Jul 24 2012 2:00pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 11

Shoot me down, but I won’t fall, WOTers – I am ti-TAN-I-UM The Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 17 and 18 of Towers of Midnight, in which pretty much everyone fights dirty – some more literally than others, depending on how you look at it.

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!


Chapter 17: Partings, and a Meeting

What Happens
Mat climbs out from under Aludra’s supply wagon, which he’d slept under at random to try to throw off the gholam, and heads back into camp in a foul mood, where Juilin finds him and tells him he is thinking of taking Thera and going with the Aes Sedai back to Tar Valon, as they have promised him work there. Mat tells him he’s welcome to go wherever he wants, and Juilin shakes his hand and leaves. Mat goes to where the Aes Sedai are preparing to leave, to make sure they aren’t commandeering too many of his horses, and finds Bethamin and Seta are there as well. He asks if they are going as well, and they say yes, though Seta adds that sometimes she thinks it would be better for them to die, for the danger they represent to the Empire.

“Go with the Aes Sedai,” Mat said. “I’ll give you your own horses, so you don’t have to rely on them. Learn to channel. That’ll be more use than dying. Maybe someday you two can convince Tuon of the truth. Help me find a way to fix this without causing the Empire to collapse.”

The two women looked to him, more firm and confident, suddenly. “Yes, Highness,” Bethamin said. “It is a good purpose for us to have. Thank you, Highness.”

Seta actually got tears in her eyes! Light, what did they think he had just promised them? Mat retreated before they could get any more odd ideas in their heads. Flaming women.

Thom joins him, and points out that Leilwin and Bayle Domon are there too, and Mat comments that if Leilwin goes as well as the Aes Sedai he’ll almost “start thinking life has turned fair” on him. Leilwin approaches and tells him she’d always intended to go to the White Tower since she’d left Ebou Dar, and wishes him luck, opining that his journey will be tougher than hers. Domon thanks him for keeping his word, and the two move off. Mat asks the Aes Sedai if they are set, and is amused when Joline forces herself to be polite to him, and more that Elayne had turned them away without an audience. Joline comments that she would have liked to have “tamed” him, and might come back someday for it. Mat tells her he’ll wait “breathlessly” for it, and gives her a parting gift of powdered sweetbuns, to her surprise. He tells them he’s sending soldiers with them, including Vanin, to bring the horses back from Tar Valon (and also to gather information on the status of the city), and tells them to deliver a message for him.

“I want you to tell the Amyrlin something,” he said. “If it’s Egwene, this should be easy. But even if it isn’t, you tell her. The White Tower has something of mine, and it’s nearly time that I reclaimed it. I don’t want to, but what I want never seems to matter a whisker, these days. So I’ll be coming, and I don’t mean to be bloody turned away.” He smiled. “Use that exact language.”

Teslyn doubts that Elaida will have given up the Amyrlin Seat, but agrees; Mat tells her she might be surprised. Teslyn tells him that Setalle Anan has decided to stay behind, which Mat is only mildly upset about. He bids the party farewell, and Teslyn and Edesina give him respectful farewells, as does Leilwin. On the way back, Thom asks about the sweetbuns, and Mat confides they will make Joline’s mouth blue for a week.

“Nice,” Thom said, knuckling his mustache. “Childish, though.”

“I’m trying to get back to my basic roots,” Mat said. “You know, recapture some of my lost youth.”

“You’re barely twenty winters old!”

“Sure, but I did a lot of living when I was younger.”

He goes to see Mistress Anan, who chides him at first for his disheveled appearance, but when he confesses that he doesn’t want to go back to his bloodstained tent, she tells him gently that he needs to hire a serving man to replace Lopin. Mat scowls and changes the subject to Olver. He tells Setalle that he is leaving with Thom soon, and should be back, but if he is not, asks her to look after Olver. She agrees, and he promises to move her and Olver into the city, and then later promises to get her back to her husband. She asks if the others are gone, and when he confirms it, looks regretful.

“I’m sorry,” Mat said. “About whatever happened to you.”

“The past is gone,” she replied. “And I need to leave it be. I should never have even asked to see the item you wear. These last few weeks have made me forget myself.”

He leaves her and goes looking for Olver, and a place to shave.

Elayne strolls through one of the palace’s rooftop gardens, worrying over the dying greenery. Birgitte complains she is too exposed up here, and is infuriated by Elayne’s assertion that Min’s viewing means that she will be safe until her babies are born. Birgitte points out acidly that there are plenty of ways Elayne can be very seriously hurt and still deliver healthy babies, but Elayne dismisses her concerns. Sumeko and Alise join them and greet Elayne respectfully. Elayne asks after the Kin, and Alise replies they are much better now that they are no longer being murdered one by one. Cautiously, Elayne asks what they plan to do since they cannot return to Ebou Dar. Sumeko declares they are going to Tar Valon, but Elayne counters that surely those who do not wish to or cannot become Aes Sedai might not want to go there. Alise, who is far more disillusioned with the Tower than Sumeko, says that she’d assumed they would stay in Caemlyn, and become the place Aes Sedai could retire into. Elayne agrees, and makes her proposal: she will offer them direct support from the Crown, in return for their services in Healing and Traveling.

“Imagine a place in Caemlyn where any person can come to receive Healing, free of charge. Imagine a city free of disease. Imagine a world where food can travel instantly to those who need it.”

“And a queen who can send troops wherever she needs,” Alise said. “Whose soldiers can fight one day, then be free of wounds the next. A queen who can earn a tidy profit by charging merchants for access to her gateways.”

Elayne concedes the point, but adds that Healing will be provided free of charge, and the people to be treated in order of the severity of their ailment, regardless of rank or wealth. Alise says she could agree to this, to Sumeko’s shock. Sumeko argues that Alise has no right to speak for the Kin and violate their Rule, but Alise counters that the Kin as it used to be is no more; they are not strong enough to stand on their own, and Caemlyn is as good a place to start over as any. Elayne puts in that they can reorganize their laws, and the lack of secrecy means they can marry, which will give them roots in the city and also help differentiate them from Aes Sedai, who seldom marry. Alise asks what the Amyrlin will think of them charging for their services.

“I will speak with Egwene,” Elayne repeated. “I’m certain I can convince her that the Kin, and Andor, are no threat to her.”

Hopefully. There was a chance for something incredible in the Kin, a chance for Andor to have constant and inexpensive access to gateways. That would put her on nearly equal ground with the Seanchan.

She dismisses the Kin, and walks a while more, reflecting that she was sure the Seanchan would be coming for Andor eventually, after Rand’s armies are weakened and maybe broken from fighting, and also that sooner or later the Seanchan will also have the secret of Traveling. She thinks that Andor is hers to protect now, and is determined to prove to her people the wisdom of their choice. The Kin are the first step in that, but she further reflects that she cannot and will not ask them to fight in battle for her, and there she is at a great disadvantage against the Seanchan.

The only thing she could think of was the Black Tower. It was on Andor’s soil. She’d told them that she considered them part of her nation, but so far she’d gone no further than sending inspection parties.

What would happen to them if Rand died? Dared she try to claim them? Dared she wait for someone else to?

So Mat’s bit in this chapter might as well be called Trimming The Dead (Plot) Wood. Begone, bit players! Juilin and Thera – done! Egeanin/Leilwin and Domon – sayonara, babies! The Aes Sedai Three – see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya, bam!

Well, okay then. Thera didn’t even get a line, heh.

I would be even more sarcastic about this, honestly, if I weren’t kind of glad it was happening. Yes, perhaps one and a half books out from the finish line we should be wrapping some things up, y/y? So I’m happy it’s being done, but I’m just kind of laughing about the speed of it.

Although, Egeanin’s comments to Mat here lend much more credence to the theory that the Seanchan woman helping Egwene in her Dream from – um. KOD? Something like that – is probably Egeanin. Which is kind of a shame, since I thought my “female archetypal figure representing the whole Seanchan Empire” theory was much prettier, sigh. But my heart will go on somehow!

I did like Mat’s message to Egwene re: coming to get the Horn, which I’m pretty sure I had completely forgotten about until this point. That should be a fun scene, heh. Also: Heroes of the Horn at the Last Battle, whoo!

(Still curious about what’s going to happen with Birgitte when the Horn is blown again. Possibly nothing, but it would be cool if something did. I hope the issue will at least be acknowledged, anyway.)

I also was amused that Mat inadvertently gave Seta and Bethamin a Royal Command – and a pretty steep one, too! Just help change the entire infrastructure of the Empire, guys. No pressure! (But hey, if it works I am TOTALLY behind it.)

Surprisingly, even though very little really happened in it I actually quite liked Elayne’s portion of this chapter, reflecting as it did the kind of difficult decisions a ruler of a large – and temptingly rich – nation would have to make in order to secure its safety. Those kinds of decisions are rarely pure as the driven snow, but the fascinating and frustrating thing about them is that they really can’t be.

Viewed one way, Elayne’s campaign to have a contractually obligated group of channelers dedicated to providing supply, transport and medical services for her armed forces – not to mention her as-yet vague thoughts on trying to commandeer the Asha’man for her own personal shock troops – is frankly alarming, especially for those with anti-imperialist convictions. Having that much power concentrated in one person – or nation – is scary, especially if you don’t happen to be part of that nation.

Viewed another, Elayne is perfectly correct in her worries about being outmatched by the Seanchan, and as the ruler of her nation has not only the right but the duty to do whatever she needs to do to protect it. And if that includes shamelessly taking advantage of the circumstances re: channelers as they are presented to her, well, it’s not like any other monarch wouldn’t do just the same. Not to mention, many other rulers/governments wouldn’t be nearly as likely to balance that military advantage with what amounts to vast public works programs (hey, a virtual magical highway system is still a highway system) and, heh, universal health care.

And yes, I do see the potential real-world parallels, and yes, I do find them kind of grimly amusing. Having Andor and the Seanchan Empire as the post-apocalypse version of a certain Mosk and Merk is… well, it’s quite a thought.


Chapter 18: The Strength of This Place

What Happens
Perrin runs through the wolf dream, feeling much better now that things were settled between him and Faile. He heads toward the Whitecloak camp, knowing that he could use the Asha’man and Wise Ones to crush them utterly if he decided to. He wanders through the extremely orderly camp.

The Whitecloaks liked things neat, tidy and carefully folded. And they liked to pretend the entire world could be polished up and cleaned the same way, people defined and explained in one or two words.

He finds the Lord Captain Commander’s tent, but other than momentarily seeing a signet ring with a winged dagger as its device, finds nothing useful. He checks out the tent where Gill and the others are being kept, and sees Gill’s hat for a moment. It occurs to him to wonder why he never used the wolf dream like this to check out Malden while Faile was kidnapped, and is troubled that he never even considered it. Hopper joins him, and Perrin comments that when he, Perrin, lets himself be consumed by a goal, his focus grows dangerously narrow.

“All right,” he said to Hopper. “I’m ready to learn.”

Hopper tells him, follow, and vanishes. He repeats this twice more, but Perrin cannot figure out where he has gone, and tells Hopper that he doesn’t learn the way wolves do; Hopper must explain what he is doing. Hopper sends him an image this time, of Emond’s Field, and Perrin follows him there, and is dismayed to see they are still flying the wolfshead banner. Hopper comments that men are strange, and is frustrated that Perrin doesn’t just know what he is supposed to do. Perrin asks him to explain what he means when he says Perrin is in the dream “too strongly.” Hopper says he cannot be too long away from “the other you,” and suggests he remember this place as his den, to keep him from being lost. Perrin thinks that it is Faile who is his home now, not Emond’s Field. Hopper thinks of her as like a beehive, “with sweet honey and sharp stings,” which makes Perrin smile.

The memory is part, Hopper sent. But the other part is you. You must stay as Young Bull. A wolf’s reflection in the water, shimmering and growing indistinct as ripples crossed it.

“I don’t understand.”

The strength of this place, Hopper sent an image of a wolf carved of stone, is the strength of you. The wolf thought for a moment. Stand. Remain. Be you.

Hopper hurls himself at Perrin, trying to knock him out of the dream, and Perrin practices holding himself there, following Hopper from place to place and then repelling Hopper’s attempts to shove him out, physically and mentally, finding the balance between holding steady and not holding too strongly. They keep practicing until they suddenly come to a translucent violet wall that cuts across the countryside and out of sight in all directions. Hopper says it is “wrongness,” and should not be there. Perrin debates touching it, but then it disappears. Hopper moves on, and Perrin follows, troubled.

Rodel Ituralde bellows orders from the top of the hillside guarding the only ford over the River Arinelle, outside the city of Maradon in Saldaea, trying to push back the horde of Trollocs that threaten to overrun it. He curses the lord of Maradon for refusing to open the city’s gates to him, considering them invaders, and then has to take cover as the Trollocs begin using trebuchets to hurl not boulders but rotting corpses at Ituralde’s camp. Ituralde calls for the Asha’man to Heal the wounded, though all of them are near exhaustion now. A messenger reports there are sixteen trebuchets, and Ituralde realizes he’ll have to pull the lower camp back further toward the city, as the hill will no longer adequately shelter them.

I never used to swear this much, Ituralde thought. It was that boy, the Dragon Reborn. Rand al’Thor had given Ituralde promises, some spoken, some implied. Promises to protect Arad Doman from the Seanchan. Promises that Ituralde could live, rather than die trapped by the Seanchan. Promises to give him something to do, something important, something vital. Something impossible.

Hold back the Shadow. Fight until help arrived.

[…] You’d better keep your word, boy.

Ituralde goes to the command tent while the men move the rest of the camp, and reflects that they do not have the numbers to hold, and eventually must be pushed back to the city, where they would be crushed against the walls if Maradon continued to refuse to let them in. Ituralde curses the Saldaeans again as bloody fools, and issues orders to get the archers and Asha’man in position to take out the siege engines.

“Something’s wrong,” Ituralde said.

“This whole bloody war is wrong,” Rajabi said. “We shouldn’t be here; it should be the Saldaeans. Their whole army, not only the few horsemen the Lord Dragon gave us.”

“More than that,” Ituralde said, scanning the sky. “Why carcasses, Rajabi?”

“To demoralize us.”

Ituralde supposes that’s it, but something seems off to him. Then he realizes that there are far too many corpses falling out of the sky to be accounted for by only sixteen trebuchets, and suddenly realizes that not all of them are corpses after all. He bellows a warning, and the camp goes into chaos as Draghkar drop out of the sky and attack. Ituralde begins screaming at the top of his lungs to drown out the monster’s hypnotic croons as he fights. Even with his screaming, he hears the war drums from the other side of the hill, and knows that the Trollocs are simultaneously renewing their efforts to ford the river.

You’d better keep your promise to send me help, boy, Ituralde thought as he fought the second Draghkar, his screaming growing hoarse. Light, but you’d better!

Faile strides through camp, also feeling refreshed after her night with Perrin, heading toward the Mayener section; she has decided it is time to do something about Berelain. Faile knows that as a ruler of a weak country constantly threatened by a stronger neighbor, Berelain is a master of manipulating and controlling rumor to her advantage, and she doesn’t believe for a moment the rumors about Berelain and Perrin were spread without Berelain’s collusion.

That woman, Faile thought. How dare she—

No. No, Faile couldn’t continue down that path. A good shouting match would make her feel better, but it would reinforce the rumors. What else would people surmise if they saw her stalk to the First’s tent, then scream at her? Faile had to be calm. That would be difficult.

The guards say they were given orders to expect her, and take her to Berelain’s tent. A displeased Annoura exits as she approaches, apparently having been kicked out. Faile reflects that this conversation could end in disaster, but that it had to be done, and enters. Berelain greets her calmly, and Faile reminds herself that no matter how beautiful the other woman was, Perrin loved her. She cuts through Berelain’s attempt at small talk, and Berelain states instead that the rumors are false, and nothing inappropriate happened between herself and Perrin. Faile replies that Perrin has already told her that, and she believes him over Berelain. Berelain frowns, and asks why she is here, then, and Faile says it is not what happened, but what is presumed to have happened that angers her.

“Such strong, persistent rumors are unlikely to have happened without encouragement,” Faile said. “Now everyone in the camp—including the refugees sworn to me—assumes that you bedded my husband while I was away. This not only makes me look like a fool, but casts a shadow upon Perrin’s honor. He cannot lead if people take him for the type of man who will run to the arms of another woman the moment his wife is away.”

Berelain says many other rulers have overcome rumors of infidelity, even when they were true, but Faile counters that Saldaea and the Two Rivers are different, and Perrin is not like other rulers, and the way his men look at him “rips him apart inside”. Berelain disagrees, and says he will learn to use the rumor to his advantage. Faile observes that she doesn’t understand Perrin at all, and Berelain snaps back that she understands men, and while Faile was clever to weld Saldaea to the Dragon Reborn by taking Aybara, she should not expect to keep him without a fight. Faile tells her that she might have been able to forgive Berelain for her own dishonor, but not for damaging Perrin’s.

“In the Borderlands, if a woman finds that another has been bedding her husband, she is given the option of knife combat.” That was true, though the tradition was an old one, rarely observed any longer. “The only way to clear my name is for you and me to fight.”

Berelain is incredulous, then calculating. She offers to publicly deny the rumors, and Faile tells her it is far too late to deny them only now that Faile has returned, and will only confirm their truth in many people’s eyes. She sees that Berelain believes Faile will actually go through with this, and tells her Faile will give her one day to respond to her challenge, and goes to leave. To her secret great relief, Berelain stops her, and asks her not to force this; surely they can come to an accommodation. She asks if Faile wants her to leave, but Faile says that will do nothing for the rumors. Berelain points out that killing her won’t dispel them either, and in fact will encourage them. Faile notes that her eyes look worried.

She realizes that she let this go too far, Faile thought, understanding. Of course. Berelain hadn’t expected Faile to return from Malden. That was why she’d made such a bold move.

Now she realized she’d overextended herself. And she legitimately thought Faile unhinged enough to duel her in public.

Berelain claims that Perrin directly encouraged her in her attentions during Faile’s absence, and Faile is amazed at how blind she is. She tells Berelain that she has two choices: fight Faile, and lose Perrin whether or not she wins the duel, or come up with another way to stop the rumors. Faile thinks that this is her gamble: to put Berelain in a position where she had to come up with the solution that Faile herself had failed to work out.

Faile met Berelain’s eyes, and allowed herself to feel her anger. Her outrage at what had happened. She was being beaten, frozen and humiliated by their common enemy. And during that, Berelain had the gall to do something like this?

At length, Berelain acquiesces. She says there may be a way, but she doesn’t think Faile will like it very much: they need to become friends. She says being enemies will only fuel the rumors, but if they are seen getting along, believably, that paired with Berelain’s public repudiation of the rumors should be enough. Faile is flabbergasted at the notion of pretending to like a woman she detests, but agrees, though she also demands that Berelain find herself another man to prove she is no longer interested in Perrin. Berelain agrees, and remarks that they shall see what happens.

Damn, this was a long chapter.

But Perrin is LEARNING THE DREAM THINGS, you guys! Finally! Huzzah!

And… yes. He’s learning the dream things. I am pleased, and… I have nothing else to say about that bit. There will plenty of time to talk about the violet wall later.

Oh, except this line which I am going to quote again because I wanna:

The Whitecloaks liked things neat, tidy and carefully folded. And they liked to pretend the entire world could be polished up and cleaned the same way, people defined and explained in one or two words.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the textbook definition of a zealot. And a bigot. Thank you, goodnight.

As for Ituralde, very nice little action scene. I liked the Trolloc-corpse-hurling thing. Well, I mean, I didn’t like the Trolloc-corpse-hurling thing, because I am not a sicko, but I liked the shoutout to one of the oldest forms of biological warfare around.

(In case you’re curious, and of course you are, in 1346 the Mongol army besieging the Crimean city of Kaffa became infected with what would later be known as the Black Death, and in desperation hurled the plague-ridden corpses of their own men over the walls of the city so as to infect the Europeans within. It is theorized (though not proven) that it was from the survivors of the siege of Kaffa that the disease spread to Europe, where it killed up to one third of the population of the continent before running its course. This theory is fairly hotly contested, from what I understand, but if true, it would mean that the siege of Kaffa still stands as the single most devastating occurrence of biological warfare in history even today. Wacky!)

But the Shadow totally one-upped the Mongols, even, by using it not as biological warfare so much as an infiltration tactic. So, er, go them? Well, no, obviously, but you do have to admit it was pretty clever.

Also, what the hell, Saldaeans? I have to admit, I actually found it pretty difficult to believe that any Borderlanders would just sit there and watch while somebody else fought Trollocs for them. Haven’t these guys ever heard the axiom the enemy of my enemy is my friend? Or, you know, just had some common human decency? I raise a skeptical eyebrow in this plot development’s general direction!

As for Faile and Berelain, well. I’m not sure why Faile would be surprised that Berelain would believe that Faile would be crazy enough to challenge her to trial by combat, because as far as I can tell, before what she went through in Malden, Faile totally would have been that crazy. And I’m not sure if I’m being hypocritical about this or not, but I have to say my reaction on reading this bit was that I wouldn’t have really blamed her all that much if she had been that crazy, because I always thought that what Berelain did was seriously beyond the pale.

Mind you, I’m very impressed that Faile had the werewithal to take the high road on the situation, especially since Berelain was quite correct in pointing out that the two of them even being at odds, never mind actually dueling, was going to do nothing but prove that the rumors were true in most people’s minds. I’m not doubting that Faile’s approach was the correct one; I’m just not sure that I personally would have had the control to not take that opportunity for reprisal, or redress, or whatever. So go Faile, on that count.

It was a nice bit of subtlety, though, to highlight how Berelain really was (mostly) thinking of what she did in political terms, while Faile was thinking of it in emotional ones, because it is true that when you consider it in strictly political/tactical terms, Berelain’s actions are… well, not okay, certainly, but I think rather less heinous than if you consider them in light of what she was really doing without realizing it (at least if you buy her story), which was trying to destroy a love-match.

Actually, it sort of in a weird way comes back to what I was talking about in Elayne’s POV in the previous chapter. In her mind, Berelain wasn’t trying to ruin Faile’s marriage so much as she was trying to secure the future of her country, and therefore to her, doing some potentially morally questionable things to accomplish that goal is a necessary evil. The difference being, of course, that Berelain is making the mistake that so many leaders make, which is assuming that politics is a zero-sum game: in order for me to win, you must lose. It didn’t occur to her that Perrin (and Faile) were playing by entirely different rules.

(Elayne’s danger is slightly different. It is not that she believes her gain must be everyone else’s loss, because she doesn’t; it is that everyone else may assume that that is what she believes, and therefore move to curb her gain before it becomes their loss. If that makes sense.)

Of course, all that said, I also think that Berelain’s motives were certainly not entirely only politically motivated; it was very definitely personal as well, as anyone who’s read TSR would certainly be in a position to know. Whether or not one chooses to condemn her for her actions depends, I think, on whether one feels the balance tips further toward the political, practical motive or the personal, vengeful one.

Or maybe you disagree, and think that the political motive is actually the more distasteful of the two. Or that there is no real difference between them, morally. DISCUSS.

And that, I think, is all she wrote for now, kiddies! Have a week, and I will be back next Tuesday with Moar!

Deana Whitney
1. Braid_Tug
I like fighting dirty

Edit: Wow... First!

Ahwww Chapter 17, such a nice pretty bow to wrap some things up.
So love Mat’s pranks and his honest commination with Stella.

So hate Elyane’s easy dismissal of Birgitte’s concerns / very valid point of being able to deliver healthy babies, while the mother is hurt.

WHY have the Yellows not set ups satellite healing centers over the last thousand years or so?
Oh yes, in a world where travel is hard(ish), let’s not got out to the people, but make sick (& poor) people come to us in the center of the world to be healed.
So you better be sick of something that will let you live for three weeks while you travel.

So I’m happy that Elyane is setting up hospital with the Kin, but I still think they need to enlarge their scope.

The whole Ituralde fight I found interesting, but have to wonder if his parts being paired with Perrin’s all the time in this book will have meaning in AMoL.
Lurking Canadian
2. Lurking Canadian
The non-action of the Saldaeans is pretty well explained, I think. Their boss, the king's cousin, was a Darkfriend who was on the wrong side, and Saldaeans will literally die rather than commit treason, even against a suspected Darkfriend.

Not a wise policy to have in the Borderlands, perhaps, but certainly consistent with other whackjob Saldaean customs.
Stefan Mitev
3. Bergmaniac
Best thing about those two chapters is that the feud between Berelain and Faile finally ended. About 7-8 books later than I would've preferred, but better late than never.

Elayne's plan for the Kin is really smart, but I wonder what Egwene would say about it. Making the offer to Sumeko and Alyse before consulting with Egwene was a pretty bold move. Elayne probably realises that right now given the precarious political position of the Tower it needs her support as a Queen more than she needs the Aes Sedai which gives her some leeway.
Lurking Canadian
4. Glawen Clattuc
Thanks, Leigh.

Re the strange passivity of the Saldeans in the face of the Trolloc attack, I think the reason for this becomes more clear in a future chapter, when we learn a little more about the Lord in command of Maradon.
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
So pleased with Faile's resolution of the Berelain problem. It shows a welcome sense of maturity and upgrades her back in the direction of being a kick ass major character.

Berelain interfering with married Perrin is one of my two biggest headdesks in the entire series (along with Elayne interfering with Mat's management of his troops on the way down to Ebou Dar). They're on a critical mission with the fate of the world at stake and she is screwing with the mind of her leader and harming his reputation with his conservatively minded, traditional troops. It is mindblowing how stupid and potentially harmful to the cause this is and it contibuted immeaurably to the painful nature of the PLOD. Arrgghh. Thank the Light we're moving past it. Thank you Faile. All your sins are forgiven.

Jeremy Vanneman
6. Jeribai
@ 2 and 4, you guys beat me to it, so nevermind about the DF.

@3, I totally agree. Elayne making an agreement about the future of the Kin, when she knows that Egwene already has plans for them ... and tying them directly to Caemlyn ... seems like she's forgetting that she still answers to Egwene as AS, even if she is Queen.

Yay, Perrin finally learning the Dream!
Yay, Ituralde saving the world long enough to have Rand be uber-awesome!

I always found this chapter to be where Berelain changes from a complex, slightly likable, slightly repulsive character to a very straightforward dimwit. When Faile was in Malden, she seemed to come to a truce with Perrin, not because of political reasons, but because she did have a level of humanity to her deeper than being a manipulative politician. At the same time I do think that her moves toward Perrin were mostly political. Although she may have had some physical attraction to Perrin, it seemed to only be a side thought. Despite that, she had depth as a character ... more motivation than "I want to sleep with a guy that's close to Rand for the good of my country." Now, it seems like she's saying that whatever depth she seemed to have was actually just a facade.

Oh, and Leigh, I'm surprised you give Faile props for taking the high road. I mean, really, she didn't. She still would have gone through with it ... unless you think she would've backed down if Berelain hadn't come up with a better plan ... and I don't give her nearly that much credit. She just wasn't smart enough to come up with a plan of her own, so she used her plan B to have Berelain create a plan A or be killed.

Oh, and Elayne's whole "I can't be hurt because my babies will be born healthy" thing ... I really thought she was smarter than that. I mean Birgitte points it out, but she could also be 13x13ed, captured, lose a limb or an eye, or any number of things.
Lee VanDyke
7. Cloric

I think part of the pairing was because of the Dark Prophecy we get at the end that talks about the Wolf dying, etc. I don't have my book handy to quote exactly. Since Perrin is of course a wolf brother, and Ituralde is known as the Wolf or the Little Wolf.
William Carter
8. wcarter
Mat is awesome, but in a way that was kind of mean of him.

Dude goes and gives what he thinks is just a suggestion to two peopole. Two people who see him as the second ranking member of an empire. So how do they take it? As imperical orders and lifelong purpose given to them by the second ranking person in the empire. A man, who in all likelyhood is so far above them in their caste system he might as well be a god.

And he doesn't even realise it.
Lurking Canadian
9. Triandar
Woohoo - David Guetta shoutout! :)

Love the re-read - hope it will tide us over until January!
William Carter
10. wcarter
@6 Jeribai

Yes, I think Elayne is exactly that stupid. I've always felt Elayne was the most static of the main characters. She hasn't really grown as a person at all since the beginning, and in some ways she acts far more immature now than she did even in Tear. At least then, she was a little cautious.

Yes, she's a well rounded character and she does a number of impressive things. But her arrogance rivals Rand at his worst and she doesn't even have the taint as an excuse.

She flat out doesn't seem to care how many people get hurt or even die because she wants to go trotting off into battle just because "A queen of Andor has to be brave." And while this next accusation may not quite be fair, a number of her POV's make it seem like she didn't care how many people died so she could be queen of Andor.

Mat saved her ass in the Stone--no apology until Aviendha shames her into it, and then she wasn't sorry, she just wanted to make Aviendha proud of her. More than half a dozen books later she's still jumping into things and risking other peoples' lives because she thinks the One Power or Destiny or some bullshit like that will magically save her.
Lurking Canadian
11. ChocolateRob
Hey Leigh, you might want to check out the TV Tropes Wheel of Time Characters section (Aiel) before some spoilsport alters it.

Sorry. It was late, I was bored.
Maiane Bakroeva
12. Isilel
Didn't manage to comment on the previoys intallment, but yea, Nyn was totally awesome in it, even though the whole healing madness thing seemed like a total plot gift. I mean, she looks and she does it? At least with healing severing, she was working on it for a couple of months.

But the whole "I must remember that what I do matters" was great, as well as her compassion towards the people.
Interaction with Rand was also great. I always loved Nyn - IMHO she does the whoe "unintentionally funny, entertainingly hypocritical, but awesome when the chips are down" routine better than Mat. Heresy, I know. Anyway, Rand is great too - catches Nyn completely flatfooted and offers some very necessary insight.

On to this week's crop:

I was one of the probably few people who were disappointed by Mat's female contingent deserting him en mass. I thought that we'll finally see some cooperation between genders in the military, that the channelers will learn to be creative under Mat's influence and work in tight concert with the troops and that ex-Egeanin wwould become his artillery captain. Alas... Instead Mat's male paradise is nearly restored, apart from that pesky Setalle Anan.

Re: Elayne - some really good ideas, but why wouldn't she ask the Kin to fight the Seanchan? I mean, they'd be coming to put the Kin in vilest slavery imagineable, so how is an imposition or unethical? While using the BT with it's 12-year-old children is A-OK, of course. This makes no sense...

Ituralde is awesome. Great sequence that reminds us what is at stake, while everybody else is stubbornly involved with other issues.

Perrin - at long last. If only it had been happening 5 volumes ago, his impending T'AR badassness may even have felt earned...

Faile/Berelein - glad that it is finally over, but don't care about the details, honestly.
Lurking Canadian
13. jemron
I still want to see Faile cutting off Berelain's hair so that Berelain can become a Seanchan High Lady (as she is directly descended from Artur Hawkwing and RJ foreshadowed her hair being removed by Faile MANY times). I wonder if this will still happen.
Charles Gaston
14. parrothead
One of my favorite bits in the entire series (obviously, since I can quote it from memory):
"Your she is like a bee's nest, full of sweet honey and sharp stings." The image Hopper sent was that of a very confusing female wolf, one who would playfully nip at his nose one minute, the next growl, refusing to share her meat.
That aside, Sanderson continues to have difficulties with Faile; her conversation with the Mayener slut could have set a world record for greatest number of times the word "rumor" is used.

Rodel is still cool. Nice catch on the RL corpse chucking; especially interesting given that is actually the Saldeans who are based (partly) on Turkic/Central Asian steppe peoples like the Mongols.

I like Elayne's plan for the Kin a hell of a lot better than Egwene's. Letting them be a useful political/philanthropic organization instead of a magical retirement home? Oh yeah.
Bill Reamy
15. BillinHI
Elayne is like so many of the other characters in WoT: does some incredibly brave/insightful things and then becomes as dumb as a bag of hammers. (I'll comment more on her "handling" of Perrin later on when we get to it, but that seems like a combination of the two sides of Elayne.)

It has been (and will be) discussed, but in view of Elayne's proposal to the Kin and that proposal not being viewed kindly by Egwene, but one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) changes I hope for after the Last Battle, is that Egwene and the AS get back to being what they are supposed to be: Servants of All, not clandestine Rulers of All. The idea that Egwene has the right to directly rule all channelers is absurd, given the abject failures the AS have experienced in the past. Yes, I know they have done good things as well, but on balance I see them as mostly distrusted by the general populace. Not to say that the Wise Ones and the Windfinders don't have to have their arrogance dialed back a lot, because they do.

Yes, the Whitecloaks are bigots but so is virtually every other nation/grouping of people in Randland and Seanchan both. The Whitecloaks are the worst of the lot (IMO) but the Aiel all think that all wetlanders are idiots (or worse), as do the Sea Folk. I am really hoping to see this start to change after Tarmon Gaidon.

Edit to add: Wholeheartedly agree with parrothead above that Elayne's plan for the Kin is much better than Egwene's, although I don't recall that Egwene's plan would rule out at least some of what Elayne would have them become.
Terry McNamee
16. macster
The Mat section may have been swiftly dispensing with various characters, but it makes sense because at this point, finally nothing is holding them there. And the partings were all in-character and well done. Sending off Bethamin and Seta with the order to change Tuon's mind but still save the Empire has so much portent for solving the damane problem (and incidentally the Aiel future) it isn't funny, and I certainly hope that somehow they can help. And of course that combined with Mat saying he'd be coming for the Horn and the fact Egeanin would be with them all points to what we know will happen--the second Seanchan attack on the Tower, but also Egwene/the Aes Sedai being saved. Whether that will be through Egeanin alone, Bethamin and Seta as well, or Mat blowing the Horn, who knows...all I do know is that unless Juilin is very lucky he will likely be having to protect poor Thera from being captured yet again and breaking down completely.

Also, Mat's prank on Joline was hilarious, and I was rather touched at the sympathy he showed to Setalle Anan.

Elayne: is an idiot when it comes to Min's viewing, to the point where this is the first time I can actually agree with her haters' assessment of her--nowhere in evidence here is her intelligence, insight, and wisdom. I defended her plan to take out the Black Ajah in KOD, but there is no defense for this--she is simply overconfident, foolish, and utterly blind to the truth, and unless she truly has learned from what happens in the dungeons, I am afraid she really will die in AMoL.

On the other hand, her political acumen is otherwise as astute as ever, and I applaud her continued attempts not only to make Andor strong for the Last Battle (and to withstand the Seanchan) but also bring peace, prosperity, and compassion to her people through the Kin's Healing and Traveling. And while clearly we know what a disaster it would be at present for her to claim the Black Tower, once Taim and his Darkfriend Asha'man are gone, allying with Logain will indeed be beneficial for all, I think.

Not much to say on Perrin, aside from how awesome it is not only that he's finally properly learning to use the wolf dream, but that the process is actually intriguing and fun to read. I also have to note some amusement at him finding Galad's sigil in his tent--unless I miss my guess this is the first and only time it has been mentioned outside the Glossary (and that was in TEotW no less!). Talk about a blast from the past. And even then Balwer doesn't recognize it so it ends up being useless. :P

Ituralde: is badass. And somehow I don't care he got introduced so late in the series, because as far as I'm concerned he has proven his general cred and will clearly be quite instrumental in the Last Battle. Although if his constant linking with Perrin and that Dark Prophecy are any indication, the Little Wolf may be the one who will end up broken and consumed by the Forsaken. (I guess Death knows him because he lost so many friends at Maradon? Or does Moridin know of him via Graendal's manipulations?)

Faile vs. Berelain: Score a big one for the Saldaean. I have never liked Berelain, save when she was doing something unrelated to Perrin or that moment when she showed sympathy toward him and declared a truce. Whether it was political advantage she sought or revenge for how Faile treated her back in the Stone, it was petty, ridiculous, and immoral. I have to wonder what would happen if perfect, "I must always do the right thing" Galad were to find out the woman he's falling head over heels for was doing her level best to seduce a married man. But at this point Faile wants them together, so there's no way she or Perrin would let Galad know, and you can bet that despite her protestations about expediency, power for Mayene, and Rand's "wishes", Berelain won't be telling him either... Ah well, in the end they do at least manage to bury the hatchet (well, knives, and in the ground not each other :P ), and Berelain shows her cleverness later on, so I can grudgingly like her I suppose.

@12 Isilel: If matters at the Tower with the second Seanchan attack, and Mat coming for the Horn, go the way I think they might, you could get a chance to see him reunite with his female contingent again. As for Perrin, while it did take a long time for him to get there, since I've always liked him and once he got his head on straight he was absolutely awesome and badass, I think he did earn it. On the Kin, I think Elayne feels she can't use them because they don't know how to properly fight with the One Power. Not that many Aes Sedai do either :P but unless the Kin get trained by channeling Wise Ones...still, perhaps some will volunteer (or be forced to fight) when the Shadowspawn attack Caemlyn...

@13 jemron: LOL!

@14 parrothead: I am curious as to how you would have rewritten the conversation so as to remove all the repetitions of "rumor" without inserting far too many obvious synonyms. Just saying, off the top of my head I'm not sure how I would do such a thing, and I have an English degree.
Kimani Rogers
17. KiManiak
Thanks, Leigh!

Mat: I’m biased, I will automatically like a Mat chapter, no matter what does/not happen in it. But I think this was needed. The Aes Sedai need to be back on their way to Tar Valon; and I also think that Bethamin and Seta will actually play a decent role in relations between the White Tower and the Seanchan. They needed to be placed in a position where they could do that.

Plus, we got to see Mat act all regal and inspiring without him even knowing what he was doing (which is par for the course, with Mat). He will make an excellent complement to Tuon once this is all over. He may even teach her a thing or two…

Elayne: I was going to do a (somewhat usual for me) flippant yet quick remark about how she’s kinda dumb for solely relying on the protection of Min’s viewing when there’s all kinds of loopholes in her reasoning (like Birgitte points out here), and then move on.

And I do feel that about her. But, I have to give her props for seeing the potential in a great resource like the Kin, and having the savvy to set up the foundation for a lucrative (and beneficial) service in Andor. Say what you will about Elayne (and I have a lot to say about her, usually not favorable), but she does love her country and wants to do what’s best for its long term stability and prosperity.

I get Leigh’s concerns about imperialism, but for now I’m willing to overlook that potential problem. She’s approaching the Last Battle and wants to give her people and her nation every possible chance to survive and possibly flourish. That’s the mark of a good ruler to me.

So props to Elayne for her plan. (Even if she is an idiot in regards to her personal safety. I tell you, she refutes some of the basic tenets of natural selection and/or survival each time she puts herself in danger.) Nicely done, Elayne :-)

Perrin: Yeah, whatever; he’s learning the Wolf Dream. We’ve got some chapters to go before this gets all that interesting.

Ituralde: One of my favorite arcs of ToM. I’m sure all of the Great Captains have (had in Niall’s case) a reason for being so named, but it was a treat to read about Ituralde’s exploits. Also, it was good of Team Jordan to demonstrate some of the tactics that Team Dark may use (nice ploy with the Draghkar) against Team Light, and vice versa.

Faile: Didn’t annoy me as much as she normally does. She handled Berelain fairly well. I find that I didn’t care so much about Berelain’s cynical view in her reasons for pursuing Perrin, nor about Faile’s ability to finally understand who Perrin is and what he wants/values/appreciates. The knife fight would’ve been fun to read about, though. Oh well.
j p
18. sps49
I missed the bit about Faile deducing that Berelain had written her off after her kidnapping. I still think Berelain acted stupidly, but at least this provides a justification. Or rationalization.
Roger Powell
19. forkroot
I was one of the probably few people who were disappointed by Mat's female contingent deserting him en mass. I thought that we'll finally see some cooperation between genders in the military, that the channelers will learn to be creative under Mat's influence and work in tight concert with the troops and that ex-Egeanin wwould become his artillery captain. Alas... Instead Mat's male paradise is nearly restored, apart from that pesky Setalle Anan.
Yeah - I was disappointed that Teslyn didn't decide to stay and work with the Band. I'm kinda hoping she'll be back to work with Mat and Co. later - perhaps after she "checks in" at the WT.

one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) changes I hope for after the Last Battle, is that Egwene and the AS get back to being what they are supposed to be: Servants of All, not clandestine Rulers of All.
{:: waves and cheers! ::}
Lurking Canadian
20. Taryntula
It bothers me that Thom says "Nice" as a response to Mat's childish prank. Thom would never say "Nice," he's a court bard with a lot more vocabulary than that. Nit-picky, I know.
Rich Bennett
21. Neuralnet
I had forgotten about Mat's "orders" to Seta and Bethamin... it makes me wonder if the outrigger novels RJ had planned might have been at least partailly focused on how the seanchen relationship with channelers plays out.

Also, the dark side strategy with the corpses/draghkars is brilliant. I think this might be the first time we actually see a good/smart strategy by the villains in this series.
Lurking Canadian
22. desertpaladin
Long time reader, 2nd or third time poster.

Faile: (Grumble) less annoying than usual, and I will leave it at that.

Perrin: See Faile entry.

Mat: I will admit to being nonplussed about the sheer amount of devotion Mat gets, because he has always bugged me. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but here he's not so bad. What I am eager to see is the usage of the Horn. It's my hope that we may yet get to see Verin again as one of the Heroes the Horn summons. (If this happens all of you may just be able to hear my shouts of joy!)

Ituralde: Buckets of awesomesauce. I cannot say that enough.

Elayne: Is there such a thing as selective stupidty? Because she can turn the "little grey cells" off faster than anyone. But at the same time her handling of the kin and ultimate plan for them is great. Hopefully she lives long enough to see that through, because if she doesn't the Kin could become a very dangerous weapon in anyone else's hands.

On a side note the only other thing I want to see in the last book is Egwene getting taken down a peg (or 18). This may garner me some rage from the Egwene lovers out there, but to me it has been a long time coming. (maybe Rand should spank her???) Sorry couldn't resist. :D
Chin Bawambi
23. bawambi
Actually, I gotta disagree with smart strategy comment about Dark Side. I think they've been mostly bumbling but not completely. Verin said that the DO wants selfish people so their co-ordination will naturally be hampered. That being said Mesanna and Alviarin were quite effective in almost permanently breaking the tower. If not for emo Perrin Egghead would have been toast. I think Moridin has been quite effective as we had several books of Dark Rand and if it weren't for Caddys bumbling Rand could have easily passed the point of no return.

On another point, for me Berelain will always be one of my least favorite characters in all of WoT. I hope Galad and her are miserable together. YMMV.

Charles Gaston
24. parrothead
@16 macster:

All along, along
There were incidents and accidents,
There were hints and allegations

Now that that is as firmly stuck in everyone's head as it is mine. I actually felt the entire exchange was a bit too wordy, but there are ways they could have talked around it. Most prominently to call it what it is: a lie. A rumor is something you heard from your coworker who heard it from his assistant who heard it from the girl in marketing. This, on the other hand, she knows is a lie, because she made it up. The constant repetition of one word when another is more appropiate, as well as the exclusion of other choices (gossip, slander, etc.) or an unrelated term - filth comes to mind, or insult - left me wincing.

@ 23 bawambi: right with you on Berelain, but I don't see it happening. She and Captain America Amadacia will be disgustingly happy. Aside from the obvious - Elaida, Whitecloaks - she is one of my three most hated characters. Berelain, Tuon, and Cadsuane, or as I think of them, the Furies. Harbingers of disaster who leave misery in their wake.
Lee VanDyke
25. Cloric

I would be willing to bet that Berelain never once, in any way, actually said that she and Perrin slept together. It was supposedly her maids, and perhaps a truth-twisty Annoura, who fostered the stories. Just because she didn't outright deny it doesn't mean she lied about it. Thus: rumor and innuendo.
Thomas Keith
26. insectoid
Hi Leigh... fancy meeting you here! Great post as always.

Yay, Mat is back! And everyone is leaving him... oh well.

Spiked sweetbuns: Childish, yes, but LOL. Joline probably deserves it.

Elayne: Enh... we all know she's just getting ready to do something stupid and reckless (with the viewing as her insurance). Though I do like her idea of the Kin providing free healthcare, transportation, etc.

Perrin: Em—no, wait. Actually willing to learn how to use the wolf dream! Yay!

Ituralde: Being as awesome as one can be fighting a losing battle. I guess that's why he's a Great Captain, huh?

Faile and Berelain: *facepalm* Not this again... At least this whole deal will be ended when Berelain sets eyes on that Man in White eight chapters from now.

jemron @13: LOL!!

BillinHI @15:
Servants of All, not clandestine Rulers of All.

Julian Augustus
27. Alisonwonderland
Who says Berelain would have been the one killed in a knife fight with Faile? Berelain is far better trained in hand to hand combat than Faile! She knows Randland's equivalent of kung-fu, karate, muay thai, judo, whatever. Remember, in TSR Faile attacked Berelain with a knife; Berelain took the knife from Faile and wiped the floor with her. The only way Faile would have won a knife fight is by the pattern taking a hand.
Charles Gaston
28. parrothead
@ 27 Alisonwonderland

One has been lounging on silk sheets in an extravagant tent. The other has been doing manual labor and in a constant state of readiness for weeks. Which is better primed for combat at this moment?

@25 Cloric

Telling someone else to lie for you still counts as lying. Thus: not innuendo.
Sydo Zandstra
29. Fiddler

If I read it right, Faile meant/said Berelain would lose, regardless of who'd kill who, because to Perrin Berelain would have been the one to kill his wife. And that would defeat Berelain's purpose in using Perrin to attach to Rand.

I do agree with your assessment of Berelain being better in a duel. Unless it'd be a duel to the death, maybe...
Lee VanDyke
30. Cloric

See, but that's the thing... Berelain has been presented to us as someone super-savvy in the ways of politics. Allowing yourself to be caught in a lie - or a provable collusion to a lie - doesn't fit with her. Allowing her maids to see a un-dressed Perrin in her bed, and her in her dressing gown says all she wants to be said with not one untrue word spoken. After she repudiates the rumors, her maids could and likely did, say, "Oh... well, I guess we just misunderstood what we saw. Mistress never actually SAID they..."
Roger Powell
31. forkroot
Faile would have had little or no chance (and she knew it.) The BBoBA mentions how the First of Mayene is trained in various Martial Arts due to the constant threat of assassins from Tear.

As noted above, Faile already tried to attack her and was easily disarmed.
Charles Gaston
32. parrothead
Allowing your maids to be free with their tongues doesn't make any sense, either, especially for someone who is allegedly super-savvy. Anything that was said, they had permission to say. I am reading directly from Winter's Heart: one of her maids was stationed outside her tent that night with a ready story for whoever came to ask about Perrin.
Lurking Canadian
33. Wotman
I think it was time to wrap up the Mat crew, they arrived and there was no need to keep them together any longer, and he handled it pretty good, there was a comment about Mat being mean, but I say that he has never wrapped his head around the fact that he is "the" Prince and so it was only in after thought after seeing the reaction that he even realized what he had done.

Elayne - - (headdesk; headdesk) I blame it on poor writing, whenever she thinks about Andor she is 100% on, but on most other things, she is an airhead. She does have a potential problem with Egwene in regards as to loyalty; Egwene is getting a pretty big head now she really is the head cheese and I see trouble ahead. Hopefully, she will understand the situation and Elayne's responsibilities to Andor trumps hers to AS, She never said she would be a tool to be manipulated.

Perrin, he is finally getting around to what he should have done umpteen books ago, so things are looking up there.

Faile and Berelain, I think that was poor writng again, Faile was humiliated in the Stone of tear by Berelain, so I don't see how Berelain would have been afraid of her. At least hey arrived with a good resolution.

Itarold, I truly feel for him, he is doing his best and sees his own end coming up in the rear view mirror, but he never falters, he is a true hero and great leader.
Lee VanDyke
34. Cloric
Allowing her maids to have free tongues with a story that she doesn't mind being spread makes perfect sense.

My point to all this was simply that while she was dishonest in what she allowed, perhaps even encouraged, I highly doubt she personally stated an untruth. And, in regards to your original point about calling it what it was (e.g. a lie), by not out and out calling Berelain a liar, Faile didn't force her to take personal umbrage, there-by allowing a more diplomatic solution.
Stefan Mitev
35. Bergmaniac
One minor thing which bugged me here is that there's no reason why Edesina would not be allowed an audience with Elayne, she was with the rebel fraction of the Aes Sedai after all, and if she had half a brain she'd have mentioned it in her request. It would've saved her a lot of riding - one Gateway and she'd be right next to Tar Valon.

I totally agree with Isilel about the Kin fighting against the Seanchan - you'd think they'd actually want to do it (it's both self-defence and a revenge for them and they know that the Seanchan have to stopped at all costs, otherwise they'd ended up in terrible slavery) and Elayne would be very eager to use them. The whole thing makes no sense to me. Even if they are unskilled with battle channelling, the basics can be taught pretty quickly and through linking they can help other channellers (Aes Sedai, even the Asha'man) a hell of a lot. I am still hoping Elayne, Egwene and the leaders would come to their sense eventually and prepare the Kin for this, though it seems too late. Such training would have been useful against Shadowspawn too.
36. MasterAlThor
Good stuff here.

Faile & Berelain,

I did not like this at all. When I was reading that part of the chapter it felt like Faile had outwitted and cowed Berelain. Go back to TSR and read the interaction between Berelain and Faile again. Does Berelain seem like a person that would be scared of Faile no matter what she decided to do?
Remember Berelain defended herself from Faile quite easily and was about to put a whuppin on that a$$ before Rhuarc interviened. Plus Berelain has been defending her country from Tear and the Slum Lords since she was like 16. So just how exactly does Faile outwit her?

I just don't buy it.

Sam Mickel
37. Samadai
Faile was goading Berelain into finding a solution for the problem that Faile could not. She used the fight to the death as the prod, she knew that Berelain has excellent political skills.
Valentin M
38. ValMar
I'm surprised how many posts it took for someone to state the obvious- Berelain has already been shown to be easily capable of dealing with Faile in a fight. Actually, if Faile managed to make it into a fight.
Since the Stone Faile probably got better and Berelain won't be able to surprise her but still... The way their conversation was written it seem that Berelain became afraid for herself when Faile suggested the duel. I'm not suggesting there should've beeen total nonchalance from Berelain, but she should've been able at least to keep a straight face!
Since they already had a potentially deadly fight and given the context of the talk, it is strange that there wasn't an allusion to said fight in the scene.

MAT @ 36


Actually, the scene read a bit too much like the writer was a fan of Faile and/or disliked Berelain. Sadly. As was suggested already, Berelain had good reasons to avoid a duel. Besides the public embarassment (she is meant to deal with assassins trying to kill her in some palace corridor, not brawl like a drunken sailor for a bedmate) she simply couldn't win from the duel- death/serious injury from Faile or death/hate from livid or homicidal Perrin. Depending on injured or killed Faile.
There was no need to portray Belerain in such an unexpected light.
Lurking Canadian
39. Nik_the_heratik
Isilel @ 12: "Didn't manage to comment on the previoys intallment, but yea, Nyn was totally awesome in it, even though the whole healing madness thing seemed like a total plot gift. I mean, she looks and she does it? At least with healing severing, she was working on it for a couple of months."

The justification was that the taint worked very much like compulsion which she spent a good chunk of time on earlier. And I agree, it was very cool.
Lurking Canadian
40. Nik_the_heraik
Isilel @ 12: "Didn't manage to comment on the previoys intallment, but yea, Nyn was totally awesome in it, even though the whole healing madness thing seemed like a total plot gift. I mean, she looks and she does it? At least with healing severing, she was working on it for a couple of months."

The justification was that the taint worked very much like compulsion which she spent a good chunk of time on earlier. And I agree, it was very cool.
john mullen
41. johntheirishmongol
Mat had to know his suggestions would be taken as orders. He might be a a bit more upset about them calling him a noble.

As for Faile and Berelain, her solution is a good one. It needed to be started much earlier to be believable.

As for Elayne, I think I would vote for her for President. Free health care that you can count on!! Actually, from her perspective, the actions she is taking are very smart.
Sandy Brewer
42. ShaggyBella
Faile counted on Belerain's lack of knowledge of Borderlands customs and that Saldeans have a certain bloodthirsty reputation. Faile tells her about the tradition of knife combat in the case of cheating. It was true, but was an old tradition that was rarely observed anymore.
Belerain tried to brush it off and have Faile just deal with it. But Faile rebutted with the strict morality of Perrin's Two Rivers, noting that other cultures handle things differently than Tear and Mayene. Those are what had Belerain worried.
Jasper Mijares
43. J. Amijares
Re: Elayne

I think we have to keep in mind that Elayne was raised to become Queen, which is why with anything regarding Andor she has great decision-making skills: She'd had the tutors and training for it.

Regarding her interactions with others (like not caring how many soldiers are killed, etc.) she would have been conditioned NOT to think of them as individuals because no ruler can rule with a policy wherein nobody gets hurt... She has to think in terms of goals and means towards that goals instead of oh no, this might lead someone to their death, lets not do it..

Which leads us finally to her stubborness about personal danger and such. Remember she was a Princess, then a Queen: She probably already feels priviledged, "touched by Fate" if you will, then add to that the facts that she's Aes Sedai and has the most dangerous and important man in the world in love with her then you do get someone who thinks the world is her oyster: Nothing could possibly happen to her because she is special!

I'm sure we all know someone who acts like he/she entitled no matter what the reality of the situation may be...

Just saying.
Jonathan Levy
44. JonathanLevy
Also 18.sps49
At the same time I do think that (Berelain's) moves toward Perrin were mostly political.
I think Berelain's motivations were a combination of one or more of the following:
1) Arrogance (she's so hot)
2) Spitefulness (Rand rejected her, and Faile pissed her off in TSR)
3) Compulsion (caused by Annoura). This theory might have been disproved, perhaps someone has a reference?

The political explanations she gives Faile - along with her descriptions of Perrin's "encouragement" - look like a post-facto rationalization to me.

The way their conversation was written it seem that Berelain became afraid for herself when Faile suggested the duel. I'm not suggesting there should've beeen total nonchalance from Berelain
I thought perhaps Berelain was afraid of the consequences if Faile wound up dead after their duel.
Jay Dauro
45. J.Dauro
Regarding Perrin (and Balwer) wondering who leads the Whitecloaks. In this chapter and later they are looking (here Perrin finds the ring.) But in KOD they are told
“Galad Damodred killed Valda and led seven thousand Whitecloaks to leave the Seanchan cause.
Knife of Dreams - 26
Seems they should make the connection, at least that he is the possible leader of this group.
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
Continuing on my Berelain rant - I don't buy this was political at all. It was personal to the max. Her motivation is that she swore an "Ogier's Oath" to bed Perrin back in TSR - and she held to that oath with a now-married man irrespective of adverse consequences on Perrin, his marriage, his reputation or the overall mission. Execrable.
Valentin M
47. ValMar
I also think that it was mostly personal for Berelain. She may genuinely believe that she was doing it for political reasons too, but is lying to herself. We all do it often.
Her mindset when relatioships are concerned is pragmatic, cynical, tit-for-tat, a product of her environment. I don't think she was capable of truly appreciating the effect of her actions on Perrin, mostly, and Faile. I think Berelain thought that Faile was playing the same game she was- didn't care too much about Perrin, just wanted to "win" by taking him from the other woman.
Now, finally having a proper emotional relationship, Berelain will probably polish off this very rough part of her character. Besides this ugly business with Perrin/Faile (for which she deserves full reproach though not the mysoginistic crap some have thrown at her) she is rather interesting and impressive character.

J.A. @ 43
Re: Elayne. Completely agree!

J.D. @ 45
Yeah... With Perrin one could understand. He has had a lot on his mind. Also, maybe he is closer to the truth on his own abilities than the ones who keep telling him how awesome he is. We have the privelege to be in his head and in the head of the outsiders judging him when decisions are made and opinions created. Ta'veren, misunderstandings, etc...
Balwer on the other hand... that's difficult to swallow. But I was happily oblivious about it till you mentioned it JD, shame on you!

JL @ 44
Re: my 38. I already accounted for this. In fact I included it in my argument- this should've been stressed on regarding the duel. No win situation for Berelain. Even then she should have at least tried to bluff. Pretend to be comfortable with the idea because she could easily beat Faile. Then Faile will point out that Perrin will be mad at her (and thus Rand too). At this point Berelain would have had to fold and suggest her solution.

PS to anyone whose handle doesn't start with J I'm not paying any attention ;)
PPS I'm literally rushing out so no time for proof-reading right now. Sorry.
PPPS But I made a big boo-boo, whole paragraph messed-up, so had to fix that...
Chin Bawambi
48. bawambi
Johnathan Levy,

I bring up the Annoura is black argument when Berelain acts over the top irrationally toward Perrin or when Annoura drops the AesSedai always is calm act. It hasn't been proven or disproven to this point but would certainly explain Berelain's seeming obsession with Perrin.

It would also mitigate my white-hot hatred of Berelain so actually I hope my theory is wrong. :)
Back to Elayne - I think other posters have put it better than this but in no way are Elayne's actions inconsistent in this book. She has always been written as a big picture leader who has a blind spot to her personal safety to the point of being a idiot.
Stefan Mitev
49. Bergmaniac
I still don't see how Elayne is different from any of the other main characters in terms of recklessness. All of them are totally reckless and brave to the point of stupidity. And yeah, the viewing is not a perfect guarantee, but it's way better than nothing (if you aren't using meta reasoning and Genre Savvy). It's not like she was cautious before she knew about it anyway.
Lurking Canadian
50. Looking Glass
Jeribai @6: I don’t think she’s forgetting about Egwene; I think she’s decided that her duty as Queen to ensure Andor’s survival outweighs her duty as Aes Sedai to ensure Tower-optimal relocation of the Kin.

Which I don’t blame her for, particularly since Caemlyn isn’t a bad place to put the Kin from the Tower’s point of view. It might even be the best place. It’s near-but-not-in Tar Valon, it’s a strong nation traditionally friendly with the tower, and it provides both the Tower and Andor with a strong motivation, and the means, to keep that relationship friendly. Especially since, once she picks up Cairhien, Elayne’s empire is probably going to be the most powerful nation in Randland (other than the Seanchan).

I think everyone (in and out of story, actually) is in agreement that the whole babies-mean-invincibility thing is really dumb.

What annoys me is Elayne's inability to realize that, especially in the current situation, her personal safety is as much a political issue as anything else she tackles. Her cavalier attitude towards personal safety wouldn’t be nearly as much a problem in a free agent.

With a bit of forethought, Elayne probably could have arranged matters so that Dyelin could easily step up if Elayne got herself killed (so getting the monarch killed would be Bad but not Disastrous). But there isn’t any indication that Elayne actually has given her mortality any thought.

MasterAlThor @36: In the main, Faile didn’t outwit Berelain; rather, Berelain outwitted herself.

That is, Berelain has more or less had all her maneuvers work, and successfully backed Faile into a corner. It’s Berelain’s fault if she didn’t anticipate that cornering Faile would leave Faile with the traditional options of a cornered animal.

(Faile may be right that Berelain simply overextended herself in the blissfully incorrect assumption that Faile was, one way or another, gone for good.)

Of course, Faile is bluffing a bit here. Which she can do because her position isn't quite as dire as Berelain thinks- she knows that however crappy her political situation is, her personal relationship with Perrin is a thousand times more important to her and is as strong as ever. But if Berelain understood Twue Wuv, they wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.
Lurking Canadian
51. alreadymadwithcatfight
parrothead @28
Manual labor is an excellent training tool for building discipline and endurance. It is not unfortunately an adequate substitute for actual fighting/grappling skills, which Berelain is already demonstrated to have on at least a few levels higher than Faile. Faile didn't really learn much until after she ran off. Berelain probably learned most of it as a child, around the time Faile was learning to walk.

I stand by the others who commented it was probably the political fallout of a public brawl between them that had Berelain concerned. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing the two in a catfight.
Lurking Canadian
52. re-read fan
and then has to take cover as the Trollocs begin using trebuchets to hurl not boulders but rotting corpses at Ituralde’s camp.
Of course, the only thing going through my mind reading that is the phrase "Bring Out Your Dead" - in a British accent.
Then he realizes that there are far too many corpses falling out of the sky
I never cared for the song, but I will never think of the song "It's Raining Men" in the same way again.
53. MasterAlThor

Let me make this clearer. I didn't care for the way it was written. Like ValMar said it comes off written from the prespective of someone who likes Faile and dislikes Berelain. That may never be proven but it does appear that way to some of us.

I don't have a problem with how it all works out. This definitely needs to be done and over with, but we all have been reading Berelain's and Faile's characters for years. The massive jump in cunning that Faile displays is unbelievable to me. Berelain's fear of fighting Faile is completely unbelievable. If Berelain is fearing what Perrin or the Dragon Reborn would do then we should get that sense from her or at least a POV. But we don't and the way it is written makes it look like she wants nothing to do with fighting Faile at all even though it is proven that she can take Faile in a fight.

Berelain, ruler who fights off assassins and Tearian Lords is afraid of Faile??? Berelain, ruler who has outwitted Tearian Lords to keep her country free is outsmarted, backed into a corner, whatever you wish to call it by Faile? This is not likely in my opinion.

Full disclosure I favor Berelain and Faile is my least favorite character. I can appreciate that after captivity Faile is growing as a character but this scene was poorly written. It would be more believable if Berelain didn't give the appearance of backing down.

Jonathan Levy
54. JonathanLevy
48. bawambi

Hmm. On the other hand, if Annoura had Berelain under Compulsion, why would Annoura ever find herself leaving Berelain's tent as if she had been kicked out? Perhaps Annoura is just giving Berelain bad advice, or has a form of Compulsion no more useful than Verin's.

52. re-read fan

53. MasterAlThor

It might be foolish of me to suggest this without going to re-read the scene first, but - aren't we seeing it from Faile's perspective? If so, then maybe Faile is misinterpreting Berelain's reaction. This is a very very common WoT device. Maybe Berelain is actually stifling laughter, and Faile, who takes herself oh-so-seriously, reads it 180 degrees off?

Off-topic - say, how would you have liked the PLOD if it had followed the following arc:

When Faile is in Malden, Perrin gets what looks like ironclad proof she is dead.

Perrin winds up in Berelain's tent, she does not try to seduce him, they have a heart-to-heart talk, and one thing leads to another.

Over the next month they don't share beds any more, but otherwise Berelain is all that a nobleman's wife should be - she ably assists Perrin in defeating the Shaido, without all of Faile's shout-at-me-or-you-don't-love-me craziness, in fact without confusing him even once.

Meanwhile, Faile crawls into Rolan's blankets to escape Sevanna.

Then Perrin defeats the Shaido, and finds Faile is alive and well.

Now Perrin and Faile have a genuine problem to resolve, and Perrin really is torn between the Hawk and the Falcon - especially, say, if Berelain is pregnant - and Berelain is more than a cardboard cutout femme fatale.

Not sure this is suitable for WoT - its style strays towards aSoIaF territory - but it would be nice every now and then to see some WoT characters paying a price for their idiocy, instead of emerging unscathed 4 books later after employing the outrageous device of having an honest conversation to resolve all their problems.
Noneo Yourbusiness
55. Longtimefan
On Elayne and the Kin in Caemlyn: who says that all of the kin have to live in one country?

When the Kin were in Ebou Dar they were hiding as far from the White Tower as they could and had many restrictions on their actions and locations to help keep them hidden.

With the new yet not fully developed arrangements that Egwene would like to start with the Kin as a retirement society why would they have to remain in just one country?

Aes Sedai come from all of the regions in the Westlands. Perhaps they would enjoy retiring to the lands that they were raised in. Perhaps they would want to see new lands. With an open connection to the White Tower the Kin would no longer have to hide in one small place.

Caemlyn may be the first big settlement with the agreements that Elayne can manage to make with the Kin. (also the arrangements she has to make with the Sea Folk because of Rand's agreement and the Black Tower because it is there and the new and expanded Two Rivers, Elayne has a lot of outlanders seeking permenent residence in her country)

It may be possible for the Kin to network across the whole of the Westlands and develop their own arrangements with the White Tower and the sitting rulers of any country that would be interested in having healing and traveling centers.

The Kin are their own people. They may want an association with the White Tower and with Caemlyn but they cannot be owned by them.

But that is all post Last Battle so it is up for grabs really.
Rob Munnelly
56. RobMRobM
MAT - I have a different take on the chapter, probably because I have a higher opinion of the Faile-ster and a lower opinion of the Berelain-ster than you.

I think you are overloooking that Faile was trained to fight by one of the men on her father's estates and also had a few knife skills she flashed during her time as a Hunter. Faile's big problem in going after Berelain in TSR IMO was overconfidence, not that she lacked fighting skills. Faile was taken by surprise that Berelain wasn't just some hussy in a dress (even if she was - just one with some martial arts training). Berelain could well win if she and Faile really had it out but Berelain could lose as well, and she knows it. Berelain's caution in this chapter is well warranted, especially given that Faile would have a big edge in motivation.


P.s. Hope all is well in your world. Gorgeous day here in Beantown, even if the Red Sox have no pitching.
Roger Powell
57. forkroot
re-read fan@52
I never cared for the song, but I will never think of the song "It's Raining Men" in the same way again.
Damm good thing I wasn't drinking my coffee when I read this, or I would have snorted it all over the keyboard!

Berg@49(and others)
I still don't see how Elayne is different from any of the other main characters in terms of recklessness. All of them are totally reckless and brave to the point of stupidity.
FWIW, the BBoBA specifically references the dubious tradition of Andoran queens riding into battle. Elayne is influenced by that tradition as well as her interpretation of Min's vision.

On the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing the two in a catfight.
Moisten up the mudbath and sell tickets!

{:: flees to bunker, finds it rather crowded ::}
Peter Mitev
58. Jack Shaftoe
Berelain has nothing to gain from fighting Faile. Even if she wins and doesn't have to murder Faile in the process Perrin would still be extremely pissed at her. I also think that Berelain finally realized that Perrin wasn't going to leave Faile, duel or no duel, so she had even less of a motivation to do anything anything to get rid of her.

I find it kind of depressing that Elayne's idea of free Healing for all is so revolutionary. Why haven't the AS done that already? It would have been a massive PR victory. I would imagine they do something like that in Tar Valon but the people there already like them for the most part. And yes, at first people and rulers would have been suspicious but I don't remember the AS ever considering doing anything like that.
Lurking Canadian
59. Looking Glass
(This got longer than I meant it to, so I've bolded my main points.)

MasterAlThor @53: I don’t have the text handy, so I can’t really speak to the tone of the scene. However, I’m not imputing any particularly masterful manipulation to Faile.

Mostly the opposite, actually: I said that Berelain has maneuvered Faile into a corner, not the reverse. (I'm talking about "over the course of the past few books", not "in this scene".)

Faile is in a crappy position, politically; her only options are those of a cornered animal- "fight, in a frontal assault against a superior opponent" or "roll over and play dead". Berelain used her politics-fu to put Faile in that crappy position.

Berelain’s problem is that, if Faile chooses the “fight” option, it also totally screws Berelain. Presumably, Berelain wasn’t expecting to actually face that scenario- possibly because, when she was setting it up, she figured Faile was permanently out of the picture, or possibly because she thought that Faile’s actions, like her own*, were political first and foremost, and she thought Faile would know when to fold’em.

(*My read on Berelain’s motivations: she’s chasing Perrin more out of personal pique with Faile for any other reason… but still regards it mainly as an amusing diversion with potential political benefits, and would drop it if it ran counter to her serious political goals.)

For her part, Faile probably does know when to cut her losses… if she prioritized the political dimension over keeping Perrin. Which she absolutely doesn’t.

In short, Berelain is facing an unpleasant situation in this scene not because Faile has become Mistress of Intrigue overnight, but because Berelain herself miscalculated. Moreover, Berelain didn’t misjudge Faile’s abilities; she misjudged Faile’s motivation.

I further suggested that the root cause of Berelain’s problem is that she doesn’t really “get” capital-L Love, and that has consistently thrown off her expectations of both Perrin and Faile, in this scene and elsewhere.

I put that mainly up to experience- Berelain is quite intelligent and a very capable political operator, but she’s also still quite young and has spent most of her life neck-deep in a precarious, cynical, ultra-backstabby political environment. I think Berelain has trouble understanding people in other than political terms (with a side of base motivations- the Tairen High Lords were a pretty unsavory lot).

Luckily, there’s likely to be a learning experience in her near future.

(Mind, I think Berelain is still misreading Faile even at the end of this scene; that’s the factor by which Faile does manage to get an advantage. Berelain finally sees that Faile isn’t acting first and foremost out of political calculation, but seems to settle on “personal pride” rather than “love” as the most likely substitute.)

Perhaps you're just saying that Berelain could out-willpower Faile regardless of the circumstances? I do like Berelain, her interactions with Perrin aside, but that's not in line with long-established characterization. Even way back in TSR, there's a definite upper limit to how far Berelain will go when chasing political gain, while Faile would (and does) literally charge the legions of hell for Perrin's sake.
Ron Garrison
60. Man-0-Manetheran
Kudos to Leeh for the whole Titanic-Celine-archetypal figure representing the whole Canadialand-my heart will go on reference.

And kudos to Perrin for finally starting to learn the dream things!

And a third set of kudos for: “This, ladies and gentlemen, is the textbook definition of a zealot. And a bigot. Thank you, goodnight.”
Lurking Canadian
61. Looking Glass
On free healing: I'm not sure how practical it would have been on a large scale, before Nynaeve et. al. came up with more efficient (or at least less inefficient) weaves, and before the massive surge in AS recruitment in numbers.

I shall attack this question with the power of math.

And some really loose estimates. But mostly math.

There are what, about 200 or so current yellows? If you figure the average Yellow Aes Sedai is 20 times more efficient at handling injuries and diseases than a modern physician, which seems very optimistic, that's the equivalent of about 4000 doctors. The US has about a 1:375 ratio of physicians to population, so under those assumptions 200 AS would be treating about a million and a half people.

At a guess, I'd put the greatest cities of the setting at that size, so under those assumptions the Siuan-era tower probably had its hands full with Tar Valon and visitors, even if the yellows were all on it full-time.

Those numbers have a lot of give either way, though. If one Yellow is the equivalent of two doctors, the population covered drops to about 150k. If one Yellow is 20 doctors but you're only shooting for 1:5000 (a little under Afghanistan), you could cover about 20 million people, which I'd call maybe a sizeable Randland country or two? If you put all of Randland at around a hundred million*, even one Yellow = 20 doctors would leave a 1:25,000 ratio, and would give Randland slightly better medical coverage than Somalia.

*This and the other population figures are very wild guesses at best, but kind of puts all of Randland at maybe 1-2 times the population of the roman empire, or about a third of roman-era world population. That might be optimistic, though.
Lurking Canadian
63. Drahcir
I suspect Mat going after the Horn will have major consequences in at least two ways: (1) Mat will probably be at the White Tower when the Seanchan show up so he can convince his wife (the Empress Fortuona) to help at the Last Battle; and (2) if Rand dies in sealing the Bore ("his blood on the rocks"), he can then be brought back as a Hero of the Horn and (a la Birgitte) be "resurrected" thus explaining "to live, you must die."
Jonathan Levy
64. JonathanLevy
59. Looking Glass
Luckily, there’s likely to be a learning experience in her (Berelain's) near future.
Hm. It occurs to me that this might be the explanation for the apparent disconnect between Berelain's true motivations and the explanations she gives for her behavior.

Perhaps it's just an authorial set-up to give more meaning to her encounter with Galad. It's not just arrogant-beauty-gets-her-come-uppance, it's cynical-advantageous-marriage-damsel-meets-true-love. Clearly, I'm suffering from overexposure to tvtropes.

Also, it reminds me of a scene from a certain Mel Brooks movie... where's the virgin alarm when you need it? :)
Jasper Mijares
65. J. Amijares
Drahcir @ 63:

You called it man!

Haha, I too believe that Mat's presence in the Tower will be the means by which Disaster by Damane-ing of the whole White Tower will be averted.

Especially if any of the Deathwatch Guard is in command of or even just included in the attack. They KNOW him as the husband of their Empress...

This should be interesting... (rubs hands in anticipation).
I think Elayne is (rather underhanded) making it quite apparent that she has no intention of being subservient to Egwene and the White Tower. While I do feel she will always be supportive of Aes Sedai politics in general, I think Elayne is justified acting in the best interests of her nation as its sovereign and be damned with it if those motivations don't always align with the Towers.

The White Tower is strong and influential, but a sovereign must remember to not let that power dictate what and how your national motivations will be. Regardless of whether Elayne is Aes Sedai or not, loyalty does not and should not equate to acquiescence.

Robert Crawley
67. Alphaleonis
I am not one of the die-hard Egwene fans around here. But in response to those who are thinking that Mat will save the White Tower from the Seanchan by his presence, I am hoping that Egwene has been effectively planning for another attack. And that if any attack comes, it will be the Seanchan who are unpleasantly surprised this time around.

If this is not the case, I will be terribly disappointed in Egwene.
Stefan Mitev
68. Bergmaniac
JL @64 -It's not just arrogant-beauty-gets-her-come-uppance, it's cynical-advantageous-marriage-damsel-meets-true-love.
Of course, in this particular case the true love is really advantageous politically too. Berelain gets the best of both worlds. Galad gives her a close connection to many of the most powerful persons in Randland.
Maiane Bakroeva
69. Isilel
Bergmaniac @49:

I still don't see how Elayne is different from any of the other main characters in terms of recklessness.

Indeed. I have to say that it is not just Elayne, but all Supergirls. Wasn't Egwene ragged on for her plan to make herself a bait for Mesaana? Even though getting rid of Mesaana is indeed crucial.
Yet, Mat doing the same with the Gholam is totally awesome, of course, as well as countless other examples of Superboys jumping into danger without a thought.
Oh, people say, but they are ta'veren, they are safe ;) or "pattern makes them" :) or "they can feel what is required"... Very much like Elayne with her viewing, of course. The superboys themselves don't bother to defend their choices, nor are they being called on them... much.

Alphaleonis @67:

I am hoping that Egwene has been effectively planning for another
attack. And that if any attack comes, it will be the Seanchan who are
unpleasantly surprised this time around.

I'd like to believe that, but then I was hoping that we'd see some useful preparations for the Last Battle: drilling in the battle channeling, AS and Accepted training with the troops, Novices being taught Healing... but nada.

And despite her knowingly presenting herself as bait to one of the FS (who also have all of the DF structure to support them), Egwene's personal protections won't even prove good enough to stop mundane assassins (with enhanced reflexes, sure, but that shouldn't matter).

So, ya, by now I have almost given up hope that the WT will do anything useful in Memory of Light, bar a bit of post-combat Healing. A huge waste of course, and I, for one, have really enjoyed most of the Tower split storyline, but it seems that there won't be much pay-off.
Lurking Canadian
70. MRCHalifax
8. wcarter

That's one way to look at it. From another perspective, there were two people who were adrift, cut off from every means of support and motivation that they knew all of their lives, unsure of their purpose in the world and feeling a bit of self doubt and self hated. Mat gave them a Purpose that meant that they could both follow their new dreams and to follow what they believe is the greatest good in the world.
Lurking Canadian
71. The Math Speaks to me
@61 Looking Glass

I really like your numbers but there seems to be a flawed assumption to me. You are comparing doctor coverage to yellow coverage. I think a more accurate comparison would be to compare hospital emergency room coverage. (Numbers I don't have at the present)

Doctors see a variety of patients routinely and several times for no better reasons than a slight fever/nasuea/virus. I find it highly doubtful that your average Randlander would make a half day trip to see the Wisdom for a stomach virus or strep throat. I'd imagine that the Yellow hosiptal would be some more along the lines of an ER or any specialist surgery. Basic medical needs would still be taken care of by village wisdoms; you would just have the yellow centers for serious issues. This is where you go when you've shattered your leg, etc.
Joe Walters
72. josepph
so yeah 71 beat me to it, but i think the key here is once an AS heals you, you are actually better now. Big difference from going to a doctor...

Think of AS healing more like getting inoculated as a baby. You get rid of sickness and its a lot easier to keep it gone. You would need far fewer healers once you put a big dent in the number of sick ppl. Hospitals are full of people that need more and more healing, AS just fix you and send you on your way no follow-up needed
Steve Barkmeier
73. sbark

The exception to the superboys getting called out for their risktaking is Rand. The maidens routinely call out Rand for going into danger without his escort. IMO sometimes they're totally right to call him out. Other times, they would have just been an additional problem for him to deal with.
Melissa Spray
74. meowwl
I'd always thought that Berelain's attraction to Perrin was the simple fact that he was the only man, who didn't also happen terrify her out of her boots (as Rand had), Who didn't succumb to her dubious charms. Her pursuit of him was always more out of frustration and self doubt, rather than real or political attraction. She simply rationalized it as political.

I think this was where Sanderson finally found his real Mat voice...I thought he'd made Mat a little to steady and staid in the last book. This chapter shows much more of the old prankster, the devil may care, "Time to roll the dice!" loveable rakehell we all knew before.
Lurking Canadian
75. Looking Glass
The Math @71: Yeah, it’s a really rough back-of-the-napkin calculation. That particular question (of how serious an ailment needed to be before it merited a doctor’s attention) is kind of wrapped up in the second (physician to population) multiplier, though.

In a first-world country you can go to a doctor with a slight fever because there is a relatively high ratio of physicians to population. AS in the Afghanistan-ratio or lower scenarios would have to be a lot more selective.

Which is kind of where that estimate took me- even with AS providing only that level of care (ie, major medical problems only), and what I think is a pretty optimistic AS-to-doctor equivalency, Siuan’s tower wouldn’t have the numbers to cover more than a country or two at best, even with every yellow on it full-time.

(Also, while Randland’s medical and sanitation situation seems to be astonishingly good, if mostly handwaved, without antibiotics and vaccinations and the other fun parts of modern medicine, toothaches and “minor” infections and diarrhea and contaminated food and all sorts of stuff that’s almost nuisance-level in most of the first world today would be pretty serious concerns in Randland.)

Josepph @72: That’s a big difference, and that’s much of the reason my doctor/AS ratio is greater than one. How much greater than one it should be is a good question; I think the 20:1 I mostly used is high, because that’s not the only difference, and the advantages go both ways.

For instance, AS can instantly eradicate most any mundane disease… but only in one person at a time; no ordering up ten million doses of vaccine for malaria or the flu; no mass water treatment or pesticide deployment. AS probably wouldn’t have any more difficulty treating internal bleeding than external… but who knows if they can do anything at all for genetic diseases or premature births or malnutrition or a whole host of other things that modern medicine treats. Also, old-style Healing is a pretty hard on the healer and even harder on the patient, and it’s not clear how much healing the average AS can do at a go, since we tend to hang out with the ultra-talented ones disproportionately.

Basically, Yellows (certainly before the story’s Healing Renaissance) only have one major medical tool. Two if you count delving, which you probably should since the benefit of instant, accurate diagnosis is pretty huge. Those tools are very powerful and flexible on the individual level… but they probably don’t do everything and they definitely don’t scale well.

Another factor is that, even if one Yellow can do the work of twenty physicians, which as I’ve said I think is really generous, you can’t actually subdivide them the same way; 200 yellows (pre-traveling) could only be in a maximum of 200 places at once, not 4000. And there are all sorts of people who’d be happy to pick off a single AS in a set, predictable place; besides the regular bigots, the Shadow would presumably do everything it could to step on such a program.

The yellows certainly could have done a lot more than they did; just setting up a handful of larger centers in major cities would have saved a lot of lives (and hey, AS being out in the world serving the public good would have a lot of benefits beyond the immediate). But I don’t think they could have managed even close to universal coverage, with Siuan-era numbers. Possibly not even with Hawkwing-era numbers.

Elayne’s plan, by contrast, should work much better (Assuming the last battle doesn’t end up turning the Power out). There are a lot more Kin than Yellows, many of them apparently are familiar with non-Power treatments as well, more channelers are being found all the time, and healing has advanced massively in the past few years. Plus it’s easier for Elayne to pressure the Kin to actually help.

And they’re only going to be covering one country. So they think, anyway. If Andor and Cairhien unify, and there’s gateway traffic to all the other non-Seanchan countries…
Lurking Canadian
76. Looking Glass
Isilel @69:On characters taking risks: Knowingly risking one’s life for some better purpose is pretty much what we expect of our fantasy heroes; often, that is what makes them heroes. What’s much less cool is them knowingly and repeatedly putting that better purpose at risk for some relatively unimportant benefit.

Now, we readers know that all the Superkids are Special Indispensible People™, and when they put themselves in danger, they’re endangering not just themselves but The Fate Of Nations. How aware they themselves are of that varies: Nynaeve might not know at all, Mat and Perrin are partly ignorant and extremely in denial, Egwene didn’t know until mid-series but then jumped at it, Rand’s been stewing in it since book two, and it’s front and center in Elayne’s character and has been all her life.

There are a lot of extenuating circumstances in Rand’s case, not the least of which is that we know he’s desperate, emotionally stressed, and increasingly losing his grip on sanity outright. And he often does have a reasonable plan for the situation, even if it rarely survives contact with the enemy. He also gets dumped on enough about how he needs to survive in-story that we readers rarely feel the need to chime in.

Elayne and late-series Egwene have less excuse, and take a lot less in-story misery about the whole situation. I don’t really think Egwene’s particularly bad about it, aside from the chain-boat incident, which she admitted was really dumb. Maybe she could have handled Mesaana better, but maybe not- she couldn’t really afford to avoid the conflict, and I’m not sure she could have prepared for it significantly better and still succeeded.

Elayne, though… it’s like her otherwise-fairly-considerable brains melt out her ears whenever it’s a question of her personal safety. She can have absolutely no illusions at this point about how indispensible she is to the well-being of her country, or what would happen to basically everything and everyone she’s fought for if she bit it in some stupid fight with some dime-a-dozen BA or mundane darkfriend. Yet she’s happy to go into those battles, time and time again, with little advantage and for little gain.

Somehow, I always expect these posts to be a lot shorter. But maybe that just means I really am on the WoT wavelength.
Stefan Mitev
77. Bergmaniac
Mat and Perrin in the grand scheme of things are more indispensable than Elayne and they know it - Moiraine told them they'd be needed to help Rand save the world and they accepted it. Even Mat, as much as he denied it, knows it's true in his heart. Perrin has acknowledged it long ago, without trying to lie to himself.

Elayne's really not on the same level in global importance. She has a ready replacement in Andor in Dyelin who has proven capable and would easily get the backing of enough High Seats to be crowned quickly if Elayne had died during ToM or even earlier. Sure it will create some problems, but the world won't end.

Egwene's almost the only thing holding the two fractions of the Tower together for now. If she were to die, who knows how long it would take the Hall to choose an new Amyrlin and how capable she would be.
Maiane Bakroeva
78. Isilel
Bergmaniac @77:

I normally agree with you, but this:

Egwene's almost the only thing holding the two fractions of the Tower together for now. If she were to die, who knows how long it would take the Hall to choose an new Amyrlin and how capable she would be

Is actually an excellent reason to go after Mesaana, because this makes Egwene the number one target of the resident FS anyway.
It is more than doubtful that Egwene could come up with a round the clock, full-proof protection against a stronger, more knowledgeable channeler, supported by the structure of non-channeling DFs and possibly able to import BA shock troops at will. Not to mention that Mesaana could seriously sabotage the WT in the mean time.

Much better to seize the initiative and confront Mesaana on the ground of Egwene's choosing.
I have serious problems with what Egwene is doing or rather not doing in ToM - where are sensible preparations for TG for Pete's sake?! What is WT's preferred course of action re: the new Sealing?
But this action, I agree with - there was no good alternative choice and Egwene was both the one most suited to be bait and the one with the greatest chances to beat Mesaana.
I am of the opinion that Egwene is doing more about the defense of the White Tower than we realize. I seem to remember Gareth Bryne with maps and such on his desk with plans of defense, requisitions for supplies for Egwene to sign, various reports and such during a meeting with Gawyn. I also remember something on the subject during the meeting of the Hall that Egwene caught the Sitters holding without the Amyrlin present. There was something about the plans of the defense taking to much of Egwenes time. I believe she was relieved to have that responsibility being delegated by the Sitters. That was a moment of awesome, that we'll surely discuss later.

Anyway, I think and I know we are all aware of the happenings in between that occur and then are haphazardly explained, in short, when explanation is needed. I think this will be one of those cases and we just won't see the results and explanations for them until AMOL. I may be wrong. I haven't gone back to check. But I know something somewhere in-story gave me those impressions. Then again I could have read it here or elsewhere.

So confusing sometimes.

Bill Stusser
80. billiam
There is a difference between going into a dangerous situation with a plan, like Mat does with the gholam, and just jumping into danger because you think nothing bad can happen. The reason that Elayne gets so much heat from fans (or at least from me) is that her plan seems to always be something like "I know nothing bad will happen to me because my children will be born safely". Taking risks is necessary sometimes but going into a dangerous situation without some kind of a plan or without even telling anybody else what you are doing is just stupid.
Heidi Byrd
81. sweetlilflower
@61 Looking Glass:

While I admire any argument based on mathematics...I have a slight issue with your reasoning. Your number of Yellow sisters is based on the Siuan-era numbers, but if the Yellows were out in the world healing people, then the numbers would be vastly different. At this point, most people distrust and dislike the AS. But, every person who received healing at an AS center would be an instant cheerleader. So, while it may have started with 200, it would have grown rapidly, which we see when Egwene opens the novice book. She got over 1000 novices in just a few months and I believe we get a Romanda POV where she is told that many of them are quite skilled in Healing and pick up the weaves easily.

No Longer at Looking Glass but many others:
Which brings me to my next point: the Tower preparations. We have already seen the novices in the camp being taught healing. It is pretty safe to assume that they are talking to the other novices and are being raised to Accepted and AS as quickly as possible.

I also agree that the situation in Perrin's camp was completely caused by Berelain and that she put herself in this position. Faile was counting on Berelain to think of a way out b/c she knew that the tramp has better political maneuvering skills.
Cameron Tucker
82. Loialson
BTW if some of you are not following Brandon on Twitter or FB, he has finished the final draft of A Memory of Light!

All that's left is Copyedits, etc for Team Jordan and co. to work on it seems.

*waves my little dragon banner on a stick*
Lurking Canadian
83. Looking Glass
Bergmaniac @77: I still think Elayne, Rand, and Amyrlin Egwene are (or, at least were until now-ish) the only ones who had really internalized the notion that they were Special Indispensable People, a factor which makes it more jarring when they still take unneccessary risks.

Perhaps the "unneccesary" bit might actually accounts for discrepancy in both the “annoying factor” and the “awesome factor”. Through little fault of her own, Elayne’s mainly ended up with much more... pathetic… adversaries. If you’re going to risk The Fate of Millions, it’s both cooler and more justifiable to stake it against taking down Sammael or Mesaana or an army of Trollocs or the f***ing Terminator than on taking down evil idiot Daved Hanlon, or Tweedledee and Tweedledum of the Black Ajah.

Sweetlilflower @81: Yes, because everyone we've seen get Healed is now a cheerleader for the Aes Sedai.

...Sorry, my sarcasm reflex gets away from me sometimes. I actually agree. Putting AS in hospitals outside the Tower would substantially improve PR and (probably) recruiting, which would in turn make it possible to expand the initiative.

(I say "probably", only because one could reasonably argue that the decline in powerful channelers and this season's bumper crop are both so Pattern-enforced that upping the population's interest might just have made the Wheel hide them harder.)

However, it's pretty clear that the AS had no idea how many people they were missing. Like, their notions were orders of magnitude low. So while in hindsight we can see better recruiting would help their numbers drastically, I'm not sure the AS could have anticipated it when considering the idea- with the increased exposure of the AS to various parties who want them dead, it probably would have looked like a wash or even a losing proposition in terms of AS numbers. I.e., putting dozens of trained AS in harm's way while getting a handful of extra novices.

Loialson @82: Yay!
Nadine L.
84. travyl
Master al Thor @36. / 53.
I don’t think Faile outwitted Berelain –
Once we get to the Alliandre POV (after the trolloc battle) we see through her eyes, that Berelain still manipulates Faile by showing frustration etc. This just as well might start here - Berelain could predend to be afraid as a first deceptive move to placate Faile.

Of course this explanation only works if it's a Faile POV here, and like JL @54. I haven't read the actual scene, to check, sorry.
Lurking Canadian
85. Faculty Guy
Are we not going to make it to 100 comments?

My thought: we are so close to the end that the only REALLY interesting discussion is that speculating on wrap-up scenarios, of which there are some really good ones. It is fascinating to me to think that, given the number of really thoughtful and knowledgeable fans and the volume of speculation, that SOME of the ideas almost HAVE to be correct. It will be a real shock if AMOL appears with completely un-predicted events. THEN the bragging/apologizing/self-corrections will start!

I occasionally think I detect a fore-shadowing of an end-bit, but, honestly, I am so much less familiar with the material that I'm usually embarrassed to be corrected or my "insight" shown to be OBVIOUSLY fore-shadowed elsewhere. My memory can't keep straight the order of the various bits of character interaction, and I'm still struggling with names for some of the AS and WO.

But keep the ending-scenarios coming. They are a major source of my entertainment these days.
Lurking Canadian
86. cricket m. cricket
chirp chirp chirp
Thomas Keith
87. insectoid
Wow, this thread sure got quiet... (cricket @86: LOL!!)

Loialson @82: YAY! *buzzes happily*


Sam Mickel
88. Samadai
Got quiet? It started out dead and went backwards from there. ;)
Maybe it's the Olympics!?! ... Hmmhmhmhmm...

Karen Fox
90. thepupxpert
Hi folks, been following along here, really busy at work but just wanted to stop in and quickly say hi and yes I'm sure it's a combination of vacations, the Olympics... and I don't know about you, but it seems like RL has really picked up these last few months. Hope that's good for everyone.
Sam Mickel
91. Samadai
Olympics Wheel of Time style

What from the WoT could be a new Olympic Sport?

Lurking Canadian
92. Hopper's Mum
I haven't read all the comments yet so someone may have said this, but ... Elayne's pregnant people! This causes selective stupidity! (I know, I'm a mum.) I felt more "blonde" when I was pregnant than I ever have in my life, (no offence to blondes intended) and was mortified at some of the studid things I said and did. (Later, when I had my brain cells back, that is).
Sam Mickel
93. Samadai
Chin Raising ( points for technique, angle of chin, haughty stare)
Lurking Canadian
94. The Math Speaks to me

Fair enough, I see your point about including the specialist effect of Aes Sedai healing into the doctor/ AS ratio. You've mostly sold me on your reasoning. However, I still think you neglect a few things.
1) Not only yellows can heal. If we assume that the entire tower is taught healing and that roughly 20-50% show a bare minimum of competency at it, let's say 40% for a number, that should effectively double the number of AS available. If we assume a tower mandate or at a minimum a strong encouragement towards helping the program along; that's a increase of anywhere from 50-200% in the number of healers available outside of TV.
2) Re: Security Concerns. Mitigated by effective structure of the program. If you encouraged an actual embassy style enclave in major cities you'd attract more than just the yellows to the program. You'd gain grays interested in negotations, blues wanting to meddle with the world, greens being greens, browns wanting to rummage through libraries, and maybe even whites who want to actually utilize logic. Heck, even reds might be interest in getting out in the world to be closer to hunt down evil male channelers... This would drastically increase AS presence and repuation in the world and provide recruitment centers for girls who'd considered going to the capital to be tested versus the journey to TV. You'd also gain forward posting for AS to go recruiting, drastically reducing the required trip time/distance for a testing visit to any small town. You'd gain security by including more sister, strengthen healing potential via circles, and probably increase the number of sister with warders. None of which would be negatives for the Tower.
3) Re: healing creating AS cheerleaders. Whelp... Yeah... Not much to say here other than if the Tower as a whole hadn't let its reputation go to S*** so that everyone is always waiting for the other shoe to drop when talking to them... But one of the ways to combat that would have been to have the healing program in place since the Tower's foundation. But since that didn't happen...
4) Re: AS numbers. I'm not sold on the pattern enforcing the lack of AS. I could also see it as the natural consquence of seculsion and elitism. Alternatively, it could be the consquence of concerted effort on Ishy's part to render the Tower ineffective over the ages...

Well, this lurker did his part to reach the hunny..
Sandy Brewer
95. ShaggyBella
WOT Olympics?

Quarter Staff duels, with helmets of course.
Maybe knife Throwing (Go Mat!)
Long Bow Archery

For the Ladies:
Dress Smoothing and Under the Bosom Arm Crossing.
Heidi Byrd
97. sweetlilflower
Well, in defense of the AS, they were out in the world more before Hawkwing effectively put on a bounty on all of their heads. It has only been about 1000 years since then. They could have had these centers before then; we don't know. During Hawkwing's seige, staying in the Tower sort of became a habit. If all of the Ajahs were out in the world performing their chosen professions, instead of just the Reds, Randland would be a vastly different place, and the AS would most likely not have the horrible reputation they have.

Olympic events: I like the synchronized channeling ^
Roger Powell
98. forkroot
Sam - Re WoT Olympics: They would have a lot of the same traditional (read: Track and Field) sports as we have - except that instead of just men's and women's events there would also be Male and Female Ogier divisions (I suspect that Ogier would be substantially superior in shotput but probably lousy in pole vault.)

Archery, fencing, and wrestling would be popular with all nations, and would be some of the most prestigious medals.

Domanis and Tairens would probably be strong in the equestrian events, as would the Saldeans.

The Sea Folk would almost certainly dominate the swimming and diving events (and sailing, of course.)

Nobody would be able to touch the Aiel in the distance running events, but they would suck at triathlon because they can't swim.

Ilianers would be strong in the rowing and paddling events.

The Borderlanders would lobby for a separate winter games with events on ice and snow.

And lastly the world of WoT would show more sense that we do and laugh at the ridiculous idea of "Olympic Golf".
99. Freelancer
Berelain's actions are wrong because they are wrong, regardless the motive. No end justifies those means. That is all.
100. Freelancer

Paddling events, eh. Olympic spanking?
Thomas Keith
101. insectoid
WoTlympics, huh? Hmm.

Sam @93:
Chin Raising ( points for technique, angle of chin, haughty stare)
If we allowed that, we'd also have to include Braid Tugging, Sniffing, and as ShaggyBella @95 pointed out, Under-Bosom Arm Folding. XD

Fork @98: Good points. I suppose that means my idea (a Sword Forms competition) would fall under Fencing.

Darn you, Free @100: I thought of that, but figured that was too obvious... :D

Rob Munnelly
102. RobMRobM
Given his quarterstaff skills, Mat's likely a winner in the pole vault. Perrin is a clear favorite in the hammer throw (and would be even better if there was an axe throw). I'd be supportive of Egeannin in the shot put toss but I'm concerned she'd get arrested before it left her hand.
I would like to note that certain sports would translate well in the WoT, mainly because they are obviously sorta doing them anyway. But fencing, while it does require the use of a sword, it requires the use of a foil or saber in particular, which currently does not exist in the WoT.

I only mention this because I do feel it quite the shame that we don't have "chin raising" and most especially "under bosom arm folding" as Olympic sports in the real world. I wonder if breast size would get some sort of unfair advantage. Instead of steroids their'd be implants and investigations of said implants. There would literally be "bosoms" all over TV. Not that their aren't already.

It's too bad, too! ... I'm more of uh booty kind of guy ya'see!

Jonathan Levy
104. JonathanLevy
85. Faculty Guy

Ok, here's a little theory which might be worth discussing.

At some point in the Last Battle Rand is going to march into Shayol Ghul wielding Callandor and Linking with two female sidekicks (Nynaeve and Moiraine, presumably).

How is the Dark One going to try to counter this? The first idea that springs to my mind is this: We've seen Shaidar Haran block people's ability to channel, to the extent that they cannot even sense the True Source, as if they were burned out, or in a stedding.

Team Light is not aware of this ability. It could prove a very unpleasant surprise for Rand. It could also be the means by which Min's Onyx Hand vision comes true. Rand & co. march into the pit of doom, and whoops! Bye-bye True Source. As their eyes bulge and jaws drop, SH calmly marches up and plucks Callandor out of Rand's hand.


I'm seeing Bayle Domon winning the shot-put, and the Ogier winning all the crazy Scottish sports - Caber toss, Sheaf toss, etc.
Roger Powell
105. forkroot
Freelancer@..{where did Freelancer go?? ...}

Oh, yeah ... the bunker. Of course.
Lurking Canadian
106. endertek
Olympic sport - Creative Cussing? These cusses could be restricted to the country's areas of produce and production so the creativity would have to be associated with national interests and achievements.... Sort of like Siuan's Flaming Silverpike...
Deana Whitney
107. Braid_Tug
WOT Olympics - I think Freelancer really nailed the break down.
But the Saldaeans' would dominate in Polo and trick riding.
Cussing would be too subjective for fair judging.

Glad we hit the honey.

So who would be the "Russian" judges of the WOT world?
And would Andor and Cairhien continue to compete separately once Elyane's rule is established?
Lurking Canadian
108. Looking Glass
JonathanLevy @104: It’s an interesting thought, though I think it’s still an open question whether he can do that to a person without ties to the Shadow.

On the other hand, even if he can’t, who knows if Rand would even qualify as “without ties to the Shadow” at this point given the whole True Power issue.

We have seen Rand without access to the power; passive he ain’t. A powerless, one-handed Rand might not be a match for a fully-empowered Shaidar Haran, but I doubt SH could just grab Callandor while Rand’s standing there gaping. It would be hilarious if SH tried it... and immediately got fried Semi-style because he didn’t turn off the True Power too. Oops.

(Well... I truly doubt any scene where Rand used the True Power would be a wellspring of comedy. But traumatic though that whole ordeal was, there was a certain schadenfreude in Semirhage’s evil plan getting her blown straight to hell.)
Alice Arneson
109. Wetlandernw
Hey, all! Out of touch for the last week, but you did a pretty reasonable job without me. ;) Except... only 108 comments? Wow.

Not that I have much to add.

FWIW, I thought it read as though what was being thrown by the trebuchets was corpses, but the Draghkar used the bombardment to screen their attack. "As he yelled, the Draghkar unfurled their wings; well over half of the 'carcasses' in this volley were living Shadowspawn, hiding among the falling bodies." Whether those living Shadowspawn included Trollocs is questionable - would they survive that and be able to fight? Obviously the Draghkar could, though.

@ several re: Elayne asking the Kin to fight - Are you serious? IIRC, they take the Oaths more seriously than the Aes Sedai, and are generally dead set against anything that goes against Tower Law or tradition - except their own existence, of course.
Terry McNamee
110. macster
@30 Cloric: Agreed.

@36 MasterAlThor: Perhaps her feelings about Faile changed because she now knows who she is (I am pretty sure she didn't in TSR), and knowing she's the heir to the Saldaean throne would make her seem much more dangerous an opponent due to all the weapons training even the women there get. Also see above the point about her having become tougher due to being with the Shaido, and the point that even if she kills Faile she still loses Perrin--that could be what she's afraid of. The point that she was caught by surprise by Berelain's fighting skills before but now knows to expect them is also important, as is her being backed into a corner and forced to fight for the man she loves (and, as Berelain believes and is clearly also true, personal pride and contempt toward her).

@bawambi: Annoura as Compelling Berelain? Possible, but her whole bit with the Ogier's oath back in TSR convinces me she did this all on her own, as a personal vendetta against Faile. Whether Annoura later encouraged that because she thought getting her mistress close to Perrin and therefore Rand was a good thing, who knows. Of course Annoura could still be Black (her meetings with Masema/someone in his camp), and be using Compulsion to keep Berelain from prying or being suspicious...

@54 JonathanLevy: You have some points, but I'd hardly say WOT characters never pay a price for their idiocy, and personally if the scenario you described just happened I don't see how they could work through the situation at all--nor am I certain I could forgive either Perrin or Faile. Also, while obviously it can't magically fix anything, I find it a bit sad to see you so cynical about the value of honesty in communicating.

@55 Longtimefan: Nice, I like it!

@63 Drahcir: I agree as well.

@69 Isilel: Just because we haven't seen the preparations doesn't mean they weren't happening. Yes, that would be poor storytelling, but at least then the Tower wouldn't be useless. Zexxes makes a good point @79 as well.

@104 JonathanLevy: Except, of course, we still have no evidence Shaidar Haran's One Power-blocking ability works on anyone not affiliated with the Shadow. Now, the Dark One's ability to block channeling in Shayol Ghul is a different story...

@108 Looking Glass: I concur.

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