Tue
Aug 7 2012 2:00pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 13

If you’ll be my bodyguard, WOTers, I can be your long-lost pal! I can call you Betty, and Betty, when you call me you can call me Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 20 and 21 of Towers of Midnight, in which there are incidents and accidents, hints and allegations, and also belated revelations, incipient revolutions, and some perhaps overly-hasty resolutions.

Thanks to everyone who wished me well in my family medical issue, which I am pleased to report seems to have come to a satisfactory conclusion, i.e. false alarm. Whew.

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 20: A Choice

What Happens
Nynaeve follows Rosil (Yellow), the new Mistress of Novices, deep into the Tower. Rosil suggests that Nynaeve move her Serpent ring to the third finger of her left hand, where Accepted wore it, but Nynaeve declines. She explains that she is honoring the declaration of the Amyrlin which has already made her Aes Sedai, which mollifies Rosil somewhat. Nynaeve thanks her and the other Yellows (Niere and Meramor) who have welcomed her more warmly than Nynaeve had expected. They reach the room where the testing ter’angreal is held, to find that Egwene herself is there, and all the other sisters performing the test are Sitters, which is unusual. Notably, Romanda, who had been very hard with Nynaeve, is one of them. Rosil begins the ritual questions, but several of the sisters frown when Nynaeve answers the third and fourth:

“For what reason should you be tried?”

“To show that I am worthy,” Nynaeve said.

[…] “And…for what would you be found worthy?”

“To wear the shawl I have been given,” Nynaeve said. She didn’t say it to be arrogant. Once again, she simply stated the truth, as she saw it. Egwene had raised her. She wore the shawl already. Why pretend that she didn’t?

She disrobes while Rosil explains that she may not channel until she reaches the first six-pointed star, and must leave by walking steadily toward the second, remaining calm at all times, a hundred times over, while Saerin weaves something to do with memory over her. The sisters activate the ter’angreal, and Nynaeve steps through to find herself in a village on an island. A volcano erupts, and Nynaeve wants to help the villagers, but goes to the star instead and weaves the first weave and leaves via the second star, remembering only that she must be calm and complete the weave at all costs. She passes through a doorway and is in a cave that leads to the Aiel Waste. Odd-looking Trollocs attack as she walks to the star, and she thinks it is ridiculous that she must walk calmly when under attack, but does so anyway, and uses the second weave to burn the Trolloc-like creatures into cinders before stepping through the archway marked with the second star. By the time she reaches the forty-seventh weave she is exhausted, and is obliged to jump off a spire hundreds of feet tall to fall through the gateway to the next portion. She can’t remember why this is happening, but finds herself growing more and more angry about it.

She’d completed forty-seven of the hundred weaves. She knew that, but nothing else. Other than the fact that somebody very badly wanted her to fail.

She wasn’t going to let them win.

The next test involves weaving while being attacked by hundreds of black-flies, which bite her bloody and crawl down her throat before she is done. The test after that finds her in an abandoned orphanage, with sick children crying feebly to her to save them, and Nynaeve cries as she leaves them to go to the star. After that more of the tests involve leaving people to be drowned, beheaded, buried alive, or eaten by spiders. By the eighty-first weave she is covered in scratches and welts, and finds herself in the Two Rivers, where Master al’Vere and Perrin and others she knows (Mistress al’Donel, Aeric Botteger) are fighting enormous Shadowspawn. They call to her to help, but the star is the other way, and she begins walking calmly to it.

That was stupid. An Aes Sedai had to be calm. She knew that. But an Aes Sedai also needed to be able to act, to do what was needed to help those who needed it. It didn’t matter what it cost her personally. These people needed her.

So she started to run.

Something tries to stop her when she reaches the star, but she bursts through the shield. She channels the required weave (three rings of Fire), but makes them gigantic and uses them to destroy the Shadowspawn, before forcing herself to leave via the second star. By the hundredth weave, Nynaeve can barely move, covered in wounds, her braid burned away, weeping over all those she had been forced to abandon. She finds an Accepted dress, but spurns it, and finds she is in the Blight, and then recognizes she is in what had once been Malkier. She finds the star and begins the weave, but as she finishes Lan appears, fighting an entire pack of Darkhounds by himself. She screams his name, and then sees the second star.

This was a test. She could remember that now. It was a test to force her to choose between him and the White Tower. She’d made that choice once, but she’d known it wasn’t real.

This wasn’t real either, was it? She raised a hand to her head, mind cloudy. That is my husband down there, she thought. No. I will not play this game!

She weaves Fire, attacking the Hounds, but it has no effect, and so she weaves balefire instead, which destroys the Darkhounds but also makes the whole landscape shudder. She reaches Lan and Heals his wounds, and they fight together, each of them tiring rapidly. She creates a crater between them and the pack, precipitating an earthquake, and she and Lan run up the hill. He falls, but she hauls him up and through the doorway – and emerges alone in the Tower, remembering everything, covered in wounds. She collapses to the ground, weeping, and Saerin calls for someone to Heal her. Rosil does so, but the exhaustion is ten times worse, as is the emotional pain.

“Well,” Saerin said from nearby, “seems that she’ll live. Now, would someone please tell me what in the name of creation itself that was?” She sounded furious. “I’ve been a part of many a raising, even one where the woman didn’t survive. But I have never, in all of my days, seen a woman put through what this one just suffered.”

Rubinde says she had to be tested “properly,” and Saerin retorts that the test had been “downright vengeful,” and declares they should all be ashamed. Barasine (Red) interjects coldly that it doesn’t matter, as Nynaeve has failed the test: she did not show “proper decorum.” Lelaine agrees, and Seaine reluctantly points out that Nynaeve had been openly furious by the end of the test, and ran instead of walked, and then used the forbidden weave of balefire. Nynaeve forces herself to stand, and replies that she did what she had to do.

“Who among you would not run if you saw people in danger? Who among you would forbid herself to channel if she saw Shadowspawn attacking? I acted as an Aes Sedai should.”

“This test,” Barasine said, “is meant to ensure that a woman is capable of dedicating herself to a greater task. To see that she can ignore the distractions of the moment and seek a higher good.”

Nynaeve sniffed. “I completed the weaves I needed to. I maintained my focus. Yes, I broke my calm—but I kept a cool enough head to complete my tasks. One should not demand calmness for the mere sake of calmness, and a prohibition on running when there are people you need to save is foolish.

“My goal in this test was to prove that I deserve to be Aes Sedai. Well, then, I could argue that the lives of the people I saw were more important than gaining that title. If losing my title is what would be required to save someone’s life—and if there were no other consequences—I’d do it. Every time. Not saving them wouldn’t be serving a higher good; it would just be selfish.”

Nynaeve walks away, and Egwene joins her while the others consult. She tells Nynaeve that she angered and confused the other sisters by being able to flout the rules within the test, which she should not have been physically capable of doing. Egwene says she warned them that Nynaeve’s experience in Tel’aran’rhiod might make her capable of breaking the rules, and that she thinks it might help go in her favor, by proving that Nynaeve was too experienced to have been given this test in the first place, especially since Nynaeve performed the required weaves with ease. Nynaeve asks if Egwene had been the one to create the Two Rivers scenario and the one with Lan; Egwene admits that she was, and starts to apologize, but Nynaeve stops her, saying it showed her something.

“I realized that if I had to choose between becoming an Aes Sedai and going with Lan, I’d choose Lan. What people call me doesn’t change anything inside of me. Lan, however… he is more than a title. I can still channel—I can still be me—if I never become Aes Sedai. But I would never be myself again if I abandoned him. The world changed when I married him.”

Egwene says she’d better hope the others don’t realize Nynaeve has loyalties superseding the White Tower, and Nynaeve replies that she thinks having no passion or love beyond the Tower risks arrogance; she does not think they should guide the world while making themselves separate from it. Egwene looks troubled, and warns her to keep that to herself for now. She apologizes again for the brutality of the test, and says she should have put a stop to it, but Nynaeve replies that it taught her a great deal about herself, and about the Aes Sedai.

She wanted to be Aes Sedai, fully and truly embraced. She wanted it badly. But in the end, if these people chose to refuse her their approval, she knew she could continue on and do what she needed to do anyway.

The others approach, and Saerin tells Nynaeve that her use of balefire could have destroyed the ter’angreal and perhaps killed all of them, and wants her to promise never to use it again. Nynaeve refuses, and points out that she will be fighting in the Last Battle with Rand, and asks if they would truly make her choose between making a foolish oath and saving the world. She says they will have to trust her judgment on balefire, or not raise her at all.

“I would be careful,” Egwene said to the women. “Refusing the shawl to the woman who helped cleanse the taint from saidin—the woman who defeated Moghedien herself in battle, the woman married to the King of Malkier—would set a very dangerous precedent.”

The others look at each other, and at length Saerin declares that Nynaeve has passed the test – narrowly. Rosil declares that none of them shall ever speak of what passed here, and tells Nynaeve she will spend the rest of the night in prayer and contemplation. Nynaeve says she has one important thing to attend to first.

She takes a gateway to the camp where Egwene’s envoys to the Black Tower are stationed. Nynaeve was surprised to find them still outside the walls, but the guards had told her that “others had the first choice.” She arrives at Myrelle’s tent and calls her outside, and tells her she has something that belongs to her. Myrelle thinks that depends on opinion, and Nynaeve tells her she was raised today, and they are equals now. Myrelle tells her to return tomorrow, and Nynaeve catches her arm and thanks her, for helping him live, but says this is not the time for Myrelle to push her.

“I swear to you, woman, if you do not pass me Lan’s bond this very moment, I will step into that tent and teach you the meaning of obedience. Do not press me. In the morning, I swear the Three Oaths. I’m free of them for one more night.”

Myrelle froze. Then she sighed and stepped back out of the tent. “So be it.” She closed her eyes, weaving Spirit and sending the weaves into Nynaeve.

It felt like an object being shoved physically into her mind. Nynaeve gasped, her surroundings spinning.

Myrelle turned and slipped back into her tent. Nynaeve slid down until she was sitting on the ground. Something was blossoming inside her mind. An awareness. Beautiful, wonderful.

It was him. And he was still alive.

Blessed Light, she thought, eyes closed. Thank you.

Commentary
Yeah, I knew I was right to heart Nynaeve.

Not that there was really much doubt of her badassery before this, but it’s always nice to have extra confirmation.

And this chapter was doubly cool in the Nynaeve badassery front, in that it showcased not only her prowess in kicking physical ass, which we all knew about already, but in her calling out, with stinging accuracy, the flaws in the infrastructure of the White Tower and its rituals, and their lack of applicability to real life, and how that can, and will, present a very real danger to its inhabitants in the very large dose of Real Life (so to speak) looming on their horizon.

The Tower, in this series, has always been mainly symbolic of two things: of the Roman Catholic Church specifically, and more generally of the “ivory tower” mentality that very old, very ritualized institutions like the RCC tend to develop. Humans, as a general rule, have a great fondness for ritual and tradition, and the older those rituals are the more we tend to revere them. The progression and logic, therefore, behind the Tower’s gradual recession from “ordinary” life and descent into arcane, rigid ritualism over the past few millenia makes perfect sense, and yet that does not mean that that progression should be condoned.

Quite the opposite, in fact. Just because an idea is older than dirt doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth more than something that isn’t. People believed for thousands of years that the earth was flat; that didn’t make them any less wrong.

And while the Tower is probably not going to appreciate it anytime soon, it is very lucky that women like Nynaeve have the will and conviction (and, incidentally, the power and political connections, as Egwene points out) to challenge that mentality, to demand that its traditions be required to prove their usefulness and validity, instead of the Tower continuing to allow things to be done merely because that is the way they have always been done.

Not that she made that demand here, exactly, or at least not that she was able to make it stick very well. Yet. But she definitely made a good start.

I kind of like the inkling of the team dynamic that’s started here between Egwene and Nynaeve, as well. I’m sure there will be those that will be annoyed with Egwene for her defense (however half-hearted) of the status quo, but to my mind, as the leader of the Tower that’s a line Egwene is obliged to walk. Nynaeve is (or will be) free to be the wild-eyed revolutionary of the pair, but as Amyrlin it will be Egwene’s job to find the balance between Nynaeve’s necessary reformist ideas, and sustaining enough of the tradition and structure of the Tower to keep it from falling apart. No change at all is bad, obviously, but overly rapid change often proves to be worse.

All that said, it’s a shame that the need for such moderation makes any retribution against the sisters who basically tortured Nynaeve in this chapter unlikely. Because that shit is NOT COOL. Grr.

The only real sour note in this chapter for me was the coda at the end where Nynaeve acquires Lan’s bond. Not in what actually happened, because FINALLY, YAY, but because again, I felt like the moment got rather short shrift.

I’m not going to belabor this too much, because honestly I’m not going to claim I know how the moment should have gone, but all I can tell you is that when I first read it, my primary response was disappointment that it happened so fast. I will say that it worked a little better for me on re-reading, so there’s that, but still it was… abrupt.

As a final note, Myrelle’s one of the Tower envoys to the Black Tower? Eeek. Myrelle’s never been my favorite Aes Sedai, but I believe I’m on record as saying no one deserves what’s going down in that joint. Let’s hope Androl and Pevara fix that shit before Egwene’s people get their turn at the mangler. Yeesh.

 

Chapter 21: An Open Gate

What Happens
Perrin listens to Seonid’s report from Cairhien, trying not to be distracted by thoughts of his lessons in the wolf dream. Seonid says Cairhien is still a mess, but Elayne Trakand has apparently finally secured Andor’s throne, so may be coming to Cairhien next. There are rumors that the Lord Dragon is in Arad Doman with his Aiel (which Edarra and the colors confirm), perhaps to meet the Seanchan there, and Perrin tries not to imagine what a battle between Wise Ones and damane would be like. Seonid also reports that King Darlin is gathering an army in Tear, and campaigns hopefully for a trip there, but Perrin thinks it makes more sense to go to Andor and talk to Elayne first.

Faile smelled worried.

“Lord Aybara,” Seonid said, “do you think the Queen will welcome you? With the flag of Manetheren, and your self-endowed title of Lord…”

Perrin scowled. “Both of those fool banners are down now, and Elayne will see things right, once I explain them to her.”

He tells Alliandre that she and her troops will be going back to Jehannah once they’ve dealt with the Whitecloaks; they’ve ignored his requests for a further parley, so Perrin is of “a mind to give them a fight.” They discuss the Seanchan, and Annoura comments that it would be wise to have an alliance with the Seanchan for the Last Battle, but Edarra counters coldly that the Seanchan have chained Wise Ones, and not just Shaido; there is talk of declaring blood feud. Perrin points out that he doubts Rand would want that.

“A year and a day,” Edarra said simply. “Wise Ones cannot be taken gai’shain, but perhaps the Seanchan ways are different. Regardless, we will give them a year and a day. If they do not release their captives when we demand them after that time, they will know our spears. The Car’a’carn cannot demand any more from us.”

The pavilion grew still.

Perrin is irritated to learn that the Wise Ones had also sent Maidens to scout in Caemlyn, but they are not impressed, and Seonid says that it was important, as there had been rumors that one of the Forsaken was operating there. Perrin nods and comments that Rand had said it was Rahvin, that he was impersonating a local nobleman named “Gabral or Gabil or some such,” and that he had made the Queen fall in love with him before killing her.

A serving tray hit the ground with a muted peal. Porcelain cups shattered, tea spraying into the air. Perrin spun, cursing, and several of the Maidens leaped to their feet, clutching belt knives.

Maighdin stood, looking stunned, arms at her sides. The fallen tray lay on the ground before her.

Maighdin asks Perrin if he was certain of what he’d said, and Perrin is confused, but replies that Rand was sure. Sulin confirms it, saying that she had been there when Rand fought him with the One Power, and there was no doubt that “Gaebril” had been one of the Shadowsouled. Edarra adds that the Car’a’carn had spoken of it, saying that Gaebril had been using the One Power to twist the minds of the people in the palace, making them do what he wanted. Perrin asks Maighdin what’s wrong, but she only replies that she must be excused, and leaves. Faile apologizes for her awkwardly, and they move on. Grady confirms that he and Neald are more or less completely recovered, and Perrin says he wants to start sending the refugees home. Tam points out, though, that most of them have started training, and will not want to leave.

“Some will want to check on family,” Tam said, “but only if you’ll let them back. They can see that sky. They know what’s coming.”

Perrin decides to deal with it later, and tells Balwer to write the Whitecloaks and tell them to pick a place to fight, even though it feels wrong to kill so many who could be fighting the Shadow instead. The meeting breaks up, and Perrin notes suspiciously that Faile and Berelain are walking together, chatting amiably even though they both smell angry. Balwer intercepts him to tell him again that the rumors that Rand is pursuing a treaty with the Seanchan are probably not idle, and also to show him the sketches of Mat and himself, which have been circulating among the criminal element in Cairhien with promises of large sums of money attached for anyone who kills them.

“And you discovered these while visiting the scholars at Rand’s school?” Perrin asked.

The pinch-faced scribe displayed no emotion.

“Who are you really, Balwer?”

“A secretary. With some measure of skill in finding secrets.”

Perrin isn’t buying it, and wants to know what his problem with the Whitecloaks specifically is about. At length, Balwer confesses that his previous employer was “killed by the Children”, and he worries that some of them may recognize him. Perrin backs off and compliments his skills, and tries to offer him a raise, but Balwer refuses vehemently, and points out that one of the easiest ways to sniff out a spy is to check whether he’s being paid more than he should be. He says working with Perrin is reward enough, and Perrin shrugs and lets it go. Balwer leaves, and Perrin examines the sketch of him again.

He’d bet these pictures were in Andor, too, placed by the Forsaken.

For the first time, he found himself wondering if he was going to need an army to keep himself safe. It was a disturbing thought.

Ituralde watches from the base of the hill as the Trolloc horde surges over the top of it. His forces are arranged in such a way that is designed to give ground slowly to the coming assault. The archers loose, and the Trollocs meet the pike line, dying in  droves but pressing on over the corpses of the others. The rest of the troops begin their retreat, and Ituralde worries over whether the Asha’man will be too exhausted to hold the line once the pikes fall back.

If they were able to break the Trolloc advance, his army would fall back southward. That retreat would take them past the safety of Maradon, but they would not be allowed in. Those inside had rebuffed all Ituralde’s attempts at communication. “We do not abet invaders” had been the reply each time. Bloody fools.

Ituralde has the archers fire on a group of wolf-like Trollocs, which often tend to be smarter than many of the other kinds, and thinks he is not looking forward to when the Fades will join in, and hopes that his plan for retreat works. He tells himself again that the Dragon Reborn will keep his promise. Then he sees one of his lieutenants, Lidrin, breaking the line to surge forward, and rides to shout at him to get back. Lidrin is crazed, though, and shouts that they’re all going to die anyway, and ignores him. He goes down, and the pike line breaks. The Trollocs howl and surge toward the hole in Ituralde’s defenses, and he joins the line himself, trying to hold it. The fight is brutal, and the men are losing. Then to Ituralde’s horror, someone sounds the retreat too soon, meaning some of the pikes retreat and others do not.

The lines around Ituralde burst, men scattering as the Trollocs swarmed over them. It was a disaster, as bad a disaster as Ituralde had ever been part of. His fingers felt limp.

If we fall, Shadowspawn destroy Arad Doman.

Ituralde falls back long enough to order the cavalry and the Asha’man to attack, and then the Fades and Draghkar join in the fight, and the battle dissolves into total chaos, the weakened Asha’man not able to hold them off. Men are dying all around him, and Ituralde thinks that at least they’d given the Shadow a fight. His horse gets shot out from under him and Ituralde falls wrong, feeling his leg break. He forces himself to sit up and grab a pike, spearing a Trolloc from the ground, but then a Fade sees him, and Ituralde knows he is a dead man. He prepares to die, but then out of nowhere a dozen arrows slam into the Fade, and Ituralde sees with amazement that thousands of horsemen are charging the field.

The Dragon Reborn! He came!

But no. These men flew the Saldaean flag. He looked back. The gates of Maradon were open, and Ituralde’s tired survivors were being allowed to limp inside. Fire was flying from the battlements—his Asha’man had been allowed up top to get a vantage on the battlefield.

The Saldaean sally is enough to break the Trolloc charge momentarily. A Saldaean soldier introduces himself to Ituralde as Yoeli, and says he is charge for the moment. He pulls Ituralde up to ride with him, and they retreat back to the city with the rest of Ituralde’s forces. Ituralde comments that it took them long enough, and Yoeli replies that he hopes Ituralde is worth it, as what he’s just done may cost Yoeli his life.

“What?”

The man didn’t reply. He simply bore Ituralde on thundering hooves into the safety of the city—such as that safety was, considering the city was now besieged by a force of several hundred thousand Shadowspawn.

Morgase walks out of camp into the woods, and tries to come to grips with what she’d just been told. She thinks of all those who had manipulated her over the years, whether she knew it or not, Taringail and Valda as well as Gaebril. Tallanvor appears and announces he is going to Tear, to join the army gathering there. Morgase says that they said Tallanvor was as single-minded in searching for her as Perrin had been for Faile.

“I’ve never had a man do that for me,” she continued. “Taringail saw me as a pawn, Thom as a beauty to be hunted and romanced, and Gareth as a queen to be served. But none of them made me their entire life, their heart. I think Thom and Gareth loved me, but as something to be held and cared for, then released. I didn’t think you’d ever let go.”

Tallanvor says he won’t, but Morgase points out that he just said he was leaving. Tallanvor replies that his heart will stay, but she has made it clear that his attentions are not welcome, and that she has still not gotten over Gaebril, even after what he did to her.

“You fawned over Gaebril, and he all but ignored you. That’s how love is. Bloody ashes, I’ve all but done the same thing with you.”

He says that’s why he’s going away, and makes to leave. She tells him Gaebril was one of the Forsaken, and he stops dead. She explains what she learned, and tells him about Compulsion and what it does. She tells him that she cannot help but desire Gaebril even now, but she loathes him at the same time.

She turned and looked down at Tallanvor. “I know love, Tallanvor, and Gaebril never had it from me. I doubt that a creature like him could comprehend love.”

Tallanvor met her eyes. His were dark gray, soft and pure. “Woman, you give me that monster hope again. Be wary of what lies at your feet.”

She tells him she needs time to think, and asks if he will wait. Tallanvor bows and tells her he will do anything she asks, and leaves.

Commentary
I’m not really sure why this chapter was divided up the way it was – it seems like it would be much more logical to have the Morgase scene follow immediately upon Perrin’s, and close with the Ituralde battle stuff – but oh well.

I’ve said this before, I’m sure, but it bears repeating: Morgase continues to be a very troubling character for me, defined as she is entirely by either the men who have loved her, or those who have victimized her. That she herself recognizes this fact in this chapter doesn’t change it, only draws attention to it. In fact it exacerbates the problem, by establishing that her history of being defined by the men in her life extends back over, apparently, her entire life.

Morgase, in fact, is practically the embodiment of every one of the more subtle negative stereotypes that plague female characters, particularly in epic fantasy. She is passive rather than active; a moral object, rather than a moral actor. She doesn’t do things; things are done to her. The one truly decisive action she’s taken in the entire series regarding her own life, that wasn’t at the behest of or coerced by others, is her escape from Rahvin, and since then she has basically been blown about wherever the other characters she meets or travels with decide to take her. Not to mention how the vast majority of her plotlines revolve around who she is or is not sleeping with, voluntarily or otherwise, which, the less said how I feel about that the better.

This is especially notable in a series like the Wheel of Time, in which the authors have generally done extraordinarily well in making female characters active rather than passive, in giving them agency in directing their own lives (Nynaeve in the previous chapter being a rather shining example of that). So well, in fact, that this is one of the things that made the series stand out originally. I suppose it’s possible to argue that Morgase is therefore the exception that proves the rule, but for my money it just makes her lack of agency all that much more jarring and disappointing by contrast.

All of the characters of WOT are blown about by the winds of fate, of course (this is, after all, one of the central themes of the series), but Morgase is nearly unique (among the major characters) in how little control she has ever even tried to take over that fact. She even talks in this chapter about how she gained the throne by being passive!

Seriously, if that’s really the case then Morgase is not a thing like her daughter, and Elayne should feel grateful the apple apparently fell so far from the tree. Sheesh.

And yes, I grant you that there is an actual outside reason why her free will is a bowl of mush, namely that she had her brains scrambled by Compulsion, but this is only a mechanical/magical extension of the entire passive victimization trope in the first place. Not to mention, this chapter makes it clear that her passivity extended to well before Rahvin ever came on the scene.

Sigh. But, it’s nice that she’s on her way to getting her terrible, awful, no good, very bad mess of a character arc wrapped up. And I was pleased that she did finally find out about Gaebril = Rahvin, so at least theoretically she can stop beating herself up about that particular instance of… that.

I think this chapter was also supposed to be a bit of a character moment for Balwer, but I think it fell rather flat, owing to the fact that Balwer still wasn’t completely honest with Perrin about who he really was (or had been). Honesty being a more or less absolute prerequisite in WOT for getting any kind of resolution on anything, Balwer still fails the criteria, in my opinion. I can’t remember if he does fess up more later, but I hope he does.

Also, nice bit of foreshadowing here, thanks to Edarra. I barely noted what she said about the Seanchan and blood feud here the first time around, but now it strikes me as ominous indeed. We will obviously be talking about this much more later on.

Oh, and there was a battle. Which I liked very much, don’t get me wrong, but battles tend to be pretty straightforward in terms of plot movement and also fairly low on character development, so there isn’t always very much to say about them other than “hey, that was cool.” Ituralde is badass, but I’m pretty sure you don’t need me to tell you that.


And that’s what I got for this one, peoples. Give yourselves an upbeat piccolo solo and an unexplained cameo from Chevy Chase, and I’ll see you next week!

131 comments
Alice Arneson
1. Wetlandernw
False alarms FTW! Glad to hear all is well (at least on that front). Also glad to see you haven't melted yet.

ETA - and we are in total agreement about the subtle teamwork between Egwene & Nynaeve here. This has wonderful potential for affecting the Tower's workings in the world; I just hope we get to see some of the actual effect in AMoL.

(That book has so much work to do. Poor thing.)
Heidi Byrd
2. sweetlilflower
Glad your family stiff was a false alarm.

Hmm....I have been humming "You can call me Al" for the past week...must be something in the water?

At this point, Egwene has totally drunk the kool-aid re:the White Tower, but she kind of needed to in order to be fully accepted as Amyrlin. If she had spouted off how worthless the 3 Oaths are and how the AS need to get off their tushies and explore the world; she probably would not have been raised after Elaida was taken.
Nyneave completely kicks major butt in this scene, perhaps one of the most clearly defined arcs of character growth for her. She defines her priorities and makes peace. Kind of reminds me of Marty in Back to the Future where he doesn't race b/c he realizes that he doesn't have to be manipulated by anyone who calls him a chicken.

I am also glad that Morgase finally learns she was under Compulsion. Although, I have to say that I disagree with your assessment of her being acted upon as a charatcer. In this scene, she is reminiscing about past lovers b/c she is thinking about Tallanvor. However, she is clearly in charge in EotW when she lets Rand go. As to her being defined by whomever she is sleeping with, relationships are a big part of the WoT world...seems natural to me that she would be paired up most of the time. She wants someone with whom she can just be a woman, and not Queen.
Rob Munnelly
3. RobMRobM
@2 Perhaps you, Leeh and Julio were down by the schoolyard.
Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
The Nyneave chapter highlighted that there is something seriously wrong with the White Tower - think about it - almost a majority of testers were trying to destroy their best tool against the Dark One immediately before the Last Battle because of misplaced pride. And they already were screened not to be darkfriends, so there is no excuse. Egwene better change things stat.
daniel
5. danthony33
Leigh,

Love the re-read, its has really brought life to what has been a much diminished series to me since book 4.

I don't mean to comment on your usage of the phrase, but I just wanted to point out to other readers that the phrase "the exception proves the rule" is a horribly misused idiom. The phrase does not mean that an exception reinforces the truth of a rule. E.g. if someone says that all dogs bark, and you reply "mine doesn't", they cannot validly respond that "the exception proves the rule". Clearly the exception disproves the rule.

The phase is a shortened version of a longer latin phrase and really means is that an exception stated in the absence of the rule implies that there must be a rule from which exceptions can be made, and thereby proves the existence of a rule. An example would be a sign on a grocery store that says "closed Sundays". The exception of being closed Sundays "proves" the rule that the store is open every other day of the week, with the need to say "Open Mon - Sat, but closed Sun."

If that wasn't clear, I'm sure there is a helpful Wikipedia entry to explain it.
neverspeakawordagain
6. neverspeakawordagain
The Ituralde scenes were some of my favorite parts of this book -- the later part with Rand coming to Maradon's rescue was easily my favorite part of the book that didn't involve Mat.

I've always seen Morgase as kind of symptomatic of the problems that had until recently plagued Randland... civilization was crumbling, and a lot of it had to do with the fact that most rulers either spent all of their energy consolidating power, or all of their energy holding on to the power they had, and very little energy actually improving the welfare of their people. Morgase was written to be at least a little sympathetic since she's Elayne's mother, but she was always very much part of the problem, rather than the solution. You could say the same about the rulers of every other country pre-Eye of the World, but none of them have been major players except Morgase, if only because Andor is the center of the series and her family is so key to everything that's going on. If Mattin Stepenaous had been featured more prominently in the series, I'm sure he would have been little different.
F Shelley
7. FSS
Morgase is a special case in my opinion, because she's the most major character to have suffered a complete fall from her old position of authority. Even Suian Sanche was able to regain power of a sort by latching on the Salidar AS, then Egwene. Rahvin, on the other hand, forced Morgase to alienate her closest supporters, so when she fled Andor, she had next to no one to support her. Of course, the Two Rivers bunch, and her daughter, Min, and Avienda, were all on upward trajectories, so to compare her to them is a bit unfair.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
8. ZEXXES
Baaa da da dah baaa da da dadaah! Love that song and the video. Buda da bumbum buda da bumbum, buda da bumbum buda da bumbum "and if I can call you Betty, Betty you can call me! You can caaaall meeee ouuuuut, call me out!" *whistling the flute part*


Z
Rob Munnelly
9. RobMRobM
Morgase is a tough case because she is described by Thom, Niall and others as if she was a truly kickass character and Queen - but all of her kickass activities - except for letting Rand go in EOTW - occurred "off-screen." Conversely, every time we see her she's struggling to remain on her feet, let alone try to move forward. I do enjoy the upward swing we'll see later in this book and I'm curious to see how integral she is to the success of the good guys in AMOL.
B H
10. Greyhawk
Morgase as a character has always been a bit of a missed opportunity in my opinion. I have mentioned this in the past (some post years ago--I think I comment once or twice a year) but basically Morgase is described as an intelligent, effective leader of one of the best run countries in Randland. Yet, because Elayne is one of the supergirls, Morgase is an impediment to Elayne's ascension to power and so Morgase the queen had to be removed. FWIW, I think having Elayne serve as the heir to the throne, be one of the more powerful Aes Sedai in the world and have a close personal relationship with Rand and Egwene would have been enough in this story (heck, she could have assumed the throne in Cairnhein and still been heir to Andor's throne). It would have been much more interesting to have left Morgase in place as a preexisting leader to see how she dealt with the changes and challenges of the end of the age, especially with her daughter's prominent role in the end game.

While I don' t agree with Leigh that Morgase was defined by her men, I do think she has been an unbeleivably passive character that is contrary to the descriptions of her pre-story.

Jordan was not as willing to kill off characters as some other authors may be (Erickson and Martin come immediately to mind) but that would have been preferrable to the storyline we had. I just could never fully accept such a supposedly strong and intelligent character acting as she was written--and I don't by into the Compulsion excuse post escape. IMO, Jordan clearly intended Morgase to have retained her intelligence. I just never saw it demonstrated in any real measure.

Back to the missed opportunity concept, if Morgase had been killed by Rahvin and we didn' have Morgase's storyline, would any of us have missed anything. My answer is no.
Alice Arneson
11. Wetlandernw
Just a few thoughts on Morgase before I have to run... What we've seen on-screen of her is pretty strongly tilted toward the negative stereotypes, but - despite her thoughts here - most of her life has not been that way.

She started her bid for the throne at age 16, and in two years, she succeeded. She may have used a lot of blowing-in-the-wind tactics to do it, but she succeeded. This is not my definition of passivity.

She spent ten more years playing politics to stabilize her rule (and her country); she calls it "pandering to whichever faction was the strongest" - but then she also calls it "Ten years slowly building alliances." She clearly didn't enjoy the "pandering" aspect, but again, she was successful in stabilizing her rule and unseating what authority Taringail had managed to gain, even before he was killed in that hunting "accident."

She spent the next 15 years or more very successfully ruling her country, playing the politics as needed (we never saw her called a despot or a tyrant) to keep her people with her, but there's no further mention of pandering or wind-blowing until Gaebril came along and started in with the Compulsion. During that rule, she not only ruled her kingdom, she did it well, so that her people loved her. She taught her children that the ruler is not above the law, that the people you rule are a far higher priority than your own convenience, and that you must be just to rule well. (She didn't do quite so well at teaching them to think before acting on a personal level, but nobody's perfect.) I think the third-party POVs regarding her rule speak of a good and firm Queen, not a passive rag blowing around in a continuing effort to avoid making anyone angry.

So, yes, most of what we see on-screen is Morgase-the-victim, and I think that's a lot of what I disliked about her plot arc on my first few reads; that Morgase didn't fit very well with the Queen we'd seen in the first book and through the eyes of her children & subjects. Once I registered that she was still carrying the (massive) effects of Gaebril's Compulsion, though it became painful in a different way, I don't find it so dischordant. I don't think she can really be characterized as a "passive little woman" on the whole, or that she's really a poster child for all the negative stereotypes of a weak woman. I think she's a very wise woman who learned that there are plenty of ways to rule besides the sledgehammer approach. She gives good counsel to Galad (upcoming soon) and later to Elayne. With luck, maybe Nynaeve can help to remove the last of the Compulsion effects someday soon, and then Morgase can be Elayne's regent in Cairhien or something.
William Carter
13. wcarter
I always enjoy watching Nyneave be an unapologetic badass, and even more so when arrogant pricks get their little bubbles pricked. That's all I have to say about that.

On Morgase. Yes she is a very passive person, and I understand if that clashes with feminist leanings. It would certainly be a problem if this series lacked strong women. It does not.
You may not like it, but the ugly truth is there ARE women and men just like Morgase in the real world and they aren't even that uncommon.

I've known several in my lifetime including a few relatives who could best be described as doormats, and they don't even have the erstwhile excuse of magical compulsion.

This series certainly has its flaws, and there are some valid critiscims of Morgase's character that could be pointed out--just letting Rand go in EoTW for example seems pretty foolish for a ruler (though that could be chaulked up to Taverean I guess).

But the fact of the matter is there are plenty of people who allow themselves to be defined by their relationships or their careers or what someone else wants them to be. When they lose those things, it doesn't matter how secure or confident they were before, they just seemed lost.
neverspeakawordagain
14. NotInventedHere
I tend to disagree with Leigh regarding Morgase; not with the statement that she is very passive (she definitely is, for most of the time we know her), but that it is jarring or somehow a poor or inferior characterization.
From pretty much everything we learn about her, it is clear she was a strong and independent Queen. However, the vast majority of the time we spend with her is post-Rahvin; simply put, Rahvin destroyed her. She knew she had made atrocious decisions towards the end of her rule, but she didn't understand why - in her mind, there was no excuse. Not understanding what was happening, but knowing she had become an awful (and irrelevant) ruler, she lost her confidence. When she tried to actively plot take her throne back, she went to the Whitecloaks - another decision that turned out very badly (though it probably would have worked out better had Niall not been assassinated; not great, but better). The effect has been that her confidence was entirely shattered - she became somewhat listless and bowing to the will of others because she no longer trusted herself to make decisions. She is in many ways the embodiement of the stereotypical fantasy female at that point, but there is a clear and logical progression for how she got there. I don't like her character much of the time, because she has lessened herself so, but I think that her character is very believable. To me, her character seems to be a central part of what Jordan was doing - her whole arc is basically saying, "See these passive, ineffectual female characters we find all over fantasy literature? They are the twisted and sad remains of a real person who has been destroyed by terrible events; this is not, and should not be their default state."
Craig Jarvis
15. hawkido
@8. ZEXXES

OMG Zex that was horrible... your musical ontomontipia was a wreck LOL :) and the song is 'Call me Al'! Not 'Call me Out'!

ROFL I got a good giggle-snort out of it tho.. so that's all good.
neverspeakawordagain
16. Jonellin Stonebreaker
@ldb:

Thanks for the post;I disagree with you , though,on your characterization of Morgase and even of your description of her self assessment as being a passive, standard fantasy damsel-in distress.

Remember, House Trakand wasn't favored to take the throne after Tigraine's death and Tarangail Damodred, schemer though he was, was blocked from any real power during the early part of her reign; this was what lead (indirectly) to the Aiel War.

Thom was a dalliance and the manner in which that relationship terminated certainly didn't leave the impression of a poor little waif abandoned by a smooth-talking wolf.

In the relationship with Gareth Bryne before Gaebril, as we saw in TEOTW, her interaction with him was firmly that of a Queen to her subject; a powerful, respected, and maybe admired subject, but subject nonetheless.

It was only after Rahvin started (literally) messing with her head, that Morgase became the type of person who let powerful men boss her about, and even then flashes of her true character would appear from time to time.
Deana Whitney
17. Braid_Tug
You know, I'm rather happy Nyneave's testing is talked about on a different week than Mat & Elyane's meeting.
Loved Ny's whole take on "Why should I be calm?! I'll show you a 'useless' weave!"

Making Lan a test element, I understand. making it a hopeless situation, I don't understand. Or does one person start the situation and the other vindictive *&^% (oh, I mean) Sitters finish it?

The one thing I would have loved to see regarding her gaining Lan's bond, was either a few more lines about feeling "him." Or a view point from Lan soon afterwards, where he realizes she has his bond now. I know we get that before the end of book. Just wish the moment came sooner.

Perrin’s Chapter…
Finally Morgaseknows about the Compulsion! Should have happened books ago!
And here is where I disagree with Leigh, as a few others do too. I see her moment of reviewing her love life as one of those things people do every so often when a major event happens. You assist your past life. She assess her past romantic life. But since it’s off topic, she does not dwell on all the active kick ass things she did as Queen pre-Compulsion. She was great Queen prior to that, if you take everything that is said between the lines. (as others said, her greatness was all off screen or pre-books.)

And I don’t remember where it was said, but didn’t RJ state that he used Morgase to show “How a Queen can fall and become a Servant.” So much of this story (and epic fantasy in general) is about a Servant becoming King / Queen, this way he was able to show the Contrast.

Help? Anyone know where this thought came from?
Francesco Paonessa
18. ErrantKnave
Leigh, I'm glad to hear that all went well with the family medical issue.

Excellent analysis, as usual, esp. re: Morgase. On a slightly related note, the former queen's realization that she was Compelled by Rahvin is another loose thread that I'm glad was finally sewn up after eight or nine books.

Nynaeve's test brought about the end of something I'd been wondering about for years--ever since reading about the 100-weave test. (In New Spring, right?) The introduction of that test made it obvious that the Aes Sedai calmness was brought about by necessity. They needed it to pass this gruelling test. By raising Eqwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne without the test, I suspected Jordan side-stepped a serious issue. That is, the talented but temperamental Supergirls would need some serious discipline if they were ever going to pass. Eliminating the test would get rid of that pesky test. I was wrong on a couple of counts: 1) The test was not eliminated (at least, it wasn't for Nynaeve), and 2) Lack of proper studies be damned; Nynaeve passed. Fine. She would. What I didn't expect was Nynaeve's subsequent summary of the test, exposing it as misguided and foolish. She didn't need to take the test to prove herself, but she did it, she passed, and then she called out the Aes Sedai.

Mind you, the character we're talking about is Nynaeve, and she generally breaks the mold. She's awesome. Has anyone said that yet?

Balwer: JUST TELL PERRIN ALREADY!
A.J. Bobo
19. Daedylus
I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I think the real "villian" that the Light side needs to overcome in this series is Aes Sedai arrogance. Almost everything bad that happens (not everything, but a lot of it) could have been avoided if an Aes Sedai had swollowed her pride, and actually communicated with the people about her. Nyneave's test and her reaction to it are a direct slap in the face to that arrogance. As a potential world-changing event, it felt to me almost as big and important as balefiring a Forsaken.
William Carter
20. wcarter
On Balwer: The thing is I'm not sure Balwer didn't basically just tell the whole truth as he saw it.

Per Naill's last POV, Balwer (a dry dusty little secretary) wasn't what one would call a "true believer" of the Children of the Light dogma. He worked for Pedron Nail. He was loyal to Pedron Nail. Emon Valda--a Whitecloak--killed Pedron Nail.

To Balwer that is the be all and end of the story. He himself was never truly a white cloak, the white cloaks who knew him saw him as a clerk, and were probably pretty condescinding towards him, and he is already performing the same tasks for Perrin that he did for Nail.

So that begs the question, does he really need to get more specific with Perrin than "The White Cloaks killed my previous employer?"
Because as far as Balwer is concerned that is all there is to it. Does Perrin really need to hear, "and then as I was finishing up my report, a couple of assholes, I think their names were Asunawa and Valda, anyway...they totally stabbed my boss a few times and he bled out on the floor..."?

When it comes right down to it, would that (to him personally) irrelevant bit of information really change Perrin or Balwer's situations?

*On an unrelated note, I'm pretty sure I misspelled Pedron's last name. If someone could correct me?
Pat .
21. dolphineus
Seriously, if that’s really the case then Morgase is not a thing like her daughter, and Elayne should feel grateful the apple apparently fell so far from the tree.
Nope. Not even close. Elayne is exactly like her mother, with one major exception, she can actually channel, and very strongly.

If Elayne had not been able to channel, she would have gone to the tower for a year to study, but would have returned to Caemlyn and continued learning from her mother. Had she not been a central character in the turning of the wheel, in the last battle, she would have been a carbon copy of her mother.

Circumstances changed. She can channel, and got caught up in a lot of shit that forced her to grow up, to learn from a lot of different teachers in a lot of very diverse areas that she otherwise never would have had. With barely a year or so in the tower as a Novice, she ends up in the middle of the whole Falme situation, then ends up being a Black Ajah hunter for Siuan, Tear, the Sea Folk, Tanchico. She learns a lot from Thom (and Julian).

The apple didn't fall far from the tree, it hit the ground and rolled downhill, picked up, tossed on a cart and hauled halfway around the world.
Tricia Irish
22. Tektonica
Nice shoutout to Mr. Simon! I just saw the video of his concert in Zimbabwe in 1987 with all those incredible muscians. Don't miss it...25 year anniversary.

I was so happy to see Nynaeve be her true self here. Telling Egwene what needs to change, and giving the nasty AS that put her through that the What For! You go girl. I do hope that Egwene will keep Nyaeve close to her in the future (if there is one for the WT), and take some very savvy advice from her. Yes, Egs does have to walk a fine line, and change slowly, but it would be nice to see her getting intelligent advice.

Morgase....ummmm, I think you have her nailed. She is somewhat restricted by her position (Queen), with limited available, suitable men to choose from, but yes, she's pretty much the hot potato being passed around the story. I've just never much cared about her story arc. The oohoooh girls are so much more interesting, free, and active.

Ituralde (I almost wrote Iditerod) is awesome. Will the Dragon show up next week? And yes, this chapter is put together in an odd way ?

And now to the comments......so please forgive my redundantness.
neverspeakawordagain
23. ChuckFan
Long time lurker, but have posted a few times. Often feel like my contribution to the thread would be, "Yeah, what he/she said," so I don't post. Love the discussions and insights, though! It's made my last re-read of WoT so much more enjoyable and challenging and thought-provoking. Thanks, Leigh!

But I have to disagree on Morgase defining herself by the men in her life. One caveat on my comment--I haven't actually read the chapter in a good while, so I reserve the right to be wrong.

I think this is a case of Morgase looking back over her life using that lens. I can review my life using any one of a variety of lenses: my achievements, my failures, my failures to act, the women in my life, my job, my financial situations, my travels, interpersonal conflicts, etc. That doesn't mean I define myself according to that lens--it's just another way of looking at and evaluating my life.

Examining our lives from different (and new) lenses can bring some perspective to life, reveal patterns that have been too long hidden, and be a catalyst for change. (Or we can just flat out ignore or deny anything that such a reevaluation produces!)

Could that be what Morgase is doing here? This new information about Rahvin/Gaebril shines new light on her relationship with him, and so she begins reassessing the theme of relationships in her life. And it is the reevalution that brings her to the point of questioning the role of Tallanvor in her life.

I don't think that evaluating a particular facet of your life means that that is how you define your life. Of course, some people can and will define themselves by a single aspect, but it blinds them to other aspects of their life.
James Whitehead
24. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Leigh, glad to hear your health issues/concerns came to naught. Have been to many doctor's offices & emergency rooms over the past 17 years and am a firm believer in the 'no news is good news' thought process - right after the 'we've ruled all the bad stuff out' answer. ;-)

As to Morgase, I have to agree with the other posters & especially with Wetlandernw's comment at 11. We are introduced to a strong, powerful, fair, and pretty well rounded (of a side main character who was also a ruler) character in Morgase when Rand first meets her.

I think we have to remember Thom's advice to Elayne when she hears of her mother's behavior with 'Lord Gaebril.' Queen she may be but she still wants someone to see her as a woman & to find some kind of love. Morgase reminded me of Queen Elizabeth I & some of Good Queen Bess' romances didn't end well either. Didn't detract from her as a queen to my mind. Just made her fallible like the rest of us.

And if Morgase has been acting less sharply than we expect of her don't forget that Compulsion is very damaging especially to the strong willed as a greater amount of Compulsion is needed to control your subject. And Morgase is very strong willed as has been confirmed by a number of characters throughout the series.

Balwer has steeped himself for so long in deceit, shadows, espionage, & counter-espionage, and even counter-counter-espionage that trusting someone with all his secrets doesn't come easily. Niall knew what Balwer was about but he had been with Niall a long time & fooled everyone so fully that Valda dismissed him out of hand.

Do agree that Nynaeve is fabulous in this chapter. Tough telling those who need to hear things that they don't want to hear; especially when doing so may cost you something to desire dearly. He is continuing with her great character arc & is fulfilling Rand's wish that she doesn't let the Tower change her.

Kato

PS - So Perrin's problem is that he forgot the lyrics to El Condor Pasa/If I Could? "I'd rather be a hammer than a nail..." ;-)
neverspeakawordagain
25. Trakand Field
Long time reader, occasional commenter. In honor of the Olympics, though, I figured I'd use a temporary nom de plume.

Thoughts on Morgase: (Wo-)Man, does she get a bad rap!

Morgase, with the exception of her time under Rhavin's thumb, was a strong and exceptionally capable queen. She spent most of her energies and intellect running a nation and did so from a very young age. As a young woman, she probably didn't get to do too much in the way of dating or dealing with "boys" in a non-formal setting. Therefore, when the time comes in her life that she can actually afford to be a normal human being, it's something that's totally out of her wheelhouse.

I don't think this makes her any less strong a character than anyone else, male or female. Her strength lies, however, in other arenas. Even the most sensible and competent people often get tripped up by love and the "objects of their interest." Speaking from personal experience, I'm just a hot mess right now because I have no idea how to read women's minds!! :)
neverspeakawordagain
26. mediri
I was disappointed there was no comment in the re-read on Yoeli and the other Saldaeans who came to the rescue. Even though he was disobeying a direct command from his ruler, I really like Yoeli's actions. It was very similar to the theme of Nynaeve's testing...to save the lives of others it was worth the cost of his position and in Yoeli's case, even his life. The first time I read this chapter, his choice to join the fight despite his awareness of the costs was my favorite part.
neverspeakawordagain
27. tearl


5.danthony33

I've always treated the phrase "the exception that proves the rule" as a bit of a joke. It's the final punchline in a series of jokes about proofs that "all odd numbers are prime."

Engineer's proof: 3, 5 and 7 are prime, therefore all odd numbers are prime.

Physicist's proof: 3, 5, 7, 11 and 13 are prime; 9 is experimental error.

English teacher's proof: 3, 5, 7 and 11 are prime; 9 is the exception that proves the rule.

YMMV

James Golden
28. Treemaster
I agree with the dissenting opinions on Morgase -- she does not seem to be a stereotypical passive female to me either. The only point I would add is that relationships are very important parts of everyone's lives. Why shouldn't Morgase reflect about her past relationships with men and how Tallanvor is different? It would be more odd if she didn't think about it. That doesn't mean she is being passed around like a hot potato.

Killing her off in The Fires of Heaven would have made sense, but she is needed to resolve the Perrin/Whitecloaks plotline. If she had been killed, that plotline would have needed to be wrapped up in a different way. That's the reason Jordan has kept her around for so long, I believe.
Jay Dauro
29. J.Dauro
It has always seemed to me that the Aes Sedai are testing for lack of empathy. And in most cases it appears to work pretty well.
(But it's not going to happen with Nyneave.)

And I still can't give Egwene a complete pass here. Yes, I think she and Nyneave will work to improve the Tower. But other Accepted do not have to go through the personalized torment (family and husband) that Nyn does, would the other Aes Sedai have even known if Egwene had used different scenarios?
neverspeakawordagain
30. SJRobert
I think that Morgas here is actually being a bit melodramtic which I find to be a family trait. As we know that she did eventually secure her throne and become a living legend in the eyes of her people and others including other monarchs. Plus like i said that whole family got self esteem issues, except Galad.He is a whole another type of crazy.
Francesco Paonessa
31. ErrantKnave
@20 wcarter: Hmm. Ok. I wishe he'd come out and say it, but that explanation will work for me if it never happens.

@21 dolphineus: Oh, right, chanelling. I forgot that teeny tiny difference. Whoops.
Jack Liang
32. fuzz1717
Hey all, this is my first post ever (i spent a solid 3 hours going through these posts after i finished my own reading of the WOT books).

I do have to say, I'm glad i joined in at this particular point. Nynaeve has always been one of my Faves, along with Matrim and Talmanes, even though the poor Cairheinin really doesn't say much. I'm hoping AMOL furthers this idea of Egwene and Nyn working together, they really will need it if there is going to be any form of cooperation between the pro-seal-breakers and the anti-seal-breakers.

I agree with your Morgase opinion, but at the same time its hard for her to be an active character because of the positions shes been placed in. As a young ruler, it is natural for her to be influenced by other, more established powers (think Egwene in the early Salidar days). Then, once she escaped, she was under Pedron's thumb for who knows how many books, and after that, she was a servant to one she would consider a rebel against Andor. In any of those cases, especially the last two, a wrong move may have gotten her killed.

Ituralde is a badass. Enough said.
neverspeakawordagain
33. TBGH
Overly passive female characters are only a problem when they are all or nearly all the characters in the story, or when they are rewarded for being passive. (e.g. the princess waiting to be rescued) I don't see either being the case in this story. Plus Morgase was only passive after being mind-raped (tried to think of a better word but couldn't) by Rahvin. That's trauma there, which I can totally buy making you doubt yourself and become more passive.

Passive characters are a fair reflection of people in the real world. There are plenty of passive women (and men) in the world and I fail to see any problem with including characters like that in your story.
neverspeakawordagain
34. Wotman
Leigh, I thought you nailed it this time, and I was so thrilled that Nyneave said it like it was, and Egwene should have not only stopped her persecution, but been ashamed for the whole situation that she was responsible for.

I do have a bit of a niggle about Morgase though, while I agree in the most part, I felt that you did come down hard on her. Everyone who mentioned her stated how tough she was and for the most part just a bit afraid of her. Even as a servant, she showed many times her royal streak and especially when she was a slave , she showed her true spirit. I think there are many (of us) who have made some pretty lame relationship choices. I feel her decisions on her kingdom were spot on and her main priority.
My only complaint is, how could there not be any word of the situation with Rahvin till now? That is highly improbable, especially with how they kept reiterating about with servants, it was almost impossible to keep secrets, especially if it wasn't really a secret.

As for Balwer: (heavy breathing)" Perrin . . . I'm your father. ." (heavy breathing) RFLMAO ;)
neverspeakawordagain
35. Wotman
@Mediri; i was going to wait till the next chapter to comment about Yoeli, but, since you mentioned it, I truly think that everyone should salute him, he is a true hero! If you can imagine being in the position and turning into a turncoat and manhandling his sworn allegiance, that is one heck of a dramatic situation. My hat is off to those like him and Nyneave who stands of to what is right and wrong and is willing to accept the consequences of their actions. This is what this country needs right now in a bad way, but this is no fairy tale so there probably won't be any happy endings -just sayin.
Deana Whitney
36. Braid_Tug
@ 26. mediri: you bring up an interesting point about the contrast of Yoeli's actions vs. Nynaeve's testing.
"to save the lives of others it was worth the cost of his position and in Yoeli's case, even his life."
Never thought about it, but bet the placement does have some significance besides "it flowed best this way."

He did the right thing even though it was against orders and was a break in his oath. I'm surprised more borderlanders were willing to keep the gate closed in the first place.
neverspeakawordagain
37. desertpaladin
Don't usually comment much, but I'll take another stab at it...

Just a thought regarding Morgase. Could her perception of herself still be colored by her compulssion by Rahvin? She knows she still has feelings for him, and now she knows why? But it seems to me that her compulsion would explain WHY she is looking at her past self through the lens of her relationships. We aren't privy to the full scope of the compulsion that was put on her, only that it was near constant and only her force of will enabled her to get free of it.

Seems to me that is a pretty strong character. The problem comes from the situations she then put herself in. They almost demand her to be passive. And that seeking to be passive seems like a likely byproduct of the compulsion.

So I guess my thoughts are that she is mentally handicapped by what Rahvin did to her and every decision she's made, even every thought she has is at least partially the end result of that one event. It doesn't make her weak, or vapid, or even a damsel in distress, because honestly the only one that has saved her from becoming a mental basket case is herself.
neverspeakawordagain
38. Jessemb
Just like to put in my two cents here, following up a thought from #24: Morgase may have a name and kingdom straight out of King Arthur, but her character model is actually Elizabeth I. Elizabeth's personal life was kind of a mess; her early years are a long succession of being tossed around, almost/maybe raped, and almost executed by various noblemen and her crazy sister. Even after she was crowned, she spent a good deal of her time building alliances with the rest of Europe through passive-aggressive tactics, including hinting at the possibility of marriage (which most agree she had no intention of ever carrying out).

Elizabeth is commonly regarded as one of England's greatest monarchs, yet I think she and Morgase have a lot in common. The major difference is that Elizabeth maintained her political power until the end of her life, while Morgase was from her throne untimely ripped.
neverspeakawordagain
39. Bartz
Re: Morgase, I don't find her to be a passive character very much, or at least not in her earlier life. From outsider PoVs she was an exceptional queen. She was well-loved, strong, capable, smart, and she took initiatives to gain the throne.

The passive elements that she expresses after her fall from grace, as it were, can be explained as a combination of two things. First, her compulsion from Rahvin that took away her initiative and free will. Second, her change in postition from a noblewoman/royalty to a prisoner/commoner. She is stuck in a life for which she has little or no experience, and she is completely powerless. Naturally she would be passive in these situations, expecially as a prisoner of the Children.

We'll see in several chapters that as soon as she is restored to her former status, she begins to take much more initiative and becomes a much stronger woman.

As for her internal dialogue, it's simply her clouded way of looking at her past. Her perception of her early life (being dominated by men) does not necessarily have to match reality, and in her case it clearly does not. Both Thom and Gareth have been shown to have incredible respect for her and her power as a ruler.
Alice Arneson
40. Wetlandernw
Braid_Tug @17 - You might be thinking of this?
We've had a lot of tales in this series about common people becoming important. It's nice to see that reversed and look at the lives of important people who are suddenly forced to become common.
This was from Brandon, in the context of his thoughts on rereading FoH, talking about Siuan and Morgase and the value of their storylines.

Incidentally, while looking for that quote I was also reminded that we've only seen a rare few people throw off a Compulsion, and it takes a very strong-minded person to do so. That definitely doesn't fit with Morgase-the-wimp, though she might not realize that yet. (Certainly not at this point, anyway.)

wcarter @20 - The best reason for Balwer to tell Perrin his background is to validate anything he says or knows about the Whitecloaks that might help Perrin. OTOH, he could quite possibly see his having formerly worked for the WC CIC as a probable black mark against him if Perrin found out, and if he doesn't think he knows anything about them that would really help Perrin there's no point in bringing it up. Other than that, you're probably right: his loyalty - and service - was to Niall, not to the Whitecloaks, and as far as he's concerned, they killed his previous employer and that's all Perrin needs to know.

mediri @26 - Good call on the juxtaposition of Yoeli and Nynaeve, each defying the "rules" and risking their own position for the sake of the lives of others.
Valentin M
41. ValMar
Glad to hear that it was false alarm, Leigh!

I've got to say, you got it wrong with Morgase. Re: her early years as a monarch consolidating- the other option open to her was reign of terror, always harming completely innocent people too. Later on, by all accounts, she was powerful and independent ruler. Most of what we've seen of her is when she was under Rahvin's Compulsion and it's effects afterwards.
Morgase's story arc has been a pain to read but we shouldn't discount her whole life.
She was stunned by the news about Gaebril=Rhavin and feeling sorry about herself.

Re: criticising the other AS for setting up cruel challenges to Nyn, don't forget that the piece de resistance was given by Egwene. The Egster is really going down the path of out-Aes Sedai-ing the other AS. Hopefully she'll be turned away from it, starting by Nyn's speech after the Test.
Mind you, I realise that Eg needs to be pragmatic how she goes about changing the culture and practices of the WT. Not all accidents in the WT were caused by the BA. It's a tall building with a lot of stairs to fall down from.
Lee VanDyke
42. Cloric
I don't really much to say about the post itself, except that RE: Nyn getting Lan's bond, I was very satisfied with how it was handled. I didn't need a long scene describing it. The wonder and relief she felt then fade to black, so to speak, worked well,

I did want to mention that, Leigh, you have corrected a mis-heard lyric for me. Since I saw the original video air with Chevy Chase, I have always thought the line was "I will call you EDDIE, and EDDIE, when you call me..." I actually had to go look up the lyrics to make sure you weren't intentionally misquoting the song for some reason. Just... odd...
neverspeakawordagain
43. Nicko Davis
I reckon people are pretty tough on Morgase. She had full blown compulsion placed on her and has been able to successfully fight it (to a large degree). No one else in the series has been able to do that. I think her strength in fighting the complusion and her determination and insight in continuing anyway make her an incredibly strong character.

I think people need to be understanding of her limitations. It has been a tough story arc to read but it is very realistic and in my opinion quite distinct from "standard fantasy damsel-in-distress". I think there are real world analogies to be drawn with someone suffering mental health issues yet doing their best regardless.

Terrible things have happened to her yet her inner strength and insight in light of everything is staggering.
T C
44. Freelancer
@15

Well, what can you expect from a One Trick Pony. But hey, it's all soon water under the Bridge.


This segment punctuates for the reader in me, the sadness of losing Robert Jordan when we did, in terms of the plot progression. The seminal transition points occuring here have been so long in the making; Aes Sedai forced to face their "That's the way we've always done it" dinosaur mentality, Nynaeve throwing off her prior discomfort and clearly choosing personal loyalty over institutional expectations, Morgase learning the long-overdue of why she hasn't been able to do anything successful for months, etc. To have prepared, for so many years, to bring these ascendent, anthemic events to pass, and to not be there to write them himself, is a shame. This is not to say that Brandon has mishandled any of it, has done wonderfully, and I cannot conceive of another author who would have managed nearly as well in the same place. It is just sorrowful.

And turning the page from that emotion, it's hilarious that Perrin is being warned about going to see Elayne. What else would Perrin do? Especially funny is
“Lord Aybara,” Seonid said, “do you think the Queen will welcome you? With the flag of Manetheren, and your self-endowed title of Lord…”
Self-endowed? Where has Seonid been collecting her intel these last weeks? She has no clue that he wanted nothing more than to dismiss that title, and all that went with it? Balwer would be laughing up his sleeve. Three well-asked questions and she would know better. But then, we're already speaking of the Aes Sedai presumption of always "knowing better".
Valentin M
45. ValMar
There is an irony in the "self-endowed" characterization of Perrin's lordship but from Elayne's POV it's not far from the truth. Maybe that's what Seonid meant, if one is to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Katie McNeal
46. Katiya
@38 : Yep, you took the words right out of my mouth with the Elizabeth and Morgase comparison. Most consider Queen Elizabeth I to be England's greatest monarch (well, one of them at least,) but I've read several views that essentially describe her behavior as passive and claim that she only succeeded because she was so good at not pissing people off. Right down to the temper tantrums she throws, Morgase mirrors Elizabeth I very closely, I think, and while it isn't the most flattering interpretation, at least it's true to history.
William Fettes
47. Wolfmage
Some good comments here about Morgase.

I agree with everyone else saying she was hardly a passive object in gaining the throne, keeping it and ruling. Admittedly, a lot of this was off-screen and told rather than shown, but we do see her at the height of her power in tEotW and she was no victim. She was an active decision-maker – someone who listens to advice and follows her own judgement.

NotInventedHere@14

Your comment was particularly apt. Many people here have mentioned the obvious problem of agency-destroying compulsion, but I think you're right to emphasise that even beyond the fog over her brain, she suffered emotionally and lost all confidence in the aftermath of escaping Rahvin. She struggled to reconcile what had happened and it had a big toll on her emotional wellbeing. This moral and psychological funk is tremendously important to understanding her passivity and uncertainty.

IMO Leigh is being far too literal in accepting the legacy of this ongoing depressive episode as a given. There’s really no evidence that prior to her humiliating and bewildering experience she had an external locus of self-esteem in her relationships, or that she was not an active participant in her life. I would say that is mostly her bottom of the glass cynicism speaking – which is drawing a long bow of revisionism from her recent predicaments back to her early life.

I would also question her account of her other relationships except for that bastard Taringail. Perhaps Tallanvor does see her most acutely and accurately as a human being – but she is obviously applying a lens to the past which tries to make sense of why those relationships failed and it's not particularly fair minded. In point of fact, we know as omniscient readers, that both Thom and Bryne genuinely loved her and the failure of those relationships was about specific circumstances. As we all do, Morgase is inventing a narrative to help process her fate.
T C
48. Freelancer
ValMar @45,

I would think that if Seonid meant it as a peek into Elayne's viewpoint regarding Perrin, she would have said so, such as:
“Lord Aybara,” Seonid said, “do you think the Queen will welcome you? With the flag of Manetheren, and as she must see it, your self-proclaimed title of Lord...”
It doesn't come across that way. But it isn't outside the realm of possibility. As one attempting to advise, ambiguity should be avoided. When people can easily misunderstand even the most clearly stated remarks, one shouldn't make it easier via lack of clarity.
neverspeakawordagain
49. Lsana
Two comments that I have to disagree with strongly:

"Just because an idea is older than dirt doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth more than something that isn’t."

Every time I hear something like this, I'm reminded of a guy I knew who decided to delete all the .dll files on his computer. He never used them, he didn't know of anything useful they did, and as far as he could tell, they were just taking up space. Getting rid of them, of course, turned his laptop into a lovely paperweight.

Similarly, just because Nynaeve (and as far as I know, any living Aes Sedai) doesn't know why they need to maintain serenity during the test doesn't mean that there isn't a reason. Maybe it was always arbitrary, maybe it's something that doesn't apply any more, or maybe there is a critical problem with a channeler who gets emotional in a crisis. Without knowing the reason, it is extremely arrogant of Nynaeve to delare the requirement meaningless.

"Egwene for her defense (however half-hearted) of the status quo"

Where do you get the impression Egwene's defense was half-hearted? Nothing we have seen in her thoughts or actions for at least the last two books suggests that she does anything other than toe the party line. She doesn't just act like someone who drank the kool-aid: she has drunk it.

When you talk about a punishment for the sisters who tortured Nynaeve, remember Egwene is at the top of that list. Egwene was responsible for the worst of what she went through.
William Fettes
50. Wolfmage
Lsana @ 49

I don't think the point was meant to glibly licence breaking of any and all Aes Sedai conventions or taboos, until the case was proven otherwise. After all, it is often the case that traditions have developed for good reasons that aren't always properly understood. Toying with them unnecessarily and careless can certainly have unintended consequence. That point is well made, and certainly a point worth making.

Sticking to your computer analogy, I also think it's very reasonable to emphasise the dangers that exist when you're inside a ter'angreal facilitated reality construct. Whatever the cultural prism that Aes Sedai now attach to the conventions of the Test, it’s right to say it is dangerous to just make it up in there and deviate from the tried and tested things in such a realm.

However, the debate goes beyond that. The big picture issue is about culture. By running, showing measured anger, multitasking and foregoing absolute prioritisation of the White Tower Nynaeve challenged some of the most deeply embedded norms of White Tower culture. The real dangers of the Test are a separate issue to that. Nynaeve was essentially denying that absolute serenity and detachment was the essence and embodiment of being Aes Sedai and it was a shock to these women. In that regard, I think it’s perfectly sensible to defend Nynaeve.

I think 13 books of direct experience with the mystique and reality of Aes Sedai makes us reasonably well qualified to make our own judgements about how that culture of serenity actually functions. Personally I think it often works to retard engagement and understanding of the world, and especially when it is necessarily combined with realpolitik and total opaqueness, it is corrosive of trust in the world which limits the effectivenss of the Tower.

I doubt anyone is going to argue against a strong measure of composure and reason – and after all Nynaeve did not go into a raw berserker rage. She was merely defying the absolute strictures of the archetype.

As for the alleged hypothetical dangers to channelling with passion in a generic crisis, I’m extremely dubious. Some of the best and most impressive feats in the series have been done with passion, even anger. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s pretty obvious that the series is using the feeling and emotional sensitivity of Jesus Rand as an allegorical proof of the rightness of this idea: a better balance can be struck between calmness and passion than the conventions of the current Aes Sedai.

Most of the dangers of channelling are well established:
-Addictiveness or overuse leading to overdrawing
-Sparkers wasting sickness or lack of control
-General lack of training leading to loss of control
-General fatigue leading to loss of control or overdrawing
-Dangerous and untested weaves
-Dangerous and untested ter'angreal, angreal or sa'angreal
-Flawed or broken ter'angreal, angreal or sa'angreal
-Sudden loss of consciousness when channelling

There are no example I know of on-screen or alluded to otherwise involving the problem of losing absolute calm, and lots of counter-examples.

Also, it's worth pointing out that embracing the Source depends on some level of mental composure regardless. Rand has his Flame and Void, and the Aes Sedai have their Rose Bud.
T C
51. Freelancer
Lsana @49

On principle, I would agree with you. Reaching a conclusion based on limited information can be faulty. But that doesn't change by one iota what Nynaeve chose and why. She decided to accept, that if they wouldn't budge on their tradition, she would still act as she chose to act.

And while it is true that there might be quite valid arguments for a channeler to behave within certain parameters in order to function at their best, it would be as valid to recognize that such is not an absolute law, but a generalized guideline. Nynaeve is already living proof of such. Channelers are not supposed to be able to embrace saidar while in the grip of strong emotion. Until her block was broken, Nynaeve had no chance of channeling otherwise, and even without the block she can channel while in a rage, where no Aes Sedai in the Tower could. So, before taking another step on that parade of tradition regarding the testing, the Sisters should have raised the question, if holding one who's makeup already stands outside of the norm, to the same conventional behaviors required of the majority. They could not perceive outside of the established paradigm, even with a paradigm-breaking example before them. This is the point being made by the author with many of Nynaeve's attributes.
Philip Alan Smith
52. AlanS7
A Choice: I think the 13th Depository has a good review of this chapter in re the old-style Aes Sedai vs Nynaeve. Nynaeve is viewed as the best of the Aes Sedai as she has both strength in the Power and compassion and involvement in the world.
Jasper Mijares
53. J. Amijares
Regarding the White Tower as analogue to You Know What:

It is remarkable that seemingly intelligent, compassionate people so often choose blind adherence to tradition as opposed to actual consideration of an issue and its benefits to those they ostensibly serve.

Sorry to come off as slightly preachy here and I have no wish to offend anyone's religious sensibilities but this kind of dangerous blindness still continues in this day and age: In the Philippines where I live our law-makers are debating over a Reproductive Health Bill which is being opposed by the You Know What regardless of the very real benefits it could provide our countrymen, especially women...

Finding parallels in books regarding real life issues like these give us at least a perspective on how life COULD be lived, if only we thought more like heroes.

Which is why Reading is Cool.

Tnx.
Thomas Keith
54. insectoid
Yay, post! Great job as usual Leigh. Glad to hear your family's okay.

My saying that Nynaeve is a Badass Queen of Awesome is probably redundant, since that seems to be the general consensus around here. But... Nynaeve is a Badass Queen of Awesome. :P

Saerin even has a Moment of Awesome here, protesting Nyn's overly harsh test. Myrelle handing over Lan's bond was rushed, I agree... but it was fun to see Nyn bully her.

Perrin, Aiel, blah blah...

Morgase: Sure goes through a lot of... stuff in this series, doesn't she?

Balwer: Secretive little man. I wonder what he's still hiding for?

Ituralde: Is kickass. 'Nuff said.

Catsup time!

Bzzz™.
Birgit
55. birgit
As one attempting to advise, ambiguity should be avoided. When people can easily misunderstand even the most clearly stated remarks, one shouldn't make it easier via lack of clarity.

Seonid is AS. Why should she be speaking clearly? Balwer is also using an AS truth when he talks about his past. Working for Whitecloaks who hate AS seems not to have prevented him from developing AS-like habits.

Why is Ny's loss of her braid offsreen? That is such an important part of her character, it should at least be shown when she loses it.

Doesn't Myrelle have enough Warders already? She doesn't really need more (Ashaman) Warders. Maybe she is sent because she has a history of dealing with difficult Warders (saving those who lost their AS) and those who sent the group to the Black Tower think that might help dealing with channeling Warders.
Thomas Keith
56. insectoid
dolphineus @21: Nicely summed up!

Free @44, Wolf @50: Good points.

birgit @55: Good point about Nyn's braid—it being mentioned in passing is probably why some of us had forgot she had lost it when looking at the AMoL cover.

Yawn. Too tired to think.

Bzzz™.
Sorcha O
57. sushisushi
A thought on Morgase and Nynaeve - given the way that Morgase has been mentally abused and Compelled by Rahvin, and then rather kicked about by fate, while trying to stay out of trouble, I would really, really like her to meet Nynaeve. Not just for the reminder about empowerment, but for Nynaeve to get her Yellow Ajah on and see what she can do about the remaining Compulsion. Morgase admits that she still has feelings for Gaebril here and has the breakthrough of realizing that they are the result of Compulsion, rather than some internal weakness of her own. From what we've seen of Compulsion, that's no mean feat in itself - can you imagine what strides towards sorting her head out would come from Nynaeve removing that Compulsion and actually allowing her to think clearly and by herself for the first time in what, a couple of years? I'm afraid that this will get left behind in the rush to the Last Battle, but it would be great of Elayne could get Nynaeve to give her mother a once-over, given the now widely-known fact of Rahvin's Compulsion.

Then again, barring it happening in the middle of the Last Battle, I suspect that you would only need to put Nynaeve in the same room as Morgase for her to step up and sort it out, because that's how she rolls. In case there is any lack of clarity from the previous chapter, Nynaeve rocks.
Rob Munnelly
58. RobMRobM
One other thing about Morgase - Leigh's post several years ago discusing the chapter when Valda abused her compares Morgase to Morn Hyland. For those who don't know, Morn is from Stephen Donaldson's most excellent Gap Series sci-fi books. Morn has all sorts of horrible things happen to her, awful almost beyond comprehension, but survives and kicks serious *ss by the end. The more I think about it, the more I am looking forward to Morgase redeeming herself with Morn-like epic coolness in AMOL (even if she won't end up marrying Tam, as I predicted pre-TGS).
Valentin M
59. ValMar
Freelancer @ 48

Regarding Seonid statement, I lean towards interpreting it as technically true (Perrin wasn't ennobled by his sovereign) and that she either doesn't care or doesn't think it material that Perrin personally doesn't want to be a lord. Or it's of secondary importance, etc.
I may have to check in the books but Perrin has been pretty public about his reluctance of leadership and Seonid was probably present on occasion or more when he was expressing it. She should already know it, even without asking any questions. Which makes her look even worse if she doesn't know. It is possible, of course. AS have shown many times how blinkered they can be.
It is this excessive lack of awareness necessary to attribute to Seonid in this case why I prefer to look at it as I wrote in my first paragraph.

I find Perrin's reluctance of being a lord and Elayne giving him a hard time for being a lord amusing and in spirit of one of WOT's major themes. The solution of it too is a major theme- an honest talk.

sushisushi @ 57

Yes, Morgase is still under Compulsion! Right? Unless removed, it will always be there. I hope someone remembers to remove it, it's pretty big thing.
Susan Brownhill
60. SusanB
Hi all,

I don't comment very often, but I do follow along every week. I don't always get to read all the comments b/c I run out of time, so I apologize if what I am about to suggest has been discussed before.

I had a random thought the other day & am curious if this has been discussed, supported or disproved at any point. My thought.... Elayne is having a boy & girl, what if the boy is Gaidal Cain? Imagine Birgette in the delivery room & seeing a super ugly boy pop out! I think that would be awesome & funny. So, is it possible or is my timing totally off? I think I remember someone posting that RJ said souls enter the body when a fetus.

Sorry my thought doesn't relate to these chapters. Thanks everyone.
Rob Munnelly
61. RobMRobM
SusanB - it has been thought of but the timing doesn't appear to work. Gaidal disappeared from TAR long before Rand "visited with" Elayne during WH.
neverspeakawordagain
62. re-read fan
Balwer has steeped himself for so long in deceit, shadows, espionage, & counter-espionage, and even counter-counter-espionage that trusting someone with all his secrets doesn't come easily.
Balwer would have been the perfect match for Moiraine. Would that relationship best be described as The Sound Of Silence?
Stefan Mitev
63. Bergmaniac
The mention in the current chapter that Morgase was totally lacking power in the first years of her reign, had to pander to factions and that Taringail was the real power in her early years seems like a mistake or a retcon to me. She was the Queen in a realm which is almost an absolute monarchy after all. She built a strong coalition supporting her during the Succession war, including many of the most powerful nobles in Andor, and proven herself as a leader in it. She didn't have to pander much and Taringail the foreigner had no chance to stand against her openly.

Sure, she had to take time to strengthen her rule as a first monarch of a new dynasty, and healing the divide left from the civil war would've been tricky, but the way it's described here feels wrong to me.
"In her youth, she’d grown well acquainted with bowing before the whims of others. That had been the only way for her to stabilize her rule."
I admit that I haven't reread often most of Morgase's chapters, but still this feels wrong to me. =Before ToM there were no indications she was that weak of a monarch early on that I can recall.

I love the Nynaeve chapter, it's probably the best in the book for me. The pettiness and shortsightedness of many Aes Sedai is mind-boggling, BTW. The Last Battle is coming any day yet they risked losing their best channeller in an artificially created test. What if Nynaeve hadn't made it? she's worth thousands of soldiers and can save so many lives, it was beyond silly to risk her life for a ring at this point.
Erik
64. gadget
I'll leave the discussion of Morgase to others, except to note that I think Leah is overreacting a bit here. Granted, I think it would have been better to have killed her off and I don't think her story arc has been particularly helpful to the overall WOT story (with the exception of giving closure to Gawyn & possibly Galad and Elayne to a lesser extent).

I will note that, despite the awesomeness of Ny's test, I was left wondering how any Aes Sedai manges to pass the darn thing at all when we've seen possibly two of the best Aes Sedai of the modern age come near getting killed by taking the test (or failing). Is it just that these two happened to have vindictive @#!*^% administering the test, whereas most others do not?
Jeff Weston
65. JWezy
The old, mostly unused definition of "prove" is to test. You still find that used in photography (you review the proofs to select the ones you want).

So the "exception that proves the rule" really means "an example that tests the validity of a generalization". If the counter-example is sufficiently unusual or uncommon, then in effect it demonstrates that the generalization is in fact mostly true.
L M
66. srEDIT
First things first . . . Leigh, so glad to hear that the family health problem resolved itself!

Second, I notice a couple (more?) people have suggested that Egwene is responsible for the torture Nynaeve had to endure and overcome in her testing. But, even if Egwene set up the initial scenario, e.g., with Lan, isn't it all of the other AS who somehow influence or even control the subsequent events? I thought Egwene was trying to say that she was taking responsibility for choosing the set-up but not the intensity nor unfolding of the actual circumstances that followed the initial idea. Am I mistaken?

neverspeakawordagain
67. fragrantelephant
Another great re-read, Leigh, and thank goodness for the false alarm.

Reading this chapter was so satisfying because I'd been a Nynaeve fan ever since I received a copy of TSR to introduce me to WoT. I was hooked by how Jordan described Nynaeve staring grimly out the window as she and Egwene wait for Moiraine and Elayne to come back from talking to Rand after a Trolloc attack in the Stone of Tear. And she's a character who's impressed ever since, from her comical lack of self-awareness in TFoH to her epic acts of Healing starting with Logain in LoC. I can't wait to see her fight beside Rand at the Last Battle, and if Team Jordan kills her off, I will legit cry. I will weep giant woman tears of sorrow.

J. Amijares@53: I hear you about the RH Bill and the Catholic Church. That's a salient real-life parallel of how the White Tower's adherence to custom disregards common sense and actual good.

Morgase: Her character goes through almost a heroic anti-journey, in that we don't see her scrabble her way to the top. We see her already on top, in fine form, being admired by Rand and adored by Gareth Bryne and Tallanvor, and descending on the White Tower in a fury when her daughter goes missing. Then Rahvin comes and we see what happens when a queen loses her throne and her allies -- in other words, everything. Morgase is no Determinator, but she's been interesting to watch, at least.
neverspeakawordagain
68. ElAdam
I think that the reason why Egwene's scenario setting jolts so much, is that it evokes her behaviour when "teaching Nynaeve a lesson" and asserting her own authority in Tel'aran'rhiod many books back. It was an interesting arc to show the change in the nature of relationship between the two, but always came across (in my 4 rereads and counting!) as a childish way to show Nynaeve that she was no longer boss around town! And so, in this testing, I was left with the impression that in order to establish and maintain Egwene's authority, it didn't matter to Egwene as Amyrlin, how much others, and in this instance Nynaeve, were hurt. For all that Nynaeve is labelled a bully, I would argue that Egwene's manipulation of situations and people are a much sneakier form of bullying - i.e. Egwene getting what is best in her eyes for the AS - and while a fantastic character, she is symbolic herself of the failings of the AS.

And surely as Amyrlin, she is responsible for both the set up and the consequences of the idea she has provided?

Regardless, it is good to see the AS being forced to think about their existing conventions, habits and rules - it is only through self-awareness that true change for the better can happen!
Harry Ellis
69. facultyguy
danthony33@5 and JWezy@65: RE the "exception that proves the rule" cliche. The Wikipedia entry reinforces what danthony33 says, and "dismisses" the cliche's use to "test" and thus validate a "rule."

But I'm not so sure. I'm intrigued by the old use of "prove" as "test" as in an ordnance "proving ground" where weapons are "proved" i.e., tested. And (as JWezy cites) in photography, where a "proof" is a "test case."

It seems to me that an "exception" to a rule does "test" the rule in the sense of setting a limit on the rule's application. As in physics, where experiments on black-body radiation gave results at odds with classical (Newtonian) physics and thus "proved" the limits and therefore the necessity for new theories.

Joel Primack (in THE VIEW FROM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE) suggests that a theory in science is never really complete until the limits of its application are understood. In this sense, Newtonian physics only became thoroughly understood when it failed(!), that is, when its limits were set.

It's interesting, then, that "prove" and "proof" in the sense of "test" and "set limits" are no longer in common use, but traces of this meaning remain. Now we think of "proof" as forcing an absolute acceptance that can no longer be questioned. Since science itself is grounded in assumptions (i.e., the rationality of nature, the reliability of observational sense-data), it is clear that "proof" in this absolute sense is forever unobtainable.

Not exactly sure how this relates to the current WoT material, but RJ was physics trained, and I'll bet he thought about such matters.
Jonathan Levy
70. JonathanLevy
10. Greyhawk
Morgase is described as an intelligent, effective leader of one of the best run countries in Randland. Yet, because Elayne is one of the supergirls, Morgase is an impediment to Elayne's ascension to power and so Morgase the queen had to be removed
Very interesting way of looking at it.
if Morgase had been killed by Rahvin and we didn' have Morgase's storyline, would any of us have missed anything?
Three things, I think, though whether they are worth the price is another question.
1) The outsider-looking-in perspectives of Perrin.
2) This scene, when Morgase learns about Rahvin.
3) The scene when Morgase meets Galad, and the trial of Perrin, resolving his long-standing conflict with the Whitecloaks.

Of course, there was a lot of painful fluff.

As an aside, I think that at the trial Morgase was very much like her TEOTW-self.

13. wcarter
On Morgase. Yes she is a very passive person,
I don't think she's passive at all, I think she's been overwhelmed with forces much stronger than her which have ground her down into the dust. She has striven against hard odds and lost - that's not a reason to judge her character as Passive.

23. ChuckFan
I think this is a case of Morgase looking back over her life using that lens. I can review my life using any one of a variety of lenses: my achievements, my failures, my failures to act, the women in my life, my job, my financial situations, my travels, interpersonal conflicts, etc. That doesn't mean I define myself according to that lens--it's just another way of looking at and evaluating my life.
What he said! Yeah, what he said!!!

:)

24. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
I think we have to remember Thom's advice to Elayne when she hears of her mother's behavior with 'Lord Gaebril.' Queen she may be but she still wants someone to see her as a woman & to find some kind of love.
Oh, yhe irony, it hurts! She got what she wanted, didn't she? She had to lose everything else she had, but she got what she wanted.

27. tearl
LOL!

32. fuzz1717
Hey all, this is my first post ever (i spent a solid 3 hours going through these posts after i finished my own reading of the WOT books).
It only took you 3 hours? Usually it takes 3 weeks, unless you also read the comments, and then it takes 3 months!

34. Wotman
Nyneave said it like it was, and Egwene should have not only stopped her persecution...
Interfering on Nynaeve's behalf would have defeated the entire purpose of having Nynaeve take the test. She would still have a shadow over the legitimacy of her status as Aes Sedai - "she's only Aes Sedai because her Amyrlin friend pulled strings for her!"
Valentin M
71. ValMar
srEDIT @ 66

I think each of the AS directing the Test does her own scenarios in it. So the ones Egwene "takes credit for" are all her own. Probably as the scenarios were escalating in difficulty/cruelty she had to match the others to avoid accusations of favouritism.
Rich Bennett
72. Neuralnet
thanks for the reread... somehow I had missed that Morgase was still under compulsion and still loved Rhavin/Gaebril.... wow! does that suck or what. no wonder she has trouble accepting Tallanvor's love.
neverspeakawordagain
73. MJF
62. rereadfan
Balwer has steeped himself in deceit for so long that trusting someone with all his secrets doesn't come easily.

Balwer would have been the perfect match for Moiraine.
They had an on-again, off-again love affair for several years before the series started. No one will ever know.
Roger Powell
74. forkroot
Missing from all the above consideration of Morgase's plotline is this: She did have a minor Moment of Awesome in PoD when she was able to use her tiny channeling ability to wave a pennant outside of where she, Faile and the others were trapped by Galina.

Fortunately, Theril had followed them. Perhaps he would have still been able to discern where they were trapped anyway; however it might have taken much longer.

--
One of the many wonderful things about WoT is we've seen characters grow up and mature, learning more about themselves in the process. Obviously this has been a key theme for the three ta'veren, the Super Girls, Gawyn, and Galad. They've done it against a framing backdrop of more mature characters (Moiraine and Lan*, Gareth Bryne, Thom, Elyas, Amys and so forth.)

What's kind of neat is seeing character growth in somewhat more mature (but youngish) characters like Morgase. I would argue that (compulsion aside) she is now even more fit to be a ruler as her character has acquired quite a bit of balance from her experiences.

--
* We do, of course, see quite a bit of character growth for both Moiraine and Lan in New Spring.
Jonathan Bryson
75. Staizer
Like Chuckfan said @26 Morgase was reviewing her life here. Just because someone decides they have been a pawn their whole life doesn't make it true.

Let's also not forget that her passivity has partly come from the fact that she has been mind/body/soul raped several times by different men. I am actually slightly surprised that she is able to feel any sort of bond or trust for Tallanvor at all. Being forced to do those kinds of things tend to make people begin to believe they are hopeless.

I think the key here is that Morgase has finally given herself permission to take some of the blame so she can rebuild. Almost immediately after this she starts rebuilding her stance as someone of importance. Her regality at Perrin's trial isn't a ruse and it isn't some writing mistake on BS's part. She actually has regained that through rebuilt self esteem. Come to think of it, it is surprising for her to recover in so short a time, what was it 1.5 years? 2?
Rob Munnelly
76. RobMRobM
@73 - yes, they were pillow friends. :-)
Alice Arneson
77. Wetlandernw
Bermaniac @63 – re: Morgase Before ToM there were no indications she was that weak of a monarch early on that I can recall.”Part of the problem may be that most of what we’ve known about Morgase’s early reign comes from other people’s POVs or comments; this is the first time (IIRC) that we’re in her head when she is reflecting on her early days. She may have felt that she was pandering and bowing to the whims of others, even while it didn’t look that way to anyone else – at least anyone we’ve heard from. So while it “feels wrong” to you, it can easily be internally consistent with human behavior & emotion.

JWezy @65 – Nice! Well said.

srEDIT @66 – I think you read it correctly. Egwene could not be seen favoring Nynaeve, so she had to set up believable scenarios that the others wouldn’t find too simplistic. And, in fairness, she knew Nynaeve’s “weak spots” and in good conscience should test them. Not to do so would leave them open to testing in the “real world” where the consequences of her choice would affect more people than just herself. Note that Nynaeve herself says that she’s glad Egwene put those in, because she learned the truth of her own priorities by it. However, as Egwene explains and Saerin magnificently blasts the others with, the severity of the trials and the constant worsening of the difficulty levels were a result of the vengefulness of some of the AS conducting the test. My only consolation is that they were worn out by it, too – which is not nearly enough consequence for their behavior, but it’s all they’re likely to get due to the law that it can’t be further discussed.

FWIW, Egwene said, “But this testing was brutal, Nynaeve. I'm sorry. I couldn't be seen favoring you, but perhaps I should have put a stop to it.” IMO, we need to recognize that Egwene doesn’t have the years of experience the others do in knowing how severe the testing is generally allowed to be made. There’s also the question of just how she could have stopped it, short of interrupting and invalidating the test. The fact that Saerin didn’t find a way to stop it but was openly furious by the time it was finished makes me question whether or not Egwene could actually have done anything about it. In any case, while Egwene certainly set up the Two Rivers and Malkier scenes, there’s no indication whatsoever that she was responsible for the level of torture the others (notably Rubinde and Barasine) put her through.

@several – it’s just about a year since “Gaebril” first showed up in Caemlyn.
neverspeakawordagain
78. Thane
Leigh,
Re: Morgase.

I've always liked her character, and my take on her "passivity" is definitely different than yours. I see RJ portraying Morgase as the archetypical Royal who is trapped in their role. She has done what she needs to do her entire life. A life that was sculpted and designed by her position. Then enter Gaebril and this lack of control became about compulsion rather than about duty.

Morgase may be a leaf drifting on the winds of life. But her winds are more like a hurricane gale.

I think she serves a nice contrast to Rand et al in this aspect. As they too are caught up in those same winds, but THEY as the ta'veren that they are force change upon those winds themselves. Morgase was not so lucky. She's human. She's fragile. Yet she was Queen.

Not an enviable position. She doesn't have the deus ex machina working for her. She was just who she was, even when it wasn't all that great to be in her shoes.

The fun part for me is watching her character explore freedom for the first time in her life. She can now be her own person and make decisions that matter for her. It's honestly a pretty compelling character arc and I wish we saw more of it.
Thomas Keith
79. insectoid
Sushi @57: Good point about Morgase's Compulsion.

MJF @73: LOL!!

Fork @74: Did you mean KoD, or PLOD? :P

Bzzz™.
Roger Powell
80. forkroot
Bug@79
Hmmm ... perhaps both?


By the way - In a normal era, I would consider Saerin to be Amrylin Seat material. She's one of the most sensible of the AS and has a strong enough personality as well (loved her face down of Katerine in TGS.)
Terry McNamee
81. macster
Glad things are okay with you and your family, Leigh.

There's...really nothing I can say about the awesomeness of Nynaeve here that hasn't already been said (other than to note that I loved when she rejected the Accepted dress). This is easily one of my favorite chapters with her, ranking up with her previous appearance in "Use a Pebble" and her stint in Bandar Eban that culminated in undoing the Compulsion on poor Kerb, for all the reasons everyone else has stated. Props also to Saerin (I have liked her from the minute we first met her, she got even cooler during the Seanchan attack, and I am a huge fan now), and while Lelaine is as detestable as ever, I have to admit Romanda gained points with me again for voting for Nynaeve here, particularly after having been so hard on her with her Healing weaves.

As I state below, I think this is such an awesome chapter not just for what Nynaeve says and does, but because I get the feeling Jordan was building up to this point all along in the series. The inclusion of the test in New Spring may have given him the vehicle for the confrontation with Aes Sedai traditions, but I am positive he intended to have the confrontation happen from the beginning (and probably intended it to come from Nynaeve too--not just because of her stubborn, domineering personality but because she was against the Aes Sedai all along via Moiraine). The fact Sanderson had to write it doesn't lessen the power or value of it at all for me, though as always I do admit to wondering what it would have looked like if Jordan had written it.

I also didn't mind the ending of the sideplot with her, Myrelle, and Lan. The only way it could have been drawn out more is if she'd actually confronted Myrelle with her...methods in saving Lan, and at this point not only would that have bogged down the story, I don't see how it could have been resolved peaceably, particularly with that threat Nynaeve made. (Which I hearted her for--not because I hate Myrelle, but because it is awesome to me to see Aes Sedai being forced to do the right thing instead of constantly evading responsibility, justice, and honor. For Light's sake, they're supposed to be fighting the Shadow, not helping it!)

Everything I have to say about Morgase I address below, so all I'll do is chime in and say...I'm afraid I too think you are being too hard on her and missing the point completely, both about the Compulsion and what it did to her, and about the subsequent loss of self-esteem and confidence. Yes, I do agree that all of Morgase's badassery as a queen and a character (save her moments in Malden and what is coming up later in this book) happening off-screen, and the majority of our time with her on-screen being spent post-Rahvin, does make it hard to be objective. But you absolutely must if you are to be fair to Jordan and Sanderson, and to the character.

I'd suggest you should use your litmus test of switching genders and wonder how you would feel about Morgase's plot if she were a man. Knowing you as I do, I would contend you'd be just as bothered that a supposedly intelligent, strong-willed, awesome king is shown to us mostly as a broken, sad, ruined man, that you'd find it not only hard to read but would make you doubt the king's past exploits and characterization. But the key is, I think looking at Morgase as a man would show you that no, this isn't about the poor passive Damsel in Distress--it's about what I and other commenters are saying, that it's about a character being put through the wringer mentally and emotionally, literally having their mind ruined, and then failing in everything they do after that but not knowing why so that they lose all confidence in themselves.

The fact it is a woman is unfortunate, and it's true that "show don't tell" seems egregious here when comparing her past to her present, but in the end gender is irrelevant. While we may not have gotten to see Morgase's past exploits, we have no reason to doubt Thom, Bryne, Gill, and everyone else who have told us how skillful, awesome, and shrewd she was as a ruler, and every reason to doubt Morgase's self-assessment due to the combination of what the Compulsion did to her mind and her following loss of confidence. And the fact her plot is there as a contrast to the rising fortune of the three ta'veren, Nynaeve, and Egwene, and that she's forced to be passive due to the dangerous situations she was put in as well as the Complusion and self-esteem issues, has nothing to do with her being a woman.

In the end I would have to say that seeing how her plot has progressed and been concluded via the trial and her reunion with Galad and Elayne, I would call this a very key subplot to WOT. Painful and heart-rending to read, no question...but also essential not only to Jordan's exploring the themes of destiny, fortune, life-altering events, and what happens when someone takes control of their own life and finally makes their own choices, but to appreciating Morgase herself. She's been caught in the Web of Destiny, her thread yanked about first by Rand, then by Perrin (I find it quite important that the end result of her fleeing Caemlyn, after news of him raising the flag of Manetheren jolted her out from under Rahvin's thumb, was her ending up with Perrin's group so as to help him out with Alliandre, rescuing Faile in Malden, the Whitecloaks, and Elayne--clearly the Pattern knew Perrin needed her and so set off the chain of events to get her there).

But after all that, and what Rahvin and Valda did to her, she is still herself...still strong...though broken for so long thanks to the Compulsion and doubting herself, she's still clearly intelligent, brave, and determined, and what she does from here on out through the rest of the book shows she is recovering and becoming not only strong again, but a better person thanks to a) seeing much more of the commoners' side of things and b) being able to make her own choices in life (especially in matters of love) rather than having them dictated to her by being a noble and a queen. How she helps Galad and Elayne is quite awesome, and I have to agree completely with Tallanvor's assessment of her when he makes his wedding vows. After all she's been through, I admire Morgase deeply, and while I'd like to see her continue to have relevance and importance in AMoL, just seeing where she ends up in this book has me quite satisfied indeed.

On a side note, I'm currently re-reading TFoH and am thus getting right into the start of the Morgase subplot. I'll be paying closer attention to see how it all develops and what it shows about her...both her mistakes that make her simply flawed and human, and her inner strength we can root for and be happy to see come to fruition again after all the drama and heartache.

Loved the bit with Balwer, and personally I'm glad he didn't confess the full truth and thus, most likely, sour any further relations with Perrin. I just hope someone with the Whitecloaks doesn't recognize him and spill the beans in the last book, though with the Last Battle about to start I don't see how there could be time for that anyway. For now he makes a wonderful servant for Perrin, as he has all along. And he did tell Perrin the relevant parts of the truth--that he had worked for Niall is less important than why he hates the Children and in fact has every right to.

Ituralde: Is badass. And I have to say, at the time I was absolutely infuriated with the Saldaeans for being idiots in refusing to help Ituralde and his men just because they were foreigners. Okay, if Rand hadn't been Senor Psychopath at the time he'd probably have realized he needed to warn those in Maradon that Domani were coming to rescue them on his orders, but even so--if you see an army outside your walls defending you from hordes of horrific monsters, how can you not want to help?? The fact they're foreign should make it even more worth coming to their aid, that someone who isn't even from your country is willing to fight to save you says a lot about their integrity.

Of course we find out later why this was going on (it being a Shadow plot makes perfect sense in retrospect), but at this point the fact it all seemed based on Saldaean honor and misplaced nationalism had me head-desking. Thank the Light somebody finally had enough honor and sense to do the right thing--and that he had enough backing that the Darkfriend in charge didn't decide to just have him killed. Or maybe Torkumen didn't have time to do anything before Yoeli had ridden out, and he couldn't have the guy killed out in the open without risking his own men turning on him?

Chapter division was odd, but I suspect it was an example of Rule of Drama--on the one hand, separating the two Ghealdan scenes allows the revelation of Gaebril's identity to sink in so that when we see Morgase again, her reaction has greater gravity and power; on the other hand, cutting away to show the action-packed battle is a very cinematic thing to do and underscores the idea of there being many threads in the Pattern being woven simultaneously. There's even a slight thematic element--Ituralde is fighting the Shadow literally, Yoeli breaks free of a Shadow plot to help out, while Morgase is reacting to the news that she had unknowingly been controlled by the Shadow all that time and is only now regaining the strength to resist it and break free so as to help Perrin and then Elayne. Ituralde wants the Dragon to save him, while Morgase is admitting Rand actually is the Dragon (which, presumably, means she knows that even though he is supposed to destroy them, they must also follow him because he is supposed to save them). It all fits together, really.
Karan J
82. karanj
@69. facultyguy - I think there's a difference between a "proof" in the sense of a test run, a "proof" by testing the limits and a mathematical "proof" that is being referred to by the Latin phrase. The test run is proof that the process works; testing the limits of a system proves its ability to work; a mathematical proof demonstrates a principle or rule, which is what is the intent here.

Therefore, I'd say the phrase exception that proves the rule is about an exception showing where a rule does not apply, the implication being the rule applies in all other cases (proof by omission?)
Glen V
83. Ways
Was that Plot Line of
Doom?
Desperation?
Destruction?
Death?
or something else?

I propose that Morgase's MOA be promoted from minor to average because she really struggled to muster enough power to wave the pennant.

With respect to the discussion of LDB's analysis of Morgase (which was surely intended to stir the pot), my vote is for the 'looking back through the lens of (failed) relationships' explanation. It's also hard for me to accept that she wasn't killed off earlier only because she is necessary to help resolve the Perrin/Galad conflict. There is something more afoot. We see glimpses later when she becomes an advisor to Elayne, but I think there is more awesomeness in store for Morgase in aMoL, like a significant role in the LB.
Terry McNamee
84. macster
@6 neverspeakawordagain: Interesting, and very valid, point.

@10 Greyhawk: Others have already described in detail, and quite well, the opposing view, but I would like to know why you (and Leigh for that matter) dismiss the importance of what the Compulsion did to Morgase. The fact she was strong enough to resist it has no bearing on whether it damaged her--in fact as KatoCrossedTheCourtyard pointed out, her resistance is what made Rahvin have to use it on her more often and more strongly, which would further erode her faculties. The fact she is still thinking about and yearning for Rahvin even now, knowing what he was, shows the Compulsion did in fact have a powerful effect on her. That being the case, why is it merely an "excuse"? Why is it so hard to believe she could have been an intelligent, active, skillful queen prior to the start of the series and is only now suffering from low self-esteem, confusion, passivity, and weakness solely because of what the Compulsion did to her, physically, psychologically, and emotionally?

Yes, all of that happened on-screen while most of her time as a good leader was off-screen, but that doesn't mean you should discount it as having happened, or deny the very real effects of the explanation Jordan gave for Morgase's behavior and choices as an "excuse". I'd love to see anyone go through the mind-rape she did and come out of it looking intelligent, poised, and decisive, or even retaining any of the same character. The fact she's even recognizable as the old Morgase to any degree is a testament right there to her strength of character and mind. And the fact Jordan still intended her to be intelligent post-Compulsion doesn't change the damage done to her brain and self-esteem, nor does it affect her being stuck in situations where there was little that could be done to escape, even by a more active character.

That said, while I would point to the other commenters who have enumerated what Morgase's role in the plot was to explain why she was allowed to live even as she lost her throne, I do agree that seeing her stay queen, while Elayne was still Daughter-Heir, and deal with Rand, the Last Battle, and the rest would have been an interesting story alternative.

@12 Wetlander, @14 NotInventedHere, @23 ChuckFan: Agree 100%. (And NIH, I actually agree if Niall had lived, things would have gotten better for Morgase. Of course the question is whether he could have gotten the Children out of Amador before the Seanchan conquered it, and thus kept Morgase away from Valda and what happened next.)

I particularly agree with Wolfmage: I think NotInventedHere has absolutely hit on the head what the problem with Morgase is--not just the Compulsion (though that's a huge part of it), and not that she was actually weak and passive all along, but that everything which has happened to her, coupled with not knowing why she kept failing/dwelling on Gaebril, has shattered her confidence completely. No wonder she seems so pathetic now, and no wonder she doesn't recover her poise, power, and esteem until after this information is given to her!

@18 ErrantKnave: I rather suspect the whole reason Jordan introduced the 100 weaves test in New Spring (aside from it being rather hard to avoid showing based on when that book took place, and fans wanting to know more about how Aes Sedai are raised) was solely so he could have Nynaeve face it, deconstruct it, and call out the Aes Sedai on their arrogance and hidebound ways.

@26 mediri: I have to agree. Considering what we later find out was really going on inside Maradon, it's even more amazing that he a) disobeyed and b) didn't get killed for it. All in all, quite admirable.

@32 fuzz: Very good point. While it may not be much fun watching Morgase berate herself, flail about, and be passive due to what the Compulsion did to her mind and her self-esteem, it's important to realize there really wasn't much she could do in the situations she was in. She had few options where she could go when she fled Caemlyn--Bryne had vanished (the Pattern needed him with Siuan/the Tower schism/head of Egwene's army post-unification, but thanks a lot, Wheel!), she'd turned all her loyal nobles against her thanks to Rahvin, Cairhien was a mess, she no longer had faith in the Tower (and certainly wouldn't want to lose power and control to the Aes Sedai by having them save Andor, especially when so many people there were anti-Aes Sedai), Tear had fallen to Rand, Ghealdan was in turmoil, Murandy and Altara were weak (and as it turns out it's good she avoided them--Seanchan and possibly Demandred being in residence), the west coast was in civil war and fighting the Seanchan.

At that point the Whitecloaks were really the least of all evils and the only ones in a position of enough power to help. But once Niall was killed, there was no way she could stand up to Valda and Asunawa, she certainly couldn't stand up to the Seanchan, and once her group fled with Balwer, it was safest to hide with Perrin's army rather than have to face the Prophet and his men. Add all this to the aftereffects of the Compulsion and it's no wonder she didn't do much of anything--but this has no bearing on her innate character, or her earlier self as queen. And even then she still had times she was active or took action, such as during her time with the Shaido.

@34 Wotman re: news of Rahvin not being shared before now: It's fairly easy to understand. Rumors of Gaebril being Rahvin likely didn't have time to reach Amador before it fell, and even if they had, I highly doubt Niall or any other Whitecloak would have let her hear of them--all they care about is bringing down the Aes Sedai witches, and Niall doesn't even seem to believe in the Light or the Creator any more, so why would he lend credence to the existence of Forsaken? After they all fled the Seanchan, Morgase was out in the countryside where she couldn't hear anything. Yes, Maighdin was taken in as one of Faile's servants and often waited on Perrin when he was meeting with people. But Perrin never discussed Andor with Alliandre, the Wise Ones, or Masema--and why would he? It wasn't relevant. The only time the Forsaken were brought up, and Rahvin might possibly have been mentioned, was when Perrin was with Tylee getting the forkroot and almost got shot by an assassin, and obviously at that point Morgase was with the Shaido. This meeting now is the first time since her rescue that she has been present, and a discussion of Andor was going on that would make a mention of Rahvin both possible and relevant.

@37 desertpaladin: Another good point.

@49 Lsana: I won't say much, since Wolfmage and Freelancer already covered it well, just to say that indeed, while it is true discounting all traditions as worthless simply because they are old-fashioned and seemingly irrelevant is a bad thing, that isn't what's happening here--not only is it only one thing being mentioned (the calmness of Aes Sedai), it's being extrapolated to the overall way in which the Aes Sedai interact with each other and the rest of the world. Whether or not there are good reasons to stay calm during the testing, Nynaeve is absolutely right to decry the idea of being calm for calmness's sake outside the testing, and of remaining aloof from the people they claim to serve. No one, not even Nynaeve, was suggesting all traditions of the Aes Sedai should be thrown out, just a few--and even then it's less "throwing out" and more adapting, knowing when to apply it and when not to, and modifying the manner in which you apply it--in this case, being able to calmly focus on your task, even as you still run and become passionate in defending your charges and so on. Nor was she saying any traditions which are to be changed or dropped should have this done without properly examining them and their context first.

@53 J.Amijares: Couldn't agree more.

@57 sushisushi: I hope she does too!

@64 gadget: While I suspect that some tests were worse than others, particularly due to which Aes Sedai were in charge of them, who's to say that many Aes Sedai have made it through? We heard of one Accepted, Ellid, dying during the test in New Spring, and it's made clear both in that book and in the series proper when Egwene and Nynaeve are brought to the Tower for the first time that there are less and less Aes Sedai every year. While much of this is due to either channeling being bred out of the population, losses due to burning out and other Power-related deaths, novices failing their Accepted test or refusing it, and students being too weak in the Power to make the cut and being put out of the Tower, I bet another reason for there being less Aes Sedai is deaths from the testing. Which of course would be sealed in the records and not known to the general populace.

By the same token, this makes it all the more amazing to see what Aes Sedai did make it through their test. While some tests were likely not so horrific, at the same time passing it at all gives you a new respect for the cores of iron there must be in some Aes Sedai which we never suspected, like Anaiya for instance. Although weak-willed (or weak-Powered) Aes Sedai like Shemerin and Daigian must have had relatively easy tests, then...

@68 ElAdam: Good point, but as Wetlander pointed out, Egwene was immediately apologetic for what happened during the test, rather than lording her superiority over Nynaeve like she did in TFoH or not apologizing for manipulating her into deference as she did in Chapter 14 of this book. So while the events might seem similar, Egwene's attitude is completely different, which tells me that even if she and not the other Aes Sedai were in charge of making the Two Rivers and Lan scenarios so painful (and not just including them at all), Egwene was clearly not trying to teach Nynaeve a lesson at all, so we should not be coming down on her for this.

@70 JonathanLevy: Yeah, Morgase got hit hard by Be Careful What You Wish For. And while I don't think she'd say what she lost and went through was worth it in the end, she likely would agree she is a better and stronger person now. So it's one of those times where you'd never want to go through it again, but you're glad you did.

@73 MJF: LOL! Though I find that rather hard to believe--Moiraine is good, but she's not good enough to slip in and out of Amador for all that time and never get caught by Niall, Valda, or Asunawa...

@74 forkroot: I can't recall if I commented on it during the KOD re-read, but yes, I've always found that to be one of Morgase's finest moments post-Rahvin.

@75 Staizer: Good point! I hadn't even thought about the trial taking place after this, but that is very key--Morgase realizing who Gaebril was, what he did to her, and why she'd been floundering and lost and passive for so long, was essential if she was to rebuild her esteem and confidence, and her taking on the role of judge at the trial is her first step (other than asking Tallanvor to stay with her) toward doing that. Her being so regal and wise again in that setting (and I agree with JonathanLevy, she did seem like her TEotW self again) makes perfect sense following this scene now...I can't believe I missed that, thanks!
Terry McNamee
85. macster
Also, a humorous quote I completely forgot to mention:

"Well, they weren't seen." Seonid sounded exasperated, like one talking with a foolish child. "At least not by anyone they didn't intend to speak with." Light! Was it him, or was she beginning to seem a lot like a Wise One? Was that what Seonid and the others were doing in the Aiel camp? Learning to become more stubborn? Light help them all.
Birgit
86. birgit
Prove is related to German prüfen, which means to test. But the German version of the saying is Ausnahmen bestätigen die Regel. That cannot be translated as test, only as confirm.
neverspeakawordagain
87. Omlettewene AlVere
For Pattern's sale, I've been processed by Seanchan, Aes Sedai, and Aiel! And seasoned by experience in all three groups ... of course I'm not going to let Nynaeve off lightly. Am I that half-baked?

I'm just waiting for Elayne Sedai to get over meeting her presumed dead mother Morgase Half-Sedai to tell me what happened to her so I can tell Nynaeve Sedai to fix things up - assuming that Nynaeve Sedai gets back to me with the details of her latest Healing exploit ... assuming she does ... if so I'll change her name in accordance with ancient custom, to Tenaeve Sedai ...
T C
88. Freelancer
RE: Balwer

Everyone wants him to change, it seems. Yet he has been given no reason whatever to change. His success as a "secretary" (which is a crucial part of his very being) is dependent upon discretion, loyalty, and minimal visibility to others. He established a loyalty to Morgase and the contingent of Andorans who fled Amador, well ahead of establishing a loyalty to Perrin. Unless there is a great reason to discard that loyalty, he will honor it. Simultaneously, he appreciates Perrin for several reasons. First, that there is no guile in him, and for Balwer, that makes his task so much easier when he doesn't have to work to peel away the layers of deception to understand his employer's true intentions. Secnd, that Perrin, the supposedly half-witted blacksmith, sees more clearly into Balwer's words and actions than anyone else around them. One comment about infomation passing through Cairhien's criminal element, and Perrin decides that it's time to directly question the man. As for Balwer at this point, he knows how much Perrin despises the Children (not individuals, for Perrin doesn't hate individuals), but their methods and damaged philosophy. If Balwer told Perrin the truth, that he was Pedron Niall's personal spymaster, he can't be sure how Perrin will take that, so discretion once again. And, while he trusts and appreciated Perrin, he would never easily give control of his circumstance to another. Giving himself up to Perrin would likely mean that his secret would be revealed to Morgase and her retinue as well, a secret he has been keeping from them for much longer than from Perrin. He keeps his trust very small, and will continue that.

On a final note, I would say that if the situation were dire, he would give up the information which would resolve the problem, even if it risked a loyalty previously established. Had the Whitecloaks and Perrin's army taken the field to fight each other, Balwer might well have suggested that Perrin make one last overture toward Galad, and to make sure that his handmaid Maighdan join him for that meeting. Only speculation, certainly, and moot as well, but Balwer does present as honorable, and certainly not wishing for unnecessary death or pain among people he respects.
ana liese
89. analiese
To the people defending Egwene's actions in this chapter, I would like to point out the following.

1. What happens during an Aes Sedai test isn't to be spoken of afterwards by anyone. This is explicitly made clear when Rosil says, "Let no one ever speak of what has passed here. It is for us to share in silence with she who experienced it." So if the rest of the Tower are aware Egwene participated in Nynaeve's test (which isn't customary for the Amyrlin), they are more likely to assume Egwene went easy on her old friend Nynaeve. The only people who'll ever know otherwise are the few Aes Sedai who conducted the test.

2. Nynaeve didn't gain anything from Egwene's participation, but Egwene did since she proved to her strongest political opponents--Lelaine and Romanda--that she hadn't made a mistake in raising Nynaeve/Elayne that they could use against her, and that she would sooner sacrifice her friends than allow them to become a weakness.

3. The test that came closest to killing Nynaeve was the one Egwene set up. Egwene would have been well aware that Nynaeve wouldn't leave her own husband to die, but would be too exhausted to balefire a pack of Darkhounds at that point. It was not only morally reprehensible, but utterly irresponsible to risk someone as important to the Last Battle as Nynaeve. Aside from her inclusion in the Callandor circle, Nynaeve is currently the only person in the world who knows how to remove the Taint from male channelers. If saidin ends up tainted again, it might save the world from a second Breaking if Nynaeve could teach others how to periodically remove the Taint from people.

4. I don't think it was a coincidence that Egwene's actions in this chapter mirrored Elaida's in New Spring. They may have had different reasons for acting as they did, but both brought out a dying loved one in the last test, which the sisters at Moiraine's test thought was cruel and disapproved of. It is absurd to claim that Egwene should "in good conscience" do things like that to Nynaeve, especially when Egwene herself hasn't and won't take the same test.

5. That Nynaeve decided the test taught her a valuable lesson (didn't Rand also say that about the Aes Sedai who put him in a box?) doesn't make Egwene's actions any less reprehensible.

To sum up, there really is no excuse for Egwene's actions.
Roger Powell
90. forkroot
Freelancer@88
Re Balwer: I agree with your speculation that he would have stepped in if he had to. He's had to walk a delicate path of loyalty and discreteness (not an uncommon challenge for someone in his business), but in the end he would have had to act.

Also, since you didn't say it (although you often do), let me respond to macster@81
The fact Sanderson had to write it doesn't lessen the power or value of it at all for me, though as always I do admit to wondering what it would have looked like if Jordan had written it.
As always, I'd be careful in assuming that any particular passage was written by either BWS or RJ, absent specific knowledge. It's quite possible that RJ wrote that particular bit.
Rob Munnelly
91. RobMRobM
@89 - I think you're carrying criticism of Eg a bit far. The challenge between duty and someone you love has been in all the Accepted and AS tests, as far as I can remember. Eg admits only to being responsible for the final one, albeit a tough one but one Nyn should have handled, as has been done with earlier AS testees.

There's no textual grounds to hold Eg responsible for all the stuff that happens earlier - involving not just difficult people Nyn loves issues but bugs, burns, and other physical problems that nearly killed her and actually burned her freaking braid off. The only textual grounds to fault Egwene is not stopping the test earlier, which she couldn't have realistically done without risking losing Nyn as an AS, or failing to prevent sh*theads from being part of the testing.
William Carter
92. wcarter
@89

I am in many respects an Egwene fan. But I agree with you. One of Egwene's biggest strengths--and flaws--is that she is a true believer. She becomes the paragon example of whatever she gets directly involved in.

That's what allowed her to overcome Eliada's psychotic breakdown campaign and to become a leader respected by the Aes Sedi, the Aiel and the Kin. But it's also what's putting the entire Army of the Light at Risk and what nearly gets herself and Gawyn killed.

I believe she has it in her to be a great Amyrilin and to change a lot of flaws in the system, but she has also drunk the "Aes Sedi are of a different flesh" kool aid in many respects.

She really does believe that by simple virtue of being an Amyrilin and an Aes Sedi her opinion must automatically be the right one if she disagrees with someone.

Rejecting dissenting opinions out of hand based on preconceptions is a dangerous flaw for any leader. It got Rand in trouble in a number of books, and it could cause problems for her down the road if she doesn't allow others to temper her view points.

Believing that being an Aes Sedi "loyal to the Tower no matter what" robot is what's important is frankly psychotic. That's the same form of Zealoutry that Robert Jordan went on record saying is one of the greatest cuases of evil in real life--and what made the Children such a destructive force.

There are very few respectable organizations that enforce that kind of behavior. Take the military for instance. Disobeying an order during war time can get a solider thrown in prison, in some cases it can even be a capital crime. BUT it is actually a war crime to obey an order that violates human rights or the Uniform Code of Conduct (executing civilians, rape, torture, ect.) The military wants personnel that can be relied upon, not unthinking machines that will kill anyone without question.


I'm pretty confident Egwene is smart enough and pragmatic enough that she will start to evaluate and change Tower laws and traditions once she is more comfortable in her role and not preoccupied with the whole end of the world thing.

In the mean time us readers have to hope she doesn't filibuster Rand so much that he goes off and does something stupid.
ana liese
93. analiese
RobMRobM @ 91

The challenge between duty and someone you love has been in all the Accepted and AS tests, as far as I can remember. Eg admits only to being responsible for the final one, albeit a tough one but one Nyn should have handled, as has been done with earlier AS testees.

In the Accepted tests, no one intentionally created scenarios where the person had to abandon someone they love to die; the ter'angreal did. And in Nynaeve's case, she left Lan behind in perfect health. If she had chosen to stay in Malkier, she wouldn't have died; she would have remained in the other mirror world. The AS ter'angreal on the other hand is (according to RJ) a virtual reality device. If you're dead, you're dead.

During Moiraine's test for Aes Sedai, Elaida created the scenario in which Moiraine was asked to see her dying mother, which the other Aes Sedai considered cruel and disapproved of. If the only other person on record to have done that is Elaida...well, that might be a strong clue it isn't something morally defensible. Heck, Elaida's test was even easier since Moiraine didn't have to fight Darkhounds at the same time. If Moiraine had agreed to see her mother, she would have failed the test, but left it alive. The only reason Nynaeve survived was that fake!Lan picked her up after she collapsed.

Eg admits only to being responsible for the final one, albeit a tough
one but one Nyn should have handled, as has been done with earlier AS testees.

Egwene also admitted to creating the Two Rivers one, which is pretty twisted if you think about it. If Nynaeve hadn't broken the rules in time to save Egwene's own father, he would (as far as she knew) have been killed by Shadowspawn. Egwene knows Nynaeve wouldn't allow that, or leave Lan to die, so why create tests Nynaeve would almost certainly fail? Or does she expect Nynaeve to be the kind of person who'd let Bran al'Vere and Lan die?

Furthermore, on the last test, Egwene used the special type of Darkhounds that can only be killed by balefire. Nynaeve only discovered that after she attacked them. What are the odds that Nynaeve would remember the balefire weave from TDR? (She didn't consciously create it, so fans have debated for years whether she remembered it or not.) If Nynaeve hadn't remembered it, she would have been toast.

The only textual grounds to fault Egwene is not stopping the test
earlier, which she couldn't have realistically done without risking
losing Nyn as an AS, or failing to prevent sh*theads from being part of the testing.

There was probably no way for Egwene to halt the test, and that would have ruined Nynaeve's chance of becoming Aes Sedai. Egwene should not have participated at all (as is customary for the Amyrlin), not taken advantage of her personal knowledge of Nynaeve's weaknesses to make the test more difficult than normal to the point where she was almost guaranteed to fail, and definitely not endangered her life.

As mentioned before, only the few sisters present would know what happened during the test, and those people (save Rosil) were all Sitters. Nynaeve has no reason to care what people like Lelaine and Rubinde think of her--she'll be at the top of the hierarchy anyway as the strongest Aes Sedai. All she needed was to pass the test. Egwene is the one who's wrestling with the Sitters every day and wants to prove that having raised Elayne/Nynaeve to the shawl was not a mistake they can use against her. So for whose benefit do you think this really was?
Rob Munnelly
94. RobMRobM
AL - Quick response - Eg was responsible for 2 of 100 testing scenarios. It is not Eg's fault that the other sisters involved beat the heck out of Nyn in an excessive amount of the remaining scenarios. Some blame for her two - fine but, as noted above, I think you're overdoing it relative to the entire test. Appreciate the research you've done in any event. Nice job.

Rob
JAMES MCCLELLAN
95. ZEXXES
I'm of the opinion that the whole point of the difficulty of the test was to ensure that Nynaeve failed. For the express purpose of removing a known ally of the Amyrlin who is from the same town as she was raised in. Who also will out rank every one of them in the power.

Think of it. Whatever Ajah Nynaeve chooses she will out rank all but the Sitters. If Nynaeve desired to be one of those Sitters, given Nynaeve's growing legend, who could stand in her way? Once she became a Sitter she would have unparalleled influence. At the least she will quickly end up a Ajah head through power and skill alone. Her opponents only hope is to pray that Lan survives the Last Battle and she assumes the post at Lan's side as Queen of Malkier.

Just some thoughts.

Z
neverspeakawordagain
96. Walt Jones
Great re-read. Only flaw was the flat earth cliche. The flat earth idea came from Washington Irving's "biography" of Columbus. People knew and understood the size and shape of the earth since ancient Egypt. Just because people beleive a lie, it's still a lie.
Thomas Keith
97. insectoid
In wilt lurk mode.

Omlettewene AlVere @87: LMAO!!

The hunny is near...

Bzzz™.
Birgit
98. birgit
Giving himself up to Perrin would likely mean that his secret would be revealed to Morgase and her retinue as well, a secret he has been keeping from them for much longer than from Perrin.

Morgase probably knew that Balwer was Niall's secretary, just not about his spymaster position.
Sorcha O
99. sushisushi
(apologies if this is a bit disjointed, I keep writing responses and then not getting to the end of the thread, and then writing more, and then there are more posts, and…)

ValMar@59 Yep. I don't think we've gotten all that much detail on the finer mechanisms of Compulsion, but it seems like a weave that sits on a person and doesn't dissipate away over time, or on the death of the Compulsor. And I suspect that Rahvin may have laid it onto Morgase pretty thick, given the zombified state she was in back in Caemlyn and the fact that it's still effecting her thought processes over a year later.

Bergmanic@63 The view of Morgase being lacking in power in her early years is not even a retcon, it's her analysis of her life and lovelife, both of which are totally influenced by Rahvin's compulsion. If you look back to the chapters where she is around him originally, she goes from being totally in control of herself and her country, to being mind-controlled into a dependent daze. She may have broken out of the active Compulsion and gotten away from her Compellor, but it's nowhere near gone, sadly.

neuralnet@72 I don't think that she still loves Gaebril/Rahvin, but that she has lingering Compelled feelings for him. I get the impression that she's
she's also got to be doubting her own judgement in those circumstances - how would you know to trust your feelings, particularly when you know they've been tampered with.

Starizer@75 According to Steve's timeline, Morgase was under active compulsion for something like 5 months - 'Gaebril' arrived in Caemlyn in around May 999 and she escapes around August 999. The current chapter is some point around June of the following year, according to the tentative ToM timeline, so she's had maybe 10 months free of Rahvin, most of which she's either spent being a captive of the Whitecloaks or the Shaido, neither of which is going to do good things for your mental health. Then again, if she was under a large amount of Compulsion for that length of time and managed to spontaneously break out of it, it says a lot for her strength of mind, which, as macster@81 says, means that she's come a long way in figuring out her own mind since this revelation.

analiese@89 On your second point about Egwene's proving that she didn't make a mistake in raising Nynaeve and Elayne, her participation in the test is particularly important, given that *she* hasn't passed it herself. She's using another method to consolidate herself as Amyrlin Seat, reinforcing that her higher level of status than the rest of the AS, and yes, proving to the other highly ranked testers that she's got no sympathy. In a lot of ways, this is also Egwene's test, proving that she puts the tower before personal feeling, and much as I like her and think she's done some awesome things, she really does prove herself as an Aes Sedai of the old school here, unlike Nynaeve.
Valentin M
100. ValMar
Ha, couldn't belive coming for the first time here today and seeing 99 posts. Not anymore :)

sushisushi @ 99

I am not that good at this sort of technicalities but as far as I understand it Morgase should still be under Compulsion. There's no reason for the weaves of it to have gone away. Hence she still feels drawn to Gaebril/Rahvin despite all she knows.
The POV thoughts of Morgase were typical "show, not tell" piece of writing. Her own thoughts were explicitly telling us that she has been passive all her life. But we have been shown already that she wasn't. People like Thom and Bryne, who are extremely qualified to give such a judgement, have shown us what a person she really was. Basel Gill gave a common person's view of her. Something like everyone in Caemlyn not daring to talk above a whisper for a week when she got angry.

As for the Egwene/Nyneve thing, I think Eg was a bit out of order, on balance*, but she (like Cadsuane) blundered into a positive outcome with Nyn's epiphany in the end.

* Eg has, IMO, some mitigating factors for the tesiting but I agree with many of analiese's points, at least to some extent.

Re: Balwer. Why he should fully reveal himself to Perrin at this stage? I, lke others, agree with his judgement and hindsight backs him up. Once he retires in a few years and publishes his biography he may include his WC past, to boost sales.
T C
101. Freelancer
birgit

Yes, of course, Morgase knew who Balwer was amongst the Whitecloaks, but not entirely what he was. It would have been less than credible for them to blindly follow this little man if they hadn't previously known that he was a member of Niall's staff. I didn't intend to suggest otherwise. But since he aided the escape of her and her group from the Seanchan's takeover at Amador, nobody of that retinue has yet become aware that he was anything more than Niall's secretary. He'd prefer to keep it that way for several reasons, simple embarassment being the least.
neverspeakawordagain
102. s'rEDIT
ValMar @100: What? No revisit to brag about grabbing the sweetness?
Valentin M
103. ValMar
s'rEDIT, my first two sentences @ 100 are the bragging.
Alice Arneson
104. Wetlandernw
s'rEDIT - I've been hearing rumors of a story in the works. Anything to that? Sure would be fun to read... :)
neverspeakawordagain
105. s'rEDIT
Aaack! No story, maybe a very few details of character and setting, an idea for a beginning and an ending . . . that's it.

Very naughty of you to put it here. Is this part of "someone's" nagging strategy?
Alice Arneson
106. Wetlandernw
How ever did you guess?? ;)

I'm actually in the same a similar boat; major and minor characters, historical setting, some of the major events... but no actual story yet. I think if I had a couple of days with nothing else hanging over my head needing to be done, and no one else needing me to do stuff for them, I might be able to crank it out. Except... I'd be just as likely to spend the entire time working on a WoT costume instead. In any case, the chances of coming up with days meeting that description are slim to non-existent.
ana liese
107. analiese
Greyhawk @ 10

Back to the missed opportunity concept, if Morgase had been killed by
Rahvin and we didn' have Morgase's storyline, would any of us have
missed anything. My answer is no.

Galad needed a reason to kill Valda that the other Whitecloaks couldn't fault him for. Not to mention that seeing Morgase alive is probably the only thing that would convince Gawyn she hadn't been murdered by Rand. But I agree that many scenes involving Morgase, particularly in WH and ToM, weren't particularly interesting or valuable to the story.

RobMRobM @ 94

Eg was responsible for 2 of 100 testing scenarios.

Egwene admitted to the Two Rivers and Blight scenarios because Nynaeve specifically asked her about them; they mattered more to her than the others since they involved people she loved. That doesn't mean Egwene didn't create any others besides those. It seems likely she did since one of the other scenarios was set in the Aiel Waste, which the other Aes Sedai probably couldn't recreate. But the number of scenarios Egwene was responsible for isn't really important to the point I was trying to make.

Some blame for her two - fine but, as noted above, I think you're overdoing it relative to the entire test. Appreciate the research you've done in any event.

I reread ToM recently as well, so I have a relatively fresh memory of this chapter, and Egwene's actions have been a hotly debated topic on other forums. I was actually curious what Leigh's take would be since she's one of the biggest Egwene fans around. Since Leigh restricted her comments to Egwene's "half-hearted" defense of the status quo and made some other rather baffling observations--team dynamic between Egwene and Nynaeve? really?--and several others were equally quick to give Egwene get-out-of-jail-free cards, I thought I would add an opposing viewpoint.
T C
108. Freelancer
Morgase is the first person outside of the Two Rivers who treated Rand as a human being deserving of compassion. Everyone else has an agenda of some kind, even Thom. Morgase, in the face of advice from her Captain-General and an Aes Sedai, she chose instead to presume innocence and trust a young man's word. Her status in the story is deserved for that if nothing else.

Her experiences are painful, her path is undesirable, her plot is not one of victories or triumphs, but her story is compelling, and worthy of inclusion in the saga.
Sandy Brewer
109. ShaggyBella
It was not smart of Ewgene to include the Darkhounds in the test. She should have known they could only be destroyed by Balefire. She had seen Moiraine fight them in the Waste, with Rand and the Aiel. They are lucky that Nynaeve did not destroy the testing chamber.
Thomas Keith
110. insectoid
ShaggyBella @109: Are we sure that Egwene created the Darkhounds? Remember, the Shawlatron (and Acceptatron) are like being in Tel'aran'rhiod (as Egwene points out). So the Darkhounds could just have easily been created by Nynaeve's subconscious, even though Egwene admits to creating the Blight scenario with Lan.

Which brings up an interesting point: have either Nynaeve or Egwene even seen a Darkhound before?

Bzzz™.
Sandy Brewer
111. ShaggyBella
I am sure only Rand, Perrin and Mat have seen the DarkHounds, not the girls. InTDR & COT (Perrin & Faile) and FOH (Rand & Mat) Ewgene was in the waste with Rand, but was not included in the scene when the Darkhounds attacked. She heard about it the next morning.
I really like the Kindle seach feature!
Nadine L.
112. travyl
Analiese @89:
Is it really proven, that always only one sister is responsible for a testing scenario? Even if not though, it's still true that Egwene didn't lessen the ordeal Nynaeve had to go through in her test.
Aside from that:
Nynaeve is currently the only person in the world who knows how to remove the Taint from male channelers. If saidin ends up tainted again, Nynaeve could teach others how to periodically remove the Taint from people
Egwene doesn't know that, (or if she does, Nynaeve might just as well already have tried to teach that particular talent off-screen). And I don't beliefe that "periodically removing the Taint" would work if saidin was still tainted.

On Morgase:
Agree with the assessment that Morgase isn't passive, but suffering from Compulsion-induced insecurity: she made some really bad choices (under Ravin's direction) and up until now doesn't understand why she acted as she did, and takes full "credit/blame" for "her" decisions. - It's wise to passively relay on others if you cannot trust yourself.
Terry McNamee
113. macster
@88 Freelancer: I agree 100%. Also love your thoughts on Morgase @108.

@90 forkroot: Actually no, I made that statement about Sanderson having to write this scene of Nynaeve standing up to the Aes Sedai in response to what Freelancer himself said @44:

"This segment punctuates for the reader in me, the sadness of losing Robert Jordan when we did, in terms of the plot progression....To have prepared, for so many years, to bring these ascendent, anthemic events to pass, and to not be there to write them himself, is a shame. This is not to say that Brandon has mishandled any of it, has done wonderfully..."

If I misread this, I apologize, but it sounded like Freelancer was saying that he believed Sanderson was the one who wrote Nynaeve's testing, not Jordan (hence his being sad that Jordan didn't get to write the end results of all this plot progression). I do not know if this is the case, but if it is, I was merely saying it didn't ruin the scene for me at all. If anyone was assuming here about who wrote this scene, that would seem to be Freelancer himself; if I misunderstood what he was saying, again I apologize, as I was only trying to do the same as you--defend Sanderson by saying whatever parts he did write were in my opinion well-written.

@analiese: I am only going to make one point--you mentioned yourself that Egwene's presumed reason for testing Nynaeve so harshly and not showing favoritism would be to prove to the Sitters not only that she was not weak and could be objective (and put the Tower first), but also to show she was not wrong in raising Elayne and Nynaeve. In which case, shouldn't you also acknowledge that if Egwene were not to participate, and do so in an objective manner, that not only her credibility as Amyrlin but Elayne and Nynaeve's identities as Aes Sedai would be questioned by the testers and the Sitters? Yes, she was trying to strengthen her own power base and get the Tower behind her, but she was also making sure the testers would ratify her elevation of her friends--if she hadn't been involved and the test had been relatively easy, the testers or Sitters could easily claim Nynaeve isn't a real Aes Sedai because she wasn't tested strongly enough. And they'd have plenty of reason to do so, since they'd get to both undermine Egwene's power and make sure someone as strong in the Power as Nynaeve (and thus, higher in the pecking order than them) didn't get made a full Aes Sedai. But if the test is strong, difficult, and dangerous but Nynaeve passes, there's no way the testers can accuse Egwene of favoritism or Nynaeve of not being a true Aes Sedai.

May I also point out that Egwene knows how strong Nynaeve is, both in the Power and in personality and spirit, and thus had every confidence that she would survive and pass. She also argued very strongly against Nynaeve being made to take the test at all (and warned the sisters she was too strong and too skilled for it), only capitulating when they insisted because she knew it was needed to maintain both her leadership and Nynaeve's standing as an Aes Sedai, and because she knew they wouldn't believe until they saw the evidence for themselves. And lastly, I note again that Egwene apologized for what she did. That suggests that like you, she agrees what she did was wrong, whatever her reasons for it and their validity/defensability...which says a lot more about her character than you're giving her credit for.
neverspeakawordagain
115. s'rEDIT
. . . not even . . .
Rob Munnelly
116. RobMRobM
Well - last night I finished my latest WoT re-read - all books except for New Spring. No new epiphanies other than a stronger sense that Fortuona will be channeling (the Thom, Mat Moiraine dialogue post ToG highlights this possibility expressly and that the second Seanchan attack on the White Tower will be a go for broke affair.
Matt Spencer
117. MisunderstoodMe
If Fortuona starts channeling, will Mat become her warder? I wonder how his medallion would affect a bond.
Valentin M
118. ValMar
The majority of channelers don't have warders so probably Mat won't be becoming Fortuona's warder. Even if he did become eventually, probably there won't be time in AMOL for it to happen.
Thomas Keith
119. insectoid
RobM² @114, srEDIT @115: I'll see if I can find you some...

*cheep* *cheep* *cheep* There ya go. :P

Bzzz™.
Harry Ellis
120. facultyguy
Concerning Morgase's forcefulness and strength of character, there is this observation by Gareth Byrne in FoH, speaking to his men during their pursuit of Siuan et al. He recounts a time when Morgase, Siuan (as Amyrlin) and Elaida met in private counsel. Afterward Morgase came out looking like a " . . . ten-year-old who'd been hauled up by her mother for stealing honey-cakes. She's a tough woman, but caught between Elaida and the Amyrlin Seat . . ."

The point being made here, of course, is how tough Aes Sedai are, not how weak Morgase is. It is regularly stated that Kings and Queens are controlled and manipulated by Aes Sedai. BUT: the Wise Ones don't find Aes Sedai to be to intimidating.

So, Morgase is a "strong" Queen, but not as formidable as Aes Sedai and FAR below the stronger Wise Ones in strength of character, at least if Gareth Byrne's story is to be taken seriously.
William Fettes
121. Wolfmage
facultyguy@120

You're conflating institutional and power dynamics with strength of character.

By all accounts Morgase considered Elaida's advice carefully but essentially kept her own counsel and made her own decisions. There is nothing to suggest that the median or average Aes Sedai even has a particularly strong character, or that Morgase was somehow below that. There are some strong Aes Sedai and many weak ones. At best it's conceivable that the genetic ability to channel creates a slightly different psychological bell curve than the general population, especially combined with the rigours of the training and test. But there is ample evidence of dithering, weak-willed Aes Sedai that a general contention does not hold water.

The Wise Ones are not impressed with the Aes Sedai because they had a long-held grandiose and somewhat fearful mental picture of them as infallible people who the Aiel had betrayed. When this mental picture was exposed to the reality that they were ordinary fallible people it simply collapsed under its own weight. The Wise Ones quickly realised that many Aes Sedai were less impressive than their own number, and the comparison was particularly unflattering in TAR where the Wise Ones had a tremendous advantage and Aes Sedai hubris looked particularly stupid. It was a case of familiarity breeding contempt.

The Wise Ones are also not a part of the world of Randland geopolitics and do not need to show deference to Aes Sedai the same way that a ruler or citizen needs to in the real world. That's not about character strength it's about political realities. The most apt quote to prove that point is Thom’s rebuke to Aviendha when she shows contempt for Tylin dealing with Whitecloaks. He rightly reminds her that things are not black and white if you are smaller or limited power dealing with other greater powers and trying to balance things in the public interest, and that Aviendha's tendency to view violence as a solution of first resort to all problems was childish and simplistic.

The Wise Ones are also somewhat chauvanistic like all Aiel, in the sense that they often have blind spots about what they don't know. For all the flaws we know about Aes Sedai, they understand and intermediate western Randland politics far more deftly than Wise Ones would know or appreciate, and they have generally superior knowledge of channelling with only a few minor exceptions. That is significant and ought to generate some respect. But the Aes Sedai have no leverage to balance the relationship at present. The Wise Ones aren't interested in learning as suplicant - they take what they want through observation and pretend any residual ignorance is unimportant.

The Wise Ones have all the leverage as teachers in TAR because Aes Sedai want to learn - ironically this is the reverse of the Sea Folk situation but the Aes Sedai still have no leverage with the Sea Folk because they assign a low social status to teachers. So in both cases the Aes Sedai have no leverage for different reasons. Incidentally your argument would suggest that the Sea Folk are at the pinnacle of the character pyramid too just because SF > AS in bullying through the bargain.

The fact that Morgase came out of a meeting looking chastened is because the ruler of the world's only superpower was displeased with her intervention in a Tower plot. The fact that Siuan herself was a forceful person is part of that, certainly, and also being flanked by another steely personality in Elaida can't have helped her to withstand Siuan. But it isn't because Aes Sedai have greater character than Morgase.
Stefan Mitev
122. Bergmaniac
I think this passage is pretty relevant:

“For another, if Mother really has turned against the Tower, I want to do all my speaking to her by letter for the time being. She is quite capable of holding us both in the palace for our own good. She may not be able to channel, but I do not want to try going against her until I am full Aes Sedai. If then.”

“A strong woman,” Thom said pleasantly. “Morgase would teach you manners quickly enough, Nynaeve.”

And let's not forget Morgase told the Amyrlin while she was visiting the White Tower she won't have an Aes Sedai advisor anymore after she heard Elayne was gone.
Deana Whitney
123. Braid_Tug
@40. Wetlandernw; thanks for the quote. I don't think that is what I was thinking about, but it is a good argument / starting point.

Wow, we stayed on track this week! Then again, there was a lot to say...
John Massey
124. subwoofer
Hi folks, been busy living life... well technically, been busy with some landscaping ideas some fool I had to pretty the place up. It is remarkable what some companies will charge to get stuff done, but when you DIY, you discover the joys of back breaking labor and start to think "gee, maybe it would have been worth the money to get somebody else to do it"...

@Leigh- you be lookin' soft in the middle. Why are you so soft in the middle now?

For me there are a couple of things that stick out in these chapters. First being the talk of gai'shain and blood feud. Have we seen any direct accounts of Aiel vs. Seanchan? That would be something I would like covered in the final book. The Seanchan have a culture that is out to lunch. The Aiel have a culture that is er... different/hard. I would like to see these two come together and watch the fun. The Aiel came about from the last Age when they were Jenn and were sent on a mission but somehow lost their way. The Seanchan were also sent on a mission of sorts and went extremely off the map. It would be cool to see them compare notes on the resulting culture clash.

Itrualde. It is amazing the havoc one bad person can wreak when put in the right place. For me this solidifies the corruption in the Borderlands, beyond the taint of Ingtar, and that they need to come back into the Light in order to withstand the tide the DO will throw at them.

Love it.

Nynaeve. Can't say enough about her. Rand said it best when he challenged Ny to not let the Tower change who she is. Looks like Ny took Rand's advice to heart. Good on her. Pity we don't get to see a cat fight at the end of this tho'... about the only good thing I can think of involving cats.

Woof™.
Tess Laird
125. thewindrose
Having seen Moiraine's and then Nynaeve's testing - it is hard for me to see how most of the other Aes Sedai we have met actually passed!
Granted, we have Saerin's rebuke of the other tester's on what went on in Nynaeve's test.
That it is not a standardaized test is a given - even though all testees must do the same exact 100 weaves. I also realize that most Accepted prepare for this for many years, and have other Accepted to study with. I can also understand the need to see if a potential Sister can maintain themselves in a highly chaotic environment.

I did find it interesting that this test isn't pass or fail - there was actually a vote - so maybe that is how some of the more questionable Sisters passed - like Shemerin.

On to Morgase. I can see why she became passive after all she has been through, and not understanding why she had done some of the things she did. It would be nice if Nynaeve, or maybe someone that Nynaeve trains can take away the remaining Compulsion.

tempest™
Dawn Boyall
126. deebee
I don`t really understand why Nynaeve`s test was so harsh. From an AS point of view, what was the result if she failed? Either she dies-in which case exit the strongest channeller they have, the one can work with the Dragon-all the stuff Eg says.

And if she lives, but gets the thumbs down, she`s still all those things, but with no allegiance to the Tower, and probably with an outright grudge against it. And she is free from the Oaths and able to act in ways which she thinks best. If the AS really want to tie strings to Rand, why risk increasing his power in relation to them by giving him the support of the strongest female channeller free of Tower authority? You`d think it was in their own interests to tie Ny down as firmly as possible, not to set her free of all restraints.
Chin Bawambi
127. bawambi
I was going to comment on the Nyn Eggs scene but windrose just hit on something that relates to a common theme we seem to have here. I think we tend to rate the BA as a Keystone Kops kind of organization and don't give Mesanna and the other baddies nearly enough chaos credit.

"I did find it interesting that this test isn't pass or fail - there was actually a vote - so maybe that is how some of the more questionable Sisters passed - like Shemerin."

How would you undermine an organization that we seem to have contempt for on a regular basis and get your hearts into all aspects of all ajahs. Stack the deck with your strongest and fill the remainder with the weakest. It explains a lot. Several sisters who by our own Bela beating shouldn't have been raised to the shawl are raised by BA so any sister with even a modicum of talent rises to a power position easily. Actually quite brilliant long-range planning.
Terry McNamee
128. macster
@121 Wolfmage: I've never agreed more strongly with a post of yours, very very well said. Also props to Bergmaniac on his supporting quote.

@ subwoofer: Judging by what Aviendha sees in the Ancestatron, unless something is changed about the Dragon's Peace the meeting you wish to see for the Aiel and Seanchan will be...bad.

@127 bawambi: Very astute point.
neverspeakawordagain
129. Wortmauer
Freelancer@108: Morgase is the first person outside of the Two Rivers who treated Rand as a human being deserving of compassion. Everyone else has an agenda of some kind, even Thom.
Besides Almen Bunt, Basel Gill, Else Grinwell's da, and all those other people who helped Rand and Mat on the way to Caemlyn? At that point, the aid the boys got wasn't exactly because Mat-plus-dagger was so charming. I was gonna say Else Grinwell too, but I suppose you could say she had an agenda, like many unattached (or otherwise) teenage girls.

Nynaeve's test: I'm with deebee@126 on this. The White Tower needs Nynaeve a heckuva lot more than Nynaeve needs the Tower. This should be obvious to everyone in the room. What if Nynaeve just says "screw you guys, I'm going home"? Why didn't she? I can only think of three things Nynaeve gains from bothering with the test at all:

(1) Lan's bond. But given her history of thumping people with sticks and fists and making absurd threats, she almost certainly would have gone off to scare the bond out of Myrelle with or without the shawl.

(2) Prestige and power. If her real ambition is to be the ultimate healer, why not just join the Kin? They're basically another, less lame, Yellow Ajah. But ... they do have an age hierarchy where Nynaeve is at the bottom, whereas the Tower has a Power hierarchy where Nynaeve is at the top. Bossy as she is, that ought to be a big deal. And yet, Nynaeve argues against this very difference. Hmmmm.

(3) 1000 gold crowns a year. I suppose that's the kicker. It's not like there's a ton of income flowing to the throne of Malkier these days. You can buy a lot of blue and green dresses with that kind of cash.
Alice Arneson
130. Wetlandernw
Wortmauer @129 - I'd argue (from Nynaeve's perspective) for a different wording to your #2. I think she wants the "legitimacy" of being an acknowledged member of the recognized, authorized and respected organization everyone in Randland knows about. While it may be feared, distrusted, or even hated, it's still the acknowledged authority in all matters of channeling. In practice, it may not be such a big deal, especially if/when Egwene's intended reforms take place, but in the meantime it's a very useful status to carry. The cynical view says that it grants her prestige and power; the more positive view says that it grants her a certain recognition and authority to do what she needs to do in society at large.

And, of course, she doesn't need it. She can be who she is, and do what she needs to do, without it. However, she's less likely to have to convince or argue with people about what needs to be done when she has behind her the authority of the White Tower.

We're pretty cynical about the WT, because we see all the petty humanness of the members thereof, but in the Randland society, it really is worth something.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
131. ZEXXES
@130 Wetlandernw

I feel you, I really do. But I have seen no indication from Nynaeve the need to legitimize her actions or wants for quite awhile. I'd say she is leaning more towards breaking permanent ties to the WT than reinforcing them. Her experiences during the testing and her words afterwards are a strong indication that she will not be toeing the line lockstep with the Towers interests. She has all but made it apparent that her first loyalty is Lan. Her second is the wellbeing of those in need. And as long as those two don't interfere, only then is her loyalty towards the Tower considered. Look how long it took her to even undergo the testing. She could have taken it long ago during numerous occasions. Yet she chose to assist the Dragon instead. She grudgingly gave Egwene her due as Amyrlin. And while she does respect Egwene, can you really see her deferring to Egwene, day in and day out?

Imma have to say that, in my opinion... No I'll go further. I predict that if anything, Nynaeve will leave the Tower when all is said and done. She will choose to have more of a healers role outside of the Tower, operating out of the New Malkier or some such. She will help Lan heal his land from the Blight and build a strong kingdom as his Queen. She will still be Aes Sedai but she will stay outside of their politicking and do what she does best. Heal.
Terry McNamee
132. macster
@Wortmauer: I think Freelancer meant "first person outside the Two Rivers who had power/authority or could strongly influence the story". Because all the people met on the road to Caemlyn, for all their compassion (or mere assistance, in a few cases), didn't really do much, particularly in regard to Rand and his story. But Morgase clearly did. And didn't have an agenda other than protecting her land and throne, which she rightly saw he didn't threaten.

Also on your point 2 for Nynaeve, I think that underscores how awesome she is as a character--that even though it would personally undermine her own power, she still argues for changing the Tower's system. Because she knows it's wrong. Because after having been demeaned for being young and inexperienced as a Wisdom, she doesn't like seeing Aes Sedai being demeaned for being weak in the Power, like Daigian. Of course if she doesn't stay in the Tower it won't matter to her much, so she has less reason to avoid calling for a change in the system, but even so, props to her.

@Zexxes: You are probably right about what Nynaeve intends. However I would point out that although she capitulates (mostly) to Egwene far more often, Elayne isn't exactly completely subordinate either, and she's also an Aes Sedai queen. So there is precedent for Nynaeve to leave the Tower and be an Aes Sedai queen without having to truly undermine Tower law to do it. Heck, the Aes Sedai wanted Moiraine to do that for Cairhien after the Aiel War, and I can't see her doing whatever she was told either.

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