May 22 2012 2:00pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 2

Happy honorary October 25th, O my peeps! Welcome to a not-at-all obscure Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Part II of the Prologue of Towers of Midnight, in which I contemplate faith, brotherhood, and why sometimes both of those things kind of suck.

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 upcoming final volume, A Memory of Light.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!


Prologue: Distinctions [Part II]

What Happens
Galad Damodred leads seven thousand weary and dispirited Children through a miserable swamp near the border of Ghealdan and Altara, and tries to look unaffected by the terrible conditions for his men’s sake. Dain Bornhald joins him and suggests that perhaps they should turn back, but Galad tells him they must continue forward.

“I have thought about this much, Child Bornhald. This sky, the wasting of the land, the way the dead walk… There is no longer time to find allies and fight against the Seanchan. We must march to the Last Battle.”

Bornhald is uneasy about the swamp, which the map had not shown, and Galad thinks that all their maps have become unreliable. He tells Bornhald to gather the Children up so that he may speak to them. He tells the assembled men that these are “the darkest days of men,” but that the light always shines the brightest in the dark, and they are that light. He says their afflictions are their strength, and that he is proud to be in this swamp.

“Proud to live in these days, proud to be part of what is to come. All the lives that came before us in this Age looked forward to our day, the day when men will be tested. Let others bemoan their fate. Let others cry and wail. We will not, for we will face this test with heads held high. And we will let it prove us strong!”

The men’s flagging morale improves in the wake of Galad’s speech. Galad meets with Byar, who fervently praises Galad’s speech, and opines that their numbers will grow, perhaps enough to cast down the witches. Galad tells him that they will need the Aes Sedai to face the Shadow, and Byar reluctantly agrees. Galad then goes to the van, where his scout leader, Child Bartlett, shows him that their path ahead is blocked by a shallow river which had not been there before, cutting through a dead forest and choked with corpses floating downstream from somewhere. Galad insists on going first to ford it; the army crosses the fouled river without incident, but is exhausted by the effort. Galad tells Trom he plans to take them to Andor, to where he has personal lands; he prays that Elayne has gained the throne by now, and not fallen prey to either the Aes Sedai or al’Thor. Trom confesses he was worried Galad would refuse leadership, but Galad replies he had no choice in the matter; it would have been wrong to abandon the Children.

“The Last Battle comes and the Children of the Light will fight. Even if we have to make alliances with the Dragon Reborn himself, we will fight.”

For some time, Galad hadn’t been certain about al’Thor. Certainly the Dragon Reborn would have to fight at the Last Battle. But was that man al’Thor, or was he a puppet of the Tower, and not the true Dragon Reborn? That sky was too dark, the land too broken. Al’Thor must be the Dragon Reborn. That didn’t mean, of course, that he wasn’t also a puppet of the Aes Sedai.

Bartlett reports that the land dries up to the north, and Galad has the company push ahead eagerly, but when he clears the trees, a force of some ten thousand Children and Amadicians provided by the Seanchan crest the rise opposite, led by Asunawa, and Galad realizes Bartlett has led him into a trap. Byar goes to kill Bartlett, but Galad stops him. He orders Trom to have the men form up in ranks, and takes Byar and Bornhald to parley with Asunawa, who brings far more men with him, including five Lords Captain. Asunawa orders Galad to have his men stand down or his will open fire; Galad asks if he will abandon the rules of engagement and honor. Asunawa snaps back that Darkfriends deserve no honor. Galad asks if he really means to accuse all seven thousand Children behind him of being Darkfriends; Asunawa hesitates, and allows that perhaps they are merely misguided, being led by a Darkfriend. Galad refutes the accusation, and orders him to stand down; Asunawa laughs and counters that it is Galad who must surrender.

“Golever,” Galad said, looking at the Lord Captain at Asunawa’s left. Golever was a lanky, bearded man, as hard as they came—but he was also fair. “Tell me, do the Children of the Light surrender?”

Golever shook his head. “We do not. The Light will prove us victorious.”

“And if we face superior odds?” Galad asked.

“We fight on.”

“If we are tired and sore?”

“The Light will protect us,” Golever said. “And if it is our time to die, then so be it. Let us take as many enemies with us as we may.”

Galad turned back to Asunawa. “You see that I am in a predicament. To fight is to let you name us Darkfriends, but to surrender is to deny our oaths. By my honor as the Lord Captain Commander, I can accept neither option.”

Asunawa says Galad is not the Lord Captain Commander, and that he drew on “the Powers of the Shadow” to win his duel with Valda. Galad turns to another Captain with Asunawa, Harnesh, and asks if the Shadow is stronger than the Light. Harnesh replies, of course not.

“If the Lord Captain Commander’s cause had been honorable, would he have fallen to me in a battle under the Light? If I were a Darkfriend, could I have slain the Lord Captain Commander himself?”

Harnesh doesn’t answer, but Asunawa counters that sometimes good men die. Galad says he had every right to challenge Valda for what he did, and Asunawa spits that Darkfriends have no rights. Galad asks what happens if Child fights Child, and suggests that they can reunite. Asunawa rejects this, but hesitates, knowing that even though he would win, the cost of a full-scale battle would be devastating for both sides. Galad tells him he will submit to him, as long as he swears that Asunawa will not harm, question or condemn any of his men, including Byar and Bornhald.

“The Last Battle comes, Asunawa. We haven’t time for squabbling. The Dragon Reborn walks the land.”

“Heresy!” Asunawa said.

“Yes,” Galad said. “And truth as well.”

Bornhald softly begs Galad not to do this, but Galad replies that every Child who dies at another Child’s hand is a blow for the Shadow, and they are “the only true foundation that this world has left”. If his life will buy unity, then so be it. Asunawa is aggravated, but accepts. Galad orders Bornhald to make sure the men stand down and do not try to rescue him. Then the Questioners haul Galad out of his saddle and throw him down roughly, using knives to strip him of his armor and uniform.

“You will not wear the uniform of a Child of the Light, Darkfriend,” a Questioner said in his ear.

“I am not a Darkfriend,” Galad said, face pressed to the grassy earth. “I will never speak that lie. I walk in the Light.”

That earned him a kick to the side, then another, and another. He curled up, grunting. But the blows continued to fall.

Finally, the darkness took him.

The creature that had been Padan Fain/Mordeth walks north into the Blight, away from the corpse of the Worm he had just killed, a familiar mist trailing him. He is cutting himself on the ruby dagger, scattering his blood on the ground, and enjoying the black storm in the sky even though he hated the one who had made it.

Al’Thor would die. By his hand. And perhaps after that, the Dark One. Wonderful…

He thinks he is mad, and that it had set him free. He comes to where a group of Trollocs and a Myrddraal were hiding from the Worm. The Trollocs attack, but the Fade holds back, sensing something is wrong. Fain/Mordeth smiles, and the mist strikes.

The Trollocs screamed, dropping, spasming. Their hair fell out in patches, and their skin began to boil. Blisters and cysts. When those popped, they left craterlike pocks in the Shadowspawn skin, like bubbles on the surface of metal that cooled too quickly.

The creature that had been Padan Fain opened his mouth in glee, closing his eyes to the tumultuous black sky and raising his face, lips parted, enjoying his feast.

He walks on, and the corrupted Trollocs get up and follow him sluggishly, though he knows that when he wants them to they will fight with berserk fury. The Fade does not rise, for his touch is now instant death to its kind. He thinks it is sad that his hunt for al’Thor is over, but that there is no point in continuing a hunt when you know exactly where your prey is going to be.

You merely showed up to meet it.

Like an old friend. A dear, beloved old friend that you were going to stab through the eye, open up at the gut and consume by handfuls while drinking his blood. That was the proper way to treat friends.

It was an honor.

On the border of the Blight in Kandori, Malenarin Rai, the commander of Heeth Tower, goes through supply reports. He finds a reminder from his steward that his son Keemlin’s fourteenth name day is three days hence, and smiles in anticipation of giving his son his first sword and declaring him a man. He goes on his daily rounds, reflecting proudly on the superb defenses of the tower, and meets Jargen, a sergeant of the watch. Jergen reports that there was a single flash from Rena Tower to the Northwest, but no correction for it. Malenarin goes up to the top of the tower with Jargen and waits, but no further message arrives. Malenarin orders a message flashed to Rena inquiring, and another to Farmay Tower to check in, even though Jargen indicates they’ve done that already.

Wind blew across the tower top, creaking the steel of the mirror apparatus as his men sent another series of flashes. That wind was humid. Far too hot. Malenarin glanced upward, toward where that same black storm boiled and rolled. It seemed to have settled down.

That struck him as very discomforting.

He orders a message sent to the inland towers as well, advising them to be ready. He asks who is next on the messenger roster, and Jargen tells him it is his son Keemlin. He tells Jargen that they must send several messengers south, in case the towers are not receiving. He writes the message (“Rena and Farmay not responding to flash messages. Possibly overrun or severely hampered. Be advised. Heeth will stand”). He allows himself to feel relieved that Keemlin will be riding to safety, in case the worst has happened. He watches the storm again, noting the strange shapes of the clouds, and suddenly realizes the leading edge of the cloud is advancing. He orders the tower garrison to prepare for a siege, and turns to find Keemlin behind him. He demands to know why Keemlin is still there, and Keemlin tells him he sent Tian in his place. Keemlin adds that Tian’s mother has already lost four sons to the Blight, and he figured if any of them should have a shot at getting out, it should be Tian. Malenarin gazes at his son, and then sends a soldier to get the sword in the trunk in his office. Keemlin says his nameday isn’t for three days, but Malenarin tells him that the weapon is offered to a boy when he becomes a man, and he sees a man before him. All the soldiers stop to watch.

As Borderlanders, each and every one of them would have been given his sword on his fourteenth nameday. Each one had felt the catch in the chest, the wonderful feeling of coming of age. It had happened to each of them, but that did not make this occasion any less special.

Keemlin went down on one knee.

“Why do you draw your sword?” Malenarin asked, voice loud so that every man atop the tower would hear.

“In defense of my honor, my family, or my homeland,” Keemlin replied.

“How long do you fight?”

“Until my last breath joins the northern winds.”

“When do you stop watching?”

“Never,” Keemlin whispered.

“Speak it louder!”


“Once this sword is drawn, you become a warrior, always with it near you in preparation to fight the Shadow. Will you draw this blade and join us, as a man?”

Keemlin looked up, then took the hilt in a firm grip and pulled the weapon free.

“Rise as a man, my son!” Malenarin declared.

Keemlin stood, holding the weapon aloft, the bright blade reflecting the diffuse sunlight. The men atop the tower cheered.

Malenarin blinks away tears, and knows the men cheer not just for his son, but in defiance of the Shadow. Then one of the archers spots Draghkar in the clouds, and the unnatural clouds are close enough to reveal the massive horde of Trollocs advancing beneath them. Jargen suggests Keemlin should be below, but Malenarin replies that Keemlin is a man now, and stays. Malenarin watches the Trollocs approach, and knows that the tower will not be able to withstand them for long.

But every man atop that tower knew his duty. They’d kill Shadowspawn as long as they could, hoping to buy enough time for the messages to do some good.

Malenarin was a man of the Borderlands, same as his father, same as his son beside him. They knew their task. You held until you were relieved.

That’s all there was to it.

I ain’t gonna lie: the end of the Prologue got me choked up just now.

The nameday ceremony scene might not quite have been on the level of St. Crispin’s Day (which I acknowledge is a wholly unfair comparison to make, because hello, Shakespeare; also, sorry, but Richard Burton’s version of that speech so beats Olivier’s), but the emotions it evokes are much the same, for much the same reasons, and I seem to recall that following ToM’s release, quite a few people picked this scene out as being one of the most moving parts of the novel – for some, of the entire series. I would not go quite so far as the latter group, but I wholeheartedly agree with the former.

The thing is, though, that I don’t think I responded to this scene nearly as strongly when I first read it, over a year and a half ago now, as I did when I re-read it just now. The reasons why are interesting (well, I think they are, anyway), and have to do with factors completely separate from the Wheel of Time or anything associated with it.

For reasons which are many, I’ve been on something of a military fiction kick lately. Mind you, I’m not talking about the overblown, improbable, Michael Bay handjob bang-bang-shoot-‘em-up co-opting which is Hollywood and pulp fiction’s usual approach to the military and which, in my opinion, often accomplishes the remarkably paradoxical feat of diminishing the armed forces by attributing to them unrealistically superhuman capabilities and purity of purpose – when it’s not turning around and demonizing them in the next breath, of course. I’m not talking about that; I’m talking about the stuff out there that makes a genuine attempt to portray the military, and particularly the people who comprise that body, in a way that is as true to life as can reasonably be expected, with all their believable amounts of heroism and honor and all their just as believable lack thereof.

(In that vein, I must give my obligatory plug for the tragically undersold and overlooked HBO miniseries Generation Kill, which is one of the few mainstream portrayals of the Iraq War yet produced that remotely does it justice, in my opinion, and additionally happens to be one of the best written, directed, and acted pieces of television I’ve ever seen. It’s not easy to watch, but it is so, so worth it.)

Anyway, my point in bringing this up is that no even remotely honest portrayal of any military body can fail to address the subject of the St. Crispin’s Day speech, which can be summed up in its most famous passage:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.

So I have by default been rather immersed lately in the various fictional contemplations of this bond between soldiers, between those who fight and bleed and sometimes die together for a common cause, which has been pondered and expounded upon and romanticized (and sometimes over-romanticized) throughout history, and again right here in the Prologue for ToM. And for me personally, one of the things I find so fascinating and simultaneously so aggravating about it is how thoroughly it seems to exclude me. By virtue of my status as a civilian, of course, but even more completely in that I am female.

And “aggravating” isn’t even really the correct word, I think; it’s more almost a… a wistful feeling, that I am denied even the possibility of entrance to this so-honored group, by the very language it is couched in. It’s a band of brothers; there are no girls allowed. The scene where Keemlin receives his sword is, in fact, very specific in how it emphasizes that this is a ceremony for Borderlander men; it is, literally, how they become men in their culture, and (by all appearances) how they define themselves and their relationship to each other by that common bond, and there is nothing of women in it at all. And even today’s (U.S.) military still draws that distinction, by dictating that women who serve are not allowed in combat – which essentially denies them the most fundamentally honored aspect of serving in the military in the first place.

I’m not interested, at the moment, in debating whether or not that is a good thing; my point is, it’s a thing. It exists, this exclusion, is what I’m saying, and I am therefore unable to avoid acknowledging it.

So I feel the power of that brotherhood, and am moved by it, at the same time that I am saddened by the fact that I am not allowed to even vicariously imagine myself a part of it. And far more, I think, now that I have been made so much more aware of this dichotomy than I was previously. And I honestly can’t be sure which aspect of that affected me more, reading this scene.

Because I’m not a warrior, and I don’t want to be a warrior… but it would have been nice if I’d been allowed to even have the option of wanting it.


Fain: is icky. And cray-cray. And can apparently create zombie Trollocs with his travel-size Mashadar kit, because Trollocs totally needed to be grosser than they already were. And is on his way to Mount Doom Shayol Ghul to ambush Rand. Huzzah.

Galad: I swear, both of Elayne’s brothers have an almost supernatural ability to make me root for them and yet simultaneously make me want to smack them upside the head. Hard.

Galad less so than Gawyn, of course, because Gawyn is the undisputed champion in the needing-head-smackings arena, but some of what passes for logic in Galad’s brain is positively jaw-dropping. Even as I was cheering him on for out-theologizing Asunawa, I was at the exact same time yelling OH COME ON at some of his “reasoning.”

But this, admittedly, is precisely where I personally have a fundamental disconnect with the religious mindset. I have never understood the belief that God (or the Light, or whatever) protects those who are faithful and pray and follow the rules of that God, in the face of the absolutely overwhelming evidence that ill fortune and disaster makes no distinction whatsoever between the virtuous believer and the godless heathen when it strikes. Hurricane Katrina (just for example) killed a little over 1,800 people when it blew ashore, and I guaran-fucking-tee you there were just as many God-fearing church-going folk among that number as there were sinners and atheists. In fact, statistically, there were probably even more of the first group than the latter two (which are, contrary to what some believe, actually separate categories).

So basing an argument over who was “supposed” to win a sword duel on the participants’ spiritual allegiances (as opposed to, say, which one was a better swordsman) is simply ludicrous to me, just as much as the supposition that believing in God will make you more likely to survive a Category 5 hurricane than someone who doesn’t. Sorry, but it won’t. (You can argue about whether it will affect what happens to you after you die, but that’s a whole other can of worms.)

And to anticipate the obvious counterargument, there is no more evidence that the WOT version of God chooses to intervene in the randomness of the Pattern than the Christian version does, at least not so directly and minutely as to influence the outcome of one non-Messiah-involved sword duel. In fact, in the entire series, the only “direct” action we’ve seen the Creator take was when he showed up in TEOTW to tell Rand that he would take no part in the action!

That said, I certainly concede that for the particular audience Galad was playing to, his choice of argument was the perfect one to make, and I was totally rooting for him to win with it (even if he, well, didn’t, at least not at this point). It just kind of also made me want to beat my head against my desk at the same time.

Sigh. Well, he gets more awesome later, so I’ll just look forward to that, shall I?

And, yeah. So now that I have totally not said anything controversial at all in this post, we out! Have fun, play nice in commentage, and say goodnight, Gracie!

1. CorDarei
Thanks for the reread this week!
2. Seamus1602
I loved Galad's argument and reasoning. It's all about context for me. While I don't agree with the beliefs and assumptions of the Children of the Light, I always try to appreciate a well thought out and logical argument. In that, Galad succeeds beyond a doubt. Though his logic is based on what I consider false assumptions, in the context that he was arguing with those that believe in those assumptions, he made some great arguments in pointing out the blatant disregard for Children policies showcased by Asuwana. For once, the stick up Galad's ass actually worked for something cool (also true of him killing Valda), not just judgement and condescension, so that's a victory in my book!
Zayne Forehand
3. ShiningArmor
Great post Leigh. I was not aware that the end of the prologue had such an overwhelming response from the fans but I'm certainly among those that thing it's one of the more moving moments in the entire series. I have no personal life experience to base it off of other than admiration for those that I know that have such unflinching dedication to do their duty and protect others.

This was the first time since starting TGS that after reading something I thought was particularly amazing I didn't wonder or care who was responsible for the writing because I thought it was transcendentally awesome.

I was almost equal parts happy and frustrated by the start of the Galad plotline in this book. I felt like his first 3-4 POVs were an accelerated version of the Egwene/White Tower plotline. Galad sacrifices himself and endures hardships for his people and they rally to him and unite under him. Mostly, the feeling I had on first reading and still was that some of this should have been thrown into TGS. The gap from the prologue of Knife of Dreams to now just always felt very jarring to me.
Ben Frey
4. BenPatient
For what it's worth, Leigh, fathers feel the same "not invited to the party" feeling when they have children. The mother is in a special club of 1, and men are not really invited. Even when women go out of their way to include the father, there is a sort of barrier there that cannot be crossed. The thing about it is, women and men are...different.

That means something, and it has practical implications.
5. JAR Brown
Great reread again.

What I find interesting ie. Christian mindset (I'd like to think I'm one of those God-fearing Church-going people myself :) ) is that nowhere in the Bible does it mention anything about direct intervention by god. In fact, both Testaments mention this idea:

Ecclesiastes - Time and unforeseen circumstances befall them all.

Luke 13 - The Tower of Shiloam, Jesus clearly states that those who died did not die because they were more sinners but because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Still, as in our world in Randland, there is nothing to indicate that just because someone who claims to speak for God says something does not at all mean that they actually represent his views.

Just by two cents. Thanks again for all your hard work on this reread. I'm doing my own reread at the moment (Up to Shadow Rising this month) and after every chapter I've been checking in with your commentary here at the reread.
Bethany Pratt
6. LiC
Mmm, exclusion... Men and women are different, but refusing womens' service or putting them on pedestals, which all the borderlanders are guilty of, is ridiculous.

I'm reminded of Éowyn from LOTR:TTT - no Man can slay the witch-king, bitches.
7. MasterAlThor
Are you saying that women do not have some sort of sisterhood that allows them a bond that men cannot share in? I would think that motherhood would qualify.

And it is written that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike.


Jeff Weston
8. JWezy
BenPatient@4: Vive la différence!
@4 Beat me to it

As Leigh mentioned in her read of Ice and Fire early on, a fantasy author has two choices concerning women in midevil (sp?) type worlds. Either the author can create a fantasy world where men and women are treated equally or they can rub the reader's nose in the inequality.

Personally I find it distracting to the story when there are women pushing spears with the men and not getting bowled over by the generally greater mass and muscle. Jordan did well in avoiding either trope by creating from the beginning a situation where women would logically have more power given that they were the only "mages" left.

As for women in combat today that doesn't depend as much on muscle power, I'm all for it as long as the woman in question can pass the same standards the men have for what muscle power is required.

Back to the prologue; Galad in this book gets to be the exact same person he's been all series but instead of being a pain is the perfect person for the situations he is in. That is some good writing. And as for the borderlanders, wow. I have a feeling like the Aiel, they're going to have a blaze of glory only to see their wonderful culture decay in the aftermath with no more threat to keep them together. But for the moment, ALL of them are just constantly keeping up those MOA.
Roger Powell
10. forkroot
There's no denying that Fain has become scary/creepy, but I wish there had been a bit more foreshadowing or indications of his oncoming powers.

The last time we saw Fain was all the way back in Winter's Heart where he had his usual bag of tricks (illusions and a very dangerous dagger.) There was no hint then that he could do any of the things we see in this snippet.

What's a bit more worrisome is that the text seems to imply that we won't see him again until the showdown at Shayol Ghul. So there's little chance we'll learn more about his powers (and any limitations.)

For those who think of Fain as WoT's "Gollum" - consider how Gollum was "on screen" a lot as the series approached it's climax. No red herring, no deus ex machine, he was integral.

Fain, OTOH, is beginning to feel more like a distraction or footnote. If he is slated to play an important part in the final scenes, we may yet regret that we didn't see more "character development" (maybe "character debasement"?)
Deana Whitney
11. Braid_Tug
Hello, I changed my handle. Was “Would be Brown Ajah”, but since 1/3 to 1/2 of the people on the comments could say the same thing, I went with something else. Yes, I like Ny. But the picture is the braid I always give Birgitte in my head.

Post Comments:
Galad – once again we have a charter saying basically “we are the only hope the world has left.”
He thinks the CoL are the “only true foundation left in the world.”
Eqwene thinks the AS are the only thing standing in the way of the Last Battle.

Rand, the World’s Savior, is now running around bringing hope. Lan is about to lead a gathering of people to the Gap. Lots and Lots of people are doing great things in order to fight the “Last Battle.”
Look at the Borderlanders at this random watch tower! What a great moment.

Could our speaking part charters please stop being so selfish and arrogant as to be believe their group is the only one doing anything?

Edit: Leigh, we don’t know what the naming day ceremony is for the Borderland women. It could be just a moving in a different way.
Different = Okay be me. Can we drop the gender being different does not = Equality discussion?

Fain / Mordeth – anyone else thrown by all “the creature once know as…” Since this is from HIS POV, would he really think like that? It seems an odd way to talk about yourself, even if you are crazy…
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
12. Lisamarie
I think Galad may have been making that argument to refute the claim that the only way Galad won was to draw on the power of the Shadow - that the fight had some kind of supernatural element to it. I also find the concept of 'trial by combat' ridiculous though (ie, the 'trial' at the Eyrie in Game of Thrones).

I am a pretty religious person, as are many of my friends, and I don't know many that seriously believes that being religious protects you from harm. I know the mindset exists, I just don't know anybody who holds it. For any thoughtful, discerning religious person, the point of being religious is because you think it's true, that God deserves honor, for more eternal reasons than this life here on earth (Note: I am speaking from a Christian standpoint, so this may not apply equally to all other religions).

It doesn't mean that there might not be blessings or miracles, or that the general principles of the religion aren't generally going to lead to a more ordered and rewarding life (ie, if you are generally kind to your neighbor, honest, hard working, temperant you will probably have a better life than otherwise, although of course that doesn't always happen - sometimes bad people prosper and good people suffer through no fault of their own, something the Old Testament Psalmist decries often) - but that's not the point. There's more to it than that. Also, many times those 'blessings' aren't what we would think of as blessings in the worldly sense (ie, riches, material things, etc). In fact, many times in Scripture it talks abou there being trials, thorns, persecutions, and the fact that evil is still a very real thing in this world that we have to deal with, and people have the free will to do evil acts. Being religious just helps make dealing with that easier, it doesn't mean your life is going to always be awesome. I have seen people who expect that end up with a very unpleasant shock and usually end up disillusioned.

I do know there are people to tell their kids stuff like that, though (ie, 'say your prayers, be a good girl, and it will be okay' and it actually irritates me. Sometimes things aren't okay, but it's not necessarily due to a lack of piety.

Anyway, back to Wheel of Time :). One thing that struck me in this re-read was that Galad's response was basically what should have happened in the White Tower - he attempts to reconcile for the sake of unity in the face of a more pressing problem. Not that I think Egwene et al were wrong to overthrow Elaida, especially as it became apparent that she would lead them all to destruction (especially as she is the one that started her own coup), but I think many of the people in the Tower were wrong for encouraging/prolonging the schism (something that they touch in in the conclusion of TGS).

This may be dense of me, but what is the signficance of October 25? Aside from it being my wedding anniversary ;)
13. NotInventedHere
What, no mention of the Dragon orbiting over our heads right now?

I tend to agree with Leigh's impression of Galad's theology, or whatever you want to call it. He arrives at the "right" conclusion, but wow what a logical trainwreck he rides to get there. Leigh, I also agree about your assessment of the efficacy of relying on God to take a direct hand to protect you in a catastrophe - ain't going to happen. Though personally I would point at, perhaps, a more direct parallel to the sword duel - all those athletes praying to God to help them overcome their opponents (who are also praying to God for the same thing...). Sorry, but somehow I don't think God cares whether believer #1 or believer #2 or atheist #9 wins the football game (unless believer #1 is Didier Drogba, of course - anyone catch the UEFA Championship final?).
Damon Garner
14. IrishOmalley
Galad - I do enjoy the Questioner smackdown er beheading in the next chapter or so.

Fain - What's the guys name in the TV movie "The Stand" who came in on the nuclear golf cart? Anyway he would make a great Fain!

Heeth Tower - Great and touching scene.
15. Freelancer
When I first read this prologue, it immediately evoked the St. Crispin's Day soliloquy, though neither as delivered by Olivier nor Burton, but Branagh. And thank you Leigh for ensuring the connection. More than fitting.

OTOH, take it easy on Galad. If he had genuine doctrinal righteousness on his side, he wouldn't have given Berelain a second glance, and we couldn't have had that, right?

To be clear, while some make a claim to divine protection by virtue of their faith, often by misusing Romans 8:28 ("And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."), the truth is that God involves Himself for the purpose of His will and His plan, and not our own. The verse quoted above does not say that all things are good for the faithful, but that all things work together for good. Today's tragedy, or discomfort, or disaster has designs embedded which we, who are among the warp and the woof, cannot see from within the great tapestry, but on that day, we will see and know.

Using the currently popular example, Tim Tebow does not pray for God to help his team win, rather that he might, through God's grace, perform well and not dishonor his Creator. Any petitions brought by a believer before the Throne, should conclude with the caveat, 'if it be your will'. We cannot know why and how He moves, but we can trust that His purpose is just.

LisaMarie @12

St. Crispin's Day. Also, long time since I've noticed a comment from you. I remember that my first entry on this reread followed a post by you.
Erin C
16. Wishflower
@4 - YES, totally agree. I also think that human beings (male and female) have many other ways (aside from combat) to feel and gain the same kind of honor. When anyone faces up to something difficult and doesn't back down, I see that as honorable in the same sense. Be it single parenthood, beating addiction, surviving a sickness, standing up for what's right, etc. There is definitely a sense of "brotherhood" in each of those situations as well.

Keemlin's 14th naming day scene is awesome! The only scenes I ever cry during are the scenes about honor or self sacrifice for a just cause (this scene was no exception).

Galad is mostly a pain through all of WOT but I agree that I am totally rooting for him at this point and situation. Maybe that's because I seriously hate Asunawa's guts though? Meh.

I just want Fain to die. :/
17. gadget
Seamus1602 @ 2

"For once, the stick up Galad's ass actually worked for something cool
(also true of him killing Valda), not just judgement and condescension,
so that's a victory in my book!"

Yes, you nailed it! While his half-brother's antics in the realm of idiocy tend make him look better by comparison, Galad has always bothered me by his totally moral absolutist outlook and UN-impeachable (though very superficial) confidence in his ability to determine what the “right thing” is. As someone who is religious, and believes in certain moral truths, I have always found him to be somewhat of a caricature, rather than a true character. I mean no adult, barring a serious mental disability, is that unquestioning and certain at all times of the philosophical rightness of a course of action in every situation as this. He is so superficial, it is like using Ned Flanders as a model for a serious study of modern Christianity. I know he gets a wake up call later in the book, and that is at least some character development, and his father was kind of a manipulative slime ball (not to mention his mother running out on him), but the kid kind of strikes me as more supremely naïve than anything.

As for the Whitecloaks in general, they have always struck me as being similar to many very like-minded medieval organizations that exited in real life, some people/organizations hold views like that, it doesn't mean all religious practice needs to be painted with that brush. And Galad's logic was impeccable, given the context of the situation.

ShiningArmor @ 3

Yes, I too felt that Galad's first few points of view here were a condensed version of Egwene's story arc in tGS. The parallels are quite close.
18. Croaker41

I understand where you are coming from and agree with you. That said, take it from a guy who's been in for twenty years. Being a part of the 'Brotherhood' isn't all that it's cracked up to be. It loses most of its luster once you see a few friends die. It truly brings the rest of you closer, but the price is way too high. Also, just to let you know, women are finding themselves in harms way more and more. They can be just as brave or cowardly as anyone else, and they can die just as quickly/horribly as anyone else. IED's & bullets don't care what type of plumbing you have, and war does not care who gets chewed up and spit out. It's the very last word in equality.

If you haven't already; give "The Killer Angels" a try. Truly one of the best books on this subject (Profession of Arms not gender equality) ever written.
j p
20. sps49
The reasoning used to be that women (aside from having to be making sammiches and having kids only) weren't strong enough, in general, to weild swords, bows, spears, and such. Today this is changing, slowly but surely- a very few small countries can't afford to exclude half of their healthy bodies, and in the US women are seeping in. Females have been Naval Aviators flying combat aircraft for years, have been stationed aboard (and commanded) USN combat ships, and are beginning to be placed on (in?) USN missile submarines.

Shooting a rifle or sitting at a console is apparently someting that both sexes can accomplish! Yay!

Sexytimes are an entirely different issue, though; even from real world civilian situations.
21. neverspeakawordagain
Leigh, I truly appreciate everything you've done with the re-read; it's been an absolute blast reading through it, and it's been extremely helpful in letting me tell new readers that they can really just skip books 7-11 because there are already fantastic chapter summaries online for people to read through (otherwise, people invariably get to Path of Daggers and just give up on the series). You've truly done a wonderful job.

That said, I have to say my mind continues to boggle at just how it's possible for you to insert gender politics into literally everything. 90% of the things I read online, you can't tell if they were written by a man or a woman, and the rest of the time you can only tell because they mention some gender-specific personal life event in passing. I've literally never run in to somebody whose worldview and interpretation of outside events seems to be shaped by their gender, and I have to admit that it's extremely distracting. I'm not sure if it's a new thing for you (I may be wrong, but I seem to remember you having been on rasfwrj back in the day, and I don't recall this kind of perspective), but it really does distract from the otherwise fascinating commentary.
22. Sooner_fan

Women today do serve in combat. Women are allowed to be in field artillery and transportation units which does expose some to combat. Granted, most aren't exposed to it but they are given that opportunity. Also women are going to start being able to go to Ranger school now (a type of Special Forces) which will mean they are in infantry/armor type jobs.
Pat .
23. dolphineus
Oh yay! One of Leigh's patented over-the-top rants about gender issues. Plus, religious zealots!


Giving the son a sword was a touching moment, and was very well written. Not my personal favorite, but right up there (mine was Nyneave recruiting an army for Lan).
A.J. Bobo
24. Daedylus
Braid_Tug@11 Could our speaking part charters please stop being so selfish and arrogant as to be believe their group is the only one doing anything?

If the people in this story stopped being selfish and arrogant ALL of the troubles that the good guys have had since book 1 would go away. Seriously, Rand learned not to trust Aes Sedai because Moiraine never told him a dang thing. She didn't tell him what was going on because of 3000 years of Aes Sedai arrogance. If she had just talked to him back at the beginning, he would have trusted her, actually listened to her earlier and things would have been a lot different.

The fact that arrogance and selfishness are nearly tearing the good guys apart throughout the series is, I think, an important point. This is as much about how NOT to be a good guy (hello, Dark Rand) as it is how TO be a good guy.
25. wcarter4
I would counter your argument Leigh by saying that women tend to have similar closebonds with their friends and families far more often than men do.

The whole "Band of Brothers" thing often just boils down to the fact that after you've lived in close confines with a group of people eating bad food, working on little sleep, and being surrounded by people who hate/literally want to kill you will eventually wear down your armor enough that you can be more honest with the guy next to you going through the same shit.

Most guys will not willingly show effection or emotion under normal circumstances because society tells us not to is what I'm saying...

What isn't shown in the movies or books as often is that its just as likely you will end up hating each other or getting on each others nerves will still retaining a "civil" if cold work relationship.

In other words chances are you have had a similar relationship by virtue of being a woman only without (necessarily) having to go through a lot of crap to get it.
A.J. Bobo
26. Daedylus
Croaker41@18 - "The Killer Angels" is one of the best books ever written. Period. End of story. Nice to know I'm not the only one that thought of it while reading Leigh's thoughts on the military.
27. srizzo00
@5: FWIW, I disagree with the statement that God does not intervene in the world. (Also coming from the Christian perspective) He created the world, is actively holding it together, and is at work in the world. I agree with the conclusion, though, that it would be presumptuous of a believer to take that to mean that he/she will never suffer disappointment, loss, grief, etc.

Regarding people who claim to speak for God, in the Bible, people were instructed to take what those people said and compare it to His known revelation (i.e., the scriptures) to see if what that person said agreed, and also to see if what they said would happen actually did happen. If what they were saying agreed with prior revelation and/or came to pass, then it was from God. If not, they were supposed to be toast!

In that sense, Galad appealed as he should have to the Children's "scriptures" and "catechisms" to make his case (and should also be commended for making his arguments more to the other Lords Captain, with whom his arguments would actually carry weight, than to Asunawa, who had essentially co-opted the Children's beliefs to benefit his own power and position).
Scott Silver
28. hihosilver28
"In fact, in the entire series, the only “direct” action we’ve seen the Creator take was when he showed up in TEOTW to tell Rand that he would take no part in the action!"

...Um, when the heck did this happen? I just recently re-read tEotW and I have zero recollection of this. Anyone want to help me out and pull the chapter reference for me?
Daryl Strickler
29. Seacaptain13
I've really hated Fain through this series, he is a bug that needs to be stepped on. But with his powers growing I would like to see how his story plays out, one of the longest one in the series. I see him dueling it out with Shaidar Haran...
Pat .
30. dolphineus

From Leigh's re-read ...
The wind died. The screams died. The earth was still. Dust and smoke swirled back down the pass to surround him. “The Light blind you, Ba’alzamon! This has to end!”
It was not Rand’s thought, making his skull vibrate.
“Where?” He did not want to say it, but he could not stop himself. “Where?”
The haze surrounding him parted, leaving a dome of clear, clean air ten spans high, walled by billowing smoke and dust. Steps rose before him, each standing alone and unsupported, stretching up into the murk that obscured the sun.
31. Syllabus
Jordan's cosmology is an ineresting mish-mash of Manichaeism and Deism.
32. Syllabus
Also an interesting one.
Pat .
34. dolphineus
@21 neverspeakawordagain

Thank you. I have been wanting to say something like that, but could never find the words. Glad I am not the only one thinking she is looking for any excuse to throw gender issues/politics/stereotypes into the mix.
Matthew B
35. MatthewB
@21. neverspeakawordagain I see it all the time, and it's almost always men who are asking, "What's with all the gender stuff?" Men often forget that as with so many other things in life, the default voice in literature is upper middle class white male. We are often oblivious to the gender stuff because it's usually our stuff. Hello priviledge, my old friend.

Gender politics are a HUGE part of the whole WoT series. This is not something that Leigh is injecting into the story - it has been there from day one. Women's Circle/Village Council, White Tower/Black Tower, Saidar/Saidin, etc?
Neil Sood
36. RanchoUnicorno
Croaker41 @18 - I'd agree about Killer Angels, with one small caveat. She has to watch Gettysburg afterward. It is one of the few instances where there book and the film so perfectly complement each other. Instead of being able to say that the book was better or the movie was better, I found that each was perfect in its medium.

The only two books from college that I still read were both from ROTC - Killer Angels and Ender's Game (I confess I reread the latter a lot more than the former).

@35 - At the same time, I'd argue that, as you mention, the default is white. As a minority, I see no need to worry over equal representation of other races in literature. People generally write what they know - and if you're a middle class/upper middle class white guy, I expect you to approach that angle. If I'm looking for stories from other perspectives, I figure I'll have better luck (and greater authenticity) if I find stories from authors that fit the design.

As an example, I've never been a woman, but based on my understanding of my wife and daughter, the depiction of Katniss Everdeen's angst is pretty spot on. When I compare it to Collins's depictions of the young men and what I felt, I feel like something is missing. At the same time, my wife is too often disappointed at how male authors approach agnst in young women when I find they are acceptable in portraying young men.

Discussing the role that women play in WoT versus the development of our society made sense earlier, but the horse has already been through the glue factory - at this point it feels like we are just looking for reasons to smack at bottles of Elmers.
Alice Arneson
37. Wetlandernw
Lisa Marie @12 - More specifically, the Battle of Agincourt took place on St. Crispin's Day, October 25, 1415. Henry V, the young King of England, gained a significant victory over France. The speech Leigh quoted in the cut text and the commentary is from Shakespeare's version of that day.
Dave West
39. Jhirrad
@30 - I actually have to say that I VEHEMENTLY disagree with her (Leigh's) interpretation of that passage. That was NOT the Creator. That was the Dark One. He's screaming out to the Dark One there, not the Creator. As we see later in the series, the reaction he has to the voice (making his skull vibrate) is the same we get when the Forsaken speak with the Dark One in SG. And as soon as that ends, he goes and fights with Ishy, who I think most would argue was the D.O.'s "Chosen One", i.e. Nae'blis, at that point. This fact seems so GLARINGLY obvious that I am quite shocked anyone was confused into thinking this was an appearance by the Creator.
Sivan Nir
40. Bilar
It baffles me, why do some still insist that the vocie Rand hears in TEOTW is the Creator's?. Not only does this "Creator" name a Forsaken as "Chosen", he is also responding to Rand's actions, namely Rand's wish to end every thing there.
He is basically telling Rand that now is not the time for every thing to end. Moreover, he will not participate only the chosen. Hence, it is clear that this "Creator" will be present when everything should end to oppose the dragon as Ishamal is doing in TEOTW. And please, do not mention the graphical disparity with the Dark One, as it was the first book and could have been retaind in later editions in order to spark this very debate...
Tina Pierce
41. scissorrunner
I've always had a soft spot for Galad, despite his rigid sense of right & wrong (maybe because of it?), so this passage is covered in awesome.
Until Fain (or what used to be Fain) started playing with the trollocs, then...ick!
Matthew B
42. MatthewB
@36. RanchoUnicorno
"Discussing the role that women play in WoT versus the development of our society made sense earlier, but the horse has already been through the glue factory - at this point it feels like we are just looking for reasons to smack at bottles of Elmers."
That's kind of like saying, "We already covered the topic of brotherhood with Mat and the Band of the Hand - talking about it with the borderlanders too is just redundent." It's a new book and a different author - it makes sense to keep touching base with one of the central themes of the series in each book of the series as they come up.

If it's Leigh's personal reflections on these themes that you're not interested in then i don't know what to tell you - it's her show. I find her observations to be insightful and interesting and i welcome a different viewpoint that sheds light on things from a new angle, but i guess you could just skim for the parts you can relate to if you want.
43. wcarter4
@39 and 40

I would counter your arguments with the very evidence you presented.
The DO uses the term Nea'blis and "Chosen" The Creator uses "Chosen one" a slight difference granted--but let us also remember that the DO and Creator are very close in power and substance according to Jordan himself. It stands to reason that their minds would be twisted reflections of one another.
Much of the cosmology of the WoT 'verse was taken from the ancient Zoroastrian religion which had two equally powerful gods at eternal war (one good the other evil and imprisoned).
It therefore makes sense that the Creator would have his own "Chosen one" to act as his champion to oppose the shadow. The people of the world are his "hordes" because they choose to protect what they have through sacrifice rather than trying to destroy in selfish ambition (different but the same).
Also--the DO very explicity takes direct influence via screwing with the weather and the fabric of reality. He may be the "Father of lies" but he makes no bones about that.
44. neverspeakawordagain
@28 -- After Rand kills Aginor, while he is running through, um, like clouds or some stuff, up a staircase to fight Ishamael, with the battle at Tarwin's Gap raging beneath him. There's an ALL CAPS interjection which is (presumably) the Creator saying he will take no part.
Donna Harvey
45. snaggletoothedwoman
Interesting insights@39 & 40 Not the Creator. hummmm, have to think about that...... I really understood where Galad was going with this line of questioning. Finally he was making true sense.
The Tower scenes still make me tear up no matter how many times I have read it! Fain....FAUGH, I get shivers just reading about him, undead Trollocs???....
Thank you Leigh, for the post, good night Gracie!
Neil Sood
46. RanchoUnicorno
@42 You're right. I should have thought of it from that point. I guess my point was that this discussion began on the brotherhood topic and ended up back in the land realworld gender politics. I would be just as frustrated if Leigh was using each mention of racial/ethnic/naitonal relations to go over the topic of racial stereotypes and representation in fantasy and in realworld situations. In both cases, my issue wouldn't be addressing the topic at hand, but reverting back to an issue that isn't a point of focus here.

In the end, you're (again) right, that it's Leigh's show. Nevertheless, I still feel compelled to point out areas that she seems to struggle with. Her posts are fun to read and she does an excellent job of putting pieces together that I had forgotten about and bringing the stories back to life - I just want her to go from 10 to 11.

Anyway, back to the post, which I neglected to address earlier.

This was the moment that I began to actually like Galad and the COL. Before, I appreciated his strong sense of right and wrong, no matter the cost, but had yet to see it really cost him. Now, much like Ned Stark, his honor cost him. In both cases, they were willing to give their lives and sacrifice their honor in the face of the world, if it meant holding to a greater honor and protecting their families (inasfar as Galad's family is the COL). That the COL found their way under Galad suggested to me an organization with noble intent, but corrupted by the failures of the men who led them.

The borderlanders....again, faithful in their duty to protect their families (and in this case, the family of all mankind). Shivers, every single time.
47. Looking Glass
Neverspeakawordagain @21 and others: I think Leigh would be remiss in not commenting on gender politics- pretending that it’s not an issue in the text, or even just an issue Jordan didn’t intend to approach, doesn’t do good service to anyone commenting on the text. Gender politics and gender issues are something most every major character and storyline grapples with at some point or other.

Of course, if you’re just reading for fun, looking too closely at the text and themes might be distracting- perhaps particularly since the issue of gender politics is still sufficiently present in modern western civilization that looking squarely at it can be uncomfortable. It might even permanently affect how you view some scenes (I, for one, thought The Tylin Thing was pretty funny on my first uncritical read-through). But we have no compunction here about dissecting and analyzing every other aspect and theme of the text; why should this be special?

You could argue that “sure, gender politics have to be addressed, but Leigh brings them up more often than necessary”. For one thing, it’s her re-read, and somewhat subjective by design. I’d further suggest that if the gender issues in a scene are relevant enough to bother her, that in itself makes it relevant enough to comment on. Perhaps the question is "what about this bothers some readers but not others", but it's not a non-issue.

Finally, I’d suggest that if all the other commentaries you've read have chosen to ignore gender politics, that's more reason, not less, to address them here.
48. Greenman

Life is a bitch in many ways. Men and women are different. I sat by my wife's side through three caesarian delivieries. I literally wore blisters on both my hands rubbing her back through 18 hours of back labor with our first child, but nothing could relieve her of the task of delivery. In the end she had to go through it and I was in reality nothing more than an outside observer. Never in the 32 years since that day has she ever said it wasn't "fair" that I didn't have to go through that or that she would have traded places with me. Women have a lock on the child bearing/nurturing/ breast feeding part of being a parent - that is just the way it is and is not subject to our thinkso or wants and wishes. I started this series with my son in 1996 when my son was a not so literate sophomore in high school as an attempt to get him interested things other than baseball. He was the cause of the blisters mentioned earlier. This has been a long journey sitting along side the books as a casual observer, but the delivery is at last at hand. As for Killer Angels, highly recommended as we are all fighting for our "rats".
Leigh Butler
49. leighdb
Croaker41 @18:

Thank you for the rec, I will check that out!

neverspeakawordagain @ 21 (and others):

I'm sorry you feel that way, but I'm not sure why, when it has been unambigously clear throughout this Re-read that I am approaching the commentary to WOT from a feminist perspective, that you would continue to be either surprised or baffled by it at this late date. If it is not to your taste, you are of course completely welcome to stop reading it.

And for what it's worth, though you may not choose to believe this, 99% of my commentary is not actually planned with any specific agenda in mind at all, feminist or otherwise. The only actual rock-solid agenda I have in doing this is to be honest in my responses to the text.

I talked about how the nameday ceremony made me feel excluded because that's how it made me feel. You are free to disagree with how it made me feel, of course, but I'm afraid you don't get to tell me I have no right to feel it. Or to talk about it.

And I would apologize for (apparently) distracting you with my "femaleness" as a writer, except for how you really just made the point of why the feminist perspective is so badly needed in sf literature for me. So instead I will simply thank you for the unintended compliment.

Sooner_fan @ 22:

Your point is taken. However, I am under the impression that women (in the U.S. military) are still not officially allowed in combat, and that the recent instances counter to that have arisen more or less because the situation is simply too chaotic to prevent it. If I'm wrong in that please do let me know.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
50. tnh
Neverspeakawordagain, Dolphineus:

You know by now how Leigh reads and interprets the Wheel of Time books. You also have to be aware that she's not the only critic who sees gender issues in the series. That is: you know that Leigh's readings are legitimate, and that they fall well within the canon of Robert Jordan criticism. You just don't like them personally.

Life can be so hard.

If you don't like the re-reads, don't read them. Whatever you do, stop ragging on Leigh.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
51. tnh
I swear, Leigh and I did not rehearse that.
Gary Singer
52. AhoyMatey
Awww Leigh, I was looking forward to your commentary on Loial's pre-prologue...
Lee VanDyke
53. Cloric
IIRC, didn't someone ask about the "Creator Speaks" at a book signing or similar event, and Brandon said something to the effect of we (the readership) might be making some assumptions about what happened in that scene, but it was ultimately a RAFO? I might have dreamed the whole thing up, but sound familiar to anyone else?
54. Looking Glass
I’m of the opinion that Galad’s response to Asunawa is just that, a response. He’s not himself operating under the belief that moral rectitude is an adequate substitute for training, just kicking the crap out of Asunawa’s claim that he won through Infernal Support. Galad seems more the “may I live up to the standards God expects of me” type.

Really, that’s what makes him one of the good guys. The villains, on Team Shadow and elsewhere, are the ones who think they deserve that the universe live up to their sense of entitlement.

Braid_Tug @11: In fairness to Galad, Rand, Egwene, and Lan haven’t exactly been playing icons of hope and unity on-screen long enough for Galad to have heard about it. He’s still getting the Dark Rand and Rebel Leader part of the news cycle, if anything.

Galad’s story mirrors Egwene’s, but I think that’s part of a larger pattern- from the very beginning of the series, the whitecloaks, as an organization, have always had far more in common with the tower than with anyone else. And vice versa, even with the wise ones and the windfinders and what-all else in the mix. The whitecloaks are basically the male version of the tower (with military prowess substituted for magical), and they need the same sort of back-to-core-values prod in the buttock.

Gadget @17: I think the evidence is in favor of Galad’s introspectiveness being well above average for WoT (not a high bar to clear, but still). He’s not on screen much before now, but he does seem to put thought into questions like his decision to join the whitecloaks. Or how he should react to Elayne and Nyn when they show up as fugitives in Amadicia, his indecision over which gives them time to disappear into the circus.
Damon Garner
55. IrishOmalley
@33 thepupexpert - Thanks, good ol' Trash Can Man...

Fain- I still think he's going to take down, or allow one of our hero's to take down a major Forsaken/ Shaidar Haran - somethin...
56. CorDarei
just to smack some bottles of elmer's around...

smacking heads! a.okay
smacking bottoms! noooo :waggles finger like Alec Baldwin in the Capital One commercial:
57. CorDarei
o yah... M-O-O-N, that spells Fain.
Leigh Butler
58. leighdb
tnh @ 51:

We really didn't. Heh.

AhoyMatey @ 52:


I totally meant to put that in, I swear. Okay, next time for sure.
Dave West
59. Jhirrad
@43 - I have to disagree, and I don't think this is one that will really ever be solved textually. Most likely it would need a direct revelation from Team Jordan to answer it definitively. However, I point back to the passage: Who is Rand calling out there? Ba'alzamon. He's not calling out to the Creator. He says, Light blind you, but that is a very common phrase in this world. And the full sentence is "The Light blind you, Ba'alzamon!" That is who he is screaming out to.

You use to argument of Chosen vs. Chosen One, but I think that is really flimsy. There are way too many instances where changes on the part of authors, or typos, or them just forgetting adding a single word in a single way have happened to lend that much credibility as an argument here.

While yes, it's true that the D.O. has been willing to take a more direct hand wherever he could, let's also remember that at this point in the series, most all of the seals were still intact. His prison was a lot stronger than it was say, when the Bowl of the Winds was used. The only hand he seemed to play even then was manipulating the weather, and that apparently took a lot out of him. To the point that the Forsaken (I don't recall which one) mention how angry he must be that the weather has been set to rights. In the past two books, we are seeing his hand more directly, but even then, it is still fairly indirect. It appears to be more the influence of his evil on the world, possibly combined with Rand's liberal use of balefire eroding the fabric of the Pattern, which is causing a lot of what we're seeing. I'm honestly not sure how much more of a direct hand the D.O. can take than what we have seen. We'll find out at Tarmon Gaidon obviously, but it comes back to the idea of whether or not he can actually physically strike out, which I'm not sure that he can. He uses proxies. He did so even during the War of Power when there was no seal on his prison, just the bore. It therefore makes perfect sense, that at a point in time when he wasn't ready for the Last Battle, he would say that only his Chosen One would fight, not him.
Jack Jack
60. JackJack
There are two major problems I have so far, in -this- part of the prologue:

The shadow/dark/naughties are supposed to be hunting him down and killing him. There should be no way he's still alive at this point in the game. Hesitation and "err... maybe we should... uh... give him the business?" shouldn't be a part of the Dark Forces of Evil's repertoire. It diminishes not only your every-day ornidary shade, but where the hell is Shaidar Haran? Fain should be dead dead dead dead. The Dark One should have put one of the Chosen on this a long time ago. Go the freak away, dark-grey-jerk.

The "Towers of Midnight" themselves. Which I attribute to the watch stations along the blight, rather than those stupid shonchon things we're supposed to believe, or whatever.
That there isn't a way for the towers to know exactly what is going on at exactly the moment they're happening deminishes their use. There should be a signal that goes out the minute The Evil Forces of Evil even show themselves. "Hey, bad guys are attacking us, if we don't let you know the outcome/status in one minute, get ready.

Come on, man.'

Oh, and as far as "no girls allowed," just let me tell you a little secret about this guy who tried to join the Marines in 1990...

He had fallen arches, and bad hearing.
Rowland Hills
61. TickTockTick
I swear, Leigh and I did not rehearse that.
Superb! ...and very well said in the first place. This is Leigh's re-read, and it's all about her impressions, not anyone else's. If feminist issues are what comes to mind when she reads the chapter, that's what she'll write about, just as she has for the last twelve books worth of entertaining and informative commentary.
62. Freelancer
There is nothing in the text suggesting that this is a sentiment of the dark one. But it is a repeated theme of the story to say that the Creator takes no hand.
"Chosen one" is so very different from "the Chosen" it hardly needs to be argued. Whomever is delivering this line, they have tapped a champion to complete their work. To think that this is the dark one makes me ponder Shaidar Haran. Moridin, named nae'blis, still is aware that he isn't going to be the one completing the task, but is merely a role-player waiting for the Wheel to stop, so that he can rest. Meanwhile, The Hand of the Dark, Superfade, is giving orders, making plans, and punishing poor performance among the dark one's chosen. If anyone is the Shadow's champion, it is he.
The dark one is not known for permissiveness. Conditional behaviors are not very acceptable to him. Sounds like a more benevolent party to me.
Jack Jack
63. JackJack
Gah, double post of some sort.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
64. tnh
JackJack, I'm not seeing a double post from you, and you're not the only reader today who's reported a double post that wasn't there. We may have a new site bug.
Jack Jack
65. JackJack
I was trying to amend my post, but it reposted the whole thing without what I had added. I edited, then erased everything instead of rewriting what I thought. In any case, I think it has more to do with my noscript monster than anything I or the site did.
John Massey
66. subwoofer
On the subject of religion, what Free said. Faith does not work that way.

Heath will stand. Beautiful and simple.

Rites of passage. Yes, it is good being a guy sometimes, but remember, those bonds are forged by extreme conditions, I would not be too wistful to be placed in such circumstances, they are not as glamorous as one would think.

And my bond with my fellow soldiers pales in comparison to the bond my wife has with my daughter. There is depth and there is depth.

Fain. I told you so. The guy needs a serious time out. In the corner. On the "no-no chair".

Galad. Well, he's got Berelain to make it all better afterwards. I do like his sentiment about the role the Children have to play at the LB. At least, he is one of the few that have thought it out to the point where Aes Sedai enter the equation, that is more than some.

.... Maybe some of Leigh's disappointment stems from the way that Galad was brought down and disciplined. He was beaten and knocked out, not spanked:P

Jack Jack
67. JackJack
After rereading the reread (WAT? I KNOW) it occurs to me that Nynaeve would be completely content to admister the spankings to Galad that he deserves.

As of TFOH, at least.
Tricia Irish
68. Tektonica
Thanks, Leigh.
I've always considered myself a feminist, and yet there are times when gender issues just don't cross my mind. I appreciate it when you bring them up, point them out, and raise my awareness! I think when reading, I forget what sex I am, and identify with the character. It's kind of fun to be a guy once in awhile...even if it's only on the page.

Some good points were made above about the "brotherhood" of men. It often takes extreme circumstances to bring out emotions in men....to create that comraderie. I don't envy them. Women seem to be a bit better about sharing the emotional stuff, instinctually. Vive la difference, eh?

{If you want a read where the men and women in the military are completely and utterly equal, try Malazan. I love Erikson for that....and many other things ;-) His main characters are the common soldiers......and they are awesome. They all seem to have nicknames, and you really can't tell if they're men or women, and there are plenty of women combat soldiers.}

I do wish we'd get a bit more detail on Fains growing abilities and insanity, as he's still in this game, and presumably will play some part in the last book.

I think Galad used the proper approach with the hateful Asunawa. Beat him at his own game! He really does shine the light, so to speak, on Asunawas sickness, which plays out nicely a bit later. Galads thoughts show that he is a pragmatist too. He knows he has to ally with the Aes Sedai, and the Dragon to fight the last battle and that is the right of it!

Forgot to add that the ending, was extremetly touching.
Jack Jack
69. JackJack
Oh, gawd. My brain just created Birgitte/Galad fic. Kill me now. Or take away my booze.
Chin Bawambi
70. bawambi
BTW, as a follow up to the Fallen Angels theme I just spent Thurs night - Sunday afternoon at Gettysburg. My mom and I did a three day photoshoot at the battlefield. We shot Day One on Friday, an exhausting Day Two on Saturday (Culps/Cemetary Hills however are much easier done first rather than last) and then we parked at the Virginia Monument and walked the entire field of Pickett's Charge to the High Water Mark and back to close the trip. If you are in the area I highly recommend the B&B's of New Oxford rather than the hotels of Gettysburg itself. Great long weekend with perfect weather I must say.

71. s'rEDIT
Oh, dear. I usually remember well the content of books I like / am impressed with, yet when it comes to Killer Angels ... which I recommended to everyone who would listen after I read it years ago ... had completely slipped my mind until Coaker41 mentioned it.

I too thought that it must be the Creator who spoke in TEotW, but there are certainly compelling arguments both ways.

Thank you, Lisamarie @12, for asking about October 25. I suppose if I'd Googled it, I would have found an answer, but meanwhile, you asked and Wet answered!
Karen Fox
72. thepupxpert
@Irish & Cor - I just went back and watched that whole series on Netflix not too long ago, it's all there. The actor who played Trash Can Man in the series is too tall and not nearly as ugly as I envision Fain to be. That actor had a running part in Next Generation but forget his name...

On topic... I think this is why I love this reread so much, it does make me squirm a little bit sometimes.
Roger Powell
73. forkroot
After Rand kills Aginor
Rand did not kill Aginor. Aginor toasted himself by drawing too much of the OP from the Eye.

Re Leigh's commentary: Leigh's commentary may occasionally cause some of us to slap our heads, some of us to clap our hands, etc. Have you noticed one thing though?

She's never dull.

That would be a cause for complaint - but she bats 1.000 in the most important thing: Keeping it interesting! Oh sure, I've rolled my eyes at times (as have many of you when reading my comments, I'm sure.) But I've yet to "skip over" anything she's written. I would not make the same claim about some of the comments.
74. Kadere
I'd feel worse for women in WoT not being allowed into the "brotherhood" of men at arms, if they didn't have a series of GIANORMOUS sisterhoods that men aren't allowed to belong in, which allow them the opportunity to fight against shadowspawn and the Dark One. It's not like men are allowed into the Aes Sedai, Kin, Wise Ones, Windfinders, etc. and at least with the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones both participate in war, the Aes Sedai even have an entire ajah that's soul purpose is to fight the Dark One and call themselves "The battle Ajah."

Now that's not to say that in a perfect world men and women wouldn't be working together to fight shadowspawn and the Dark One, but since the purpose of the series and the entire story is about bringing them both together to fight against a common enemy, I feel like Jordan is bringing this up and answering it.
Kimani Rogers
75. KiManiak
Thanks again, Leigh!

Reading Leigh’s summary of the end got me a little choked up, myself. If that last bit doesn’t make the reader feel even a little emotional, then I really do feel sorry for them. I agree; the reread may have made it more emotional, although for different reasons. As a rereader, you know the fate of a number of faceless Borderlanders. Here, Team Jordan has put face and names to those lost. Good stuff!

I forgot how much I like the prologue of ToM. When I grab ToM to get my WoT fix and read a few chapters here or there I usually go to Rand vs Egwene; or Rand reuniting with Tam; or Rand vs 1000s of Trollocs in Maradon; or Perrin vs Slayer/Egwene vs Mesaana; or Perrin forging Mjolnir (spell it how you like); or Mat’s letter; or Mat in the Tower of Ghenji; etc…

It was easy to forget that this prologue is incredibly important (and a great read). However, I think that one aspect of the prologue stands above the rest in its importance. Yes (as the last post shows us), we discover the fate of Graendal (and Arangar and Delana) after Natrin’s Barrow; and we get to see Lan begin to walk down his path; but the more important part of the prologue is the evolution of Galad.

ToM is a novel where a number of our characters accept their destiny/fate and/or evolving into the type of leader the Pattern needs them to be. The obvious candidates are Perrin, Rand and Lan. But another important arc of evolution is Galad and the Whitecloaks.

It’s easy for the reader to wrap in the Whitecloaks with Perrin’s army (partially, because that’s where they end up), but the development of Galad and the Children of the Light into a force that will work with the Dragon Reborn and his allies (including Aes Sedai, Ashaman, Wise Ones, Windfinders and other channelers) is an incredible step forward from where they started off in TEotW. And the development is all due to Galad’s change in perspective.

As for the rest:

Fain: Sooo creepy. Sooo powerful. Sooo twisted. So good. I enjoy that, just like with Lan, ToM begins and ends with a look at the impact of Fain.

The Kandori: I love this section. I appreciate how Team Jordan was able to make us feel for these characters that we had never met. I… can’t find the words to describe how this makes me feel, from the perspective of Malenarin, Keemlin and the surrounding men.

Their choices (Malenarin’s desire to see his son safe; Keemlin’s compassion in sending Tian so that Tian’s mother wouldn’t lose another son; and Malenarin’s realization that his son was indeed a man, and should be elevated as such) and their willingness to stand to the last breath. It is so moving. I may have to go home and reread this section tonight.

Distinctions in gender impacting the options of individuals in regards to the US military: I do agree that it’s a thing; not sure if I want to discuss it here. I’ll see how the comments flow… I did appreciate Leigh’s observation of the dichotomy of her feelings regarding the “brotherhood” and “men” passages.

Yeah, Leigh’s comments about sexism and religion weren’t controversial at all… :-)
Kimani Rogers
76. KiManiak
As for the comments:

BenPatient@4 – I like the example that you gave, in regards to feeling left out. It’s possible for men to relate in that regard. The obvious counter is that one type of discrimination is biological, while the other type is based on social construct and sexism. But I appreciate the comparison. There are some things that men will never be able to feel/experience, regardless of what country they are born in. MAT@7 and others mention this too.

Wishflower@16 – re: tears-worthy scenes – I have to agree that the only scenes that really seem to “get” me in good movies, television and/or books are related to honor and self sacrifice for a worthy or greater cause. No matter where I am, the room tends to get real dusty all of a sudden, and the dust always finds its way into my eyes…

Sps49@20 – Thanks for the updates in the slowly improving gender equity of our armed forces. Last I heard (probably from some tv show awhile ago) women weren’t allowed to serve on submarines; I’m glad to hear that has changed.

MatthewB@35 – I do respect your point that what is considered the default perspective in most aspects of our society is usually slanted as the middle class white male perspective. Tor.com has actually had a few interesting posts that have discussed this in more detail: one about the presentation of women in marketing movies/tv/books, and the other about increasing diversity in the world of RPGs. I’d encourage others to check them out.

Having said that, I think that it is fair criticism of Leigh to suggest that she often brings gender concerns into her discussion. However, this is her blog/post and that is one of the main responses that WoT brings out of her, so it would be “untrue” of her to not discuss this topic when the text leads her to feel that way. Others may feel different about what the text means; that’s their right. As long as we discuss it with respect for each other’s perspectives, I feel that these discussions add to the post.

Jhirrad@39 and Bilar@40 – re: “the voice” – Ha! I was waiting to see if anyone challenged whether that was the voice of the Creator or not. I’ll just say that at this point the reader doesn’t actually know who the voice was.

Looking Glass@47 – re: Leigh’s focus on gender politics – I see you got there first. Good points. I also laughed initially when I read about Tylin’s pursuit of Mat. Until she threatened him with a knife and cut his clothes off. Then I thought about what was really going on…

leighdb@49 – re: agendas – Oh, I don’t know. I think you have a very strong pro-headdesking and anti-spanking agenda :-)

tnh@51 and leighdb@58 – I don’t know; that seemed pretty well coordinated. Someone may have to call “shenanigans” on you guys for that one...

CorDarei@56 – Well see, if they’re hardheaded, you should be smacking them in the head.

Tektonica@68 – I echo your sentiments regarding Malazan. The characters are awesome, and sometimes you forget which gender they are. Or, you make the wrong assumption regarding gender before the author drops matter-o-factly what gender they are. Erikson does a masterful job. A continuous “Thank you” to you and the others on this reread for talking me into reading Malazan.

Jackjack@69 – Wouldn’t Galad be too pretty for Birgitte? But for us to take away your booze? Never that! Take another swig, I say!

forkroot@73 – Yes, Leigh is definitely not dull. I also appreciate the fact that she introduced “headdesk” into our lexicon…
77. deBebbler
Sorry if I missed this in the comments, but what were the mechanics again why the Trollocs rose again after being touched by A Mighty Wind, but the Myrddraal does not?

The Fade's touch is death to its kind (other Fades, yes?) and *that* causes it to not rise?

How does that work? I am flummoxed.
Leigh Butler
78. leighdb
forkroot @ 73:

That just may be one of the best compliments anyone's ever paid me.

Thank you.
Jack Jack
79. JackJack
@76. KiManiak
Wouldn’t Galad be too pretty for Birgitte? But for us to take away your booze? Never that! Take another swig, I say!

Noooo I rationalized it in my head. If Berelain, of all people, has to stop and go "OMGWTFHAWT," then even Birgitte might just have to go "dayam." Welcome to the inside of my brain.

And for that Haters:
To me, Leigh has never disappointed on these commentaries. That's why I'm doing a rereread right now. I've sometimes disagreed with a small bit of the things she's written, but that's what being a human being is all about.
Jack Jack
80. JackJack
@72. thepupxpert
How could you forget Max Headroom (Matt Frewer)? He was a "time traveler" in one TGS episode, but that was it.
81. SoCalJayhawk
Interesting that the Borderland scene put you in mind of St. Crispin's Day. Because for me Galad's speech rallying his men was clearly intended as an echo from another age. Just compare:

“Proud to live in these days, proud to be part of what is to come. All the lives that came before us in this Age looked forward to our day, the day when men will be tested. Let others bemoan their fate. Let others cry and wail. We will not, for we will face this test with heads held high. And we will let it prove us strong!”

with the lines Henry spoke just after those you quoted:

"And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day"
Jeff Schweer
82. JeffS.
Hi everyone.
I'm actually a bit surprised with all of the discussion about the Brotherhood thing and the Kandori, we've all missed an important gender based fact.
The Maidens of the Spear.

The Maidens are warriors, first last and always. I dare anyone to tell Sulin that she is not. They live according to a code and while I don't remember any specific coming of age traditions with them being mentioned, I'm pretty sure they have them.
So, at least in WOT there is an important fighting force that is gender specific but is able to go toe to toe with anyone. If the Maidens carried my honor as they do Rand's, I would feel honored and have full trust in them.
As others have stated, the world is changing and there is no such thing as a front line anymore. I got out of the Navy in "96 and let me tell you that there were woman in uniform at that time that were just as ready to go as I was and I considered them "shipmates" in every respect. Frankly, I prefer having a (pick your favorite gender, race or sexual persuasion here) at my side in an all volunteer force facing danger than anyone that was nursing a conscript syndrome as we saw during the draft.
Sorry everyone, but I feel strongly about this. Dedication to a cause is not gender based. Willingness to die for the greater good is not an exclusive club with a certain chromosome pair.

What I took from Heeth tower is the pride a father has in his offspring who has proven his ability to make adult decisions. In some ways, his willingness to stay and fight is almost secondary to that process.

Galad: Starting to see the world other than a binary pair.

Fain: Very creepy, especially the part on how you chew on your friend while bleeding him out. Wonder if he has any Fava beans or a decent Chianti with him...
Jeff Schweer
83. JeffS.
Oh, and this:
"Till shade is gone, till water is gone, into the shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit in Sightblinder's eye on the last day.

Anyone can say this, but only if they mean it...
84. Freelancer
JackJack @67
woofie: After rereading the reread (WAT? I KNOW) it occurs to me that Nynaeve every non-Red Aes Sedai would be completely content to admister the spankings to Galad that he deserves. As of TFOH, at least.

s'rEdit @71

Aww, no love? I answered LisaMarie @15. I guess you've joined all the others who skip my comments, eh? ::wink::

SoCalJayhawk @81

I agree that both segments, the Kandori watchtower and Galad's peptalk to the Children, belonged in that same vein, and each call out for reference to such as the St. Crispin's Day soliloquy. Perhaps Leigh intended to include that connection, or perhaps she was too busy wondering how badly Galad's head needed smacking while he was dead on right as a leader, and used a zealot's own misguided logic to show others how wrong he was.
85. octarineoboe
First things first:
I've read through the re-read, but I didn't start it until last summer so I haven't commented before.
But I had to respond to this thread.

Neverspeakawordagain@21: I know you've already been addressed, but I wanted to add that when you wrote:
I have to say my mind continues to boggle at just how it's possible for you to insert gender politics into literally everything
I've literally never run in to somebody whose worldview and interpretation of outside events seems to be shaped by their gender
you're massively missing the major point about gender itself. Gender IS everywhere, it's a pervasive social structure that does enter into everything, even when you don't explicitly realize it. As Leigh said, that's why a feminist perspective is needed in sf, and, I would argue, partly why it's needed in the world generally. Feminism points out these issues we live with. And part of this all-encompassing structure means that everyone's worldview is shaped by their gender - most of the time, though, we don't realize it.
86. neverspeakawordagain
@leighdb -- Please understand; I don't mean to demean your work here. I've read every word you've written on the WOT re-reads, with a great deal of pleasure (although I only stumbled upon it during my own re-read last summer, so I've only been reading along "live" for a comparatively short time). I would never remotely imply that your re-read commentary has been anything less than fascinating, enjoyable, and insightful. It's very much appreciated.

I don't know. I guess... When I saw Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, the thought never crossed my mind that "boy, it's a shame I can't join that sisterhood just because I'm a guy." Or taken from a more direct perspective -- the fact that I'm a socialist had never impacted my reading of this story just because it involves a feudal system and all the heroes are hopelessly wealthy. Different takes on the material, I suppose.
john mullen
87. johntheirishmongol
I don't always agree with Leigh about gender and gender politics. I don't agree that it is in everything she writes about in here, though. That being said, I think Neverspeak is entitled to his own opinion, just as we are, as long as he is polite and it doesn't turn into a flame war.

Now to talk about the back half of the prologue. Pretty much everyone hated Galad in the early part of the series but he was seriously misunderstood. I still think he has issues, since not everyone is black or white, and he still tends to think that way.

I am not sure exactly where Fain is going to finish up. I thought for a while he was going to be the one to kill the DO. Or be absorbed by him. Maybe that is still where it will still end up, somehow I still think he is the key to the final battle.
88. Freelancer
and all the heroes are hopelessly wealthy
Say what?
Sivan Nir
89. Bilar
Freelancer@ 62: a. In order for "CHOSEN ONE" to refer to Rand, you need to assume that the Creator converses with prsent parties in the third person instead of the second, such as "you". Possible but cumbersome.
b."IF HE WILL." may not be a statment about Rand's choice in the matter, but one about Ishmael's chances of winning, to " DO WHAT MUST BE DONE", ergo the Dark One is unsure of his minion's fate.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there weren't very many opportunities for people. There were things that one could do, options we'd call them. But in the grand scheme of things, you knew what you would do for a living before you were say.... 6 years old. You understood that you would follow in your families footsteps, as those before you did and with pride. Tanners were born tanners. Potters were born potters, farmers were born farmers. It was your lot in life, and if you were smart, you'd learn everything you could about it and hopefully you could build upon what those that came before built. But realistically you just hoped you could keep what was laid at your feet.

Going even farther back, as far back as you went to get to a very long time ago, there wasn't just a God, there were Goddesses as well. In fact the Goddesses were held higher than the Gods. For how could any Ruler of Heaven not hold the power of the gift of life in there hands and not bear a life in the womb where all of our lives begin. And yet with all the power of the priestesses and witches and seers of those times, Lady's of their land, the men always held the right of war. It was known even then the strength of man and the power of women. And more importantly, they knew their weaknesses also.

You must consider during times such as those, that there were not lands or peoples. There were not cities or countries. There were tribes and territories. Clans and holds. There were not billions of people, there were merely millions and not in the hundreds. They knew that the strength of a tribe or clan was not in the great numbers of men but the great numbers of women. It was important to be able to recover from great loss. When a chief was lost hopefully there was a son to replace him. If the loss was great and the tribe driven from their lands then they needed the power to grow again to strength once more. This power is the gift of life. And it was found only within the womb of a woman. It was a blow to lose ten warriors, men, in a skirmish. It was a greater blow to the defenders to lose a single woman. Even worse a little girl. They knew this to be true even then, so long ago.

There is a truth that has not changed and never will. For a woman, it may be insulting to their sense of worth; incongruent to their right to be whom they please. But this truth never changes, no matter the times.
And it is a simple truth, especially for those living in those times. For us in our malignant days on this earth, our advancements have given us the leisure to forget many lessons learned through attrition for so many tribes and clans, so long ago dead.

Put simply. A man can have as many babies as he can lay with a woman and concieve with, in a year. A woman can only have one in that same year.

I understand the feeling of some women that this leads to feeling belittled to no more than a breeding mare. But this thinking is for the ignorant held lower in disgrace than a man who believes slavery is all fine and dandy. Men who treat or endear their women this way should be wiped from the earth.

You lose your women, you have nothing. Anything you have gained is worthless, if you have no one to leave it to. Family. You can't have a family without a woman. You can't have a child to love, without a woman. No woman, no pride. Truth.

Nowadays, with our population having grown so great, there is less need to adhere to this logic. It's still the truth, it's just not a necessary one. Until the time arrives where we are not many again and our race is dying. And every life is precious again. And then so will we realize again the lessons of a time long ago plus a time like it again, further ago.

Besides, you don't want those dreams. You, don't want those nightmares. You don't want those eyes staring at you accusingly or in disbelief. You don't want to hear the screams of the dying. You don't want to look out upon a field of battle and see....hundreds, thousands dead and know that it was your order that killed them. You don't want to remember them... and you will, each and every one. They won't let you rest either, not until you join them. Do not so much as dream of condemning your souls when there are perfectly brave men to do it for you.

Sure it matters little now man's advantage of strength when a gun is at hand. It matters little now how much quicker or faster we are when men can't out run or dodge a bullet either. And yet....

Women should at least be pilots. Those wombs give you an advantage we men can never overcome.

Thomas Keith
91. insectoid
Yay, post day! Great post as always, Leigh.

Was feeling lazy today, so I went and looked up my thoughts that I posted on the Prologue Spoiler Thread wayyyy back here. (Slightly edited for variety.)

Galad: *facepalm* I think he gave himself up way too easily. His philosophical arguments were cool, though.

Fain: *shudder* Eurgh. Killing Worms and creating zombie Trollocs has got to be the weirdest idea of entertainment ever.

Kandori: The thing with the mirrors was clever. Subwoofer and I agreed that it's a lot like the signal fires in Return of the King. Or, to use a quote from the first film, "They are coming." ;)

(FWIW: On that same thread, Sub had a short example of a possible Superboys/Supergirls reunion, very funny. And Freelancer invoked THHGTTG, in reference to the infinite improbability of Graendal's actions and correctly guessing Rand's plan just in time.)

Fork @73: *claps* Agree 100%; Leigh seldom disappoints. That's the main reason why I come here to read the Re-read every week, and have since the beginning. :D

Free @84:
Buh?? Does that mean "Fixed it for you"? (And fix it you did. XD)

Free @88: Well, maybe not all. But when I think about it: Elayne is a queen; Rand is a king, but he doesn't seem nearly as interested in wealth as Mat, who can be rich just about whenever he wants to (due to ta'veren luck). The Supergirls are Aes Sedai, and as such are as well-off as they need to be. Dunno about Perrin...

Amir Noam
92. Amir
Silly Galad.
Buffy: "Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic".

Though I do like to give Galad the benefit of the doubt here and assume he didn't fully believe his own argument, but used it against those who do.
William Fettes
93. Wolfmage
It's exceedingly odd that a couple of paragraphs in a lengthy post has provoked such umbrage. It was not gratuitous and unqualifed. It a was supremely qualified comment which simply noted a personal sense of exclusion which was wistful and immersed in mixed feelings of complete solidarity with military virtue and admiration for the bond.

IMO to read that as some kind of crude agitprop gender crusading, allegedly part of ongoing gratuitous fixation, is simply astonishly tone-deaf and discordant with what is actually going on in this specific case and for the re-read as a whole. Apparently to some people any mention of the dreaded g-word is like fingernails on a chalkboard and the capacity to read commentary with subtlety and context intact goes out the window.
From Leigh's re-read ...The wind died. The screams died. The earth was still. Dust and smoke swirled back down the pass to surround him. “The Light blind you, Ba’alzamon! This has to end!” IT IS NOT HERE. It was not Rand’s thought, making his skull vibrate. I WILL TAKE NO PART. ONLY THE CHOSEN ONE CAN DO WHAT MUST BE DONE, IF HE WILL. “Where?” He did not want to say it, but he could not stop himself. “Where?” The haze surrounding him parted, leaving a dome of clear, clean air ten spans high, walled by billowing smoke and dust. Steps rose before him, each standing alone and unsupported, stretching up into the murk that obscured the sun. NOT HERE.

You know.... I feel like an idiot! Why did I not note what was said during the many times I have read that very passage.
Steps rose before him, each standing alone and unsupported, stretching up into the murk that obscured the sun.
and then:
Duh.... BA/Ishy drops in on him just in time for the Creator to make a point. Literaly!

NOT HERE. i.e. " Don't walk up them stairs foooool! You don't know whats up there. And if you did, you'll wish you didn't!"

But I always took it for. Not here, so go up these stairs. And I'm like, "why would the Creator send him to Ishy?" He wouldn't! So I assumed that it was Ishy talking with THE VOICE. But no, it was the Creator telling him he would not interfere and ohh well no its not HERE either.

Stupid me

36. RanchoUnicorno
Discussing the role that women play in WoT versus the development of our society made sense earlier, but the horse has already been through the glue factory - at this point it feels like we are just looking for reasons to smack at bottles of Elmers.
I'm down with that sentiment.

49. leighdb

wow and just wow. i will consider your suggestion. not, though it seems that you'd care.

50. tnh

wow and just wow. i will consider your suggestion. not, though it seems that you'd care.

95. andagil
@leighdb: Long-time luker here who loves your wonderfully insightful, intelligent, thoughtful, thought-provoking and often hilarious commentary to a series that I've cherished for nearly twenty years now. I just want to chime in with another voice of support (along with MatthewB, Looking Glass, tnh, TickTockTick, Tektonica, KiManiak, octarineoboe, and any others I may have overlooked) for expressing your thoughts regarding gender politics. I applaud you for continuing to challenge and explore your own feelings on the matter, especially in a public forum like this.

As a white, heterosexual, cisgendered man, I've come a long way in becoming aware of my inherent privilege (while recognizing that I have a long way to go still). It's a journey that I've only accomplished by listening to the voices of those without my own privilege, and I only feel enriched and inspired by having my eyes so opened and my thoughts and beliefs so challenged. I am more than thrilled to hear someone share their commentary on the WoT from such a feminist perspective. Keep up the great work!

ZEXXES @ 90: That's a truly phenomenal example of prime, grade A mansplaining you've got goin' on there. Cool story bro.
Tim FItches
96. El Fitcho
Fain is awesome. As RJ pointed out, he's such a wild card. Ok, his character is unmpredictable, inconsistent, and just doesn't seem to fit in with the WoT world; but that's what makes him so intriguing. I do agree with Forkroot @ 10 though, that more character development would have been nice, but in a way this only adds to the mystery.

I haven't seen many theories about Rand's two unhealing wounds, so let me offer one. Perhaps, rather than slowly killing him, their resonance with each other is what has been keeping him alive all this time, and could yet be what keeps him alive in AMoL. The wound from Fain's dagger could be what prevents the Dark One from stealing Rand's soul; while the (True Power?) wound from Ishy could be what prevents Fain from corrupting / killing Rand with his dagger. These wounds have to have some greater significance. What do others think?

And on the THE VOICE debate, I always thought it was the Creator. But either way, and pending any resolution to the question in AMoL, it seems a little inconsistent that this is the only instance in the entire series that the voice would choose to speak to Rand. Why not during the cleansing of Saidin, or when Rand accessed the True Power, or when Rand is on top of Dragonmount? Why only speak to him in EotW?
95. andagil

ZEXXES @ 90: That's a truly phenomenal example of prime, grade A mansplaining you've got goin' on there. Cool story bro.

Why thank you, bro !


73. forkroot
neverspeakawordagain@44After Rand kills AginorRand did not kill Aginor. Aginor toasted himself by drawing too much of the OP from the Eye
I don't understand why most won't give Rand a little bit of credit here.
Granted he didn't consciously take out Aginor, but Rands actions fighting against him over the Eye of the World's saidin well, did cause Aginor to draw too much of the power. I'd say its a 1/2 sack instead of a stand alone takedown.

j p
99. sps49
leighdb@49- You didn't address me directly, but-

The traditional Army combat arms are Infantry, Cavalry(/Armor), and Artillery. They are even color-coded in the US with blue, yellow, and red, respectively. And as noted by Sooner_fan, females are already in the artillery. So there's that.

Women may not be front-line infantry- yet- in the US, but they are almost everywhere else. And it is official, directed by Congress through DoD, not a result of chaos. Most of our allies are similar.

What milfics are you reading? I have a lot of Clancy and W.E.B. Griffin, both of whom used to be better than they are now :)

Added for Kimaniak @76- Women aren' in US submarines yet- the first group of officers are in the pipeline and separate berthing space has been made in a few missile submarines. There are a few who noisily predict the loss of warfighting ability in the Submarine Force, but most have apparently been around women before and managed to avoid catastrophe.
79. JackJack
I've sometimes disagreed with a small bit of the things she's written, but that's what being a human being is all about.
I think that is the best thing that has been said on the subject and we should at least keep that in mind hence forward. And it will be at least for me.

Oh wow, I was purposely trying to get in at 99 instead of 100 so somebody more..... likeable could get in on it. (no, really!)

And lo' and behold I get it anyway.

Oh Darn!

Well, since I got it...


102. The_Duck_Is_Rising
Padan Fain aka Mordeth: tai'shar Mashadar
Trollocs and Myrdraal: tai'shar Aginor

'nuff sed?

Galad bemuses me; it is such a case of fixation one wonders if Mesaana had something to do with it. Ditto for half-brother Gawyn. One assumes that the Dark Prophecies also mentioned the Andorian Royal Family as being a pivot of the coming struggle?
103. Freelancer
Bilar @89
a. In order for "CHOSEN ONE" to refer to Rand, you need to assume that the Creator converses with prsent parties in the third person instead of the second, such as "you". Possible but cumbersome.
Or unless there is a third party audience, such as, say, a Borderland army. Oh hey, look over there...
b."IF HE WILL." may not be a statment about Rand's choice in the matter, but one about Ishmael's chances of winning, to " DO WHAT MUST BE DONE", ergo the Dark One is unsure of his minion's fate.
That's some serious semantical gymnastics, right there. When you are unsure of someone's likelihood of succeeding at a task, you don't say "if he will", you say "if he is able", or "if he can". The phrase IF HE WILL, and I assure you that Jordan's command of language would only permit this interpretation, is about the subject's free and independent choice to assume a responsibility. And I repeat, not the way the dark one would speak of someone under his authority. The entire encounter has no value or meaning if applied as you suggest. The re-composed statement, by your assumption, comes out as "Only Moridin can do what must be done, if he can". Robert Jordan would never have written that sentence.
Birgit F
104. birgit
The Trollocs screamed, dropping, spasming. Their hair fell out in patches, and their skin began to boil. Blisters and cysts. When those popped, they left craterlike pocks in the Shadowspawn skin, like bubbles on the surface of metal that cooled too quickly.
That sounds similar to the corruption of the Ways. Maybe there really is a connection between Mashadar and Machin Shin.
Fain seems to be interested in Moridin's colors, too. Is that leaking from Moridin through Rand to Fain?

I’m of the opinion that Galad’s response to Asunawa is just that, a response. He’s not himself operating under the belief that moral rectitude is an adequate substitute for training, just kicking the crap out of Asunawa’s claim that he won through Infernal Support.

Galad does believe that the Children should win a fight against the Shadow because they are the good guys. He begins to questions that when he sees that the Two Rivers farmers are better than the Whitecloaks at fighting Trollocs.
105. SurDin
Just a small comment, that in Israel most corps accept girls to combat units as well, including infantry, combat pilots, etc. so, technically you do have an option to join an army and be in a combat unit.
Valentin M
106. ValMar
I'm surprised of the number of comments generated by Leigh's detour on "brotherhoods". Unlike in the past, I didn't see it at all as a "feminist rant". Not that there is much wrong with feminist or any other ranting...
In the same vein, I may wish the opportunity to use my gym's women change rooms and showers but, alas, I know that there will be some consternation if I stroll in there one day ;) Also, I'll never be able to be netball player, jockey, artistic gymnast...
I just don't understand how such a line of thought my get some folks exercised.

Freelancer @ 88

Well, having a
farm with horse/cow/some sheep and land (Rand and Perrin's families),
small horse trading trade (Mat's family),
inn and hostel (Egwene's family),
village doctor's position (Nyn)

will make you very rich in North Korea and Cuba compared to all but the most equal of your comrades.

and Insect @ 91

As I wrote above, the heroes from the TR are simple villagers. And after that, they didn't exactly win the lottery. In fact most of the time they are in major personal discomfort, for whatever reason. And this aside from threats to their lives.
107. An extremely boring man
Wow, I've been reading these for a few weeks and now I've finally caught up. I'll fess up: I gave up on this series halfway through book seven when I first read them years ago, and halfway through book four when I tried again some months ago. I feel that if whoever edited the books had really taken a chainsaw to them and removed many of the (often pointless) side plots and characters the series could have been half as short and twice as good. But I was still sort of interested in how things would end up so the "digest" version of the books on here has been perfect for me. Perfect enough that I'll probably get the last book when it arrives to see how the main plot finally resolves, something I'd never have done otherwise. So, thanks, Leigh (even if your purpose probably wasn't to let someone who couldn't be arsed to read the whole thing get the gist of it but there you go).
Chin Bawambi
108. bawambi
I've tried a few times to post about the ELITE status of our characters and the website is not accepting my comments. Needless to say, almost all of our heroes are the 1 percenters and our superheroes are the point 00001 percenters. Any Aes Sedai qualifies just due to the fact that they have access to silk let alone the One Power. I might attempt a third or fourth time to break it down by character later if people continue to be willfully blind about this point.
109. MasterAlThor
As always Freelancer says it better than me. Regarding matters of faith.

And forkroot has the right of it. I have my issues with Leigh but I always read everything she has to say and she is never dull.

Matthew B
111. MatthewB
@110. azuarc I think you and a lot of other people are making the same mistake. Leigh is not criticizing the scene - she's talking about how it makes her feel. If reading that makes you change your opinion of the scene then that can only be seen as an affirmation of her work.

It seems like the real issue is empathy - someone else's sadness makes us sad. We could cultivate a more hard-hearted, self-centered attitude to avoid that, but I don't think we would really be happier with it in the long run.
Chin Bawambi
112. bawambi
In defense of our re-reader, I will send you to Wolfmage's comments at 93. Wolf, once again a reasoned argument ;). I am not completely in tune with Leigh's commentary regarding gender issues but to pontificate about HER feelings is nearly (probably) an adhominem attack. For the sake of this degenerating into a flame war (tor.com level - much lower than regular internet level) please keep it classy folks.
PS I love your commentary even if I don't always agree with it Leigh - never change your style it completely makes it fun. Milk and Texas pecan chocolate chip cookies in the bunker.
113. Looking Glass
deBebbler @77: No, Fain’s touch (which seems to include that of his Mighty Wind) is death to Fades.

Birgit @104: Fain definitely gets along well with Machin Shin; IIRC, it treats him like a kindred spirit when he encounters it in the early books.

Perhaps because it's also something born of the breeding between the Shadow and corrupted humanity?

But then, the shadowspawn kind of are too. Hm.

On Galad: I didn't recall that, but I'll admit my knowledge of this book is less thorough than some of the others.

Still, Galad's apparent acceptance here that he will die after giving himself up would seem to indicate he expects, if anything, divine aid for his cause rather than for himself (as a virtuous man) specifically. Putting the same logic to his confrontation with Valda, he wouldn't necessarily have expected to win because his he was in the right- just that win or lose, facing Valda would serve the light better than avoiding the confrontation.

If, as came up earlier, he really thinks the Children are the necessary keystone in the struggle with the Shadow, it does stand to reason that there’s no way they could all be killed by trollocs without fatally compromising The Cause. So they can't all be killed.

Then again, maybe I am giving him too much credit. I tend to appreciate Galad as a WoT character, if for no more reason than that he measures himself to the same standards he holds everyone else to.
Deana Whitney
114. Braid_Tug
@ 22, DaedylusSL: I like the point you made. The books would be shorter if charters talked to each other, or were less selfish. And I wish for that sometimes. Then again would we have the story if they all played nice? I’m still left wondering how anyone can think they are the only one doing anything.

@ 54, LookingGlass: I really thing that even if Galad had the latest news update, he'd still think the CoL were the "only foundation." He might be more positive about the Dragon Reborn running around, but I really don't think it would change his central belief.
Much like Eqwene does not change her mind after meeting Zen Rand. She still sees him as the boy she grew up, or the half angry guy she left months ago.

@66, Woof: spanking... I love how often your comments leave me laughing.

@74, Kadere: Great point you made about the WOT sisterhoods. They are all over the place. Here we have one highlight of a male centered ceremony. We should rejoice. It's a rare as a positive gay romance in this story. (Now I'm running to the bunker. Make room please!)

@90, Zexxes: Wow... the historian in me rejoices.
There is also the theory that women created language. Men, to hunt, only need hand signals. Women to pass along knowledge of edible plants and other information developed words. And yes, there are all sorts of jokes that can be made at both gender's expense because of this theory.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
115. tnh
Zexxes @101, it would never have occurred to me to describe you as dislikable. Your behavior has on occasion been troublesome, but that's something you do, not something you are.

Bawambi @108, what happened when you tried to post?
Chin Bawambi
116. bawambi
tnh, is there a problem using the >character with the symbols indicating their place in Wotland and it ate the text related to it. Maybe its Fain's/the Dark One's touch ;)
Chin Bawambi
117. bawambi
tnh, is there an issue with using less than greater than signs? I tried to list each main character with the symbols indicating their place in Wotland and it ate the text related to it. And it just did it for this post as well... Maybe its Fain's/the Dark One's touch ;)

Wow, this is what I wanted to post - the edit function does not appear to be working properly.
Sivan Nir
118. Bilar
Freelancer @ 103, I am somewhat weary to ask this, but what convinces you ,that the border land army was privy to the conversation occuring in Rand's head?. I might be mistaken, but I believe that Rand was only seen and not heard by them.

Additonaly, Free will and choice might not be the focus of the mistery voice's words, but the place. Similarly, In "A Storm Of Light", the Dragon himself gives voice to the thought that he must not confront the DO prematurely. Moreover, by a a naive belief in tracing a statment's focus to the first subject or elment brought up in a sentence or conversation, one notices that the place " NOT HERE" was by far the most important thing to clear for the speaker.
119. Freelancer
Valmar & others,

It isn't the word wealthy that is ridiculous in the subject comment. It is the word hopelessly. But the only proper response to that bit of sour grapes is so what?
Ron Garrison
120. Man-0-Manetheran
Just want to say "YEAH! THE LOGIN IS WORKING PROPERLY AGAIN!!! Thanks TOR, tnh, et al.
121. Freelancer

Yes, the less than and greater than signs form HTML code brackets which tend to be misinterpreted by many online text editors. The most common result is that the text between each coupled pair of said brackets either becomes invisible (because HTML codes aren't supposed to be read, only performed), or an interpretation of what the ersatz HTML code would do causes a corruption of the entire posting.

Just attempted including some of the symbols here, and in preview, any coupled pair of less than/greater than vanishes.
Valentin M
122. ValMar

lest there is any confusion, I am agreeing with you on this subject. In as much as there is any case for these sour grapes at all, to begin with.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
123. tnh
Bawambi, I just did some experimental fiddling around. The greater-than seems to be okay, but the site's got a hate-on for the less-than symbol. It disappears when you preview or post, and things in its vicinity tend to disappear as well.

Anything you put between carets, for instance a standard HTML link, will disappear along with both carets. Links formed by the linking icon at the top of the comment box survive because they use square brackets. If you pretend the pointy brackets are square brackets, the syntax looks like this:

{url=http://cuteoverload.com/}Teh Cute{/url}

If you use the less-than symbol by itself, without any participation by greater-than, the site will eat the less-than symbol plus the next five characters to the right of it.

This time, pretend the pointy bracket is a less-than symbol. If what you type is {abcdefghij, what you'll see in your post is fghij.

I don't know how long this has been true. Anyone who can remember successfully posting a less-than, and if possible when you posted it, please speak up. I got strange results just now when I tried searching the message base for instances of it.
Chin Bawambi
124. bawambi
Thanks Free on the HTML comments. "Never mind" on the hopelessly.Think Gilda ;).

Tess Laird
125. thewindrose
As prologues go in WoT - this was one of the better ones. Heeth Tower tugs at the heart strings, even through the synopsis of it. Galad is made of win, and because of him Asunawa is not long for this world:)
Fain is creepy, and it would be nice to have more PoV's from him, but then you run the chance of making him less creepy. I also enjoyed last weeks prologue review(meaty stuff!).

Agree with the Malazan fan girl at 68 that the tMTotF is a great read that shows off how gender can be taken out of the equation for the military - I am only at HoC but there have been some graet examples.

Loved Band of Brothers from HBO - we actually bought it.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden
126. tnh
Man-o-Manetheran, thanks for the good news. I'll pass that on.
127. Faculty Guy
Regarding Leigh's gender awareness: I have no problem with it and am grateful for the stimulus to thought.

A psychology professor colleague has said that the division of viewpoints between male and female humans dominates bisection of just about every poll on every issue. That is (he says that) in virtually every survey questionnaire used in social science research, although one can find statistical differences along lines of economic class, race, political party, or age, the GREATEST differences are consistently between sexes!

I believe (being influenced by E.O. Wilson and others) that this must go back to evololutionary biology in the end. In the case of male domination of participation in warfare, surely it is due to the simple fact that females are more valuable to ensuring the survival of the race than males. For m0st of human history, people lived in small groups at near-subsistence level, and struggled to survive in a hostile natural environment. Meanwhile, biology dictates that the survival of the group is mostly dependent on the number of reproducing females, which number determine the maximum reproduction rate of the group. After all, one male can sire many offspring (and successful ones have done so, from Solomon to Charlemange, to the senior bin Laden) whereas women can produce at most only about one new human per year. Simply put, the existence each new generation depends mostly on the population of healthy women.

So: in a small group struggling for survival, risking women is much more dangerous than risking men, who are relatively expendable. I think this is the underlying biological basis of why women have historically been excluded (in most cultures) from dangerous hunting, warfare, and many other activities which might threaten their reproductive value.

As so-called civilization evolved, cultural and social customs were adapted to support this basic structure, and rationalizations invented to support why it was "right" to shield women from risks. And, in the modern world the original biological reasoning may no longer apply: we humans may indeed wipe ourselves out, but we no longer underpopulate the world, and, in any case, the weapons of mass destruction that threaten us do not discriminate very much between warriors and those "back home."

But the historically evolved cultural differences between the sexes are hard to overcome, and doing so takes time. Meanwhile, anything (e. g. Leigh's writing) that promotes thinking and dialogue is a positive, in my view.
Roger Powell
128. forkroot
While I was fiddling with the original comment (about greater-thans, etc.) the question was addressed by Freelancer and tnh.

So ... thinking about Galad in the prologue. I have a couple of points:

Many commenters seem to think that Galad sees the world in black and white and only in ToM do we see him evolve to a more nuanced view. While I would certainly agree that we see the growth and maturation of his views in ToM, I'd like to point out that many people's perceptions of Galad were colored by how Elayne described him.

When we see him protecting Elayne and Nynaeve in TFoH (I think), we certainly see him going against the stated code of the Children. Already then, we see him use judgement and avoid rigidity.

Another point: I really don't think the section with Galad belongs in the Prologue. For the most part, WoT prologues have featured story lines that are not taken up in the main book. Or at least there's a continuity break. Galad's storyline in the prologue picks right up a few chapters into the book.
129. bumperK_13
slightly offended at the belief that women are excluded from being a "sister in arms" I have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and just because you are a woman does not mean you are excluded from combat. I was a gunner for almost every recovery mission we pulled in Afghanistan and while in Iraq I stood shoulder to shoulder with my fellow brothers in arms while facing down detainee riots with only batons and plastic shields. We are only excluded from serving in the roll as an infrantryman or other combat arms positions. This actually will be changing very soon according to military sources. I have been in sistuations where you come away grinning like an idiot and just happy to be alive and reveling with your fellow soldiers around you. So the idea that women are excluded from this is ludicrous.
Terry McNamee
130. macster
I definitely have to say I'm one of those readers who got extremely choked up reading the defense of Heeth Tower at the end of the prologue here. I don't think anyone can deny it's heroic, moving, powerful, displays minor characters in such a way as to put a face to those we know are going to be lost to the Shadow's forces, and is overall one of the better written parts of the series regardless who actually wrote it. What I find interesting is to contrast how it made me feel with how Leigh felt...because I didn't feel excluded, and that wasn't because I'm a man.

Leigh makes very good points about the way this Borderlander ceremony excludes women; and it is very true that, setting aside the fact no one should want to fight (and Leigh doesn't) and that war itself is ugly and horrible and people should be glad they aren't part of it, this exclusion can feel insulting, or at least distancing and saddening. But here's the thing: I'm not a warrior/fighter, never interested in or good at sports, never had a desire to be in the military, so in that respect you'd think I would feel just as excluded by this moment. But I didn't. Why? Because while on the surface this scene is about a boy becoming a man, acknowledged as such, and allowed to stand at the side of other men in battle, it's actually about people, regardless of their gender, coming together to stand against evil, to protect their land, their families, civilization itself.

And that's something I can get behind even though I'm not a soldier, and which women can get behind even though they aren't men: because even if we can't feel united with Malenarin and his son in a "Yeah, men are men!" or "Band of brothers, unite!" sense, we can feel united in the "All for one, one for all" sense--this is about humanity itself standing up to the Shadow. It's about how no matter what threatens, how bleak the outcome seems, how much reason there is to despair and give up, humans seem to pull through again and again, to have bravery, faith, and strength of heart and soul. Sure, humans are flawed, humans can be bastards; but we can also be amazing, special, influential people who can make a difference. It's one of those dichotomies of life as essential and unavoidable as good vs. evil or...men and women. So when I read this scene, I didn't feel left out because I'm not a soldier and never could be. I felt included because it was a moment where I could say, along with Malenarin and the rest of the Kandori, "Yes, we ARE going to fight, damn it, we are not letting evil have its way, we will not go gently into that good night, and even if some of us can't literally fight it, the battle is waged in every human heart. And as long as we are united in that, we can win it!"

Obviously Leigh felt differently reading this, and I do not in the slightest belittle her reaction which is both justified and understandable. I am simply sharing my reaction to the scene in hopes that perhaps it might give her, or others who feel as she does, another way to read the scene that feels less exclusionary and off-putting.

Fain: While I see the points others make about him either not receiving enough screentime and development, or feeling too out-of-nowhere and shoehorned in, I have to say this scene is probably the first time in a long time I've ever been scared of him. Not just his insanity though that is bad enough, but what his powers can now do, and the fact that if they've evolved this much from when we last saw him in Winter's Heart, what might they be like by the Last Battle? I don't know what his role will be, though there are obviously a number of good and equally viable theories, some of which are even mutually possible. I do know that he does seem relevant to me, and that he always has been--for while Jordan said he developed him to be his wild card, the fact he and Shadar Logoth were introduced in the very first book tells me he always intended them to be key all along. So while we might wish to know more about him, what he's been doing, how he's become what he has, in the end what matters I think is how he gets used, what his ultimate role will be in the series. It may be that at the end of AMoL we'll know the answers to those questions, by implication if not by having it spelled out for us, or we may never know the answers, but we will know why Jordan created him and how he was woven into the Pattern of the Age.

On Galad: I won't address the nature of religious thinking, mostly because a number of commenters (both religious and otherwise) have done a good job, I think, of either explaining that not all Christians think the way Galad/the Whitecloaks do or of explaining Galad's thought process itself. And also because I don't feel like getting into a deep discussion of religion. So I will just say that I too cheered the way he was able to use the Whitecloaks' catechisms and scripture against Asunawa (who not only is clearly in it only for his own power and not for the Children's goals any longer, but seems like a pretty good example of the Antichrist to me), and to me this not only justified my initial liking for Galad (before he started being as troublesome and groanworthy as his half-brother), it explained why the Whitecloaks were in the story. From the very start in TEotW, when I learned about Mantelar and what he intended the Children to be, I saw at least the germ of a good idea there (hunting down the people who serve the Shadow? The ones who caused the end of the Age of Legends when they tried to free the Dark One? Sounds great to me!)...but also how very easily this could be twisted to wrongdoing by zealotry and suspicious misunderstandings even before self-aggrandizement and personal gathering of power and control entered into it. Again, this seems to be something Jordan intended to make very important, since the Whitecloaks were first introduced in TEotW via Perrin (mostly) and it's through him that their arc is concluded and they are brought into the fold of the Light's forces. This part here with Galad made me believe for the first time that could actually happen, that they could be returned to their original intent and become a true force for good that would be helpful at the Last Battle.

Oh, and a chance to get rid of that ass Asunawa. ;) Of course if Egwene's dream about Galad wrapping himself in white like a shroud is meant to dovetail with the theories some people have that it is Galad (Galahad) the Christ-like figure (see the points several have made about him being willing to sacrifice himself here to bring the Whitecloaks back together) who as Rand's blood will be "shed" on Shayol Ghul, this may mean he won't get much further chance to purify the Children. Unless him bringing them together, getting rid of Asunawa, and joining Perrin has already done that.

@3 ShiningArmor: A very interesting point, considering at one time Galad and Egwene were interested in each other romantically; that there was a point (I forget where) it was mentioned as an example of an impossible event that the Lord Captain Commander would marry the Amyrlin Seat; and that both Galad and Egwene are convinced of their own rightness and infallibility. And while people obviously do have strong issues with both of them (especially Egwene) no one denies that both the Whitecloaks and Aes Sedai need major overhauls. That's why some people can be behind even Galad and Egwene leading the charge in these restorations and unions, since at least somebody's doing it, and even if the two of them have their flaws they're still miles better than most Aes Sedai and Whitecloaks.

@11 Braid_Tug (great new name!): Good point, but aside from the ones others have raised (that characters or groups being selfish and arrogant was necessary for Jordan's plot and themes), let me say that it is key to note that even if each group thinks they are the only one doing anything and therefore must be the one to lead the Last Battle, at least they finally see the importance of Tarmon Gai'don outweighing anything else, and at least they are doing something to prepare and lead. Another good outcome of them all doing this planning/preparation to lead is that each of them individually have done what is needed to get the forces of the Light ready. All that's left is for the individual leaders to get together and find out that they weren't the only one doing anything; as soon as they acknowledge this, their forces can immediately be pieces together and the stage is set.

@27 srizzo00: Very good point re: the other Lords Captain rather than Asunawa.

@39 Jhirrad and others re: THE VOICE--the jury is still out on this one for me. I initially thought it was the Creator (and Freelancer makes compelling arguments that it is), but later the sneaking suspicion it might have been the Dark One wriggled into the back of my mind--it would certainly be a way to undermine the reader's assumptions and turn everything on its head, quite insidious and even foreshadowing what happens with Darth Rand later. And hearing Sanderson say that scene may not mean what we think it does is...chilling. On the other hand, there could be more to the scene than meets the eye without the voice being the Dark One, so who knows. I think arguments on both sides are compelling, so I'll just wait and see what might get revealed about this in AMoL. I think though, to answer El Fitcho's point @96, it will eventually turn out to be very important that the voice spoke to Rand when it did in TEotW, and not one of those other key points in the series.

@60 JackJack re: Fain--the Shadow has been trying to get rid of Fain, he has simply been able to elude them. If he can kill/take control of whatever Trollocs or Fades you send after him, that isn't going to be much help. Slayer was busy going after Rand, then Perrin. The Forsaken were all focused on either gathering the Shadow's forces, keeping the Seanchan/Randland war going, keeping the White Tower broken, or breaking/turning Rand. As for Shaidar Haran, we don't know what he's been doing but it seems he has no way of actually hunting Fain himself, perhaps because Mordeth is keeping the Dark One from reading Fain's Hound nature (he certainly can't control him with it any more). You're right that the Shadow should be worried about Fain and devoting more time to him, but the fact they aren't may be part of the key to the Light's victory. And points to why evil will always destroy itself in the end.

@74 Kadere: Very good point.

@75 KiManiak: See my thoughts above on Galad and the Whitecloaks.

@77 deBebbler: We don't seem to have an explanation for that yet. Perhaps it's because, as twisted by the Shadow as they are, Trollocs are still living, biological creatures and thus can be raised, but Fades, being farther removed from life despite their more human-like appearance, and more tainted by the Shadow, cannot?

@81 SoCalJayhawk: I have to agree, both major parts of this half of the prologue reflect the sentiments of St. Crispin's, and it's because what that speech is about is so topical and relevant to the Last Battle in general and these threads leading up to it in particular.

@90 Zexxes: Every once in a while, you put out a post that is one of the most powerful, emotional, and thought-provoking I've seen on the re-read. This is one, and I thank you for sharing it.

@102 TheDuckIsRising: While I see where you're going with this (namely that Mesaana could have Compelled Galad while he was in the Tower before the coup), I'm fairly sure this isn't the case. For one thing, I believe someone asked Sanderson and he said Gawyn had never been Compelled (whether to hate Rand, believe the rumors about Morgase, or join Elaida), so while this isn't proof about Galad it does make the idea a little less likely. Also, the idea that the Andoran Royal Family will be key to the Last Battle came from two things: Elaida's Foretelling, and Gitara's (since she was the one who sent off Tigraine and Luc). There's nothing to indicate for us that Foretellings have a parallel among the Shadow prophecies, so unless Gitara was Black or some members of the Black managed to learn of her or Elaida's Foretellings and told Ishy or Mesaana, she'd have no reason to consider Galad important. In fact during the time they were both at the Tower, Mesaana was busy being focused on sending the thirteen BA to Tear and preparing for the coup. And Lanfear, if she was trying to Compel anybody, was working on Mat, not Galad. I don't think anybody in the Shadow considered him important to their plans--Gawyn didn't become so, after all, until he joined Elaida, and by that point it would have been Elaida, Alviarin, or Mesaana interested in using him (and then eliminating him). And since we know Gawyn wasn't Compelled...

It seems, in the end, Galad and Gawyn are just headstrong, determined, passionate men who truly do believe what they believe and act on their convictions, rather than people being twisted into it as many seem to want to believe. As we all know well from real life, it's entirely possible for people to make stupid, rash, or dangerous decisions without having to be manipulated into it.

@104 birgit: That's...a curiously resonant description comparison. I think you may be on to something. We know for sure Fain has some connection with Machin Shin. Whether or not Mashadar is also connected to it, it seems likely Fain could use the attributes of one to affect the results of the other, since he is connected to both. Another thing to note is that the boiling skin and craters in it also reminded me of the Shadowspawn that got trapped in the Ways, frozen in stone inside those bursting bubbles...which might be more evidence, since if Machin Shin actually is a creature of the Ways (and we know it goes after Shadowspawn), it could have access to the same kinds of traps as the Ways themselves.

@ those bothered by Leigh's seeming lapse into irrelevant feminism: I have had issues with Leigh in the past, either with her opinions or with the way she expressed them, but I have never been particularly bothered by her overall feminist views or how she applies them to WOT and the re-read. She makes many important and critical points, she's astute and intelligent, she's funny and witty, and she makes me and everyone else think. If there are times when I have been outspoken in my criticism of her it is only because I have the deepest respect for her and hold her to a high standard--which she almost always meets, so the few times she doesn't in my opinion makes me sit up and take notice more. Bottom line, though: she wasn't out of line here; if anything I thought her response was rather poignant and, as usual, made me think of something I wouldn't have otherwise. She even made a point to say she wasn't trying to make a judgment about the differences between men and women at this point in the text, just noting that the difference was there and she wasn't sure how to feel about it. And she still found the scene powerful and moving, even if part of her was a bit off-put by it. Being honest about the latter doesn't change the fact the scene did what it was supposed to do in the former sense.
Karen Fox
131. thepupxpert
Jack @80 - Of course, Max Headroom! But wasn't he also the introverted officer who had a recurring arc and got into all sort of trouble with his "hologram fantasies"?
Marita Maskulin
132. Marita
Hi Leigh & everyone, long time lurker here. Great post as always.

I just wanted to let you know that in my country serving in the army (or the defence force as it is officially called) is mandatory for men and optional for women. Men get called for sevice the year they become 18 and the training begins twice a year. They can postpone the service for a while if they have a good reason. At the moment the minimun serving period is 6 months and after completion, one will get called back for revising a few times. Men can also serve the time as civilians, but IIRC the time is slightly longer. They will get paid either way, though. If one refuses completely to serve, they will go to prison. Sometimes individuals are exempt for health reasons (both physical and psychological). This practise is nowadays heavily criticized and options for more modern ways for a sound defence method are talked about. But nothing more is done about it. And yes, the women who volunteer for sevice will be trained alongside with men without any discrimination. The only (huge) disrimination is that men don't have the option not to participate. I find this ridiculous. Even if I'm a woman.
Rob Munnelly
133. RobMRobM
Hi all - been away at a conference and too busy to post. I detest Fain, to the point where I have trouble actually reading his sections of the text. This probably is some form of contrary proof that Fain wll play a truly critical role in the eventual WOT plot resolution. *head desk*

Re Leigh and gender politics, I'm for it. Tylin with a knife in a bedroom (just re-read it earlier this week) cried out for discussion of gender roles, as does the shocking spanking disparity. I don't always agree and I don't always enjoy but love that Leigh is ready to dive in head on and cause a big splash.

I'm in the CREATOR camp but I retain an OPEN MIND on the issue.

Leigh Butler
134. leighdb
ZEXXES @ 90:

I'm pressed for time at the moment, so I'm going to make this succinct:

1) Don't equate my net worth to the fact that I possess a uterus.

2) Don't tell me what I should want.

3) "Mansplaining" is not a compliment. And it is also exactly what you did. Don't.
Sanctume Spiritstone
135. Sanctume
My take on Galad was akin to a AD&D Paladin which is Lawful Good alignment--maybe closer to Chaotic Good. It is like he is roleplaying and having a 24/7 Aura of Protection vs Evil 10 foot radius.
136. King of Flames
Regarding the whole 'Creator supports someone in battle... Has a Darkfriend ever won a one to one swordfight in this series?

TGH: Rand, a barely passable swordfighter, beats a blademaster.

By TSR, all the leads are able to take on Myrddraal.

TFOH: Mat kills Couladin, a man 'born with spears in his hands'

Perrin kills Aiel during the attack on Malden...using a hammer, which isn't even a combat weapon.

The King of Malkier kills a traitor in single combat.

Galad v Valda. Valda is the better fighter. Galad has virtuous cause. Galad wins

New Spring: Ryne v Lan. Lan acknowledges Ryne as the better fighter. Lan has virtuous cause. Lan wins.
Sanctume Spiritstone
137. Sanctume
Also, I observe that anyone who speaks in ALL CAPS is the Dark One.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
138. tnh
Faculty Guy: E. O. Wilson was a good biologist, but his evolutionary biology was guesswork, and later practitioners of the form quickly fell into parlor-game mansplaining. It's like Freud and psychology: he'll be remembered for inventing evolutionary biology as a field of study, not for the accuracy and applicability of the conclusions he drew from it.
139. EtienneScherdlow
May I offer this group a one-question IQ test?

1. If the thread's already been warned about posting offensive, condescending, mansplainy comments about gender roles, and you feel your day just won't be complete unless you post another one, which of the following local authorities do you think is going to extend you a truckload of sympathy?

a. Irene
b. Leigh
c. Bridget
d. Teresa
e. None of the above.
Rob Munnelly
140. RobMRobM
@136 - there haven't been many one-one sword fights involving Darkfriends. TGH was not a darkfriend; Perrin not a sword fight; I'm not even sure Valda or Couladin are Darkfriends rather than just nasty guys.

Ryne-Lan - yes, but Ryne presumably killed others in the Palace leading up to Lan. Lan also was pretty freaking awesome even back then (killed a half dozen by himself) so not clear Ryne was necessarily the better fighter.

Rand-Seanchan - Rand is much better than passable, even then, but handicapped himself but not assuming the Void until the end of the fight. He won because of issue-specific circumstances (Seanchan started very defensively and then got overconfident and lost suddenly when Rand voided).

Riatin-Rand with practice swords in ACOS - Riatin wins but Rand was distracted by bubble of evil so doesn't count.

Riatin-Lan in WH - yes

Valda-Galad in KoD - Galad is a great swordsman, dating back to TFOH (Uno was openly awed by his skill), so he just beats another great swordman through strategy and skill.

Gawyn v first bloodknife. Draw.

Am I missing any?

John Massey
141. subwoofer
@Zex- Thanks a lot for making Leigh say "uterus";)

@JeffS- enjoyed the binary comment:D

Personally, I often wonder what Leigh has against desks as every other post I find her smacking one around with her skull...

I strongly support Leigh's feminist viewpoint.... and if the female population of this reread really take up arms and decide to burn their bras in protest, I am right there with the lighter and the fuel...

Oh look, is that the bunker door over there?

::feet don't fail me now::

142. s'rEDIT
Free @84: Uh, all I can say is that I am embarrassed (as a former theater major) to confess that the designation St. Crispin's Day evoked neither Shakespeare nor the historical significance. {{sigh}}
John Massey
143. subwoofer

There was Perrin vs. the Children back in the day.

Mat vs. that Aiel Maiden Melsomethingortheother.

Hopper dies.

In recent history... this book, I am thinking that Perrin's battle with Slayer is more or less a draw. In previous encounters I think Perrin got beat though, Perrin plus his pack of 4 vs. Slayer and he had his way with them.

There have been countless times that Elayne has been bonked on the head ( I have some theories regarding her soundness of mind as a result) and taken captive. There was also the bit where they are hostage in the Stone.

Mat and Juilin are both beaten soundly by Aiel on the rooftops of Tear.

Edit: wasn't there some point where Rand is captured by Aes Sedai, trapped in a box, beaten, rinse, repeat? Hmmmmm...

Noal dies vs Finn.

Perrin marries Faile.

Mat marries Tuon.

Roger Powell
144. forkroot

Took me a little bit to figure out the derivation of your name, followed by a chuckle when I got it. Hope no one thinks I'm being too cryptanalytic here.

BTW, who is "Bridget"?
Philip Alan Smith
145. AlanS7
@136 KoF:
In TGH, Rand was not "barely passable" as a swordsman: training in Fal Dara, he could do well with Lan when he held the Oneness, just as he had to do to beat Turak.
By TSR, Perrin was a wolf versus the Neverborn, Mat had the memories/skills of the not-very-nice people from the past, and Lan himself acknowledged that Rand was close to blademaster.
As to Valda and Ryne: they may have been better swordsmen but fighters? Valda became sloppy, thinking Galad tiring, and Ryne thought Lan finished with a wounded arm: He never understood. You surrender after you're dead. (Ch. 26)

edit: ditto for Mat's memories versus Couladin, and if you call a hammer a mace, it's a combat weapon.
Bridget McGovern
146. BMcGovern
forkroot@144 Hi, I'm Bridget. I'm Tordot's non-fiction editor, and coordinate with TNH and Irene on moderation, in a quiet sort of way. So...hello, WoT thread--thanks for all the awesome over the years! (And now back to work :)
Roger Powell
147. forkroot
Hail and well met! A tip of the cap to you, Irene, and TNH for the job you do quite well, IMO.

@136 - there haven't been many one-one sword fights involving Darkfriends. TGH was not a darkfriend; Perrin not a sword fight; I'm not even sure Valda or Couladin are Darkfriends rather than just nasty guys.
Correct. Neither Valda nor Couladin were Darkfriends. And neither was Toram Riatin. They were all just a$$h@les.

You are right - there are darn few 1:1 sword fights between light-siders and Darkfriends. Besides Ryne vs. Lan, I could only come up with Rand vs Rochaid (in Far Madding.) The Chosen do not consider themselves mere "Darkfriends", but if you want to include them then of course there is Rand's fight with Belal (which he lost.)

Ironically, the biggest sword fight between light-siders and a Darkfriend were all of the (presumably non-Dark) Seachan who died before overcoming Ingtar at the end of TGH. He defended a narrow space (to give the boys time to get away with the Horn and dagger.) Let's assume that the Seanchan had to come at him 1:1 and that he bagged a few before going down. So technically speaking, the "Darkfriend" won the day (by killing a few and thus enable the escape.) Stands the whole argument on its head, doesn't it??
Rob Munnelly
148. RobMRobM
Fork - I think Riatin eventually became a Darkfriend, or at least a Fain-friend. I view him as moving beyond mere a**hole status by the time of WH and the double date fight in the building with Lan and Rand, but I might be misremembering.
Roger Powell
149. forkroot
Toram: Yes, a Fain-friend ... but Fain had definitely left Team Dark at this point (and become "Team Fain"??)

I only did a quick check, but found nothing in the text that implied that Riatin was a Darkfriend.
William Fettes
150. Wolfmage
I confess I had to look up mansplaining. Pretty cool term despite the gendered nature of the phrase.

1. Condescending tone - check.
2. Story-telling narrative structure invested in puffed up certainty that belies actual ahistorism and pop-pyschology - check.
3. Exasperation and incredulity that anyone could think it wasn't Capital T Truth - check.
Tess Laird
151. thewindrose
I would argue that Toram was a darkfriend - because Fain like to pick up darkfriends for his entourage(s). He is able to look at a human and 'see' their darkfriendness;)

John Massey
152. subwoofer
... I always thought "mansplaining" had a similarity to "manscaping";)

Roger Powell
153. forkroot
I don't agree that Fain always picked up Darkfriends for his entourage. As far as we know, all of the Whitecloaks he corrupted were not Darkfriends. The only known case of "followers" of his being Darkfriends was the family of Darkfriends that he stayed with in Caemlyn -- and they didn't last long before he destroyed them.
Sam Mickel
154. Samadai
And the Darkfriends he picked up on his way out of Sheinar in tGH
Tricia Irish
155. Tektonica
Thank you Sub! I love how you lighten things up!

Welcome to the new posters. Sub will be greeting you in the Bunker with the Bowl of the Winds snacks.
156. andagil
I always interpreted Fain's corruption of Riatin as similar to his encounters with Pedron Niall and Elaida, enhancing their own greed, ambition, paranoia, etc., and twisting said emotions to further cement those individuals against Rand. I don't believe they had any inclinations toward the Shadow; he simply capitalised on their own moral weaknesses. I believe he even thinks something along those lines in a POV in tFoH, around the time he meets Elaida. Not positive about that, however.
Jennifer McBride
157. vegetathalas
Just adding in a supportive comment for Leigh. I'm a female reader, and I can't imagine taking gender feelings out of reactions to a book. Robert Jordan is a little ticklish for me sometimes, because on the one-hand, he's reversing white male privilege idea with his Aes Sedai and Women's Circle politics, but on the other hand, he's doing that by making women play into some fairly negative stereotypes. It just sort of bugs me that in a world where gender power tips the other way, women still are the cause of the fall from grace with the tainting of Saidin ala Eve/Pandora.

I tend to agree with Leigh about the interest in gendered rites of passage. The one and only time my father gave me roses was the day I had my period. Because the blood from my womb was more important than anything else I ever managed to accomplish.
Tricia Irish
158. Tektonica
Tnh: I just went to my shoutbox and it seems it's been "spammed" by someone named "necklacesilver", trying to sell me things. ????

Can you get rid of this stuff? Block them?? Or tell me what to do?

Thank you!
159. andagil
Tektonica @155: Thanks for the welcome! I've also been following the Malazan re-read, and have enjoyed your posts over there (everyone else's as well).
Tess Laird
160. thewindrose
forkroot - He brought trollocs to the Two Rivers.

He left Fal Dara with a group of darkfriends that he soon took over.

Had a nice little talk with Barthanes Damodred before leaving via the Cairhien Waygate.

He didn't have much luck with the Seanchen - (what would have happened if it had been Suroth instead of Turak one can wonder).

He stopped off at the Whte Tower - he knows Alviarin is Black Ajah and convinces her that he is a high level darkfriend(too bad there wasn't a conversation between Messana and Alviarin). He has followers waiting for him outside of the Tower and they head to Caemlyn. Some off these are the Whitecloaks, some are darkfriends and there are a few trollocs. In Caemlyn he is staying with Nan Belman, and it is in LoC that we find out he can sense if a person is a darkfriend.

I would say he has a proclivity for picking up darkfriends whenever he has a chance. Of course - we don't get to see him in action all that much, but dude is a darkfriend magnet!!!;)

Bridget McGovern
161. BMcGovern
forkroot@147: Well, thank you very much :)

And since I'm already in the thread,

Tektonica@158: Sorry about that--we're working with our developers on the problem of the shoutbox spam, but for now I've just blocked the account you mentioned and deleted the messages. For the record, if you click the "show all" option under your shoutbox, you should then have the option of deleting individual shouts, and if you shoot us an email at the webmaster address with the name of the spammer, we'll block them ASAP. I hope that helps!
Jay Dauro
162. J.Dauro

I do not believe Fain brought Trollocs to the TR. Fain's thoughts when Perrin defeats the Trollocs.
Even Isam had played into his hands. Why did the fool stop bringing Trollocs? He should have brought in enough to turn the Two Rivers black with them!
The Shadow Rising - 56
Roger Powell
163. forkroot
And the Darkfriends he picked up on his way out of Sheinar in tGH
I thought about them, but I decided they could hardly be called his entourage. First off, they were all supposedly following a Myrddraal (not Fain) and there was a multi-day power struggle about that. Later on, Fain used them for Trolloc food - so I wouldn't really call that an "entourage".

See above regarding Fal Dara, (and Trollocs are not Darkfriends.) With that said, if you are talking more about contacting (and occasionally working with) Darkfriends, then I am inclined to agree. I also went back and reread that Fain section in LoC (that you reference) where he muses about having some Darkfriends at his disposal. So you've made a good point about his frequent contact with them.

I remain unconvinced that Toram Riatin was a Darkfriend though. Fain influenced a lot of people (Niall, Elaida, etc.) that were not Darkfriends, and there's no indication in the text that Riatin was friend of the Dark.
164. Freelancer
bawambi @124,

Emily Litella, FTW!

Faculty Guy @127

Now that there was a good use of the phrase "so called".

Sanctume @137

Well, your comment is begging the question. If you believe that the "voice" in question is the dark one, your theory would seem valid. If, however, it is the one and only time in the story to date wherein the Creator speaks, then it is not valid. Using the theory as evidence for the argument has no weight.

AlanS7 @145

As a weapon, a mace bears little to no resemblance to a hammer. There are, however, purpose-designed war-hammers. The really nasty type, however, is the morning-star or holy water sprinkler.

BMcGovern @146

Well hey! New readers, revealed moderators, one thing after another on this thread.

forkroot @147

Unless you believe in redemption, which is the faith of that land, that no man can stand in the shadow so long that he cannot return to the Light. Ingtar most definitely redeemed himself before that fight, both by his words to Rand, and his decision to make that stand.

J.Dauro @162

Fain brought the Winternight trollocs.
165. neverspeakawordagain
@vegetathalas -- your story about the flowers has creeped me out so much I don't know if I'll be able to sleep at night. I never knew my father, and I don't have any kids (and never will), so the idea of a parent giving their kids flowers, in and of itself, is slightly creepy. If I had a daughter and was told she'd just had her first period, I'd probably put my hands over my ears and start singing "lalalala, I can't hear you," and pretend forever after that that conversation had never happened.

If I'd been in your shoes? Jesus; I'd have run three states away and changed my name. I don't know how you could live in the same house with a guy after he did something like that.
Jeff Schweer
166. JeffS.
Leigh and also
Macster @130 and others,

Leigh, keep pointing out these gender based dissonances. I don't always get them and appreciate the nudge that allows me to see a different view.

After reading through the comments and Macsters excellent discussion, I decided I was missing part of what Leigh was saying. I missed the wistful nature of her statements and while I was trying to say in my earlier post that that level of bond in a shared situation is not gender specific, I'm not sure I was clear enough and Macster said it better.

That being said, I still want to point out that I like these forays into our different viewpoints and how similar passages can evoke such different responses depending who you are.

Foe some reason, this discussion reminds me of Chapter 20 of KOD
"The Golden Crane"

He trembled. He did not know whether he was laughing or crying. Perhaps both. She was his wife? “I will send your message, my Lady, but it has nothing to do with me. I am a merchant. Malkier is dead. Dead, I tell you.”
The heat in her eyes seemed to intensify, and she gripped her long, thick braid with one hand. “Lan told me once that Malkier lives so long as one man wears the hadori in pledge that he will fight the Shadow, so long as one woman wears the ki’sain in pledge that she will send her sons to fight the Shadow. I wear the ki’sain, Master Aldragoran. My husband wears the hadori. So do you. Will Lan Mandragoran ride to the Last Battle alone?”
He was laughing, shaking with it. And yet, he could feel tears rolling down his cheeks. It was madness! Complete madness! But he could not help himself. “He will not, my Lady. I cannot stand surety for anyone else, but I swear to you under the Light and by my hope of rebirth and salvation, he will not ride alone.”

Nynaeve was the catalyst that reminded these men that they belong to something larger than themselves, reminded them who they are! She was definitely part of that bond and shared experience.
I may still not be saying this as well as I might but while I can empathize with Leigh's perception of the Tower of Heeth section, I hope that we all realize that it is not and should not be a default state. That this connectivity to a larger purpose is not exclusive.

We also see this in the beginning of TGS, "What the Storm Means." Whole families start to move, all suddenly understanding that the land is calling and it's time to head north. If anything this section is about inclusiveness.

I'll stop babbling to say that the books have a number of exclusive and inclusive themes. It takes a deft hand to bring them to the forefront and allow us to really work them out.

I am only an egg
Charles Gaston
167. parrothead
Heeth's Tower is one of the best scenes in this book, and one of the best in the series from a POV outside those of the main characters. Right alongside the one quoted directly above from KoD (thank you, JeffS!).

For those suggesting that motherhood is somehow the female equivalent to the Band of Brothers type thing we see here, I think they are missing a rather major point. Not to take anything away from mothers, but that is in some ways a mere quirk of biology, and one not always undertaken willingly; just ask Elayne. She wasn't looking to get pregnant, it just happened. Birgitte, the Maidens, Elayne's Guards, the Green Ajah (and to a certain extent, the Blue and Red), most Borderland women, they choose to take up arms. It's not like becoming a mother, which is something that is more or less thrust upon them (heh!...sorry.)

The one thing I would compare it to is (luckily I'm doing my own reread of Lord of Chaos at the moment) linking. The first time Nynaeve links to put down a bubble of evil, she is awestruck by the connection she feels. I just love the warm welcoming smile she gets from Ashmanaille. Now of course, I think the next time we see it, the link involves Windfinders, so blarg, and it's very much not a ladies only thing, but for three thousand years it pretty much has been.
John Massey
168. subwoofer
IIRC Fain bears a mark of some sort that identifies him as DO fodder. Darkfriends flock to him because they can see/smell/ are attracted to said mark. Couple that with the er... further addition of Mordeth's taint and Fain has the musky scent of evil rolling off him. Spanish fly for evil douche if you will. Fain picking up Darkfriends is natural, Fain feeding Darkfriends to Trollocs, not so much.

Edit- @parrothead- um... motherhood... proceed with caution here;)

Scientist, Father
169. Silvertip
Thanks Leigh!

@62 Freelancer: Well argued. You've convinced me. One fewer thing to keep me up nights.

@95 Andagil: I owe you a permanent debt for adding "cisgendered" to my vocabulary.

@Various folks complaining about Leigh's comments on gender politics: I've ranted on this before, so here's the short version. You are not reading a general review of these books. You are not reading the Cliffs Notes. In either case, you would have cause for complaint. But you are reading a blog. In fact, you are reading Leigh's blog. So if a relatively minor point of the chapter gets her started thinking about something and she spends a big proportion of her post on what she's thinking about, so what? It's her blog and she can rant if she wants to. Basically, what @73 forkroot said.

@Leigh: Keep 'em coming. Even when I don't agree you make me think. Which is a better way to pass the time than a Michael Bay ha----- any day.

@Faculty_Guy: Evolutionary psychology arguments are really easy to concoct as hypotheses and essentially impossible to test. They have a way of becoming just-so-stories with some sciencey window dressing. Some of them might be right; but it's really interesting to note how they almost always wind up supporting the cultural predispositions of the person making the argument. If there was such a thing as a Taliban evolutionary psychologist, I'm sure he could dream up a reason why the conditions under which our savannah ancestors lived explain how girls are really happier and more fulfilled if they never learn to read. And I couldn't prove or disprove that either.

170. andagil
Subwoofer @168: I believe you have it backward. It's Fain who can see what he descibes as a "sooty mark" (paraphrased) on Darkfriends; hence his ability to locate them and use for his own purposes.

Silvertip @169: Thanks for the compliment! It's nice to know that I can help enlighten, as well as be enlightened.
Jay Dauro
171. J.Dauro

I wasn't thinking of that time, because at that time Fain was a darkfriend, operating under strict instructions. As such, I would argue that he didn't "bring" the trollocs, in that it wasn't his idea or desire. He did what he was told.

He no longer listens to those orders.

And since his becoming Mordeth, I would say he uses darkfriends and regular people alike, as he feels the need.
172. Freelancer

True enough. However, this started with thewindrose @160 saying, "He brought trollocs to the Two Rivers.", which you then disputed. I'll bet she was referring to Winternight, hence my reply.
Roger Powell
173. forkroot
Unless you believe in redemption, which is the faith of that land, that no man can stand in the shadow so long that he cannot return to the Light. Ingtar most definitely redeemed himself before that fight, both by his words to Rand, and his decision to make that stand.
Well of course you know I'm having fun with this. But let's consider it a bit more.

No one disputes that Ingtar had had a change of heart. The salient question is: Was he no longer a Darkfriend?

Consider Verin, who certainly worked on behalf of the Light. Nevertheless, she took the oaths and she was Black Ajah. Since she never removed those oaths, she went to her grave as a member of the BA and a Darkfriend (technically speaking.)

Presumably Ingtar took some sort of oath when committing to the DO. Unlike Verin, he wasn't bound with an oath rod and he wouldn't need an oath rod to remove it. So the question becomes "Did he unswear his oath to the DO before perishing?" His actions may indeed have redeemed him (I hope so) - but we're looking at a technical definition here.

Since there's nothing in the text that specifically indicates he unswore his oaths, I think he was still technically a Darkfriend and hence qualifies for the 1:1 sword fight list.

Except ... Later Rand and Ishamael fight in the sky, with the fortunes of the Whitecloaks and the Heroes of the Horn advancing when Rand advances and the fortunes of the Seanchan advancing when Ishy has the upper hand. Thus it could be argued that the entire Seanchan contingent at Falme were "honorary Darkfriends" in which case we had better hope that Ingtar was no longer a Darkfriend (and then Turak would be an honorary Darkfriend, so Rand's fight with him counts.)

And of course this is all complete silliness - I'm just having a little fun with the concept. RobM's point that there were very few 1:1 sword fights involving Darkfriends is indeed true.
Roger Powell
174. forkroot
More about Fain - When I reread that passage in LoC, it did mention how his powers were mysteriously and somewhat inexplicably growing. So that certainly foreshadowed the powerful, insane creature we see in the ToM prologue. I still think it would have been useful to have had him pop up again after Far Madding (but before this), with a bit more creepy power to provide more continuity.

Oh well - He's plenty scary now. I admit though, that it would be pretty cool if he meets up with Shaidar Haran. I'd like to see what would happen to SuperFade and I bet it wouldn't be pretty. Heh, heh.
William Fettes
175. Wolfmage
In addition to the One Power-based binding rods, we know that the Dreadlords of the previous age made oaths specifically at the Pit of Doom. Arguably these involve some form of binding, possibly the TP.

There are also references in the series to rites in T’AR that can arguably bind non-channellers. And we know for a fact that Ishamael and possibly other Forsaken bring non-channelling darkfriends into T'AR.

Beyond that there are ‘other things’ mentioned besides mind traps that can only be done at the Pit of Doom.

We might also want to include Shaidar Haran’s mark on Alviarin.
176. Tallest of the Brown
Another lurker coming out for TOM. I waited until the 2nd post because of the awesomeness that is Heeth Tower.
This entire prologue is some of the best work that Brandon has done. Many of the ideas may have been in RJ's outline, but when the decision was made to publish 3 books Brandon put this part together brilliantly. One of the giant question marks at this point is what are a large part of the borderland armed forces doing in the south with all of their top leaders. While we find out later in this book, in the prologue we see that the borderlands are neither defenseless nor leaderless.
Malenarin and Keemlin show that many trained men still will stand and fight. They both know from the brief signal flash that war is upon them, yet their action is to make extra sure of the message getting through and to spread the tale of their sacrifice. We also see that all males 14 and up are trained swordsmen much like every Marine is a rifleman regardless of their specialty or current assignment. Given this, the number of reserve troops for the army are still great.
With all current leaders of the borderlands in the south, the highest ranking noble is the uncrowned King of Malkier who earlier in the prologue finally acknowledged his rights and authority. This society is begging for his leadership as Nyn knew that they would. From the prologue of tGS we know that the borderlanders all know what is coming. Lan and Galad accept the totallity of their leadership role in the prologue. Rand had done so at the end of tGS. The scene with Galad and especially at Heeth show what the consequences may be for everyone who does so. This prepares us for the later acceptance by Perrin and also the unusual fulfillment of Mat's role of bringing back heros from the dead when he rescues Moraine.
James Hogan
177. Sonofthunder
Been AWOL lately, but just posting to say that due to the awesomeness contained in these last few reread posts...I've decided it's time for me to do another re-read of ToM myself, even though I just read it a few months ago!!

Leigh, as a man, I don't come away from the text with the same feelings as you, and while at times I may roll my eyes...well, I just want to say I'm eternally grateful to you for giving me a perspective I don't(and wouldn't) normally consider. Just saying.

Also, I see it's been mentioned several times, but truly, Band of Brothers is one of the best shows I've ever seen. If any of you haven't seen it, please do.

And with that, I'm back to my coffee-drenched morning.
Tricia Irish
178. Tektonica
Andagil@159: Nice to have you aboard....speak up over on the Malazan read too! We need more posters. I am personally quite often intimidated by the "gurus" over there, but they don't bite when I ask dumb questions!

BMcGoven@161: Thank you for removing that mess! I'll experiment with the shoutbox and see if I can find the delete button. And how do I contact you at the webmaster address? I guess I need the address.
Bridget McGovern
179. BMcGovern
Freelancer@164: It's true--everyone's coming out the lurk-y woodwork this week. Fun :)

Tektonica@178: Happy to help! The webmaster address is webmastertor.com--you can also find it in the at the Contact Us link if you scroll down to the bottom of the page. (And sorry to interrupt the thread instead of replying via a shout, but I figure other people must be running into the same problem with shout spam!)
Tess Laird
180. thewindrose
Morning all...
As Freelancer intimated, I meant the Winternight trollocs.

forkroot - I think you are being pretty hard on the trollocs. You are showing a harsh judgement of trollocs becuase they don't fit your idea of what friendship consists of. Look at Narg, he wanted to become friends with Rand, and take him to a party. Very open minded;)

andagil at 156 - I agree that Niall and Elaida were not darkfriends and instead received the 'touch' of Fain that percipitated their following actions against Rand, and in Elaida's case, brought her megalomonia to the forefront.
I guess for Toram it is still up in the air - and he is dead anyways(Lan's the man) - but he did have traits that are prevalent amongst darkfriends.

Chin Bawambi
181. bawambi
Now that the discussion has mainly switched to Fain it is finally time for me to bring in a looney theory. Some gurus here have said that it is impossible for Fain to become new DO in series as the WoT moves forward. I have been thinking of this for many years since Fain's evil grows and morphs - since some of the parallels to Fain/Gollum have been made before what if RJ thought he would create a Gollum/Sauron hybrid... In JRRT lore Sauron is the evil replacement for Morgoth(Melkor).

Looney Theory then becomes Fain = Sauron so replaces DO = Morgoth and is sealed by new bore created by Rand to start new age. When DO's touch is removed Fain wound kills Rand.
182. Looking Glass
King of Flames @136: The one light-vs-dark swordfight I can think of where the darkfriend won convincingly is Rand vs Be’lal. That one was no contest; Rand only lived because Be’lal wanted him alive to unlock Callandor. Of course, Be’lal then immediately got toasted, but that had little if anything to do with the swordfight.

Overall, though, you do have a point- the important good guys really do have extremely effective plot armor, so Galad's faith might just be an accurate observation about the way the world works.

Well, works of late; it seems like the WoT histories have an ample helping of doomed last stands against the forces of darkness.
183. Freelancer
forkroot @173

Looking back over Ingtar's confessional with Rand, I don't get a sense that he made such a full commitment. His was a decision born of the weariness and futility of year upon year facing the shadow and gaining nothing. I would cite real world analogs, but somebody might be offended by too strong a truth. Yet Ingtar never had a heart for the dark, he simply allowed the appearance of momentum and advance by evil get the better of him at a weak time.

Likewise, Verin was never a darkfriend. She was hunting for information on the forces of evil, and a mistake put her in the conundrum of taking up with the bad guys or being destroyed. She accepted the probable condemnation to her soul, in trade for becoming the ultimate undercover agent for the Light.

The point is, neither was a person who desired the victory of the shadow. In the end, both served the Light with distinction.

Tektonica @178

To delete a shout, you need to select the "show all" option just atop the most recent shout entry. The part which is confusing if you are just looking at the righthand frame is that all of the shouts will then be presented in the main frame of the page, where your profile was. Under each is a link to "Remove Shout"
Alice Arneson
184. Wetlandernw
andagil @95 – Yay, another lurker emerges! Hey, and welcome to the bunker. Got some good Greek village salad in the refrigerator…

The_Duck_Is_Rising @102 – Hmm. I think both their personalities were pretty well set before they ever came to the WT, although a certain basic irrationality might be enhanced just for the fun of sowing chaos wherever possible. Not sure it makes sense to think of the Dark Prophecies mentioning the Andoran royal family; they aren’t in the Light prophecies, as far as I know. That said, there’s nothing to stop a BA Foretelling that they were important; it’s even faintly possible that Elaida mentioned her Foretelling to a BA somehow, though she’s confident she kept it to herself. If Mesaana somehow got it out of her, she’d have done what she could to mess with them, I’m sure.

birgit @104 – Glad you mentioned the bit about Fain’s interest in black and red. I noticed it the other day when I was rereading this section in preparation for the post, and it really made me wonder. I hadn’t thought about the similarity of the effect on the Trollocs to the effect on the Ways. Eww.

An extremely boring man @107 – Hey, there. You made me think of something… Way back when, I got really annoyed with some of what I saw as “pointless side plots,” to the point that I started just waiting until the book was readily available at the library before I bothered to read it. I’ve since come to the conclusion that they weren’t really as pointless as I’d thought; there were things being set up there that would bring about plausible rationale for other things that had to happen much, much later.

I was reading an interview with Harriet recently, and she shared something interesting about editing the first book. She was trying to get the word-count down, so she’d suggest cutting out something that seemed irrelevant; RJ would say it couldn’t possibly be cut out, because in book 2, or 4, or somewhere downstream, that was going to have to have happened here. She finally gave up on cutting out those things, and they spent a lot of time trying to take out a few words here and there instead.

Looking Glass @113 – Aha! You triggered what’s been lurking in the back of my mind re: Galad. IIRC, he didn’t necessarily expect (in his thoughts) to win against Valda because his cause was just. He just knew that challenging him was the right thing to do, so he did it. By the rules, following the appropriate formula, and all that, he fought for justice, without any assumption that he would win. He did, obviously, and it could be argued that the Light (or the Pattern) did indeed protect him, since the odds were against him, but he wasn’t presumptuous about it. He just did the right thing and let the chips (or the bodies) fall where they may. It’s an annoying habit of his, sometimes, but it’s also admirable in its way. I liked the little interchange between Galad and Trom:
"I'll admit, Damodred, I worried that you'd refuse leadership."
"I could not. To abandon the Children now, after killing their leader, would be wrong."
Trom smiled. "It's as simple as that to you, isn't it?"
"It should be as simple as that to anyone." Galad had to rise to the station he had been given. He had no other option.
In a way, I agree with Galad; it should be that simple. Just do the right thing. Unfortunately (or not), times are coming soon when the distinctions (!) between the right thing and the wrong one are a little harder to see clearly. The problem is not with right and wrong, it’s with the limitations on the human ability to see the implications of one’s actions; we lack the capacity to see even the full backstory, much less the future impact of the decisions we must make.

Which is why larger organizations can be good. To use the two most blazing examples: The Children of the Light started out as a good idea, a group of soldiers dedicated to the Light, overtly standing against the Shadow, with a set of directives that would help them make the best choices they could, and the protection of wise council against any one person’s rash judgement. The Aes Sedai started out as a good idea, with the goal of using their special gift in serving all people, with traditions and laws to govern them and protect against abuse of the great Power they held. Unfortunately, larger organizations can be really bad, too; in the hands of one set of poor or foolish leadership, a lot can be lost that is never regained. Over time, each organization has drifted from their first principles. Their laws, directives and traditions have sometimes changed to counter a specific incident, and the changes kept without noticing that the circumstances no longer require that particular quirk. They no longer understand why they do what they do, and so they hold to habit rather than the truth on which they were founded. They have each developed ingrown eyeballs – they now each consider their own group The Only True Bastion of Light, with everyone else either their enemies or their inferiors.

It’s interesting particularly in light of the new leaders of each organization. Galad and Egwene are alike in that neither is as steeped in the tradition of the group they lead as are most members of that group; they have a better chance to think outside the box. On the other hand, they each have a very real, personal reason to distrust the other group, which makes working together much more difficult. Over all, I think the CoL are a step ahead in this game; their leader is an odd combination of idealism and pragmatism, and he’s smart enough to see the bigger picture that most of the CoL would miss. The Last Battle is upon them, and their opponents will be using the OP. Lucky them, that this leader doesn’t believe that the OP is all Shadow. Looks like Galad got in place just in time. (Well, in a few more chapters, he will be.)

Okay, that went sideways… But it was fun.

Marita @132 – Another one bites the dust… Hi! Welcome! I’m making brownies for the bunker this afternoon.

vegetathalas @157 - Not quite sure how women are the cause of the fall. It was a male-female team that drilled the hole in the DO’s prison in the first place. Of the two, Mierin was already power-hungry and selfish, and therefore turned easily to the Shadow, while Beidomon eventually killed himself because he couldn’t live with the guilt. As for the taint, the flaw in the plan wasn’t the fault of the women; perhaps if they’d worked together someone might have caught it, but there’s no reason a woman would be more likely than a man to realize that it’s simply not safe to let the OP touch the DO directly. It was (IMO) a flaw that could be revealed only by trial.

Women are prominent on both sides: On Team Dark Lanfear is remembered more than Beidomon because she turned Forsaken while he died, but on Team Light, the women’s refusal to participate in the Strike kept one half of the OP from being tainted. Can you imagine what the Breaking would have been like if all the Aes Sedai went mad, instead of only the men? Oddly enough, thank the Light for Latra Posae Decume!

As for your father – is that really the reason he gave you roses, or merely the reason you bitterly ascribe to him?

Tallest of the Brown @176 – Good grief! Did you people all get together and have a little party, and decide to all come out at once?? What I really want to know is, how did you ALL find your way into that little tiny closet in the bunker? Welcome!

BMcGovern, did you have anything to do with that? I know you’ve been around here… ;)
185. skyhawk_a
Liegh....... I read your post and all the comments about 36 hours ago..... but refrained from commenting because i couldn't come up with words to convey my meaning the way i wanted to.
Talking about a society, which is in a constant fight for its existance, a women is considered a most priced "commodity". Its not due to some ill intent or any gender based discrimination, its just that once survival as a group comes at risk all the niceties are forgotten. That is the factor due to which killing of a woman is considered a bigger crime by many real world societies and religion and many characters (i.e Rand) in fictional word. Is it good? No of course not, But it is a fact of life and i think it is less cruel than 14 year old boys being forced to "man up" and fight to death.
On the other hand, even in mediviel times (closest we can get to the era shown in books) there were times when survival of society was at stake, women got to fight and even earned name not because they were a woman and a fighter but because they were good fighters. Period.
Jon of Arc is one character you must have known, but i have read historic accounts of "an all female army" in ancient china. There are iconic women like "Jhansi ki Rani' and "Razia Sultana' in subcontinent. Even in Arabia, a region currently under heavy critique from feminism movement for its gender discrimation laws you have "Nusaybah bint Ka’ab" and "Khawlah bint Al-Azwar".
I have links for articles regarding all of these ladies but due to one reason or another my browser leaves me unable to post them. So you would probably have to google it yourself, but there are some stories in real history that can compete with the best written scenes in fiction.
My point is that world at war is not a bed of roses for either gender, but at such times there emerge individuals who inspire and excite others. And there have been many of them from both genders.
BTW as english not my primary language there might be certain mis-interpatations and lots and lots of typos and spelling mistakes. Sorry for that
Bridget McGovern
187. BMcGovern
Freelancer @183 Thanks for the further clarification with the spam stuff--very helpful!

Wetlandernw @184 Well, it was getting awfully cramped in there... :)
Tricia Irish
188. Tektonica
Thank you, Free.....I appreciate the directions re: the shoutbox. I was, indeed, having trouble finding the delete button.
Skip Ives
189. Skip
I loved the prologue, the sense of motion building and moving toward resolution is palpable. The sword gifting was tone-on perfect, and like many other prologues past, used new characters to give the reader a wider view on the happenings in Randland.

I didn’t get the sense with Galad that he necessarily believed his own argument, but that he was performing a ritualized debate with Asunawa. I really think he expects things to work out more or less how they did. Galad is dogmatic, but not stupid; he can be pragmatic if he thinks it is the right thing to do. In this sense he is also the ideal foil for Perrin to resolve his issues with killing the Children of the Light. Galad will not give Perrin a pass because of his position, worth, or army; but he is also the only Child likely to give him a fair hearing (via his step-mom). I don’t think Perrin would have been able to resolve as many of his emo-demons without feeling he had paid his debt on that account.

On the voice thing – I always assumed it was the Creator, but I really don’t care who it was. I figure we will learn more about the fabric of the WOT universe in the next book, so I am happy to RAFO here.

On the heroes are the 1% thing – Well this is supposed to be the “true” story of legends that pass through the ages. You don’t tell epic stories of Barry, the really good farmer. The stories are about the people that shook the world, complaining about it misses the point of the entire series.

On Leigh being Leigh – As others have said, I read these posts because I enjoy Leigh’s writing. If you haven’t noticed in the three plus years she’s been doing the re-read (or the 15 years she’s been writing about WOT) she has a definite Point-of-View ™. So when she states her opinion on something you can agree or disagree and discuss it all to death; but when she explains her feelings on reading a chapter there is no room for discussion (because they are her feelings and all).
190. Taryntula
This was probably my favorite part of the ToM prologue. Borderlander honor and valor FTW!

Just as ide note...I believe that maybe either the general perception of Christianity in America or the ignorance of some religious types have made the misconception that Christian's believe that praying to God will save you from a hurricane, cancer, or just a bad case of the flu. This is not so, nor is it Biblical. I also think that the comparison of the Children of the Light to mainstream Christianity is not fair, especially since they more mirror the Catholic/Spanish Inquisition.

Just throwing it out there because I have a real problem with this issue in particular. Christians don't (or shouldn't) become so because they think God is a magic genie. If you are a Christian, you believe in the Bible, and the Bible neither says, nor implies, that God keeps any council but his own.
Roger Powell
191. forkroot
forkroot - I think you are being pretty hard on the trollocs. You are showing a harsh judgement of trollocs becuase they don't fit your idea of what friendship consists of. Look at Narg, he wanted to become friends with Rand, and take him to a party. Very open minded;)
Yeah, poor Narg. We barely got to know him before his accidental skewering. It's somewhat curious that in the first 50 pages of a 14 book mega-story we meet the only named Trolloc in the entire series.

This, IMO, represents a clear failure by BWS and RJ to let us see the other side of the story (so to speak.) Where's the fair and balanced coverage? We never get any Trolloc POVs and only one Fade POV that I know of. What about the hopes and dreams of the average Trolloc?

I attempted to balance this, in my small way, by relating the story of Fraasti. But he was a Myrddraal. Someone else definitely needs to do a fanfic piece on a nice sympathetic Trolloc, to balance out the one-sided coverage done by RJ and BWS.

Mansplaining: Know what it is. Professor of it actually. Which is the reason for the smile! And yes, I love to as much as you love to see male driven oppression at every twitch of your eye. My character flaw is if I feel I'm being wronged then I defend myself. I will also defend manhood the same as you would womanhood when my brethren are being looked upon unjust.

That was not what went on in your comments. Your comments were one of mild dissent and wonderment and a not quite fleshed out emotion about a gender biased ritual. I'm down with that. What I was simply saying is that rituals change over time. Once everything leaned towards womanhood. Woman had all the advantages and men killed themselves and threw their lives away over the whims of a Matriarch. Somewhere it changed. And women were brutallized.

But now we're coming around. Slowly. You can see the horizon now, when before there were just murky clouds. Sorta like being Black in America. But I find it offensive and always have, that some women believe that we men don't have a right to defend ourselves when unjustly maligned. When you say the things you do, I at least, realize an underlying intent. It's like an accusation of all man (male)-kind. And for the most part its justified. But sometimes it isn't.

I did not know that as the terms of aggreement of participation in this forum, that we must all prostate ourselves in agreement with your opinion.

The funny thing was, is that I agreed with you. I had my daughter sitting with me when I read your post and used it as an explanation of the effect of any kind of oppression and the anger that arises from it. I then told her about those times when things weren't always so male dominated. I even got a couple of books down for her to read, as I figured her intellect was ready for such heady subject matter. She's very happy go lucky, you see. And then be mortified by your reaction to my comments. Mansplaining. Huh. You know that's just as deragotory as say... you know I'm not gonna go there.

Uterus: Uhhhh...... now your putting words in my mouth. Was it the Breed mare thing? You know that was almost a word for word quote, in the same context, from one Naomi Wolf. It was heard at a lecture I attended with a love interest. Its why it popped in my head. You remind me her for some reason. She was Kool! Seriously, very Kool! ......the love interest? Very..... Cool.

What was the other thing? Oh yeah.... Wasn't telling you what you should do or think or whatever Leigh, so much as trying to convey to you, that if what I did I had to do again knowing what I know now; having to do the things I have done and see the things I have seen......

I'd be wishing someone would tell me not to do it. I'd be wishing some one would scream at me, "WTF are you doing!!!!"

I'm sorry if that offends you.

Or anyone else.


Goodbye! I'll dream alone it seems.
Alice Arneson
193. Wetlandernw
I’ve debated for two days now about whether or not to comment on the comments on Leigh’s comments on the rite of manhood… I guess if y’all see this, you’ll know I decided to comment!

First thing to note is that I didn’t even see a rant in Leigh’s comments. As many of you know, I’ve been less than appreciative of Leigh’s uncanny ability to find – and rant on – certain perceived discriminations in WoT; mostly, I think, because when I disagree with them, on a totally personal level I get tired of hearing the same thing rehashed. Not that she doesn’t have a right to rehash them as much as she wants, but I figure I’ve got a right to point out that I find it stale, too. But we’ve been there and back again, and I’d still love to buy her a drink at JordanCon… And some of you could say the same thing about my comments on Cadsuane, I’m sure!

Anyway, I figure that as a woman who disagrees with much of Leigh’s feminist slant, I’m more likely than some to notice a rant, and all I saw here was an admittedly wistful observation that “this is a very deeply emotional scene, and it’s not something I can ever be part of.”

It’s a valid observation; historically, many or most cultures have had some kind of manly rite of passage, but we know of very few similar rites for women. Maybe at heart, men are more fond of ritual than women. Actually, I’ve sometimes wondered if those rituals are simply a formalized way of acknowledging that a boy has reached the point where testosterone poisoning overcomes his sense of self-preservation, and he is now foolish enough to go do something supremely dangerous just to prove he’s a man…

Still, there it is. Some things you just don’t get to do, whether because of your own choices, your ancestors’ choices, or the simple facts of your birth. In a world like WoT, if you’re near-sighted, you’ll never be a great archer. If you’re asthmatic, you’ll never make an infantryman. If you don’t have the gene, you’ll never learn to channel. If you’re a girl, you’ll never become a man. Is it “fair”? Maybe not, but who ever said life was fair? And who are we to decide what’s “fair” anyway? We just don’t know enough.

So I can look wistfully at the Kandori rite of manhood, just as I look wistfully at the women passing their Aes Sedai testing. I can’t do either one, but I can still appreciate the sense of belonging to something bigger than myself, and the bond that it creates among those chosen few who are granted the (sometimes questionable) privilege of joining that special group, and part of me can still be sad that I’ll never be able to.

Hey, I’m sad that I can never go to Narnia, too.
I think that is the most beautiful thing ever.


You are a child, And you love all things Disney.
You Believe!
And you sooooo want to go where they are.
Your Mommy and Daddy say you get to go there for your birthday.

Glee! Exaltation! Hope! A Happy-ness so powerful that it transcends every fiber of your being.... a Joy that threatens to burst from your chest.

And then you are there.
And you cry.

Dream fulfilled.


Teresa Nielsen Hayden
195. tnh
Zexxes @192, how does it make you feel to be told that you have "your place" in the world? Ditto, when "evolutionary history" is used to justify it?
Matt Spencer
196. MisunderstoodMe
Wetlandernw, I haven't done the research to compare this with 'real life' - but it strikes me that WOT examples of a woman's rite of passage probably aren't too far out of left field. Egwene getting to braid her hair was similar to a Kandori boy getting his nameday sword. The base significance of becoming an adult is there in both cases.

One current day example that comes to mind is purity rings - I believe its mostly gals that end up getting them - which may be sexist, but is at least a ritual of sorts.

In other news, I totally identify with the wistfulness thing that Leigh's talking about - it doesn't really strike me as very feminist even. Magic, or spacefaring, or the brothership from armed combat - they are all for the most part out of reach of the average person. I suppose the feminist relevant part is that women are almost entirely excluded from that brotherhood just by nature of their being women - but that seems to be a fairly natural extension of the wistfulness. If I as a man read something like that then my thoughts go "I could have, but I didn't" - but as a woman my thoughts would probably go along with Leighs - "I didn't, and I couldn't". Frankly, if I had a feminist bent like Leigh does, I doubt my reaction would be as mild as hers was in this post. -shrug-.
197. Faculty Guy
tnh@138 and Silvertip@169: You are both correct, or at least mostly correct, and the analogy of Wilson and Freud is appropriate. I would certainly not call Wilson's use of evolutionary theory to explain already-known data a scientific "theory" for exactly the reason you both point out: it is pretty much non-falsifiable. Still, there must be SOME reason that things are the way they are, and Wilson's use of natural selection is intriguing.

Actually, evolutionary theory in its entirety (biological as well as behavioral) is a little shakey for the same reason: essentially ANYTHING one finds in nature can be "explained" using it. It is difficult to imagine an experiment or observation that would "falsify" natural selection! (To any religious fundamentalists in the audience: this most definitely does NOT mean biologists are going to return to the "Genesis theory" - which is just as unfalsifiable and fails to explain a fraction of one percent of biological data.)

So far as Wilson and using evolutionary biology to get insight into the origin of human behavior and societal customs, it is a useful thought stimulant and furthermore points to PERHAPS a future when "human nature" will be different, since the environmental stresses that led to past/present behaviors and customs may vanish. In this sense, then, the "explanation" is not offered as a justification of present practices so much as a ray of hope for a different future.
Daryl Strickler
198. Seacaptain13
Whatever Leigh wants to write go ahead. You have continuously opened my eyes to some things I can never understand. I do not know what it is like to be denied something that is important because of my race or gender. But because of you I know that reading about gender inequality has made me a better person. I have said before that these blogs and comments are made up of people of legend and I still believe it (Deny it if you want Woof, you sound like EMO Perrin when you do :) ) but these discussions are some of the best on the internet. Not only from a fanboy of the WoT but the life lessons I have learned have near incalculable value. Thank everyone for their insights and keep them coming.

PS - My vocab and ability to express myself has increased dramatically as well, when I send e-mails/memos at work over the past year of doing the rereads people have noticed how much better they are and ask me if I took a course. I just tell them to read the WoT rereads and comments on tor.com. They look at me like huh?
Eric Hughes
199. CireNaes
(To any religious fundamentalists in the audience: this most definitely does NOT mean biologists are going to return to the "Genesis theory" - which is just as unfalsifiable and fails to explain a fraction of one percent of biological data.)
Aw-shucks :::snaps fingers and shuffles off to the bunker:::
197. Faculty Guy
So far as Wilson and using evolutionary biology to get insight into the origin of human behavior and societal customs, it is a useful thought stimulant and furthermore points to PERHAPS a future when "human nature" will be different, since the environmental stresses that led to past/present behaviors and customs may vanish. In this sense, then, the "explanation" is not offered as a justification of present practices so much as a ray of hope for a different future.

Oh darn, I did it again... I feel bad too! 'cus I'm not going to be here much longer.

I literaly just got back from my sons bus stop. I came in read what was written and was like "Exactly...absolutely!" And tippiti tappity tipped some words down. Post. Then I said, "I wonder who going to win the hunny?".

Scrolled on down and... "Well would you look at that!"

Eric Hughes
202. CireNaes
Since this thread has offically jumped the shark into evolutionary mansplaining, allow me to familiarize the unfamiliar with the Hebrew poetry presented in the Pentateuch creation account. I will put out the general disclaimer that I would be described as Reformed in my tennants while holding to concursive permissibility. I know, I know, I'm such a rebel.

The creative 'days' in Gen. 1:3-31 are structured in a forming then filling motif. The story unfolds in a 6 + 1 climactic sequence that is also a 3 + 3 + 1 sequence. It outlines the creation of particular regions and then the creation of the inhabitants of those regions through the two PARALLEL stages.

The 'forming' of the regions are found in versus 3, 7, 9, and 11. The Parallel accounts of 'filling' are found in versus 14, 21, 24, 26, and 30. So it goes like this...vs. 3=14, vs. 7=21, and vss. 9 and 11=24, 26 (here is the three time use of ??? (bara) is used to emphasize man as the climax of creation) and 30.

Now assigning the original Masoretic text verse numbers have complicated things for quite some time since a skeptic will look at the Biblical account and cry foul. In the Hebrew it is much easier to see the correlating structure expressed in the linguistic beauty of the poetic account. It is also easy to see that it does not necessarily disregard possible scientific observations for creation. However, it does not easily affirm them either.

From a hermeneutics perspective here is what can be done with the passage.

1. The Hebrew God is not part of the universe or vice versa. This is meant to directly contrast Ancient Near Eastern creation accounts (e.g. pantheism).

2. God speaks and then it happens. Again, this is a direct contrast to ANE creation accounts (e.g. Attum laying an egg or masturbating or one god killing another to fill the chaos).

3. God creates order and pronounces the order to be good. This is in direct contrast to ANE creation accounts (e.g. the chaos motif found in all the other accounts).

4. Man is created in God's image (possess similar characteristics to the divine such as the ability to make decisions and be in charge). This is in direct contrast to ANE creation accounts (e.g. mankind created because the gods were feeling lazy).

Notice a theme here? This passage is designed to directly combat creation accounts of its time (e.g. the Akkadian Enuma Elish and the Atrahasis that the Enuma Elish is based upon) and their Monophysite claims.

So now there are a few options for us bible thumpers who still speak at the Stump and open the Book of Translation.

1. Myth: Only a chaos motif. Popular among liberal theologians and atheists alike. Not my cup of tea as this is clearly not a chaos motif and has far more differences than similarities to other ANE accounts of its time.

2. Theistic Evolution: God created, but the dynamics are through the evolutionary process. Basically deist, but can be more clock maker in process, which leads to a rather impersonal God, which in turn is not correlated by the rest of Scripture. Trying to match this to the cosmological mythology (any theory of creation) of today is hard when the model keeps changing. I suppose this holds some credence since it can provide an answer to the complication of current speculations and observations on the age of the universe, but I think there are better options out there.

3. Gap Theory: Found in the Schofield Reference Bible. Proposed there was a gap of time in-between verse one and two in which the fossil record fits. Essentially taking Genesis 1:2 as a re-creation and trying to account for the fossil record. Exegetically with the Hebrew, it is a syntactic impossibility that there is a gap between verses 1 and 2. Bummer huh?

4. Day Age: The days of creation are the climax of the geological record because the days of YWYH are like a 1,000 when compared to the days of man. It is a lexical possibility, but you do not define words by ordinals or cardinals, but by context. Day then night makes the impetus of proof more on those proposing this theory than on those refuting it. How the Bible handles numbers is a tricky business as some numbers directly denote concepts of blessing or are used purely to designate units or elements of people groups with no correlation to their literal numerical makeup. In other words, Biblical scholars in both camps will be arguing about this one for a long time...

5. Apparent Age: Popular with the creation research society. God created the world with apparent age. Adam created as a fully-grown man, but was only one year old. Full grown trees that were only one day old. I find this to be a little ridiculous myself, but to each their own.

6. Historical Literary: Understand what it is trying to say to its original readers. Concerned with the theological truth that is there. Written in Hebrew in a different culture embedded in the larger ANE culture. It was meant to address what the Canaanites’ believed and refute it. This would be the easiest and most logical interpretation and application of the text.

In other words, give the Bible its due. It is a complex work, which is why it is so widely studied by liberal and conservative literary scholars alike.

I've thought about doing a little posting about the gender dynamics based off of Sue and Sue's Multicultural Counseling framework of what constitutes personal identity, but I think I've bored everyone here enough for the day.
Alice Arneson
205. Wetlandernw
Hey, wow, two walls-o-text and a graphic all in a row, and all of which I enjoyed! Didn't necessarily agree with every single word, but there's a great deal of truth there...
206. Faculty Guy
CireNaes@202: You and I are on the same page, I think. I certainly did not mean to include all religious believers in the "fundamentalist" category, and obviously not you. FYI: I teach physics mostly but am an ordained elder in the Presbyterian (USA) denomination. This is the denomination that, one year ago, finally voted to allow individual congregations to ordain LGBT clergy (my spouse is a clergywoman who has long been a local leader in pushing for this vote).

The Hebrew bible/Christian NT has been a source of most of the values that are currently considered "western." It is an integral part of our cultural heritage and a source of wisdom. But it can, of course, be mis-used (as can science or almost anything else). Your extremely sophisticated understanding of the ancient writing needs to be shared with the "person in the pew." It (the Bible) should be taught and analyzed in schools along with Plato, Homer and other classic texts. But not, of course, presented as science (which did not exist prior to about 1600 CE).

If I am hard on religious fundamentalists, please be assured that I am equally hard on positivist scientists who expound on religion, about which they know little, attempting to mis-use the current popularity and "authority" of science to support statements that are blatantly statements of faith.

I believe that Robert Jordan, whose undergraduate major was physics, was refreshingly and amazingly sophisticated in his depiction of the "religious" culture in his WOT writing - it is one of the (many) reasons I admire his story. I am proud of him as a product of a science education.
195. tnh

It probably sucks. It sucked for me to find out that certain races of Homo Sapien think I am less than them and should be pleased with my lot they have given us and if I didn't like it, I should move back to Afrika.

I don't think anyone, anywhere should be told what they can and can't do.

One should only be limited by ones self, there sense of self, and there sense of right and wrong.

Maybe in hindsight I Worded things incorrectly. Maybe I should have said "I ask that you not" instead of "Do not". I am generaly not so gentle in my speech. Another character flaw if you will. But no offense was meant. No intent to tell Leigh what she should or shouldn't do or think or any such, was meant to be implied. It was a plea to every woman on earth to please, please, please..... wish for something else.

Unless of course it's your dream.

In which case, go for it! And let none stand in your way.

Kimani Rogers
208. KiManiak


I thought Zexxes@90 and then Leigh@134 stirred the pot. But you, sir, have gone into overdrive in pot-stirring.

Should lead to some interesting posts to read…

Edit: CireNaes@204 - Ha! Thanks for that! Had me cracking up!
@204. CireNaes

I'm which yah! He may have just saved me. Then again...

I was like: :/
and then I was like :|
and then I was like :\
and then I was like :o

210. CorDarei
To oversimplify what Hawkido said...

Women seem to always want to join the "men's club" while men have never wanted to join the "women's club" :P

:runs away:
211. IrritatedWithThread
CirNaes @202: "but I think I've bored everyone here enough for the day". How true!

CirNaes @204: Pretty damn funny!
Rob Munnelly
212. RobMRobM
There are several counter-examples of men joining women-exclusive clubs. Several have occurred in high school sports. For example, boys have attempted to (and in some cases have been allowed to) play on girl field hockey teams. In Massachusetts, where some schools have girls only swim teams, boys have successfully joined and officials recently have been struggling with the problem of a boy setting a state record in a girls sporting event. In other arenas, I've heard of men seeking to join theretofore female only knitting and crocheting groups and book clubs. I've also seen some excellent male secretaries in my time working in offices. I don't see this as a one way street where it is only women that seek to cross historic gender lines.
Eric Hughes
213. CireNaes
CireNaes@202: You and I are on the same page, I think.
Thanks for your disclosure. And in the spirit of that disclosure I will let you know that I do consider myself a traditional fundamentalist in that I believe in the 5 tennants of Christianity proposed by that early movement (inerrancy in the origional manuscripts, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, physical resurrection, and the miracles of Christ). My endorsing denomination would pull my ordination in a heartbeat if I did not, which would end not only my military career, but my ministerial one as well. So we are not as close as you might have initially thought. LOL! If I were to draw a parallel that you may be denominationally familiar with, I would attend a PCA church, but not a PCUSA church (that is if I were a Presbyterian, like a good portion of my friends are constantly campaigning for me to become).

However, I do enjoy a good dialogue over just about any topic, so keep it coming. The term fundamentalist has taken on a knee jerk reactional meaning in society today that admittedly pains me. Some of it earned, some of it not. I would liken my temperment more to a modern day Charles Hodge or perhaps a B. B. Warfield (when it comes to engaging with science that is). I don't push the big red panic button when I read science journals and run about the house with my fingers in my ears. I reserve that for way more emotionally driven topics like whether or not Han shot first and the existence of midichlorians. Although I do find it fascinating that Physicists and Evolutionary Biologists seem to be the most at odds in my very subjective experience with both camps. Anyone care to explain that one to me?

I'm a tad dyslexic, but still managed to get through AP Physics in high school. Thank you for your educational service. If I hadn't been called to a ministry that required me to get an MDiv, I would have gotten my MA and PhD in Church History to teach at a college level instead. I'm still fairly young, Maybe one day when my kids are out of the house.


Ah, but am I as boring as Lanfear and Beidomon? :::Budum Chissssss:::
214. CorDarei
c'mon RobMx2, you're raining cold hard truth up in here.
Valentin M
215. ValMar
With all this talk of men and women I thought of sharing something I heard just now.
A man in the USA mistook his wife for a wild hog (!) and shot her... "Erm... sorry love, didn't mean to fill your ass with lead, I just mistook you for a hairy pig... We good now?" This will be one chilly household for a while :D
Eric Hughes
216. CireNaes

I don't know man, you've been courting Asne's balefire rod a bit much of late.


Allow me to explain, it was a facepalm about spraying more lighter fluid on an already raging bonfire. Not about you personally. I apologize if it came off as a bit harsh.
John Massey
217. subwoofer
@Hawkido- that's right- go for it:D

Don't just poke the bear with a short stick, walk right up and give her a nipple-twister;)

@Cirenaes202. Heh. Rebel.

@and170. There is a very good chance I have it backwards... and perhaps upside down. I was just going over some latter chapters in tEotW when Fain was caught scaling the walls of Fal Dara. At that point he was outted as a Darkfriend and I think they have a way of connecting. I am not saying that Fain is just a Darkfriend, but I think they are given a special decoder ring and a funny masonic-type walk. Fain stinks of evil, much the way that Mat stinks of evil and had Darkfriends sniffing around in that book because of the Dagger.

John Massey
218. subwoofer
Going to go shop for curtains now...

John Massey
219. subwoofer

220. Nick S.
@sub 219

Wow, you got that right. Good call
221. neverspeakawordagain
@Skip, 189: I don't like getting into this at all, because my whole point is that it doesn't matter. But...

The world of Wheel of Time is one in which the vast majority of the people live at a subsistance level or lower, in order to accumulate wealth for a very small class of hereditary nobility. Just about the only chance you have of breaking into that hereditary nobility is if you're born with the mutant gene that gives you magic powers (and/or ta'verenness, but that's essentially the same thing). Other than the whole weirdness of slaves gaining power in Seanchan, you can literally count on one hand the number of people in Randland who've managed to raise themselves from commoners to positions of prominence without the One Power -- Rodel Ituralde, arguably Tam al'Thor (though he really had very little prominence as an Illianer officer; everything else came through Rand and Perrin)... that's pretty much it. Maybe a handful of minor military officers.

In the world of the Wheel of Time, you get gold stars in your "how to treat poor people" meter for doing things like opposing chattel slavery, arguing that nobility shouldn't be allowed to murder commoners at will, or trying to prevent people from starving. To my recollection, there's been a grand total of one time in the entirety of the Wheel of Time series when any mention was made about anybody trying to improve the economic condition of commoners past the level of subsistence -- when Faile was holding court in the beginning of Lord of Chaos, and would lend money to people looking to start new businesses. Of course, from her POV it was obvious that her main intention there was to raise tax revenues, not raise societal economic standards. The heroes of the story are all -- without exception -- beneficiaries of the economic pyramid that dominates Randland.

Now, as I said before, I'm a dyed in the wool socialist. In my world view, the economic and societal system of Randland is basically complete anathema. If this series were designed as a fictional polemic trying to promote this particular economic worldview, I would probably find the series to be one of the most loathesome things I've ever read.

However, it's not. It's a fictional universe, and it's clear to the point of being indisputable that Team Jordan has created this world as a pure form of entertainment, without the intent of swaying the readers' opinions on any real-world issues one way or the other, and the authors' opinions about what constitutes morally proper or improper viewpoints are blessedly absent from the entire series (other than, you know, relatively uncontroversial ideas such as "torture is bad"). As such, my own thoughts about what constitutes proper or acceptable socio-economic structures get left at the front door when I start to read, and my own moral or ethical viewpoints are completely set aside in favor of just relaxing and enjoying.

To be honest, the fact that the economic structure of Randland is diametrically opposed to my own worldview had never even occured to me until this comment thread, when I was trying to think up a parallel to Leigh's commentary. And the next time I do a re-read of the series, I'll continue to completely ignore it, because this isn't a work of propaganda -- it's a word of purely entertainment-oriented fiction.
Alice Arneson
222. Wetlandernw
Re: hawkido @203 - Okay, so it wasn't very delicately phrased, but there's a lot of uncomfortable truth there. There wouldn't be so much problem with the girls wanting in on the guys thing if they didn't insist on special considerations too.

Yes, Rob, there's a reason we have separate categories for men's and women's athletic events, and it's simple reality. Same reason that they clock the men and women separately in marathons; otherwise, you'd never get to see a woman's name in association with any of the big ones.

I don't have a problem with a girl who's good at math and science deciding to become an engineer if she wants. (Obviously, I did it.) And I do have a problem with anyone who tells her she shouldn't try to enter such a male-dominated career because she won't be able to compete. On the other hand, I also have a problem with anyone who tells her that since she has the ability, she really must become an engineer (to show up all those men who think she can't/shouldn't), if that's not what she really enjoys.

It's the guilt trip that bugs me, but it probably goes both ways. In Kandor, it's not too much of an issue, because the guard the Blight and mostly fight Trollocs, and who can argue with that? But what about the Aiel kid (for the last 2000 years) who just likes to grow things and doesn't want to learn to kill people? Unless he wants to be a blacksmith, he's not going to gain a lot of respect among his people - and worse, his peers - without doing the warrior thing. How many Aiel boys become warriors because they see it as the only respectable vocation?

I think that IRL there is valid reason for most of the "male-dominated career" business, and a relatively small percentage has to do with deliberate discrimination. OTOH... I clearly recall being extrememly peeved with the guy who wouldn't let me have a job shearing trees one summer because "girls just don't last in this job." Maybe they don't, in general, but if I spent the first half of my summer bucking hay bales with my brothers, why would I be too wimpy to swing a machete for the second half?
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
223. tnh
Can we please return to discussing whatever we're discussing in terms of the book? Because otherwise, what we have here is an escalating discussion of gender essentialism. It will not enlighten us. It will not make us happy. Been there, done that, not a good place.
224. Freelancer
My parents taught me, and I teach my children, that unless a specific situation requires it in an unavoidable way, any person you are dealing with is a person. Identifying them in any way not directly applicable to the context of the contact is unnecessary and erroneous behavior.

If, while you are discussing work, you find it important to be thinking that you are talking to a (insert gender), or a (insert ethnicity), or a (insert political party), or a (insert any grouping selection not significant to work), then you are damaging the conversation without even knowing it.

Of course, in a completely contrary bit of training, I was also taught to open doors for, stand for, and walk on the traffic side of, ladies.


One question. Who should be responsible for the economic condition of an individual? Answer in terms of WoT or real life, as you wish.
John Massey
225. subwoofer
@221- bwah?

I always thought that WoT was about the good guys fighting the baddies with sword and sorcery... those dang Aes Sedai mucked up again, didn't they?

226. neverspeakawordagain
@Freelancer, 224: I hesitate to answer in terms of WoT, because it's Robert Jordan's world, not my world. In his world, he can set things up however he chooses, and it's not for me to say what should or shouldn't be done.

But if you're asking for my personal opinion, then the answer would of course be "society." No person is wealthy solely by their own means -- Mark Zuckerberg never could have become a billionaire if the US Department of Defense hadn't funded development of ENIAC and ARPANET. No person is in poverty solely by their own means -- the decisions that a person takes in life, which might lead them to a life of poverty, are largely the result of that person's upbringing and surroundings, which they can hardly be blamed for.

I'm not really a big believer in individualism -- last time I checked, very few of us lived on deserted islands unencumbered by contact with society. We're all a family of humanity, and one person in need should be a sadness to all people everywhere.

WoT is pretty diametrically opposed to my socio-economic worldview. But, as I said, in my 15 (16?) years of reading WoT, that had never occured to me until this comment thread, because who thinks about real-world stuff when they're reading a fantasy series?
Rowland Hills
227. TickTockTick
I have a horrible feeling that this thread is going to get locked soon, so I'm just going to say that I really enjoyed this part of the prologue and that I enjoyed Leigh's commentary on it, and as with earlier comments, find that I have yet to find a chapter summary which isn't interesting and doesn't provoke new thoughts, so thanks again for the excellent job Leigh!
228. Freelancer

I don't think we're in danger of that. The tenor of the discussions is not highly emotional, and while some of the subject matter is controversial, it still remains that Leigh in her post commentary introduced those issues, making them fair game for further discussion. The mods are doing a lovely job of kicking the ball back into the regulation field of play when it crosses the foul line, and only one or two players are risking a red card. And ultimately, Robert Jordan's work was meant to do much more than entertain; he was happy to know that conversations existed about the cultural characterizations he brought, and how those related to the world in which we live.


One question. How should society take responsibility for the economic condition of an individual?
229. Wortmauer
neverspeakawordagain@226: WoT is pretty diametrically opposed to my socio-economic worldview. But, as I said, in my 15 (16?) years of reading WoT, that had never occured to me until this comment thread, because who thinks about real-world stuff when they're reading a fantasy series?
Very interesting. See, comments like this are why I come back to this reread. In that spirit, I would very much appreciate hearing your reaction to the following passage:
Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, Masema was suddenly cold. "You wear too much gold. Do not let earthly possession seduce you. Gold is dross. The Lord Dragon is all."

Immediately she began plucking rings from her fingers, and before the second was off, the weedy fellow scurried to her side, pulling a pouch from his coat pocket and holding it for her to drop them in. The bracelet and necklace followed as well.

Nynaeve looked at Uno and raised an eyebrow.

"Every penny goes to the poor," he told her in a low voice that barely reached her ear, "or somebody else who needs it. If some merchant hadn't bloody given him her house, he'd be in a bloody stable, or one of those huts outside the city."

"Even his food comes as a gift," Ragan said just as quietly. "They used to bring him dishes fit for a king, until they learned he just gave away everything but a little bread, and soup or stew. He hardly drinks wine, now."

Nynaeve shook her head. She supposed it was one way to find money for the poor. Simply rob anyone who was not poor. Of course, that would just make everyone poor in the end, but it might work for a time. She wondered if Ragan and Uno knew the whole of it. People who claimed they were collecting money to help others often had a way of letting a good bit stick in their own pockets, or else they liked the power that spreading it about gave them, liked it far too much. She had better feeling for the man who freely gave one copper from his own purse than for the fellow who wrested a gold crown from someone else's.

— TFOH, Ch. 39, "Encounters in Samara"

What jars me about this passage is the part I bolded there. It seems a bit anachronistic. The theory that achieving economic equality through progressive taxation will "make everyone poor in the end" is not something I would think Nynaeve had ever thought about. She's not even an armchair economist. She grew up in a region that didn't even seem to have a concept of taxes (until Perrin becomes their lord, or more precisely, until Faile becomes their lady).

Anyway it made me cringe a little for the anachronism (and it felt a bit Mary Sue, a little like Tom Clancy's soap-boxing, though not nearly so bald). I just have to imagine it would make a "dyed in the wool socialist" cringe a lot more, Masema being such a caricature of a socialist, a straw-prophet if you will.

But I suppose if you're immersed enough in the story, you can overlook these things even if, as straight commentary, they would make you cringe. Eh?
William Fettes
230. Wolfmage

Yeah, that's not progressive taxation in any meaningful or neutral sense. Progressive taxation refers to taxation based on the principle that the tax rate increases with the aggregate amount taxable. It is called "progressive" because the burden of the tax is set according to ability to pay. It is contrasted to so-called "regressive" taxes which are set indifferently to ability to pay - ie. consumption taxes which tend to hit the poor harder because most of their disposal income is spent on immediate consumption.

The quote above is just a confiscatory regime, imposed by a cult-like sect of militants, backed by the threat of violence and cultural sanction. It is way too ad hoc to be called progressive taxation. Even if we liken the Prophet to a government, which is dubious, the rate is entirely arbitrary. He just takes what he sees you wearing. You might stench that to say the rich bear the burden but I think it's drawing a long bow because there's no middle ground at all - just abstemious poverty or wealthy for the taking. Accordingly, it's binary not progressive and so I don't think Nynaeve's intuitive judgement is unlikely. It is commonsense that this is just a kind of robbery.

The Two Rivers are an interesting case, however, because they haven't seen a federal (read Andorian) tax collector in years. So, there would be an obvious cultural disconnect in recognising the benefits of such sovereign taxes, through services such as the guard, Camelyn's sewer system and the king's highway. But presumably there are some taxes or levies in the Two Rivers itself as part of the commons, the Women's Circle, the Wisdom, and the Council system. I doubt Nynaeve as Wisdom is entirely user-pays. So she may not have an entirely developed sense of taxation, but I think she would still understand the principles involved at a local level.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
231. tnh
Zexxes @207, I think we're on the same page. Here's the deal: if one kind of person has "their place" or "their role" they're supposed to stick to, or there's some list of things they're supposed to be "naturally good at," then it almost doesn't matter what that place is, because what you've got is one kind of person whose place in the world and nature as a human being have been defined by someone else, and another kind of person who can be anything they can imagine, and do anything they can make a go of.

If you're that the first kind of person, you're in a box. Even if it's the top of a pedestal, it's a box. If they tell you "Here, this box is your homeland, no one can ever take it away from you," or go on about how much better you are at standing inside it than they could ever be, it's still a box.

It's never going to be a good place, or a safe one, because there are things you can do to people who are stuck in a box that you can't do to people who are outside it and have freedom to move. That's how they could take Reconstruction back: the box was still there.

So imagine you're standing there in your box, trying to have a conversation with the people outside it, and you say "Let's talk about this box thing." You get maybe two sentences out before they start interrupting you to explain indignantly that they aren't personally, individually responsible for putting you in that box,
or tell you how they're box-blind, not boxist,
or complain that your box excludes them,
or describe at length how boxes look to them from the outside,
or gush about how much more spiritually in touch boxed people are,
or gripe that their feet hurt, so everybody's got it hard, not just you,
or say what we need to do is free ourselves first from the boxes inside our heads,
or complain that you're talking about the unboxed in hurtful and unfair ways,
or accuse you of trying to stir up box warfare,
or tell you that you've had your say (those two measly sentences!), so now they're going to have theirs,
or complacently say they already know all about it -- a lot of their friends are in boxes.

You're smart. I'll bet I can stop here.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
233. tnh
TickTockTick @227, one way to look at my job is that I'm trying to keep that from happening. I hate shutting down threads. When I rein in some incipient excess, it's because I'm hoping that if we work together, we can keep the conversation going, and have a good time doing it.
234. andagil
tnh @231 I've tried for some time now to come up with a suitable analogy to describe the overall situation that doesn't use as much loaded terminolgy as is often applied, and I think you've summed it up beautifully on a number of levels. Brava!
John Massey
235. subwoofer
I've been trying to paw along without breaking any branches but with the opening salvo and some of the follow up comments on... very hot button topics, there are times when various threads, not just this one feels like...

.... and I hope folks have the good sense to stay out of the way of the rolling boulder.

Never been a big fan of getting crushed.

OTOH it would be really cool if in later parts of ToM Perrin would happen upon the boulder rolling strategy:)

236. Tallest of the Brown
#229 Wortmauer
"Rob everyone who was not poor" This is what some people think about socialism, but I, as a hard core economic conservative do not think this is socialism. This is more like an autocracy with the big man (Masema) enveloped in a cult of personality. Socialism decreases the profit incentive for the rich, but there still exists, generally, the rule of law and plenty to work for.
Economic anarchy like Masema is practicing completely destroys the incentives for everyone and invites people to get out if possible. This is way beyond progressive taxation as described in the text. Nyn can easily see the outcome of this crazy idea.
237. Wortmauer
Wolfmage@230: Yeah, that's not progressive taxation in any meaningful or neutral sense. Progressive taxation refers to taxation based on the principle that the tax rate increases with the aggregate amount taxable.
I do know what the term means, thanks. I know it isn't strictly what Masema is doing. Nor does Nynaeve's internal description, for that matter, describe exactly what he is doing. (He isn't "robbing anyone who was not poor," he is specifically shaking down the One Percent. Whether he taxes the Ninety-Nine Percent at all, we don't really see.) Still, I think her snap economic judgment was out of character. What she sees is a noblewoman being parted from her jewelry for ostensibly charitable purposes. Cynicism is warranted. But her analysis — "Of course, that would just make everyone poor in the end" — seems a bit too sophisticated for her background. Not only does she come to this idea immediately, having apparently never thought of this arrangement before, but the "of course" indicates that she's quite sure of her conclusion. It is a reaction I would expect from a modern armchair economist from the blogosphere, not from someone who has grown up in the Two Rivers and only recently even been outside it at all.

Though I have to admit, the aspect of Nynaeve being confident in her opinions on things she doesn't actually know that much about is in character.
But presumably there are some taxes or levies in the Two Rivers itself as part of the commons, the Women's Circle, the Wisdom, and the Council system. I doubt Nynaeve as Wisdom is entirely user-pays.
Now that is an interesting question. I've never really thought about how what-passes-for-local-government is funded in the Two Rivers. The offices of Mayor, Village Council and Women's Circle seem to be entirely volunteer-based. I just can't see Mayor al'Vere getting a stipend. And I'm sure he donates the use of his inn's common room for meetings, e.g. Likewise, when they raise a militia to patrol the area (after Padan Fain brings news of the false Dragon in Ghealdan, early in TEOTW), that seems volunteer as well.

Which leaves the role of Wisdom. I don't know how she makes a living, but I picture it as a hybrid of user-pays and the country preacher model; she charges for her products and services, but on a loose ability to pay basis, and people additionally donate goods and services because they know it's important to have a Wisdom.

That said, we do have at least one mention of the village having a budget: the Council has hired Thom Merrilin down from Baerlon for the festival entertainment, and Cenn Buie grumbles at the expense. So far as I can recall, that's the only instance where we know the Emond's Field local government has explicitly spent money. Must ponder this a bit more. In matters of common interest they seem very "from each according to his ability," and an explicit taxation scheme seems at odds with that.

It has been said that Congress has three jobs: print the money, deliver the mail, and declare war. Since Randland is on the gold standard, it doesn't seem to matter who prints the money (all coinage is accepted, subject to biting and/or weighing, and much later on we hear about private banknotes). The mail is privatized. And the Two Rivers drum up an ad hoc, volunteer militia when they need one.

Anyway, this is all a bit beside the point — though IMO a worthy discussion in its own right. My original question was, does the passage from TFOH grate on a "dyed in the wool socialist," given Nynaeve is making a straw man capitalist argument against an already straw man socialist? This foray into the quite different reason it grated on me (not much of a socialist, I'm afraid) wasn't the real question. And I'm still curious.
231. tnh

I understand completely and agree with your analogies. They fit well with everything talked about, with the exception of a question I asked myself while reading along. What if we're all in boxes?

I believe we could look at people in four different ways using your analogy:

People put in boxes forcibly.
People in a box of there own choosing or even better (or worse) there own design.
People put in a box set for them when they were young.
and finally
People born in a box.

What is most important to me is what your box is made of or how big of a box it is. Can you get out of it? Is it too big or too well constructed to climb out? And lastly can you switch boxes or even more importantly, are you allowed to switch boxes.

Because if we're not allowed to switch boxes, then they aren't boxes at all. They would be prisons. And if you choose to not live in a box at all?
Well, in my opinion, that would be the only way you'd be truly free.

Unless of course, you're happy with your box.

I tend to go back and forth between wrapping paper and boxes. Boxes chafe less and are more secure but wrapping paper tends to be more risky, which I like (can't you tell?) and also tends at being much more colorful. I like color.

By the way... troublesome. Describes me to a tee. (or is it T?)

And you know what else?

Now I've got Alice in Chains stuck in my head. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAqZb52sgpU&feature=channel&list=UL

William Fettes
239. Wolfmage
"I do know what the term means, thanks. I know it isn't strictly what Masema is doing. Nor does Nynaeve's internal description, for that matter, describe exactly what he is doing. (He isn't "robbing anyone who was not poor," he is specifically shaking down the One Percent. Whether he taxes the Ninety-Nine Percent at all, we don't really see."
Fair enough. Sorry if I came off stuffily. By way of explanation, I'm a big supporter of progressivity in the tax regime if the top marginal rate is set high, with the top rate below 50%, indexed to avoid bracket creep.

For me, taxation implies some form of legitimate government or institution, whereby the tax is applied equally through a rule of law. Moreover, being progressive, I believe, implies more than two brackets and less than total confiscation. You're, of course, right that we can say Masema targets the 99% of Randland - but in light of the above, his approach of seizing expensive chattels as he encounters them by visual inspection is rather arbitrary IMO and its hard to see how that could be considered equivilent to a tax system.

I mean, if you are asset rich and cash/chattel poor - you probably don't even pay unless someone finds out and forces you liquidate your investments and buy stuff that can be taken. If you avoid Masema you don't pay. If Masema's eyesight is bad on the day you come before him, or he is otherwise distracted, you don't pay as much as you would ordinarily on the previous day. It's very arbitrary. It's not even clear what quantum of wealth, above a few coppers, might be spared his attentions. How many pieces of silver is too many?

For all of these aforementioned reasons I am a bit hostile to calling it either taxation, progressive or a system.
"Now that is an interesting question. I've never really thought about how what-passes-for-local-government is funded in the Two Rivers. The offices of Mayor, Village Council and Women's Circle seem to be entirely volunteer-based. I just can't see Mayor al'Vere getting a stipend. And I'm sure he donates the use of his inn's common room for meetings, e.g. Likewise, when they raise a militia to patrol the area (after Padan Fain brings news of the false Dragon in Ghealdan, early in TEOTW), that seems volunteer as well. Which leaves the role of Wisdom. I don't know how she makes a living, but I picture it as a hybrid of user-pays and the country preacher model; she charges for her products and services, but on a loose ability to pay basis, and people additionally donate goods and services because they know it's important to have a Wisdom. That said, we do have at least one mention of the village having a budget: the Council has hired Thom Merrilin down from Baerlon for the festival entertainment, and Cenn Buie grumbles at the expense."
It wasn't just Thom's services. There were also the fireworks paid for too (which have been purchased in previous years too). This money has come from somewhere, so I think we can presume there is some kind of stable, liquid revenue stream, even it is administered informally. Barter would certainly be more common for the internal domestic economy, and for in-kind services around public events, but you couldn't rely on it to buy fireworks and hire Gleemen from off, I don't think.

As for the Wisdom, we never see her collect from the community. I think she probably has some kind of village retainer. The Mayor is different as it's an elected position isn't it? But I think the badge of his office being monetary scales is rather suggestive of some financial function in his role.
"My original question was, does the passage from TFOH grate on a "dyed in the wool socialist," given Nynaeve is making a straw man capitalist argument against an already straw man socialist? This foray into the quite different reason it grated on me (not much of a socialist, I'm afraid) wasn't the real question. And I'm still curious."
I don't think Nynaeve (at least at this point) has a real conception of political economy to be contesting these ideas at that level.

She certainly judges (rightly) something foul and suspect about the concept of uplifting the poor simply by taking all the wealth from the rich at knife-point. But that doesn't mean she's endorsing a particular conception of economic and personal freedom through a laissez faire dog-eat-dog world. There are numerous injunctions in the series against greed, and it's an open question what balance any character would strike in achieving their basic vision of an egalitarian, equal opportunity world between private charity and centralised administration. Certainly all the characters in the books become more and more sophisticated in their views over time; Egwene and Rand particularly become completely au fait with taxes as the series progresses. Neither would be hostile to taxes by experience. Mat would be much more likely to be hostile as a libertine gambler and generally anti-establishment rake.

Randland's seigniorage is interesting. I love the fact that the fat Andorian coins (due to the Andor's rich gold mines) weigh so much more compared to the coins from other nations. So the monetary base is set by the supply of gold. Thankfully they haven't invented electronics yet!!
241. Drongolord
Wolfmage @230

The first we see of Rand al'Thor is him and Tam taking some apple brandy to the Winespring Inn to help in the Winternight celebrations.

I suspect the Village Council got the money for the bard and the fireworks by the same method - those who had the ability to pay, paid up, and those who didn't, didn't.

Faile's "taxation innovation" wouldn't be "innovative" to the likes of Tam and Bran, since they already operate on a similar system, though without an external coercive system to enforce it.
Maiane Bakroeva
242. Isilel
I remember really liking these parts of the Prologue, even Galad's one, despite it largely being a condensed re-hash of Egwene's storyline and despite my failure to understand, even now, how those few thousands of Whitecloaks could be important. Sure, they served a role in Perrin's much delayed acceptance of leadership, but that's a pretty meager pay-off for hauling them around so long.

Fain's segment was pleasantly freaky, IMHO.

The Borderlander scene - completely agree with Leigh. Very moving and very exclusionary.

It doesn't help that in Jordanland brotherhoods are, on the whole, cool and functional, have great rituals, as well as treat even new members as adults.
Whereas sisterhoods uniformely suck, couldn't abandon their constant squabbling and organize themselves even to change a lightbulb, and their rituals involve stripping naked as well as prolongued infantilization and humiliation of initiates.

Borderlander treatment of women makes zero sense, IMHO and just sets them up as lambs for the slaughter in case their men aren't around. Also, given that even non-magical healing is a female profession in WoT - those Borderlanders and Band of the Red Hand have no trained medicos? Really?

Finally, compare and contrast the reaction to 14-year-old Keemlin's decision with dismissive treatment and paternalism towards much older women when they intend to do something dangerous, but worthwhile/necessary.

No, the way Jordan writes women and their place in Randlandian society doesn't work, IMHO, but at least he had tried, and at the time when few did. And he had given us a a lot of female characters with agency and importance to the story, however imperfectly written.
Valentin M
243. ValMar
Very interesting discussion on economics in Randland. Massema's policies (it's not just Massema singularly doing it- his followers are the ones enforsing it) are not socialist really.
To me it looks more like the dark days after WW2 when communism was being introduced. Country by country in Europe it was different. In the case of my country, Bulgaria, it was particularly thorough and brutal. The basics were the same- hand over all you have to be redestributed. If you do without trouble then you won't be harmed. If you resist or seem dangerous to the regime "work camp" and/or death was the usual outcome.
As you may expect often, especially in more remote locations, the process was less neat. Like in Randland when Perrin kept coming across the depravities of Massema's followers.

The parallels I'm making are not exact, of course. In Randland Massema's rabble were simply robbing, while in the communist takeover they were seizing assets and trying to use them properly. Which is why it took them a whole 20 or so years to go bankrupt the first time.
Jack Jack
244. JackJack
Just throwing this in randomly because I'm rererereading.

Giant clue of "duh" re: Weiramon on LoC Chapter 4 chapter sigil.

Damn I feel stupid for not seeing that. Especially after we've been told to pay attention.
245. Sooner_fan

If by official you mean being allowed into combat arms branches like armor and infantry then yes that is true. however, that is changing even as we speak. Allowance for women into ranger school is a big step toward this.
Valentin M
246. ValMar
Isilel @ 242

I also have wondered for a very long time about the Whitecloaks. In the first half of the books, as we were more introduced to the scale of the WC organisation we were also faced with hundreds of thousands of superhuman Aiel, 200 000 Borderlanders, 80 000 from Tear, 200 000 Andorans, Illian, more BLs back home... And the unnumerable Seanchan, like a cloud of locusts. They, furthermore, smashed the WC reducing their already unimpressive numbers and deprived them of their Amadician auxiliaries. And Arad Doman who has more soldeiers than everyone else put together ;)

But back to the question why are the WC important? In a way they aren't really. Not much more than the Murandians, for example, or some small Seanchan army somewhere in Amadicia.
But they crossed the paths of our heroes many times and played an important part in their character development. Especially Perrin's, and in the battle with the trollocs in the latest book completing the process.

Also there is the symbolism that they carry. Fallen heros, rotten virtue, etc. And the end- redemption, leaving the crooked path.
Showing that the humaniy/Light for all it's faults in the Last Days of Tarmon Gaidon, facing the Evil of the DO, can rise to the challenge and show its best.
For Galad may have led and inspired the Whitecloaks, but without the Captains and other officers and soldiers taking direct action, Asunawa would've prevailed.
Charles Gaston
247. parrothead
On the economic subject:
Despite it obviously being drawn from a medieval/early modern model, I think that any analysis of Randland's economy, particularly in Marxist terms, is a recipe for a headache - believe me, I've tried. There are far too many variants that distinguish it from pre-1789 Europe, but I think the biggest are
a) no serfdom and
b) no established Church (its expy is obviously the White Tower, but the AS don't have nearly the political or economic clout that the Catholic Church did, and probably not as much politically that the Protestant churches did; make of that what you will).
Probably the most genuinely feudal nation we see is Tear, and even that changes as a result of Rand's decrees. Throughout the world, while the petit bourgeoisie is negligible, the merchants tend to be extremely powerful; Arad Doman is the best example, as they have translated economic importance into political authority. On the other side I don't think we get the stigma attached to nobles who engage in capitalist enterprise.

From what we've seen of the Age of Legends, drawn mainly from the BBoBA and Lews Therin's mutterings in KoD, I would probably designate that a social democracy with a Keynsian economic model, similar to much of Europe but with a classical republican strain that emphasizes public service.

As for Masema, I would call that much closer to fascism albeit without the nationalist element. Although religious socialism dates back to the early Church and probably beyond, it typically emphasizes raising up the low rather than casting down the high. You can't just take, you have to redistribute; and in a (quasi) medieval setting, cash actually would be less important than land.
248. Freelancer

Not being grammar police here, hoping only to be helpful.

A depraved (corrupted) person, such as Masema and his zealot followers, commits depravities.

A deprived (lacking in necessities or advantages) person suffers deprivations.

Yes, English conjugation is a chaotic thing. So, one might say that only those committed to the basest depravities see honor in the deprivation of one person to overcome the deprivation of another. "Charity" without choice is slavery by any other name.
Valentin M
249. ValMar
Thanks for the correction Freelancer. It will be, at best, foolish for me not to appreciate it when it is polite and well put.
Actually I'm well aware of the difference between depraved and deprived but came unstuck with the conjugation. Nice link between the two. And true too. Often married to "them vs us" in some form or another.
250. T. Nielsen Hayden
Freelancer @248:
"Charity" without choice is slavery by any other name.
Oh, nonsense. Charity without choice is paying taxes, or dues, or poor rates. Calling that slavery is overdramatic, and it trivializes the real thing.
251. Freelancer
Nonsense back atcha. Charity, by its very definition, is voluntary and driven by love. Taxes, used for however noble or ignoble a purpose, are nothing of the like, and should never be conflated with charity. I was not equating taxes (or other civically driven activities) with depravity, the reference was to the behavior of Masema and his followers, whence this line of discussion began.
252. Wortmauer
Freelancer, nonsense squared. You can't have it both ways. If "charity, by its very definition, is voluntary," then "charity without choice" isn't slavery. It isn't anything. It is a contradiction in terms.

In other words, if taxation cannot be called charity by your definition, then neither can Masema's actions.

While it might seem a bit Randian (the other Rand, you know) to equate state-enforced social welfare with the Prophet-driven asset redistribution in TFOH, the parallel at least is clear. Call it "forced charity," or if you think that's a contradition in terms, call it something else.
Eric Hughes
253. CireNaes

"It doesn't help that in Jordanland brotherhoods are, on the whole, cool and functional, have great rituals, as well as treat even new members as adults.
Whereas sisterhoods uniformely suck, couldn't abandon their constant squabbling and organize themselves even to change a lightbulb, and their rituals involve stripping naked as well as prolongued infantilization and humiliation of initiates."

Perhaps it's a backhanded retelling of traditionally male dominated societies with the additional caveat that any organization that does not benefit from both genders will be stunted and backwards, at best.

In other words, it's a sad remark on how much of our world works today.
254. Freelancer

Yes, it is a contadiction in terms. That is precisely why, when I wrote the sentence, I de-legitimized the construct:
"Charity" without choice...
So you and I agree.

Taking the real property of one person, whether lawfully or not, whether for good or ill, cannot and should not be considered charity. I never suggested that all such actions were evil, but that in Masema's case they surely were, even while he believed he was doing "good work".

ETA: Very weird. When I first wrote this comment, what posted was a complete copy of my comment @251. I'm very curious to know how that could happen.
Craig Jarvis
255. hawkido

Never disguise the truth, someone might mistake it for something else.
As for running... Air Force Female team always had best time out of all four branches and both genders at the Presidio for the 8 events we had over the 2 years I was there. It was a 2 mile run 5 man team, not a hundred meter dash, if that makes a difference. (Yes I said man, not woman. Man used in this sense refers to a human, not a gender. Thus Fireman, Policeman, Airman, Seaman, etc... all refer to a human that fills said role.)

@ tnh
I don't believe in places or roles for people... New roles are invented all the time... who would fill the new roles in our society if you couldn't break the norm. What college did the first college professor attend? I live in a box free world. "Putting people in a box only works if they accept it." --Egwene Al'Vere *something like that anyway*
Rob Munnelly
256. RobMRobM
Isilel - the Maidens of the Spear is a pretty cool sisterhood, IMO. Even more bada** than the male Aiel societies. Ditto the Wise Women. Both unsucky.
251. Freelancer

I think some are having a problem with you "possibly" letting the current political climate within our reality, jade your concepts of taxation and the choice of words you are using to describe them. Having been misunderstood myself for choosing words less carefully than ones normal whimsey, one could at times leave oneself in the category of "extremity".

For instance, I also think it is quite non-sensical to join the words charity and slavery. They equate to an oxymoron, bordering very closely with universe extinguishing paradox. Or one could say, that that description is a little too far up from down, as well.

And while you did de-legitimize (as you say) with quotations, you still imply as a whole of conversation, a legitimate claim put forth as point of fact, however erroneous.

So to conclude I have no problem with: " "Charity" without choice is...."

That implies you are about to state something indelible. What was chosen though, Slavery, was an at best, poor choice and cause for concern. Hence, the insipidly gleeful need for correction; given the fact that your post's main objective was within the role of "Language Officer".

Which, I must say, is very amusing.

Alice Arneson
258. Wetlandernw
Hawkido @255 - LOL! I'm SO with you on the use of "man" to designate a non-gender-specific position. It's been a pet peeve of mine for about 40 years now. It's been standard usage for hundreds of years, and it makes language (written or spoken) awkward and inelegant to substitute "person" or constantly doing "he/she" alternatives so as to avoid any possible offense. You can bet that if I ever get stuck (horrible thought!) chairing a committee, I will be the chairman!
255. hawkido

I was speaking with my brother about this subject awhile ago, he being formally in one of the branches "Special Forces". We hypothesized that this role would suit a womans physicality better than the general wartime gruntwork of a infantryman.

We must note that those chosen for any Special Forces role are the cream of the crop. For women, whom already go to great lengths to be better than any man within their training regimen, are in all actuality a step above their brethren as they must overcome their weakness of less strength, power and at most times speed. To compensate, women must be more accurate, more precise, think quicker, use more guile, attain more knowledge, be more well rounded, utilize superior technique, strategize superbly...etc., etc.

This leaves them specifically more suited to being included within the elite corps. Their skillsets are honed toward it naturally, while overcoming their physical weaknesses indiginous to their sex. In fact I would go so far as to say, that women once in these elite roles will outperform their male brethren, who naturaly take their physical strengths for granted.

260. s'rEDIT
Wet@193: But, hey, you get to go to real Narnia! Aslan said so!

(Haven't finished comments yet, so if there's anything further, it'll have to wait.)
Eric Hughes
261. CireNaes
Aslan's Country FTW! I still get a tad teary eyed when reading Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Reepicheep is one of my favorites. We gave my son the middle name Edmund since his is a story of redemption and continued faithfulness.
262. Wortmauer
Wetlandernw@258: You can bet that if I ever get stuck (horrible thought!) chairing a committee, I will be the chairman!
My mother was on a school board for awhile. Someone once asked her to be in charge of a meeting, but ran up against this issue and decided they should just call her the "chair." An older English teacher present was amused by this feat of language. "What kind of chair," she asked, "overstuffed?"

Fortunately, Mom has a sense of humor too. She has to, as my dad is one of those who still uses his as a gender-neutral pronoun. One of my sisters occasionally teases him about it, with sentences like "Did everyone remember to bring his purse?"
Craig Jarvis
263. hawkido
One of my Captains while I was in the armed services was a brilliant hard working female. Prior Enlisted... got tired of officers screwing it up and traded her stripes for bars, and said she would show them how to do it right. She did... best officer I had.

She behaved like any other male in the military. When she was in uniform she was not a female. She was an officer of the Air Force, and you did not dare say Yes Ma'am to her, you said Yes Sir! Not every female in the military was like that... but the most respected were. Professionals like her fill a role that has no gender, and as such no special conciderations are wanted, needed, or required. You knew exactly what to expect and exactly what was expected from you.
Some of the females kept wanting to remind the males that they were female (officers and enlisted) and kept wondering why they didn't get the same respect.

In the Military there may be alot of male jargon, because it is predominately male, but the function is gender neutral. If you can be gender neutral while in uniform, then you can be in the military. Don't ask, Don't tell, and if someone can tell, for damn sure don't keep reminding everyone about it!

The military isn't about the individual. Just ask anyone else who has been there. Basic and boot camp will knock back the "All Star Athelete" when they try to show how much better they are than everyone else. The only way to excel in the military is to be like everyone else, and if possible make everyone work better, faster, stronger. The unit as a whole cannot be carried by the individual... Army of One, isn't about a bunch of individuals, but a group that works with one mind. A lot of civ's THINK they understand that. They should just shut up... your football team doesn't count, doesn't matter, doesn't mean anything compared to the brotherhood (sisterhood or ungenderhood just doesn't work there) the gets forged in the military, cause in football/basketball you aren't keeping the guy next to you alive. That is all it is about, the guy next to you.
Thomas Keith
264. insectoid
Still buzzing about. A big welcome to all the new commenters, and (because I forgot to mention it last thread) a big welcome back to Isilel!

Bawambi @124: LOL. I'm sure I'm too young to remember that, but I do. (Blame it on my parents watching old episodes of SNL.)

Bridget @146: Speaking of new commenters... ;) You and Irene and Teresa are to be commended for the job you do. Thank you.

Wetlander @193: You won't be going to the old Narnia, anyway. ;)

(Funny you should mention Narnia; I've being re-reading the Chronicles quite a bit since I was sick earlier this month (it seemed like a good way of cheering myself up at the time). And the analogy of Narnia as a rite of passage makes perfect sense (especially given the last chapter of Dawn Treader). Also, today I seem to like parentheses.)

CireNaes @204, Sub @219/235: *LOL* Too funny. Although now I have the Indiana Jones music running through my head.

Alice Arneson
265. Wetlandernw
insectoid @264 - I wonder if that would help get "Baba Yetu" out of my head... Or if it would be an improvement...
Glen V
266. Ways
Formerly (well, for one comment last week) known as AlwaysEnjoyed.NeverPosted, which was a bit cumbersome at best. I considered shortening it to Al, but don't want to cause confusion with MasterAlThor. Ways is much easier and has nice connection to the series. Hope I'm not stepping on any toes with that handle, don't recall seeing anything even close over the last 2 years. Let me know if I'm missing something.

Thanks to Tektonica, insectoid and all the others who welcomed those of us who finally came out of the closet.

I've been hiding in a dark corner of the bunker this week (who has the Mojitos or maybe a bourbon sour?), waiting for the smoldering embers to die down. Didn't really want to get in the middle of the gender issue discussion.

Twenty years ago I believed it was the DO speaking in Chap. 51 of TEOTW. I've drifted somewhat into the Creator camp after reading FACs and comments since then. Can't wait for AMOL where, hopefully, the mystery will be resolved.
267. Jonellin Stonebreaker
parrothead@247 -
(its expy is obviously the White Tower, but the AS don't have nearly the
political or economic clout that the Catholic Church did, and probably
not as much that the Protestant churches did; make of that
what you will).
What series have you been reading?
The power of the WT in Randland far surpasses that of medieval Europe's Catholic Church, let alone that of the later Protestant denominations.
Your average Jane Sedai considers herself and , more importantly, is generally considered as having more status than your average non-royal noble; Sitters are on par with royalty, and no one is on the level of the Amyrlin.

As to the Two Rivers economy, their primary cash exports are wool and their famous tabac, known for its quality even in the Waste.
Tricia Irish
268. Tektonica

The Bunker was pretty crowded this week. Oh, there were a few people that were running in and out, but most of us were in the bleachers. ;-)

I like your new name...much faster to type!
Tricia Irish
269. Tektonica
Got a double...oops
270. octarineoboe
hawkido @263: your officer wasn't gender neutral, she was masculine. She was still exhibiting a typical, gendered behavior; it just wasn't the gender that matched her biological sex. The distinction is extremely important.

In other words, the military remains a masculine space even when a few women are very successful within it. Your example of the other women, who by pointing out their femininity lost respect, only proves my point.
John Massey
271. subwoofer
Y'know, personally, I could give two figs and a fig leaf about the gender/ brotherhood topic, especially as we all seem to be sidetracked by it. There were several events that grabbed my attention all going on at the same time. Things are about to go splat on the fan and we have a boy, who knows that he will probably not live to see 15 willing to give up his life so that another boy can survive and not totally shatter his mom.

On top of this we have all the Trollocs in the world descending on this Tower. From all descriptions it is well built and manned by good men, but numbers don't lie. As Insectoid pointed out, this very much felt like "the Becons are lit", "Gondor calls for aid". That is a huge theme going on here, over the course of time, the only way most of the folks of Randland remember their duty is in passing in a song somewheres. Meanwhile, the Borderlanders are standing watch, living a life of vigilance from an early age while kids in other lands sleep soundly and dream childhood dreams.

It does bother me that the world is going to end, the Blight has crept farther and farther south, and folks deny what is going on. In the last book, TGS we finally see that people are hearing the call to arms. Farmers are beating their plow shears into swords, militia is mobilizing, and people are headed north.

I am glad that folks finally realize, "hey, we are all in this. We join forces and fight for salvation or we all die". Even vastly outnumbered by Trollocs, I am glad that the mustering of the countryside is taking place. Hopefully "Heath will stand". Let help come in time.

John Massey
272. subwoofer
... And for those that do not remember, when the chips were down, women fought beside men when the survival of the Two Rivers required it. RJ put on paper the heart of women, they were sacrificing their rations so men could keep up their strength, the Woman's Circle and all females connected in TR did without so others were okay, and then they stepped up and fought. I think this does show RJ's commitment to gender equality and I hope do folks see the truth in his words and not quibble over ceremony.

Jeff Schweer
273. JeffS.

Yes, that.
Thank you.
Rob Munnelly
274. RobMRobM
We are rocking and rolling on re-read post. Yes! 400, here we come!

If you want to get to 400 ASAP, give me a big YES! I can't hear you...say YES!
Thomas Keith
275. insectoid

*crickets chirping*

Wait, what are we shouting for? With this empty of a bunker we should be whispering... :P

Maiane Bakroeva
277. Isilel
Welcome to all the new voices and thanks for everybody's warm welcome back!
And now for what I do best - smiting y'all with a (Chinese or just Hadrian's?) Wall o'Text!

CireNais @253:
with the additional caveat that any organization that does not benefit from both genders will be stunted and backwards, at best.
I wish it were so, but IMHO both the Band of the Red Hand and this latest insight into Borderlander military prove the opposite. They are doing swimmingly without women and there is zero indication that there is any downside.

Heck, they had the chance to integrate a few women into the Band, but instead they were packed off to Tar Valon and according to Mat the Band is all the better for it. Even Aludra and Setalle Anan are clearly foreign bodies, which can't be harmoniously included.
Aludra had been useful, true, but it was not enough to make her really part of the Band. In fact, now that she has produced her cannon and handed it over to the men, I expect that she'd be left behind, too. Setalle is basically a governess for the son of the regiment, so not really part of it either.

The Heeth Tower scene speaks for itself.

And while Whitecloaks are disfunctional, the solution to their problems is shown to be elsewhere as well.

Compare and contrast with all the sucky sisterhoods, which are completely dysfunctional, since women in Jordanland are uncapable of real teamwork, i.e. all the cat comparisons (which is kinda a funny, if one had ever observed street cat clans in action), as well as lack common sense more often than not.
There is a clear sense that they are inherently incapable of solving their problems on their own and that involving men is the only way they could ever hope to become functional.

The Maidens are a bit of an exception, presumably because they are part of otherwise male dominated Aiel military culture, in which they are precluded from ever holding highest military command, BTW. But see below.

RobMRobM @256:
the Maidens of the Spear is a pretty cool sisterhood, IMO. Even morebada** than the male Aiel societies. Ditto the Wise Women. Both unsucky.
Can't agree with this, alas. They are certainly much suckier than other Aiel societies, though, to be fair, much of my irritation with their segments of the story comes from them having to deal with Rand and his annoying chauvinitstic paternalism.

OTOH, the WOs are very hide-bound, practice the sucky rituals and mores similar to other sisterhoods _and_ do nothing to prepare for the Last Battle, nonsensicaslly insisting that it is not an Aiel concern (?!).

Subwoofer @272:
when the chips were down, women fought beside men when the survival of the Two Rivers required it
Which makes Perrin's continuing refusal to let women train together with men all the more headdesk-worthy, no? As well as Borderlander treatment of women in general.
Because yes, when the chips are down they'll have to fight and having been actively denied training, they'd die like flies if WoT was even slightly plausible.
Another result is that in times of trouble, opinions of women would naturally count for less.
As is evident with most leaders for TG being men, including all "grassroots" leaders, except for Egwene.
Jonathan Levy
278. JonathanLevy
(Haven't read all the comments, sorry if I ignore people who have made similar points before me.)
“If the Lord Captain Commander’s cause had been honorable, would he have fallen to me in a battle under the Light? If I were a Darkfriend, could I have slain the Lord Captain Commander himself?”
I think this line of reasoning is a bit rich, coming from a man who in 10 chapters will reject it when applied to the death of Bornhald at the hands of the Seanchan.
If his life will buy unity, then so be it.
Galad pulls a Ned Stark, but to his surprise finds himself in Randland, not Westeros, and lives.

Also - does this qualify as a non-angsty assumption of command?

39. Jhirrad
40. Bilar
That was NOT the Creator. That was the Dark One.
The main arguments against it being the DO are: (1) He says he will take no part, whereas the DO actively affects the world, unlike the creator. (2) The conversation is not taking place in Shayol Ghul, the only place we've ever seen the DO communicate directly with people. (3) The DO's meaning is usually a lot plainer to understand than these cryptic comments at the end of TEOTW. "How fares this world, Demandred?" needs no explanation. "IT IS NOT HERE" makes no sense. What's he talking about?

Anyway, I think most people consider it a mystery. It could go either way, or even a third way.

49. leighdb
50. tnh

Oh, such camaraderie! Such sisterhood! If only there were some way I could be a part of it! I feel so left out! :(
John Massey
279. subwoofer
@Is- you missed the point- I was saying that women do step up and that RJ portrayed that. Not the rest, which is speculation... especially the dies like flies bit. And lets look at it historically, a nation can rebuild itself if enough women are able to have kids. Guys don't have much to do in that brocess after the beginning bit. I think there is a Malkieri Oath about that too... as long as somethingsomethingsomething...

As far as the Borderlander treatment of women, to be honest, that baffles me too. On the one hand we have the er... "different" rules regarding asking permission to the woman's apartments, then we have the slapping thing going on between Faile, Mom and Dad, then we have the unique bath house arrangements and the Queens on the battlefield. Not to mention Bashere having his wife along on the field and I am not really clear on this but does she take command should Bashere fall? And Faile's training and how proud her dad is of her at bucking the trend... I am not sure if it is supporting or holding back the ladies, but Borderlander rules are sure confusing. Then there is the whole Lan thing with his "first", that really had me turning my book around to make sure I was reading it right side up...

Nadine L.
280. travyl
"Putting people in a box only works if they accept it." --Egwene Al'Vere *something like that anyway*
I'd guess that Rand would strongly disagree with that. But it is telling that Egwene would belittle his ordeal by "thinking" like that. ; )

(EDIT to add: I do like to take statements out of their context, if opportunity arises. I know it was not what you (or Egwene) ment to say)

Wortmauer @237.
I don't see why the "that would make everyone poor in the end" - line of thinking is sophisticated or too sophisticated for Nynaeve.
The way Masema ruled there really wasn't much chance for prosperity for anybody - Masema really seemed to inforce that instead of focusing to make anything better. *some* of the rich really lost everything, especially when they tried to refuse him and it didn't really have an impact on the whole group of his "followers". -
Just my opinion (and I would consider myself in favor of moderate socialism - but I wouldn't call Masemas way socialistic either)
William Fettes
281. Wolfmage
I wish it were so, but IMHO both the Band of the Red Hand and this latest insight into Borderlander military prove the opposite. They are doing swimmingly without women and there is zero indication that there is any downside.
There is certainly an element of truth to that. The Band is definitely enhanced by Aludra's kit but there isn't much indication that it is ineffective or dysfunctional without her input.

One response to this is that the Band is not supposed to serve as a representative of the status quo of gender separateness in the same way as the Tower, for example. It's a new institution that reflects the personal agency of Mat as a ta'veren champion of the light. It just happens to be male dominated because that is the composition of his recruiting and the balance of existing expertise at arms. But I do seem to recall that Mat was rather impressed with that female Seanchan officer in Jurador who tries to recruit him, and he is comfortable with the martial prowess of Birgitte and Aviendha. So I think it's likely he would accept suitable female candidates into the Band.
Heck, they had the chance to integrate a few women into the Band, but instead they were packed off to Tar Valon and according to Mat the Band is all the better for it. Even Aludra and Setalle Anan are clearly foreign bodies, which can't be harmoniously included.
I don't think sending the Aes Sedai on their way is so problematic. It is rather well established that Mat is resistant to the idea of integrating with either Aes Sedai or Ashamen so he's an equal opportunity offender.

As for Setalle Ann - I agree. Gender politics are typically expressed in Mat's part of the story as part of his personal experiences with the Super Girls, and Tuon, et al, rather than allegorical lessons about the Band.


The Tower is in a difficult spot because it's getting dumped on for three reasons.

1. The allegorical cautionary tale against gender separateness
2. Victim of Black Ajah plots & Elaida
3. Black hole vortex of incompetence for Egwene's coming ascendency.

So we need to be careful in attributing all the dysfunction to 1 when 2 and 3 are major elements of the problem as well.
Jonathan Levy
282. JonathanLevy
136. King of Flames (and 140.RobMRobM and 143.subwoofer and 173.forkroot)
Regarding the whole 'Creator supports someone in battle... Has a Darkfriend ever won a one to one swordfight in this series?
Ingtar killed a few people back in TGH, didn't he? Including a fade (by implication, anyway) in Fal Dara :)

I gotta agree with 156.andagil

Hi CireNaes! Where were you when I needed you back in www dot tor dot com/blogs/2012/04/the-wheel-of-time-re-read-the-gathering-storm-part-28#254818 ??
allow me to familiarize the unfamiliar with the Hebrew poetry presented in the Pentateuch's first creation account
which leads to a rather impersonal God, which in turn is not correlated by the rest of Scripture.
It is correlated if you stick to the Priestly source :)

Cracked me up :) Now I regret missing 203...

There are several counter-examples of men joining women-exclusive clubs.
"From now on I want you all to call me Loretta!"

283. Freelancer

Bless and keep the souls of those fallen in service to nation; the peacemakers, the peacekeepers, the heroes who have paid with their blood the price of liberty everywhere. Comfort their families and remind them that you alone are sovereign, and they will have their just reward.

284. Braid-Tug
Like Freelancer I want to say "Thank You " to all the service people on the list. I also have to say "Thank You" to the families of our service people. Your contribution is often overlooked.
Deana Whitney
285. Braid_Tug
In honor of Memorial Day in the USA , I have a poll.

Which army would you want to be a part of?
1) The Two River Archers
2) The Saldaea Cavalry
3) The Band of the Red Hand Dragon bombers
4) The Aiel Infantry
5) The Seanchan Airscouts
6) Other not listed here
Cameron Tucker
286. Loialson
If I was a girl (which I'm not, but still...) I'd want to be part of Elayne's bodyguard of musketeers. I always crack up reading about them.

Since I'm a male, probably part of Gareth Bryne's army, he's one of the most honorable characters I think. Close second would be Perrin's Two Rivers archers (post acceptance of his leadership/Wolfliness in ToM)
287. AndrewB
Poll @285 -- I would like to be a a torm rider.

"Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then" - Bob Segar, Against the Wind
John Massey
288. subwoofer
I'd have to go with the armored cavalry of the Saldeans. The rest smacks of infantry... which involves running- I've had enough of that to last a lifetime, and the other sounds like artillery, which I always found mind numbing. Not a big fan of babysitting heads of state either so horse it is.

William Fettes
289. Wolfmage
Based on Napoleonic tactics I'd say Two Rivers longbows or Band crossbowmen. I imagine artillery would be a priority target for Dark Side channellers and whatever big bad weapons the Dark Side is about to unleash, so that's a risky business. Ordinary ranged infantry would vulnerable, but better than melee.

Calvary would be second choice but still requires closing and the enemy to not use square formations effectively, which is a dubious assumption.

Will be interesting to see if muskets are invented in time for the Last Battle.
Rob Munnelly
290. RobMRobM
JL - are you a member of the f***ing Peoples Front of Judea or the f***ing Judean Peoples Front?

Converse to the topic in my post you cited, there is the example of the particular folk joining the stoning scene ("Are there any women here?"). Lol.
Rob Munnelly
291. RobMRobM
Darn it, we only got one "YES" from the Buzzmeister Meisterbuzzer.
Thomas Keith
292. insectoid
A heartfelt thanks to the people serving our country here on Memorial Day.

Braid_Tug @285: Hmm... I'd probably have to go with the TR archers, though Mat's BotRH is a close second.

RobM² @291: Did you want more? I'm sure I can muster up some. ;)

Tricia Irish
293. Tektonica
There's nothing like a visit to a third world country to make one appreciate our wonderful home. Thank you service men and women everywhere for keeping us free, and thanks to your families for their sacrifices of time and attention.

I'm sorry I've missed all the fun and games this weekend! You are a lively bunch. I'd have to say I'd march with Mat, or at least cook for him ;-), unless they gave me a horse or a cross-bow.
294. Freelancer

You didn't just offer to cook for an army. On this thread. They're going to pull your membership card.
Deana Whitney
295. Braid_Tug
Why would we pull her card? The military has cooks of both genders and has for centuries.

Glad people are liking the poll.
296. Freelancer
In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

~ Major John McCrae, Canadian Army, following the second battle at Ypres salient, 1915. The poem is the inspiration for the Memorial Poppy (then known as the Remembrance Poppy), used by the American Legion and other organizations as the recognizable symbol for memorializing the fallen of war.
I'm thinking I'd choose the Aiel Infantry.Why?

Well, first off, I love the heat. Can't stand cold climates. I like harsh landscapes. It reminds you of the notion, "If you think your lifes hard, check out that buzzard circling overhead, waiting for you to die. If you don't die it might be the death of him, if he does get some dinner, there's still that bout with the Avian flu you somehow contracted two summers ago", to remind you that things are gonna be better if you just cross one more dune.

I don't like flying. Makes me nervous being beholden to someone or something elses ability to keep from slamming my skull into the ground at terminal velocity.

Artillery, while very Kool, tends to be a vulnerable occupation. Because once you fire, everybody is gonna know exactly where you are. Its also very loud. Make your ears bleed, loud. Oh yeah! Make one mistake and you yourself get to go Kabloooey!

Cavalry. I like Cavalry actually; it'd be my second choice, very nearly my first. I wish I could mix worlds and be a Paladin though! Ooooowah or maybe a Knight of the Rose...yeeeeaahhh! They'd call me Lord Zexxes, Knight of the Rose. Oh even better.... a Paladin of Gird.... oh I could go on and on on with that, but it is more than the poll calls for.


Valentin M
298. ValMar
Re: the poll. I would prefer the TR longbows or Mat's crossbows. Especially the crossbows- they are easier to learn, are led by Mat, and have remarkably low causalty rates.
Flying about is very attractive proposition but don't wanna be Seanchan. I can't stand heat so no Aiel. The fact that it gets freezing cold at night (note this ZEXXES) is not enough. And you get WOs and Maidens nagging at you all day ;)
Valentin M
299. ValMar
This Memorial Poppy custom- is it the same kind of thing they have in the UK? Maybe not. In November on British TV you can't see anyone without a poppy- literally. I put Fox News on today and no one was having one. If anyone would wear one I imagine it will be there. Nothing on CNN, CNBC, too. Unless it was until yesterday. I am just wondering, knowing that in the US you are more prone to outward displays of patriotism than the Brits.
Valentin M
300. ValMar
I say, wouldn't be marvelous if I continue this conversation with myself and get the three hunny? Yes it would be. Thank you very much. You are welcome.
302. Freelancer

Yes, that's very much the point, though it is utterly tongue-in-cheek. Tek's inclusion of an option which challenges no gender boundaries, just isn't in keeping with the overall tenor of the thread, in that regard.

In real life I'm no fan of running, but if I'm injecting myself into the WoTverse, I'd be an Aiel. Probably Cor Darei. Conscience precludes me from analyzing the scenarios, thereby to determine the least hazardous form of service possible. You do not advance into the breech halfway. You charge. You dance. Fortuna Favet Fortibus
Deana Whitney
303. Braid_Tug
@ 299; I don't think the USA has taken on the poppies custom. The only ones I see wearing them are the Canadians around me.

@ 286, it would be cool to be part of Elayne's bodyguard. The Outfits!

yeah, got the 303. A personal "honey" since I like "3".
304. Looking Glass
Neverspeakawordagain @221: I suspect that, like many of Randland’s other power structures, their socioeconomic system was kind of made to be broken, or at least deeply altered, even if that happens somewhat more in the background than other aspects of society. Perrin and Faile change things in their domain, yes… but so does Rand, with his publicly funded schools and the probable oncoming industrial revolution. So does Mat- his changes are in pursuit of military efficiency, but they all diminish the importance of channelers and aristocracy in the military. Even Egwene looks set to help matters, by making Aes Sedai about more than who has the biggest magic muscles.

Jonellin Stonebreaker @267: I’d largely agree with parrothead- the AS simply lack the ubiquity of the church. Individually, AS are on the level of, say, RL bishops or something, with similar levels of clout, but the difference is that the Tower has nothing below that level in Randland society- only the novices and Accepted, who are pretty much entirely excluded from affecting society.

(Actually, that’s another aspect of the economy Egwene changes more or less in the background, having the students start making stuff to be sold outside the Tower.)

Anyway, one AS has a lot of clout, but there isn’t a parish Sister in every village and manor. A ruler might get an advisor, but the common people don’t look to the Tower for advice on how to live their lives- heck, most people go their whole lives without ever meeting anyone attached to the Tower. Similarly, the tower owns substantial assets, but they don’t own real estate in every town in every nation, nor do they run schools and monasteries across the length and breadth of the continent.
305. CorDarei
/high fives Freelancer.
Ryan R
306. CorDarei
/and again in black so you know i'm not just some schlep who did it in red :P
Ron Garrison
307. Man-0-Manetheran
re. poppies:
In the US, the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) still produces "Buddy Poppies" to "provide financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans' rehabilitation and service programs and partially support the VFW National Home for orphans and widows of our nation's veterans."

They used to be quite common when I was young, but it has been many years since I've seen anyone selling or wearing one. Not sure why...

Alice Arneson
308. Wetlandernw
They still sell them here. Actually, IIRC they technically give them away but expect a donation. I think the visibility depends largely on the local VFW.
309. s'rEDIT
RE: Poppies . . . they used to show up for Veteran's Day (ValMar, that's November). I remember in school (lo, those many years ago!) we would have the option of buying (for a dime, was it?) a paper poppy to wear in remembrance.

James Whitehead
310. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
I would like to add my thanks, belatedly as I've been off-line with family stuff, to all those who have fallen in the service of our country. Flander's Field is such a sad poem. I am always reminded of this song:

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (by - Eric Bogle)
When I was a young man I carried me pack And I lived the free life of the rover From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback I waltzed my Matilda all over Then in 1915 my country said: Son, It's time to stop rambling, there's work to be done So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun And they sent me away to the war...

I do see poppies for sale at both Memorial Day & Veteran's Day & I always buy a few for my children to remember their great-grandfather who came home whole & their great-granduncle who did not.

As to what 'army' I would like to be in, I would chose the Aiel as I find their culture fascinating; that & I'd be surrounded red-headed women, which is good. ;-) The Seanchan military does seem interesting as well; especially to chance to fly. But while it does appear to be somewhat of a meritocracy, it seems to be a rather capricious one.


PS - @290RobMRobM & 301JonathanLevy, Romanes eunt domus...I mean...Romani ite domum!"

PPS - Here is a version of The Band Played Waltzing Matilda that I've always liked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFCekeoSTwg

PPS - @309s'r'EDIT, I'm sorry you had to do that.
311. s'rEDIT
RE: 309 Huh . . .was my post edited by a mod? Do square brackets cause the text within to disappear? What?
Thomas Keith
312. insectoid
Man-O @307: My mom and I got Buddy Poppies a few months ago when the VFWs were at the grocery store; I wore mine for several days.

s'rEDIT @311: I suspect that Tor.com still interprets bbCode (it still does when you cut-and-paste text, anyway), so square brackets may not be any safer to use than angle brackets. (The fact that they worked above is puzzling.)

Off to read the new post...

Eric Hughes
313. CireNaes

I'm a Toledot guy myself. Wellhausen was a man of many assumptions. It amazes me that JEPD is still being taught outside of an overview of Biblical cricticism techniques.

And on a similar theme of Toledot. April through the middle of May are my busiest months every year. I only posted to ackowledge important events. I was still reading along and enjoyed your analysis. Besides, Linda's 13depository work has plenty of takeaways. That is what became of CireNaes in April and May.

If I had anything to add to the work already done it would be the various themes inherent in each gospel. This would require a homiletical approach over the more generalized systematic comparisons that I've seen. I would stick with the Markan account for the closest WoT thematic parallels, even though John's Gospel is my favorite.

Any guesses as to why :)

Thanks to all who enjoyed 204.
Valentin M
314. ValMar
Thanks for the clarification on the Buddy Poppies. Cool name. Maybe they are not as prominent in the US because you have much larger infrastructure to help veterans, families, etc., and many other initiatives, than they have in the UK.

Freelancer @ 302

Spoken as a true French knight. On the morn before Agincourt. I'd rather be on the other side behind a row of sharpened stakes with a few thousand buddies with longbows. Despite none wearing nothing bellow the waist and not stopped crapping for days...

Back to WOT- it's no accident that on the eve of TG we have TR longbowmen, Mat's crossbowmen, Dragon Legion crossbows, Aludra's dragons, etc- in case I forgot someone. The pattern knows its business.

Now off to read part 3...
Wow I guess all of that took everyones breath away. I know it wasn't just me, but sorry everyone (I wasn't even the first one). It's really hard for me not to respond to man bashing to any degree. And to be honest Ms. Butler wasn't even bashing so much as being mildly miffed. I just felt a need to say something about it and she took it the wrong way. No matter what, it got kind of ugly and I regret that.

So, my apologies to everyone.

I'll try to restrain my need to defend us men next time.

It'll be reeeeeeeeeeally hard though!

Terry McNamee
316. macster
@143 Sub: "Perrin marries Faile. Mat marries Tuon." LOL!!!

@156 andagil: I'm with you. There's really no proof Riatin was a Darkfriend, his attitudes and nastiness are hardly limited to Darkfriends, and while Fain did use or attract a lot of Darkfriends, he also used and corrupted people who weren't. So I think he just turned Riatin toward Mashadar the same way Mordeth did Aridhol, something which really has nothing to do with the Shadow and just has to do with one's inner nature and likelihood of adhering only to a perceived sense of one's own rightness and ends vs. means world-view.

@166 JeffS.: Thanks for the compliment, and for showing someone actually read what I wrote (yes I know, wall of text) and got what I was getting at. It's too bad it seems to have been overlooked by Leigh, and many others, thanks to all the gender discussion and heated words being exchanged. :( You're also quite right about the KOD and TGS passages fitting into that larger theme, it's definitely something Jordan/Sanderson was pushing here at the end times.

@175 Wolfmage: Good point.

@181 bawambi: A possibility I didn't consider, and I have read and enjoyed LOTR (albeit not so much the ancillary backstory material). Not sure yet if it will happen as you propose, but if it does, that could indeed be what Jordan had in mind.

@182 Looking Glass: Theory of Narrative Causality FTW!

@184 Wetlander: Very interesting tidbit there from Harriet! Also you hit the nail on the head on how I feel about the Whitecloaks (and, I guess, the Aes Sedai too). And LOL at all the lurkers in the bunker closet...though considering how heated things got I can see why they were lurking so long...

@196 MisunderstoodMe: Exactly, that was also my sentiment.

@Wolfmage and Wortmauer: I don't know if this is possible, but reading over your taxation/economic discussion both made my eyes glaze over...but also made me nod in understanding once I read it over enough times. Not commenting because I have no knowledge to add (and I neither find Nynaeve's thought OOC or offensive based on my economic leanings)...just saying I at least eventually got what you were saying.

@242, 277 Isilel: Not going to get into a discussion of gender representations or Jordan's failings thereof, but I did want to make one correction--while you are right that most if not all the female organizations are shown as flawed, pathetic, or futile, we also get a pretty prominent example in the narrative of one of these institutions acknowledging its flaws and being fixed--the White Tower. Granted, at where we are now all the problems of the Aes Sedai have hardly been addressed, nor are they likely to be within the scope of the narrative. But at least Egwene (and Nynaeve) have made some fairly big strides toward redressing the wrongs within the Tower and changing how the Aes Sedai do things. That's better than nothing--and best of all they are doing this from within, rather than needing men to help them do it as has happened with Rand's various rulerships in the nations or Mat and Perrin's reorganization of the military and the Two Rivers respectively. So I wouldn't say the White Tower is incapable of becoming functional without the help of men--in fact when have we ever see men try to help the Aes Sedai with their problems, let alone succeed in doing so? In this very book we'll be seeing Egwene meeting with the Wise Ones and the Windfinders, working to bring all the groups of channeling women together and fixing their problems so they work together as equals for mutual advantage--again, without men being involved.

@244 JackJack: While the ravens have been used from the start as symbols of the Shadow, they weren't nearly as indicative as the Forsaken snaky-square, the Black Ajah's two-faced women, or the symbols of the Trolloc tribes, so people could be forgiven for overlooking that one. But you're right, in hindsight it is a big clue-bat.

@265 Wetlander: But why would you want to get Baba Yetu out of your head? It's an amazing song! Or is it just getting old/annoying?

@271 Subwoofer: Since he was mentioned in this thread already, your comments on the Borderlanders' fight against the Shadow vs. everyone else barely remembering this duty reminds me of Ingtar's justification for becoming a Darkfriend. Whether we can understand why he would cross the Despair Event Horizon or not, I have to say seeing the Kandori here, and the Borderlanders who travel with Lan, remaining true to their duty certainly makes them look more noble in comparison. You're also so right that it is important to keep in mind that however he may have failed in showing the details of equality, Jordan's heart was in the right place and he did include the overall idea and emotions behind it.

@278 JonathanLevy: I think you missed the context of Galad's later denial of that line of reasoning re: Bornhald. His point wasn't that Whitecloaks could be defeated and killed by Darkfriends (which would suggest Asunawa's charge had validity), it was that they could be defeated at all. In fact Byar's argument was that the Whitecloaks could not have been defeated unless Perrin, a Darkfriend, enabled it--so Galad denying Byar is saying no, Whitecloaks can indeed be defeated/killed by non-Darkfriends. Because while he does not approve of allying with the Seanchan, he never calls them Darkfriends as Byar did. Not to mention this plays into the realization Galad makes when watching the Whitecloaks be slaughtered by the Shadowspawn--that despite being servants of the Light, they are indeed just men and can fail and die, whether against the Shadow or anyone else.

@280 travyl: *smirks* Indeed, but taking something figurative like that out of context and taking it literally is exactly what Egwene-haters do, isn't it? Including in that exact argument--I remember people doing that when Egwene made her self-comparison to Rand in TGS and getting all offended and bent out-of-shape ("How dare she compare their sufferings, there she goes being arrogant again") when in point of fact (as Wetlander and others showed) she was only pointing out similarities (not calling them identical) in order to find and display sympathy for and pride in Rand.

On the poll: aside from the Two Rivers archers, I'd say I'd want to be with the Asha'man, assuming the taint was gone, I hadn't gone mad (or had been Healed by Nynaeve if I had), and that Taim and his cronies were out of the picture.

@294 Freelancer: LOL!!!

@304 Looking Glass: Very good points, all! Though I'd note that the Aes Sedai do have power through the fact they run a stable and powerful banking institution, and they have a great deal of influence on trade through the taxing and shipping that goes on in Tar Valon. In that regard they don't need to leave the city or have assets and estates in every town or nation to have influence. And some Aes Sedai who were nobles still have estates and funds which grant them power beyond Tar Valon's walls.
William Fettes
317. Wolfmage

Certainly Egwene didn't make a total equivalency argument between her treatment and Rand’s. But you can certainly debate how appropriate it is to even place them in the same ballpark.

For example, imagine someone who compares some new draconian law to the Nazis. This law is really quite pernicious and it has already claimed thousands of victims and promises to claim more in the future. So you can technically say there are some substantive parallels to the Nazi regime, (though definitely not the genocide of 17 million Jews, gypsies and homosexuals). This person doesn’t positively claim they are the same thing, they just say X, Y, Z are the similarities. Now on one level you might say such a narrow technical comparison can’t really be gainsaid. There's no false equivilency so what's the problem?

Well the problem is that there are likely to be some people (especially victims, survivors or people who identify strongly with that history) who think it’s just inappropriate to even make a limited comparison because the scale is off and they are incommensurate. It's simply insensitive to the victims of the Holocaust to invoke that terrible tragedy glibly - and that's arguably part of the reason for Godwin's Law beyond the logical fallacy of using a emotively loaded false analogy.

IMO it's the same dynamic that rubs many people the wrong way with Egwene's comparison. Now obviously the gap between this hypothetical draconian law and the Holocaust is bigger than the gap between Egwene's treatment and Rands - but I am just using a very clear-cut example to illustrate the point.

For me, the treatment suffered by both are far, far apart. Egwene's treatment is harsh, but nothing like Rands. A limited comparison maybe technically true, but just the act of comparison without sufficient care misses the sheer brutality, torture and complete incapacitation and immobility suffered by Rand throughout his ordeal.
Debbie Solomon
318. dsolo
I'm behind on reading these posts, and was a bit surprised by the gender wars. I understand Leigh's POV re: male bonding/male rites of passage, but have never really felt I was missing anything. It always seemed to me that men require more team/organized events to stimulate bonding. I found the passage moving, because the father was acknowledging both his son's maturity and the fact that he probably would not be alive on his nameday. What it most strongly reminded me of was the scene in Helm's Deep, when chain mail and a sword are being handed to a boy of about 12 or 13, in preparation for the battle with the Trollocs....er, Orcs.

Maybe I'm dense, but I didn't find Zexxes post to be condescending or mansplaining, and I was surprised by Leigh's response. No one can agree with everything posted on this site, because there are too many different opinions and life experiences. All we can agree on is that we enjoy WoT series, in general. If we get in to specifics, everyone loves or hates different characters, although we're pretty unanimous in disliking Fain. Leigh does a great commentary, and it's always interesting to see where the story leads her.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
319. tnh
Dsolo: Pretty please, don't re-start that argument. All it will accomplish is to get this thread shut down.
Alice Arneson
320. Wetlandernw
macster @316 - Baba Yetu is an amazing song - and a good thing, too, because it's still going through my head. The fact that the kids ask for it every time we get in the car may have something to do with that... :)
Julian Augustus
321. Alisonwonderland
Wetlander @258:

Good for you. I work in an organization whose previous head, a female, preferred to be called the chairman. On her retirement, her male replacement chose to be called the chair!
316. macster

I'd also like to add in reference to your comments with @242, 277 Isilel, that the many of the institutions that predominately female run are failing institutions not uncapapble institutions. But institutions with the power and influence such as White Tower holds, are not built on innept governance. There were times of greatness during the time of the White Tower after the breaking and beyond.

The White Towers power and influence fluccuated over time, usually as a direct result of the leadership of that time. But what is interesting now is that the Tower failings aren't so much a result of mismanagement, but as a symptom of corruption. And this isn't any run of the mill individualized corruption, but a long planned infiltration of the institutions hierarchy, with a directive to disrupt and spoil any good deed possible from within.

This is way beyond the bounds of being eligible to be seen as incapable.

Terry McNamee
323. macster
@317 Wolfmage: You have a very valid point. But what you seem to not be acknowledging, and what many Egwene-haters outright deny, is that just because it may be unfair of Egwene to compare herself and her sufferings to Rand and his does not mean she is doing so out of malice or arrogance. The worst that can be attributed to her is ignorance (because she is unaware of the full extent and nature of what Rand went through); otherwise what she is doing is an attempt on her part, not to draw sympathy for herself, but to gain it herself for Rand.

So while what the two of them went through is not truly comparable, the fact Egwene was making the comparison says nothing about her arrogance and everything about her attempt, albeit misguided and a bit credulity-straining, to empathize with him so as to make her better able to stand by him against Elaida and those like her in the Tower. The fact that doesn't really seem to follow through in how she acts toward him in ToM is neither here nor there; the point is, at the time she was making the comparison, however ill-thought-out it might have been, it doesn't indicate she was arrogant and presumptuous, except to people who are already predisposed to view her that way.

Also, um...I hate to say this, but the comparison you made is itself kind of an example of Godwin's Law. I know why you made it, but it shouldn't have been necessary to bring up Hitler and the Holocaust to make your point. Particularly since the same logic applies: a person who was comparing a draconian law to the ones Hitler passed, while probably being rather thoughtless and insensitive, would not necessarily be doing so in order to belittle the Holocaust or make their own position look better. And again, I would contend Egwene wasn't trying to make herself look good at all, she was trying to understand Rand, sympathize with him, and gain solidarity for him so that she, like him, could stand up to Elaida. The fact her basis of comparison was flawed doesn't undermine the good intent behind her making it or prove her arrogant and presumptuous--except, again, to someone who can only see that in everything Egwene does and never looks at the context. Her comparison may not have been appropriate but that doesn't mean we can ascribe ill motives to it.

@320 Wetlander: LOL! I can see the problem then. There can be too much of a good thing...
Cody Daniels
324. CDaniels512
Not trying to hate on Egwene she is definitely cool but like all the other characters she has things in her personality on the plus side and things on the negative side. I just have to respond to this last post from macster:

"So while what the two of them went through is not truly comparable, the fact Egwene was making the comparison says nothing about her arrogance and everything about her attempt, albeit misguided and a bit credulity-straining, to empathize with him so as to make her better able to stand by him against Elaida and those like her in the Tower. The fact that doesn't really seem to follow through in how she acts toward him in ToM is neither here nor there; the point is, at the time she was making the comparison, however ill-thought-out it might have been, it doesn't indicate she was arrogant and presumptuous, except to people who are already predisposed to view her that way."

I don't know about the first part because in my opinion Egwene is not necessarily being overbearing about her assumptions that her and Rand's tortures were the same. She backs this up by mentioning some distinct differences between they way they were treated and how they were held prisoner. But, she does make assumptions and is being a bit presumptuous about the whole thing. I agree with you though it is positive because at least it proves she tries.

For me though it does throw some things out of whack when she stops this practice of looking at things from more perspectives than her own and says Rand has to be way off about the seals needing to be broken. Here the evolution of her character slipped back a bit because even though she doesn't totally realize it, we as readers know she is being arrogant and silly to assume Rand must be insane just because he says something that normally would mean disaster.

The world is no longer normal and rational at this point how can she assume so easily everything is still as it was. Well the answer is simple it is normal Aes Sedai assumptions and adherence to tradition. Although this situation has obviously has been created that way to keep the story on the necessary path.
325. Dylon Kayne Lodrik Crone
I would like tyo make the observation that Throughout the series the Children of the light are depicted horribly and most of em turn out to be darkfriends. But Galad follows the 'Religon' near perfectly and turns out to be a decent guy. Harsh, yes, but decent. In my opinion this represents the Catholic Chruch. Mainly because of the corruption. And Galad would be the first protastant, showing that their religion is a good thing and not some mass cult that oppresses the things they don't like. But yeah, just my 2 cents.
Angelique Price
326. ophel1a
That said, I certainly concede that for the particular audience Galad was playing to, his choice of argument was the perfect one to make, and I was totally rooting for him
i felt compelled to throw my two cents in the well, in that galad more or less proved himself to me to not be a religious zealot by merit of his sound, albeit cold at times, logic. that is, i don't think he -fully- believed his own argument--"i won the sword fight 'cause i walk in the light!"--but saw it as the only ground he could stand on, given his jury/audience. i mean, the fact that he pretty clearly understands that an alliance with not only aes sedai "witches", but the dragon reborn, male channeler and ultimate abomination extraordinaire is -necessary- shows that he Doesn't Quite Belong with the whitecloaks at large. he KNEW he wasn't going to win asunawa over, so he involved the officers that asunawa had brought, and felled them with their own warped logic (or planted the seeds, at this point.)

also, though, i've just always admired galad's cool, logical detachment, so naturally i am projecting somewhat! inescapable, as that's what makes reading so fun. (the projecting, i mean!) xP
William McDaniel
328. willmcd
Some really outstanding comments on this thread.

Heeth Tower was a truly great scene. I think my favorite part of it was, as a parent myself, seeing Malenarin's pride in his son. Parenting requires tremendous energy and sacrifice, but at the end of the day actions of the type that Keemlin takes here are what we are striving for. Keemlin has put the interests of another before his own, even including his own survival. For Malenarin, who knows he is in his last hours, it must be of great comfort to know that he has suceeded in raising his son to be the kind of man that Keemlin has become. It reminded me of "Braveheart" when the dying Campbell spoke of his pride in Hamish.

On the subject of Leigh's comments on feeling excluding from the manly war rituals, I am in the boat with andagil @95. I am a white male who was rather slow in realizing the way that contemporary Western culture marginalizes those who aren't white males. Had I read Leigh's thoughts when I was 19, I likely would have been quick to adopt a position of "Crap, she's talking about feminism again. GET OVER IT!!!". But as I've traveled through life I've learned to value the perspective of others more (and reading this blog and discussion has been a part of that), and now I appreciate the opportunity to read Leigh's reaction to the scene. It's not a perspective that I would have thought up on my own, and it's an extremely valuable and thought-provoking one. One of the multitude of great things that I've found in being married these last 15 years is that my wife will point things like that out to me.

I have to give a big shout-out to CireNaes@ 202 for a really excellent exploration of the symbolism in the biblical creation account and the myriad of ways in which it could be interpreted. I'm getting ready to do a bible study series on Genesis personally and this is exactly the kind of information I'm studying.

One of the things I really liked about this Prologue (which was really, really good all the way around) was the symbolism in the Galad PoV. The Whitecloaks are literally lost in the mire, which is representative of what their organization has become. It is Galad who must lead them out of it, first by example, and then by inspiring others. There are officers like Bornhald, who wants to turn back into the swamps, who will oppose him passively. There are others like Asunwa who will be a more active obstruction. I thought it was a great artistic depiction of the direction of the Whitecloaks as a whole.

I also noted the many parallels between the CotL and the White Tower (and Galad and Egwene specifically) and was going to write about that, too, but Wetlandernw @184 did an awesome job of illuminating that subject already.

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