Dec 6 2011 2:00pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Gathering Storm, Part 11

With great vengeance and furrrrious anger, it’s a Wheel of Time Re-read!           

Today’s entry covers Chapters 19 and 20 of The Gathering Storm, in which I am Unthrilled, a lot, and tell you why. At length. No, really.

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.

Before we begin, scheduling note: Christmas and New Year’s doth encroacheth, y’all, and thus the Re-read is going to take a wee bit of a break, so that your Auntie Leigh can honor the season by actually not sitting in front of a computer for two minutes. Therefore, next week’s post (on the 13th) will go up as usual, and there will probably be a post on the following Tuesday (the 20th), but that’s not a guarantee. After that, the Re-read will be on hiatus until January 10th.

So there’s all that. And now, the post!

One other note before we get to it: in case you didn’t see it earlier, I am very sad to report that Wheel of Time cover artist Darrell K. Sweet has passed away.

I have thoughts on this, but they will need to wait until I can organize them sufficiently; for now, I merely wish to formally extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends, which of course most definitely includes all of Team Jordan and the WOT fandom at large. Rest in peace, Mr. Sweet.

Chapter 19: Gambits

What Happens
In her audience hall in the palace, Tuon contemplates the peace and order the Seanchan have brought to Ebou Dar even as their efforts elsewhere are stymied and Seanchan itself has fallen into civil war, not to mention Suroth’s betrayal, and thinks bringing that order to the rest of the world was going to be difficult.

Here I am, Tuon thought, surrounded by my might, damaneon one side and Deathwatch Guard on the other. And yet I feel no safer than I did with Matrim. How odd, that she should have felt safe with him.

She knows that once the war ends in Seanchan, the victor will declare themselves Emperor or Empress, and Tuon will need to bring him or her down. She announces to the room that Selucia is her new Truthspeaker, and thinks at least this time she can be sure her Truthspeaker is not a Forsaken. Tuon is not completely sure she believes Falendre’s story, but Anath at the very least had been a traitor. Dismissing the matter, she sends for Beslan, and confronts him with evidence that he has been planning a rebellion against her. Beslan begins to speak defiantly, but Tuon stops him and tells him that with the situation in Seanchan so unstable, she cannot afford to tolerate rebellion on this side of the ocean. Beslan asks why he is still alive, then, and Tuon replies, because he started his plans before news reached them of the chaos in Seanchan, and also because she knows he plans to rebel not out of ambition or greed for power, but because he loves his people.

All kingdoms on this side of the ocean would need to bow before the Crystal Throne, eventually. Each marath’damane would be leashed, each king or queen would swear the oaths. But Suroth had pushed too hard, particularly in the fiasco with Turan. A hundred thousand men, lost in one battle. Madness.

Tuon needed Altara. She needed Ebou Dar. Beslan was well loved by the people. Putting his head on a pike after the mysterious death of his mother... Well, Tuon would have stability in Ebou Dar, but she would rather not have to leave battlefronts unmanned to accomplish it.

She tells Beslan that she does not know whether Suroth was involved in his mother’s murder, but if it turns out to be so, she herself will apologize to Beslan and to Altara. This shocks everyone else in the room. Tuon makes her case to him, arguing that Altara is already safer and more prosperous under the Seanchan than it was before, and provides him with statistics to prove it. She offers him a choice: an honorable execution, or choose to accept the crown of Altara and have absolute rule save for her. She promises not to interfere in his governance except for demands for resources and men to prosecute her efforts elsewhere, and promises to make Altara the permanent seat of the Empress on this continent, which will make it the most powerful kingdom there once the Seanchan have conquered the rest.

She leaned forward, unlacing her fingers. “But understand this. If you decide to join with us, you will give me your heart, and not just your words. I will not allow you to ignore your oaths. I have given you this chance because I believe you can be a strong ally, and I think that you were misguided, perhaps by Suroth’s twisted webs.

“You have one day to make your decision. Think well. Your mother thought this to be the best course, and she was a wise woman. The Empire means stability. A rebellion would mean only suffering, starvation and obscurity. These are not times to be alone, Beslan.”

She dismisses him, but Beslan hesitates a long moment, and then kneels to her and swears fealty to her in the style common on this side of the ocean. General Galgan begins to protest this, but Tuon silences him, reflecting that Matrim had had no problem at all breaking the Seanchan-style oaths, but when he gave his word in this manner he had kept it. She finds it odd, but thinks she must learn to understand these people. She accepts Beslan’s oath and bids him rise; he asks if she is certain she is not ta’veren, which Tuon dismisses as yet another silly superstition. She turns her attention to Galgan, who reports to her that the Dragon Reborn has requested another meeting with her. Tuon announces the omen she saw that morning, which indicates difficult choices to come, requiring boldness. Galgan is against the meeting, suggesting they have other concerns, but Tuon replies that ensuring the Dragon Reborn kneels to the Crystal Throne before the Last Battle begins is of paramount importance. Galgan then has Lieutenant-General Yulan explain his plan to neutralize the threat of the large number of marath’damane gathered in Tar Valon, which is to take eighty to a hundred to’raken and perform a nighttime raid on the White Tower, with the objective being to capture and leash as many marath’damane as possible.

[Galgan:] “I believe General Yulan’s plan has much merit. It is not without potential for great loss, but we will never have another such opportunity. If brought to bear in our conflict, those marath’damane could disable us. And if we could gain access to this weapon of theirs, or even their ability to travel great distances... Well, I believe that the risk of every to’raken in our army is worth the gains.”

Yulan adds that they would also want a small group of Bloodknives, which indicates to Tuon how committed the generals are to this operation. Tuon points out that the Dragon Reborn will not react well to this raid; Galgan counters that there are just as many rumors that he opposes the marath’damane as there are that he is allied with them, but believes that the raid will be worth it even if it enrages al’Thor, for it will also weaken him and give Tuon an advantage in negotiations. Tuon thinks the decision seems obvious, but remembering her omen, hesitates to order the strike. They are interrupted then by the announcement that Lieutenant-General Tylee has returned and requests an audience. Tuon allows it, and Tylee enters and shows her the heads of the deformed monsters that had attacked her forces ten leagues from the city. Tylee says she believes these creatures are what the locals call “Trollocs,” and she thinks they are heading toward Ebou Dar.

So Matrim was not mistaken about this, she signed covertly to Selucia. And she had assumed Trollocs to be nothing more than superstition. She glanced at the heads again. Revolting.

Selucia seemed troubled. Are there other things he said that we discounted, I wonder?

Tuon hesitated. We shall have to ask him. I should very much like to have him back. She froze; she hadn’t meant to admit so much. She found her own emotions curious, however. She had felt safe with him, ridiculous though it seemed. And she wished he were with her now.

Tuon announces to the room that this changes little, except to make it even more urgent that she subdue the Dragon Reborn. Very boldly, Tylee speaks up and offers her opinion that based on what she has seen in her recent campaign, the Dragon Reborn and those associated with him would make far better allies than enemies. In her role as Truthspeaker, Selucia comments that in this case, perhaps a difficult decision involves accepting a small amount of culpability. Tuon thinks it would be better to meet the Dragon Reborn from a position of strength, with his armies defeated and the White Tower destroyed, but given her current precarious position, perhaps it would be worth it to delay the raid and meet with al’Thor with her eyes slightly lowered. She orders Galgan to send word to the front to cease active engagements with the Dragon Reborn’s forces, and reply to him that she will meet with him. She finds herself wishing that Matrim were there with her again.

Stay well, you curious man, she thought, glancing back at the balcony, northward. Do not dig yourself into trouble deeper than you can climb to freedom. You are Prince of the Ravens now. Remember to act appropriately.

Wherever it is you are.



So, just about everything in this chapter pisses me off, with the sole exceptions of Tylee, who is awesome, and whenever Tuon thinks about Mat, which is adorable. Of course, the latter is rather ironic, considering my thoughts on the next chapter, but we’ll get to that.

But everything else? SO MUCH PISSAGE, YOU GUYS.

There’s Tuon’s entire recruitment speech to Beslan, for one, which I don’t remember annoying me that badly the first time but kind of made me want to throw the book at a politician this go-round, featuring as it did gems like this:

“You assume that the Seanchan dominance of your homeland will mean your people lack freedom. That is false. They will be more free, more protected, and more powerful when they accept our rule.”

I don’t know what’s worse: that this is such a filthy pack of lies, or that Tuon doesn’t even understand how much bullshit it is. She’s being sincere, which just makes it that much more painful to read.

And it is such bullshit, y’all. For one, there is the “protected” and “powerful” bits, which I note are two things very much contingent on a set of circumstances which have not actually yet come to pass (i.e. Seanchan victory over everyone else). Which, granted, Tuon may consider an inevitable outcome, but blithe overconfidence is not exactly a point in favor of her reliability, here. Maybe it’s splitting hairs, but whatever – they are conditional lies, or whatever the formal term is for writing checks with your mouth that your ass might not be able to cash.

But much, much worse than that, is the “freedom” part.

That, my friends, is total, utter, too-deep-to-even-shovel bullshit. So much so, that I’m not even sure I consider Tuon – or any Seanchan – to even have the right to use the term.

FIRST of all, any culture in which you can be flogged for literally looking at a person wrong, let alone, say, speaking your mind, is many things (“insane” is the first that jumps to mind), but “free”? Ain’t one of them. Seriously, just no. Second and far more importantly, Tuon using the word “free” in reference to a system which includes institutionalized slavery is a level of hypocritical that makes me want to either beat myself unconscious against my desk or take up heavy drinking to make the stupid stop. Oy.

Yeah, sure, Altarans, you will be more free than you were before – as long as you don’t happen to be born with the ability to channel, of course, in which case you’re rather thoroughly fucked re: that whole freedom thing. Sowwy! Oh, and also, even if you’re not charmingly defined as subhuman for an inborn trait you can’t control, you can be made a slave for a whole host of delightfully arcane and arbitrary reasons that don’t even make sense to anyone not raised in this loony bin of a culture. So good luck with that; I mean, what could possibly go wrong, eh?


And oh, I get that she doesn’t think she’s being hypocritical! Of course she doesn’t; a sadly large percentage of pre-Civil War Americans didn’t find it hypocritical either. It doesn’t make the assertion any less of a lie just because the person saying it doesn’t recognize it as one.

So, yeah, I think it’s safe to say that roused a little bit of ire, there.

I’m also pissed about the whole raid on the White Tower thing. Which may seem a little odd, considering I already know how (awesomely) badly that’s going to go for the Seanchan, but the entire concept of preemptive strikes pisses me off on principle, for reasons which I should hope would be obvious.

And we won’t even speak of Tuon’s attitude toward Rand. All I’m saying is, if that prophecy about him kneeling to the Crystal Throne doesn’t turn out either to be total crap, or to mean something completely different from what it seems to mean, I will be Extremely Put Out. To say the LEAST. Grr.

And lastly, I am kind of wearily pissed at Beslan for buying into Tuon’s bullshit. I’m not going to actually condemn him for it, because hey, I like survival, too, and if I had been in his position I most likely would have made the same choice, but I’m kind of pissed at him from the future, where if I recall correctly it seems like he didn’t just pretend to drink the Seanchan Kool-Aid but actually really did convert to the cult, which is just disappointing. I keep hoping maybe I’ll be proven wrong later but I kind of doubt it. Oh well.

In conclusion, the Seanchan suck, the end. Moving on!


Chapter 20: On a Broken Road

What Happens
Mat rides with Talmanes, leading the Band along an ancient and half-destroyed road through the foothills of northern Altara. He is trying to decide if women are more like mules or goats, before going on a long diatribe in which he explains how trying to reason with women is like playing a dice game with no rules and no pips on the dice. He demands of Vanin to know where they are; Vanin isn’t sure, but points out they have no choice but to keep to the road anyway. Vanin goes to scout ahead, and Talmanes chides Mat to cheer up, reminding him they’ve just won a battle. Mat points out that they also lost a thousand men, but Talmanes divines that the casualties are not what’s really bothering him. Mat thinks of Tuon and the title he now has that he doesn’t understand, and whether she would send anyone after him now that their agreement is over, but he is truly most concerned about whether she reached Ebou Dar safely.

“She could still be in danger,” Mat said, almost to himself, still looking backward. “I shouldn’t have let her out of my sight. Fool woman.”

“Mat,” Talmanes said, pointing at him with the pipe again. “I’m surprised at you. Why, you’re starting to sound downright husbandly.”

Mat takes loud exception to this, and Talmanes lets it go, but then Mat asks if he’d ever wanted to get married. Talmanes replies “No, thank the Light”, and then hastily amends that he’s sure it will work out for Mat, though. Mat scowls, and announces he’s not giving up gambling or drinking; Talmanes agrees with a straight face, and then tells Mat that getting married is not going to make him soft, pointing out that at least two of the Great Captains are married themselves.

“No, you won’t go soft because you’re married.”

Mat nodded sharply. Good, that was settled.

“You might go boring though,” Talmanes noted.

“All right, that’s it,” Mat declared. ”Next village we find, we’re going to go dicing at the tavern. You and me.”

Vanin returns to report that there is a village called Hinderstap ahead, just as Joline, Edesina, and Teslyn ride up in time to hear him. Mat thinks that you’d never know from the way they look at him that he’d saved their lives, and promises himself that next time he won’t bother. Joline is pleased at the notion of a decent inn and better fare than Cauthon’s “ruffians” have come up with. Teslyn cuts in, ignoring Joline, to ask how far they are from Caemlyn; Mat knows they have been at each other’s throats lately even though they’ve tried to hide it. Vanin tells Teslyn it would take about a week to get to Caemlyn if he were going alone and with an alternate mount, but with the army it will be at least twenty days. Joline is not happy with this, and Mat tells her she and the other Aes Sedai are welcome to go on alone. Joline then demands twenty horses as well as coin, provisions, fodder, and men to take care of the horses. Mat flatly (and rudely) refuses, and tells her they can have one horse each and fodder for the animals, and no more. He then gives orders to make camp, and tells Vanin to make sure the men stay away from the village. Joline sniffs and rides off, and Edesina and Teslyn follow; Teslyn gives him a disappointed look that makes Mat uncomfortable. Talmanes comments on how rude he was to the Aes Sedai, and Mat replies that he is no lap dog to be pushed around.

“You really do miss her,” Talmanes said, sounding a little surprised as their horses fell into pace beside one another.

“What are you blathering about now?”

“Mat, you are not always the most refined of men, I’ll admit. Sometimes your humor is indeed a bit ripe and your tone on the brusque side. But you are rarely downright rude, nor intentionally insulting. You really are on edge, aren’t you?”

Mat said nothing, just pulled the brim of his hat down again.

Talmanes assures him that Tuon is fine, but Mat changes the subject. They discuss their low rations; Mat says they will buy provisions at the village, but Talmanes wonders if they will be willing to sell, now that food is growing increasingly scarce. Mat grinds his teeth, and then tells Talmanes they are taking his personal coin into the village.

“You’re going to kindly take me up on my offer to go enjoy ourselves at the tavern,” Mat said. ”And while we’re at it, we’re going to resupply. If my luck’s with me, we’ll do it for free."

Sigh. Okay.

So, I completely hate this chapter and wish it did not exist.

I considered trying to soft-pedal this and tone down the strength of my hatred for this chapter and how it treats my favorite WOT character, but anyone who’s here for my dazzling displays of not saying exactly how I feel about things is clearly in need of cognitive therapy, so I figure that’s kind of pointless.

I hate this chapter in a way that’s completely different from the way I hate the Tuon chapter. I hate the Tuon chapter for things that, while I find them infuriating philosophically, I nevertheless acknowledge are totally believable and in-character beliefs for the Seanchan in general and Tuon in particular to possess. In other words, I think the Seanchan suck, but they suck legitimately, if that makes sense.

By contrast, Mat also sucks in this chapter, but he sucks in a way that I just do not accept as legit based on what I knew of him as a character up to this point. Sorry, but he came off completely wrong here in my opinion, and there’s no way around it.

And I get it; Mat has to be an incredibly difficult character to write, so much so that even Jordan, who bloody invented him, sometimes veered off the mark (in my opinion) in balancing his delicate ratio of jerkishness to awesomeness. That said, for all Mat’s historical outspokenness on the topic of women and how much they annoy him, this is the first time I can recall that I’ve ever been actually seriously offended by his thoughts on same. His whole “women and dice” rant was so weird and sexist and just off that I couldn’t even bring myself to summarize it in the recap with more than a sentence, and the damn thing was like three pages long.

It was just… painful. And while there is an in-story justification given for his behavior, which is that he’s excessively worried for Tuon, I just don’t believe the Mat-of-now would talk like that. Maybe I would have bought it from pre-TDR Mat, who was much more of an immature dick, but at this point? No. It doesn’t help that Talmanes strikes me as being “off” in this chapter too, so the two of them together is just… ow.

Sigh. The thing is, Mat is supposed to be funny, and here he just… isn’t. But then, Jordan’s style of humor, of which Mat’s character is generally a prime example, is kind of an odd, understated, almost backhanded kind of thing which I’m sure has to be a nightmare to try to reproduce, so I don’t want to harp on this excessively. Especially since later it really does get much better.

But right here, at this point? Ow.

Yeah. And rather than twist the knife further to no purpose, I think we’ll end things here. Have a lovely week, chickies, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

1. CorDarei
Enjoyed the re-read... had to bypass some of the commentary this time tho ;)
2. hamstercheeks
Totally with you on Tuon's clueless hypocrisy, Leigh.

I thought Mat's rant was funny... I think I may be the only one. But I remember a commenter noting that Jordan's humor is subtle while Sanderson goes for slapstick... in this one instance, the slapstick worked for me. Where it didn't work? The letter with misspelled words in ToM. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Yay holidays!
3. AGrey
I'm gonna have to agree re: Mat

Sanderson did a fantastic job with the books, and I'm a fan of his since he released Elantris years ago (I even met the guy, had dinner with him, on the Gathering Storm tour - and my old screenname is in the ackrowledgements for Warbreaker), but I'll have to say that how he wrote Mat in TGS is one of the weakest parts of the book. I hesitate to say it's downright bad, but that's probably just me wanting to stick up for the guy.

Luckily, he does a much better job of writing Mat in Towers of Midnight.

Of all the criticisms that can be leveled at the Sanderson books, if Mat's chapters feeling a bit off-balance is the biggest complaint, we got off really lucky.
Fake Name
4. ThePendragon
Ah, the hated Mat rant. I remember this was the second major jarring experience for me in tGS. Really pissed me off when I first read it. It just had Sanderson written all over it, which would be fine if I were reading one of his characters and not Mat. It read more like Lightsong or maybe Kelsier. I think Sanderson's Mat talks too much. Most of Mat's funny is internal dialogue, which is complimented here and there with something concise and witty or often times whiney out loud. He got it better in ToM, but he still rambles a tad too much.
Heidi Byrd
5. sweetlilflower
Well, the thing for me was that if Mat had been written the same from KoD to TGS, if would have been...wrong. He just got married! To a noblewoman! He is now a noble! Come on, these are things which would change any person, but it will definitley have a profound affect upon our young Matrim. I never had an issue with this chapter after I thought about all of the changes Mat had been through. I think it works better if you read the end of KoD and then read this chapter immediately after. Then, the whole character development meshes better. (gratuitous use of exclamation points, FTW!!!)
Stefan Mitev
6. Bergmaniac
It's ironic how Elaida's failure to capture Elayne, even though she wanted to get her for the wrong reasons, ended up in a really roundabout way costing Elaida her freedom, since the Seanchan attacked the White Tower in big part because of the Gateway explosion near Ebou Dar.

And yes, Tuon is a massive hypocrite, but that's nothing new.

For me it's Talmanes being really out of character which bothered me more than Mat. Mat was saying things not much different from what he used to think about all the time before (how most of his problems are caused by women who don't know want they want, how men can never understand women, etc), which was jarring, but still not that big of a deal for me. Talmanes becoming a wisecracking sidekick was too much though.
Nathan Martin
7. lerris
On the question of violent head-desking versus heavy drinking... I strongly recommend the drinking. You'll at least get some enjoyment out of it before the splitting headache starts.

As far as the Prophecy of Rand kneeling to the Crystal Throne, I'm not able to track down direct evidence of such, but it seems to be regarded as common knowledge that the Seanchan versions of the prophecies were corrupted by Ishamael ( anyone know where this thought originates ?) . At the very least, they don't match the Prophecies of the Dragon known to the Aes Sedai. I believe that particular element of the prophecy was planted specifically to trigger the Seanchan invasion prior to the Last Battle to harry the Forces of Light.
8. Shadow
I found that there were a few parts during the beginning of TGS where Brandon does feel a bit off. I think this chapter with Mat has been the clearest example of that. A chapter with many flaws in an otherwise excellent book.

I can cut Brandon a lot of slack because he took an enormous task and has done an amazing job with only a few complaints. I could not imagine how hard it would be to try and finish off the Wheel of Time, especially with so many characters and loose ends that needed to be addressed.
9. SlavetotheGame
His exposure to women like the Aes Sedai and Nyneave in particular would leave a man with opinions like that.....
10. mutantalbinocrocodile
My totally unscientific, but so far pretty darn accurate, way to tell BS chapters from those that had a lot of Jordan in them: read them out loud, ideally to a WOT newbie. The ones that are easier to read and sound better seem to turn out to be Jordan's. I can't vouch for the perfection of this standard because there are so many chapters where we don't know, but I've yet to be wrong when BS has said who predominantly wrote what.

The funny thing is that this isn't a way of saying that BS is a terrible stylist--large parts of The Way of Kings read beautifully aloud. I think perhaps it's more of a discomfort-with-another-universe thing.
Nathan Martin
11. lerris
@10 - Interesting theory. I'll have to give it a try.

I've read Brandon's books ( excepting the Alcatraz books and The Alloy of Law, which is queued up ) in order, and I do see his writing maturing with each book. From Elantris to Mistborn: the Final Empire there was a significant leap in his writing ability, and ToM felt a lot better than tGS.
Anthony Pero
12. anthonypero
Chapter 19 comments:

Leigh, I think you missed a critical part of Tuon's bargain with Beslan. She promised him total autonomy, escept in recruitment for the war (i.e, a Draft). Now, whether you believe her or not, that was part of her pitch which you neglegted to address. Presumably, Beslan as King and total autonomy means that the citizens of altara will not be subject to the slavery laws of the Empire.
Rich Bennett
13. Neuralnet
Wow... I hadn't heard that Darrell Sweet passed away. now I feel a little bad for my gut reaction to that cover when I first started reading this week's post. (For some reason I always think of Gone with the wind when I see this cover and Scarlet Ohara shaking her fist at the sky saying "as god as my witness Iwill never go hungry again.")

This Mat chapter didnt really bother me as much as Leigh (and others)... I agree Jordan had a more subtle sense of humor for Mat and in general Mat (and Talmanes) feel off, but I try not to take these pages too seriously... force myself to laugh at the joke I guess. I am sure it helps that I am a man and this passage is obviously much more offensive if you are a female reader.
Eric Hughes
14. CireNaes

I would rather beat my brain into stupidity than drink myself in that direction. At least then my other organs would maintain higher levels of functionality. Overexposure to ethanol is a bad way to die and a worse way to live. And on a completely sexest note, women are more prone to experience organ damage because of their typically lower muscle mass and higher body fat percentage...stick with the desk, Leigh.

Although I don't like the Seanchan way of doing things any better than Leigh does, I do think there is a distinct difference in the kind of mass slavery that they engage in. For channelers it definately has similar parallels to Americanized slavery. With the masses it has more of a life long contractuality to it with the opportunity for upward mobility. Still the chance for abuse, but less likely due to the class differences that act as a natural buffer. I don't like either, but there is a difference in the level of depravity between the two.

Edit: For grammar and name misspelling.
15. tehbane
@4 You pretty much summed up exactly what bothers me about Mat in this chapter. It's a really unfortunate way to introduce him under a new author.
Chris Long
16. radynski
#4 has got it right. Sanderson's version of Mat just talks entirely too much. And it isn't funny. It might be funny somewhere else, but not here. This scene threw me completely out of the book, and I felt like Brandon was trying to imitate Joss Whedon's humor, and doing it poorly.
Nathan Martin
17. lerris

For the record I do not condone alcoholism. A single night of drunken stupidity can be relatively harmless in comparison to a single head injury ( the results of which I see daily ), though neither is a good idea in the long run.
18. dlinderholm
Aargh, yes, the Mat badness. The interplay between Mat and Talmanes was always so understated; it was never quite clear how much of a sense of humor Talmanes had, and his sense of humor was never really put on display. Sanderson totally tossed the understatedness and subtletly out the window, and turned them into a comedy sideshow (which unfortunately gets worse before it gets better - and while it does get better in ToM, it is still a little broken). Painful to read.

That said, the part that Leigh seemed to object to the most I didn't have a problem with. There wasn't really anything sexist in Mat's discourse on relations between men and women, it was basically a mini-treatise on the state of communication between the sexes that has been exhibited throughout the series. The two sexes tend to be very good at ostensibly talking about the same thing while actually meaning completely different things - which, as Mat expresses, can feel like you are playing by one set of rules when all of a sudden they are changed. Yes, Mat is a little upset here, and he wildly generalizes (and it is more than a bit over the top), but the basic premise of what he says has been on display pretty much the whole series. Women in the series have expressed similar opinions about men on occassion throughout the series (albeit perhaps not so bluntly and accusatorily) - the only offensive thing here is that Mat is totally oblivious to the fact that his actions can be viewed the same way, and that he seems to be of the opinion that women do it on purpose (which I just read as being the result of his current frustration and worry). I do agree, though, that Sanderson continued to completely miss out on the subtlety and humor in Mat's character that might have made this rant a little more palatable. That said, if you consider the rant to really be about the female characters he has been interacting with lately, namely Tuon (especially Tuon) and the AS+former sul'dam, and his rant I think makes a lot more sense - he generalizes it to all women, but it is a pretty fair account of a lot of his interactions with Tuon specifically.
Nadine L.
19. travyl
Leigh, I totally disagree with your comment about Mat and his dice rant. I really, truly and thoroughly enjoed it. The disagreement comes here: it is NOT sexist (yes I am female) - given Mat's position and late experience. It might be sexist in our age - but in the third age: let me give a short summary of Mat's past week.
- Egwene uses his promise to Rand to force him on a trip to EbouDar
- Nynaeve and in extension Elayne treet him - like a unruly and inept boy and subject ... (I'm sure there would be an accurate adjective, I can't come up with it, sorry)
- Then he suffers under lovely queen Tylin, who never gives him so much a chance of a decision she doesn't aprove of
- and last his lovely wife to be, who totally lacks the skill of behaving like a prisoner should but orders him around.
I totally believe that any of those women would decide that the dice showed 2 pips instead of five if it suited them.
Maybe it doesn't fit all women, but here, after his past weeks of Mat life and given his previous character, it worked for me and therefore I thought it funny (like the boot analogy in TOM later)

**EDIT: While I was writing this, dlinderholm obviously beat me to it (in a much better and eloquent way)
20. MasterAlThor
Yay! More of people thinking they know what they don't. Unless it is me thinking I know what I don't. I am speaking about the Mat chapter and who wrote it. You can say it doesn't sound like Mat the way Jordan would have wrote him all you want. But until Team Jordan says otherwise....

I liked Mat's rant and found it pretty funny and in context to what has happened to him over the course of the story. It plays on the over all theme of men vs women. How men see through blue tinted glasses and hear through blue tinted hearing aids. Women on the other hand have pink glasses and hearing aids.

The rant shows this clearly. Men think differently and see things differently. Yes Mat is generalizing, but need I remind you guys how you feel about the Sea Folk?

Hey you either like or you don't. I like it. I agree with Leigh that this particular rant should have come earlier in the series, but hey at least we got it.

And now for something completely different....
I’m also pissed about the whole raid on the White Tower thing. Which may seem a little odd, considering I already know how (awesomely) badly that’s going to go for the Seanchan, but the entire concept of preemptive strikes pisses me off on principle, for reasons which I should hope would be obvious.
This is war. The Seanchan see themselves at war with the Aes Sedai. First strike is a tactical advantage. I have no problem with this. They are trying to cripple their enemy in a single blow. I don't understand why Leigh has a problem with this. They explain as much in the text and Leigh quotes some of it. So where is the problem?

Melissa Walters
21. ladytwinoaks
I am a bit of WOT newbie, so take my opinion with a grain of salt... I had always thought that Rand kneeling to the Crystal Throne might have something to do with a wedding ceremony for Mat and Tuon. I can't for the life of me figure out why Rand would actually swear fealty to the Seanchan Empire. Then again, a lot of their prophesies were warped anyway. Why not this one?
Eric Hughes
22. CireNaes

Having worked with both, I can see where you're coming from. Though I still take the opposite view. And since Leigh is prone to repetitive headdesking, I'm sticking to my original suggestion. Thanks for clarifying your statement.

Besides, we have sexism, abrasive culturalism, and slavery to keep us riled up until the next post.
Kimani Rogers
23. KiManiak
Thanks for another post Leigh! What, you want a Holiday break from the reread? You mean typing these posts for us isn’t a 100% rewarding and rejuvenating experience that fuels you for the next post; you actually need a vacation from this (and us)?!? :-)

I could say a lot about Beslan, Tuon and most of their actions here (and possibly will at a later time), but I think a really important thing here is that we see Tuon, Empress in waiting, willing to adapt and slightly compromise the way she does things (how she allows Beslan to join). This appears totally due to her travels with Mat (and her talks with Setalle Anan). Once again, we see that when a leader of a powerful faction allows themselves to be influenced by the wisdom, suggestion or conduct of others (basically, to consider an alternate viewpoint) and make compromises, things work out in their favor. A step in the right direction. It’s a small step in learning to be open minded, but every journey starts with a first step…

Of course, then she goes and craps on the whole ta’veren thing, but still… At least she admits that she misses Mat, feels safer around him and wants him back.

(And, I’m gonna sidestep the whole freedom and slavery thing for now, because I’m sure others will talk that one out…)

Ok, one of my issues (paralleling Leigh’s preemptive strike comment): The Seanchan’s opposition (all of Randland, which includes Rand and his followers) have demonstrated that at least some of them have Traveling, and yet not once have they struck at the Seanchan seat of power. Obviously they could; they just have chosen not to. Yet the Seanchan have no problems sending a nighttime raid to attack one of the main established seats of power of their opposition.

Doesn’t anyone worry about escalation? Wouldn’t a good general say, “Are we sure we want to open that door, because we are quite vulnerable ourselves?” Wouldn’t a ruler be worried about a reprisal, even if the raid is successful and you capture some and kill others? You’ve essentially pissed off your enemy who you admit has a skill (Traveling) and a weapon (the accidental mega-bomb that Avi & Elayne unleashed in TPoD) that you believe puts you at a strategic disadvantage.

(And as a quick aside, with the exception of Dark Rand at the end of this book, why is it never considered by his side to Travel into Ebou Dar with a few Ashaman, set some Blosssoms of Fire around the palace and the damane “kennels” and seriously bloody your enemies lip and limit their power? Weaken the Seanchan and give Rand more of an advantage in negotiations. This occupying force has shown it can be ruthless; they could be severely diminished with just the use of, say, 10 Ashaman. I’m just saying…)

Mat chapter! So… yeah. Apparently this is a less popular opinion, but the way that Mat was characterized in TGS never really bugged me. Was it different? Sure. But, it didn’t irk me as it did some. Actually, I was shocked when I finally read some of the commentary about the portrayal of Mat in TGS, and it led me to reread those sections again. Anyway, I was still fine with it. But I’m sure there will be a number of comments that will demonstrate in painstaking detail why this representation of Mat is horrible. I may respond, I may not. To each, their own.

hamstercheeks@2 – You weren’t the only one who thought it was funny. However, I like the letter bit in ToM, as well.

Berg@6 – Hmm. Interesting connection between Elaida’s failure to capture Elayne leading to Elaida’s ultimate capture. Of course, a number of things happened in between those events so I don’t know if you can argue major cause and effect here, but an interesting observation.

@many –re: Talmanes feeling off – I agree that he seems different as well. However, I don’t think we really see him and Mat interact that much 1on1 elsewhere. A little in LoC, a little in KoD, and that’s it. Maybe RJ had always planned for us to see Talmanes’ full sense of humor once he and Mat were reunited, post-Tuon.
Dave West
24. Jhirrad
In re Rand kneeling to the Crystal Throne - Someone else mentioned this, but I'll corrorborate that the Karetheon Cycle as it exists in Seanchan was corrupted by Ishmael. That particular line is the one that most people point to validating this theory. There's a place (and I don't have my books with me to find it) where Ishy mentions how he had influenced the rulers in Seanchan and changed things. The only prophecy between the Seanchan and Dragon that I hold as valid is that, "he shall bind the nine moons to serve him". Don't know yet how he's going to, but I don't trust any of the Seanchan versions of the Prophecies of the Dragon.
Juan Avila
25. Cumadrin
The "it" that Mat had from his first blossoming in tDR until KoD just isn't there anymore. If you're on Team Mat then you know exactly what I mean. If you're not then you have the rest of the last three books in WoT to be quite pleased with overall.

I could go into the details on what's wrong, but I honestly ran myself ragged in my head two years ago when I first read tGS, and I don't want to do it anymore. Eventually you just accept what you get, and be glad you got something at all.

Besides, I'm sure Mat will be at optimal badass levels come the Last Battle to end the series on a high note.

Also, this is my third completely rewritten draft for this post, which I'm mentioning to illustrate how much I love Mat, how carefully I've thought about how he's been written by Sanderson, and how conflicted I am over being outraged over what's become of my favorite character yet grateful to see his (and WoT's) story through to its conclusion.

On Tuon and the Seanchan: I love to hate them, and Sanderson delivered on making that continued hatred possible. It just gives me such a warm and fuzzy Righteous Outrage feeling inside. I definitely won't go further into them than that, though.
26. Sean Gibson
I actually love this chapter and I totally understand Matt's rant. Consider how he's been treated by his sisters, the Super Girls, Aes Sedai, Tylin and Tuon (and actually others).... What he's saying isn't sexist, it's based on how Matt himself (more than any other character) has been treated by women.

And for me, such a rant was long long overdue.
Eric Hughes
27. CireNaes
If you're on Team Mat then you know exactly what I mean.
Nooooooooooo!!! Not Twilight! Please!!!!!!!!!
Peter Reen
28. pnr060
I also have to agree that Mat doesn't seem like the same character that he used to (regardless of which author wrote those section). I understand that marriage may have changed him, but at this point he has almost none of the qualities about him that I used to enjoy.

Granted, Brandon Sanderson has access to Robert Jordan's notes, so he has a more explicit description of Mat's personality, but I never had the impression that Mat was a complete imbecile before TGS. I always interpreted him as a character who was a lot more street-smart than book-smart, but was aware of where his talents were and played to them. He occasionally didn't think his plans through all the way, but he was always able to turn the situation around. For me, the best part of Mat's character was the way he would be able to take risks and then quickly adapt as the situation changed. He was a lot more entertaining when he was off-balance.

If the Mat I remember wanted to get into a palace, he wouldn't sit on his heels for days until he was impatient enough to write a sarcastic letter (full of "hilarious" misspellings because he's not that bright, get it!?!); he would have just climbed the wall into the garden or blown a hole in the side of the building. If he was asked about his distaste for the nobility he wouldn't make a complicated analogy that he doesn't even fully understand ("so the boots are a metaphor for the disparity in social class?" "no, is boots!"); he would incredulously reference one of his observations of inappropriate noble behavior (perhaps only in his head), make a wry comment, or just stare goggle-eyed at something nearby that obviously reinforced his opinion.
Warren Soulard
29. Hrothgordo
Okay, first let me state that the task taken up by Sanderson was extraordinarily difficult and overall he has done a remarkable job. I can easily forgive the difference in detail, especially given the amount of movement had in his books (compared to the molasses crawl Jordan had been producing after LoC).

But Mat is written absolutely wrong here.

Beyond the difficulty in writing a humorous character well, Mat is also very much defined by his supporting characters acting as a greek chorus. And the chorus is off-key in most of these new moments due to incorrect actions or motivations.

Talmanes embodies the trustworthy nature of Mat’s personality, not to mention his competency as a soldier. He is not the guy who attempts to make jokes (at most he does some sarcastic gestures/expressions).

Thom is the actor, the man who wears the mask to hide his true emotions and motivations (even from himself). He goes off the rails once he begins pestering Mat about the ToG. This is a guy with the patience to wait months and months for Mat to ask about a letter and he gets all mopey now because they aren’t walking quite fast enough?

As for Tuon, I didn’t have many of the problems LB does with this chapter.

Beslan was not a coward in making his choice here, in fact he earns the right to be king here by his willingness to not only die for his people but also to make the best deal he can for them.

Tuon is absolutely correct and sincere in her assertions for the benefits she brings to the majority of the population. The justice system is certainly strict, but it is parsed out fairly despite one’s economic/feudal class.

Sure, the elephants in the room are channelers and slavery, but I think the Seanchan also do a lot of things right.

And most important, the whole interchange shows signs of empathy (and flexibility) in Tuon’s rule.
Juan Avila
30. Cumadrin
I'm mildly offended but mostly amused you picked that one line out of my post to comment on. But then again I was trying so much to be PC about discussing my feelings regarding the new Mat that I really didn't put much meat in my post, did I?

How about this? It occurred to me that Leigh's qualms over preemptive strikes might be due to the fact that more often than not they're made with entirely the wrong (or incomplete) intelligence, especially in the realm of fiction. Preemptive strikes NEVER come around and bite you in the ass later in these type of stories.

Anyway, that's why I hate premptive strikes in the stuff I read. That's just me, though. I realize even in real life you seldom have all the relevant facts, but it's that much more infuriating reading it, as you know the kinds of repercussions said strike could possibly have as the reader.
31. Lipton
The thing I hate the most about Tuon's whole spiel to Beslan is how rational it all seems. Look at how chaotic Altara was before the Seanchan! Look at how much more ordered and peaceful everything is now that they've taken over! And on a certain level she's right, things are better, but at what cost? There's a certain macro-level free will vs. determinism thing going on here. Of course, the downside of determinism (or totalitarianism) is when corruption and discrimination are inherent in the system.

I wouldn't have done any differently if I were in Beslan's shoes, he certainly can't fight for his people if he's dead. I only hope that he's putting on a semblance of kool aid-drinking to further his true aims. It's better to be trusted by the tyrant than to be suspected. Plus, for all of her better sensibilities, Tuon is really good at only seeing what she wants to see.
Dave West
32. Jhirrad
Sean Gibson @26
I actually love this chapter and I totally understand Matt's rant. Consider how he's been treated by his sisters, the Super Girls, Aes Sedai, Tylin and Tuon (and actually others).... What he's saying isn't sexist, it's based on how Matt himself (more than any other character) has been treated by women.
This this this x100000000000. I cannot properly express my agreement with this enough. I'm going to now put in my long overdue rant.

I find it interesting how people will come down on a character for sexist behavior, such as Mat here, when in the context of what he's experienced it actually is not. Tylin and Tuon spent months calling him a TOY. A TOY for crying out loud. What kind of an unholy UPROAR would there have been had it been a male character calling a female character his toy? Enormous.

Look at the hideous and reprehensible actions by Nynaeve, Elayne, and Egwene towards Mat. Start with the Stone of Tear. I mean, the guy breaks into a place that no one, EVER, had broken into, just to spring them from the trap they got themselves into. And what happens? They tie him up with the Power to take something which they had willingly given to him in the first place! The only "apology" he gets is because Elayne is trying to appease Aviendha and Birgitte,. It was forced, practically coerced, and they didn't seem to mean a word said. Elayne tries to take away his medallion, basically saying that it belongs to all Aes Sedai, but she'll give it back daily after she spends the evening studying it. Why how incredibly magnanimous of her! So, what happens to him then? The other Aes Sedai decide to start experimenting on him with the Power. Does Elayne or Nynaeve try and stop it? No, they just grumble that it was being done without their permission. They deliberately manipulate him to try and get a better deal with Sea Folk, using his ta'veren nature to help them in their bargain. Not so much as a thank you. He saves more Aes Sedai in Ebou Dar, and they treat him like a gutter rat at best, with the exception of Teslyn, who is genuinely decent to him.

If I were Mat, those thoughts would have probably come bubbling out into words a LONG time ago. This is not sexist - this is him being frustrated because of his experience.

/end rant
33. AndrewB
I agree with Sweeetlilflower @5.

Leigh. One point that I do not think you took into account. Altara is a weak nation that has historically been at the mercy of its neighbors. The Seanchan are a military power. By accepting the deal, Beslan gets protection from a military superpower. From a geopolitical point of view, I can understand why Beslan agreed to the deal. Nevertheless, I do not know if this factor justifies the bad points that you made in your commentary. Just something to consider.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Eric Hughes
34. CireNaes

I can't help it. Literary deconstructionism triggers my typist gag reflex. Call it a preemptive strike if you will.

Besides that I thought you exhibited excellent self-awareness in your response.
Valentin M
35. ValMar
Before Beslan made his decision, he should've gone back to his mates and had a discussion about it:

"What have the Seanchan ever done for us?" ;)

Of course, the result would've been the same. Tuon was rational and serious. She needs Altara quiet and is willing to make consecions (thanks to Mat et all). As was noted above, Altara is given full autonomy. Plus her summary of what was going to be the result is painfully and obviously correct. Bloodbath in the short term and mysery in the long term. Why should the Altarans risk their lives?- for their feckless dimwitted nobles?

Re: Mat's chapter. I'm with Leigh here (though not sure about the sexism). A very unfortunate chapter. And not the last. Fortunately things improve a lot with Mat and he and his entourage are the only unsatisfactory experiences in Brandon's parts of WOT, really. And Talmanes being off is rather surprising.
Lastly, RIP DKS, the cover of TEOTW was a major part of my decision to pick up the book.
36. Lsana
@7, 24,

Just because the prophesy about Rand kneeling to the Crystal Throne is a false prophesy planted by my favorite semi-nuts Foresaken doesn't mean that it's not going to happen. Consider how many of the prophesies in this book have been self-fulfilling (Rand going to conquer the Stone of Tear because that's what the prophesies say he's supposed to, Mat sacrificing his eye because the Snakes said he had to), consider how determined Tuon/Fortuona is to make sure this one comes true, and tell me if it really matters whether the prophesy is "real" or not.
Charles Gaston
37. parrothead
Sorry to hear about Mr Sweet. For all the complaining I've done about the covers, I never thought he was a bad artist, just not the right one for this series. He did some of the old Xanth covers, including Crewel Lye, one of the first fantasy novels I ever read waaay back in 5th grade.

Ah, Seanchan. We've already got imperialism and slavery - and I think an even worse kind than American slavery; given how arbitrary it is, this is more like the slavery of ancient empires, suitable since their ruler is despotic as any Assyrian god king - but now we get to add terrorism to the mix. I can think of no better word for it. A commando raid against a target with whom you are not only not at war but who barely even knows of your existence. Orders to kidnap or kill as many channelers as possible, and kill any (other) non-combatants you can (I say 'other', since the majority of channelers will be barely-trained teenage girls). The ones you take will be enslaved, degraded, stripped of their identity right down to their names, tortured, raped, and turned into living bombs. All this to appease the vanity of a condescending superstitious idiot who takes great pride in her uselessness. So yeah, Tuon sucks here, but she always has.

Mat is definitely off, but since a) he gets better and b) he never really was my fave, eh. Hinderstap, however...When I first read those chapters my Holy Shit Quotient spiked, because I immediately recognized what it was. Best queue up the Wagner right now, is all I'll say.
Thomas Keith
38. insectoid
Great post, Leigh. And I do understand your reaction to these chapters. I feel a bit the same way...

Ch. 19: I must have glossed over this chapter on first read, but now I totally agree that Tuon's ideas of "freedom" is 9 kinds of bullshit coming from someone in charge of a society that institutes slavery. Oh, the early-America-like hypocrisy!

Tuon's thoughts about Mat are kind of d'awwwww moments.

Ch. 20: Argh. I was fairly put off by the opening scene with Mat, and feel the same now. It's just... not like Mat.

Although, this chapter does include one of my favorite new WoT phrases: "Where on the Dark One's blistered backside are we?" Also, some confusing horse logic.

All in all, I'd say these two chapters aren't so awful, considering we have such a FUN FUN chapter coming up.

AndrewB @33: Good point! Although, protection from your enemies doesn't help a lot when the rest of Team Light sees your protectors as enemies...

Dave West
39. Jhirrad
@36 - I really don't think that this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. First off, Rand doesn't even know about it, so Tuon would have to force him to kneel. Second, what you are describing is not the same as what we have here. What you have with that is a fabrication by Ishy. Not an actual reading into the Pattern. In both cases you mention, someone or something (I can't classify the 'Finns as people in my mind) was able to actually read into the Pattern and then told others what was seen there. I don't think that all of the determination that Tuon can put forth would ever be able to match that. Not even close. Especially not against Rand. She's clearly a strong woman, as seen in her encounter with him later, but his will is so overwhelming that he is coming close to bending the Pattern at will. No way she forces him to bend knee. My hope is that there is some sort of cathartic revelation that makes her and Seanchan in general open their bloody flaming eyes and realize how stupid they've been in general. This is one area that I am in 100% agreement with Leigh on. I don't see it happening, but it would be nice.

Oh, and I didn't post this before, but I should. May you always find water and shade Mr. Sweet.
Marcus W
40. toryx
Yep, this chapter with Mat was one of the most disappointing parts of the whole book. I hated it the first time and my hate only increases with every subsequent reading.

Personally, I think it's flat out obvious that it's Sanderson writing it (comparing it to the Mistborn series alone proves that for me) but frankly, I don't care. If we someday learn that Jordan is responsible for this chapter I'll still loathe it. Mat is simply a prick, and a loud-mouthed prick at that, unworthy of the man we've come to know since he woke up in the White Tower.

All that's bad enough but knowing that such an offensive tirade is not only intended to be funny but received that way by so many...

Well, I despair sometimes, I truly do.
41. Ryanus
Concerning Tuon's offer and how valid it is. I'll simply make note of the 4th season of Angel. Who was the "good" guy in that? Was Angel right or was Jasmine? This is the same type of situation really. (For those who haven't seen this I'll spoil it at the bottom of the post).

Concern Mat. For me he felt off here, but overall I can forgive it and don't really have the issues with it others have had. Not much more I can add there. But one aside, someone mentioned feeling Thom was out of character to be imaptient. I don't really think that's the case. He wasn't patiently waiting for Mat to ask about the letter. He was constantly toying with it, waiving it around casually where Mat could see it and slowly driving himself insane not being able to just discuss it with him outright. He was patient because he was told the alternative was Moraine's death. He wasn't patient willingly. Now that the secret's out he's able to show more pressure on Mat to get on with it.

Now for the Angel Spoilers



Season four of Angel has the antagonist in the form of Jasmine. A former god basically, that fell from favor with the others for wanting to be more directly involved with the mortals. She had enough power to cause literally anyone she came in contact with to love and worship her. Beyond those two factors and the near blind obedience that goes with it she did nothing to change people's personalities.

She systematically got rid of supernatural threat in LA for a time, ended petty crime, ended poverty and food issues. In about a week LA was a utopia. Oh, except to keep her powers she had to eat a handful of people a day.

In the end Angel stops her, claiming the right of free will and the right for humans to take their own path. And in reward, the clear cut true evil of the setting gives him a reward for destroying peace on earth. If Jasmine had been allowed to continue and spread to the world the world would, for the average person and for the majority, be a better place. No war, no famine, no poverty. Even with her eating people she would still be saving lives.

The story is deliberately left as somewhat in the air as to rather Angel's choice was the right one. This is largely thought because the question of Freedom vs Security is a very personal and very subjective teeter-totter.

That's what the Raven Empire offers. Security, safety, peace. It has a cost, a cost that's too high for many of us to ever consider, but it's not something that can be casually dimissed.
Eric Hughes
42. CireNaes

I'm always an advocate of utilizing the HALT principle before posting. But if that particular section in the text reminds you of someone in your own life, don't read into (e.g., project) on any of the other posters response to it. You could create a vicious cycle where they take on characterisitcs of that roll because it is expected of them. Or create hostility if they refuse to introjectively identify and you will only start a flame war.

Humor is a tricky business. Very generational, cultural, and personality driven. Take Will Ferrell's mannerisims. My brother who is just four years older than me (and most of his friends), can't stand him. Don't think he's funny at all. They perceive him as idiotic, not creative, childish, etc...Now does that make people who like Will Ferrell's humor all of those things as well?

Now people who think Dane Cook's standup is funny...that's where I despair. Open tears. No holding back. Heaving shoulders. Snot down the chin. And they're all raving idiots. No doubt in my mind.

Edit: for spelling.
43. Sean Gibson
@32 Jhirrad Thanks man, I was expecting to be torn into little pieces. For the record I think Mat might be a little off, but obviously less so than others.

Ok, now that I've survived that one. On to another controversial point.

I love Leigh, I love the re-reads but sometimes. Sometimes. I get a little tired of the preaching. Leigh is obviously what you americans call a liberal, or a democrat, or a 'smug lefty'. I know the type, I am one myself. But one thing I'm careful of is smug preachiness. This is right, this wrong, this is moral outrage, this is moral smugness about things We Do Right. I'm an amateur historian and as such I can get annoyed with western society in general and left wingers in particular about how we view the world.

1) For most of human history, we've not had a good record at 'getting it right'. Even now in the 'free world' we're still dealing with actually finally getting a balance between the sexes, the races and we still deal with prejudice every day.

2) We don't have the right to go smacking down other cultures because they're not there yet. We should help them, maybe even do what we can to set things right, but we can't go judging and being morally outraged. Considering the length of recorded human history (about 3000ish years where we're reasonably sure what happened) and how long we're doing ok at having personal freedom in a real sense (let's say, the sixties, about 50, being generous). We're pretty lucky to live when we do... Most of us who're reading this aren't the brave men and women who actually did a lot of the stuff that made our societies as close to 'free' as we have ever been able to get. Nor are we personally fighting for those freedoms, whether it's in the armed forces or confronting the corporations who're impinging on those freedoms within our own societies.

3) A lot of us are a lucky generation. We've inherited the society and the world our recent ancestors made for us. It's far from perfect, but a lot of the things we have got, good and bad (and there's a lot of good) they got for us. And we're also the worst at pointing the finger and condeming other people whose cultures and freedoms don't match our own.

4) Slavery is bad, sexism is bad, prejudice is bad in general. We get it. We agree with it (I know I do). Moral outrage every time it crops up in WOT or ASOIAF just comes off as being a smug liberal whether intentional or not.
44. Sean Gibson
On re-reading this this sounds a lot harsher than I meant it (sorry!) but it has been... on my mind for a while now. It seemed like every post or two in WoT and almost every post of the Game of Thrones read, there was an unfavourable comparison of the worlds we're playing in in comparison to american society. And it has become... irksome. So continously.
45. ryamano
Kimaniak @23

Ok, one of my issues (paralleling Leigh’s preemptive strike comment): The Seanchan’s opposition (all of Randland, which includes Rand and his followers) have demonstrated that at least some of them have Traveling, and yet not once have they struck at the Seanchan seat of power. Obviously they could; they just have chosen not to. Yet the Seanchan have no problems sending a nighttime raid to attack one of the main established seats of power of their opposition. Doesn’t anyone worry about escalation? Wouldn’t a good general say, “Are we sure we want to open that door, because we are quite vulnerable ourselves?” Wouldn’t a ruler be worried about a reprisal, even if the raid is successful and you capture some and kill others? You’ve essentially pissed off your enemy who you admit has a skill (Traveling) and a weapon (the accidental mega-bomb that Avi & Elayne unleashed in TPoD) that you believe puts you at a strategic disadvantage.

I would say that one of the purposes of the raid is for the Seanchan to discover travelling. It’s written in the bits Leigh quoted. They are willing to risk escalation if that will mean they have the deterrent (travelling) as well. This might not make sense at first, but it actually does. The URSS used spies to discover how the Americans built the nuclear bomb. That was a dangerous move, but in the end, due to the spy action, the URSS had nukes as well and a new equilibrium in the zero sum game was achieved, one in which the URSS could retaliate more severely. This is the same case.

(And as a quick aside, with the exception of Dark Rand at the end of this book, why is it never considered by his side to Travel into Ebou Dar with a few Ashaman, set some Blosssoms of Fire around the palace and the damane “kennels” and seriously bloody your enemies lip and limit their power? Weaken the Seanchan and give Rand more of an advantage in negotiations. This occupying force has shown it can be ruthless; they could be severely diminished with just the use of, say, 10 Ashaman. I’m just saying…)

Well, we must remember the chronology of events. In book 8 Rand had his great confrontation with the Seanchan. He did use travelling in this series of battles, but more to move his armies to defeat the Seanchan armies in the Altara-Illian border. He didn’t send them in travelling raids to Altara/Tarabon probably due to his will to get a decisive victory and force them to the Aryth ocean at once. Just making the equivalent of air bombings wouldn’t be enough for him to get this, he needs to destroy the army completely (that’s why he got Callandor, I think. That’s also why he tried to free the damane. He thought this could accomplish the self-destruction of the Seanchan army, but it didn’t work out. It actually hindered him with taking care of lots of dangerous POWs).

Also, the travelling raid that took Illian in book 7 worked because most of the Illianer army was elsewhere and the city was undefended. Once they took Illian, the Illianer army was without a supply route. So it made sense for them to concede defeat, not to mention the fact the Illianer elite was supporting Rand after the fact. Taking the Seanchan wouldn’t be so easy. They have a lot of coastline to supply their troops and a lot of ships to do so as well. Their armies aren’t concentrated, they’re spread in a very wide border going from Tarabon to Altara, passing through Ghealdan and Amadicia. What Rand could’ve done was open another front with travelling, making the Seanchan face a two-front or three-front war. But of course, he could’ve used his Aiel as well and he didn’t.

Let’s just say Rand didn’t use all he could in the confrontations with the Seanchan due to his stupidity and gloominess (part of the Moridin effect).

At the end of book 8 Rand goes back after the inconclusive battle with the Seanchan and suffers an assassination attempt by his Asha’man. After that, Rand-occupied lands doesn’t really have a central planner for quite some time. Rand goes into hiding, issuing some orders, but he’s more preoccupied with finding the Asha’man that tried to kill him and with cleansing the source than with anything else.

In book 9 and 10 we see that the Asha’man, after the Seanchan war and Rand assassination attempt, are occupied with other things. Darkfriend Asha’man and Logain Asha’man are preoccupied with finding Rand, the other Asha’man with building the Black Tower. So there’s no order coming from the top (Rand or Taim) to attack the Seanchan. Later, in book 10, Rand gives the order to all his troops (including the Asha’man he has contact with) to stop the conflict with the Seanchan and to try to get a truce (he even sends Logain to treat with them).

So the question is answered by:
Rand didn’t think about it in book 8 (he might have thought using Callandor was enough and once seeing that didn’t work out gave up).Rand was more preoccupied with other stuff in book 9.Rand wanted truce with the Seanchan in book 10 and 11.Mazrim Taim didn’t seem to want to waste men with that effort.Logain was more preoccupied with finding Rand and dealing with Taim.
Ok, one of my issues (paralleling Leigh’s preemptive strike comment): The Seanchan’s opposition (all of Randland, which includes Rand and his followers) have demonstrated that at least some of them have Traveling, and yet not once have they struck at the Seanchan seat of power. Obviously they could; they just have chosen not to. Yet the Seanchan have no problems sending a nighttime raid to attack one of the main established seats of power of their opposition. Doesn’t anyone worry about escalation? Wouldn’t a good general say, “Are we sure we want to open that door, because we are quite vulnerable ourselves?” Wouldn’t a ruler be worried about a reprisal, even if the raid is successful and you capture some and kill others? You’ve essentially pissed off your enemy who you admit has a skill (Traveling) and a weapon (the accidental mega-bomb that Avi & Elayne unleashed in TPoD) that you believe puts you at a strategic disadvantage.

I would say that one of the purposes of the raid is for the Seanchan to discover travelling. It’s written in the bits Leigh quoted. They are willing to risk escalation if that will mean they have the deterrent (travelling) as well. This might not make sense at first, but it actually does. The URSS used spies to discover how the Americans built the nuclear bomb. That was a dangerous move, but in the end, due to the spy action, the URSS had nukes as well and a new equilibrium in the zero sum game was achieved, one in which the URSS could retaliate more severely. This is the same case.

(And as a quick aside, with the exception of Dark Rand at the end of this book, why is it never considered by his side to Travel into Ebou Dar with a few Ashaman, set some Blosssoms of Fire around the palace and the damane “kennels” and seriously bloody your enemies lip and limit their power? Weaken the Seanchan and give Rand more of an advantage in negotiations. This occupying force has shown it can be ruthless; they could be severely diminished with just the use of, say, 10 Ashaman. I’m just saying…)

Well, we must remember the chronology of events. In book 8 Rand had his great confrontation with the Seanchan. He did use travelling in this series of battles, but more to move his armies to defeat the Seanchan armies in the Altara-Illian border. He didn’t send them in travelling raids to Altara/Tarabon probably due to his will to get a decisive victory and force them to the Aryth ocean at once. Just making the equivalent of air bombings wouldn’t be enough for him to get this, he needs to destroy the army completely (that’s why he got Callandor, I think. That’s also why he tried to free the damane. He thought this could accomplish the self-destruction of the Seanchan army, but it didn’t work out. It actually hindered him with taking care of lots of dangerous POWs).

Also, the travelling raid that took Illian in book 7 worked because most of the Illianer army was elsewhere and the city was undefended. Once they took Illian, the Illianer army was without a supply route. So it made sense for them to concede defeat, not to mention the fact the Illianer elite was supporting Rand after the fact. Taking the Seanchan wouldn’t be so easy. They have a lot of coastline to supply their troops and a lot of ships to do so as well. Their armies aren’t concentrated, they’re spread in a very wide border going from Tarabon to Altara, passing through Ghealdan and Amadicia. What Rand could’ve done was open another front with travelling, making the Seanchan face a two-front or three-front war. But of course, he could’ve used his Aiel as well and he didn’t.

Let’s just say Rand didn’t use all he could in the confrontations with the Seanchan due to his stupidity and gloominess (part of the Moridin effect).

At the end of book 8 Rand goes back after the inconclusive battle with the Seanchan and suffers an assassination attempt by his Asha’man. After that, Rand-occupied lands doesn’t really have a central planner for quite some time. Rand goes into hiding, issuing some orders, but he’s more preoccupied with finding the Asha’man that tried to kill him and with cleansing the source than with anything else.

In book 9 and 10 we see that the Asha’man, after the Seanchan war and Rand assassination attempt, are occupied with other things. Darkfriend Asha’man and Logain Asha’man are preoccupied with finding Rand, the other Asha’man with building the Black Tower. So there’s no order coming from the top (Rand or Taim) to attack the Seanchan. Later, in book 10, Rand gives the order to all his troops (including the Asha’man he has contact with) to stop the conflict with the Seanchan and to try to get a truce (he even sends Logain to treat with them).

So the question is answered by:

Rand didn’t think about it in book 8 (he might have thought using Callandor was enough and once seeing that didn’t work out gave up).
Rand was more preoccupied with other stuff in book 9.
Rand wanted truce with the Seanchan in book 10 and 11.
Mazrim Taim didn’t seem to want to waste men with that effort.
Logain was more preoccupied with finding Rand and dealing with Taim.
Peter Reen
46. pnr060
I had a few more thoughts on Mat's character, which I will frame in a discussion about Min because she has a more concise example of what I'm talking about. Over the course of the series I've noticed that Min has used various terms to point out Rand's lack of sophistication (and Faile to Perrin, for that matter): hay-hair, wool-head, sheepherder, farmboy, and so on. It's hard to remember if she ever repeated any of them, but you get the impression she could come up with an endless list of cutesy, derogatory nicknames for Rand. I feel like the extra vocab she uses in her insults offers an impression of cleverness (and the insults themselves show her desire to maintain her independance, or her partial resentment that fate has basically slaved her to Rand), and I like to think that Robert Jordan intended it to be that way. But she's repeated one nickname almost to the exclusion of all others in the last two books: looby. I think this is a symptom of something that you can see occasionally when reading an author's interpretation of another author's world (fanfiction, for lack of a better term).

Based on what I've read about Jordan, I get the impression that he's spent time fully creating an fleshing out his characters in his head and on paper. He thought of them as having actual personalities, which allowed him to organically create dialog that those characters would use. His perception of Min's character would let him instinctively know whether certain word choices would sound appropriate when expressed in her voice, and his perception of her personality would influence which of those options he chose.

By contrast, Sanderson's impression of Min's character is based on the impression he formed when he first read her character. It's not necessarily the same as Jordan's was, and he may not have formed some of the perceptions of the subtleties of her character that were either alluded to intentionally or that other readers just thought existed. Either way, the mental image of Min's (and Mat's) character that any one person forms is probably at least slightly different than every other person's.

The problem with this is that Sanderson has to write about those characters. For the most part, Jordan was consistent in how he wrote his characters (and when he wasn't it could pretty jarring, too... wait, was he being inconsistent or did my perception of the character not match his...?), so most readers were able to maintain their image of them. If Sanderson's impression of a certain character is different from Jordan's, he may unintentionally exaggerate or flanderize certain traits (probably why the books included the disclaimer that he was going to write Robert Jordan's story in Brandon Sanderson's style). In this case, he didn't notice how Min's insults were used in the story (or I just made this whole example up out of nothing), so he used one particular one too often or he inserted them in places I didn't think she would have.

In addition, he may be limited by a character's past actions. When you're trying to work in someone else's setting, all you have to go on is what has already happened or been said, or any notes that are available. It's probably a non-trivial challenge to determine what actions or words or names work. It may be that Min says "looby" now because that was what she said in the past. It was already in place in canon as an acceptable term to call someone, so it was guaraunteed to be an appropriate term, at least.
47. ryamano
Sorry for the almost double post above.

Regarding Mat's voice being off in this chapter: we can almost surely know, by Brandon Sanderson's own quotes in interviews, that this was written by him with not much direction to go. According to the quote, RJ had just written "Mat becomes worried about becoming a husband" and that was it for this part. I guess the lack of directions resulted in this chapter being what it is, with a voice too different for many Mat fans. I think BWS becomes more proficient in how he writes Mat chapters in ToM, which shows he can improve greatly (and probably will for AMOL).

We also know that the last chapters of ToM, where Mat goes to the Tower of Ghenjei, were almost fully written by RJ. again, BWS said that in a book signing.
William Fettes
48. Wolfmage
I didn't find the Mat chapter quite as offensive to my sensibilities as Leigh, but I do agree that the voice is off. It's not so much that I can't imagine Mat over-generalising about women (which, yes, meets the textbook definition of sexism regardless of his many justified grievances against specific women) and using salty language and generally bellyaching. However, it's the lack of subtlety in how this is written that makes it off.

Mat as a character has generally been portrayed throughout the series with an interesting dichotomy between his true inner self and his external self as he appears to others. He also has many seemingly contradictory characteristics that are apparent in his actions and thoughts. For example, at first blanch he can appear to be rather impish, irresponsible and selfish, but we also know he takes his word deadly seriously, and in terms of Olver, the Band and his rescuing heroics, it’s obvious that he’s a man of substance, courage and ever-growing responsibility. Similarly, he can appear flippant and dismissive about the Two Rivers women at points, but then he is also shown being genuinely concerned about their dignity when they are being belittled by outsiders. His character arc is full of this kind of thing - similar to Nynaeve in many ways.

I think the problem with this chapter is that it fails to anchor the rant as part of that progressive complexity, and certainly as goes Mat’s character at the end of KoD. It is certainly within his character to vent about women, but because it is so overt and inartfully written, Mat simply comes off as a pale, regressed buffoonish and slapstick version of himself, rather than the bundle of contradictions we have come to know and love, with all the rich complexity of the previous books.

Some people have tried to argue that it is his new status as a married man, as part of Seanchan peerage, and Tuon's leavetaking that is causing him to become a little unhinged. But I still think that only explains his state of mind, not the actual expression of that state of mind in terms of style and substance. I think rather obviously that the expression is muddled and off, absent the subtleties, complexities and contradictions of RJ's Mat.

Still it's hard to fault Brandon when he gets almost everything else pitch perfect, and to be fair, his version of Mat does improve over time.
Patricia Bauler
49. tshania_sedai
I don't have much to comment on about the Tuon chapter, as it has all pretty much been said alredy.

Now, as for Matt - this was the first chapter that totally and completely threw me out of the story when I first read it. There were little things before this, mostly phrases or character thoughts that just felt off to me, but this chapter just left me feeling like this wasn't a real WoT book anymore. I think part of the problem was that I re-read all of the RJ WoT books leading up to the release of TGS, and it was more of a feeling that some things just were quite as precise as usual. Which, in general, wasn't too much of a problem, but this chapter just bothered me. I didn't really have a problem with what Matt did (the rant, the rudeness, the grumpiness), but more how he did it. I feel like for Matt it would have been much more internal dialoge and pondering how he doesn't understand women and how Rand would know what to do and how he is pretending to not miss Tuon as much as he does, then verbally snapping at the Aes Sedai because of his foul mood. I felt like all of the subtlty that made Matt the brilliant character he was is missing in this chapter, and I don't think it ever quite returns, at least not in this book. I also have to concur that Talmanes feels even more off, if that is possible. And having them together only highlights the off-ness in my opinion.

Of course, I don't want to complain too much, since I am very happy that the books will be finished at all. Brandon Sanderson was totally the right person for the job, and all in all the results have been quite good. I totally agree with the decision that he not try and emulate RJ's style, as it would have been darned near impossible, and probably made most of the story feel even more out of place. However, the Matt sections are the one place where I feel the stylistic differences highlight character inconsistancies. I think the writing of Matt does improve in ToM, and I expect he will be quite kick-ass in aMoL. But in TGS, I have to agree with Leigh - painful.
Tyler Durden
50. Balance

We all pretty much agree that Mat was off. Even Sanderson knew he didn't quite get him. That's why he tried so hard to improve in the next book. I think we all have our theories as to why he was off. Here's mine.

Most authors put a little of themselves in each character they write. I think Mat was the character that RJ put most of himself into. Or, at least, how he remembered himself at that age. I think Mat's internal monalogues are probably the closest we will get to actually being inside RJ's head. With perhaps a little Indiana Jones thrown in. (the way he tugs his hat down espicially) That's why he seems so genuine to most of us. To me he seems like the only character I could actually have a beer with. He really is based off of a real person's personality. That's why it's so hard to write Mat. You have to be inside RJ's head and memories to pull the right effect.

I think Brandon wrote a little of himself inside Mat to try and get the same genuine effect. Espicially the scene later where Mat was put off that they were not using his huge, written down plan. "...There was great drama in those pages!" That seems like Brandon imprinting to me. The humor we see here is Brandon's humor. Which is fine. Except that it is written into a character that was most closely associated to the internal humor of the previous author. That, my friends, is very hard to replicate.
51. Wortmauer
Tuon: Her sales pitch is a bit headdeskey, but I note that in the real world a lot of people fall for the same tricks. It's been some years since I heard it, but I seem to recall certain people were against deposing Saddam Hussein for similar reasons. If you kept your head down, didn't expect to get away with a flamboyant Western lifestyle, and tried not to be born a Kurd, life apparently wasn't that bad in Iraq; probably it was better than the chaos immediately following the fall of Saddam's government.

And yet, most of us would agree that Saddam's and Tuon's governments are actively evil and don't/didn't deserve to stand.

Mat: not much to add. He sounded too much like Lightsong or Elend in their "check me out, I'm a clever wordsmith" moments. (Also, Balance@50, "he didn't quite get him" is pretty charitable. But I digress.) Oh well. The rest of the book is as good as we could have hoped for. But for those who say Mat improves in ToM: "im barley litterat an i cant spel and my perfekly composed note to the Soopergirls in ACOS wuz just a fluk, LOL!!!11" But I guess we'll get there.

Mat's humor isn't entirely internal, as some here may have implied. One of my favorite lines: "Oh, yes. That's Aviendha. Don't look at her crosswise, or she'll try to cut your throat and probably slit her own by mistake." (LOC, Ch. 33, "Courage to Strengthen") It wouldn't have been all that funny except that he nailed Aiel humor using an Aiel subject, apparently without even trying. Something at which most wetlanders fail badly.
Elijah Foster
52. TheWolfKing
I personally LOVED Mats so called rant on woman. I don't understand how Leigh can call it sexist because it is based off of his experiences (As explained above by some many others). Before you can judge something as sexist, you have to consider if it would be with the role reversed. If it was Nynaveve making this generalization about men, I doubt Leigh would object because she hasn't in the past. I don't want to be mean or ridiculed for this, but I will go as far as to say that it is sexist on Leigh's part to call this sexist because I feel that she deemed it sexist because it was a man talking about woman. Yes everyone, sexism can work both ways! And no I am not being sexist against Leigh by calling her sexist by her calling something sexist because I would feel the same way if she was a man. Prime example of the role reverse thing I talked about. I feel that she may have stuck a sexism label to it because she did not find it funny, but rather distasteful and therefore felt that it was sexist towards women. travyl found it funny and she's a woman, so it’s not that all women find it not funny, it just how Leigh's sense of humor works.

The same for Perrin spanking Faile. If Faile did it to Perrin would it be deemed wrong? No, it would be that an unruly boy needed a spanking. Well guess what, an unruly girl needed a spanking. I feel that Leigh here is actually objecting to that of a man physically dominating a woman.
Then someone says (not actually someone, completely hypothetical)-
Someone: No, Leigh specifically said it was because Perrin treated her like a child.
Me: That’s why I used the word feel. Also Nynaveve spanked Mat and they were both adults who should be treated equally just like Leigh said about Perrin and Faile.
Someone: Mat was acting like a child.
Me: So was Faile.
Someone: But Faile is a woman and a man should not be treating her like that.
Me: If woman want to be treated equally they will be treated equally in all things including punishment.
Someone: But a man is stronger and can defend himself better.
Me: Then don't try to make men and women equal in all things.

I realize that this is a made up argument by me I just wanted to show my logic and how these arguments will turn out with me. I believe my last argument though is the humor in Mats dice analogy. Make up your mind, equal or not. You can't apply it only when you want to. This compares to the women in Mats joke changing what pip pops up and then applying the rules when it’s in their favor. By no means am I saying all feminists are like this, or Leigh for that matter, but I know that some are. In fact this is just how people work on a general basis, hence the humor.

Feel free to disagree (politely), but don't flame me as this is an opinion and NO I am not being sexist here. Call me that all you want (please don’t), but I will respectfully disagree.

Again, I am not trying to be mean here; I just wanted my opinions known.
53. Shadow_Jak
Thanks Leigh. Always fun to read your commentary. I often agree with many of your observations. But, even after following this reread from the beginning, I find I can still be taken by surprise.

I was right with you on Mat's chapter, glad to see your agreement, that it was totally off... until you went into the reasons.

I have no problem with Mat's thoughts and motivations. The concept of the dice thing was right on the money for Mat's character. Wouldn't surprise me if the idea is from RJ.

But the execution just totally took me out of the storey.
As other's have said, Mat's humor has always been mostly from his internal dialog. With his actual dialog often totally at odds with his thoughts.

Also have a lot of problems with Vanin and others here.
Vanin lost? The Band lost?!
And what happened to the rest of the Band's generals?
Where are Edorian, Carlomin, Reimon?
Never a mention of them in TGS nor in ToM
Just kinda bugs me.
Ryan Reich
54. ryanreich
This is not to be trollish, but "defined to be subhuman for an inborn trait you can't even control" does not, on its face, strike me as logically inconsistent. It may be immoral, but only if you consider humanity to be the thing at the bottom of one's being, on which all else is built (among which, the ability to channel. Or, as Tuon once said, the inclination to commit murder).

Actually, just about all inhuman creatures are considered to be that way because of inborn traits outside their control. We just happen to approve of the designation when it makes them look like pigs.

Of course, tolerating inherent variation among homo sapiens is the modern, to my mind correct perspective, but it's not the only one that makes sense. It's just the one that averts slavery and oppression of select minorities. But "subhuman"? Sure, if you want to define "human" to mean "is civilized according to my standards", then someone who has the ability to reshape the universe to their desire may not be civilized. But, like horses, they may be useful for work.

I am not defending the practice. I am simply defending the logic; this is something that reasonable people can do because it is not a failure of intelligence, but of principles. Which I think you were saying, but in the case of this particular sentence, not so well.
Terry McNamee
55. macster
I actually have...very little to say this week, for me. No, really! For one these chapters don't do much, they're pretty much just re-establishing where certain characters have been and where they will be going from here, with another example of why the Seanchan suck (big surprise), showcasing Mat's humor (or not, based on the responses...), and setting the stage for what will come in Hinderstap. So seeing as these are just set-up chapters, it's not surprising there isn't much to say. In fact I am pretty sure that if not for the (justifiable) hate against the Seanchan and the nerdrage over Mat, neither Leigh nor anyone else would have much to say about these chapters, and if this were an earlier commentary they'd have been glossed over so the re-read could move on to the next big event.

My only comment about the Seanchan, other than what's already been said, is that the whole "we will give you peace and security" argument obviously drives right at the heart of the freedom vs. security debate which has become so important in modern America. How much are you willing to give up of one to receive the other? When has a line irrevocably been crossed? Is the price worth it? When is clinging to freedom merely being blind to the genuine need for safety and stability, and when is it the last bastion of political and social morality that should not be abandoned for any reason? See the Patriot Act. Obviously there is no definite answer, as each situation and circumstances have to be judged on its own merit, but the debate itself is clearly topical and something Jordan thought worth exploring. I am not sure how much of this was in the notes, but I am glad Sanderson is still addressing it.

Back to Mat: yes, I called it nerdrage. Because I find it amusing how people can still get so up in arms about how "their" character has been so wronged, written badly, isn't the same anymore, was ruined, and so on. Why do I find this amusing, aside from the whole getting too attached to a fictional character thing? Because as is obvious from the comments here, while there are a lot of people who didn't like how Mat was written, the disdain for Sanderson's depiction of him is clearly not universal. So for those who are saying "this isn't like how Jordan wrote him", apparently other people disagree with you. Or they just don't see the problems you do. Whether this is because they don't have as much invested in Mat, their senses of humor are different, or they've never seen Mat the way you do (see pnr060's observation about us all having different views of the characters), who knows. But in the end, it really all does come down to Your Mileage May Vary. Clearly it does, and this seems to be one of the most divisive things in the fandom since some of the early theory wars and the Tylin affair, certainly in regards to the new books. So to complain because...people are different, and see things differently, seems a bit...off. And funny.

The exception to this is toryx@40. While you may find Mat's character to be ruined, the writing of him out-of-character, and the humor offensive and hate-worthy, to say that you are disapppointed by and despairing over others liking and being amused by this chapter is--extremely offensive. CireNaes is right, that statement is pretty much flamebait, because while you are perfectly free to dislike the writing, or even to personally be disappointed in Sanderson for writing Mat this way, to judge others for their likes and dislikes is both presumptuous and out-of-line. Shame on you. You don't have to like everything Sanderson writes, but you should not judge others when they like something you don't.

That said, let me end this rant by saying that yes, I found Mat's humor here extremely hilarious, both based on his specific experiences with women recently and the overall male-female relations which Jordan has written up to this point. As dlinderholm (proving he could be fair and balanced in his outlook) and others explained, even if the way Mat's views were expressed seemed off to some people, the actual content of Mat's rant was vintage Jordan as far as I am concerned (the dice motif especially, but also the whole "even women who hate each other will get together to tell a man off when he disagrees with one of them" line of thought--I ran across something like this in re-reading TEotW), and he was absolutely justified, not sexist, in making it. I especially agree 100% with Sean Gibson @26, Jhirrad @32, and TheWolfKing @52. And I even thought Talmanes's deadpan response to it all made it even funnier.

So, long story short: travyl, MasterAlThor, Sean Gibson, you aren't alone in your views. I'd say me finding it funny must be a man thing, except travyl is female. So, take that as you will. But I will say that it seems I will be tuning out the rest of this thread, and any others in regards to Mat chapters (like the ones in Trustair) unless something other than Mat is being discussed...because I am frankly not interested in reading nothing but Mat/Sanderson bashing.

Oh, and Bergmaniac @6: Very good point indeed. Siuan's Law of Unintended Consequences rears its head once more. And to KiManiak @23, I actually think Berg is on to something. It is true there were a lot of characters and events involved to show it wasn't simple cause and effect, but on the other hand consider: if Elayne had not gone to Ebou Dar (in Berg's example, because Elaida succeeded in capturing her), there would have been no one to figure out what the Kin were or that they had the Bowl, no one to apologize to Mat to get him to find it for them, no one to take over the Ebou Dar delegation, and so the Salidar Aes Sedai would still have just been sitting there annoying Tylin when the Seanchan came and captured them--or killed by the gholam since there would have been no Mat or Birgitte to explain it to them or defend them from it. So not even counting the unweaving of the gateway, none of the whole Bowl of the Winds storyline would have happened (in fact Mat was only there because first Rand, then Egwene wanted Elayne protected) and there would indeed have been no "weapon" to spur the Seanchan attack on the Tower. Not to mention all the other things which wouldn't have happened if Elayne had been captured, like bonding Birgitte to save her life. So Elaida's failure really did impact on the plot in positive ways for a change.
I think that some of the problem with Mats rant is the abrupt way it was presented. I remember having bought the book a day after release and like many of us, I ripped through it in less than a day. I then came here to Leighs blog to see what her and everyone else's reaction would be. I believe it was the non spoiler review, where she mentions a chapter that she absolutely abhorred. And I new right off which one she was talking about. I went back and read it again and laughed as hard as I did the first time I read it. And said to myself, "well I know why she doesn't get it. She's a woman after all. Women alway take offense to that sort of thing". Which iz why its not normally said in front of a woman. Be that as it may, I felt no sympathy for Leigh's opinion of it, mainly because Leigh generally doesn't notice when the roles are reversed. I'm not the only one who's noticed that, so please be patient with me on that one. And yet taken from a perspective disregarding Leigh's part of the conversation, I do concede the rub. But note, Mats rant was with a male friend and not meant for a woman's ear. We just got to eavesdrop on them. The rant in fact, can't and shouldn't be compared to any other happening because it wasn't directed at anyone in particular. I imagine that many a man, have had a similar rant over whatever was done to set them off. And vice versa. I know I have, but never in front of the opposite sex. And it's never meant to be. So unfortunately, poor Mats character is being called into question over a conversation not meant for our ears. How many times have you, honest humble readers, have you had conversation sensitive in nature that you, would rather not have the whole world hear? Now give the rant the privacy that, in Mats world at least, no other would have heard. A conversation between men about women.

Its like some of you would like me to believe that women don't have similar conversations about men!

57. Stubob
"the entire concept of preemptive strikes pisses me off on principle, for reasons which I should hope would be obvious."

I'm just fine with them if it is an opponent that you are pretty much certain you will have to fight (and you would in this story). Though I'd of course want it to be a pre-emptive strike AGAINST the Seanchan.

"Talmanes replies “No, thank the Light”, and then hastily amends that he’s sure it will work out for Mat, though"

Talmanes is gifted with dry wit. Also, Tuon does love herself some Mat. And she seems to be open to change/adaptation. So maybe things will turn out alright! As for Beslan, I think he was doing about what he had to do.
Roger Powell
58. forkroot
OK, it's close - needs a little bit of tweaking. I'll probably have it ready tomorrow.

j p
59. sps49
I dunno, I get the feeling that the Seanchan get the trains to run on time, but....

Hopefully Tuon will improve now that Graendal isn't influencing her (ToM epilogue) and as she gets to know Our Heroes better.

ryanamo @45 (TAN)-
The Soviets were doing okay with their weapon research; they've always had seriously smart folks. Stalin reputedly used the espionage data as a check on what his scientists were telling him, without passing it on to them (Uncle Joe makes Elaida look calm and rational).

@Leigh- how about writing your posts now, but holding them until, say, the 24th or 26th? Give Tor.com more new content on days when many don't have to be at work & such? Think about it.

And I read the first paragraph of your post in Jules' voice.
60. Wortmauer
sps49@59: @Leigh- how about writing your posts now, but holding them until, say, the 24th or 26th? Give Tor.com more new content on days when many don't have to be at work & such? Think about it.
If you want that kind of work ethic, you should probably check out another tor.com read feature. Suzanne turns in her posts about a week ahead — so she never seems to have to apologize for lack of a post because something came up at the last minute. This despite her relatively small audience (judging by the comments sections). Color me impressed.
Valentin M
61. ValMar
Sean Gibson @ 43

I sympathise with you here. I find all the ranting towards the Seanchan rather tiresome.
They have some very bad (especially from modern Western POV) aspects to their culture, even compared to Randland. They shouldn't be forgotten and should be a part of how we perceive Tuon's people.

But the Seanchan we read about aren't Asian/EU/NA nation in 2011 AD. They are a Continental Empire in late medieval fantasy setting. They aren't worse than many states/peoples in our history. When we read about these cultures (e.g. Rome) we are aware of their bad sides but don't jump on our high horses and go all hysterical.

Also, Altarans fighting for freedom?! Let's not forget that Altara is a feudal society dominated by fractious nobles whose rivalries make the daily lives of their people harder. The various local aristocracy have total power over the local population.

I really dislike the Seanchan and I'm on the side of Rand and the others who oppose them. But let's keep things in perspective.

I personally think that what will happen to the Seanchan, culturally, will be the reverse of what happened to them 1 000 years ago on their continent. Their culture will be melted into the culture of Randland. They will be more influenced by Randland than the opposite.
Philip Alan Smith
65. AlanS7
When TGS came out 2 years ago, I read it approx a dozen times in the first month (my sole companion on a 3 week trip to India, dark evenings with little night life). When I saw the complaints on the web re Mat, I was surprised, but thought that perhaps my British viewpoint made the difference. Bits like "the prudish woman who has hated your woman from birth - since your woman's granny stole the other woman's honeycake recipe when they were both maids - that woman will side against you" both cracked me up and felt natural. Earlier in the reread, Leigh opines that Mat's character is the nearest to a 20th century American viewpoint and casts a new light on the others; perhaps the new author adjusted the lampshade. The reread comments are roughly split for and against...
The obvious change is that Talmanes starts talking! He spoke at some length in the Cairhein battle scenes in Fires of Heaven, also to Egwene in Path of Daggers re the Band and King Roedran, but not much else.
Now Legends (ch. 34), where Mat's planning the scout of Trustair before Verin arrives, does seem off and too modern in its language (I still like it, though: "I'm a travelling merchant who once trained with the Aeil and who has come to the village because he's heard there's a trout that lives in the lake who insulted his father." "Nonsense. You're a Warder.").
Jonathan Levy
66. JonathanLevy
A lot of interesting Mat commentary. Very rewarding thread.

2. hamstercheeks
I think the "Jordan subtle vs. BWS Slapstick" line was mine :)

18. dlinderholm
I totally agree with your first paragraph.
19. travyl
Then he suffers under lovely queen Tylin
LOL. Yes she was on top most of the time, wasn't she? ;)

23. KiManiak
Interesting commentary. I'd like to address one of your points:
Doesn’t anyone worry about escalation? Wouldn’t a good general say, “Are we sure we want to open that door, because we are quite vulnerable ourselves?”
Well, if you think you have the ability to cripple the opposition with one blow, then fears of escalation are moot. But there might be another aspect here. If you're fighting other humans, who have motivations, interests, and fears like you, with whom you will have long-term relations, then the question of escalation is important. If you're fighting a rabid wolves, or a nest of fire ants or hornets, then you strike hard as soon as you have an advantage.

The White Tower is a nest of marath'damane. How do you think the Seanchan see them?

28. pnr060
I liked your Mat counter-examples.

32. Jhirrad
I think the question is not "Are Mat's beliefs justified?", but "Is this way of expressing his beliefs consistent with his character as revealed in the previous books?"

35. ValMar
"What have the Seanchan ever done for us?" ;)
The aqueduct!

52. TheWolfKing
Did you just rush in where angels fear to tread?

I'm not arguing, not flaming, not complaining. Just astounded at your boldness. :)
Tess Laird
67. thewindrose
I don't think a preemptive stike is possible by any of our Randland teamlight players at this time. First - up until Rand roped Egwene into gathering all of Randland together at the end of ToM, no one was working together.
Mention of the Ashamen being able to do this, is negated by who is in charge of the Black Tower - Taim. We know that Semirhage is with the Seanchan, so blowing up the Seanchan command central isn't something the DO / Moridin is going to appove of(Semi was still in favor until she was captured). Everyone is in agreement that Taim is dark(the controversy is if he is a Forsaken in disguise or who is he reporting to...).
Rand was busy cleansing Saiden, chasing bad Ashamen ect. And yet, he almost did destroy the Seanchen - in anger not a preemptive strike.

The White Tower is split and Elaida thinks that the Seanchan are an exaggerated enemy, while Egwene knows but most discount her warnings. Also Egwene doesn't come into true power until ToM.

More later...
Gerd K
68. Kah-thurak
Rand could have used a Rhavin-Hunting style raid to destroy the Seanchan command structure / capture their leaders at any time. Why he didnt do this is anybodies guess. I would vote for plot reasons ;-)
Dave West
69. Jhirrad
In re JonathanLevy @66:
I feel like Mat's rant was completely consistent with his character to this point in the series. Especially consider the point raised above by ZEXXES @56. This was a guy, venting to another guy. Mat's constant frustration with women has been an on-going part of his character since he began true character separation in TDR. This may have been the first time we're seeing it expressed vocally, but he's doing it with someone that he trusts, is a very close friend, and who he knows will not go repeating what he says to anyone. As ZEXXES points out, we're just eavesdropping on their private conversation here.
70. Looking Glass
KiManiak @ 23: On raiding the enemy HQ: For one, Rand is way more interested in some sort of civilized solution with the Seanchan than they are with talking with the White Tower.

For another thing, the Seanchan do indeed know they can be attacked like that… and attacking even semi-prepared channelers who have had opportunity to consider and set up a prepared defense is kind of a nightmare, unless you pull the Rand-with-Super-Sa’angreal nuclear option. The raids on Sammael and Rahvin pretty well of demonstrated that. Granted, no Seanchan channeler has the knowledge and power of a Forsaken, but there are a ton of them instead of one per city. Attacking their center of power would likely get messy. And remember, while the Seanchan military isn’t really prepared for full armies Traveling around, they have had to deal with the possibility of Powered raids behind the lines via raken for a long time.

(Actually, now I think of it, the Sea Folk mass jailbreak was essentially a surprise attack by a bunch of channelers on the palace and damane pens. And it did get really messy for all involved. Semirhage did manage a surgical strike of sorts, but she had surprise, disguise, long-term infiltration, close familiarity with the location, etc etc etc.)

Meanwhile, the Seanchan attack a target that’s pretty much completely prostrate and unprepared- no one except Egwene really expected a Power assault on the tower. And just that one person’s readiness smashed the crap out of their attack. Granted, Egwene was pretty awesome in general there, but a big part of it her effectiveness was simply that she genuinely believed the attack was coming and had thought about exactly how to most effectively defeat it when it did. It's not safe to assume the Seanchan haven't thought about a power raid.

The Tower attack also had huge potential benefits, crip. (It could also unite the tower, but they apparently don’t know that.) Conversely, taking out Seanchan HQ would hurt them, but it wouldn’t necessarily debilitate their military the way that a successful tower assault would have the AS. They do have a chain of command, and (as we’ve seen) some very competent people in that chain who can and will act if their supervisors aren’t available.

Cumadrin @ 30:
Preemptive strikes NEVER come around and bite you in the ass later in these type of stories.
Was that sarcasm? My detector is kind of vaguely leaning towards no, but I can’t really tell. We’ve certainly seen plenty of preemptive strikes go horribly wrong in WOT*, and many others that were sort of “net gain that included nasty consequences”. And of course, this particular strike isn’t exactly a glorious victory for the Seanchan.

*For a good example, see Anything Elaida’s Done Ever. Though she’s certainly not the only one.
71. Looking Glass
The Tower attack also had huge potential benefits, crip.
Er, that should read "crippling the Aes Sedai and bringing back important military weaves, as people have said". I got distracted mid-edit, and the truncated sentence is... off.
72. Freelancer

While I am certain it won't surprise you, be assured that neither can I permit it to pass without comment, so here goes. You have made more than abundantly clear on many occasions that you have neither interest in nor intent to consider adjusting your use of profane language, so I am not here bothering to ask that. However, within the same point of discussion, with the same tone, the same bile, you invoke the Lord's name just as you do an expletive vulgarity.

I respecfully ask that you consider excluding such, as an exclamation of your emotions. You do so to emphasise the intense offense you feel about an attitude with which you disapprove, in a fictional story. In doing so, you promote offense felt by others which is not fictional, but based on their devotion to their Creator. And before you blithely remind me once again that you have no intention of changing your established behavior, is not the point of your tirade regarding this position in the story about an established behavior which you strongly wish would change, the historical parallels of which have indeed changed throughout the civilized world? Such a change on the part of the Seanchan society would not be viewed by you as a surrender to the wishes of others, but as progress towards greater decency.

Physician, heal thyself.
73. Girmie
For me, one of the things I've found consistently 'off' with Mat's pov chapters since TGS is the disappearance of all the noblemen except Talmanes - Reiodomon & co who were last seen introducing themselves to Tuon after Mat completely failed to do so. Even when he met up with the rest of the band there was no mention of potato-faced Edorian and the Cairhienan soldier who was actually in charge. I miss those guys.

I'm not getting started on the differences in characterisation - too painful.
Tess Laird
74. thewindrose
Ok - back again. I find it funny that I have a better chance of not getting interupted while posting at work then at home:)

ryamano at 47 - Are we stuck in Hinderstap again? Then at 47 - oh good, we got out of there;)

TheWolfKing - how long has 'someone' been talking with you?;)

macster at 55 -
I actually have...very little to say this week, for me. No, really!
Sure...(ok, maybe for you it may have been on the shorter side.)

I agree that Mat sounds different, however I found Mat's tirade funny. It was a good idea to have Mat and Talmanes interact here. Usually, that part was filled in by Thom, but his thoughts are completely filled with getting to Moiraine - so good idea to whoever came up with it(RJ Notes, BwS, Team Jordan).

75. MasterAlThor
Seanchan vs Colonial America

The Seanchan, like CA, is a nation built upon slavery. And we all hope that they go through a period of growth like America had to. If it takes a war, so be it. I will read the recap with glee.

But let us not forget that America was founded on two documents that made it possible for my country to experience that growth. The founders, even though some of them were slaveowners, saw fit to put things in those documents to inspire future generations to change the state of the nation they gave their lives to. The Seanchan don't have anything like that.

So, to me, when the Founding Fathers talked about every man being created equal I don't find them to be the least bit hypocritical. I do not see how the Seanchan are ever going to get to that point. We have seen very few people in Seanchan society that we like, but they still look at slavery as just and right. The founders wrestled with that and eventually gave us the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Here is a thought. Look at Tuon, Tylee and Shipless. They are slaveholders. Washington, Jefferson and Franklin were slaveholders. The difference between these six people is that three of them fought for a country were men could be free. And to that point freed their slaves (Franklin freed his much earlier than the other two). We have yet to see what will happen with the other three, but anyone wanna take bets on how long it is going to take for them to stop seeing people as property?

I got $100 on the better part of Tuon's lifetime. Any takers?

Can the Seanchan get to were America is? I hope so, but I think it will be a lot messier than ours.

Roger Powell
76. forkroot
Hopefully Tuon will improve now that Graendal isn't influencing her (ToM epilogue) and as she gets to know Our Heroes better.
I had thought the same way as you, but was disabused on this reread when someone produced a quote from BWS saying that Graendal hadn't really influenced Tuon.
Ian B
77. Greyfalconway
This thread has been like therapy, I absolutely hate the way BS portrays Mat, and its great to see everyone elses thoughts. That said, I love me some Sanderson. I've read all of his stuff, even the little videogame tie-in Infinity Blade: Awakening, and gone to all the signings I've been able to of his, as well as loving his stuff before he got picked for WoT.

But this chapter is the most terrible thing in the series. I know he has a lot on his plate with finishing these, and he has done a truly remarkable job with it, like really, truly great, but the Mat stuff is just horrible, its not the sexist topics or whatever, just the way its written and agh, other people have said this better in earlier comments, like @3 @4 @16 etc, I hate it and don't like it a bit.

I try not to let it detract from the rest of what he's done with these books though, because one character sucking in this series, no matter how major, isn't a big enough deal to ruin the experience, and other than Mat he's done really great.
78. Freelancer
Oh, I took a second look and see that nobody commented on the references to Pulp Fiction or the Hippy Dippy Weather Man.
79. Ryanus
Regarding the pre-emptive strike and the concern of violent reaction.

That was actually taken into account and, IMO, is part of the tactical purpose of this strike.

This Strike servers several purposes all at once.

#1: It captures more channelers to be used as weapons
#2: It has the potential to gain new weapons (Traveling, the exploding gateway)
#3: It leaves behind assasins to take out the command structure and leadership of the enemy.
#4: It deliberately enrages the enemy hopefully encouraging them to strike back.

Now the last one seems like a bad idea until you take into account what the Seanchan know and planned. Between the flat knowledge that an Aes Sedai cannot harm you if you do not threaten their lives, and the fact that they have every reason to believe they've cut the head off the dragon (removed leadership). Encouraging an attack is tactically brilliant.

Not a direct comparison, but in SCA combat I've often done what amounts to antagonizing a group of opponents into coming directly after me. It makes them ignore other factors, it makes them careless. And if I can do this while also eliminating the guy giving orders they tend to leave themselves open to multiple attacks they aren't thinking about.
Roger Powell
80. forkroot
OK folks - I don't think I need to tell you what tune goes with this:

Fraasti the Myrddraal
Was a most disturbing sight
With an eyeless face that was pale as paste
And a cloak as black as night

Fraasti the Myrddraal
Had a voice like crumbling bone
And his jet-black hair with his eyeless stare
Made your blood run cold as stone

There must have been some human in that Trolloc DNA
For though he had a Trolloc mom, he came out maggot grey

Fraasti the Myrddraal
He could disappear from sight
With a shadow near, he could reappear
Where the darkness met the light

Fraasti the Myrddraal
Had a nasty Trolloc band
By themselves they'd run, but they'd act as one
Under Fraasti's firm command

He led his fist of Trollocs down directly from the Blight
And when they reached the Borderlands, they had themselves a fight!

Fraasti the Myrddraal
Had a sword take off his head
But he flopped around on the snowy ground
Never knowing he was dead!

Thumpety thump thump
Thumpety thump thump

Look at Fraasti go

Thumpety thump thump
Thumpety thump thump

Squirting black blood on the snow!
Sam Mickel
81. Samadai
Forkroot, that was awesome. Another Bel Tine classic.
Julian Augustus
83. Alisonwonderland
Lsana @36:
Just because the prophesy about Rand kneeling to the Crystal Throne is a false prophesy planted by my favorite semi-nuts Foresaken doesn't mean that it's not going to happen.

The problem is that on this subject we are dealing with two mutually exclusive prophecies: they predict two diametrically opposite futures! The Randland prophecy says he will bind the nine moons to serve him (translation: the Seanchan will be one of the nations under him), while the Seanchan prophecy is understood to say he will kneel to the Crystal Throne (translation: he will serve under the Seanchan). Both of these can't possibly be true? The Seanchan certainly believe in this interpretation of whatever it is their prophecy actually says, but that interpretation is impossible, unless we are willing to believe that the KC has the false prophecy.
Julian Augustus
84. Alisonwonderland
ryanreich @54:
With regard to your questioning of Leigh's use of the word "subhuman", perhaps you forget that the Seanchan do not regard channelers as human, but more like animals to be kept in kennels. Tuon remarked that men who wanted to have sex with channelers were just perverts.
Tess Laird
85. thewindrose
forkroot at 80 - Awesome job!
Although I am taking my daughter caroling this weekend, and now Fraasti will be on my mind....

Anthony Pero
86. anthonypero
I've never bought that the Seanchan prophecies were corruptions of Randland's by Ishmael. I always assumed that the Aes Sedai on that continent had their own prophecies, and were unaware of the ones happening on this side of the ocean. Then Luthair Pendragon brought a copy of Randland's with him, and over time, they were... spliced together, for lack of a better word. Like some biblical historians say happened with the book of Genesis.
john mullen
87. johntheirishmongol
#80 Somehow I dont think that was the song that the traveling people are looking for...however, filking is fun

On Tuon, always glad to see her but the scene did feel a bit rushed. However, if Brandon had kept to RJ's pace, we would be looking at a dozen more books. I am pretty sure a few condensed scenes are a small price to pay.

I really didn't have the issue that some seem to have with the writing of Mat here. Some of it I took because he was upset and worried about Tuon. Some of it was fairly natural for Mat to me, especially the part where he is complaining about not being able to drink and gamble, since a lot of his identity is wrapped up in those activities. I did think the misspelling was a bit much, because with all those memories, if he can learn books and writings, he can learn how to spell.
Anthony Pero
88. anthonypero
83. Alisonwonderland

Its quite easy for both prophecies to be true: use of the Domination Bands. Tuon is a Sul'dam. If she gets Rand in the domination bands, he might find himself kneeling before the Crystal throne (metaphorically, since it's in Seanchan, and Tuon is not.) I don't have the exact quote (I'll look it up in a little bit), but one of the forsaken mentions that the Domination band binds the holder as much as the held. So, Rand could Bind the nine moons to him while being held in the Domination Band. He may even allow this to happen, for reasons we don't know yet.
Thomas Keith
89. insectoid
Free @78: ::crawls out from under rock:: Hippie Dippy Weather Man reference? Where??

Fork @80: LOL!! ::applauds::

Elijah Foster
90. TheWolfKing
@66. JonathanLevy
Did you just rush in where angels fear to tread?
I believe I did.

@74. thewindrose
how long has 'someone' been talking with you?;)
About 6 months after I started channeling saidin, why do you ask?;)
Valentin M
92. ValMar
MAT @ 75

As far as I know you are right about Seanchan vs CA. But I think that the Seanchan are not appropriate comparison with CA. One has to go further back in time and place, IMO.
forkroot @ 76

This was me. In short, Brandon told me that the reason in the latest Tuon's beligerence is a whole raft of reasons, mostly to do with being with Mat. But didn't allude to anything creepier like Compulsion. When I pressed him about Greandal, he said there's nothing in it. I'm not quoting directly and Brandon might've been clever in his wording. But I am at least 80 or more % sure about it.

forkroot @ 80

How delightfully twisted. Brilliant!
Anthony Pero
93. anthonypero
Here's the relevant passage from TSR regarding the Domination Bands:
"So you discovered that little gem behind you," Moghedien said in a moment of precarious balance. Surprisingly, her voice was almost conversational. "I wonder how. you did that. It does not matter. Did you come to take it away? Perhaps to destroy it? You cannot destroy it. That is not metal, but a form of cuendillar. Even balefire cannot destroy cuendillar. And if you mean to use it, it does have . . . drawbacks, shall we say?
Put the collar on a man who channels, and a woman wearing the bracelets can make him do whatever she wishes, true, but it will not stop him going mad, and there is a flow the other way, too. Eventually he will begin to be able to control you, too, so you end with a struggle at every hour. Not very palatable when he is going mad. Of course, you can pass the bracelets around, so no one has too much exposure, but that does mean trusting someone else with him. Men are always so good at violence; they make wonderful weapons. Or two women can each wear one bracelet, if you have someone you trust enough; that slows the seepage considerably, I understand, but it also lessens your control, even if you work in perfect unison. Eventually, you will find yourselves in a struggle for control with him, each of you needing him to remove your bracelet as surely as he needs you to remove the collar." She tilted her head, lifted a quizzical eyebrow. "You are following this, I trust? Controlling Lews Therin-Rand al'Thor as he is called now- would be most useful, but is it worth the price? You can see why I have left the collar and bracelets where they are;"
Its pretty easy to see from this passage how Tuon using the Domination Band on Rand might cause Rand to be able to 'Bind the Nine Moons' to him, as the Prophecies state. Whether or not this will happen this late in the story is another question. But it's certainly possible to see a scenario here in which both the Seanchan prophecies of Rand kneeling before the Crystal throne and the Randland prophecies are both fulfilled. They are not mutually exclusive.
95. Freelancer
insectoid @89

Ahh, well, two things about that. First off, it is not a direct reference to that particular persona, and second, it's difficult to hunt for once you're in the post, as it is found in the cut link. Here it is:
"Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?"
This from the same guy who said the term "hot water heater" was bogus since you don't need to heat hot water, who pondered driving on a parkway and parking in a driveway, and questioned the reasoning for calling homes which were all jammed together apartments.
96. AndrewB
Forkroot @80 - That was brillant.

Since we learned in TSR that Mat would marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons (which we knew from TGH is the successor to the Seanchan throne), I have believed that Mat's marriage to Tuon was the prophicized binding of the nine moons. Through this marriage to the Dragon Reborn's confidant and friend (Mat), the nine moons will be bound to Rand. If you are of the opinion that Randland's version of the prophicies and the Seanchan version are not mutually exclusive (I do not know which side of that debate I'm on), then Zen Rand may be willing to "bend his knee" in some manner to have the Seanchans as allies in the Last Battle.

Thanks for reading my musings.
Thomas Keith
97. insectoid
Free @95: Ah, okay. That does sound Carlin-ish, now that I look at it. Hehe... Hot Water Heater, Flammable, Inflammable, and Non-inflammable! ;)

Either it flams or it doesn't flam...

Cameron Tucker
98. Loialson
@80. forkroot
Hah, that was great! The "thumpeties" had me roaring with laughter for a while :D.

2 more, must resist....
Chris R
99. up2stuff
Fork @ 80..

(Picks jaw up off the floor.) That was awsome!!!

(aiming for 100)


Anthony Pero
100. anthonypero
I'd be interested in hearing a fully developed argument as to why people think the Seanchan Prophecies are an Ishmael corruption.
Anthony Pero
101. anthonypero
Take note, @JonathanLevy, of how to properly claim the 100th post :P
Irene Gallo
104. Irene
Guys, I un-unpublished a few comments. We try to use our tagline "and related subjects" to full effect but in the end this is not a political blog and these discussions keep derailing the conversation. Please return to the topic.
105. MasterAlThor
ValMar @92

I use that particular reference because it seemed the most appropriate. If you have a better one by all means lets hear it. Without getting too political, a few of our posters have been "taking shots" at the founding of my country. I just wanted to clear somethings up and used the anology to do it.

Anthony Pero
106. anthonypero
The Seanchan's institutionalized slavery (excepting da'mane) has an entirely authentic Eastern flavor to it. It doesn't remotely resemble Colonial America in the slightest. People aren't enslaved for their race or ethnicity, they seem to either be born into slavery or forced into slavery due to their deeds, or lack therof. Please not I'm not defending the system, just point out major differences between Colonial America (and Europe, for that matter) and the Seanchan.

The life of a slave also seems to be significantly better in Seanchan (excepting the da'mane) than the life of a Colonial slave as well. More akin to what we see in Greece or Rome, or, of course, pre-industrial Japan and China. The moral outrage regarding slavery in these societies is less about atrocities committed, and more about the entire concept of owning another human being. Randland has an incredibly enlightened view on this concept, considering the milieu they are situated in.

I guess, my point is, the Seanchan system (excepting da'mane) is no where near as atrocious as Colonial American slavery. At least from what we've seen onscreen. I can certainly see exactly why such a system would appeal to the west of Randland
Valentin M
107. ValMar
MAT @ 105

As often happens here, someone has already done the work for me. Thanks AP @ 106!
Another example I can think of are the soldier-slave Mameluks of Egypt (who later took control of the state) and the other Middle Eastern states at the time with their widespread use of slave-soldiers (the Ghulam). IIRC all these societies practiced "conventional" slavery as well.
JonathanLevy knows more about it, I'm sure. The Ottomans and their infernal Janissaries also come to mind.
Charles Gaston
108. parrothead
Well, I would agree that Seanchan slavery is not comparable to American slavery. I would call it far worse. Slavery in the Americas was an economic phenomenom of a capitalist society, not a social phenomenom of a society structured along the lines of the ancient empires. It had certain boundaries established by laws and contracts. By contrast, for the Seanchan is entirely arbitrary. For example, what Tuon did to Suroth at the end of KoD. Sure, Suroth was guilty as hell, but that was irrelevant; she was enslaved by the command of one woman, not imprisoned for a crime. Tuon could have done the same if Suroth offered her the wrong kind of tea. Despite their edge in technological and social development, the Seanchan would have to advance in economic terms to become the kind of quasi-feudal structure we see in most of Randland.
Anthony Pero
109. anthonypero
Your point kind of misses the point, Parrothead. My point wasn't to justify the institution, it was to say that from what we have seen, the conditions were better. In other words, slaves were treated better (on the whole) and generally have more liberty. From what we see.
Stefan Mitev
110. Bergmaniac
I don't see any evidence that in general, the Seanchan slaves are treated better than those in the USA pre-civil war. Sure, we have the tiny segment of high class Seanchan slaves (so'jhin, Seekers, etc), who have it pretty good, but the rest of them, from the glimpses we've had, are treated horribly, beaten severely for the smallest infractions, brainwashed into accepting their role, many of them are forced to go around practically naked in public, etc.

We see in Amatera how the Seanchan ruthlessly destroy the personality of those slaves who have fighting spirit at first to turn them into perfect servants and nothing more. Remember those servants in Turak's house who were so conditioned into their role that even when there was fighting going on in the house and armed strangers killing the guards, they just sat on the floor, they didn't ran away or raised the alarm.
Anthony Pero
111. anthonypero
Do we have any evidence that those were slaves in TGH? Just because they were servants doesn't make them property.
Alice Arneson
112. Wetlandernw
forkroot @80 - Oh, that was excellent! Coffee-out-the-nose-all-over-the-iPad quality, explosive laughter! Fortunately I swallow hot coffee fast... Oh, my aching sides! It's a good thing I saw that during recess instead of in the middle of class; the whole third grade would think I'd gone stark, raving mad. As it is, I'll be giggling all day, and snickering all season when I hear that.

Sometime this week, I hope to make it through all the comments and add a few of my own, but while scrolling up I got a glimpse of poetry... Thank you for brightening my day!
Charles Gaston
113. parrothead
Have we ever seen Seanchan servants who aren't property?

Conditions vary quite widely of course, but such was also the case in the Americas. Slaves, particularly if they were skilled artisans and/or of mixed parentage, could work for themselves, run the plantation in their master's place - including issuing orders to whites - or even buy their own freedom. In rare cases, again particularly mulattos who were often the master's children, freed slaves could themselves become slave owners.
114. MasterAlThor
anthonypero @106

While I understand what you are saying, you're kinda wrong with this statement.
The Seanchan's institutionalized slavery (excepting da'mane) has an entirely authentic Eastern flavor to it. It doesn't remotely resemble Colonial America in the slightest.
Da'mane are treated like field negroes. Others are treated like house negroes. Sorry but in my mind, that makes this comparable. While slaves in any society can be beaten for anything, it is the atrocities that are levelled on the da'mane that make me utterly pissed. The pulling apart of families, the destruction of ones identity these things are, to my knowledge, only done in Colonial America.

I personally can only trace my family back to Post Civil War. There are no records for anything Pre Civil War. I don't even know where my family got it's surename from. The da'mane go through something of a forced forgetfulness. They have their past ripped from them by their "masters" by having them broken. Forced to forget their names, their family and friends. The da'mane are ripped from their families. Sure, some of them are turned in by their own family, but I am pretty sure there are some whose family did everything they could to protect them.

The other slaves in the Seanchan culture are treated like house negroes. Here is what I mean. Generally a house negro could order the field negroes to do something that the master wanted done. House negroes had a bit more "freedom". They were trusted to run errands and serve in whichever capcity the master saw fit. The Seanchan non-da'mane slaves seem to be able to enjoy that kind of freedom.

To my knowledge there really wasn't any kind of taboo on taking a slave to bed in European society. There was in the United States and there is in Seanchan. There are a lot more thiings that make these two cultures comparable than what you think.

Forgive me if I seem like I am personally attacking you. I assure you that I am not. I have no qualms about your opinion and nothing against you personally.


115. srEDIT
@all: weighing in on Mat, I'm with those who were "thrown" by the Mat chapter, but it took all the intelligent analytical minds here to explain to me why!

forkroot@80: too perfect! (yes, Wet and Free, I know there's no such thing) Often I don't know the melody to the song you use, but now every time I hear the original this holiday season, I'll be thinking of WOT!

116. ryamano
Regarding the Seanchan, I always got more of an Eastern culture flavor out of their slavery rather than Western.

The breaking of the mind that happens with damane (and with Thera) wasn't usually done so meticulously in real slavery. Normally the slavemaster just beat the slave a lot until he or she complied. The things that are done with Egwene (giving pet names, rewarding for good behavior) remind me more of some BDSM books.

Anyway, Seanchan slavery reminds me of Eastern societies slavery because slaves there could hold positions of power. A mamluk/janissary is a slave, but also is the police and military. The same can be said of the Seekers or the Deathwatch Guard. Normally, in a western plantation, you wouldn't put a slave in charge of all the slavers (as a capataz, as we say in Portuguese) or with powers to arrest free people. A freed slave would be OK in this position, but not a slave.
The arbritrary way anyone can be made a slave also reminds more of the East, rather than the West. A Roman citizen could become a slave solely through not paying debts or selling himself voluntarily (or being captured by a foreign power). He couldn't become a slave due to looking cross-eyed at a Senator or an Emperor. A white man or woman in colonial USA or Brazil also couldn't be made a slave for no reason, or for commiting a crime. He'd be fine, he'd become an indetured servant, but never a slave. That happened only to Natives and Africans.

The arbritrariness of how your position in society can disappear in a single second if your superior doesn't like you reminds me more of fedual japan, were samurai would walk with their twin swords and regard as their duty (not priviledge, their duty) to kill any peasant or merchant that disrespected them. If a Samurai took a dislike for you, you'd simply be dead, and everyone would think that was right.

In some ways, there are many Orientalist tropes that the Seanchan combine.
Anthony Pero
117. anthonypero

Slaves were taken to bed in America all the time. Saying it was taboo is a too strong of a word for how people felt about it. Taking a da'mane to bed is exactly the same to the seanchan as taking a dog to bed. Da'mane are an entirely separate thing from slaves in Seanchan culture. My entire argument was peppered with "except Da'mane" for this exact reason. I'm intentionally separating out da'mane and examining Seanchan society as if chanelling didn't exist to see what's left. And what is left was pre-colonial China.
118. MasterAlThor

If you take out da'mane, then yes you are. But you cannot take out da'mane because channelling does exsist. Let us say that Jordan, as he does elsewhere, has chosen to combine several historical societies at once. This would be a more accurate discription, yes?

Anthony Pero
119. anthonypero
Maybe we are working towards cross purposes, Master Al'Thor. Seanchan culture and slavery is under discussion because of the chapter, and Leigh's reaction to Tuon's offer and Beslan's acceptance of that offer. I'm trying to find out what Seanchan society might be like after channeling ceases to be known, which is what many presume will happen in the 4th age.
120. Wotman
I enjoyed both chapters, and I don't particluarly care who wrote what, I do think that Tuon honestly thinks that Beslan and his Country is free from her perspective ignoring the channelling situation and I think she is awesome as she for the first time takes charge and does (I think) a good job. Beslan hasn't got much of a choice and he realizes that it is best to bend and perhaps fight another day. Of course Tuon reads him like a book and confronts him on that thought process too.
As for Matt, I thoroughly enjoyed his banter as he tries to come to grips with several realizations, one He realizes that he does have feelings for Tuon, two he will not change his womanizing ways within his rules, like flirting is fine but thats where he draws the line and that is cool. but it is funny because he is already changing even though he is fighting it all the way. Remember folks hes is married and a prince now - two things he never wanted.
Thank you Jirrad (32) for your comments, I agree, I think in the context of the medieval times all things as it were, there is a lot of gallantry going on and ther ehas been and always be a battle of the sexes, so sometimes you have to put yourself fully into the character and then you won't come out of it with these twenty first century attitudes about sexism period, Leigh always looks at things from her present perspective and that is why she is always a wreck when she reads this stuff.
John Massey
121. subwoofer
Mmmmm... Finally getting around to getting around to this.

Tuon's chapter- about as fun as a boot to the head. The thing that got my attention was Tylee's report:
"I was joined by men of various nationalities, none of whom had sworn the oaths".
That was Perrin there folks, buddy buddy with the DR etc. Can't wait to see the full report. Tuon has married Mat, is going to meet the DR and at some point, say "hi" to Perrin. It will be interesting to see when Empress has met all three of the tripod, and still has her head in the sand. Methinks the combined ta'veren pull of Mat and Rand alone will put Tuon over the edge now. That and it is really irking me that it is such a big deal that Rand bows before the throne. Rand is supposed to do similar stuff with the Amyrlin Seat. Big deal. We have seen how some prophecy has unfolded, I am not worried about this wrinkle.

Mat. His rant. Sexist? Yes. True? You betcha.

Yes, the pace for Mat is off, but like a good pair of shoes, there is a break in period. The one consistent thing about Mat is his ability to wear people down and he definitely has a way with women. Mat wore down Aldura with her dragon secret. Mat had a certain flair with the Sea Folk women when they were being difficult. Mat even managed a deal with Elayne and married the DotNM. I figure if Tuon had a chance to hang around Mat a little more, she'd change her tune about a fair number of things. Mat just has a way about him, if not through knowledge then by blind ignorance.

Incidentally, my comment on the roundtable thread was made completely unawares of what Free has said on this thread. But the message stays the same.

John Massey
122. subwoofer
@AP- I am not sure that channeling really matters in Senchan hierarchy. Even if there is no TP or OP the Seanchan still have this belief that people are property. Deal with that and everything else is moot.

123. Rand al'Todd
Re many about the prophecy and Rand knealing versus binding the nine moons to him:

TOM ends with Mat headed for a confrontation with the Trollocs.
We know (some of the viewings) that Mat will be captured and bound (tied with his arms wrapped around his Ashandri). Probably this battle it it.

We also have his comments immediately after the bad portal stone trip (on the way to Toman Head in the Hunt) that he never betrayed Rand in his alternate lives. (So the boys have had their own 'Acceptatron" experiences to match the super-girls.) - And, IIRC, many of us commented way back then that Mat sounded like one who protested too much.

So I am expecting that Mat will get his own "box time" and temptation. Rand will have the opportunity to know due to the Ta'veren "Rainbow Vision" connection But I also exspect that Tuon will learn (somehow). I suspect that she will agree to join forces (with caveat that it is temporary) with Rand, in order to free Mat. Thus Rand will tie her to him. But who bows to whom will probably come later (after Mat is freed). Parallel to the PLOD, but since there is only one book left, it will move quickly, and Tuon probably will not have time to renegotiate her inital deal before she finds herself (and the Seanchan forces) participating in the battles of TG.

Just my guesses.
Melissa Spray
124. meowwl
I found the quote indicating the Seanchan version of the Karathaeon Cycle prophecies had been corrupted. (Path of Daggers, chapter 24.) But it doesn't mention Ishamael there. There is a mention of another set of prophecies out of damane fortellers that it is implied but not confirmed were corrupted by Ishamael...The name escapes me for the moment.

“The Prophecies of the Dragon had been known in Seanchan even before Luthair Paendrag began the Consolidation. In corrupted form, it was said, much different from the pure version Luthair Paendrag brought.”

The "pure" version brought by Luthair Paendrag being the version that so conveniently has Rand bending knee to the Crystal Throne.

I may be arguing mere semantics here, but those prophecies don't necessarily say what people seem to think they do. Everybody looks for a hidden meaning to them, when they may just be quite literal.

The one where he must bow to the Crystal Throne, for instance..and IIRC, he may have actually done that on one of those random bits of travelling he seems to do. I seem to remember a passage about an immense glass chair....It says he has to bend knee to the throne, not who is in it. He fell to his knee to be sick when he arrived.

For that matter, the one where he has to shed blood at Shayol Ghul...I think we'd have a lot fewer people if everytime someone got a papercut and bled they died...So why does everyone seem to think that he has to die there, and that the last battle is entirely unsurvivable?
125. MasterAlThor
It is nice to see that Brother Woof and sister Tempest are still running around here. That was a very funny link you put up there Sub.


Very few things make me go coo-coo for coco puffs. Slavery and bad mouthing my country are on the short list. I agree that we are talking aobut two seperate things. Let us leave it at that.

Also I am not accusing you of either of those things. Please do not think that.

Julian Augustus
126. Alisonwonderland
Anthonypero @88, 92:
I don't think you have a proper appreciation of the Randland prophecy. It doesn't just say "he shall bind the nine moons to him," which is what you try to fit into your scenario. It says "he shall bind the nine moons to serve him." That is the crucial part all those who are trying to invent some ingenious scenario that would satisfy both prophecies seem to miss. If the Seanchan have the domination band on him in your scenario, and are forcing him to obey their commands, then you can't really claim at the same time that the Seanchan serve him, can you?
Besides, the domination bands are useless on Rand now anyway. But the Seanchan don't know that, so Rand could use his new found ability to advantage. He could affectively allow himself to be enslaved, thus conviently avoiding any oaths towards any fealty or obedience. Then at a time of his choosing he could betray his bonds and enact his superior position to bind her in whatever way it plays out.
128. DeJulis
@Zexxes: your posts make me wonder a lot. You seem to take for granted a lot of things that don't come up anywhere else (Dragonmount, the FAQ, etc) and interpret things... differently than anyone else.

For example: Rand is not immune to a domination band. He channeled the True Power to destroy one, but note that he was still affected by it, and unable to resist it in any way except in the use of the True Power. From this, the only thing we can assume is that a Domination Band cannot control access to the True Power. As he is no longer likely to reach out ot the True Power, he is by the same token no longer able to resist a Domination Band in any way.

Anyways, whenever I see your posts it just makes me shake my head and wonder.
Elijah Foster
129. TheWolfKing
@128. DeJulis

I'm sure that Rand could use the true power to compel the holder of the Domination Band to make him do whatever he pleased.

And your post was downright rude. The man is entitled to his opinions. Your points via the Dom band are correct, but it does not mean that it is impossible just improbable for Rand to do such a thing. ZEXXES' situation seemed completely hypothetical to me.
interpret things... differently than anyone else.
Now what is that supposed to mean. Because if you mean wrong, wow just wow.
Anyways, whenever I see your posts it just makes me shake my head and wonder.
There are better ways to disagree then that,I suggest you find a better way that is less rude. The way you said wonder was not in a good way, but rather in a why would someone say that kind of way. Even if you did not mean it that way, it sure looked like it.
@128. DeJules
There's as much evidence to suggest that he will use the TP to free himself from the domination bands as there is that he won't. Logically if you have the ability to do something and are aware of that ability, then it stands to reason that as along as the ability exists it is a viable option.

In Rands case, he has already used the TP once. We have evidence that suggests that he will again use the power via a possible TP hand or the possible use of the TP to seal the bore Given those, it stands to reason that he may use the TP to free himself if the need arises. Rand has always been about doing things in his own way. If he has shown time and time again that if he has need he will use a dangerous tool even after it has shown itself to bite him before. His attitude towards his survival hasn't changed, he still believes he will not survive the Last Battle. I tend to believe that despite the fact that he has changed towards the Lighter side of things that he will not ignore a weapon at his disposal simply because you think he shouldn't. RJ has put wrinkles in our shirts before with that kind of thing so I make no assumptions. As long as he has the option, he can immunize himself to the Domination Bands. If he chooses not to use the TP to release himself from its influence, then that is his perogative.

But saying that he is not immune by arguing that you don't think he would use the TP, so he's not? Pffft! Ridiculous....
Roger Powell
131. forkroot
I agree with one point that DeJulis made (but I concur with TheWolfKing in objecting to DeJulis' uncalled-for personal remarks. Props to ZEXXES for ignoring the ad hominem stuff and carrying on with the discussion.)

Given that the "Lews Therin" part of non-integrated Rand/LTT was truly horrified about using the TP, it is very unlikely that zen-Rand would be willing to touch the TP again. It's certain that he would not deliberately put himself into a position where he would require using it - so any scenario involving willing submission to a Domination Band is inconceivable.

What would happen though if he were once again unwillingly collared? Hard to say ... certainly Lews Therin thought that touching the TP was worse than killing Min(!) ... but if the choice is between freeing himself or submitting to the DO?? I honestly don't think we'll see it happen though - we've already been there, done that with the scene in TGS.

As for using the TP as part of the sealing... count me as dubious. The TP is truly the essence of the DO - I would think that you can't use it in any way to contain the DO, even as some sort of buffer.

FWIW, I suspect that Rand will need to make use of Fain/Mordeth's evil in some way - that's the one "power" that will be present at the showdown this time that wasn't available 3000 years ago.
Chris R
132. up2stuff
Personal opinion is that he WONT use the TP again. Rand is the light side Essence and seems to be leveled up on using Saidin; just don't see him needing TP. Could be wrong. Known to happen.

I WILL NOT be convinced that the TP will make a viable component in a seal. Seems like it would only allow the DO a back door to the world, a calibration if you will. Could also be like a star trek matter/anti-matter reaction. DO crosses the streams when the Bore was sealed and ban, 3000 years of crazy funtimes. I think anything shadow related would be bad.
Chris R
133. up2stuff
For the record...132, just an opinion, no illusions there. Just don't buy TP in the mix.
Bill Stusser
134. billiam
All this talk of Rand using the TP made me think about something that happened in KoD, more specifically, when Semirhage blasted Rand's hand off. So I went back and read the chapter and now I have a question.

Did Rand first use the TP in KoD?

Chapter 27, KoD, page 588 (hardbound edition):

"His cheek was pressed against the damp ground, he realized. Black flecks shimmered in his vision, and everything seemed faintly hazy, as if seen through water. Where was he? What had happened? His head felt stuffed with wool."

Could the black flecks be the same saa that Moridin has in his eyes from using the TP? Did Rand use the TP to protect himself from Semi's fireball? Could this have something to do with why he can still feel his hand?

Not sure what I think about this yet without doing some more rereading but I wanted to throw the question out there.
Cameron Tucker
135. Loialson
@ 134 billiam
It's an interesting idea, but I doubt it. Perhaps, it could at most, filtered through the Moridin link, be Saa he is seeing; but it's 99% unlikely to me that he has ever channeled the TP before or since TGS.

I personally just think it was seeing spots from being blasted with a fireball.

Hey man, I hope he finds another way too. I'm just of the opinion that lacking evidence to contradict a theory, that theory stands as a viable possibility.

I know that most here believe that Rand walking in the light means that he has become this Holy being who will now do no evil. And I believe it. But using the DO's power against him doesn't necessarily represent a corruption. Or that using the key to a lock isn't an option because that key belongs to evil, even if its the only key. Rand doesn't have the time now to get hung up on such matters now. If it comes down to it, if Rand believes its necessary, In my opinion, he will use any weapon at hand.

As far as the Bore is concerned, I too don't believe the TP will be involved with its resealing. I believe (asI think everyone does) the flaw in the past was the sole use of Saidin. It is now half way confirmed with Min's research into the subject. If he had the help of the female Aes Sedai he would have a better chance, a chance he should have had when Lews Therin attempted the same.

But again, I don't claim to know what only the Light knows, so I shall make no assumptions.

"He closed his eyes drawing in more and more power, feeling as he had only twice before. Once when he had cleansed saidin. Once when he had created this mountain."

I wonder if anyone has caught the significance of that passage. Lews Therin could draw as much power at the end to compare what Rand held when he cleansed Saidin. He killed himself doing it, but Light, that is huge. Its huge because of what it says afterwards.

"Then he drew more."

So he is now holding more than he could hold during the two occasions where he had never held more. Once when he committed suicide, leaving a Mountain in his wake. Another when he was clearly channeling as much as he possibly could during the time he Cleansed the Taint assisted by the Choeden Kal. And now Rand is holding more than that. However much that was, he thought it was enough to destroy the world with. Destroy everything.... Right?

"Great enough to unravel the Pattern itself and bring final peace."

And during that whole time he's drawing more and more power, verified by the passage after the epiphic moment.

"The Power within him reached a crescendo, and he turned it upon itself, drove it through the access key."

More and more I'm starting to think that Randholding that amount and then turning it on itself, somehow Forced him to that level. I am theorizing here (and maybe someone has beat me to this) that Rand is as powerful as he was assisted by the Choden Kal an amount consistent with what he was holding at its destruction. Which would be an insane amount.

But what gets me more than anything is this.... Lews Therin drawing in enought to raise the Dagger, was holding, even for a short period of time, an amount comparable to Rand drawing in as much as he could hold at the time, assisted by the Choden Kal. And now Rand is considerably, no, unfathomably more powerful than that.... easily. How much more exactly is anyones guess. But that knowlegde to me explains a lot about who could stop him now. Which is very well not a damn soul. So now...I aint much worried about Rand vs. Taim. It'll be over before it starts. I wonder now whether a circle of thirteen would be enough now.

138. yasiru89
Those who succumb to what may be their own insecurities and can't take humour for the light thing it is quickly become repetitive and tiring. I don't think Mr Jordan ever 'veered off' or 'lost control' in writing Mat Cauthon or any other character. Books don't write themselves and all but the poorest authors are deliberate in what their characters do and how they form up. I don't think Mr Jordan was a poor author who was so whimsical as to let the characters get away from him at times. If this series is good on one thing (and it's surely good on more), it would be consistency- whether in plot or characters or whatever else.
What can more plausibly and easily change (if you're humble enough to be disillusioned) or be challenged (if not) is an initial conception that latches on to just the aspects of a character that are liked and precludes what the author intended for said character. Mat's rambling complaint on women (though humourous, and perhaps truly applicable to most Aes Sedai at least) didn't impress me for consistency either, since it was, as has been pointed out, so clearly Mr Sanderson's brand of humour familiar from his own works. However, it was not, by any means, an inconsistency of character- it was one of form. Brandon Sanderson's Mat certainly is Robert Jordan's Mat, but what makes reading the former jarring to those who've come so far with the latter is that Mr Sanderson chooses to be less subtle about what Mat voices. A crucial mistake is to assume that Mat has changed significantly from tEotW, tGH and tDR. Perrin once notes that Mat seems the only one of them who has remained the same, only more so, which I think is a fair assessment. He's not magically shed all he was before, with all those... prejudices, if you will, (which, come to think on it, have helped him survive- particularly with Aes Sedai, and you can see how dealings with Joline for instance could precipitate so... curious, an assessment of women) but he now labours under responsibilities, causing those more uncouth ways to withdraw, and perhaps be reflected on, but not completely overhauled. That said, with Mat's recent ordeal, a thing he couldn't dodge, mind you, which is important because that sort of inevitability comes hand in hand with frustrations, it's more likely than not that his complaints are exaggerations even to him. To support this, we have from Rand in tSR following their exit from Rhuidean that Mat greatly likes to complain and that his silence was a mark of real suffering, suggesting that his complaints were of least consequence. And here we have consistency.

On Tuon's viewpoint, apart from being impressed that she's already veering from what we've come to expect of Seanchan nobles in positions of power and making concessions to those on this side of the Aryth Ocean, I thought Beslan was rightly handled. This way the man survives even if on the Empire's side. It's worth doing all to dispel the notion that the Empire is the enemy when all of humankind shares a common one in the Shadow. No, I don't think Rand should bend knee to their Crystal Throne, but Seanchan rule is by far the most stable we've seen in the series (so much so that even Rand is impressed by it when he visits Ebou Dar) and they have the potential to become instrumental during the Last Battle.
Also note that Tuon is also being honest to Beslan. Contrary to Leigh's assertions, what Tuon offers is not deception and the security and power promised are not contingent on future expansion of the Empire. It suffices that they simply be. While Tylee was alive, the Seanchan helped her expand her influence to the whole of Altara where she was confined to the area around Ebou Dar before their arrival. Under a reasonable Empress (like Tuon), it certainly would be worth being underneath the power of the Crystal Throne for that power and secure rule, along with opportunities like trade and the like, because the Seanchan have been extremely lenient on that sort of thing. Besides which, the Ever Victorious Army has as good a track record as can be for maintaining what's been offered, since, despite their defeat, they did manage to drive back the forces of the Dragon Reborn from taking Altara. As for freedom, the Seanchan may have slaves and damane, true, but these things are not arbitrary and imposing on the general populace. As unfortunate as it is, for female channellers, as few as they are, many would share the view of the Seeker of the Tinker wagons Mat came across heading towards Ebou Dar simply because the good of the many is facilitated. On the da'covale, we've only ever seen enemies who refuse to accept the Seanchan or those who have failed and disgraced themselves in a duty go to the selling block. It's abominable that slavery exists, but to an ordinary citizen (those not plotting something for the ears of the Listeners to catch) there's much to be content with and these other things are far off worries. The same could not be said of an impotent rule like Tylee's once was, especially in uncertain times like these when Tarmon Gai'don draws ever near (even the Two Rivers wanted a Lord for goodness sake- ta'veren or no) where immediate fears would rule the populace. Against such things, averting your eyes and tugging a forelock might seem inconsequential, soon to be cemented in tradition.
Nadine L.
139. travyl
ZEXXES (@137): Point is Rand drew that huge amount of saidin through the Choden Kal and then destroyed it - he is strong, sure, but I doubt he could draw as much unaided. If he would be that strong, there wouldn't be need for him to use flawed Callandor.
IMO in his darkest moment he came close to destroying the world, and realizing this he gave up the means to achieve such a disastrous goal by him or anybody else. He is willing to take the risk which the use of Callandor entails (his working togheter with women), he didn't destroy it because he has the power without need of an angreal - again my opinion.

@134. billiam: I always interpreted the black flecks in a medical sence, symptom of near-fainting. But you have a point, it says black flecks and my experience of near-fainting (I'm no expert thank god) is black and white spots all over my vision, so maybe I missed this hint in the text. I hope not, since I seem to remember one of the Forsaken once said the saa is a late sign and entailed with ... (?not much good?)
Birgit F
140. birgit
I did think the misspelling was a bit much, because with all those memories, if he can learn books and writings, he can learn how to spell.

He did that deliberately like the swearwords ("How else will she know it is me?").

There is a mention of another set of prophecies out of damane fortellers that it is implied but not confirmed were corrupted by Ishamael...The name escapes me for the moment.
The Gathering Storm Book Tour, Sam Weller's Bookstore, Salt Lake City 2 November 2009 - Matt Hatch reporting

Question: We know that the Karaethon Cycle and the Essanik Cycle are different. Is that because there were different contributors to each, or some other reason (like tampering by Ishamael)? Which is more correct?

Answer: The Essanik cycle had only in Seanchan and there were different contributors. Which is more correct? I’m not going to say which is more correct. There has been tampering…

Question: In both?

Answer: People are not perfect, alright? Let’s just say that and there are lots of forces at work. The Essanik cycle, they have tried to preserve it as perfectly as they can. If the Outriggers ever get written there will be more information about what the Essanik cycle is. It is had only in Seanchan. It was given by damane in Seanchan, so nobody knows about it on the main continent.
But saying that he is not immune by arguing that you don't think he would use the TP, so he's not? Pffft! Ridiculous....

Being immune isn't the same thing as knowing a way to get out that might not even work if the DO allowed it last time to drive Rand over the edge.

"His cheek was pressed against the damp ground, he realized. Black flecks shimmered in his vision, and everything seemed faintly hazy, as if seen through water. Where was he? What had happened? His head felt stuffed with wool."
Could the black flecks be the same saa that Moridin has in his eyes from using the TP?

He just lost his hand and fell. The fireball caused lasting problems with his vision. There is no need for saa to explain what happened. Saa only develop after channeling the TP for a while. The only way he could have seen saa is through Moridin's eyes.
John Massey
141. subwoofer
Yeah, somehow I don't see the fixing of the DO's prison working like a rebuilt carburetor- we need all new parts here, refurbishing with bad stuff can't meet with success.

Anthony Pero
142. anthonypero
126. Alisonwonderland

The specific quote I gave regarding the domination bands say that eventually the male can CONTROL the female, that's why Mogheidan suggested trading off with another female, to slow down this process. Control/Serve certainly falls into the same category.
John Massey
143. subwoofer
Rand powering up- I think this needs to be looked at as a few different points. The first being that after Rand came down from the mountain, there is no question that he can draw on more power. The battle with the Trollocs when Rand saved that city proves that he can tap the Source fairly deep. IIRC even other Asha'man said so.

I am not sure about matching the CK, as that would be something- ask yourselves- can Rand as he is now cleanse the taint unaided? That being said, Rand's power is not just about his ability to draw in Saidin. Rand's aura and ta'vereness is in full swing. When Rand met with Egwene in the middle of all that estrogen, he didn't bat an eye and none of the women could shield him if they tried- IMHO, and that was done by sheer presence, not power.

OTOH the Pattern does provide for what is needed, what if to meet the Dark One on equal footing the Dragon needs to be at one with the universe to truly get to the next power level? The big question is- is the battle with the Dark One going to be about who is the most powerful? Somehow I don't think it is black vs. white here. More to the point, it has been said that with the power of the CK two channeler's could break the world again, they could even match the DO and the Creator for power. So a head on battle with the DO vs. the Dragon with One Power vs. True Power is bound to meet with the same results- breaking the world. While I am not sure how the DO feels about that outcome, I am sure Rand does not want a broken world, or else what is he fighting to save? This battle has to be done on a different plane or a different reality.

Elijah Foster
144. TheWolfKing
@143. subwoofer

I agree with all your points. But Rand has the presence and ta'vereness, but they still shielded him the whole time he was in the tower. Yes willingly, but IIRC with two full circles, yeah just a precaution, but Egwene truly felt he could break it if he wanted to. And I don't think this was Rand ta'vereness here.
John Massey
145. subwoofer
@wolfking- really? Heh:D I'm going to have to revisit that chapter again then. If they did- what a bunch of pansies. The Forsaken at least deal with the guy one on one for the most part, Lanfear had him shielded and pinned to the wall at one point. Rand walks into uncertain territory, by himself, unarmed, single handed, and the herd of women around him shielded him and basically had him at sword point with their warders lurking in the background? How the heck are they going to deal with the Last Battle and the teeming hordes, the dread lords and other baddies if this is how they react to one guy?

The Seanchan shoulda done a panty raid. That'd halt the Tower in their bloomers. Raken and the to'raken swooping about with a streamer of smallcothes blowing in the wind- hehe- the shame alone would render the Tower helpless. The Aes Sedai would have to meet in committee- Sealed to the Hall- to discuss if they have to keep their underwear under lock and key, if specific Ajah should have specific colors for said panties, who should pay pennance for the gaff, be spanked... heh:)


Don't know what happened there.

I feel you're completely ignoring the fact, that Rand has grown in power significantly since his meet on the Dagger. How much is what's under dispute. I am of the opinion that his increase is equivalent to what he held the moment he destroyed the Choden Kal. That amount is the only one I can get behind with some sort of tangible circumstantial evidence to back the theory.

I understand that one does not have to concede that theory, but one should note that his ability with the power has increased significantly.

If one does concede that, then it should explain some of Egwene's wariness about Rands potential ability to break his shielding. Especially given what he did to the Aes Sedai at Dumai Wells. I'm sure she was acutely aware that it would not go well if 26 Aes Sedai were suddenly stilled by a male channeler. And noting her apprehension, she felt, feeling his strength through the shield, he was more than strong enough to do so. Which by itself is significant, because at no time in the past has he shown that level of strength.
John Massey
148. subwoofer
@Z- dude- check out the first paragraph of my post at 143- I did say he can take in more power. I am ignoring nothing, perhaps reading what I actually wrote...

And we are talking about Dragonmount here right? I was under the impression that Kinslayer's Dagger was a part of the range of mountains fencing off the Aiel Waste.

Oops my mistake, I got distracted by what you said at the end of your post.
I thought Kinslayers Dagger was another name for the Dragonmount! Lemme look at the map. I haven't looked in a long time..... No its a protruding range off of the Spine of the World which blocks of the Aiel Waste , pointing at the Dragonmount and Cairhien. My mistake.
John Massey
151. subwoofer
See? Just the image of panties flying around behind winged lizards gives people pause. The Seanchan came up with the wrong battle plan;)

I Remember way back in the day, say '92 or '93, a friend used to call it Kinslayers B@#%r all the time. And a another guy used say something about the Dragon mounting the B@#%r... It was sooooo stupid, but I guess it stuck! Lol

edit- damn phones auto completes do the weirdest things some times...and then you gott go back on da puter to correct the errors.
Chris R
153. up2stuff
Ah Zexxes, you have stumbled across the reason for my earlier Shaidar Saran foible. (This time it was deliberate, everyone).
154. yasiru89
On Rand's visit to the Tower and Egwene's impression that he could have resisted the two full circles (he has been uncaring about circles later on as well- the Borderlander camp with its thirteen for instance), I've a theory that the Light observed by Nynaeve in his mind counteracting the madness might have the additional purpose of giving him a secondary, unobstructable access point to the True Source. Apart from coming in handy with Shaidar Haran, this might also explain how Aviendha's children (as they are yet to be conceived) were born with constant access to the Source.
Jonathan Levy
155. JonathanLevy
69. Jhirrad
Compare it with Mat's restrained and understated conversation with Thom in Lord of Chaos, after he goes to Salidar thinking to bring Elayne to Rand, and instead gets channeled at, kicked in the behind (literally) and manipulated into going to Ebou Dar. It matches your criteria perfectly, yet has none of the explicitly-stated in-your-face whining we see in TGS.

The celebrations-in-Salidar chapter is a typical (and excellent) example of Jordan's craft. How does he convey Mat's distrust to the reader? Mat hears a song and remembers an ancient version of it; he talks with an Aes Sedai and discovers she wants to Bond him; he flirts with a woman and discovers she's the former Amyrlin seat; gets kissed by the former Keeper, and then (unknowingly) dances with a formerly-male forsaken who tries to channel at him;

But Sanderson? Mat goes to his home-boy and says "Dude, Aes Sedai be bitches!". Home-boy replies: Word.

101. anthonypero
My authority and role-model for grabbing post #100 has and always will be subwoofer, so as long as I hear no criticism from him, I will not be discomfited by the natterings of upstarts ;)

106. anthonypero
107. ValMar
116. ryamano
(re: Interesting discussion on Seanchan slavery)

I think ryamano's post nails the most important aspects of Seanchan Slavery: The arbitrary way anyone can be made a slave. The importance of this is in its effect on free people: they have no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, no freedom to petition for the redress of grievances; they may be better off than slaves, but the tyranny of even the pettiest lord over them is absolute; every encounter with authority is dominated by the need not to provoke the nobleman's anger.

Are physical conditions better for the da'covale we see than for field negroes being worked to death on a sugar plantation to increase profits? Yes - though keep in mind that we're not being shown any slave-operated copper mines in the Seanchan continent. Doubtless there are such places, and household slaves are kept in line by the threat of being sent there to die within a year.

But the Seanchan institution of slavery reduces the free population to a level of abject serfdom in a way that the Roman/Western/American version never did.

121. subwoofer
Liked your link :)

Obviously, Tuon will swoon off her throne, and Rand will rush over and kneel to catch her.

126. Alisonwonderland
It says "he shall bind the nine moons to serve him."
An objection easily overcome by quoting from the true version, instead of the corrupted version you're using:
"he shall bind the nine moons to serve him kaf."
140. birgit
He did (the misspellings) deliberately like the swearwords ("How else will she know it is me?").
A cheap excuse by Sanderson. Mat has already sent them a letter with no spelling mistakes - one with them would just be suspicious. Also, he has a thousand ways to prove that he's the author, by quoting knowledge which only they share, and there's plenty of that. E.G. "There's nothing here but heat and flies, and we can find plenty of that in Caemlyn". "That woman has more hands than an octopus". "Remember you said you had toh to me? Don't worry, I don't want to beat you." Or writing in the Old Tongue, expecting Birgitte to translate. A thousand ways.
Alice Arneson
156. Wetlandernw
I'm baaaaack.... You know what that means.

Hmm. The recap commentary this week reminds me of Jo Walton’s post on “the Suck Fairy” and the comments on it, in which people complained bitterly about various books they had liked when they were younger, but now find thoroughly objectionable due to the world view of the author. I thought it rather ironic that those who most rail against intolerance are often the least tolerant of anyone who holds an opinion different from their own, regardless of the culture, century or belief system in which that person lives/d. In that discussion, there were some legitimate cases where a mature rereading revealed inadequacies in the actual wordsmithing – lazy plot devices, poor writing, worse editing, simplistic solutions, etc. Far more, though, people revealed their inability to accept that some of those books were written with a purpose or from a world view that didn’t match their own, and therefore considered them “badly written" - or in context, been "got at" by the Suck Fairy.

I find it odd that people can read a very well-written book from (for example) the 18th century and complain that the author’s characters behaved according to typical 18th-century standards rather than our own. So, too, I find it odd that people can read a fantasy, recognize that the author is creating various cultures each with their own weird customs, and then get angry with a character for behaving in a way that is consistent with that culture. I’d be far more upset at an author creating such a culture and then having a character who behaved inconsistently without some really good in-story reason. Therefore, I would be far more upset if Tuon had suddenly started reversing all manner of Seanchan customs just because of a few weeks with Mat and Mistress Anan; the changes she made were shocking enough to her own people, and yet consistent with the depth of ingrained custom and Tuon’s intelligence & insight.

Oh, well.

lerris @7 - The idea that the Seanchan prophecies were corrupted by Ishamael is common speculation – so common that a number of people are convinced it’s been proven somewhere, but as far as I know it is as yet unproven. When asked directly whether such was the case, Brandon gave a RAFO.

Jhirrad @24 – I’d like to know on what you base your “corroboration” that the Seanchan versions of the prophecies were influenced by Ishamael. Flat-out statement somewhere, or merely your interpretation?

Alisonwonderland @83 – The accepted interpretations of the two prophecies are diametrically opposed, but the prophecies themselves, in their real meaning, might both be valid. Obviously not many of us believe Tuon’s interpretation of the Seanchan prophecy, but IIRC we’ve only been given her interpretation, never the actual words of the prophecy. I keep wondering if that is intentional. Either way, my opinion is that it doesn’t mean quite what she thinks it means, and she’ll be… surprised by the actual event.

TheWolfKing @129, etc.: In defense of DeJulis @128 – I didn’t read it as being particularly negative. ZEXXES often does express ideas that, for those who have been plugging around here for a long time, seem to come out of left field. That doesn’t make them wrong, it just makes them unexpected – and they really sometimes make me do a double-take as well. Sometimes I just shake my head and decide not to touch it; sometimes, it makes me see something from a usefully different angle; sometimes, it really is out of left field and doesn’t fit what we know from the text or interviews. Well, we all do that sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with pointing out an erroneous assumption – or pointing out that the assumption made is not universally agreed.

That said, I’m in the camp that thinks a) Rand won’t use the TP again and b) trying to use the DO’s own essence as part of the seal would be counterproductive. Like forkroot @ 131, I think the power of Shadar Logoth will be part of the “sealant” this time – it’s fully opposed to the DO, and tainting it won’t hurt anyone. It might even keep both of them so occupied that they’ll leave the world alone for a long, long time.

yasiru89 @138 – Good point on Mat’s silence being far more expressive of real suffering than his complaints. Absolutely, our youthful Mat was quick to open his mouth, and quite frequently inserted his foot as well.

I’d add to that another point: it could readily be argued that it totally fits his character given the recent changes in his life and his current circumstance & thought progression. Specifically: he's worried about Tuon, and finds (somewhat to his surprise) that he really misses her, and that quite possibly he loves her. He’s never before had this intensity of feeling about a woman, and his feelings are showing; he knows it, doesn’t want to admit it, and is trying to cover it up, talking too much and saying things he wouldn't normally say. What’s more, Talmanes clearly notices – and very kindly points it out for us. To top it off, since his concern is primarily for a woman, and his current greatest irritants are other women, his rant about women is pretty much right there where his thoughts are.

For those who feel it was “terribly off” and that it threw you out of the book, I can only say that I’m sorry for you. Now you can choose to either continue to bitterly let it spoil the book for you, or you can pick an explanation that will nominally support your suspension of disbelief and just get on with it. As for the rant? I thought it was bloody hilarious – it was over the top, and he knew it was over the top, and he was getting it out of his system and getting carried away with his own analogy, and it’s hardly the first time he’s done it. If it was out loud this time, well, he’s alone with someone he really trusts for the first time in… several books, and is hard at work proving to himself that he’s still the same old Mat. Works for me.

JonathanLevy @155 – they have no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, no freedom to petition for the redress of grievances; they may be better off than slaves, but the tyranny of even the pettiest lord over them is absolute; every encounter with authority is dominated by the need not to provoke the nobleman's anger.” And this is different than the existing situation… how? Altara was a disaster, with noblemen fighting one another, conscripting their peasantry and getting said peasantry killed in said fights all the time. We have great confidence in our 21st-century freedoms (speech, assembly, press, religion, etc. etc.), but those freedoms were non-existent in much of Randland. The peasants didn’t do much “petitioning for the redress of grievances” because they wouldn’t get it, even if they had a place to take such petitions. Take a look at some of the changes Rand tried to institute in Tear, and tell me that the original situation was better for Joe Average than it would be under the Seanchan. Is it better to know that virtually every pretty (or reasonably nice-looking) girl stands a good chance of being raped (with no “redress” forthcoming) because a nobleman thinks he has rights to her person, than to know that maybe 1 girl in 100 will be leashed because she channel? I’m not so sure about that.

We tend to compare Seanchan practices with our own rather than with those prevalent in Randland. Granted that there are some areas where things line up with our own perceptions more readily, such as the Two Rivers, there are plenty of other areas where the average peasant would take the Seanchan option in a skinny minute if he were given the full-disclosure option. The Tinkers certainly see the advantages in being protected rather than constantly persecuted and mistrusted; Beslan is, I think, just as smart as they are. And I think it’s interesting to note that, if he had only himself to consider, he’d fight to the death, but when he considers the effect of his choices on the majority of his people, he chooses the one that will give them the best chance at prosperity and relative freedom. The poor boy has had to grow up rather harshly all of a sudden, and he’s learned to put his responsibilities ahead of his pride.

We, on the other hand, would be incredibly stupid to make that choice, since we already have those freedoms. And yet, I recently came across this very apt quotation, which sounds just exactly like what we (in the USA) and our government are doing right now: ?"So in the end, they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, 'Enslave us, but feed us!’... And when they receive bread from us, they will clearly be aware that it is bread they have earned with their own hands, the same bread we took away from them..."
Nadine L.
157. travyl
Excellent post Wetlandernw (@156) on all points, as always.

On Mat:
that is what I "kind of" tried to say. His rant is consistent with his personality. Even if the open/outspoken form of it isn't typical subtle RJ - so far (it could have been deliberate to show him on edge).
As yasiru89 said: Mat liked to complain. Thinking back on the episode when he tries to flee from Cairhien, I always thought his thoughts were cowardly, but his actions never were. Mat can think (or say) all he wants, what counts are his actions and they prove he is not sexist.

@Jonathan 155: about the misspelled letter
If you write a letter to inform your ally queen that you wished to meet her and she supposedly all but ignores you (he doesn't know she never learned of his presence), would you (being Mat) really write kindly, hinting at shared secrets proving yourself or even give away your biggest secret (knowing the Old Tongue)? Or would you behave as said queen treatet you: her subject with ill manners?
His intentionally misspelled letter had exactely the effect he wanted: he got his audience, and he conveyed another important message: queen or no queen he won't treat her with respect, if he isn't given any.
(And for us readers (me at least) it was more fun reading then an earnest letter would have been).
Valentin M
158. ValMar
Wetlander @ 156

This is some comeback! Brilliant point about the "suck fairy" and Tuon in the first two paragraphs. I've feebly expressed the same point before and I'm glad someone properly did it.
Also, as you probably can guess, I'm totally behind you about the Seanchan vs Altaran etc. common folk life experience.
I am under the impression that the Seanchan nobility can't willy-nilly make people property. I'm pretty sure such a thing would undermine the stability of the state and the authority of the Empress and the other really big fish (e.g. regional governors).
There is massive and efficient state bureaucracy which restricts what the great majority of the aristocracy can do. Many of them are middling officers in the strict military. The nobles who are too powerful don't have much contact with the normal (word intended) population. At least this is my impression of the situation.

I'm not extolling the greatness of the Seanchan, nor is Wetlander I assume. Just trying to look at it in the context of Loial's write up of the last days of the Third Age. Not from the commentary of the NY Times editor on human rights in Saudi vs France.

JonathanLevy @ 155
I agree with you on Mat. Perhaps one of the issues that Brandon (and Team Jordan) had was Time. Married to it was the content to be fitted in the last 3 books. So some solutions of "getting from position A to position B" were affected and rather simplistic resolutions were employed instead.
John Massey
159. subwoofer

@JonathanLevy- wha? Role model? Who me? Whoa! I haven't spent all this time cultivating my reputation as a knuckle dragging d-bag to see it all go down the drain now;)

Slavery? Seanchan? Well that has always been one of those sacred cows folks have danced around but in my heart I have always felt that people are not property, no matter the situation. In RL some folks become slaves to their jobs and work conditions just to maintain the standard of living they have. Selling their souls for the almighty buck. There isn't a whole lotta choice in the Empress' view, which sucks.

Buddy of mine used to drag me down south to South Padre Island for er... studying purposes during spring break and some of the folks still have outdated notions of what constitutes equality. And this is after hundreds of years of slavery being over, mind you there was this civil rights movement a bit over 50 years ago that said folks were still not recognized as equal. Is it no surprise that RJ would have this group that went to discover a new world and things are different? IMHO it will take something very radical to change the culture of a people. Something like the Empress being brought low and leashed. Not only would that shake up the Blood, but it would also change Tuon's world view. Nothing short of that can change a few thousand years of entrenched ideology.

Nadine L.
160. travyl
I just stumbled across this quote (TEOTW, Chapter 48):
For a moment it was almost like being home, having Mat saying what he should not at the worst possible time.
- I know we haven't seen a lot of this "outspoken Mat" and he has grown and all, but it supports some points I made above.
Yeah, I'm of the opinion that some are forgetting that Matt has been under the thumb of quite a few... disciplinarians. Its only recently that he has been in positions to be his true self without worrying about what others think. Even now he has those who seek to bring his more obtuse traits under control. Mat simply ignores them now, because his authority is absolute in his present position. His antagonists are lucky he even pays them any mind.
Chris R
162. up2stuff
(Deep breath, Heavy sigh) Okay, I have identified my hot button. I am not an authority and will certainly be proven wrong, but the theory using the TP as an ingredient in repairing the Pattern just upsets me.

I don't BELIEVE that Rand will use it in Tarmon Gaidon, but it would not surprise me if it came into play in a showdown with Moridin. It might actually make sense that he is able to use that to BREAK thier connection. The OP and TP balefire streams connected them ala opposites attract; if they cross the streams with two TP balefire streams maybe the reaction of two POLAR likenesses will repel each other again.

It's the "physics" of this solution that seems like it just won't work. My point is, if you have to repair a hole in a damn, you don't use blocks of ice or a water based sealant. The water behind the damn will attack its integrity and IT WILL LEAK, DAMMIT! You have to use something non-soluable. Epoxy or something that wont dissolve once it sets.

Course, maybe ultimately it works and "the leak" is the thinness that Mieren and Beidomon detect next A.O.L.s but I hope not. I just dont think that using the TP will work. Bad JUJU does NOT seem to be the solution.
John Massey
163. subwoofer
I would not go as far as to say that Mat's authority is absolute... IIRC some of the Aes Sedai were testing the limits of this with flying poo... What is set in stone is the timeline that Mat is on. Events have to happen at a certain pace as being ta'veren makes it so. While things will unfold to expedite the Band's trip to Caemlyn, events will also dictate Mat to hang around there for a period of time necessary to complete given tasks like make and test dragons, deal with a gholam, talk with Elayne and keep the deal Mat made with Verin. As for Mat not letting his true self shine, well, he's had some character building moments under the guidance of more experienced partners. Every man needs to see the sights before coming back to reality.

Patch a dam with glue... hmmmm... well remind me not to live by any dams you fix;) I was thinking more along the lines of say cement and rebar, or getting some of the local beaver population... as for fixing the DO's commode, well, it all comes back to the old poison tree analogy. Can't use the same tainted stuff to fix the same tainted stuff, that puts you back at square 1. Somebody had the idea of tossing Fain in there for good measure- I'm not sure about that but the cleansing of Saidin was a start and using both parts of the One Power is definitely a step in the right direction.

Chris R
164. up2stuff
Never claimed to be an engineer, Sub. =P. Just making a point. Whatever you use to repair a damn, I certainly wouldn't try to patch the hole I was plugging with my finger with a bottle of Elmer's. When rehearsing my post in my head, I did use concrete as an alternative; the filter in my brain just stopped it getting to my screen.
Alice Arneson
165. Wetlandernw
up2stuff - I'm with you on the TP. I do suspect that Rand's access to it will somehow come into play in AMoL, but NOT NOT NOT as a means to either repair the Pattern or seal the Bore. For one thing, using the TP destroys the Pattern, so, no. For another, it's not like the TP is just another form of power out there: it's the essence of the DO. (As you say, you don't repair the hole in a dam using ice!) You can't try to contain him with his own power - he has complete control over it, and no one accesses it without his permission (with one possible exception).

I think a lot of people jumped all over LTT's comment that "something had to touch him" and that's why saidin was tainted. (This fits with RJ's statement that if the women had been at Shayol Ghul with LTT working together, saidar would have been tainted too.) The logic was that if you don't want either saidin or saidar touching him to seal him in, you have to put something else in between him and them. Oh, looky, here's this other Power Rand used, why not that? Except that it doesn't work, because it's the DO's own essence - it's himself.

Hence, my theory (and several others' as well) that Fain/Mordeth/Shadar Logoth will be the "something else" that will go in between the DO/TP and the OP. We've already seen the repelling effect between the TP and SL, first when Damer Flinn uses Rand's two wounds against each other, and again in the Cleansing. Fain has to be around for some purpose other than just to be a pain; I could almost forgive him his existence if he proved to be the needful barrier between the TP and the new OP seals so that the OP can remain clean this time.
Thomas Keith
166. insectoid
up2stuff @132/133: Not need TP?? ...nah, too easy. ;)

I do agree that the TP will NOT be used to repair the Bore. I kind of like the idea mentioned somewhere here about using Shadar Logoth-power; it did, after all, beat counterpoint to the taint, so maybe it's an opposites-cancel-out kind of thing. Sealing the DO up using the DO's own power wouldn't really make sense.

The "Rand powering up" as a result of holding enough of the OP through the CK to destroy the access key is an interesting idea, but unlikely. After all, by the same logic, wouldn't Nynaeve have "powered up" by using that much saidar during the Cleansing?

Mat's letter: It did seem a little contrived, but that didn't make it any less hilarious.

Sub @145: Seriously?? I'm not sure they even have such a thing in Randland... XD

up2stuff @162/164: You set yourself up for this one... How exactly does one go about repairing a damn? I certainly know how to give (or not give) one, but fixing?

...Oh, I got nothin'. Drat this holiday season... robbing me of my sense of humor. It seemed a better joke when I first thought of it. -_-

Jonathan Levy
167. JonathanLevy
156. Wetlandernw
Re: TP/seal/Shadar Logoth

I'm in that camp as well. There's just one fly in the ointment - Jordan's comments that Fain is pretty much unique in this age - not something the pattern spun out on purpose. Otherwise, the endgame seems perfectly set up for the evil of Shadar Logoth to either seal the Bore, or occupy the DO in an internal struggle throughout the next age, or replace the DO entirely, and become the new DO in a future age.

The last scenario would also explain how a Dark Lord who has been around since the creation could accidentally leave a loophole in his Oaths. Maybe he's not infinitely old after all? Of course, there are other explanations for the "until the hour of my death" clause.
Now you can choose to either continue to bitterly let it spoil the book for you, or you can pick an explanation that will nominally support your suspension of disbelief and just get on with it.
I think most of us who revel in these discussions have embraced a third option: To enjoy our dissection of the text without it spoiling our enjoyment of the story. There really is no contradiction between the two - and no need to feel sorry for us.
We have great confidence in our 21st-century freedoms (speech, assembly, press, religion, etc. etc.), but those freedoms were non-existent in much of Randland.
Yes, my choice of phrasing was anachronistic and misleading. I had not meant to suggest that our concepts of freedom are relevant in Randland. Of course, the Seanchan political system must be compared to other systems in WoT.

First, regarding Altara and similarly chaotic countries. The stability that the Seanchan provide might seem better than chaos and civil war, at least in the short term. The problem is that the autocracy stays even after the threat of civil war is over - there's a heavy price to pay in the long term.

Even if we discard the anachronistic political labels ('freedom of assembly'), we can find in the less chaotic countries of Randland examples of freedoms which would be lost by a Seanchan conquest.

1) The two Rivers have been left to govern themselves for several generations. This is due to the weakness of central control, but such a weakness is often a blessing to the average citizen if he can obtain justice locally, and if the weakness is not such as to precipitate war. Under a Seanchan empire, this independence will be lost.

2) When Rand stands in front of Morgase in tEotW, and Elaida wants him thrown in prison for a few days, Morgase chooses to uphold the law and let him go. The sovereign acknowledges that she is subject to the Law. Rand does not have to prostrate himself in front of her. His sword is not confiscated on a whim.

Compare with Fain in the presence of Turak, who is not even permitted to give the Horn & Dagger to Turak as a gift, since Turak has already confiscated them without so much as a by-your-leave. Here we see the difference between a political system which acknowledges individual rights, even if those rights are limited compared to our world, and even if there is often a gulf between theory and practice.

3) The Seanchan secret police. This is an institution which does not exist in Randland. The closest equivalent is the Questioners of the Whitecloacks. The significance of this may not be obvious at first glance, unless you were raised in the Soviet Union.

What this means is that the individual is entirely alone in the world. The closest friend can betray him. A casual word can betray him. A laugh at the wrong time can betray him. Being the first to stop clapping at a political assembly can betray him. The smallest dispute between neighbors can be resolved by a timely denunciation. A rival lover can be removed the same way. We see a small example of this when Egeanin's former acquaintance is set to spy upon her, and in the occasional comments about how anyone can be a spy, and when Mat is cautioned by Thom not to speak plainly in the streets of Ebou Dar.

In short, I agree the Seanchan must be compared with the rest of Randland. Some parts of Randland (Andor) are freer than others (Tear). A tavern girl in Tear may be hauled off by some High Lord with no redress; but under the Seanchan, she could be hauled off just the same, and made into property to dance for the rest of her life under a translucent dress.

There have been many occasions in the past where people have chosen Bread and Circuses over Freedom. The Roman Republic, exhausted by civil war, chose Autocracy under Augustus; they paid the price under Tiberius, Caligula and Nero. Squabbling nations on the borders of an Empire have often been tempted to appeal to the Empire to resolve their disputes; they quickly lost their freedom, regretted it, revolted, and were put down brutally (1st-century Judea is an example).

What I'm trying to say is: Chaos is bad; people often prefer Autocracy to chaos, but often regret it later. Limited government is better than Autocracy, even if those limits are very small.

157. travyl
Mat's letter also got delayed for a long time without even being shown to the Queen precisely because of his spelling mistakes, no? Not exactly the effect Mat wanted to achieve.

If Mat thinks that she doesn't believe it's him, what could be more natural than sharing a small piece of private information? Don't we do this all the time to establish someone's credentials?
- "Oh, you also studied at my university? Did you study with teacher so-and-so?"
- "No, I preferred what's-his-name"
- "Oh he was good, but his classes were always at 8:00 AM"
- "Yes, but I've always been an early riser"

Anyone can misspell a few words. Few people would think to write "Daughter of the sands" in a letter to Elayne. A letter containing references which cannot be understood will be passed up a bureaucracy much faster than a letter with spelling mistakes.

And Mat's earnest letter in Ebou Dar was plenty fun for me.

159. subwoofer
There are people for whom knuckle-dragger ipso facto means role model!
Nynaeve didn't fold the power back into itself either.

Chris R
169. up2stuff
Insectoid, I know, I know. THAT'S what Elmer's glue is for. You know the paste some kids eat in pre-school? I had a post started at about 2:00 am addressing how my cell phone spell check let me post using damn and dam and how that was also responsible for my Shaidar Saran slip on the last reread post but alas, it was eaten and I was too tired to try reposting it. Might as well leave it now otherwise neither of our jokes will make sense. "Dam" cell phones. =)

JonathanLevy, I was making a point about that in my missing post as well, Fain being a new twist and all. Something else about that bothers me too, in that when Demandred visited the Pit of Doom, the DO referred to Rand, The Dragon as "MY ANCIENT ENEMY". A Fain-based DO would be ancient enemies with the Dragon through the most recent cycle of the Wheel, but that means that the Dragon would be the recurring force throughout the ages and the DO would be replaced every 7 ages.

It seems we have hints that Rand's epiphany integrated LTT and all previous Dragons, and I seem to remember speculation that Moridin has experienced a Dark Side version of the same thing. If the latter is true about Moridin, he would remember all the DO's he ever served and would not be convinced of the DO's eventual success. Why face a new master every turning of the Wheel? I have always seen the Creator and DO as constants. But then I wonder, how do you get the Wheel back to everything being Ended and then Created when there are no Beginnings or Endings on a wheel. It makes my head hurt.

Zexxes, Rand did not turn the Power in on itself. I mean he did not apply Saidin to Saidin. He turned the torrent of Saidin flowing one way through the CK into reverse. Kind of like throwing a car's transmission into reverse when driving at 100 miles an hour. Thats why the CK cracked. You are right about the colossal, collossal, screw it, HUGE FRICKIN' AMOUNT of Saidin he was channeling. It WAS beyond anything ever witnessed because the CK were captured before they could be used. It was beyond a doubt, immense. Ny melted hers and she certainly wasnt channeling that much Saidar at the Cleansing. But then he throws it in reverse and instantly DOUBLES the amount and "CK go Boom".

WOW. This one got long.
Stefan Mitev
170. Bergmaniac
I think the nobility treated their subjects much better in Altara than in Tear from what we've seen so it's not really a valid comparison IMO. It's hard to say because the PoV characters are foreigners who mostly live in the royal palace while in Altara, but still there are some indications for that. Belsan and Tylin are presented a lot more positively than the High Lords of Tear. Elayne, who quite a few times in Tear and Tanchico reflected how the local nobility treated terribly their subjects, never had such thoughts while in Altara.

Would things be better for the average person in Altara under the Seanchan? Tough to say really, we've seen very little of how they live. Clearly some things would be better, some things would be worse. A secret police everywhere is a pretty major negative, and so is the slavery. But stopping the fighting between th local lords is a major plus.
Jonathan Levy
171. JonathanLevy
169. up2stuff

Very good insights. Both Demandred's conversation and Moridin's perceptions are highly relevant to this theory - I must thank you for bringing them to mind.

I wonder, though - how would you tell one Dark Lord from another? Suppose Moridin dies before he sees Fain replace the DO - or suppose they both get locked inside the Bore, and only 3 ages from now do we learn that Shadar Logoth is the new DO - how would Ishy, in his reincarnation in the 2nd age, after gaining access to all his previous memories, know that someone pulled a switch?

It's not like the DO indulges in casual conversation in which he might slip up. :)

That said, I agree that the DO and the Creator are constants, and having one of them being replaced regularly would ruin the elegance of the model. Still - pre-epiphany Rand was thinking about killing the Dark One - which would be no less monumental that the DO breaking the Wheel of Time. What if Rand manages to break the Pattern, and do something which is, in fact completely unique - killing the DO - only to have the cycle recur anyway, with Shadar Logoth replacing the Dark One (for the first time ever, not as part of a pattern which repeats every 7 ages)?

That might be cool :)
Chris R
172. up2stuff
See, my guilty pleasure is the suspicion that if Fain does destroy the DO, maybe time WILL go linear.

I dont know that it is THAT unlikely of a chance. Sanderson says that even though each age is repeated, they are always somewhat different. I mean, yes the Wheel is cyclical, but it is producing the Age Lace. That isnt rewoven every age. Where does THAT go? There is a kind of Linear element to the Wheel of Time, too. At least according to the thoughts in my head.
Terry McNamee
173. macster
@56 ZEXXES: Agreed 100%.

@59 sps49, @76 forkroot re: Graendal: Yeah, I also got disabused of that. What was actually stated was that Graendal had "placed strings around Tuon". If anything, this implies she Compelled other people, as spies, to report on Tuon and/or influence her, rather than Compelling Tuon herself. What losing these will do to Tuon and the Seanchan, who knows, but it isn't likely to be a gigantic paradigm shift unless those people were very high in the halls of power.

@65 AlanS7: A very interesting point re: Mat's voice shifting whose modern viewpoint he reflected.

@66 JonathanLevy re: Mat: Yes, except that Leigh herself (and a few others) took exception to his views as well as how they were phrased. So some people, including Leigh herself, seemed to find the views themselves unjustified.

@73 Girmie: That is one thing I will agree with re: Mat. Though note that isn't an inconsistency in Mat's character or its portrayal, but an inconsistency of the WOT world, Sanderson and Team Jordan apparently forgetting about Mat's other lordly followers or not considering them important enough to mention. Another example would be in ToM during the whole Perrin vs. Whitecloaks thing where we have all the wonderful revisiting of his first encounter with them in TEotW, including Egwene's bit about Perrin dancing with her on Sunday...but it is completely left out that Gaul was freed from Whitecloaks by Perrin. Granted, he's an Aiel and probably considered it unimportant, perhaps even forgot it. (I can't recall if it was mentioned at all during Perrin's stint in the Two Rivers in TSR.) But it seems odd Perrin at least didn't think of it, or Faile. (She knew he freed Gaul, it was one of the things that first drew her to Perrin.)

Is this a horrible lapse, and will it necessarily derail or ruin the story? No of course not, and lots of details like this in a series so sprawling can easily be missed. It does, however, remind people of when Jordan did not miss such little details and kept including them or bringing them back. Something to notice, perhaps to lament, but not to let ruin the story for you IMO.

@74 thewindrose: LOL! It was only one post this time, instead of three or four!

@80 forkroot: ROTFL!!!

@83 Alisonwonderland and others: The thing is, are the two Seanchan prophecies really mutually exclusive? Nothing in either prophecy says anything about a time limit. There's nothing to say, for example, that one might not lead into the other: Rand bows to the Crystal Throne (is forced to swear obedience), then later breaks free of control/breaks his vow and binds it to serve him; or, Rand bows to the Throne in order to get Tuon to bind herself to him (it's a compromise, a mutual assistance pact).

FWIW, if the Domination Band were to be part of this binding, it would have to be one of the copies--Rand destroyed the original. We don't know where the copies are, except that Cadsuane gave to them sisters she trusted (along with Callandor). So for that to come into play, either the sisters would have to betray the Light (or be captured by the Seanchan), or Rand would have to send Cadsuane to fetch them in order to be willingly used as part of an alliance with the Seanchan.

@96 AndrewB: Your interpretation is as likely as any other IMO. And as I just stated, it makes perfect sense to me that Zen Rand might be willing to do what Darth Rand would not, in order to gain that alliance.

@100 anthonypero: Aside from the statements people have already made, I think another reason some hold to that theory is Ishamael's comment in TEotW about having "whispered in Artur Hawkwing's ear, and he sent his armies across the Aryth Ocean, and sealed two dooms...the doom of his dream of one land and one people, and a doom yet to come". Some people seemed to interpret this as saying that part of this "doom" was changing the Prophecies so that when the Seanchan returned to Randland, they would do all in their power to try and force Rand to submit, thus ensuring the forces of the Light would never unite against the Shadow. It's a reasonable interpretation, but it could just as easily apply to him simply sending Hawkwing's armies there so that they would come back to cause trouble during the Last Battle, without necessarily having to change the Prophecies to do so. (I.e., simply trying to get everybody to follow the Seanchan, or trying to collar the Aes Sedai, would be enough to cause trouble without having to bring Rand into it.) Tampering with the Prophecies like that seems like something Ishamael would do, and the revelation from ToM that there are Dark Prophecies he could draw upon to make the changes is suggestive, but there's no real proof.

@many re: Seanchan slavery: Put me down for the six of column A, half-dozen of column B argument--that the damane are like American slavery of blacks, while the rest of Seanchan society, including the da'covale and such, are like Eastern slave traditions. And while I think Seanchan needs to change, and hope they will, I agree it's going to take something major to get it to happen within the last book.

@123 Rand al'Todd re: the vision of Mat: We "know" he will be captured and bound with the ashandarei? Maybe it's just me but I always thought that vision of Mat (which came from Perrin in the wolf dream, BTW) was a reference to what the Finn did to him in Rhuidean--perhaps literal, perhaps figurative, but in any event pointing to him being sent out of the Tower of Ghenjei (with the aid of the spear, no less!) and hung from Avendesora. Your interpretation is interesting and it's possible it might still be something yet to come, but we don't "know" that's what the vision meant. Also, while we all hope Mat will make it back to rejoin the Band, that depends on if Grady can make the gateway amidst or before the attack on Caemlyn, so who knows.

@134 billiam: A very interesting quote. Assuming it isn't just a residual effect of the fireball, I'd say that could indeed be a bit of Rand seeing through Moridin's eyes. After all we know Moridin felt what happened to Rand's hand, so it would stand to reason Rand had some flash from Moridin at the same moment.

@137 ZEXXES: I see what you're getting at...you're suggesting that by channeling as much of the Power as he did when cleansing saidin, then using the Choedan Kal to channel even more, Rand "forced" himself, and this explains his sudden jump in power in ToM. A very intriguing theory. I'm not sure it's true, although insectoid's Nynaeve example doesn't necessarily disprove it because a) Rand was in control of the Source at the cleansing, not her and b) Cadsuane had to Heal Nynaeve to keep her conscious and channeling, and that may have prevented her from being forced. It's also possible she's as strong as she's going to get so couldn't be forced any higher, or that this is a function of Rand's male channeler ability to keep getting stronger. It could also be Nynaeve was affected, only instead of gaining more power she gained more dexterity with weaves--such as to be able to undo Graendal's Compulsion, or to Heal taint madness... This also doesn't change the fact that Rand's positive ta'veren Fisher King effect is likely related to his reintegration and his subsequent following the will of the Pattern, so forcing couldn't account for that.

All of that said, the reason I don't discount your theory (aside from the points I just made) is that forcing keeps being mentioned in the glossaries, in fact it is in TGS's glossary. That has to mean something. Of course forcing may have been mentioned in some of the Egwene sections of TGS--anyone out there able to hunt down any quotes as proof? Even so, that doesn't necessarily mean it couldn't apply to Rand's moment on Dragonmount too. The term is usually applied only to women, but we know men can do it too (Taim references it when talking about how he's training the Asha'man so quickly by making them do everything with the Power) and both halves of the Power have mirroring abilities anyway (stilling/gentling and the Healing thereof, different ways to Travel, and so on). So...maybe it does mean more here.

@138 yasiru: Well said. (Although one correction: you kept saying Tylee when you meant Tylin.) Also to you @154, I think the white light in Rand's mind could well be some sort of Creator's Power to balance the True Power...but your theory also makes sense.

@155 JonathanLevy: While I liked Mat's letter and didn't have a problem with it, I do agree that including any of those phrases, while not necessarily funny, would have been a nice callback.

@156 Wetlander: Always good to see your eloquent voice of reason here. :) All I will add to your comment is that your statement about people who were thrown off by Mat, like your past thoughts re: people who complain about Sanderson and the new books in general, falls under something TV Tropes calls "Accentuate the Negative". We see it all the time: people preface their posts "I like Sanderson, I like the new books overall, I think he did most things right/just fine, BUT..." and then by the time they get through their discourse on what they disliked, their initial caveat is drowned out and forgotten. And when you see numerous people saying over and over that they overall liked the books, but then harp on one or two things they hated, the repetitiveness again makes it hard to swallow. It seems that in the quest to be properly critical rather than a simple praisefest, some people have forgotten to accentuate the positive. Which is what a good critical review is supposed to do, not just name everything you think the author did wrong. It'd be nice if we could see more posts going on ad nauseam about the wonderful things Sanderson did right, or at least pointing them out just as consistently as they do the "mistakes" and "failures", but unfortunately it seems that anything which approached that would be decried as mere fanboyism. Sigh.

@160 travyl: That's a very good quote, thanks for digging that up.

@ up2stuff, Wetlander, and others: put me also in the camp that Rand may have to use the TP again (probably against Moridin, and I really like the theory it'll be used to break the link between them) but that it will be Shadar Logoth/Mashadar/Fain that will be the thing to touch the Bore and thus keep any of the Power from being tainted.
174. ScotLad75
I had the oppurtunity to go to the signing in Scotland(thankfully he finally made it here) and this is an excerpt BWS read to us during his reading. It is a deleted scene from ToM, and it is pretty darn cool.
Here it is,

Rand rode through the gateway that Flinn, Narishma, Merise, and Corele had opened. He was the last one through from Tear. Well, the last except Nandera and Jalani, who had again came forward to guard his honor.
He saw the flags of Mayene and Ghealdin, and above them flew the Wolfhead banner of Perrin. It would be good to see Perrin he thought as Colors swirled inside his head. He saw Perrin and Faile stepping out of their tent and appearing in front of him as the colors faded.
"Perrin", He said, "The light shine on your safe return." "I see you did better than I expected, this is some army with you, and did I see the Whitecloaks banner with you?"
Perrin shrugged his shoulders and said, "That is some story to share. "it is good to see you Rand" Perrin stepped up and and grabbed Rand pulling him into a hug. Rands felt a knot in his chest loosen as he hugged Perrin back. "I hope you can forgive me for the way I have used you Perrin" Rand whispered into his ear. " I saw you on Dragonmount a few weeks ago Rand, I saw how you fought the darkness and won, between us there is nothing to forgive" Perrin whispered back.
Rand felt happy as he surveyed the approaching people. He saw Faile, Berelain, and that woman must be Alliandre from the little he had heard. Next to Berelain was, Galad Damodred? In a Whitecloak uniform. He wanted a moment alone with him, but was unsure what to say. He had always wanted a brother, and here he was for the first time since he found out he had one.
Perrin said "Rand, this is my and your liegewoman Queen Alliandre Maritha Kigarin, Queen of Ghealdan, Blessed of the Light, Defender of Garens wall." Queen Alliandre curtseyed and said, "My Lord Dragon, I am sworn to Lord Perrin and through him to you, Please accept my oaths." Rand nodded and said "Gladly do I accept your oaths my lady, Ghealdin and the light are blessed in you." Rand Looked over at Galad and Perrin said, "This is Galad Damodred, Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light, he has sworn to follow my orders until the Last Battle has been won." Galad looked at him as he stepped forward, Rand extended his hand and said. "I hope this meeting goes better than our last, Galad Damodred." Galad smiled and nodded. "Did you really fall over the wall on accident?" he asked. Rand laughed, " I really did."

When you have free moment, I would like to talk to you about your mother, if that is well with you." Galad gives him a strange look and holds something in his pocket. "That will be okay with me."
Rand nods and waves to Grady and Neald as they step up to him and salute. " I see you have grown in power since we last met, I will see you raised to full Asha'man as soon as I can" Both men saluted Rand and stepped back.
"Lady Faile, thank you for returning Perrin to me, I have need of him, and all of you" " Lets go make ourselves comfortable and talk." Perrin Nods and rand follows him to his tent.

Valentin M
175. ValMar
@ 174

This effort was "okay with me" ;)
Nice try :D
Thomas Keith
176. insectoid
ZEXXES @168: But she did channel enough to make the statue melt.

Up2 @169: "Shaidar Saran" makes for better puns, anyway. ;)

Sam @174: Oh you!! XD It's not a bad interpretation of what might happen at the Fields of Pelennor Merrilor.

Sam Mickel
177. Samadai
Sorry my friends, that is what a bored and idle mind that likes to move on from rehashed ideas gets up to.
Roger Powell
178. forkroot
Regarding the dueling prophecies: Tuon is going to need the Crystal Throne in order for Rand to do any kneeling to it. I can't imagine how they would have managed that if they hadn't gotten Traveling from the WT raid. I wonder what plan B was?

Anyway - seems like she's going to need to dispatch an expedition of Deathwatch Guards and traveling damane back to Seanchan to go fetch the throne. I wonder how they would deal with whatever interloper is sitting on it?
Chris R
179. up2stuff
Fork, now I am hearing that song from Deliverance, Dueling Banjo's in my head.
John Massey
180. subwoofer
I see a few folks like the Fain playing footsie with the DO idea. The only question I have is doesn't that put us back to square 1? Originally Fain was a darkfriend, he went to the fiery toilet and was touched by the presence of the DO. That made him the loon that followed Rand and Co along the road to Aridhol. Yes Fain has become much more than a mere darkfriend, but the DO's touch should still be upon him even though he is now Ordieth etc etc. I dunno, I just think two wrongs don't make a right.

Jay Dauro
181. J.Dauro
macster @173

I do not believe we can say that Rand destroyed the "original" Domination Band. The bands that Cadsuane controlled were all taken from the plain wooden box that Semirhage brought to the manor in northern Altara. As I remember, we do not know if any of these was the original, and we do not know how Cadsuane decided which to keep and which to send away.
Kimani Rogers
182. KiManiak
Some good conversation topics and points being made since my last comment; sorry I couldn’t respond to you guys sooner. A few general observations, and then maybe I’ll try to respond to some specific folks/comments (in another post, if this one drags on to long)…

Mat: I’m pretty sure I made my position known with my post@23. I had no major problems with the rendition of Mat in TGS or ToM. I look forward to when we get to the chapters where Mat shows his love of creating back-stories for the aliases he creates. And although I loved his letter to Elayne (I laughed and rolled so hard the first time I read that; I think I reread that part a few times before I kept on with the story), I would suggest we wait until we at least get to that book before we really get into it (although I may not be the best person to complain, since I may have referenced one scene and its players near the beginning of ToM a few times already in this reread).

I will say that I appreciate the various comments from readers who were less fond of Mat’s portrayal in this chapter, in terms of them attempting to explain why Mat seemed “different” or “off.” It’s good to see where other folks are coming from, and I tired of hearing how BWS just got Mat wrong without any clear reason as to why. So, thanks for sharing (that may sound snarky, but it's really not meant that way).

But, to say it throws you out of the story? I think that Wetlandernw@156 made her point regarding that very well, and I second (or I guess by now its fifth, sixth or seventh) that. I would never try to deny anyone to express their opinion here, but I hope that in future Mat chapters we don’t have to hear so many comments about how BWS got Mat wrong and instead discuss what happens (for instance, the debatable “sexist rant” that Mat gave, or Talmanes displaying his dry wit).

Seanchan society: I’ll be brief with this one, especially since I mostly concur with Wetlandernw@156 again. This society fits quite well based upon the world that RJ created and the various factors involved (Hawkwing trying to create an empire; sending his descendants across the seas and having them successfully create an empire in the West; suffering from less scrupulous Aes Sedai plans for domination, taking a tool meant to control those Aes Sedai and then creating a mindset to make it mentally/emotionally palatable to continue using them as tools/weapons; etc).

Do we in our modern day “western” society like it? We should not. But I would argue that there are a lot of things about our society that future people will look upon with horror. We have huge issues with poverty, hunger, violence, abuse, etc. Shoot, we have children that starve and live in filth in one of the most prosperous nations in history. We have some veterans who serve their country overseas and then return to their country and are neglected and underserved if they have trouble “readjusting” to society. I strongly believe that various aspects of our society are probably the best they have been in the history of the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t aspire to be better. We are not perfect; we have a long way to go. It may be kind of weird to come down so hard on one society on the basis that ours is so enlightened, when our enlightened society has quite a few problems of their own. I wonder if children go starving in Seandar as a matter of everyday life...

Anyway, didn’t mean to get on my soapbox so much (maybe just a little). I would argue that the average reader should read about the Seanchan and have major issues with their society (I’m still hoping that Team Jordan introduces something that cancels out or reverses the forced-link of the a’dam; that thing creeps me out). But they are part of the story, and Tuon’s actions up to this point are logical and true to her character in my opinion.

Ok, apparently I don’t do “brief” (I know, we’re all shocked). Just some of my thoughts after reading some of yours. I think I’ll tackle some of your comments in a separate post…
Elijah Foster
183. TheWolfKing
As far as kneeling to the Crystal Throne goes, I think that it was an Age of Legends tradition to kneel before it everytime you were going to sit in it so that you know what it feels to have the awe of it fully effect you before you judge others. This tradition derived from the first Tamyrlin seat (who of course sat in the throne) and felt that he/she should experience the effect it produces so the he/she may cast proper judgment. Rand knows this because Lews Therin was the Tamyrlin seat. I know that the action will never take place in Seanchan, but perhaps this will be told in passing. Or Rand could have it taken from Seandar and sit in it (kneeling before it first) and proclaim himself above the White and Black tower as the Tamyrlin seat.

All just speculation of course.
Kimani Rogers
184. KiManiak
Okay, this one is long, even for me. Wall of Text Warning, folks.

Jhirrad@32 – I hear you; good points.

Ryamano@45 and others made some valid points in response to my comment@23 regarding the Seanchan’s preemptive strike. I grant that some military commanders (apparently including Galgan and Yulan) may feel the risk of attacking an enemy stronghold that had -up to this point- for the most part left you alone and may be allied with a foe that has effectively stopped you and has access to a power source that you don’t (saidin) may be worth expending some of your most precious and elite resources (damane, raken & to’raken, Bloodknives, etc.).

I would point out that the plan was for a raid in which they hoped they would get lucky and snag an Aes Sedai that could Travel or weave the non-existent weapon (not a truly crippling strike on the White Tower); they didn’t know (or factor in to their rationalizations) that the White Tower would be divided and so easy a target; and they hoped that it would piss Rand off enough to debilitate him, but not enough to provoke him to return the action in kind.

But my issue is probably a broader one with the Seanchan war machine. Their perception of honor seems weird to me; I just can’t grasp it. Turan, Karede, Tylee and other commanders give us certain displays of what I consider honorable actions. I can’t reconcile condoning a sneak attack on the enemy’s capital –when the enemy has shown they are more than capable of doing the same to you but have chosen not to- as an honorable action that generals like these would take.
(It’s similar to what we see some of the Aiel commenting on in regards to the Seanchan specifically attacking Rhuidean (I got the impression of a sneak attack, but I could misremembering there) while the Aiel purposely did not Travel to attack Ebou Dar, when Avi’s in the way forward machine. The Aiel’s choice to not attack Ebou Dar is consistent with the character of their clan-chiefs. The sneak attack seems out of character for the generals that we have seen up to this point (excluding Galgan’s and Yulan’s behavior that we are seeing for the first time here)).

And no, I’m not going to try in some weird way to attribute this to the change in authorship. I could easily see this (and Avi’s experience in the way-forward machine) being written by RJ. I’m just not clear on (or maybe just don’t like) what is acceptable Seanchan military behavior and what isn’t…

And after having said all that, I could still come up with reasons why the preemptive strike was an incredibly risky tactic that had a small chance for success (the Seanchan had already captured many Aes Sedai who couldn’t Travel and couldn’t use any weapon-type weaves; odds couldn’t have been great that raiding the Tower would result with one that could) and a strong chance to encourage reprisal. Fortunately for the Seanchan, things worked out okay for them.

Oh and as for my aside about Rand not using the Ashaman to strike at the Seanchan in Ebou Dar, well (let’s see if I can be succinct) I challenge that Rand was so busy he couldn’t assign a small task force of Ashaman to strike (he wasn’t hunted til the end of TPoD; was able to pass instructions to allies in WH before dealing with the rogue Ashaman and cleansing Saidin; could direct Logain and Bashere to arrange troops and set up meetings in CoT; and could handle a few things including repulsing Trollocs in KoD) if he wanted to. I don’t think the Seanchan could have easily repulsed 10 Ashaman spread throughout the city and covertly using destructive weaves to damage the castle or the damane kennels (and to be fair, Rand didn’t know Blossoms of Fire until KoD, so they would have to be other weaves). And the argument that justifies Tuon authorizing a strike on a potential ally of Rand’s could be flipped to work in Rand’s favor too, except for him having that whole honor and decency thing going on... Still, that aside was mostly just me wondering out loud why it wasn’t even considered.

But Ryamano, I appreciate the very detailed response and the comments from others that followed. Cool discussion…

macster@55 – Your very little to say is even better than when I try to be brief! I did appreciate your “freedom” vs. “security” point. And I agree with your point regarding toryx@40’s comments. As for Bergmaniac’s comments, I don’t disagree that there is some connection; I personally am just not comfortable saying that Elaida’s failure ended up costing her freedom anymore than saying something like Liandrin’s failure to have all 3 Supergirls captured by the Seanchan in TGH ultimately ended in her capture, the defeat of Be’lal, Moghedien, Rhavin, Mesaana, (any other Forsaken defeated by one of the SGs, or Rand for that matter), the cleansing of the Source and ultimately the Light’s chances to defeat the Dark One in AMoL. There’s a connection, but a whole lot of other things did and did not happen that could and could not have derailed it all…

AlanS7@65 – Good point about Talamanes. The reader never really saw him interact with Mat before, except for brief glimpses in TFoH and LoC.

JL@66 – re: how the Seanchan view marath’damane – I think that the Seanchan seeing the AS as rabid animals was a good point, but I still question how effective they thought a raid would be in “crippling” their opposition. Pestering, maybe, after all that’s what raids or hit and fade type attacks are more likely to do, I would assume (admittedly, this is based purely on the amounts of military fiction that I’ve read; I have no military expertise). The Seanchan weren’t looking to “strike hard” in my opinion; this is more like a “hit ‘em, get ‘em and quit ‘em” type action to me.

forkroot@80 That was great! I reread that post at least 4 times, singing the lyrics in my head. Well done, sir!

Freelancer@95 – Thanks for that! I love that riff. Carlin was a master; I loved his observations. He, Pryor, Cosby and (at the moment) Rock inhabit my Mt Rushmore of Comics.

Sub@120 – Heck, I just want to see Mat, Perrin and Rand in the same room for the first time in like, what, 10 books! But yes, I think that the combined ta’veren effect of the 3 of them could potentially set all kinds of things straight.

Rand al’Todd @123 – Yeah, I don’t think that we “know” that Mat will be captured and bound or if any of what you propose is even likely to happen. I see that macster@173 addressed that. Nice theory, though.

Zexxes@127 and others re: the Domination bands – As others have said, I don’t believe the bands are “useless” on Rand. Rand has shown that he has the ability to escape, but place me in the group that is dubious that Rand would seek to use the True Power again in anything up to the most extreme and dire of circumstances. I don’t place “allowing himself to be caught by the Domination Band because he knows he can use the TP to free himself” as an extreme or dire circumstance. Also, I don’t believe that we have any proof that he destroyed the original Domination Band, nor that the original is not still in Seanchan possession.
(Edit: I see that J.Dauro@181 already remarked about the uncertainty of whether this was the original Domination Band while I was typing my two monster posts)

Zexxes@137 & sub@143 re: Rand being able to channel more Power – Nice. We do see in ToM that Rand is able to channel a significant amount of saidin to destroy thousands of Trollocs. There is nothing shown in ToM to account for that. However, he did appear to be incredibly fatigued after doing that and one would have to assume that the amount he channeled through the Choeden Kal was significantly greater. I think you could argue that it’s as likely (if not more so) that he had Callandor (or some other sa’angreal) under his cloak when he defeated that many Shadowspawn in Maradon. But, I still like the possibility of Rand gaining some additional strength due to his interaction with saidin and the Choeden Kal at the end of TGS, and not just because he became zen-Rand.

sub@145 – Yeah, really. 2 Circles of 13 were shielding Rand. He wasn’t impressed. Although to be fair to the Aes Sedai, if the dreaded Savior/Destroyer were to magically appear at my house, I’d be a little scared and a little on guard, too…

Wet@156 – Excellent post; good points

macster@173 – re: Nynaeve benefitting from the Choeden Kal by receiving an increased dexterity in her weaving – Interesting theory. We do know that Nynaeve was always able to weave incredibly well as demonstrated by the fact that her Healing (which normally already requires rather dexterous weaving ability) requires the weaving of all 5 Powers in what one assumes is a rather complex weaving job, and she already does it better than anyone (with the exception, maybe, of Sharina). Still, a cool theory. Also, very astute of you to be paying attention to what keeps on being shown in the glossary.

Samadai@174 – Nice story. I really do hope that Rand and Galad have a chance to talk in AMoL. I’ve run a few scenarios in my head (apparently I have a very active imagination), and I like yours as well. Let's hope that Team Jordan decides to show us a quick, yet nice "we are family" scene. Maybe with Morgase, Elayne, Gawyn, Tam, Amys and a few other participants present, as well.
185. nae77blis77
I can't believe no one has mentioned this, I had thought it was a forgone conclusion, but maybe i am wrong.

I had always thought that to seal the bore, Rand will lead the Aeil/Tinkers and Ogiers to the bore, singint the Song (some variation of the growing song from the AoL and the Stedding making song) Thereby thickening the pattern at the bore (which Rand does sort of now, just by being around) and perhaps accidentally creating a steading effect throughout the pattern, returning mankind to a magic-less Age.

Ok, well the stedding part is my own theory, but I thought the rest was pretty straight forward, but i have not been around the theory boards since RJ died.
Tess Laird
186. thewindrose
Samadai - I am also hopeful that we will have a Galad and Rand meet up - I like where your thoughts have gone:)

up2stuff - I think you know I wasn't picking on you - Shaidar Saran was just too good to pass up on a thread that needed some 'fun'.
I remember one post of mine where I had agreed that Bryne had been about to say that Siuan would make a good ally/wife - except I did alley/wife - and another poster was giggling about Bryne trying to convince Siuan to go into the alley for a quickie.

Good to see you too, Brother Dragon:)

New post up soon...

187. MasterAlThor

Wait......still trying to catch my.....breath.

I don't know weather to be mad or continue to LMAO.

Thanks brother.

Alice Arneson
188. Wetlandernw
One thought about the Domination Bands: not only do we not know whether the one Rand destroyed was the original, or even whether the original was in the box in KoD, we don't know just how many of the horrible things the Seanchan have made. We know there are at least 6 sets; we don't know if there are more. For all we know, the original is sitting somewhere else with a bunch of damane trying to make enough copies to collar the entire BT. Or, if the copies were all made by Semirhage, how many she actually made before she was captured.

And one last comment on the dangers of Seanchan rule. Unlike Jonathan Levy, I don't think the peasant girls are in any danger of being made to dance in a flimsy dress just because they're pretty; I really get the idea that being made property is a result of serious failure/treason, and that generally only happens to those in positions of power and responsibility. For the already-beaten-down peasants of some of these nations, the only danger would be if you tried to revolt, and given the relative improvements in your life, you just wouldn't.

On the other hand, in a more individualistic, free-thinking place like Andor, the farmers might well decide to revolt if the Seanchan killed their Queen for refusing to surrender. A Seanchan invasion there would be a seriously messy business, as it would be in the Borderlands. The Aiel... doesn't bear thinking about. Think about the culture for two seconds, and you know they'd fight to the death of the last toddler able to pick up a knife.
Jonathan Levy
189. JonathanLevy
188. Wetlandernw

Wasn't Bayle Domon auctioned off as a sex toy because he talked back to a Seanchan officer? Egeanin rued the price she had to pay to buy him back because other women had the same taste in men.
190. yasiru89
macster @173- Yes, I did mean Tylin. Thanks for pointing that out.

On the True Power, I think the One Power is already its counterpart from the Creator and that, even from a plot point of view, it's too late in the game to be introducing an entirely new Power without making it a deus ex machina instant.
As circumstantial support for my theory, we've seen Rand's and Lews Therin's reactions to using the True Power, so it's clear they'd have reservations using it again, so it can't be what Rand planned to appeal to in case the negotiations with Egwene and then the Borderlanders went south as some suggest.

Between Wetlandernw and travyl, I think the Mat issue is neatly explained away.

On Mat's letter, I haven't read all the pertinent comments here, but I will say that, while hilarious, it was perhaps more significant a departure from his norm than ever the rambling episode could be made out to be. But it didn't bother me and you could justify it again as a combination of factors- Elayne now being queen (and too his being married to a noble of similar status now and perhaps wanting to deal with them as they are used to), her having treated him half-decently when they parted and his frustration at being kept waiting despite this.

JonathanLevy @167- On your second point, Fain's encounter with Turak and Rand's with Morgase have more in common than you acknowledge as to how fair the rulers are and are in turn completely opposed in how honest the supplicant's are. Morgase had Rand's accent to sway her off Elaida's suggestion as well as his guileless manner, while Turak had Fain's oily favour-currying to go by and the curious nature of the box he carried which he didn't know how to open himself. In one of these cases the confiscating was justified and so it happened. Remember too that Seanchan freely allow those who've sworn to carry about weapons and such normally.
That said, their ways do entail a bit more bowing and scraping, as Domon should have remembered from his previous encounters but didn't, leading to his sale on the block. But in uncertain times, particularly if you've not a good out-of-the-way strategic placement (like the Two Rivers, with the Taren on one side and the Mountains of Mist and the Forest of Shadows on the other), the security they provide is more important than the justice, which they have too, except the rules for nobles are different and you're held to more stringent standards, as has been the case for most successful rules in our own history.
Terry McNamee
191. macster
@174 LOL!!! You had me going at first, since some of the errors or discrepancies in style and voice could be attributed to it being a rough draft, but I caught on before the end. Which makes me feel good. :P Still, nice effort, and I do hope at least some of the things you touched on happen in AMoL.

@178 forkroot: You're right, but a number of people have suggested that "bowing to the Crystal Throne" wasn't meant to be taken literally, that instead it refers to Rand bowing to Tuon herself or simply acquiescing to the Seanchan (perhaps as an alliance rather than obeisance) and the Throne is just a prophetic symbol of this and not something Rand needs to literally bow to. Obviously this has yet to be proven but if correct it would explain how the prophecy could be fulfilled without having to either take the action to Seanchan or bring the Throne to Randland.

@180 subwoofer: Point, but by now I am wondering how much of the Dark One's touch is left in Fain? Particularly since it was said by Sanderson that Mordeth found things in his quest to stop the Dark One, things he should not have...if these things are part of Fain now, they could conceivably overwhelm the Dark One's touch to the point it doesn't matter. Or it could be what was said above, that this small bit of the Dark One in him is what will allow for there to be another Dark One to be released in the next Age of Legends--could even result in the leakage of True Power that Mierin and her team detected.

@181 J. Dauro, 182 KiManiak: True, I stand corrected. However, a few thoughts. Aside from Wetlander's point that we don't know how many copies were made, or where they are, Semirhage was presumably the one who made them, or told how to make them; even if she wasn't, she clearly knew about them since they were in the box she brought with her. So then it is key to note (we haven't gotten there yet) that in "The Last That Could Be Done", when Shaidar Haran and Elza free Semirhage and show her what they've brought her, she calls it the Domination Band, not a Domination Band or "one of the copies". Of course we don't know if she has a way of telling a copy from the original, but this phrasing may still be significant. Anyway, my initial point was though, whether it was the original or a copy Rand destroyed, the others we know of are still with the sisters Cadsuane trusted, so unless they turn out to be Black, are captured by the Seanchan, or the Seanchan have more copies, it's going to be hard for another band to be used on Rand.

@183 TheWolfKing: Interesting theory. As stated above, I don't think the throne necessarily has to physically enter the story for the prophecy to be fulfilled (if it is) but your idea about where the throne came from and what it was used for is intriguing and could still be referenced in Rand's thoughts at his next meeting with Tuon.

@184 KiManiak: You are quite right, I didn't mean to imply that everything which happened or didn't happen after Elayne wasn't captured is all the fault of Elaida. I was just pointing out that her actions, and whether they succeeded or failed, did play a part in the way events fell out, and perhaps a larger one than you are attributing (because I think if Elayne had been captured things would have turned out quite differently). Obviously to say it's Elaida's own fault the Seanchan captured her is hyperbole, but Siuan's Law of Unintended Consequences still applies I think. And while it is true that the girls escaping in Falme is not the only reason for all the events you listed, their presence and involvement did have an effect--in some cases peripheral, in others quite significant. (Clearest example: I really don't think Rand could have beaten Rahvin without Nynaeve/Moghedien's help.) So...they aren't the sole reason for what happened, but their actions, and what would have happened if they hadn't occurred or had occurred in a different manner/time, should I think be taken into account. Everything which happened, and the way that it did, was all part of the Age Lace and the Web of the Pattern, and the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. (I've always wanted to say that!)

Re: Nynaeve: It's true she was always dexterous, but I was thinking it might be nice if we have an in-story explanation for how she can keep doing more incredible things other than "Nynaeve is Wonder Woman". ;) As for the glossaries...let's just say the information revealed in ToM's taught me to pay more attention to them, heh! And I have to admit the fact Shara keeps appearing in them lends credence to the theory that that's where Demandred got his armies from.
192. Dorianin
Ah-Ha! I knew you would go the same way! When I first read this chapter, I nearly said "well, he's dead, just imagine how it could have been..." but as in--INFURIATING as it was, this was brandon getting into the skin of the characters he didnt really get. ToM rreally brought it home for me, he didnt entirely know the headspace of all(what, lke 100?) the people he was expected to represent. and, on re-reads, this chapter sucks so much balls. He got better later. I was so mad when I first read this shit...MATRIM CAUTHON...as a STUPID BUFFOON? but....he got better.
Andrew Mills
193. ajmills
This is my first read of WoT, so I don't know what happens.

I did wonder if Beslan panicked a little and/or did what he did for show and will go on rebelling, but more carefully. Seeing as he's now of the blood and stuff, he could have more "freedom" to create trouble.

Anyhoo, I generally don't like the Foresaken and the Seanchan chapters, and mostly skimmed this one.
194. Alanna
I definitely agree about Mat in this chapter. On my most recent re-read though, I noticed that it was Talmanes that was actually throwing me off even more than Mat. You'd think you wouldn't notice a more minor character sounding off, given that we see them less, but they are the ones that I'm noticing more on my reread.

Talmanes' lines here are very funny, but just not like him at all. Not how I saw him anyway. I think I saw somewhere where Sanderson said he read Talmanes as always subtley poking fun at Mat. So his interpretation of Talmanes bugs me for two reason - (1) I never really did read Talmanes as that way, and (2) Even if that's so, he's really not subtle here at all.

Maybe you could read it as Talmanes being more comfortable with Mat now that they've known each other longer, but. Meh. I just don't like him here.
William McDaniel
195. willmcd
Count me among those who thought Mat was "off"; this was, for me, the worst chapter of TGS.

I don't think that anything Mat said during the "rant" was especially counter to his views of male-female interaction as established previously in the series. But Mat's complaints about women (the vocal ones, at least) up to this point have primarily been one-liners; for him to declaim a long-winded allegory about a dice game was not consistent with how he had expressed himself heretofore in the series. He does talk too much, as ThePendragon @4 pointed out early on, and he doesn't talk in a way consistent with his previous behavior.

As many others have commented, perhaps Talmanes is more "off" than Mat, and the two feed off of each other. Yes, Talmanes frequently was stoic where Mat was excitable, but I don't think he ever would have prodded Mat the way he did in this chapter. It came across almost like Mat was a ranting buffoon of a commander whom Talamnes endured (all the while making clever comments to encourage the buffoon to display his buffoonery; it's almost like Talmanes was winking at the readers, and saying "look how I'm egging him on!"), while doing the real work of leading the army himself.

Also off-putting to me was Mat's uncomfortable self-justification when Vanin gripes at him ("A commander's got to ask things like this."). Mat has never felt the need to demonstrate that he conforms to some pre-existing perception of how a "commander" is supposed to act. His statement that Joline would be smart enough to "do that math" was also jarring.

But I'm certainly not going to write off an otherwise excellent book over one off-putting chapter. And as Leigh said, the "loveable rogue" is a tough character to write.

The writing in the Tuon chapter was excellent, I thought, especially the way it developed the themes of order and Tuon's associations with the ocean.

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