re: Younglings after Dumai's Wells (ACoS) and finally is refused entry to TV in (same). Then he is left simmering on a small flame off-screen for all subsequent books (with the exception of a short appearance in CoT Prologue) and we get to see the result of said simmering in TGS.

So the change doesn't come completely out of the blue, it just happened mostly off-screen...
Roger Powell
51. forkroot
macster@47
I expect she did speak to Min off-screen, and this could explain another reason she's avoiding Rand, and also how she got her insight into his hardness/strength dilemma.
We see Min and Avienda talk "on screen" in TGS, the day after Semirhage's attack on Rand. Although the primary result of the conversation (plotwise) is to shame Avi enough into finally confronting the Wise Ones, there are a couple of other things that we find out.

One of those things is that this is clearly the first conversation between the two of them since Avi arrived at Rand's camp in Arad Doman - so no off-screen conversation. Another point is that Min talks about and Avi seems to confirm Rand's growing isolation and suspicion -- so it appears that Avi could sense it through the bond.
Hugh Arai
52. HArai
freelancer@45: Well said regarding Gawyn.

As far as Leigh's comments go: Gawyn's arc of lack of knowledge, second-guessing, conflicted emotions and conflicted loyalties, and (generally bad) high pressure decisions has been happening all along. It's just easier to see if you get past the "I HATE GAWYN" blinders. Personally I think it's quite amusing how some people find Gawyn so much more "enlightened" once he starts running into people who actually treat him like a man and not a mushroom.

Jwezy@4: The funny thing about your comment about Gawyn's behaviour making you think he was Compelled here is how many people insisted his previous behavior was a result of Compulsion.
Readers seem to want to deny Gawyn any agency of his own. Kind of like some of the WoT characters, but I'll wait to discuss that when the re-read gets there.
Tomas Gerst
53. IamnotSpam
Hey Leigh "And if everything you have is invested in simply bulling through whatever is in your way, what happens when you encounter something which does not submit to such treatment?". Why then you marry her.
Robert Crawley
54. Alphaleonis
My opinion about the difference in styles of Brandon & RJ:

It's like watching the world news tonight on CBS, then switching to NBC. The story is the same, but the anchormen might have a different emphasis or tone. Usually it's not that much difference from channel to channel. And I have usually not had a favorite as to how he or she tells the story of what happened that day.

It's the same with the WOT story only we have been stuck on one channel for a number of years, and have gotten used to his style. Like when Walter Cronkite retired, a lot of those in my generation had to get used to another newscaster. It didn't change what was happening in the world.

There is one other difference in the WOT world. RJ was and is the Creator. He didn't just report the news, he was The Pattern, and still is.
T C
55. Freelancer
Randalator @50

"Well, Sev- She Who Must Not Be Named was a Wise One because she said she was. So just tell them you're a Wise One and get on with it already".

Quite likely that tidbit was a background factor for the easy solve in this case. Having read Brandon's other work, he is absolutely not in the habit of telegraphing a surprise (Who could have guessed who Warbreaker referred to until the reveal?), so maybe part of the "credit" in this case goes to Sevanna's "unearned" declaration of authority.
ftbleighjkjk
56. Jshep12
I haven't read all the posts, because there are A LOT. However, I think the succinctness(sp?) that starts in these books could be credited to Jordan's illness making him want to finish the book before he passed away. If you remember he was doing everything he could to finish the entire series in ONE book, even if it was very long. I think he may have had an actual event be what changed Gawyn's mind, completely, but to move the story line along, so he could finish, he decided the event was too distant to be contained in just one book. So, while writing notes and mapping out the end of the story, he cut some corners here.

I'm, in no way, saying that I know anything more than any other devoted fan. I'm only hypothesizing why things started to change when Brandon took over. I like to think it was Jordan, who do to his illness, was the one who started to shorten things up because he wanted to finish it himself.

One of the best things about this series, for me, is the indepthness of the character's...well um, character. Often we get to listen to the thoughts of a character when not in a crucial moment, but dealing with everyday situations (this is especially awesome when we get to be inside Mat's head). So, I think it all worked out perfectly, because now that we know the character's charcters so well, we can just dive into the "what," while already knowing the "who."

I have only posted one other time but I'm a devoted follower of this blog and I want to thank you Leigh for doing it for us, and hopefully it provides you some joy as well. I often take umbrage (again sp?) with your thoughts on gender issues, would love to sit down and have a beer and discuss our differeing opinions on those issues, but I really, REALLY enjoy reading this every week and can't thank you enough for writing so well, so thoughtfully, and so often.

So, thanks!
Elijah Foster
57. TheWolfKing
@48. tnh

I see what you mean and I don't want to get off topic. But I simply do not understand why we can't have a conversation about all that stuff, after all it does relate to Leigh's commentary. I quote
The problem is, there are some obstacles which cannot simply be knocked down or muscled aside. And if everything you have is invested in simply bulling through whatever is in your way, what happens when you encounter something which does not submit to such treatment?

I think we should be able to talk about it as long as it pertains to what Leigh said, and so far it does.

@45. Freelancer
Re: OIF/OEF: I don't want you to post it here, but I would actually be very happy to have your perspective on it. If you feel like it you could message me.

@53. IamnotSpam
LOL!
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
58. tnh
WolfKing @57: I can understand your disagreement. To you, it was a logical extension of the discussion. That judgement is tied up with your worldview and sense of causality, both of which are intrinsic to who you are. I don't expect to change that. It would be hubris for me to think I could, and questionable manners for me to try.

Still, someone has to make these judgement calls, and that particular call was mine. I take full responsibility for it. I continue to believe that taking on the genesis of the Iraq War and the decision to bomb Hiroshima would have critically overstrained the thread's ability to accommodate the yoking of unlike entities.

Do you find the Tor.com forums unpleasant? I've been surprised that more discussions haven't spilled over there.

Silvertip @53, why are you posting about an ice storm in Kalamazoo? Did I miss something?
Jay Dauro
60. J.Dauro
tnh

Actually Silvertip's ice storm @43 is pretty good. It relates to how certain trees react to force, which is quoted in the series a number of times. Leigh mentions the tree metaphor in her commentary on Chapter 3, using the book's example of an oak and a willow.
Eric Hughes
61. CireNaes
Nice post as usual Leigh.

Oh, it wouldnt hurt to say a prayer or two for Steve Job's wife and children.
Tess Laird
62. thewindrose
Gah! Gawyn A wise woof called him a sack of hammers - I second that:)

It was pretty clear to me where Aviendha's pointless punishments (lessons) were taking her. She was a maiden of the spear, so I thought it was well within her character to be slow on the uptake for what she needed to do.

Rhuarc is back - yay! But boo for him and the Aiel being relegated to being an occupying police force for Arad Doman. Hope to see them battling shawdow spawn soon!

sideways meter - I don't think tnh has been around when we go of the deepend yet. Although to be fair, it usually isn't rw politics and the ilk we pratice - more like death cage matches, lyrics, bunkers parties...

tempest™
Eric Hughes
63. CireNaes
@58

Been awhile since we broke a thread. It would be like old times. Reading the older material was highly recreational. I remember the mods struggling to keep up just to issue warning shots.

:::jiggles can opener:::

We'll play nice.
ftbleighjkjk
64. Jeff S.
For me, the reason it took Aviendha so long to figure it out is the structure of "toh" itself. Forgive me if I describe this poorly but it seems to me that this all encompassing set of rules and custom keeps her from questioning what's happening to her. It is almost a strict Sociological Structural Functional world view, IMHO. She can't think outside of the role she has always had. Her first thoughts are always "I must have done something wrong" Moving from one role to another even in our society isn't easy, let alone a more rigid system like the Aiel.

Gawyn's issues. Others have pointed out how all of the major characters have had growth and maturity seasoning by this point and Gawyn is lagging behind. Isn't he the youngest of all of the group in the discussion? He's younger than Elayne who is younger that Egwene and Rand. I don't know about you all, but I was still a bag of hammers, as Sub so aptly put it, until 21 or 22 years old and still have lapses now at 53. I know we all mature or have our faced rubbed in it at different rates but Gawyn is not much of an outlier compared to many at that age.
Not coming to his defense so much as pointing out that youthful stupidty, usually based on misconceptions, is not that unusual. Be a Non-traditional student at a community college some time and you'll see what I mean.

I messed up my password and registration a few months ago and can't post "grey" at the moment. Not only has it pushed me into almost 100% lurker status, I can't figure out what I want my new handle to be.
See, I told you I still have those moments...
Elijah Foster
65. TheWolfKing
@58. tnh

Yeah that makes sense. Thanks for explaining.

Re: Tor Forums: I have never really checked them out, I mostly just read this. I am pretty new to this and haven't really explored much.

64. Jeff S.
Isn't the youngest of all of the group in the discussion? He's younger than Elayne who is younger that Egwene and Rand.
Actually Gawyn is as old, if not older than Rand. But definitely way older than Egwene and Elayne.
Thomas Keith
66. insectoid
Oh, are we trying to break the thread? It's only been a day... isn't it a little early to be breaking non-Massive-Spoiler-Post threads? :P

@tnh: Are you our new moderator? I hadn't been around for a long while until two weeks ago, so I may have missed that. Don't worry... we play nice most of the time. (It's the Spoiler Threads and those posts that coincide with Leigh on vacation or sick leave that we go crazy.)

::raises glass:: To Steve Jobs, a man who helped change the world of computing, communication, and entertainment. He will be missed.

Bzzz™.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
67. ZEXXES
@tnh

I know your word seems to be law around here, but I think your niggling a little too much. The story told by Silvertip was completely appropriate given the context of the conversation, the books and Leighs comments.

About the Nukes and Iraq thing it was simply a joke on Wolfkings part and I decided to take it a step further and then I think someone became mildly offended by the commentary, but by then the thread had ended already. But I do see your point about how off the reservation that thread could be construed.

49. birgit

I don't know if I agree with Brandon there. At one time back in the pre- thru post- Three Fold Land days, Rand was probably the best of the four. He was hiring as many good, thru master, swordsmen as he could to sparr with and couldn't be defeated even against 4 or 5 at a time (I think it was more then that!). Even so, Rand, so far as we've seen, has yet to re-learn the forms with his left hand. Though I'm sure, in the spaces between time, he has been doing exactly that.

But Gawyn has shown great prowess now. Which can be observed when he sparr's Sleete, who is known to be second only to Lan in swordsmanship (doesn't exactly say that, but it Is implied), and Marlesh, a lesser swordsman among the Warders but no joke himself. He defeats them both, not once, not twice, but three times. Warders! Sleete bested Lan twice out of seven and he can't best Gawyn with help!

I'm sorry..... that there aint luck!

I remeber the first time I bested two opponents at the same time. The elation of it! Especially seeing how one of my opponents was my rival.
This man bested one of the very best, with help. Alone. 3 times. And he thought it was another moment in a day. As if he knew what the outcome would be. No, his prowess has progressed immensely. I believe Gawyn defeats his brother, Galad. Lan? I think(?) he can. Rand? Now? Easily....in a sword duel. Rand pre-lefty? Hmmmm.... that would be awesome to see, huh?

Lets get ready to RUUMBLLLLE... fighting in the Red corner from the Two Rivers.... The Ta'Veren Blademaster, The Draaaagon REBORN, Raaaaaaaaand Aaaaal'.....ThOOOORRrrr vs. in the Blue corner hailing from Camelyn.... the regular badass jooooooe, no I aint uh Blademastah I just crush a lot, The Crowwwn Prince of ANDOR, Gawyyyyyn TraaaaaaKAAAAAAAnd .

I know, I know..... tnh. I know. Won't happen again. Reservation, gotcha!
James Hogan
68. Sonofthunder
OK, I just must be really dense. It took me three days to finish TGS(it came out on a Thursday, right?). I remember after the first night, I was at work the next day and pondering Avi's situation and trying to figure out what the Wise Ones wanted from her. I couldn't figure it out, so I guess I'm just extremely slow. Anyone else that *didn't* figure this out right off?

And in regards to Gawyn...while I don't *like* him, per se, I can understand where he's coming from. To have done so much for Elaida and the Tower AS(killing his mentor and other Warders, etc), I'm not surprised it takes so long for him to to figure out he went wrong somewhere along the way. Of course it was agonizing for us, but he has considerably less information than we do. His character still annoys me, but he's utterly believable.
Bill Stusser
69. billiam
Um, I think Brandon should know who the best swordsman is. If he says Gawyn is third then Gawyn is third. Also, Rand was never better than Lan, Lan is the man. I believe there is a RJ quote where he says that when Rand had both hands he was second behind Lan. Lastly, it would be hard for Rand to relearn the sword forms with his left hand seeing as he doesn't have a left hand anymore.
Stefan Mitev
70. Bergmaniac
Gawyn is described as being "few years past twenty" in LoC.

I had completely blocked out from my memory anything related to Sevanna, except some of Leigh's hilarious one line summaries of her chapters (Sevanna: Is annoying. And has a cube. The End - pure win), so I guess that explains to a degree why I had more problems figuring out where Aviendha's plotline in TGS was going.
ftbleighjkjk
71. macster
@forkroot

I stand corrected; I had forgotten about that conversation--not that it happened, but that it was made clear Min and Aviendha hadn't spoken before that, and that Aviendha got her info on Rand's hardness from the same source as Min, the bond. Hmmm. Well that last part explains how she could give that opinion to the Wise Ones without having talked to Min, but not why she didn't talk to her. I guess we have to chalk it up to the fact Min is always around Rand, and Aviendha was avoiding Rand, partly because she was busy doing her punishments all the time and partly because she didn't feel worthy of him until she became a Wise One.

@ZEXXES

I can see why you are disgruntled, I guess is the best word, that the kibosh got put on what was either meant as a joke or could have been an interesting discussion that still could have been relevant to Wheel of Time. But in tnh's defense, I don't think the question to Silvertip was a prelude to a moratorium on discussing trees, but genuine confusion as to how it got brought up--and you have to admit on the surface it seemed rather irrelevant to WOT without doing a close reading of Leigh's commentary and some of the preceding comments. I myself had to stop a moment and think to see the relevance, and I had just read Leigh's commentary. Tnh, who I'm sure has to moderate a lot of stuff here on Tor, probably didn't have the time or focus to read Leigh's commentary or all the other comments that closely. Note, I am not taking issue with your point, just suggesting that perhaps what you viewed as a niggling bit of moderating might have been a simple question.
Anthony Pero
72. anthonypero
@alreadymad and @thewolfking:

He's Elayne's twin. So he's Elayne's age, not Rand's. He's two years younger than Rand. There is no way he is WAY older than his twin, Elayne. Are you perhaps thinking of Galad?

Or am I just crazy... They are twins aren't they? *shakes head in confusion*
Debbie Solomon
73. dsolo
@64 Jeff S That's a very good point about Avi's mindset. As a Maiden of the Spear, she was focused on being a weapon and her responsibilities only included being a good warrior. This goes along with only the Wise Ones and Clan Chiefs going to Rhuidin. They have to be strong enough to handle the truth and not shatter. This also parallels Eg's transformation into Amyrlin at such a young age, she trained as a Wise One, not AS, so she brings a different strength to the Tower (and last battle). Using the aforementioned tree metaphor, Eg in captivity was the willow that bent but didn't break. Now, I think she's becoming more of a hickory. If Avi hadn't finally wised up (no pun intended, ok, maybe a little one), she would have broken because she was only looking at the loss of toh and feeling herself in the wrong.
Thank goodness Min came over and whacked her with the cluebat.
Debbie Solomon
74. dsolo
@64 Jeff S That's a very good point about Avi's mindset. As a Maiden of the Spear, she was focused on being a weapon and her responsibilities only included being a good warrior. This goes along with only the Wise Ones and Clan Chiefs going to Rhuidin. They have to be strong enough to handle the truth and not shatter. This also parallels Eg's transformation into Amyrlin at such a young age, she trained as a Wise One, not AS, so she brings a different strength to the Tower (and last battle). Using the aforementioned tree metaphor, Eg in captivity was the willow that bent but didn't break. Now, I think she's becoming more of a hickory. If Avi hadn't finally wised up (no pun intended, ok, maybe a little one), she would have broken because she was only looking at the loss of toh and feeling herself in the wrong.
Thank goodness Min came over and whacked her with the cluebat.
Jay Dauro
75. J.Dauro
anthonypero

No, they are not twins Gawyn is older, by a couple of years. When Elayne was in her cradle Gareth brought him to swear an oath to protect her. For a pretty good analysis of how old folks are see wotfaq.dragonmount.com/node/142
Stefan Mitev
76. Bergmaniac
@anthonypero - Gawyn and Elayne are definitely not twins. Elayne is 18 years old in LoC, Gawyn "a few years past twenty" in the same book. Gawyn swore his oath to protect Elayne while she was still a baby in the cradle.
ftbleighjkjk
77. TimBuktu
The main problem with Gawyn's onset of sanity is how poorly it's written and displayed. Instead of using a touch of subtlety and tact, Sanderson hammers you over the head with, "He wanted to be on both sides(!)" Cry me a river. Classic telling instead of showing.

And why is he still thinking of the Five Great Captains? Niall has been dead for about 8 books now; has he really not heard about that?
Captain Hammer
78. Randalator
TimBuktu @77

And why is he still thinking of the Five Great Captains? Niall has been dead for about 8 books now; has he really not heard about that?

So? The Five Captains are sort of a Randland trademark, the five most capable generals in the past 50 or so years, all active around the same time. Why wouldn't Gawyn think of Gareth Bryne as one of the Five Great Captains, even with Niall dead? It's not a statement regarding the number of generals currently alive but a comment on Bryne's strategic prowess.

Just like saying that "two of the Beatles are still alive" doesn't imply that the Beatles as a band still exist, Bryne being called one of the Five Great Captains doesn't imply that there are still five of them running around...
Jay Dauro
79. J.Dauro
TimBuktu

8 books, but less than 130 days in Randland. Without quick methods of cmmunication, I would not be surprised by his lack of knowledge
ftbleighjkjk
80. TimBuktu
@78

Because "Five" isn't capitalized in Leight's recap, meaning it's not a proper noun, only a descriptor. Boom, grammar burn.

I guess 130 days is short enough that maybe Gawyn hadn't heard, but you'd think news of someone like Niall would spread quickly. Minor point, regardless, simply something that popped out to me.
Stefan Mitev
81. Bergmaniac
Gawyn has been kept out of the loop for some time since Elaida didn't trust him and the other Aes Sedai as usual weren't telling him much. And he's been out of Tar Valon in tiny villages most of the time. He didn't even know Egwene is the rebel's Amyrlin until later in TGS, and that's far bigger news for the Aes Sedai and those fighting under their command than Niall's death, and it happened earlier.
Captain Hammer
82. Randalator
TimBuktu @80

Capitalization or no, the point still stands. Calling Gareth Bryne one of the five great captains (no capital 'f') still doesn't imply that all five of them are still alive and active...
Roger Powell
83. forkroot
billiam@69
Um, I think Brandon should know who the best swordsman is. If he says Gawyn is third then Gawyn is third.
Yup .. Lan, Galad, then Gawyn - all seriously bad-ass as Gawyn will show again when saving Egwene from three Bloodknives. However, Mat + ashandarei could kick any of their butts. Fortunately they are all on the same side (esp. by the end of ToM) so all whomping, stomping, and ass-kicking will be done to Team Dark (and/or Seanchan until they come around.)
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
84. tnh
J. Dauro @60: Thanks. I hadn't caught that connection.

Thewindrose @62:
"I don't think tnh has been around when we go off the deep end yet."
So true. Also, I was born yesterday. :)

Insectoid @66:
"Are you our new moderator? I hadn't been around for a long while until two weeks ago, so I may have missed that."
Only middling new, since February of this year; and I've rarely put on the rubber Godzilla suit and stomped around, so my presence has been easy to miss.
"Don't worry... we play nice most of the time. (It's the Spoiler Threads and those posts that coincide with Leigh on vacation or sick leave that we go crazy.)"
I know. They're fun to read.

Zexxes @67:
"I know your word seems to be law around here ..."
You may be confusing me with Irene Gallo.
"but I think you're niggling a little too much."
It comes with the job. The range I'm shooting for is "a bit nitpicky, but not incomprehensible."
"...But I do see your point about how off the reservation that thread could be construed."
Thank you. I appreciate that.

Macster @71: You're right. The question about the storm story was simple confusion.

And that's enough out of me. Back to the five great captains.
Sam Mickel
85. Samadai
tnh@ 84

It is great to have a moderator on board who has an awesome sense of humor. Have you read the Wheel of Time? It seems like you have. If so it is good to have one who knows there way around our crazies. :D
Tess Laird
86. thewindrose
Or to solve the five/Five problem - just use 5;) Have to agree with Randalator that even with Niall dead, he is one of the 5 great captins of this time period. This will change after TG I am sure - looking at you Mat.

I remember Pablo - who had not read the series yet - getting mad at us about *Break it Break it Break it* Until several of us jumped on him about it being an in story joke;)

I do miss the lolcats for I'm first comments, but tnh has successfully squashed those by not playing the game.

tempest™
Nadine L.
87. travyl
@ Zexxes (67.), forkroot (83.) regarding sword skills:
I don't know who bests whom, Gawyn certainly made a good impression against Sleete (and the bloodknifes), while Galad's last fight against blademaster Valda was bloody and almost lost (Galad's POV). But I do remeber his fight in Samara (FOH), where he was discribed with supreme skills. - Of course forkroot is right that we will never be able to truly judge them against each other (trainings woudn't help because you fight differently when not in danger of dying) - thankfully they will be fighting on the same side (against Fades whose skill surpasses each of the non-channelers?)

About the 5 great captains:
Despite being dead, Niall stays to be a great Captain - especially in the connection of "five great captains (of that age)" - no matter if its Capitalized. - But others wrote that already - I just wanted to state my agreement.
Hugh Arai
88. HArai
travyl@87: Fades appear to be quite skillful and certainly seem to mow through your average soldiers. On the other hand, veteran Borderlanders like Ingtar, warders, veteran Aiel and berserkers like Perrin all seem to put them in the "tough fight but beatable" category. There are couple instances where Lan and Ingtar express that the Fades they fight only get away because "they have the Dark One's own luck". So I don't think they can be expected to "surpass each of the non-channelers". Certainly I think we're supposed to believe Lan, two-handed Rand, Galad and Gawyn would have better than even odds of beating a Fade in a sword fight.

edit to add: Fades also seem to capitalize on the supernatural fear they generate. They might well beat a more skilled but terrified swordsman.
ftbleighjkjk
89. TimBuktu
@82

If you see the "Great Captains" as a collective, then, yes, it's proper. To draw on your Beatles analogy, there will always be four Beatles (Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best be damned) because they operated and functioned as one group. If you see the captains also as a group, then "five" serves as an irrelevant modifier. No one calls them "the four Beatles", because it's understood how many there are.

If, on the other hand, being a Great Captain is a status that can be won or lost (e.g. by dying), it's inappropriate. To further illustrate the point (and perhaps drive it into the ground), if Bill Gates were one of ten American billionaires as of Monday night, he's now one of nine. If he were a member of the Ten American Billionaires (tm), he's still one of the Ten American Billionaires.

The trouble with treating it as a collective is that it's rather unrealistic that all five of those men would have come to such prominence at so close a time as to be known as a group. It also, as you touched on, precludes accessions or removals. But I concede it is a possibility.
Rob Munnelly
90. RobMRobM
Tim - the five became known as the "Five" at the same time during the Aiel War. They were considered a group and not enough time has passed for there to be removals or accessions - until now.
ftbleighjkjk
91. Wortmauer
Sonofthunder@68: I was at work the next day and pondering Avi's situation and trying to figure out what the Wise Ones wanted from her. I couldn't figure it out, so I guess I'm just extremely slow. Anyone else that *didn't* figure this out right off?
I didn't either. It was immediately obvious that the punishments were a lesson, not punishments per se. The author has led us to believe that Aviendha is, from an Aiel perspective, insanely honorable and in tune with ji'e'toh, so it'd be absurd for her to honestly miss what she's doing to incur toh. But what lesson? Intentionally getting someone to believe she has toh when she doesn't does not seem like a very honorable thing to do. More of an Aes Sedai thing, truth be told, letting hints and inferences lie for you. Yet another reason I don't think the Aiel Wise Ones are all that. To say nothing of the merits of a leadership order whose primary qualification turns out to be rejection of authority.

Anyway, yeah, it was obviously a puzzle, but I don't think I solved it long, if at all, before Aviendha did.

Bending vs. breaking: Where did we get this idea that the personality traits of hardness and flexibility are gender-linked in Randland? I don't remember seeing any evidence of this. Would you say Elaida, for example, is hard, or strong? What about Perrin? Tam? Liandrin? Bryne? Nynaeve in the early years?

Also, check this out:
The leathery-faced Wise One nodded as though everything had been settled. "You, young Aes Sedai. You know the Car'a'carn well, it is said. Will he do as he has threatened? Hang even a clan chief?"

"I think ... maybe ... that he will." More quickly, Egwene added, "But I am sure he can be brought to see reason." She was not sure of any such thing, or even that it was reason — what he had said sounded only just — but justice would do him no good if he found the others turning against him as well as the Shaido.

Sorilea glanced at her in surprise, then turned a gaze on the chiefs around Rand's horse that should have knocked the lot of them flat. "You mistake me. He must show that mangy pack of wolves that he is the chief wolf. A chief must be harder than other men, Aes Sedai, and the Car'a'carn harder than other chiefs. Every day a few more men, and even Maidens, are taken by the bleakness, but they are the soft outer bark of the ironwood. What remains is the hard inner core, and he must be hard to lead them." Egwene noticed that she did not include herself or the other Wise Ones among those who would be led.

— TFoH, Ch. 23, "The Fifth, I Give You"
Yep, that's the same Sorilea who later famously ruminated with Cadsuane that Rand needed to learn to be strong, not hard.

I think we can agree that Cadsuane and Sorilea are onto something, that it's possible to be too hard emotionally, and this damages your judgment. What I don't get is why we think that's a male tendency.
Though I note that Sorilea thinks "the bleakness," which affects "men, and even Maidens," is caused by the opposite problem.
ftbleighjkjk
92. Wortmauer
Gawyn's age: Of course he is older than Elayne. It's a cardinal rule: the man must be noticeably older than his love interest, who in this case is Elayne's age. Exceptions are few and far between: Tallanvor + Morgase, Rand + Min, Perrin + Berelain, Mat + Tylin "Mrs. Robinson" Quintara. And maybe one or more of the Aes Sedai with teenaged Warders, like Daigian + Hopwil. And notice how often Morgase, who has slowed and might actually look younger than Tallanvor, tells herself he is "too young." Ditto Min and Rand, without the slowing.
Roger Powell
93. forkroot
wort@92
Perrin + Berelain
Gaah! Only in Berelain's mind. Mercifully that's over.
Charles Gaston
94. parrothead
forkroot@ 93

Most emphatically agree. Useless top-heavy Mayener skank.

Aludra is older than Mat, as was that maid he apparently snuggled in the Stone, and probably more...but that could probably be chalked up to, well, Mat.

Now there is that one pesky lady in white, who doesn't seem to mind that her old boyfriend is now three thousand years younger than her...
ftbleighjkjk
95. Jeff S.
Wolf king@ 65
When I saw your post I went "seriously?" but was suddenly worried and went back and read the salient parts in TEOTW and so on and found to my chagrin that all these years I had swapped Elayne and Gawyns ages in my mind.
I guess all this time I was excusing Gawyn in my mind a bit because I thought he was younger not just acting that way. Ah well, thanks for being gentle with me.

dsolo and others about Aviendha
It is a big step for someone to move from being told what to do to someone that does the telling like Sorilea. She had a line somewhere about, "In my day... and as I'm still alive, it's still my day"
She has got to be my favorite minor character. My Great Aunt Zena was a mix between her and Cadsuane. Us kids paid attention and did NOT act up in her house...
Anyway, it seemed to me that the Wise Ones were trying to break her free from her own self bindings rather than trying to break her spirit. It may not be the easy way but it is very much the Aiel way.
Alice Arneson
96. Wetlandernw
Hi, y'all! Nothing to say that hasn't already been said, so I'm just waving at everyone and getting this into my conversations list. :)

Okay, there must be something.... How's this? Count me as one of those who knew Aviendha's punishments had a different purpose than she thought, but didn't figure it out (okay, didn't even try to figure it out) until about the time she got it. IIRC. I find her chapters until that time to be rather painful to read - mostly because I recall being in jobs where I was just supposed to "figure it out" with no guidance, but knowing that if I screwed up it could be a very bad thing. I don't function well in that situation, so reading Aviendha in similar was... yeah, painful.

Gawyn... in this chapter, I couldn't decide whether I'd rather pat him on the head or smack him on the back of it for taking so long to figure out that he was in the wrong place. (Not in a story sense, but in a "you're such a goob!" sense.) As per usual, though, I can't honestly blame him a lot, given that he's been given the 'shroom for so long. I could wish he'd refused the fungus treatment and gone looking for the truth, but I can see why he didn't, too.
WOT Dragons
97. WOTNoDragons
Parrothead @ 94

How dare you sir, impugn my Lady First’s honor; sullying her spotless reputation by your baseless and malicious accusation of carnal misconduct! She is a bastion of Light-blessed virtue and chastity. I demand satisfaction! :::slaps face with gauntlet:::


---- OTOH, Naaaah - who am I kidding. ;-)

TimB @89

I’ll dip my toe in and join you in your “Five Captains” stance, in that I agree with your principle point that it’s a list of 5 living captains. I don’t know if it matters whether they are considered to be a “group” or not, but IMO it only makes sense as a living list. Also, I’m not sure I follow this “current age” argument exactly, given a previous suggestion that it was from or in “the last 50 years or so,” because I just don’t see where there is any reference for this time-fame from within the story.

I don’t have the books to hand, but a quick bit of on-line rummaging has highlighted a chapter that supports this point. In TFoH ch27: The Practice of Diffidence, Nuhel Dromand (one of Myrelle’s warders) says that Gareth Bryne is one of the five great living captains. Whilst this isn’t proof as such, I would argue that it is this sort of narrative that creates the definite impression of it being a living list. If not, then why would it be only recently? i.e. living or dead but within 50 years? If a highly respected great military leader were to be asked, “who do you think are the 5 greatest military leaders in Randland?” The first reply would be a question of qualification: “Ever? Or currently alive? The lists would both be valid, but they would be quite different; with the likes of Comadrin and Hawkwing making it on the “ever” list and Agelmar Jagad, Davram Bashere, Pedron Niall, Gareth Bryne & Rodel Ituralde getting on to the “living” list - as it is currently described. However, I can see that it’s reasonable to argue that the 5 on the “living” list might well become enshrined as “Great” for all future historians, but I don’t think that sufficient time has passed for this to potentially happen yet.

Incidentally, I wonder if they all deserve a place on this list. Personally, I’m not sure that Niall deserved his top 5 spot. ;-)
Rob Munnelly
98. RobMRobM
To reiterate/restate my five captains point upthread: when the Aiel attacked, the forces of Randland were placed in the hands of the above-named five captains who, by popular belief, were selected based on merit. It's not that there is a running list of five that will change over time but, rather, that the circumstances of the Aiel War led to five being named for that world-threatening battle. They have remained understandably preeminent since there has been no reason to change them - unless recently, they all remained in actively in charge of their respective forces and there has not been the type of Randland-wide attack that would require joint appointment of another set of a specific number of great generals to lead the collective forces. Except for anomaly of the Aiel War, great generals would be judged by reputation on an individual basis and wouldn't be limited to the specific number five.

Rob
Hugh Arai
99. HArai
WoTnoDragons@97: Niall led the Children's invasion of Altara, where he was only narrowly defeated by the combined armies of Altara,Murandy and Illian. He captured and ransomed the King of Illian for instance. As pointed out upthread he was respected as a commander during the Aiel War. He was assassinated before we saw him do much in the novels but the implications are certainly heavy that he "earned" his spot. Maybe some of them have inflated reputations but the only one of the 5 we've really seen in heavy action is Rodel Ituralde, and he lives up to the hype.
Tess Laird
100. thewindrose
Ituralde really has proved out how awesome he is.

Edit for 100 hunny!!

Also, I am looking forward to seeing a joint chiefs meeting between Mat, Bashere, and Ituralde. I would like to see Birgette included here(she is always saying she isn't a general but I disagree). As well as Byrne, Jahad, Rhuarc and Khirgan - any others?

tempest™
Nadine L.
101. travyl
I admit that the great captains are not ment for the whole age (sorry, my fault, I tried to emphasize my point and got a wrong meaning). But after all the books with several people all over Randland referring to them in the exact same wording "the five great capains" I think you don't need to change that within days of one's death. I would suggest "generation" instead of "age" - meaning the time period time since the Aiel war, and them being of approximately the same age.
I wouldn't add Mat to the list: he is of a younger generation - the actual wording "five great captains" stays for a period until another war / conflict or whatever period could rise other caracters, maybe of another number to such a high status that every Randlander would know them and refer to them. So I keep my opinion that Gawyn was right refer to 5 Captains.

@WOTnoDragons
- well written first part of your comment, at last we know your loyalties ;)
Sam Mickel
102. Samadai
Here is another little story I wrote, Hope you like it

Jain was up and moving before first light, he was almost home. For five years he had been traveling, most recently as a merchant caravans guard. They had traveled across the Aiel waste into the trade zones of Shara. Sharans, he though to himself, never has there been a more dishonest bunch of traders. He snorted.
Jain rode Jeade'en down through the Niamh pass down into Sheinar. Reaching the valley floor, he turned and rode towards the tower in the middle of the roadway. He could see the Sheinarans were readying to ride out. Jain rode up to the commander of the forces and Saluted

"Tai'shar Sheinar" he said.
"Taishar Malkier" The Commander said. "Few people come down out of that pass, save some random merchants and the occasional crazed Aiel raid."
"Well, a merchant caravan is about 15 minutes behind me, as I am sure you are aware of, I have been away from home for five years and am hungry for some news." I am Jain Charin, any news from Malkier?"

"Farstrider" The commander said, "It is an honor to meet you, I am commander Vandahr, Sema Vandahr." I have grave news for you, we were just getting ready to ride out." A Malkieran patrol just rode through here with news for the King, Malkier is under attack. Cowin Gemallan is a darkfreind and has left the passes into the blight open to attack." He is wanted by Al'akir for the treachery."
Jain, gasped in shock, but quickly assumed the void. Gemallan was his hero, well the King and him, how could he be a traitor. "What are your plans Commander Vandhar?" How can I help?"
"I was going to lead half my men into Malkier to offer what help we can, but now that you are here, I believe I can keep honor and guard the pass against attack, and if you would accept, these men could ride with you under your command." Jain had led men in battle before and quickly agreed. "This is Garl Someshta, my second in command. Garl, you lead the men north with Jain, he is in command, follow his lead." Garl looks at Jain and salutes. "your orders?"
"Lets make for Tarwins gap, if there is a breach there then all the borderlands are in trouble." Jain turned Jeade'en and and started north at a brisk walk, the hundred Sheinaran troops riding at his back.

It was the second day after leaving the watchpost that one of his scouts came back and told of a small army of trollocs and two fades ahead in the woods. "There are three, maybe three hundred and fifty trollocs and two myrdraal, along with several men, a woman and a child just ahead. Looks like they are set up to ambush someone following from Malkier." Jain listened to the scout explain about the terrain of the area and formulated a plan. "We will wait here for whoever they are expecting, and ambush them as they prepare to ambush. Vandhar send a couple of men to warn any who might be coming to the gap."
It was a couple hours later when one of the scouts came back with word of a Malkier patrol heading for the pass. They were fifty strong and were ready to help break the ambush. As the Malkieri rode into the divide, the trollocs leapt from cover to attack. the Malkieri scrambled for a moment as if in confusion then lowered their lances and charged.

Jain signaled the Sheinarans and they charged out of their concealment towards the back of the enemy. As he crested the rise he saw the Malkieri were holding up well, though many had abandoned their lances and were swinging swords. Jaim and his men crashed into the back ranks of trollocs and rode ride through them. As he turned to ride back into the fray, he noticed a Fade take out one of his men. He kicked Jeade'en into a gallop and through the fear drove his lance right through the myrdraals back, pinning it to the ground. Pulling his sword he laid about him hacking at any trolloc that came within reach. He looked around for more, but noticing none standing he dismounted and wiped his sword clean on a wolf-headed trollocs clothes.

Jaim sheathed his sword and asked, "Were the humans with them killed or did they get away?" " I saw the trolllocs carrying the women and child away, but all but one of the men was killed." Sema said, as he glanced around. Noting two of his men coming with a struggling man between them. He was tied up, hands behind his back, but he was making every effort to escape. Jaim looked at his boyhood hero in dismay, he hoped it was just a rumor, but catching Cowin here with trollocs and a Fade was too much.
"TRAITOR" he yelled. Moving up to him he struck him across the face. "We will take him to the Seven towers so he can know justice, though he deserves none." "Lets Give our fallen the last embrace of the mother and then we will see to the traitor."
Roger Powell
104. forkroot
Sam@102
Thanks - always enjoy your stories.

Maybe the next WOT sticker should be: "Jain Farstrider was Here"
Sam Mickel
105. Samadai
sweetliflower,
Forkroot,
thanks. I enjoy writing them.
That is a good idea, I like it.
Thomas Keith
106. insectoid
Sam @102: Very nice! Jain is cool. ;)

Bzzz™.
Tess Laird
107. thewindrose
Thanks for the story Samadai!

I hope Lan is able to hear about Jain's 'adventures' with Mat! Since Mat now writes back stories - will he follow suit and write the Adventures of Mat Game Changer?

tempest™
ftbleighjkjk
108. ISCOT
Have to say, I agree wholeheartedly with ClintACK @21 re: Gawyn being compelled by a peddler, Mil Tesen, who just "coincidentally" happens to turn up to pass on the rumor that Rand killed both Morgase and Elayne ...

It seems too neat otherwise - and we've already had an example of Compulsion used on his mother, and how it can cause massively irrational behavior ...

Just my 0.02c

International Secret Conspiracy for the Oppression of Teddybears aka ISCOT
Alice Arneson
109. Wetlandernw
@several, from RJ's blog, 10 December 2005:
Mil Tesen was really just a peddler who happened to be in the right place to pass on news of Morgase’s supposed death to Gawyn. Not everyone is somebody other than who they seem, you know.
Elijah Foster
110. TheWolfKing
@109. Wetlandernw

I like it how you remember this off the top of your head. Well either that or you are really dedicated and are willing to put in the time to find it on the web. I really appreciate it, and I thank you.
Alice Arneson
111. Wetlandernw
TheWolfKing @110 - You're welcome! I've read a lot of the interviews, and all of RJ's blog several times. Once I've read it, I tend to remember it's there. Then it's just a matter of going to Terez's interview database on Theoryland to find the exact text, copy and paste.

It's nice to have this stuff, though; RJ was gracious to give us so much good stuff to work with. I particularly appreciate his blog, because he chose what questions to answer and what to discuss there. (As opposed to signings, where he was more or less stuck with the questions the fans asked.) So... when he gives us a straight comment like "Mil Tesen was really just a peddler" I have no reason to doubt it. This in itself doesn't prove that Gawyn wasn't Compelled, but it does prove that it wasn't done by the peddler. FWIW, I don't think Gawyn was Compelled; I think he had plenty of reasons for behaving the way he did, lousy though some of his reasoning was. As annoying as his resulting actions were, if you could crawl inside his head you'd find adequate justification for his choices without need to resort to Compulsion.
D R
113. Ouroboros
It's hardly surprising Gawyn finds it difficult to make decisions. Consider his childhood.

Gawyn hunched over, breathing heavily. It had been a good run, although he wished he could run in an open field once in a while, instead of just retracing his path around the palace grounds. Sweat slicked his body. He badly needed a bath.

He tossed the towel back to the serving man who stood patiently waiting nearby. "Have a bath drawn," he told the fellow, and trotted off inside.

He felt his heart slow as he made his way through the palace, oblivious to the hung tapestries and delicate porcelain vases standing in alcoves down the sides of the corridors; his mind was elsewhere.

He found his mother in her sitting room. Gareth Bryne, the Captain General, was there also, the gold knots of rank standing out against the shoulders of his red-and-white uniform. For some reason, Lini, who Gawyn thought had been nurse to every Trakand since the Age of Legends, was there too.

"Mother," he said, kneeling with his right fist to the floor and left hand to the hilt of his dagger. "I intend taking a bath, and wondered if I should use one of the scented soaps."

"Sometimes," his mother said, "the smell of an unwashed man can put your enemies off guard."

Enemies? What was she talking about? The Lion throne had been secure for years. And why should how he smelt be significant? It was most likely some deep strategy in the Great Game. He wished, or once, that everything didn't always come back to that.

Lini looked at Gawyn with that practical, non-nonsense look he had known since birth. "A pig is a pig, no matter how he smells."

Gawyn stiffened. Was she calling him a pig? Or did she too mean that perfume was an extravagance he could do without today. No. That was just Lini. She would never give advice simply. The meaning of her words was there somewhere; he just needed to reason it out.

"Clean is clean," Gareth said, shrugging and looking as though the matter was of no importance to him. It probably wasn't, Gawyn realised. It wasn't that the man was unclean, far from it, he was always clean. It was just that perfumes weren't the kind of things a General and Great Captain to boot spent much time dwelling on.

Catching the sound of footsteps, Gawyn turned to see Galad and Elayne entering the sitting room.

"Mother," they both said, Elayne spreading her skirts and dropping into a curtsy, Galad kneeling in the proper fashion.

Elayne made to rise but froze on catching sight of their mother's raised eyebrow. The courtesies must be maintained at all times, even here. Morgase Trakand, Queen of Andor, waited until the moment set itself and then, with a slight nod of the head, gave them leave to rise.

"Is my brother talking of fragrances again?" Elayne said, an impish smile spreading across her face.

"Such things are indulgence and not necessary," Galad said, his face a solemn mask. He looked ridiculous; like a fifteen-year-old magistrate.

"Oh hush," Elayne said. "I think you should use a fragrance. But be sure and use the Morning Glory sent. You know that makes you smell delightful. And I've heard that Sylvase Caeren is especially fond of the smell."

Gawyn tried not to groan. Why could Elayne never take anything seriously? And why could he not have a normal family, instead of one in which every sentence was seen as an opportunity to teach lessons, set riddles or make jokes. How he longed to go to Tar Valon and train with the Warders. Tar Valon was the centre of the world, they said, and ruled by the Aes Sedai. The Aes Sedai were wise beyond wisdom. Tar Valon had to be better than this!
Captain Hammer
114. Randalator
re: Niall's spot in the Top 5

In addition to Niall's merits HArai already mentioned, he also once stopped an invasion by Illian forces by setting part of his forces to guard mountains that were universally considered "impassable" (LoC, ch. 31). Turned out they weren't...
Thomas Keith
115. insectoid
Ouroboros @113: LOL!! Figures that Elayne doesn't take anything seriously.

Someone ought to organize a fiction-fiction contest with you and Samadai and whoever else writes fiction-fiction around here (drawing a blank)... That would be awesome.

edit: ...but then it would start to look like the TSR Re-read #10 monster thread. :P

Bzzz™.
Scientist, Father
116. Silvertip
@tnh:

Sorry for the confusion, seems like it's been cleared up. But boy, if you thought it was difficult to see the point of that little story, you should sit in on one of my Biochemistry lectures. Or maybe just pity my poor students ...

S
Elijah Foster
117. TheWolfKing
@115. insectoid

We should have ZEXXES do his boxing announcer thing like he did for Rand vs. Gawyn at the end of his number 67 post. Only it should be Samadai vs. Ouroboros.
Cameron Tucker
118. Loialson
Hmm, it would be nice if all the notes and inworld storyarcs that will never be published (it seems so far), were to be released by Harriet. Then we could sit and tell each other stories that were meant to happen, but never will shine in the light since the death of the Creator. Then we could compare and show our skills, or at least have some fun with our favorite people in WoT world.
Roger Powell
119. forkroot
Loialson@118
I believe there are plans to release an WoT "encyclopedia" with Maria from Team Jordan as the lead editor that would have a lot of the material that you are talking about. Obviously, this would be after AMoL comes out.

Something like that would be very useful for answering questions like: who sent the Draghkar after Moiraine when she was visiting Adeleas and Vandene (and warded it from detection?) It's very unlikely we'll find out in AMoL as many of the possible perpetrators are now either dead or unlikely to have another POV (such as Liandrin.)

Bear in mind though, that RJ also specified that certain questions were deliberately left unresolved - if that's the case, we may not get the answers in the encyclopedia (or whatever they call it.)
ftbleighjkjk
121. macster
@91 Wortmauer: I can see why you are bothered by the way Wise Ones do things, but I don't think they were teaching Aviendha to reject authority per se, but rather to realize they specifically didn't have authority over her, thus proving she was one of them since no one in Aiel society has more authority than Wise Ones (not even clan chiefs) and they are all of equal rank with each other. So they weren't telling her "to lead you have to reject the idea of anybody being worthy of leading" but "to lead you have to reject the idea of anybody having more authority than you". Granted, still not a very egalitarian idea, but I can see their point: in order to accept responsibility for leading others, you can't allow your authority to be second-guessed by others or yourself. So it's less "I'm so awesome I don't need to do what others tell me" and more "if I don't believe in my own merits enough to know when to stand up to others and say they are wrong in how they lead me, how can I lead anybody else?" By standing up to the other Wise Ones, she wasn't saying she rejected all authority, but that she rejected their ability to specifically tell her what to do because she wasn't an apprentice anymore.

On bending vs. breaking: I believe that came about because of Leigh's commenting on the bending/breaking trees and how it reminded her of the fighting saidin/surrendering to saidar dichotomy. Glyph pointed out (and I agree) that in agreeing about the difference between hardness and strength, but still being annoyed about the fight/surrender thing, Leigh may have been missing the parallels. That since fighting saidin suggests being hard while surrendering to saidar requires a different kind of strength that comes from accepting your limitations, the gender differences in using the Power seem to be implying the same hardness/strength divide.

I am not sure what Leigh or Glyph think on the matter, but I was suggesting that because of this similarity, it doesn't feel right to me to reject the fight/surrender thing as being another example of unfair gender inequalities when it is more that the very nature of the Power requires men to fight and women to surrender, something which some people (both in and out of story) can erroneously take to mean men are strong and women are weak when it's really about different kinds of strength and different ways of thinking. As an example of what I mean, I think it's Egwene who thought about how trying to fight saidar was like fighting against a raging river which only calmed when you surrendered; the key is, anyone would have the instinct to fight against something which was trying to drown you. To stop fighting, to trust that if you relax all will calm and you'll be safe...that takes strength too, just a different kind. Look at Nynaeve, who had a block against surrendering and who also had a difficult time with linking at first since it required her to give control to somebody else--she too had to learn that giving up control was not a sign of weakness, thanks to her having to fight so much to be taken seriously as a very young Wisdom and later Aes Sedai.

On Sorilea's comment: yes, that is an odd statement for her to make compared to her talk with Cadsuane later, and one some people take as proof of her Shadow loyalty. But in Sorilea's defense, not only could she have changed her mind when she later saw Rand becoming too hard, in the part you quoted she didn't say Rand had to be so hard he would never bend, nor did she even say that he had to be the hardest it was possible to be, just that he needed to be hard, and harder than other clan chiefs. His determination to be the hardest it was possible to be could still have come across to her as going too far, something that needed to be stopped, especially once she later saw what his hardness was doing to him and his allies.

@102 Samadai: Awesome work, as usual. I have to say though, when I first read there was a group of Malkieri including a woman and child, for some reason my mind first jumped to Lan and his mother. (I don't know why, seeing as his parents sent him off with Bukama and co., there were no women in his escort as far as I can recall.) Instead we get the capture of Cowin, and hi Isam! :P

@107 thewindrose: I rather hope that myself. The fact Jain told Mat to say he died clean if he ever met a Malkieri certainly seems like foreshadowing. If Mat, Thom, and Moiraine can make it to the Field of Merrilor and from there to Tarwin's Gap, hopefully he can get to tell Lan...even if it is as Lan is dying or something. :(

@113 Ouroboros: LOL!!! What's really great there is how well you show everyone's personalities, especially Elayne and Galad's, even as you create a completely ridiculous scenario we'd never see in WOT.
ftbleighjkjk
122. Wortmauer
I don't do wall-o-text warnings, as I figure that's implicit in my choice of handle. But I guess I should give a rambling incoherency warning. I am not at all sure anything I say below actually hangs together.
macster@121: it is more that the very nature of the Power requires men to fight and women to surrender, something which some people (both in and out of story) can erroneously take to mean men are strong and women are weak when it's really about different kinds of strength and different ways of thinking.
I still don't see it. Repeating my question: "Where did we get this idea that the personality traits of hardness and flexibility are gender-linked in Randland? I don't remember seeing any evidence of this." I still don't. As for characters assuming that these things are sex-linked traits, , please. But even if anyone can find a cite, well, people in Randland assume all sorts of absurd sex-linked traits, like how Nynaeve thinks that "Everyone knew that a man did not achieve his proper wits, such as they were, until ten years later than a woman." (ACoS, Ch. 21, "Swovan Night") Why would the reader latch onto this particular assumption and think there's any in-world truth to it?
And, by the way, when you assume, it does not make an ass out of me, only out of you. Anyone who says otherwise is too caught up in the pun to think about whether it makes any sense.
There's of course also the matter of definition. Does hard mean tough in a survivalist sense? Aveindha and other Aiel often fear they're becoming soft away from the Three-Fold Land; I think they mean like Spartan warriors: ability to run their ultramarathons faster than a horse and with no water stops, leap tall buildings in a single bound, etc. But when Sorilea tells Egwene that Rand has to be harder than a clan chief, and the chiefs have to be harder than the rest of the Aiel, that's something different. I think she means emotional detachment, the ability to not let anyone thwart or manipulate you via your emotions.

Or is there a third definition? Here is something that has confused me for years: Sorilea's statement to Cadsuane that "Strong endures; hard shatters." (TPoD, Ch. 12, "New Alliances") I honestly have no idea what she means. To me, it sounds like a strained analogy from the physical world, one of those things that seems profound only until you stop to think about it. The context is, of course, that Rand is allegedly becoming too emotionally detached, running a risk of breaking the Aiel more than he has to, or becoming a despot after Tarmon Gai'don, or ... Cadsuane isn't too clear about her worst-case scenario, but it is somehow Pyrrhic. But neither Sorilea nor Cadsuane explain how he would "shatter." And indeed, while Rand will go to some very dark places in TGS, have we ever seen him "shatter"? If so, I guess I didn't recognise it. So this third definition of "hard," which somehow makes you shatter instead of enduring, is one I've never understood.

Can anyone enlighten me here? What did Sorilea mean? Was it profound after all, or just something that sounded profound enough to impress Cadsuane for those crucial moments? (Whatever else they're doing in that scene, they are definitely trying to impress each other.)
Also, what did Mae West mean when she allegedly said "A hard man is good to find"? (:
By the way, I interpret Sorilea's two different views of how hard Rand should be as, at least partly, a "be careful what you wish for" situation. Much like Nynaeve wishing the Kin would grow backbones.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
123. ZEXXES
Wortmauer, you know exactly who Has shattered. He is dead and alive and somewhat well, chill'n in Rands head.

Did Rand almost shatter? IMO, he most certainly almost shattered. But he got lucky and his fall wasn't as far as Moridin thought it was.

Hard.

Hard is the sound of granite after you break your knuckle punching it, missing the fellow who was supposed to receive the blow. And then punching the very same fellow with the very same broken knuckled hand... And smiling afterwards.

Hard is ordering a platoon to scout out the 2nd rise of the foothills of a mountain range, when its only approach leaves your men open to sustained artillary fire, simply because you need to know if there Is any artillary.

Hard is letting a murderous pig rape you, so he can be close enough to slide your 6 inch long hair pin into his cerebelum while he nibbles on your ear.

I can imagine a thousand instances of hard. Stop being silly and recognize that so could you.

Strong in this case is mainly endurance. You know things that bend, can shatter also. Steel does. It just depends on how much pressure is applied and how fast. In Rands case if he existed in the real world he would be simultaneosly the hardest and strongest human being I know.

His strength is proven by his understanding that he must endure. Must. There aren't any second chances for any of them, but upon his shoulders will the weight be laid if he makes that one mistake. And he has made plenty of mistakes, he just hasn't made That One... mistake. He must endure everything. All that the wheel weaves at him he must endure. Without hope of ceasing, even at the end. All he knows, all he thinks he has to know, is make it to Shayol Gul. Defeat the dark one. Then die.

He asks for no quarter. He rarely asks for help. If someone offers he, uses them until they're no longer useful. He even thanks you as he's discarding you. But if he could get away with doing it on his own he'd lose everyone he could. They wouldn't even know he was gone till he was done.
ftbleighjkjk
124. alreadymadwithcaptains
On the Great Captains:
If you check ideal seek, you won't find any references to "five great captains". It's always just great captain or great captains. The five is an affectation from somewhere else.

This clearly means that the number is not a part of the distinction like some sort of dream team or mythical five. Over the various small and large conflicts of the past few decades a number of warleaders have managed to distinguished themselves to be judged as great captains. That they number five just happens to be coincidence.

On hard vs. strong:
Errr.. I agree there must be a difference somewhere. Probably because hard things also happen to be brittle, which I suspect to be the point of Cadsuane's comparison. Perhaps she means that strength encompasses other characteristics like flexibility rather than just simple hardness?
Not that she ever simply clarifies. Light forbid that an Aes Sedai speak plainly.
Anthony Pero
125. anthonypero
Iron is "hard". Steel is "strong". Steel has been tempered, proved maleable. Iron swords that haven't been tempered into steel tend to break on the battle field. To understand what Sorilea and Cads are saying, think iron and steel.
ftbleighjkjk
126. Wortmauer
ZEXXES@123: I can imagine a thousand instances of hard. Stop being silly and recognize that so could you.
So, I say "I don't understand this metaphor in general, and in particular I don't understand what Sorilea means by the word 'hard', since it has been used in series to mean various different things" and your response is "There's a thousand ways to illustrate the word 'hard' and you know it." Do you see why that response isn't all that helpful? I wasn't having trouble imagining different ways to illustrate the word. I was wondering what Sorilea meant. How does a hard person "shatter"? Is shattering, whatever that means, something a clan chief risks when he becomes hard enough to lead a hard people, or is hard-like-a-clan-chief a different meaning of the word?

Also, comparisons such as "hard like granite" don't illuminate the question at all. That metaphor is no easier to interpret than Sorilea's.
alreadymad@124: Errr.. I agree there must be a difference somewhere. Probably because hard things also happen to be brittle, which I suspect to be the point of Cadsuane's comparison.
Sorilea's comparison, you mean, but sure ... but brittle how? She seems to be saying two different things in this scene:

· Rand is at risk of "shattering" rather than "enduring"
· The Aiel are at risk that Rand will use them as a tool, with too little concern for their corporate well-being, since he isn't invested in them emotionally

What I can't figure out is how those two things are related. If they are. It seems to me that if Rand uses the Aiel in the way Sorilea fears, it's not because he has "shattered" at all, but because he is still "hard." Hence my ungenerous supposition that Sorilea's "hard vs. strong" soundbite isn't actually profound at all, but only sounds profound long enough to impress Cadsuane.

macster@121: By standing up to the other Wise Ones, she wasn't saying she rejected all authority, but that she rejected their ability to specifically tell her what to do because she wasn't an apprentice anymore.
Yeah, sorry I wasn't clear. Obviously the Wise Ones do not reject all authority. What they reject is anyone having any authority over them. They're definitely in favor of telling other people what to do! They just think they shouldn't have to be answerable to anybody, ever. An idea I'm just a little too post-Enlightenment Western to get behind.
Bill Reamy
127. BillinHI
alreadymad @ 124: Actually, there is one direct reference to five Great Captains in TGS, Chapter 4, Nightfall, when Gawyn decides not to attack a group of Bryne's soldiers at a village outside Tar Valon. Likewise, five names are usually given when discussing all the great captains.
Hugh Arai
128. HArai
wortmauer@126:
Yeah, sorry I wasn't clear. Obviously the Wise Ones do not reject all authority. What they reject is anyone having any authority over them. They're definitely in favor of telling other people what to do! They just think they shouldn't have to be answerable to anybody, ever. An idea I'm just a little too post-Enlightenment Western to get behind.
I don't think that's the distinction really. The point is not that Aviendha shouldn't obey authority. The point is that she shouldn't obey authority blindly. Note that they don't keep giving her orders and punishments that make sense to anyone, they deliberately invent the silliest things they can come up with, until she realizes that a stupid idea from your "superior" is still a stupid idea and says so. This is very different from "don't answer to anyone".

If the senior Wise One tells you to do something you honestly consider pointless,stupid and unfair and you do it solely because they're the senior Wise One, then you are not worthy leadership material and you should not be treated as such. You are behaving as an unthinking drone or in a simply spineless manner. What possible good could you do as part of the leadership group?
Alice Arneson
129. Wetlandernw
HArai @128 - Well said!!

Wortmauer @126 – Oh, but the Wise Ones are answerable to authority. The individual is answerable (which is slightly but significantly different than subject) to the authority of the Wise Ones as a group. An individual is also answerable to those who stand more highly among the group than she herself, but even the one who stands highest, by virtue of respect, is still answerable to the group as a whole. And as a whole, the Wise Ones are subject to the needs of the Aiel as a whole. (IIRC, the only example of a WO who declared herself to be higher in authority than the other WOs is Sevanna – and that, even she claimed only by virtue of “speaking for the clan chief” as his widow along with being a Wise One.) The Wise Ones stand in authority over everyone else in the Aiel nation, but they only have that authority because they are responsible for the preservation of the people as a whole. (I won’t get started on the “responsibility without authority” issue, much less the “authority without responsibility” problem we see far too often IRL.)

@ several re: “strong vs. hard” When using analogies, especially in literature, it’s easy to forget that all analogies break down if you try to push them too far. Clearly both Sorilea and Cadsuane understood what they meant with this analogy at the time; clearly, both were concerned that he was going the wrong way about preparing himself (and the world) for the Last Battle. They were concerned that he would either lose it completely before he ever got there, or that he would make himself into a person that would be more useful to the Dark than the Light, and that either way the outcome would be bad for everyone. “Hard” and “strong” are simply useful shorthand for the problem they saw and hoped to solve. And I’m not going anywhere near Mae West.

@ several re: “The Five Great Captains” – Here’s the origin for you:
“There do be few great captains living.” Nuhel marked them off on gauntleted fingers. “Agelmar Jagad and Davram Bashere will no leave the Blight, I think, and Pedron Niall will surely no be of use to you. If Rodel Ituralde do be alive, he do be mired somewhere in what do remain of Arad Doman.” He raised his thick thumb. And that do leave Gareth Bryne.”
The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 27, “The Practice of Diffidence” Myrelle’s Warder Nuhel Dromand speaking to the Salidar Six.

So there you have it. Those five men, and only they, were considered the definition of Great Captains at that point in time, not because there’s any requirement to have a list of Five Great Captains all the time, but because those particular men had earned the reputation of being great captains beyond all others. This is not an historical issue; in this particular case, he’s talking about the men who might be competent to lead an army against Elaida, which obviously requires that they be currently alive as well as being great captains. There just happen to be five of them, and clearly they had each earned the reputation. If you went looking, I’m pretty sure you’d find that all the references to great captains are simply talking about those men (now living, or at least living in recent memory) who had proven their outstanding leadership skills in battle. I’m sure once things start happening and more of the world sees his skill, Mat will be recognized as a great captain as well; at the moment, there are only four living men who have that reputation.
ftbleighjkjk
130. alreadymadwithhardstrong
BillinHI @127
Did you by chance copy that exactly from some ebook? Because the way you have "Great Captains" capitalized and five in lower case kinda proves my point. Don't have my books on hand, but I maintain the number is an accident of five having distinguished themselves sufficiently to be considered great captains.

On hard vs. strong:
Ok, I'm not sure who made the comparison, but it's obvious Sorilea and Cadsuane somehow agree without a prior definition of terms. On the other hand, Sorilea also maintains Rand must be harder than the common chiefs, which I think means that as far as comparing to the chiefs go, the preferable aspect of strength to use(above others) is hard. Sigh. Wise Ones are almost as bad as Aes Sedai.
Alice Arneson
131. Wetlandernw
amw @130 - as near as I can tell, the capitalized version Great Captains only appears in TGS, where it shows up twice.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
132. ZEXXES
126. Wortmauer

"Hard like granite" wasn't the point of that example. It was experiencing the sound of the impassivity of granite. It was the experience of breaking your knuckle and using the same broken hand to punch somebody. It was the experience of smiling afterwards knowing that your opponant see's this and knows themselves that no injury dealt will stop you. Only a hard man would do this.

The point is, Hard has no clear definition when it comes to mental capacity. It is a state of being. You either are or you aren't. And it's not an absolute. One moment, you can be hard enough to endure any mental or physical blow. The next, you shatter like glass at the moment of despair at being unable to save the one you love.

Rand would have shattered if he had killed Min during those moments with Semirhage. But he didn't; he had an out, albiet given to him by Moridin. As terrible as that out was, it was still an out and he took it. Which shows you how far he is willing to go to not lose her; to not have to face that horror. In hindsight Moridin should have let him watch her die by his own hand. It doesn't matter that he was forced. The image of the experience would linger with him for the rest of his life and would've been enough to turn him, I think. But we'll never know now.

What we do know is that at this point Rand is Hard beyond humanity. His thinking is erroneous at best. He is despairing slowly but surely and he feels that feeling despair is a weakness he can't afford. And he's right. But how he has chosen to deal with it; by hardening himself to his own as well as others pain, is where he err's. He finds his way later, but it takes the moment of brittle weakness to figure it out.
ftbleighjkjk
133. alreadymadwithcapitalcapt
Wetlandernw @131
Don't really have the book with me, and even if I did it would be a pain to search. In any case, I'm thinking it will only have "Great Captains" capitalized but "five" will be in lower case. Meaning it's not part of the title, as in say, "Fab Four", or "Fantastic Four", or "Seven Samurai".
Alice Arneson
134. Wetlandernw
Oops. Missed that point. Quite correct - it reads "one of the five Great Captains" in one spot, and "some of the Great Captains" in the other. So: the number is definitely not part of the title. But from what I could find - not an exhaustive search - there isn't any other place from TEotW to ToM where even that much is capitalized. They're just those few acknowledged as not only good, but truly great, captains.

FWIW, when I capitalized GC in my earlier post, it was intended to provide emphasis that "these are the great ones" and "the rest are anywhere from pathetic to competent, but they just don't measure up to these guys." The capitalized FGC was suppose to be The Title of a List, which I then said simply doesn't exist. I think this is getting to convoluted for my increasingly sleepy brain.... :)

Anyway, you and I are in agreement, I think.
T C
135. Freelancer
AMW @124

After doing the research, and typing it out, I eventually read Wetlandernw @129 and found that she scooped me yet again. Along with Nuhel ticking off those five names in one place, each of them, and NO OTHERS are identified as such at various places throughout the text, so I posit that the concept of there being, at the reader's entry point to the story, no more nor less than five great captains acknowledged in the land, is fact, not speculation.


RE: Aviendha's treatment

I have no problem with the Wise Ones method. There are some life transitions which simply don't happen except "through the crucible". They cannot be granted in an antiseptic manner, cannot be explained in an academic setting. Were the other Wise Ones to say to Aviendha, "We believe you've proven yourself, you are now accounted a Wise One", Aviendha herself would have then gone through a long and difficult time of self-doubt, wondering if she had simply "acted the part" well enough to fool the others, while still being uncertain she was truly worthy. It was necessary for her to first decide for herself that she was adequate to the title, and then to declare to her sister Wise Ones that she was no longer their apprentice. And, since the Aiel are, at least in part, drawn from native American societies, transitions are accomplished through trials of passage.
Rob Munnelly
136. RobMRobM
I made the point in a previous post but the five Great Captains were those assigned to co-lead the Randland forces against the Aiel. That's why there is no (apparent) dispute over who qualifies and it is treated as fact (as Free posits). That's not to say that if Randland decided to act as a unit now, and needed to appoint military leadership for the joint defense of their known world, they would make precisely the same choices (even if Niall remained alive).

Rob
John Massey
137. subwoofer
hard vs. strong... hmmm cut to cheesy 70s disco music. heh.

Anways, Rand has been compared to a messiah like figure. Jesus, king of kings was a carpenter and a humble man. Rand... a sheperd, but has yet to remember humility-
"And he sat down, and called the twelve, and said unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all."- Mark 9:35

Also Phillippians 2:5-11, but I don't want to make this a Bible study, mearly to point out that right now Rand is lashing out and trying to bend everything to his will instead of accepting and adjusting. After Rand went up on the mountain and talked to God, he seems to understand the suffering and death and take it upon himself, i.e. him appologizing to Rodel and admitting he should have been there sooner, or Rand in Bandar Eban taking much of the blame for starvation and disarray in the city.

Woof™.
ftbleighjkjk
138. macster
@122 Wortmauer

Sorry, I misspoke. I did not mean to say any characters do think that the hardness/strength thing is gender-linked. What I was trying to say was expressing a possible explanation as to why Leigh could be okay with hardness/strength being a gendered point in WOT, but (as Glyph pointed out) not be okay about saidin/saidar being a fight/surrender thing. Here is what Leigh said:

"Hardness vs. strength is a comparison that crops up over and over again concerning Rand, and in Jordan’s worldview (one which is continued via Brandon) it is no accident that it is continually the female characters who bring this issue up. (Though that is not an absolute; if I recall correctly Bashere also said something similar about Rand at some point.) This is one of the gendered points he made that I do actually agree with, conditionally.

I tend to be very leery of endorsing sweeping generalizations about either gender in terms of personality traits applied across the board, but nevertheless I do feel there is a certain germ of truth in the contention that men and women (in Western society, anyway) are… encouraged, shall we say, to have different approaches as to what constitutes 'strength.'"

And here is what Glyph said:

"That distinction seems to be at the heart of WoT's gender politics, written right into the fabric of the world as the yin/yang duality of the One Power (literally - even down to the use of the taijitu to represent the ancient Aes Sedai). So, the female Aes Sedai must bend with the flow of saidar in order to direct it; but the male must stand fast against the torrent of saidin or be destroyed by it.

If I'm reading your post here correctly, you tentatively agree that there is a rough split between the genders in those approaches to strength (though I'm leaving the nature/nurture aspect way over here for now). OTOH I recall you commenting angrily on the 'men dominate, women submit' approach to the One Power in previous posts. I was wondering where your lines lie between those two points, and how much overlap you see between them?"

It was Glyph who suggested that the two approaches to strength were related to the "men dominate/women submit" dichotomy, but this was in response to Leigh calling the distinction a "gendered point" and (I think) the fact she pointed out it was women (aside from Bashere) continually bringing the distinction up. Glyph wasn't saying (and neither was I) that there is any evidence in the series that characters see hardness/strength as a gendered thing. Glyph was saying that Leigh seemed to think it was a gendered thing (because women kept bringing it up about Rand), and then went on to speculate what this point of hers meant IRT her feelings on saidin/saidar. I.e., it seemed odd to say she's okay with Rand thinking he had to be hard and women telling him he just needed to be strong, while still saying it raises her hackles to have men have to fight saidin and women surrender to saidar.

I then went on to suggest that perhaps the reason Leigh sees these two things differently is because she thinks people in WOT or (more likely) people IRL will look at the ways of controlling saidin/saidar and say "Ah that proves men are strong and women are weak". What I (and I think Glyph) was trying to hint at was that thinking this, while having no problem with Rand thinking he has to be hard while women tell him he just needs to be strong, is a bit...contradictory. Because she is bothered by the fact people could look at saidin and saidar and decide men are strong and women are weak, while at the same time agreeing that men think the only way to solve things is with force, and this is wrong, so therefore the women are right to tell Rand he shouldn't be hard. As Leigh said herself, she usually doesn't agree with generalizations, particulary gender-related ones, yet here she was doing so.

Glyph was asking Leigh (and I am curious myself) if her deciding that this form of gender generalization is correct would have any bearing on how she feels about the means of controlling saidin and saidar. Because if Leigh can agree that "men think the only way to win is through force/muscle/violence", and the women in the series see strength differently and are right both in their view of it and in telling Rand his view is wrong, then why does she view the means of controlling saidin and saidar as worthy of vitriol? She agrees men think the only way to win is through force...but that sounds a lot like fighting saidin. And women view strength differently, that sometimes the way to be strong and win is to bend, to yield...but that sounds like surrendering to saidar.

So if she thinks these opposing views of strength which have been encouraged in men and women are accurate (note: not correct), why is she so upset by the means of controlling saidin and saidar, which appear to reflect these exact views of strength? Not to mention that if it is wrong for Rand to be hard (I think whatever definition we give that, we can all agree this is the case) and the women are right to tell him he just needs to be strong, and if strength can be like the willow that bends but does not break, how is this showing weakness? And if that sort of strength, the strength which comes from knowing when to surrender, is a good thing as Leigh says, then what is bad about having to surrender to saidar when that gives the same exact lesson?

Note I am not saying (and I don't think Glyph was either) that Leigh is wrong or a hypocrite. Just that it seems odd she hasn't noticed the parallels between these two lines of thought. Not that people are actually assuming, in WOT or IRL, that the two views of strength are sex-related, but that Leigh seemed to be saying this was the case (through her point about how men and women are 'encouraged' to view it in opposing ways). And I am wondering why Leigh thinks this (and for the record I think, unfortunately, we are indeed encouraged to have these divergent views) yet doesn't like the saidin/saidar dichotomy--is it because she thinks the latter will make readers think men are strong and women are weak, something they are already encouraged to think by society?

If so, I direct her attention to Glyph's point: that the dichotomy isn't any different from hardness being a "male thing" and bending being a "female thing", something she actually agreed was true. So by agreeing with the generalization she's actually agreeing the saidin/saidar dichotomy isn't teaching men are strong and women are weak: it's teaching the same thing she agreed with, that men believe they need to be hard, or a weapon (because they are taught this by saidin) while women have learned (through surrendering to saidar) that not only can you often win by yielding, it isn't weakness at all to do so.

So while I can see why on the surface the fight/surrender thing seems like gender stereotypes, I think it is actually the opposite--Jordan wrote saidin and saidar the way he did to underscore what society teaches us from birth (i.e, the means of controlling them reflects what we learn from society in the real world), then had Rand fall into the hardness trap and the women tell him he was wrong and just needed to be strong as a way of critiquing the very mindset which Leigh, it seems, believes the saidin/saidar dichotomy encourages. She should indeed be bothered by it, but for the same reason she's bothered by society teaching men to use force and women not to, and its presence in WOT is not reinforcing a gender stereotype but merely reflecting one--one which is, through the hardness/strength divide, eventually undermined. All of this, of course, preparing Rand to work with women in order to defeat the Dark One, and for him to realize that while he cannot use the women's method to channel, he can use it in his overall strategy and mindset, and that doing so is how he can win. In which case it is absolutely critical that saidin/saidar be written as they were, and not an icky gender stereotype Jordan shouldn't have used.

...and I ended up rambling too, and repeating myself as well. Anyway though, to answer your original question, it is from Leigh's commentary, and Glyph's post, that this notion came from.

Also, to both you and alreadymad, whatever the distinction actually is between hardness and strength in Sorilea's mind, or what she thinks the hardness of a clan chief is compared to what Rand is doing, I think one thing is clear: unless you believe she is a Darkfriend and therefore was initially trying to encourage Rand to be hard and only changed her tune later for Cadsuane's benefit, she must have either changed her mind about it being right and necessary, or Rand somehow went beyond whatever her definition is, and that is why she says something different later to Cadsuane.

I also believe HArai gave the best explanation for what the Wise Ones are trying to teach Aviendha with their punishments, and Wetlander is right about them not actually being beyond any other authority. (They are beyond any other authority among the Aiel, but not beyond each other; I said that wrong.) That is what I was getting at when I spoke of "if I don't believe in my own merits enough to know when to stand up to others and say they are wrong in how they lead me, how can I lead anybody else?" By rejecting the punishments, Aviendha was refusing to accept that she should follow the Wise Ones just because they were Wise Ones--and that proved she was one, since all Wise Ones must be accountable to each other, and her rejection of their punishments was in fact a form of holding them accountable.
ftbleighjkjk
139. Wortmauer
HArai@128: The point is not that Aviendha shouldn't obey authority. The point is that she shouldn't obey authority blindly. Note that they don't keep giving her orders and punishments that make sense to anyone, they deliberately invent the silliest things they can come up with, until she realizes that a stupid idea from your "superior" is still a stupid idea and says so. This is very different from "don't answer to anyone".
I see no practical distinction. If you are supposed to do what someone says, but only if you are convinced that it makes sense, then it's not really submitting to authority, is it? It's really just listening to suggestions.

Also, they didn't invent silly things. In native cultural context, Aviendha's "punishments" weren't silly or random at all, they were deliberately constructed to resemble normal punishments for one who has incurred toh. The only thing that made them silly was that nobody told her why, and she hadn't already admitted toh. But the punishments themselves made perfect sense if you assume that when a Wise One called a thing "your punishment," she was being honest in her choice of words. Aiel are usually honest — even Wise Ones actually take honesty pretty seriously — so it's not a bad assumption.

Several of you have said, indirectly, that somebody has to be at the top of the chain of command and, effectively, above any law except their own honor and cultural conditioning. Sometimes it's Richard Cypher, sometimes it's the Wise Ones. Was it Plato who advocated philosopher-kings? The effectiveness of this form of government is, I guess, one area where he and I disagree.
macster@138: Sorry, I misspoke. I did not mean to say any characters do think that the hardness/strength thing is gender-linked. What I was trying to say was expressing a possible explanation as to why Leigh could be okay with hardness/strength being a gendered point in WOT, but (as Glyph pointed out) not be okay about saidin/saidar being a fight/surrender thing.
Oh ... if all we're really arguing about is what Leigh thinks and why, well, that's a much smaller and less important question than I thought we were on. However, it does now occur to me to wonder if there is in fact any sex-linked correlation between how to control the One Power and how to govern, in Randland. The only time I can remember anybody making this connection explicitly is, of course, when Moiraine explains to Egwene that Rand is more like saidar: if you want to manipulate him, you have to bend, not bludgeon. (But that's a consequence of Rand's Two Rivers background, not a property of Moiraine's femaleness.)
Possibly even less important than, say, discussing whether "regime change" (Saddam Hussein) or "mind your own business" (Rwanda, Somalia) is the better foreign policy for a government interested in supporting human rights. And some people manage to find fault with both, which just goes to show.
Come to think of it, we think Rand's Two Rivers background is what makes him hard to control by bullying (the saidin mode), but OTOH, Nynaeve apparently had enough success bullying Two Rivers men like Cenn Buie that she didn't lose the habit until long, long after she left. So perhaps the best way to manipulate Rand isn't the best way to manipulate other Two Rivers dudes.

Anyway. Although channelers know very well that you can't bully saidar, women in authority (even channelers, who know about the saidar thing) seem, as often as not, to take the bullying approach to human leadership. As for whether men in leadership do the same thing ... I don't know that most of the male leaders do. I'd have to think about it some more. Except Rand, he definitely does it.
ftbleighjkjk
140. macster
@Wortmauer: I didn't realize we were arguing, just debating. Or not even that; you asked a question, I answered it and then clarified my answer.

While it may not be important what Leigh thinks and why (though since this is her blog, her opinions and the reasons for them are important, and I personally give them a lot of weight), you have touched on one important thing--whether or not men in leadership bully others, Rand does. And with him being the Dragon Reborn who is the only one, ultimately, who can save the world, what he does and why is of paramount importance. The fact most Aes Sedai bully others just makes my point, I think, just in reverse...they have been going against what saidar teaches them, and have had to learn to surrender to guide Rand, with only Moiraine really getting the lesson. While Rand needs to learn that he should, in fact, go against what saidin teaches him. The point of all of this is that people of both genders have fallen into preconceptions based on stereotypes and need to change in order to work together. The fact the Aes Sedai and Rand both have it backward just shows that even in their mistakes and flaws, men and women are more alike than they realize.
Hugh Arai
141. HArai
Wortmauer@139:
I see no practical distinction. If you are supposed to do what someone says, but only if you are convinced that it makes sense, then it's not really submitting to authority, is it? It's really just listening to suggestions.
You seem to be confusing "submitting to authority" with "do whatever you're told". If you actually don't see a distinction there, I'm not sure I can explain it to you. I don't mean that you're not intelligent, just that I'm having trouble finding words for something that seems so clear to me. And I really really hope I'm never under your leadership unless the distinction comes to you. I thought Wetlandernw@129 explained it well.
The only thing that made them silly was that nobody told her why, and she hadn't already admitted toh .
But that's exactly it. Aviendha knew she had no toh. The only reason to submit to the punishment would be to ignore what she believed to be true and just and correct because someone else said so. Someone she respected, but didn't have any true, just, or correct reasons. I repeat, someone willing to ignore what they believe to be true and just and correct on someone else's unsupported say so is not a good leader, but is instead a horrifyingly pliable follower.
Hugh Arai
142. HArai
Wortmauer@139:
Several of you have said, indirectly, that somebody has to be at the top of the chain of command and, effectively, above any law except their own honor and cultural conditioning. Sometimes it's Richard Cypher, sometimes it's the Wise Ones. Was it Plato who advocated philosopher-kings? The effectiveness of this form of government is, I guess, one area where he and I disagree.
What precisely do you believe makes someone obey a law other than their own honor and cultural conditioning? What precisely do you believe a law defines besides the lawmaker's honor and cultural conditioning? I'm curious. And actually, now I'm really dying to know what form of government you consider to be both effective and without somebody at the top.
ftbleighjkjk
143. Wortmauer
HArai@141: I repeat, someone willing to ignore what they believe to be true and just and correct on someone else's unsupported say so is not a good leader, but is instead a horrifyingly pliable follower.
As may be. But it seems to me as though, if you're under the Wise Ones' authority, they don't really want you having the gall to think for yourself. I draw again from Aviendha, back in TFOH. She has given up the spear and is an apprentice. The Wise Ones are playing matchmaker with her and Rand so he'd start thinking of the Aiel as his own people. It's working, but the sexual tension gets to be too much for Aviendha, with her hangup about Rand and Elayne, and she declares she can't bear to sleep in his tent anymore. Sorilea overhears.
Sorilea watched them go, then put her full attention on Aviendha. "Now we can have a quiet talk. So you do not want to do something. Something you were told to do, of course. And you think this child Aes Sedai can get you out of doing it."

"Sorilea, I —" Aviendha got no further.

"In my day, girls jumped when a Wise One said jump, and continued jumping until they were told to stop. As I am still alive, it is still my day. Need I make myself clearer?"

Aviendha took a deep breath. "No, Sorilea," she said meekly.

The old woman's eyes came to rest on Egwene. "And you? Do you think you are going to beg her off?"

"No, Sorilea." Egwene felt as though she should curtsy.

"Good," Sorilea said, not sounding satisfied, just as if it was what she had expected. It almost certainly was.
— TFOH Ch. 23, "The Fifth, I Give You"
It's a fun scene, to be sure, but notice what's missing. What's missing is Sorilea bothering to explain to Aviendha why it's important for her to try and seduce Rand. From context I don't think Aviendha knew the "make Rand think of us as his in-laws" plan. A couple paragraphs later, Sorilea does explain a little, but not until after Aviendha has agreed to blindly obey. Sorilea makes it clear that the reason Aviendha should obey is not because of some plan, but because she's a Wise One. If Sorilea were really trying to groom someone to make intelligent decisions, treat orders as suggestions, and not follow people blindly, this is a pretty odd way to do it.

I'm just sayin'.

Of course, if the Wise Ones had been more forthcoming about their plan for Rand and Aviendha, she could have told them how it wouldn't be proper because he already "belongs" to Elayne. The Wise Ones could have talked her out of this notion, or she could have talked them out of the plan, but one way or another, it would have deflated quite a bit of the Aviendha drama in TSR and TFOH. And, well, that would be WOT characters communicating.
Hugh Arai
144. HArai
Wortmauer@143: You've just pointed out the difference between a Wise One and an apprentice. If you're not willing to stand up for yourself against a Wise One like Sorilea, you're an apprentice. If you are, well then you're a Wise One. It's a lot like child vs adult. You don't get given adulthood. You take it.
ftbleighjkjk
145. yasiru89
Gawyn did not suddenly become conflicted about who he's sided with. I remember he had doubts since at least LoC.

Some overdue things have happened without much in the way of twists or remarkable delivery and this is the source I think of some of the doubts about a different author taking on the series. Well to remember that the size of this series, and not everyone having Travelling at their disposal, makes the seemingly agonisingly slow progression of their storylines much more plausible in the actual timeline they're experiencing. It's one of the drawbacks of a series this size, though I don't mind indulging a good author in that way.
ftbleighjkjk
146. macster
@Wortmauer: I think HArai hit the nail on the head @144, but to put it another way--at this point here in TGS, Aviendha has learned all she needs to know to be a Wise One, all that is left is her having the confidence, pride, and independence to claim it for herself. At the point you're quoting in TFOH, she is still an apprentice and has to learn to do what the Wise Ones tell her--partly because that's what all apprentices do, partly because Aviendha in particular was willful and stubborn about leaving the Maidens. When you're an apprentice (especially one as recalcitrant as Aviendha) you do what you're told. Once you've learned enough to become a Wise One, then you have to stand up for yourself and say "I don't need to be told what to do any more, I can decide for myself; you can advise me or hold me accountable, but you can't order me any more". In other words, you learn to take orders, until you refuse to simply accept them blindly. At that point you've proven you're adult enough to give orders to others. And note that the Wise Ones don't just give orders to clan chiefs the way they do their apprentices; they are firm, but they do couch it in terms of advice that is best for their people, clan, and sept.
Anthony Pero
147. anthonypero
@macster:

And they frequently marry clan chiefs, which adds additional... weight... to their 'suggestions'. ;P
WOT Dragons
148. WOTNoDragons
Tor double-posted (or I did) sorry - see below
WOT Dragons
149. WOTNoDragons
RobM @ 98 & 136

I agree & concede that you (and others) are correct; in that it’s their reputation that earns the notional ‘title’ of Great Captain, and that it was just happenstance that there were 5 at the time - rather than 4 or 6.

I know I’m extremely late to post any sort of follow-up comment here, but belatedly, I just wanted to ask why you posted so confidently about this issue? (Momentarily setting aside the obvious answer: simply that you are right. :-))
To reiterate/restate my five captains point upthread: when the Aiel attacked, the forces of Randland were placed in the hands of the above-named five captains who, by popular belief, were selected based on merit.
I made the point in a previous post but the five Great Captains were those assigned to co-lead the Randland forces against the Aiel. That's why there is no (apparent) dispute over who qualifies and it is treated as fact
I know that my own WOT knowledge often leaves a lot to be desired and I’ve no reason to doubt the accuracy of your prior posts; it’s just that I can’t recall (or find) any reference to the selection/assignment process you mention. Who exactly placed the forces of Randland in the hands of these 5 GCs? I know that there was a Grand Coalition of nations that was formed to defeat the Aiel and that in spite of (some) AS best efforts, this coalition fell apart once the Aiel returned to the Waste. However, what I can’t seem to verify is who ‘selected’ these 5 to lead Randland forces. Also, on thinking about it, the Aiel presumably attacked conventionally over the Dragon Wall and the nation to be first under the yoke of their attack would be Cairhien, as Laman was the focus of their rage; with hostilities only ending once Laman was killed and the Aiel then withdrew back in to the Waste. So it would seem logical to assume that the fighting during the Aiel War was on Shienarian, Andoran but mostly on Cairhienin soil.


Although I could find some references in NS, and various websites re the Grand Coalition, I think some of the details relating to the military leadership assigned to the 5 might be referenced in The Guide - which unfortunately I don’t have a copy of. In which case, if The Guide is the source of your knowledge about these events, then a degree of diffidence or circumspection might be appropriate; as RJ himself admitted that The Guide was not an entirely accurate publication, but rather told from a historian’s ‘pieced together’ perspective.

I guess the reason my thoughts don’t quite ‘align’ on this issue is because it just seems so unlikely to my mind that Niall would have been trusted to co-lead other nations’ forces into battle. It’s quite plausible that Niall only led his Whitecloak force against the Aiel, but this would have then been a separate ‘division’ and would have needed to have been directed by an overall commander. (A bit like Eisenhower as Supreme Commander in Northern Europe during WW2: directing Paton & Montgomery’s forces etc.)

It just seems rather unlikely imo that Niall’s reputation alone would have been enough for other rulers like Laman to place his forces under Niall’s command. I guess part of the reason I said in a previous post that I didn’t think Niall deserved his GC slot was an emotive one, in that all the other GC’s serve their own lands and rulers, (Byrne’s presumed oath to Andor’s Queen, Bashere’s presumed fealty to the Saldaean Throne etc) but where is Niall even from? The Whitecloaks were/are distrusted by almost all nations and rulers – including Ailron! They stir up trouble as their modus-operandi and use bully-boy tactics to create fear and distrust in local communities. Even Niall sent Carridin in to Arad Doman just to start trouble; so the WC’s could then come in, restore order and establish a power base. I just don’t see how the Whitecloak Commander would have been entrusted with other nations forces given their reputation overall, and inevitably, Niall’s personal reputation would have (imo) been somewhat tarnished by the behaviour and past mis-deeds of his own organisation: the constant petty meddling in the local affairs of other nations and their citizens.

So; Whitecloaks on foreign Andoran or Carhenin soil to fight against the Aiel?– this seems more than reasonable and logical. But Niall assigned as a commander to lead possibly Illianer, Tairen or Cairhienin forces as well as the Whitecloaks? I’m not saying it didn’t happen - just that it seems a highly unlikely scenario.
Richard Hunt
150. WOTman
I agree with most about Aviendha, as smart as she is (and seemingly as wise) she should have caught on a bit quicker on what was happening with the WO. At least the plot just inched along another notch characterwise.

Gawn, well I have a softspot for him, I think he is very naieve and still a good egg, he doesn't let others do the thinking for him and it takes a lot to make him change his mind. Everyone needs to remember that these characters are still very young and even though they have been through a lot, they still are sort of green, even Gawyn. He got caught up in events that happened very quickly and I know I would have a hard time dealing with all that went down especially from his perspective.

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