Tue
Oct 23 2012 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 23

The Wheel of Time reread on Tor.com: Towers of Midnight, Part 23WOTers assemble, yo! It’s a Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 40-42 of Towers of Midnight, in which Perrin’s blacksmithing brings all the boys to the yard, and it is fucking awesome, y’all. Plus other stuff!

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 40: A Making

What Happens
Perrin sits, mourning Hopper. At Faile’s approach, he whispers that he failed his task; she disagrees, but he feels he must do something with his anger and pain. He calls for Arganda and Gallenne to bring him a map of the Jehannah Road, and walks to where the farrier Aemin is working at the forge, feeling drawn to it, ignoring the small crowd of people following him. He asks Arganda and Gallenne where they would set up to ambush a large army on the road, and they show him. He sends for Grady and Neald, and then takes over the forge from Aemin, using his own hammer. He begins to work on horseshoes, reflecting on whether he can balance himself between the eternal present the wolves live in, and the concerns for the past and future that he must have as a man. Neald and Grady arrive, along with Masuri and the Wise Ones, and they send Sulin through a gateway to check on the Whitecloaks. Perrin realizes the horseshoes are not enough; he feels a need to create, and so begins working on something else. He is dissatisfied with the uneven heating of the forge, and Neald offers to help with that.

Perrin lost himself in the work. Forge the steel. All else faded. The rhythmic pounding of hammer on metal, like the beating of his heart. That shimmering metal, warm and dangerous. In that focus, he found clarity. The world was cracking, breaking further each day. It needed help, right now. Once a thing shattered, you couldn’t put it back together.

“Neald,” Grady’s voice said. It was urgent, but distant to Perrin. “Neald, what are you doing?”

“I don’t know,” Neald replied. “It feels right.”

Perrin continues to work, not sure what he is making, and suddenly Neald urgently calls for the Wise Ones to form a circle with him. Perrin feels something leaking from him into the thing he is making, and thinks it is perhaps his own worries and hopes. He thinks of his followers, and how he doesn’t want to lead them, but how he wants even less for someone else to lead them. He realizes that the thing he is making is a hammer, and exults in the rightness of it. He realizes that he wants to lead, because doing it himself was the only way to ensure it was being done right. He shapes an ornamentation in the side of the hammer, in the shape of a leaping wolf.

Perrin lowered his tools. On the anvil—still glowing with an inner heat—was a beautiful hammer. A work beyond anything he’d ever created, or thought that he might create. It had a thick, powerful head, like a maul or sledge, but the back was formed cross-face and flattened. Like a blacksmith’s tool. It was four feet from bottom to top, maybe longer, an enormous size for a hammer of this type.

The haft was all of steel, something he’d never seen on a hammer before. Perrin picked it up; he was able to lift it with one hand, but barely. It was heavy. Solid.

The ornamentation was of a crosshatch pattern with the leaping wolf stamped on one side. It looked like Hopper. Perrin touched it with a callused thumb, and the metal quieted. It still felt warm to the touch, but did not burn him.

He looks up, and is amazed at the size of the crowd watching him silently. Neald collapses to his knees, and the Wise Ones and Grady are equally exhausted. Perrin asks Wil if he’d obeyed Perrin’s order to burn all the wolfshead’s banners, and Wil confesses that he kept one. Perrin orders him to bring it, and then looks at the crowd.

“I have tried to send you away,” Perrin announced to the crowd. “You would not go. I have failings. You must know this. If we march to war, I will not be able to protect you all. I will make mistakes.”

He looked across the crowd, meeting the eyes of those who stood there. Each man or woman he looked at nodded silently. No regrets, no hesitations. They nodded.

Perrin took a deep breath. “If you wish this, I will accept your oaths. I will lead you.”

They cheered him. An enormous roar of excitement. “Goldeneyes! Goldeneyes the wolf! To the Last Battle! Tai’shar Manetheren!”

Perrin orders that the camp be roused and made ready for battle. Faile approaches, and he tells her, no more complaining; he will do what must be done. He asks Neald what he did; Neald replies that he is not sure, but that it felt right to put the weaves into the metal like he did. Perrin says that the hammer needs a name, and asks if anyone knows the Old Tongue for “he who soars.”

Mah’alleinir,” Berelain said, stepping up from where she’d been watching.

Mah’alleinir,” Perrin repeated. “It feels right.”

Sulin reports on where the Whitecloaks have made camp, and Perrin thinks of the vision of a flock of sheep running into the jaws of a beast. He sends orders for the army to prepare to Travel to the ridge above the Whitecloaks’ camp. Faile asks what he plans to do, and Perrin replies that it is time for him to lead, and walks away.

The tool he left behind was the hammer of a simple blacksmith. That person would always be part of Perrin, but he could no longer afford to let him lead.

From now on, he would carry the hammer of a king.

Faile watches him go, and wonders if Perrin had any idea what he’d looked like while forging that hammer, golden eyes glowing. Berelain comments that it has been centuries since a Power-wrought weapon has been made. Then she begs Faile to help her persuade Perrin not to attack the Whitecloaks. Faile is startled, and protests that Perrin would not do that, but Berelain asks if Faile is sure. Faile hesitates, but then is sure that Perrin would never do something so underhanded, and says so. Faile then comments that Berelain has terrible taste in men, referring to her infatuation with Galad, and opines that Berelain’s pursuit of Perrin is proof. Berelain insists that the Dragon Reborn had promised her one of his followers by implication when he rejected her for Elayne; Faile is sure that neither Rand nor Perrin think like that, but can see how Berelain arrived at the conclusion.

“I have given up on Perrin,” Berelain said. “I hold to my promise there. But it leaves me in a difficult situation. I have long thought that a connection to the Dragon Reborn is Mayene’s only hope in maintaining independence in the coming years.”

“Marriage isn’t only about claiming political advantages,” Faile said.

“And yet the advantages are so obvious that they cannot be ignored.”

Berelain goes on to declare that Galad’s relation to Elayne is the reason for her interest in him. Faile doesn’t buy it, but thinks that if it helps Berelain rationalize her crush on him (and keep her away from Perrin), she isn’t going to disagree. She agrees to help Berelain dissuade Perrin from attacking the Whitecloaks should it become necessary.

Perrin marches before an army that feels unified to him for the first time. Elyas approaches, and Perrin tells him that Elyas’s advice to him about throwing the axe away once he started to like it also applies to leadership.

“The men who don’t want titles should be the ones who get them, it seems. So long as I keep that in mind, I think I might do all right.”

He thinks that he might never be comfortable with his role as a lord, but that he has finally found his balance, and that his men seem more comfortable with him than before now that they know about the wolves. Elyas says he must leave, and Perrin gives his blessing for Elyas to go north with the other wolves, and wishes him good hunting. Elyas wishes him the same, and leaves. Perrin thinks of Aram, and mentally apologizes to him for failing him, but thinks he must look forward now.

“I’m Perrin Goldeneyes,” he said, “the man who can speak to wolves. And I guess that’s a good person to be.”

He kicked Stepper through the gateway. Unfortunately, Perrin Goldeneyes had some killing to do tonight.

Trom wakes Galad to report that Goldeneyes’s army has reappeared on the ridge above their camp, after eerily vanishing from their own camp before. Galad instructs him to rouse the men as quietly as possible, and Trom leaves. Galad wonders if he should surrender, but angrily rejects the notion. Byar enters, and says flatly that Galad has killed them all by allowing Aybara to go free from that farce of a trial. Galad replies that Aybara’s forces would have slaughtered them; Byar insists that the Light would have protected them, and Galad points out that if so it will do the same now.

“No,” Byar said, voice an angry whisper. “We have led ourselves to this. If we fall, it will be deserved.” He left with a rustle of the flaps.

Galad stood for a moment, then buckled on his sword. Recrimination and repentance would wait. He had to find a way to survive this day. If there was a way.

He strides out, planning strategy.

Perrin orders Alliandre and Berelain to stay out of the fight, and asks Faile to do the same. Faile worries that he really is intending to attack the Whitecloaks, and Berelain pleads with him not to do this, but Perrin only replies that he is doing what he must. Gaul approaches and reports that the Whitecloaks are aware of their presence and are preparing for battle. Perrin moves to the edge of the ridge, Berelain and Faile following, and suddenly the Whitecloak camp erupts with activity below. Perrin bellows for his forces to form up, and Faile is filled with dread until she realizes that Perrin is looking not at the Whitecloak camp, but the riverbed flanking its opposite side.

“My Lord,” Berelain said, moving her horse up beside him, sounding desperate. “If you must attack, could you spare the commander of the Whitecloaks? He might be useful for political reasons.”

“What are you talking about?” Perrin said. “The whole reason I’m here is to keep Damodred alive.”

“You…what?” Berelain asked.

“My Lord!” Grady suddenly exclaimed, riding nearby. “I sense channeling!”

Faile and the rest then see a huge army of Trollocs and Myrddraal appear on the riverbed. Perrin has Neald and Grady provide light, and observes that the Trolloc army looks like they weren’t expecting them.

“Well, men, you wanted to follow me to the Last Battle? We’re going to get a taste of it right here! Archers, loose! Let’s send those Shadowspawn back to the pit that birthed them!”

He raised his newly forged hammer, and the battle began.

Commentary
Well, kids, you know what I’m going to have to do here. No way around it, nope, nosiree.

That’s right: it’s time to deploy the Big Sparkly Yay:

 

YAY.

 

Because, seriously. SERIOUSLY, you guys. The hammer-forging scene in this chapter is a straight-up boot-stompin’ ass-kickin’ take-no-prisoners shit yeah throwback to the pure sensawunda awesomeness that made me fall in love with WOT in the first place.

That right there? That is what I’m TALKING about, people. Beautiful.

It is a Crowning Moment of Awesome complete with WOT’s signature marker on most of its CMOAs, i.e. wonderfully bastardized thievery from real-world legend and folklore. Because Mah’alleinir may not be pronounced precisely like “Mjölnir,” but I bet it’s close enough for Chris Hemsworth to feel a wee bit huffy about it if he were so inclined. (Though, I suspect Master Hemsworth is in reality probably a tad too busy doing stomach crunches to be concerned, because damn, but you know what I mean.)

(In case you’re curious, in my head I hear Mah’alleinir as “Mah-ah-len-nyeer,” while Mjölnir is traditionally pronounced (I think) as “Mee-ohl-neer.” Close enough, sez me!)

Though it’s not Perrin’s sole mythical shout-out as a character, his allegorical connection to Thor (the actual Norse god Thor, not the Marvel version) has been pretty blatantly present throughout the series. As my old Usenet compatriot Karl-Johan Norén noted back in the day: “[…] their roles and personalities are remarkably similar. Both are mostly connected to the common man, both have a good head but are slow to use it, and both are terrible in their anger, though Thor is much [quicker to lose] it than Perrin. Perrin's hammer is a symbol for peace and building, but this trait is also present in Thor and Mjölnir, even though it is not readily present in the myths.”

I’ve probably said it many times over the course of this Re-read, but it bears repeating: I love this kind of thing. Playing with the mutability of legend, mirroring the way the various mythologies in the real world bleed into and echo each other, sometimes almost uncannily so. Taking a thing and connecting it to a larger thing, an archetype that cannot help but resonate no matter your personal beliefs or background – that’s epic fantasy at its absolute best. That’s the kind of thing I’m here for.

*happy sigh*

Also, all mythological and/or archetypal symbolism aside, the dramatically-staged forging of badass magical weapons is just never not going to be cool. Sometimes it really is the simple things.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt, resonance-wise, that the forging of Mah’alleinir also represents, for my money, the near resolution of Perrin’s entire character arc. By forging/choosing the hammer and at the same time officially accepting in his heart the mantle of leadership, Perrin has resolved two of the three central character conflicts that have plagued him (and occasionally us) throughout the series. Which is, in academic terms, awesomesauce.

The third and final conflict, of course, is his status as a Wolfbrother. But that’s for a future chapter.

Then there’s this line of Perrin’s to Elyas, which I’ll quote again because I wanna:

“The men who don’t want titles should be the ones who get them, it seems. So long as I keep that in mind, I think I might do all right.”

This, despite being depressingly true, made me grin because it immediately reminded me of one of my favorite Douglas Adams quotes:

The major problem — one of the major problems, for there are several — one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

Word, Douglas. I’ve never known if Robert Jordan read Douglas Adams, but judging by how many of his characters fall into the category of “having greatness thrust upon them,” often very much against their will, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had.

Also, Berelain blah blah something ooh look a battle!

 

Chapter 41: An Unexpected Ally

What Happens
Galad and Bornhald run for their horses, waiting for Aybara’s archers to strike, but when the arrows fall, none of them strike inside the Whitecloak camp. Then someone screams that thousands of Trollocs are attacking from the road, and Galad and Bornhald ride for the edge of camp to see Trollocs being slaughtered by a hail of arrows from the heights. Galad shouts orders for deployment into a defensive formation. Byar gallops up, and shouts that Aybara has brought the Shadowspawn. He declares Aybara did the same thing at the Two Rivers, pretending to attack the Trollocs to gain their support, but Bornhald frowns and says that the tactic makes no sense; if Aybara can command thousands of Trollocs, why would he need the Children?

“His mind is sick, twisted,” Byar said. “If he didn’t have something to do with the appearance of the Trollocs, then how did both show up right now, at the same time?”

Well, there was a grain a truth in that, Galad had to admit.

Galad calls for the formation to continue, but orders some pike to the foot of the heights below Aybara’s forces, just in case.

As they watch the assault, Faile asks Perrin how he knew. Perrin explains his reasoning that the dome was intended to herd them down the Jehannah Road as much as it was to prevent them from escaping altogether, into an ambush; the Whitecloaks were just an unexpected distraction, and when Perrin’s army escaped, they decided to attack the Whitecloaks instead. He thinks there must be a Portal Stone nearby being used to bring the Trollocs in, and that there is a Forsaken behind the plan.

“One of the Forsaken?” Alliandre said, voice rising. “We can’t fight one of the Forsaken!”

Perrin glanced at her. “What did you think you were signing up to do, Alliandre, when you joined me? You fight for the Dragon Reborn in Tarmon Gai’don itself. We’ll have to face the Forsaken sooner or later.”

She paled, but to her credit, she nodded.

Grady reports that he still senses a man channeling, of medium strength, but he is not joining the battle; Grady thinks he is being used as transport, bringing more fists of Trollocs in. Perrin orders him to try and take the other channeler down, and then tells Alliandre, Berelain and Faile that it is time for them to leave. He says he won’t leave the Whitecloaks to be slaughtered the way they were willing to leave the Two Rivers. Faile kisses him and thanks him for being the man that he is, and leaves. Perrin is amazed she left without a fight, but turns his attention to the battle.

Perrin hefted Mah’alleinir. A part of him felt sorry to bathe the weapon in blood so soon after its birth, but the greater part of him was pleased. These Trollocs, and those who led them, had caused Hopper’s death.

He roars, and charges.

Galad fights, killing Trollocs easily, but knows that the Children are boxed in and not faring well, their usual cavalry tactics useless. Then a Trolloc cuts his horse out from under him and he falls, twisting his ankle. Bornhald and several others rescue him, and Bornhald says the Trollocs must have instructions to go after the horses. Galad realizes the Children’s lines are crumbling under a classic pincer move, and yells for men to rally to the northern flank. He realizes that his men’s previous experience in fighting bandits and city militias have not remotely prepared them for this, and some of them are breaking and running where they are not dying. He bellows for them to hold, but it doesn’t work.

Watching the disaster play out, his entire framework of understanding started to crack. The Children of the Light were not protected by their goodness; they were falling in swaths, like grain before the scythe.

[…] They weren’t cowards. They weren’t poor fighters. They were just men. Average. That wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

Perrin kills Trollocs with Mah’alleinir, and notices that the hammer seems to burn the Trollocs wherever it lands, though the weapon only feels warm to Perrin. Gallenne’s lancers charge, splitting the Trollocs down the middle, and the Two Rivers men follow up with a hail of arrows. Arganda approaches and makes enthusiastic remarks at how well it’s going, and Perrin refrains from pointing out that that’s because the Trollocs are still mostly concentrating on the Whitecloaks. He also notes that whoever is commanding the Trollocs has a human understanding of tactics. Perrin signals the channelers to stop picking off Fades and launch a full out assault on the Trollocs, earning his soldiers a rest. Perrin observes that the Whitecloaks are being slaughtered, hemmed in on all sides, and tells Gallenne that he’s going down to aid them. Gallenne points out that Perrin owes the Whitecloaks nothing, and a charge down the steep slope before them is dangerous as well as costing them the high ground. Perrin tells him he’s going anyway.

Memories of the Two Rivers flooded his mind. Blood. Death. Mah’alleinir grew warmer in his fist. “I won’t leave them to it, Gallenne. Not even them. Will you join me?” “

You are a strange man, Aybara.” Gallenne hesitated. “And one of true honor. Yes, I will.”

Wearily, Galad notes something changing in the Trollocs pressing his men, just before a hail of arrows rips into the enemy’s ranks. Then Galad sees a thousand horsemen charge down the hill, framed by fire falling down from behind them.

And at their front rode a bearded monster of a man with a large hammer held high. Perrin Aybara himself, above his head a banner flapping, carried by a man riding just behind. The crimson wolfhead.

Despite himself, Galad lowered his shield at the sight. Aybara almost seemed aflame from the tongues of fire that surrounded him. Galad could see those wide, golden eyes. Like fires themselves.

The horsemen crashed into the Trollocs that had surrounded Galad’s force. Aybara let out a roar over the din, then began to lay about him with the hammer. The attack forced the Trollocs back.

Galad yells orders to press the attack, taking advantage of Aybara’s disruption of the Trollocs. He is astonished to see that Aybara has committed his whole force to the assault, giving up the advantage of the high ground. Penned on both sides, the Trollocs grow desperate. Galad and Bornhald kill a giant Trolloc together, but then it falls on Galad. Galad’s ankle gives out, and he feels it snap as he falls. The other Children try desperately to reach Galad, but instead Aybara thunders up, and offers Galad his horse. Galad is embarrassed, but accepts. He sees that Aybara’s gamble had worked, and the Trollocs are beginning to break and flee.

Galad turned to Aybara, who was studying the Trollocs with keen eyes. “I assume you think that saving me will influence my decision about your judgment,” Galad said.

“It had better,” Aybara muttered.

Galad raised an eyebrow. It wasn’t the response he’d been expecting.

He remarks that his men find the timing of Aybara’s appearance suspicious, and Aybara replies that in a way the Trollocs were his fault, since they were supposed to attack him. He comments that they are lucky he came back, since the Whitecloaks have caused him almost as much grief as the Trollocs have. Galad is surprised to find himself amused by Aybara’s straightforwardness, and more surprised to find that he thinks of Aybara as an ally now, even if he still doesn’t fully trust him. He announces that he is ready to pronounce Aybara’s punishment now: five hundred crowns’ bloodprice to each of the families of the Children he slew, and “to fight in the Last Battle with all the strength you can muster.” Aybara studies him, and names it fair; they go to shake on it, but a figure behind him shrieks “Creature of darkness!” and pulls his sword, and Galad sees it is Byar.

Aybara spun; Galad raised his sword. Both were too slow.

But Jaret Byar’s blow did not fall. He stood with his weapon upraised, frozen, blood dribbling from his lips. He fell to his knees, then flopped onto the ground right at Aybara’s feet.

Bornhald stood behind him, eyes wide with horror. He looked down at his sword. “I…It wasn’t right, to strike a man in the back after he saved us. It…” He dropped his sword, stumbling back from Byar’s corpse.

Regretfully, Galad tells Bornhald that he did the right thing. Aybara says that Byar was looking for an excuse to kill him from the beginning. Bornhald gives him a hateful look and walks off. Aybara opines that Bornhald still thinks he killed his father; Galad counters that he does not, but he has hated Aybara for a long time and loved Byar longer.

He shook his head. “Killing a friend. It is sometimes painful to do what is right.”

Aybara urges him to seek care for his ankle, but Galad insists he will be all right with Aybara’s horse. Aybara decides to stay with him, claiming it is because he is fond of the horse, and Galad smiles.

Commentary
Yeah, there’s basically nothing wrong in the slightest with this chapter. Swash swash buckle buckle PERRIN SMASH. Whoo!

Plus, The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship. Which I especially enjoyed, because the “enemies-to-allies” trope has always been one of my favorites.

Not to mention, a completely unexpected shocker of a Moment of Awesome – from Bornhald. Of all people! My jaw dropped the first time I read that, no lie. Good on ya, Bornhald. You’re still a dick, but it turns out you’re a lot more decent a dick than we had any right to expect you to be, and that’s pretty cool if you ask me.

Speaking of which, bye, Byar! Don’t let the cosmic door hit you on your deranged ass on the way out, dear!

So, I don’t know if Perrin’s rescue charge down the crazy steep ridge was actually meant to be a shout-out to the very similar tactic Gandalf and Éomer used against the Uruk-hai besieging Helm’s Deep in the film version of The Two Towers, but that was certainly the (totally awesome) visual that sprang to my mind. The fact that LOTR fans later groused argued about the improbability of a successful cavalry charge down such a steep slope made Gallenne’s explicit objection about it here just that much more amusing. But hey, if you’ve got a wizard ta’veren with you, why not go for broke, eh?

I have to confess I felt a spike of annoyance that the three women (Berelain, Alliandre and Faile) were sent away from the field of battle, even as I acknowledge that in this instance it makes perfect sense, since none of the women in question are warriors, but (basically) civilians – VIP civilians, at that. And plus it’s not like there weren’t actual female warriors still there – i.e. the Wise Ones and the Maidens. This is by way of saying that I can have an unreasonable knee-jerk reaction just as much as anyone else can; the important thing, I hope, is that I try to recognize them for what they are, and discount them when they occur.

In other news: Aw, poor Galad, having his illusions of “right makes might” so summarily crushed. Welcome to the real world with the rest of us, kiddo, where bad things happen to good people (for a necessarily broad definition of “good people,” in the Whitecloaks’ case) no matter how much they don’t deserve it, and, even worse, welcome to a world where the reverse also holds true. I’m sure it was a lot more comforting the other way, but, well. Thems’ the breaks.

In the same vein, I appreciated that the Whitecloaks’ so-vaunted military prowess was exposed for the flimsy over-bleached window-dressing it is. Oh, so it turns out that bullying town militias for daring to disagree with your desire to randomly torture their citizens is not actually the equivalent of battle experience? Well golly gee, who would have thunk it?

*rolls eyes*

I also loved the detail that Perrin’s hammer burns Shadowspawn. I sort of hope that that’s not the only thing the hammer can do, but I draw the line at hoping that it can call lightning, because for some reason I feel like that might be just a tiny bit too on the nose.

“I’ve rarely had such a pleasing battle, Aybara,” [Arganda] said. “Enemies to fell that you need not feel a sting of pity for, a perfect staging area and defensible position. Archers to dream of and Asha’man to stop the gaps! I’ve laid down over two dozen of the beasts myself. For this day alone, I’m glad we followed you!”

*snort* Aaand this is about as close as WOT ever gets to lampshade hanging, methinks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I got a good chuckle out of it, at any rate. (Also, don’t click that link.)

 

Chapter 42: Stronger Than Blood

What Happens
Gawyn is distracted from his Healing-induced exhaustion by the wonder of his bond to Egwene. She enters, bidding him to sit, and though she looks serene he can sense that she is overwhelmed by the events of the past night. Gawyn has come to realize that it is not that Aes Sedai do not feel anything, it is that they do not let their feelings show.

Looking at her face and feeling the storm inside, Gawyn was given—for the first time—another perspective on the Warder and Aes Sedai relationship. Warders weren’t just bodyguards; they were the ones—the only ones—who saw the truth of what happened within the Aes Sedai. No matter how proficient the Aes Sedai became at hiding emotions, her Warder knew there was more than the mask.

Egwene tells him they found Mesaana, masquerading as a Brown sister named Danelle, babbling like a child and soiling herself. She comments that something must be done about the Seanchan, and Gawyn counters that is not what is worrying her, but rather what to do about Gawyn’s disobedience. He says he could have ruined her plans; troubled, Egwene replies that he saved her life instead. Her safeguards had all been circumvented, and the messenger Gawyn sent had been murdered as well.

“You did the right thing tonight, but it still has me worried.”

“We’ll work it out,” Gawyn said. “You let me protect you, Egwene, and I’ll obey you in anything else. I promise it.”

She comments that given how Silviana had phrased her message, Egwene was worried he wouldn’t come back at all; Gawyn replies he nearly didn’t.

“What made the difference?”

“I had to learn how to surrender. It’s something I’ve never been good at.”

Egwene nodded, as if understanding.

Gawyn is amused at Egwene’s notion that he will have a separate room from hers, and Egwene blushes. He asks why they don’t get married, immediately, and is dismayed at how the suggestion unnerves her. But then she declares there is no way they can marry without inviting her parents and Elayne at the very least, and Gawyn smiles and insists on taking over the arrangements. She leaves, and Gawyn goes to look at the bodies of the assassins and Celark and Mazone. He promises the latter two that their families will know of their sacrifice, and then sees that the ter’angreal rings have not been removed from the assassins’ bodies. He thinks the Aes Sedai must not have realized what they were. He takes the rings and puts them in his pocket.

Lan can feel a distinct difference in the bundle of emotions in the back of his mind, and is sure he recognizes “that passion and kindness,” and that Nynaeve has taken his bond from Myrelle. He has reached the heavily fortified border of Kandor and Arafel to find a gathering of thousands waiting there, flying the flag of Malkier as well as other Borderlander flags. Lan demands to know who broke his oath, and Andere replies that no one needed to, as this is the only practical place Lan would pass through on his way. Lan growls and insists to everyone that they keep up the charade of not saying who he is; the others seem troubled, but do not object.

This was what he’d always worried would happen. Reclaiming Malkier was impossible. They would die, no matter how large their force. An assault? On the Blight? Ridiculous.

He could not ask that of them. He could not allow that of them. As he continued down the road, he became more resolute. Those brave men, flying those flags…they should join with the Shienaran forces and fight in a battle that meant something. He would not take their lives.

Lan cannot help feeling inspired by the Malkier garb on the waiting host, and thinks Bukama would have cried at the sight. Calls of “Tai’shar Malkier!” go up as Lan’s group passes and they see his hadori, but none of them seem to guess who he is. Lan wonders if he has the right to deny them the chance to fight with him, but decides he does, and keeps moving. He reaches the gates of the fortresses flanking the pass, and the guard there asks his purpose. Lan replies that they are traveling to Fal Moran for the Last Battle.

“You’re not going to wait here like the rest?” the guard said, waving a gauntleted hand at the gathered Malkieri. “For your king?”

“I have no king,” Lan said softly.

The guard agrees to waive the tariffs on their goods after Lan assures him they will go freely to Shienar’s troops, and lets them through. Lan is about to relax after getting through the pass when someone shouts his name from the lefthand keep. A young, richly-dressed boy runs out, and Lan recognizes Kaisel Noramaga, grandson of the Queen of Kandor. Kaisel is wildly excited that Lan has raised the flag of Malkier, and Lan denies it and says he plans to ride alone. Lan is aghast to learn that Prince Kendral, grandson of the Arafellin king, is there as well, and Kaisel says they both plan to “ride alone” with Lan. Lan tells him that they should both be with their respective parents.

“Our ancestors swore an oath,” the young man said. “An oath to protect, to defend. That oath is stronger than blood, Lord Mandragoran. It is stronger than will or choice. Your wife told us to wait here for you; she said that you might try to pass without greeting us.”

Lan asks how he knew it was him, and Kaisel nods at Mandarb. He replies that his wife said Lan might try to disguise himself, but was unlikely to give up his horse. Lan curses and blesses Nynaeve in the same breath, and tries to send love and frustration both to her through the bond.

And then, with a deep sigh, he gave in. “The Golden Crane flies for Tarmon Gai’don,” Lan said softly. “Let any man or woman who wishes to follow join it and fight.”

He closed his eyes as the call went up. It soon became a cheer. Then a roar.

Commentary
Yay, Lan!

And… hm. Gawyn’s thoughts on the nature of the Warder-Aes Sedai bond was interesting, not in that it really revealed anything we didn’t already know about the bond, but in that it explicitly stated something that anyone who’s been reading this series obviously knows, but which I’m not sure has ever been expressed in so many words. Which is, the enormous trust the Aes Sedai places in her Warder(s) to safeguard not only her physical well-being, but her emotional state as well – even if only in the sense that she trusts them not to let on to anyone that she actually has one.

Which is a pretty big deal to a coalition of people for whom maintaining serenity at all costs is (for better or worse) a core tenet. If you think about it, that must feel like a huge leap of faith for a sister, to put herself in a position where another person (a flighty man, for that matter, heh) will always know that her so-vital pose of calm is (more often than not) a total front.

I don’t know if we’ve ever established whether the nearly unshakeable loyalty pretty much every Warder we’ve ever come across displays toward his bonded Aes Sedai is an actual magical side-effect of the bond, or if it’s just the natural response of highly trained bodyguards who are then empathically linked to their wards, but either way it’s a darn good thing for the Aes Sedai’s sake it’s there. Otherwise, the possible repercussions give a whole new meaning to the term “emotional blackmail.” Yeesh.

He glanced to the side, to where the three assassins lay beneath sheets of their own, black-slippered feet sticking out the bottom. Two women and a man.

Another shameful knee-jerk reaction on my part, except in the opposite direction, where I was startled to realize two of the assassins had been female. Bad Leigh! No feminism biscuit! *grumble*

Oh, and I love that the whole Mesaana mystery of who she was impersonating is cleared up in one offhand comment. I don’t disapprove of this, mind you, I just found it amusing. And also vindicating, since way back in my WOTFAQ days I concluded that of the two major candidates for Mesaana’s identities favored by fans (Tarna Feir and Danelle), Danelle was the more likely of the two. Go me!

(Or, okay, go everyone who actually came up with all the arguments and counterarguments that pointed at Danelle as the most likely candidate, and go me for editing all that crap together. Which is sort of the same thing!)

This is a small note, but it bugged me so I’ll point it out: I really would have liked to see Egwene have a stronger reaction to Gawyn when he tells her he had to “learn how to surrender” to make his peace with himself and their situation. Because hearing the central teaching for channeling saidar come from someone who is decidedly not a saidar channeler should really have at least produced a startled blink on Egwene’s part, don’t you think? Or even a bit of reflection on how her lessons paralleled/mirrored Gawyn’s, hmm? That would have been nice, is all I’m saying.

Contrariwise to my frustration on that point, I liked very much that Gawyn’s talk of marriage unnerved Egwene, and we know why even if Gawyn doesn’t. That was well done.

And speaking of learning to surrender: YAY LAN HAS ALL THE PEOPLE.

I mean, we knew it would happen sooner or later, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to see it all unfold. And I love that Nynaeve’s hand is still apparent in it even though she’s not even there. I kind of wonder whether Lan should have had a stronger reaction to realizing that Nynaeve held his bond instead of Myrelle, but there was enough awesomeness going on here that I was willing to let it go.

And… well, yeah. Lan is on his way, with a proper army, and it is very cool, and… that is basically all I have to say about it. Yay!


And that seems to be about the sum of my eloquence for the nonce, kids, so we’ll stop here. Have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

103 comments
Jonathan Levy
1. JonathanLevy
First?

Sorry, too tempting!!

Also:
Bad Leigh! No feminism biscuit! *grumble*
LOL! :)
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
2. Lisamarie
Yay!

The one thing that sticks out for me was a sense of foreboding at Gawyn taking the rings...
Stefan Mitev
3. Bergmaniac
IMO the whole "Those who don't want power would be the best at yielding it" is one of those saying which sound good and seem obvious at first, but when you think more about it, it's very much debatable if not plain wrong. Those who really want power are, everything else being equal, usually more competent at governing since they've worked on those skills. I'd take competence over good intentions nearly every time.

Besides, without the ta'veren influence, Perrin is a mediocre leader at best and he benefits a lot from having an ambitious wife trained at being a leader all her life who does most of the work.

BTW, if we look at WoT as a whole, the ambitious main characters are actually usually presented as very capable leaders - Egwene, Tuon, Berelain, Elayne, Siuan, etc.

Berelain's explanation for chasing Perrin seems wrong to me - she should've realised Faile is a better match politically than herself. Besides, divorces are extremely rare in Randland. She should've given up once she knew Perrin and Faile are married. On the other hand, it's quite amusing that she is having a crush on a guy who's both a dream match politically (marrying Galad gives her a close connection to Elayne, Egwene, Rand and Darlin at once) and the most handsome man in Randland.
Brandon Daggerhart
4. BDaggerhart
@Lisamarie

Agreed. I think Terez has proposed a theory that uses them in a (in my opinion) very deus ex machina type of a way to do the "To live you must die" thing with Rand. Hope that's not what happens.
AndrewB
5. AndrewB
Thank you Leigh. This was a good post (although it certainly does not hurt that there was plenty to talk about in these chapters). A few of my points:

You can take the person out of Two Rivers, but you cannot take the Two Rivers out of the person.

I loved Perrin's quip about his horse at the end of the chapter.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that most of the participants and lurkers on this blog enjoyed the writing of the forging of Perrin's hammer in Chapter 40. (Well, I did anyways). I find it interesting that when there is a well crafted scene (both advancing the storyline and from a writing perspective), we do not spend anytime wondering whether RJ or BWS wrote this scene. Whenever I read this scene (be it the first time or in subsequent re-reads), I do not care (or even think about) who wrote it.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Gary Singer
6. AhoyMatey
Thanks Leigh! I have to say that these chapters are among my favorites. When I read the name of Perrin's hammer, I was like "Damn, he did it again!". Sheer awesomeness.
Scott Silver
7. hihosilver28
What particular lampshade was Leigh talking about at the end of Ch. 41?
Iain Scott
8. iopgod
Yay! Yay! Yay! Lots and lots and lots of Yay!
AndrewB
9. neverspeakawordagain
The first time I read Towers of Midnight, I completely skipped this section. After the end of the battle of Tar Valon in Tel'aran'rhiod, I was so eager to get to the "Mat rescues Moiraine" section -- the number one thing I've been waiting for in Wheel of Time since I started reading the series in 1996, and started reading the old newsgroup -- that I jumped directly to that and never went back and read anything in between.

So imagine my startlement when I was doing a re-read of the series in preparation for the then-March 2012 release date of A Memory of Light, and came upon this totally awesome scene that I'd never read before, waiting like a little jewel at the end of the rainbow. One of the few times my pentient for reading books out of order has paid off for me. This section right here, and the previous battle with Slayer in Tar Valon, was the very first time since Lord of Chaos that I didn't actively loathe having Perrin onscreen.
Kat Blom
10. pro_star
I confess, I cheered when Lan "raised" the Golden Crane.
Deana Whitney
12. Braid_Tug
I’ve been waiting for chapter, as others have.

The imagery is so Amazing! Since it’s the e-book cover, many people feel the same.

Thank you Leigh for quoting the “From now on, he would carry the hammer of a king.” One of the best end of POV lines anywhere. '

Naming the hammer “he who sores” made me cry.

Negative: Crafter’s hat is on. My husband is a hobbyist blacksmith. He does not read the stories so was not caught up in the story arch, just puzzled by the smiting described.
I don’t know who wrote this scene RJ or BS, but the writer is no blacksmith. Sorry ya’ll, but the creation of Hopper as a design element requires so many more tools and steps than is describe in book. Making of the hammer, okay description. Design, not touched on.

Yes, I know this is not the time, place, or genera where to expect a detail description of “how to forge a hammer.” But it’s an itch that bugs me. The scene as a whole – I love, so the crafters hat is coming back off now.

Now to the rest of the post.
Nadine L.
13. travyl
I loved how the scene unfolded when Perrin takes his army to the Whitecloaks and Berelain freaks out until it becomes clear, that Perrin's target isn't the Whitecloaks.
Also one of my favourite lines is Perrins "It better had to" to Galad, and how Galad responds to that with giving the sentence.
I agree with the YAY for Lan as well. Though I wonder why all the Borderlanders know so well how to treat their reluctant king. (Here: "we will ride alone with you" - that's just great.)
AndrewB
14. Sweede
Leigh the traditional pronounciation of mjölnir actually is not with an "o" sound (?) the letter ö (o with 2 dots) actually has it's own way of beeing pronounced :p

(sorry as i Swede i just had to :P)
Jeff Weston
15. JWezy
"Learning to surrender" - Remember that this chapter is Gawyn's POV - you would have had to have Egwene say it out loud, but that is clearly at odds with the tenet of secrecy that surrounds Aes Sedai.

On the other hand, is there anyone who has read the story that didn't get it without being hit with a bat? We get to draw the inference ourselves, and that has a certain amount of literary charm in itself.
AndrewB
16. Jonellin Stonebreaker
Dear Leigh,

Thanks for the post and especially the review of Perrin's MOSA (Moment Of Superawesome). That being said, your disparagement of the Whitecloaks' ability is a bit off.

The Children's capability as a military force can be gleaned from the very fact of their independent existence in Randland .

If they were all that incompetent, how were they able to hold Amadicia while carrying out sorties into neighboring countries without being crushed? What other than the Children keeps Tarabon or Ghealdan or both from staking their claim on Amadicia?

They had one Great Captain as their former Captain Commander (and no one can be a great general with inferior troops), one of their troops formed the only effective mundane resistance to the Seanchan at Falme, and in throughout text individuals who should know what they're talking about never disparage the Children as a military force, no matter what other criticisms they may have of them.
AndrewB
17. anonymous9243768
anyone want to remind me why Gawyn’s talk of marriage unnerved Egwene?

@7 I think it's just a written reference to the awesomesauce of the battle, but I'm not sure.
Marty Beck
18. martytargaryen
Ohh, I would have posted sooner, but...I clicked that link...

Leigh, thank you so much for this re-read, and for doing three hefty chapters this week.

I think Lan is awesome and all, but does anyone else find it a bit hypocritcal that nobody is allowed to stop him from dying senselessly in the Blight, but he can't allow anyone else to do the same? Glad he was forced to come to his senses.

And you know how two average-looking people can sometimes have stunningly beautiful offspring (yeah, I know, eye of the beholder)? It would be a riot if Glalad and Berlain had stunningly homely offspring.

As much as I loved Perrin's hammer hammering scene, what really made it for me what Faile's descriptions of it afteword

edit for spelling
AndrewB
19. Batonga
@12 Braid_tug

I had a lot of the same thoughts regarding the forging and detailing of the weapon, but when I read Leigh's reread, I realized how much Neald was doing without knowing, and the line where Perrin pours something of himself into it.. and the experiences as a whole being magical, that maybe Perrin never uses those other tools that mere mortals would need to because of the magic that is happening. When I think about it from that perspective and the lack of detail in the desctiption of the weapon, I truly enjoy the scene in my head and what Brandon adn RJ allow me to imagine.

Loved these chapters.

Also got the icky vibe from Gawyn and the rings.
AndrewB
20. neverspeakawordagain
Also, the Berelain / Galad matchup here reminds me of a very stupid poster back on rec.arts.s-f.written.robertjordan named "student" who always used to insist that Rand sleeping with Elayne constituted incest since they were both Galad's brother. That always struck me as sublimely foolish, but here's something that just occurred to me: I've always been of the opinion that Elayne's father was not, in fact, Taringail Damodred, but actually Thom Merrilin.

Let's assume this is true for a second, and let's assume further that, in some unlikely event, Thom and Moiraine have a kid together. That kid would then be Elayne's sibling through Thom, but not Gawyn or Galad's sibling. They would, however, be Gawyn and Galad's cousin through Moiraine's relation to Taringail Damodred (I believe they're first cousins, if I'm not mistaken... Taringail's father was Laman, whose brother was Moiraine's father, correct?).

That would create the really weird circumstance of Elayne not being related to Galad at all, but both Galad and Gawyn being cousins to Elayne's other sibling. I'm sure the Aiel have some kind of word for that relationship.
Deana Whitney
21. Braid_Tug
So many moments of greatness!

Hallua! Perrin puts on his leadership mantel. Galad realizes his world view needs adjusting.

And we’ve started a classic “Brandon Avalanche” bouncing between POV all over the place.

And – a long overdue death to Byar. Man was not right to begin with.

Gawyn – his mother is a Queen right? Shouldn’t he already know“that they (women in power) do not let their feelings show.”

Yeah! Lan’s moment of Greatness! I can’t wait to see him in AMoL. Please let there be more than one chapter of him in AMoL!

@19, Batonga: Good thoughts on how the hammer and magic merged with Perrin's thoughts. His thinking of Hopper and everything else caused the magic to form the shape of the wolf. Thank you.
I'll read it with that perspective in the future.
William Carter
22. wcarter
@AndrewB

One kind of wonders if Perrin's quip about his horse was not a simple statement of fact. He is rather found of both Stepper and Stayer afterall.

On to other things:
Did anyone else see Gwayn taking the ter'angreal rings as ominious/dangerous foreshadowing of self-sacrifice to come? He seems just committed enough (and I mean that in more than one use of the word) to pop one of those on his own finger to transform into an invisible hobbit sacrfice himself in order to save Egwene from whatever dark things are a comin'.

Oh and Lan is so awesome he don't need no stinkin' Ta'veren coupon to get people to follow him.
AndrewB
23. Twedge
Thanks again for the reread, Leigh!
AndrewB
24. Wendy O. Koopa
@Leigh Your appreciation of the mutability of legend, mirroring the way the various mythologies in the real world bleed into and echo each other,
is more or less the pitch of Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionavar Tapestry triology. And while it is the least of Kay's works, still better than 95% of what's out there.
AndrewB
25. Twedge
Btw, I haven't read the above comments yet so I hope I'm not repeating what someone else said, but my hope (and I'm not basing this off evidence in the books, just my nerdy-McNerdy hope) is that Mah’alleinir is a bit like the dreamspikes where it exists in Telehranrhiod as well as here, and THAT is how he can finally best Slayer. Wouldn't that be awesome?
AndrewB
26. Bartz
Re: Gawyn and the rings

I was thinking what some others have thought, that he would try putting one on to use the abilities, but as far as I know, nobody has told Gawyn how to activate them (the ring requires the wearers blood to touch the ring). I know this sounds pretty far fetched, but what constitutes "wearing" for these rings? He's "wearing" them around his neck... what if some of his blood spills on the rings and activates one of them by accident?

I do like the idea of the rings being activated on someone by accident. There was just such a sense of foreboding when Gawyn took the rings, that something bad is going to happen for sure. Maybe Egwene will find them and try one on? Or perhaps another Aes Sedai?

That being said, by my count, we have 4 dead Bloodknives. I wonder if the last one will show up in AMoL?
Tricia Irish
27. Tektonica
Three great chapters....and Leighs analysis! What a Tuesday!
And...I wish we had "like" buttons! So many good comments.

So glad Perrin has finally come into Balance! He will be a powerful character now. I'm so glad we survived it! The forging scene was so very very cool. I liked Batonga@19 sugestion that what Neald was doing to the hammer, perhaps allowed Perrins' thoughts to manifest on it..thus the wolf appears, with the decoration. The hammer of a King!
And Perrin glowing with fire as he raced down the hill was a great visual!

A good resolution with Perrin and Galad. I'm so glad Galad is broadening his view of the situation, and expanding his understanding of the Whitecloaks, too. Oh yeah...bye bye Byar!

I've never understood Lans' reluctance to accept those willing, even eager to fight with him? Just why does he feel he needs to die alone? Isn't this the Last Battle? Where most everyone will die anyway? Geesh. Glad he's come to his senses. And yes, thank you Nynaeve for helping along in that!

As for the line about those that want to rule shouldn't be allowed to....Isn't that from Plato's Republic originally? Well...it's similar.....

"No one ever teaches well who wants to teach, or governs well who wants to govern." Plato
Samuel Walker
28. lambada
So before I read the actual post, can I just say that
"in which Perrin’s blacksmithing brings all the boys to the yard"
Made me spit out my drink. Luckily into the glass rather than the keyboard.
I should have learnt by now....
S Cooper
29. SPC
@21 I suppose it depends on whether you're seeing Aes Sedai as just "powerful women" or whether they're something not quite human. They've put enough effort into trying to set themselves apart - it might not really have occurred to him that it's just the same for an Aes Sedai as for any woman. And we all know Gawyn is not the best at questioning his assumptions.

@25 Even if it doesn't exist in its own right, if Perrin wants it there it shall be a fearsome weapon. *pictures flattened Slayer with glee*
Robert Sichky
30. rsichky
@26 All 5 bloodknives are accounted for. The first was killed in The Gathering Storm by Bryne. Gawyn killed the 3 he examined in Egwene's room, and in this same chapter the last is mentioned as dead after killing 2 Tower guards and a Warder.
AndrewB
31. Oldwizard
Just a few lines about Perrin and his new hammer.
In norwegian, Thor's (Tor's) hammer is written as "Mjølner", although the swedish pronounciation is pretty much the same really. And I am now wondering if Thor's hammer in regards to draw lightning is supposed to be a "history changes reality to myth" twist on just what it does to the poor shadowspawn. Turning them into pretty, large torches I mean?
Anyway, 'nuff said.
Zack Twigg
32. zackattack
Thanks Leigh for a nice robust post containing 100% of my daily requirement of awesome. And with Plot Movement too! Will ANYONE miss Byar? Anyone? Bueller? Didn’t think so. And while the hammer forging scene is not my personal favorite in the book (though definitely a great one) I very much appreciate you taking the time to explain why you like it so much. Helps me to appreciate it more. Which is (at least for me) what this reread is all about.

Wcarter @22 (and others who mentioned it): The rings trouble me. All of my theories about their significance are very much half-formed (or less) because I don’t really want to think about how they may be used and who may use them. I know a noble self-sacrifice on Gawyn’s part looks like the obvious answer, but I’ve been reading WOT too long to go with the obvious. Besides he has 3 of them, so unless he plans one wearing them all at once (which I guess might turn you into an uber death machine for like 5 minutes) he has 2 to spare. Of course it’s possible they can’t be used more than once. Maybe he’ll give them to Tuon and be like… “Here. I took these off the supposedly unbeatable ninjas that are also supposedly extensions of your will after I gutted them. Back up off my woman.” Or like maybe he will give them to Padan Fain right before dropping him into the lava.
AndrewB
33. Iarvin
On the topic of the Fionavar Tapestry @24 brought up - it was really hard for me to read without cracking up at how cheesy it is sometimes. That said - I did read and enjoy the series, but it strikes me as a perversion of what happened in this chapter. That series makes the miraculous, the ominous, the awesomeness, and the legendary happen every other line - with the effect that it loses its "Wow" and gains a certain hilarity factor for the reader, and can only rarely have much effect on the characters. Here the legendary is appropriately transformative, rare, and awesome.
AndrewB
34. Megaduck
Mjölnir. That was the worst part of the towers of midnight in my opinion. Not the scene, which was awsome but as soon as Perrin talked about naming the hammer I was like "It's going to be something similer to Mjölnir". I do not find that cute or clever.

While I'm being a sour puss.

I also try not to think of the battle scene to hard. They seem to be using lances on horseback, ok fine, and yet their still using the same katanaish heron swords with their dance moves. Tactics change, armor changes, swords change.

Rant over.
Norman Short
35. Shak
Yes! The sparkly Yay was appropriate. Awesome chapters. Well, I too felt it was a bit cheesy to name the hammer nearly the same as Thor's but it does fit the circular time scheme that Jordan based the series upon. You get the awesome weapon scene, the self realization scene for Perrin (belatedly to be sure), and the final resolution about the whitecloaks (only took 22 years). So glad to see things finally coming to a head. It felt awesome reading the post, but I'm still in TDR in my re-read.
Skip Ives
36. Skip
20. neverspeakawordagain - I'm pretty sure that Thom himself put to rest any idea that he was Elayne's father. Rand is the only one that for sure knows that whole relationship tangle, though Moiraine probably does too. Rand talked to Dyelin about Elayne's relations to make sure he wasn't getting involved with his first cousin or anything.
Tyler Durden
37. Balance
Some of the best chapters in this book. I've said before how I like Perrin's and Galad's "jock style" banter. It is a friendship I didn't see comming, but makes perfect sense with the situation. This was the book for me that got me back on the Perrin Train.

@27.Tektonica
That's just gross. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm Hetero and that's completely unacceptable.
Roger Powell
38. forkroot
Bergmaniac@3
IMO the whole "Those who don't want power would be the best at yielding it" is one of those saying which sound good and seem obvious at first, but when you think more about it, it's very much debatable if not plain wrong. Those who really want power are, everything else being equal, usually more competent at governing since they've worked on those skills. I'd take competence over good intentions nearly every time.
And I'd prefer wisdom, a healthy respect for individual preferences, and an innate understanding of the limits of trying to "do things for people's own good." Such qualities generally do not accrue to people who seek power (elective office or whatever) and they become less likely the more the ascent to power requires both a maniacal drive and a willingness to sacrifice personal integrity.

Lest I take this reread way sidewise, I will refrain any further comment on the above.

Turning attention to Mjollnir - I am sure that RJ had planned for that scene for a very long time, so whether he or BWS wrote it is irrelevant. When reading it though, I couldn't help thinking: "Here we go again - Aegis Fang!"

Lastly re: Lan - I thought it was a tremendously cool touch, having Nynaeve remind people to watch for Mandarb. I could never quite get why he feels that his personal battle against the Blight is unrelated to Tarmon Gaidon. I still think he was ridiculously short-sighted to try to ride off on his own, vs. coordinating his efforts with Team Light.

By the end of ToM though, it looks like the pattern will have the last laugh on him and his battle will become part of the overall TG battle.
Roger Powell
39. forkroot
@37
Huh? What about Tek's post bothered you?
Jonathan Levy
40. JonathanLevy
38. forkroot
And I'd prefer wisdom, a healthy respect for individual preferences, and an innate understanding of the limits of trying to "do things for people's own good."
Kulak! Kulak!! We're trying to establish an earthly paradise here!

:: bunker!!! ::

39. forkroot

I couldn't figure it out either. Maybe it was very very subtle sarcasm?
Joel Salomon
41. jcsalomon
On one hand, the bloodknives’ ter’angreal rings drain their wearers’ life-force. On the other hand, Gawyn can draw on the Warder bond. The interaction should be… interesting.
Sandy Brewer
42. ShaggyBella
17. anonymous9243768
anyone want to remind me why Gawyn’s talk of marriage unnerved Egwene?
Two Rivers folk have a very lenghty bethroal, and also needs parents permission. Also woe to those who fool around before marriage.

Egwene cannot just marry on a whim. What would
her mother think? She is still very proper.
Roger Powell
43. forkroot
ShaggyBella@42
Good point. I wonder what Two Rivers mores would be regarding "fooling around" in a dream? Egwene's dreamer abilities and Gawyn's strong dreams have apparently already produced some "blush worthy" moments.

RJ, using his wonderful delicate touch, has left it up to our imagination exactly what did occur in those dreams. Egwene could deliberately revisit Gawyn's dreams during the betrothal period for some more, um, "fooling around".

So, is that that breaking the rules?
JAMES MCCLELLAN
44. ZEXXES
I loved how all three major scenes involving Lan , Perrin and Gawyn were all within the same theme which was Surrendering.

Never had a problem with the sequences of the forging of Perrins hammer. There was never a lot of detail about the process of forging and shaping the hammer anyway. Not if you know of all of the details of the process. It wasn't meant to have such details as the "how to", it was only even there as an afterthought as the real details were Perrins process of surrendering to his destiny as a leader. All of his scenes at the forge are like this. With Perrins deepest introspection occurring while working the metal.

He needs to do it more actually.

Z
Sam Mickel
45. Samadai
3 of the best chapters in the WoT. This really cements Perrin as one my 2 favorite characters (Rand being the other). I have reread these 3 chapters more than any others in this book. Great imagery, Lan and Perrin coming to (mostly) a complete understanding of what their role is to be. The Hammer scene is truly great. The sparks flying higher and farther than possible, the hammer first feeding of his fear, then his determination and understanding. The crowd of completely loyal followers he has gathered cheering him. I can't wait to see the promise of this book flow into the Kick-ass Perrin of next book.
William Fettes
46. Wolfmage
Love these chapters. Well summarised and highly entertaining recap Leigh, thanks.

Re: the Hammer

The writing here, which creates a synchronicity between the emotional crescendo of Perrin's self-realisations, his ultimate embrace of leadership and the ringing blows of his hammer on the anvil in forging his masterwork, is just achingly beautiful. The prose is so effortless and strong that I strongly suspect it is mostly RJ with perhaps some tidying up by Brandon. But regardless it's really wonderful.

For me this scene and Perrin's emergence as a deliberate non-reluctant leader really helped me cast aside any lingering annoyance and impatience with his character through the tedious emo-PLOD arc, and it also helped add a proper payoff to the broader Hammer vs. Axe dilemma.

I've always loved the Tear smithy scene and Elyas' caution in tEotW, but I was unsatisfied with the way the choice of taking up the Hammer against Aram in the battle against the Shaido worked. I've said before I found it anti-climatic and ho-hum when I assume it was meant to be profound.

But this scene being so elevated as the ultimate resolution makes it all work and hang together a lot better for me because it feels profound and meaningful. In this scene, the hammer really takes on great importance as part of his soveriegn regalia as an embrace of leadership and the better match for his temperament whereas I don't think that previous dictomony and struggles had the same kind of significance for me.

Re: The name

I too thought it was a little much, but the scene is so overwhelmingly awesome that it's easy to overlook. I did laugh that it was Berelain who gave Perrin the name in the Old Tongue, however.

Re: Leadership

I can see both sides of this. I don't think the maxim is completely right, but I can certainly appreciate the cautionary idea that the kind of people with the ambition and will to power to habitually covet and seek out power are not necessarily the types who weild power wisely. I can totally respect that and I agree that it's probably true in most/many cases.

The other side of the coin is that people who avow power are often equally unsuited for power, so the inverse doesn't necessarily apply. People who lack ambition may be so disengaged and apolitical that they lack the knowledge, sophistication and technical skills to weild power effectively, or they may not have the kind of personal drive and self-belief that is necessary to take knocks and succeed in gaining and holding power successfully. It's not a simple issue.

Obviously I don't discount the possibility of the reluctant hero, as there are plenty of real historical examples of this being true. But there are certainly many examplars in history of successful, driven A-type people who are fantastic leaders despite being driven and ambitious.

It really depends on the person. For example, perhaps the ambitious person has other strong character traits to keep them in check, or other influences around them which temper any potential excesses due to their well-developed ego or whatever. And perhaps the non-ambitious person has acquired relevant skills and knowledge despite the lack of incentives, and has perhaps they have a really strong, centred character that is resilient to the pressures of power regardless. There are many possible permutations.
Tyler Durden
47. Balance
lol, Joke people, joke. Dirty joke at that. First sentance, second paragraph. Unless we are getting into deep philosophical questions, I'm usually just fucking around :)
JAMES MCCLELLAN
48. ZEXXES
It's not just the skill of a leader that makes the good leader. Regardless of sought or reluctant, selflessness is a trait needed to maintain the integrity of that leader so that he doesn't lead for power's sake, but for the good of those he/she has led.

Z
Richard Hunt
49. WOTman
As for the hammer scene; when you pick up this book, you need first and foremost - suspend your disbelief. This was a power wrought weapon (MAGIC), and the fact it was a cover scene pretty much says it all.

Egwene (IMO) was nodding when Gawyn was talking about surrendering because she was reflecting back about not only saidar but in giving up (delegating) power for the benefit of the group.

She was taken aback about marriage because she is already married to the TOWER, so sorry no more room there. ;)

Thinking about Gawyn picking up those rings is just freaking great, can't wait to see how that works out. ( I'm thinking, gawyn, you moron, get rid of those things right now!)

About those who don't wish power but take it up if thrust upon them, I have to agree. With the kind of Taveren power, magical power these top tier characters possess, you must take that responsibility very seriously because there is so much potential for greed, corruption and evilness as expressed quite generously through out this series, you need someone who doe not crave it, they will be the ones not to flippantly throw people into harms way or judge his/her decisions very carefully before commiting. They must be someone who thinks through the ramifications of the aftermath of their decisions good and bad. The people who lust for power, are generally not predisposed to think that way.
john mullen
50. johntheirishmongol
I doubt there will be anyone kvetching too much on these chapters. Simply awesome and finally some resolutions, or at least the path has opened for those resolutions. So now we are approaching battle and I am going to be highly disappointed if the good guy lose.
Sydo Zandstra
51. Fiddler
“The Golden Crane flies for Tarmon Gai’don,” Lan said softly. “Let any man or woman who wishes to follow join it and fight.”

Me cheers...
Jeff Schweer
52. JeffS.
“My name is Nynaeve ti al’Meara Mandragoran. The message I want sent is this. My husband rides from World’s End toward Tarwin’s Gap, toward Tarmon Gai’don. Will he ride alone?” KOD chapter 20
And then, with a deep sigh, he gave in. “The Golden Crane flies for Tarmon Gai’don,” Lan said softly. “Let any man or woman who wishes to follow join it and fight.”
He closed his eyes as the call went up. It soon became a cheer. Then a roar. TOM chapter 42
Lan is NOT riding alone. Man, I got to tell you but I've been waiting for this since KOD and find this resolution as satisfying now as I did the first time I read it.

Perrins scene with the forging of the hammer moves me so much that it's beyond my ability for rational speech. I don't have enough adjectives to describe it.

I don't think anyone should be surprised with the naming or the call out to Norse myths involved here. It's only been foreshadowed since we first met Perrin in TEOTW and found out he was apprenticed to a blacksmith.

A fabulous trio of chapters and as always Leigh, you totally brought it with you. Thanks.

Jeff S.
I am only an egg
AndrewB
53. feanor
Love these Leigh!

Why did Lan/Moiraine's bond disentigrate, even though she wasn't dead?
Terry McNamee
54. macster
Again, some of the best chapters in WOT--certainly in ToM!

Perrin isn't just awesome and heroic and powerful here, he shows the value of his "hold back and think" approach, since it allows him to figure out the meaning of his dreams, of why those people told Gill and his men the roads north were impassable, and even the meaning of the ruins being near the ambush site. (Once again I have to say the idea of bringing things from the start of the series back again is a wonderful full-circle motif I heartily approve of. Whether this was intended by Jordan, something Sanderson and Team Jordan came up with to help tie the new books to the old, or both, it's resonant and also a great "Gotcha!" to people who thought the early part of the series had been forgotten, wasn't relevant, would never return, or had been made obsolete by Jordan's tinkering and further world-building.)

The way Sanderson integrated Perrin's realizations about himself, his leadership, and the hammer/axe dichotomy, and having it coincide with the recovery of yet another lost Talent (more evidence the Pattern has been deliberately re-weaving such things into the threads in preparation for the Last Battle), was brilliant, moving, and incredible. And the resonance back with Perrin first meeting Hopper again in the wolf dream, when he told him he "could soar" there (and did so), was just as brilliant and brought tears to my eyes.

(Also: Leigh, you can ignore her all you like, but you can't deny it was Berelain who came up with the name. Fine, she happened to be the only one nearby with Old Tongue knowledge, but still--she did it. Some might call that an attempt to make her cool or relevant, but now that the stupid triangle is over, I am more willing to err on the side of forgiveness. Besides, she and Galad are hilarious together, and you have to admit things were being set up to look like Perrin was going to attack the Whitecloaks. We know he'd never do such a thing, but looking at just the facts, from an outside perspective... So she was wrong, but not really irrelevant here.)

"From now on, he would carry the hammer of a king." That line made my jaw drop upon first reading, and it still gives me chills even now.

Also I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Perrin's thoughts on poor Aram. Having re-read the scenes with the two of them in TSR not too long ago, I can't help feeling more sorry for him this time around, and I thought Perrin's thoughts here help put the whole Aram/Masema plot, and Aram's sudden death, in perspective. I've commented on this before and so won't belabor it, but I thought it still worth noting. Aram lost everything--first his family (to Trollocs), then his people (to being "lost"), so he had only Perrin and Faile to hang onto. When Perrin seemed to stray in his mind by constantly refusing to be a leader, it was indeed a case of the symbol not being lost, but instead Aram losing faith in it.

Enter Masema, preying (or praying, hah) on his insecurities by insinuating that by not being true to his calling as leader (and not being the anchor Aram needed to hang onto), Perrin wasn't worth following while he, with his unwavering devotion to Rand and the Light (heck, he might even have made Aram think Rand and Perrin's fight was real, if Aram told him about it!) and his willingness to do what was needed to stop the Shadow (torture and such), made a better alternative. And from there it wouldn't be hard to convince Aram Perrin had fallen to the Shadow; it was basically one zealot converting another, since Aram had certainly become a fanatic thanks to having no one and nothing to depend on except Perrin and Faile.

We only need to look around us to see how easy it is, when times are tough, to blame our leaders and believe only the worst about them, especially when certain examples seem to prove the rule. The lesson of this, the lesson Perrin has learned, is that however conflicted and uncertain we are, it is far better to still try and maintain a good standing, to be a symbol of strength, goodness, and passion for others to follow...because if you don't, even if it's only because you think you aren't worthy of it, you'll only bring down and ruin those who believed in you. Sobering food for thought indeed.

Alliandre: I am going to revisit this during Chapter 43, but I have to wonder if this is more possible foreshadowing of her being a Darkfriend. Yes, we know the previous rulers of Ghealdan fell due to the Prophet, but isn't it also possible (especially if Masema was being manipulated secretly by Forsaken/Black Ajah) that it was a way of getting a Darkfriend onto the Light Blessed Throne (hah, irony points!)? Particularly if the real-world parallels I've made for Ghealdan are accurate. On one hand, Scotland with Alliandre as Mary, Queen of Scots who, shall we say, is a controversial historical figure; on the other hand, Israel, a contentious land the control of which, in some people's views, is tantamount to the End Times.

I am not fully convinced, but combining the fact Alliandre's sole POV doesn't confirm for us if she walks in the Light, Sanderson saying there are "undiscovered Darkfriends" among the Light's forces, and the fact here her reluctance to fight Forsaken could have more meaning than just "Oh crap how can we fight figures of nightmare and horror!" and...well, let's say I am troubled. Since I am still not convinced Dyelin is a Darkfriend (*sticks tongue out at thewindrose*) then we have to look elsewhere for likely candidates.

And yes, she was held by the Shaido but that proves nothing--so was Galina, and she never gave herself away to her captors. And with Alliandre not being a channeler there wasn't much she could do anyway. Heck, it's possible she engineered their capture (or at least, didn't mind it happened since it distracted Perrin/allowed the Shaido and Masema to endanger the Light's cause).

Poor Galad. It really does hurt to have your whole worldview shattered and changed like this. But it needed to happen, and it's better now rather than later, especially since it brings the Whitecloaks into the fold so they can finally fight for the Light as Mantelar intended them to. Love the irony of it being Perrin who brings them in but it makes sense; on the one hand, he's the only one to have consistent dealings with them, so he knows them best of any of the three ta'veren; on the other hand, his determination to do what is best for the people nicely complements Galad's determination to always do what is right. Perrin is basically Galad only with more conscience, since the latter will hurt others, even those he cares for, if the law or ethics dictate it to be for the greater good while the former will do all he can to prevent harming others no matter how necessary it might be in the big picture. Galad can help Perrin be more decisive while Perrin can help Galad tender his decisions with mercy and true justice.

I never really thought about it until now but they really are wonderful foils to each other. I suppose I should have guessed the plot was heading this direction after Galad became a Whitecloak, right after Perrin had his dealings with them in the Two Rivers, but then again perhaps it was Jordan's subtlety (and the complexity of WOT) that kept me from seeing it, not my own lack of careful reading. Anyway, awesome! And yes, their bantering ("It'd better", "giving him grief", the part with the horse) was hilarious and perfect. And I loved seeing Galad acknowledge how scary yet awesome Perrin was in battle. Another one of those outside perspectives!

Speaking of Whitecloaks, I have to admit: I've never really hated Dain Bornhald. I was pissed at him for believing Byar's lies, and his attitude toward Perrin in TSR (and toward the Supergirls outside Tar Valon) was quite infuriating. But when we saw things from his POV in TSR, he seemed a competent leader, intelligent in many ways, and motivated as much by a belief in goodness and familial loyalty as by zealotry and bigotry. I think the TV Tropes term "Troubled Noble Bigot" applies to him. I could understand why he felt as he did, and while he based his initial views on Byar's lies, once he believed Perrin responsible for his father's death he fell into the same category as Gawyn--namely, a fool who believes rumor over the word of those who actually witnessed events, but one you can sympathize with once you get past the dumb tool aspect of his character.

Even in TSR there were moments where he seemed troubled and uncertain of his path, and he was always suspicious and an opponent of Fain/Ordeith's--not that it takes much intelligence or moral rectitude to do that (which doesn't say much for Elaida...), but still, at least he knew better than to trust or follow him! And he was genuinely loyal, helpful, and a good soldier for Galad during the whole Valda/Asunawa mess. So while I can't say I was completely expecting him to eventually turn on Byar, it makes sense in retrospect and was subtly foreshadowed. Whether he'll ever fully apologize to Perrin, who knows, but at least he'll be a good soldier of the Light in the Last Battle.

Side note: still wondering how and when Byar got Compelled. I don't believe he was named as being with Galad's group in Samara (or Sienda for that matter) since he was probably still en route from the Two Rivers, which eliminates Moghedien, so I'm going to stick with it happening sometime after Bornhald's group came back to Amador. Since Semirhage was with Tuon, not Suroth, it couldn't have been her. So I still think it was Graendal, and that either Byar's group was one of those which crossed over the Mountains of Mist (and was therefore near Natrin's Barrow), or that she crossed over and nabbed him while his group was riding around Ghealdan/northwestern Andor. Unless it was Demandred (who may have been in the area as the Shiny Dragon Man and whom Sammael thought had his proxies there--Ghealdan is south(east) of Natrin's Barrow) or Sammael and she got hold of him later. Or, since we know she has agents/spies everywhere, including among the Whitecloaks, one of them may have brought Byar to her at some point.

Another side note: so, any thoughts on who the mysterious Dreadlords are here, like the ones at Maradon? Is it Taim's Asha'man, the "red-veiled Aiel", or somebody else? Since Isam was given to her as a tool, I am inclined to think it was the "Aiel" if they are, in fact, male channelers, but I can't figure out how Graendal would have gotten Asha'man. Even if we assume both groups are serving Demandred, who is supposed to be marshaling the Shadow's forces and will have a big role in AMoL, Graendal has never worked with him, so were they given to her by Moridin along with Isam, or...?

Oh and yes, the charge down the hill was very LOTR-ish, and highly cinematic. Some would point to this as a sign Brandon wrote this scene, but if so that's a mark in his favor considering how many seem to love this battle. And it's not as if Jordan hasn't written cinematic scenes before (all of the Big Ass Endings qualify, I think, but especially Falme, the Battle of the Two Rivers, and Dumai's Wells), plus I'm sure this scene was alluded to in his notes if not actually planned. So, there's that.

Gawyn: I really appreciated his ruminations on the nature of Aes Sedai, and the insight their Warders have into them. It may have been alluded to before, and something the discerning reader could put together, but it was nice to see it laid out plainly. Some have complained about Sanderson's tendency to do this instead of leaving it veiled, subtle, and hinted at as was Jordan's wont, but those people tend to forget Jordan did have moments where he came right out and stated something bluntly--yes, even in the books. Most of those moments were earlier in the series, but they were still there. Anyway, I appreciate it because this late in the series, it's better to be clearer and more direct than overly-complex and multilayered in my opinion, and it's not as if mythic/archetypal resonance or moments that have greater meanings which aren't spelled out don't still happen. Also: this is coming from Gawyn. Yay for showing he isn't a mushroom!

Still wonder what will happen to Mesaana after this, and I feel sorry for the real Danelle. The offhand revelation was perfect, on a par with Asmodean's killer. And I loved the amusing banter with Egwene about their impending nuptials and her Two Rivers prudery. As for the ter'angreal...yeah, definitely some ominous foreshadowing there. Whether this relates to Terez's theory about Rand dying and living again, I don't know, but I will say this: I think it's fairly safe to say that this ties into Egwene's dream about Gawyn living a long life and dying in bed vs. dying young in battle. The implication is it will be the latter, but we shall see. If so, I imagine a number of fans will cheer...unless, of course, he goes out in a blaze of heroically sacrificial glory, in which case they will either grudgingly admit his badassery and heroic role in the story even as he dies, or there will be screams of frustration and hate. This I Foretell.

Side note: nice to see Gawyn can finally see the danger the Seanchan present as well. I'd suggest his dying, if it happens, may have something to do with them, except it's possible the Seanchan will finally get with Team Light, either due to Egeanin, Mat, or some other means, before that can happen. Then again the rings could have something to do with that union, and his dying happens later.

Side note #2: the reason I think Egwene had less reaction to Gawyn's comment, even though it came from a man, is because she was already aware of it. Not just from her own saidar training, or how she had to surrender her will to those of the Aiel Wise Ones, or surrender her pride when standing up to Elaida and turning the Tower against her, but because this is the exact same advice Moiraine gave her on how she was able to earn Rand's trust and so be able to guide him. It's an echo of Moiraine, and therefore something she instantly sees the wisdom of regardless the source. And a nice treat for the reader!

Lan's subplot continues to be as funny as it is admirable and honorable. I really respect him for sticking to his guns and keeping his oath, but wanting to ensure no one else dies needlessly in the process. And while it may be a bit premature to think Malkier can never come back (Nynaeve's Accepted test notwithstanding, if the Shadow is defeated and the Blight retreats I don't see why it couldn't be restored), it's good he's focused on hurting the Shadow itself instead of a (at this point) futile side-mission. But...he also needs to allow his followers (and fellow Malkieri) their own honor, let them choose how and when and why they fight, and his charge will certainly not be as suicidal and useless to the Last Battle as he thinks it will be. So it's good he's been undermined and forced to raise the flag and allow this united gambit. The way it happens is delicious too...ah, Nynaeve, you really do know your man!

And I think Lan has a bit too much going on for him to really react much to Myrelle no longer holding his bond; he knew it would have to be passed eventually anyway. And we got plenty of reaction on Nynaeve's side when it happened (and by proxy, his when she felt his emotions), so that covers it as far as I'm concerned.
Terry McNamee
55. macster
@3 Bergmaniac, @38 forkroot: I am with forkroot. While it is true having the skills you'll need to become a good leader is important, there's no guarantee those who want to be leaders will have them either, since becoming a leader is often as much about money, knowing the right people, and being persistent as it is about having knowledge or experience in the political arena. Also, it is always possible to gain those skills later on, again through the experience; in my opinion, it's much harder to "learn" integrity, especially after the fact. In fact it's quite often the opposite, that those in power start out as principled and honorable but become less so over time, either through expediency, necessity (the only way to survive/get anything done), or despair and pessimism. Far better to have the integrity first, then learn skills later, then to try and "learn" integrity in such a climate, in my opinion.

@5 AndrewB: "Interesting" isn't the word I'd use. I'd say "hypocritical". Why should we dissect a scene to figure out who wrote it, and then make a judgment upon it based on that, when we dislike it, but not do the same for scenes we like? Now if our opinion were based only on whether the scene was well-written that'd be fine, since obviously analyzing why and how it is well/poorly-written would explain why we do or don't like it, but clearly for a number of people figuring out who wrote it and then judging accordingly is just as important to them. Personally I think analyzing why we love a scene is just as worthwhile if not more so, since it a) allows us to see literary, cultural, and archetypal resonance and b) helps us see what the writer did right and why rather than what he did wrong.

Obviously this is key to analyzing Sanderson's strengths as a writer so that he doesn't always come off as inferior to Jordan, but it also lets us examine why Jordan's writing has had so much power and why we stick with him, even through plotlines, characters, and stylistic moments some of us can't stand. And if, by chance, we discover ways in which Jordan was flawed while Sanderson wasn't, this might just perhaps give us a new perspective so that we can be less harsh with Sanderson.

There are undoubtedly ways in which Sanderson does not measure up--he himself has admitted he is not Jordan and never will be--but many people on the re-read, including Leigh herself, have observed when Jordan screwed up, or that something he wrote wasn't manna from heaven in every single aspect. It may seem tempting to still weight Jordan higher than Sanderson because we feel the former has less flaws than the latter, but it might behoove us to still remember those flaws are there--and to acknowledge when Sanderson does do it right, and why. He has his strengths too, and these chapters certainly show them in my opinion.

@12 Braid_Tug: It may not have been very detailed, but to be fair I was under the impression Perrin was in fact using other tools to do the fashioning you're talking about, it just wasn't gone into in detail. Seems you're expecting tell not show here...but at least so far as forging is concerned, Jordan has never gone into too much detail. And I recall that his scene back in TDR originally involved errors regarding the quenching barrels which blacksmiths among his readers wrote in to him about, resulting in him correcting it in later editions, the same as he did when musicians told him about tuning/not tuning Thom's harp. So for what it's worth, I don't think Jordan was any more versed in the craft than Sanderson is.

But anyway, to quote the text: "He took his hammer and chisel and began to shape patterns, ridges, modifications... He used his chisel on a small chunk of steel to form a shape, then placed it down on top of the hammer." And then this shape is what he hammered on to imprint the ornamentation on Mah'alleinir. So he did, in fact, use other tools to create the ornamentation; it just didn't go into detail on what they were or how he used them.

Though Batonga's point is also interesting and worth considering.

@16 Jonellin Stonebreaker: Interesting and fair point. Still I don't think it can be denied that the Whitecloaks lack certain military prowess and training that other armies and groups have in Randland, and the battle chapter shows it.

@18 martytargaryen: In Lan's defense, he has been sworn to fight the Shadow (and avenge Malkier) from the cradle; he sees that as a personal fight he must pursue paramount to everything else (until Moiraine convinced him to become her Warder). Because it is personal, he therefore thinks it unfair to ask anyone else to join in on it with him, especially when he knows/suspects it is a suicide mission. He really doesn't see it as part of the Last Battle at all, but a separate struggle he was oathbound to follow, so he doesn't see why those who should be fighting in that battle (and not merely throwing their lives away) should be there with him.

It is hypocritical (what, other Malkieri can't want to get revenge/bring down the Shadow for what was done to their nation, just because they aren't royals/weren't sworn to do it from the cradle?), but I can see why he feels as he does. He knows he will die in this attempt, but he's accepted that as a price of his oath and something he must do to keep his honor and hopefully damage the Shadow in some way--"taking you with me", basically. But he doesn't want anyone else to have their lives lost in the process if they don't have to be. What he has missed is that it's as much their choice to be involved, and to sacrifice themselves too if need be, as it is his.

I agree BTW: while the forging scene itself is awesomely depicted, Faile's description afterward is part and parcel with the awesomeness.

@21 Braid_Tug: I don't think Gawyn was specifically thinking of women of power, just Aes Sedai. While it's true that generally Morgase is a woman of power who has also concealed her emotions, she never got close to the level of control and stoicness as the Aes Sedai, nor does her throne have a multiple-millennia tradition of concealing emotions the way they do. Also keep in mind Morgase is a channeler too (albeit a very weak one), so even if he had observed her lack of emotion before, he wouldn't have an insight into what lay behind the mask unless he were her Warder; he may know she does it, but not why or what she was actually feeling.

@22 wcarter: Good point on the horse! The fact it's a simple statement about Perrin's feelings toward it doesn't change the fact, though, that it also operates as a hilarious bit of snark toward Galad. ;)

@25 Twedge: Considering Perrin's wolfbrother nature, I'd be rather surprised if his hammer didn't have TAR properties. Also, for all we know many if not all Power-wrought items/weapons may exist in TAR too--it's not like we've gotten a chance to see Lan or anyone else who has one in TAR. The only one offhand I can think of is Rand...and it may be worth noting that while he never saw himself with his father's actual heron-marked sword, in his dreams (and when in TAR in the flesh) the summoned sword he bore was based off of it. Keeping in mind one's ability to imagine whatever one wishes within TAR, and Rand's instinctive skill vs. his lack of knowledge that early in the series, is...certainly intriguing.

@27 Tektonica: See my words to Marty. It's a combination of Malkieri honor/pride and him having a personal oath against the Shadow, in my opinion.

@34 Megaduck: Sour puss indeed. Did you somehow miss the implications of Callandor/Caliburnis, a sword taken out of a Stone? Or the names al'Thor/Artur (Hawkwing)/Arthur, Elayne, Gawyn/Gawain, Galad/Galahad, Lan(celot)... I mean you are free to think such theme naming/referencing of myth and legend isn't cute or clever, but the point is that it's always been there from the beginning, part and parcel with Jordan's main conceit in writing WOT...so if you don't like that, why are you still reading the series? Seems to me that the only way you could read the series and enjoy it is if you set such views aside...and if you could do that for Callandor or any of the other things I named, you should be able to do it for Perrin's hammer too. Are you similarly upset about Mat's spear having the ravens and references to Thought and Memory, or him losing his eye and being hung from a tree for knowledge? If so, well at least you are consistent, though again I'd say such things would have to be set aside to enjoy the series, if they bother you. And if you aren't, well...

@37 Balance! LOL!

@forkroot, JonathanLevy: Reread the first sentence of Tektonica's second paragraph in a prurient light, and pay attention to capital letters. (Balance got here first, but being a bit more specific for you so you can find it.)

@46 Wolfmage: So in other words, what seemed like it was supposed to be the endpoint of Perrin's axe/hammer arc in KOD wasn't the end at all. Nor was it intended to be, since Jordan clearly had this forging scene planned in his notes all along. What the scene in KOD was instead, perhaps, was the moment Perrin realized he needed the hammer more, that it was more appropriate to him. The forging scene here is realizing why, and then integrating it into his understanding of leadership and his particular role as a leader.

This is why we should be wary of assuming something from the text the author hasn't confirmed, especially when there are more books to go. To be fair, though, at the time he wrote KOD we thought there would be only one book left, so it was easy to assume the scene at Malden was meant to be the end of Perrin's arc. Interesting, then, that Jordan had planned the arc to actually not end until the very last book. At least it ended up happening in the second book of the split volume, so we will get one more full book of Perrin being awesome!

@48 Zexxes: Well said.

@53 feanor: Because the destruction of the doorframe ter'angreal tore the connection between the Finns' world and the real world, and therefore the Warder bond too. Jordan said the Finns' world operated on very different natural laws.
William Fettes
56. Wolfmage
macster@55
"I am with forkroot. While it is true having the skills you'll need to become a good leader is important, there's no guarantee those who want to be leaders will have them either, since becoming a leader is often as much about money, knowing the right people, and being persistent as it is about having knowledge or experience in the political arena. Also, it is always possible to gain those skills later on, again through the experience; in my opinion, it's much harder to "learn" integrity, especially after the fact. In fact it's quite often the opposite, that those in power start out as principled and honorable but become less so over time, either through expediency, necessity (the only way to survive/get anything done), or despair and pessimism. Far better to have the integrity first, then learn skills later, then to try and "learn" integrity" in such a climate, in my opinion."
Great post. I agree with all that subject to the caveat that I don't think we ought to presume that ambitious people lack integrity or that non-ambitious people will be capable of learning those skills. So at best it's an interesting precautionary maxim, rather than some kind of capital T Truth. Like many things, each case is different and there are exceptions.

Also, it's worth pointing out that outside of epic fantasy or perhaps the existential threat of global war or massive curtailment of civil liberties, it's not exactly an everyday scenario that someone finds themselves really forced by high duty to assume power. In the course of ordinary life, there is some role for desire and it is located in a complicated mix of different forces. Some are completeing and trying to crowd each other out, others are mutually overlapping. So the psychology of this picture is a bit one-dimensional, lofty and romantic for me.
Terry McNamee
57. macster
@Wolfmage: Good points all. But I never said I thought it was a great Truth, just that the statement had accuracy and was one with wisdom we should consider. Even if this specific kind of situation can really only happen in romantic fantasy, that doesn't mean there can't be applicability of some sort in our everyday lives. Very few if any of us may ever get to be leaders, especially in the sense of being forced to be, but remembering to maintain integrity and holding it as important as learning skills if not more so, is a lesson I think is worth learning regardless of the source in which it is taught. Who said fantasy has nothing to do with reality, or can't be applied to multi-dimensional, non-romantic real life?

Lloyd Alexander said it best: "Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it." C.S. Lewis also addressed this when he said "fairy land...arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his lifelong enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth." And Tolkien spoke of Recovery, Escape, and Consolation--the latter involving returning to the real world again, having grown, learned, and changed thanks to imagining richly, becoming more aware of the real world thanks to the fantasy.
Alice Arneson
58. Wetlandernw
Just a couple of very brief comments tonight; hopefully I can get in here tomorrow with more. At least I'm pretty sure all the best comments have already been made, so I don't have to worry about trying to be profound...
He thinks of his followers, and how he doesn’t want to lead them, but how he wants even less for someone else to lead them. He realizes that he wants to lead, because doing it himself was the only way to ensure it was being done right.
When reading that section, and again every time I read it, I can't help thinking of Brandon finishing the WoT for RJ. It’s almost exactly what he says in his blog and various interviews – that while he might not be the very best author around, and he might not be the very biggest fan around, he is the best combination of the two, and therefore the right person to do the job.
I realized if someone was going to write this book, I wanted it to be me. If it couldn't be Robert Jordan, I wanted it to be in the hands of somebody who loved and revered the series. I'd read some of the books eight times at that point. I'd reread most of the series all the way through often when a new book would come out. I knew that at least then it would be in the hands of someone who wouldn't take it and run off with it and make it their own, but would have tried to make it see his vision and be his story. And I'd made that decision, I realized, yes, I do want to do this. It's a tragedy that we lost him, but if I'm doing it, then I know it won't be screwed up.
Oh, and while I agree that the rescue charge down the crazy steep hill was very like the scene in LOTR, the first scene that came to my mind was the one in Man from Snowy River…
Glen V
59. Ways
macster @57
"Very few if any of us may ever get to be leaders..."
Quite true on the global scale. However, it happens very often on a much smaller scale (and integrity is just as important there). Other than that minor point, I found your comment to be, well, refreshing. ::presses non-existant "like" button::
AndrewB
60. Wendy O. Koopa
@macster 55
I do not understand anyone who is harsh on Sanderson. In my opinion, Sanderson has written the best WoT books that have come out in 15 years. And I am not a fan of Sanderson's non-WoT works. At all. But keeping in mind the pressure Sanderson is under, and the complexity of the task before him, this is the best work Sanderson has ever done.

From 1990 to 1994 my favorite day of the year was the release of a new WoT book. Over time reading each successive book became a tedious chore. No longer. The excitement, the magic, the wonder, it's all back. And that's Sanderson folks.
Birgit
61. birgit
When I first read the forging of Mjölnir it was in one go with Hopper's death, and I thought the hammer was special because Hopper's soul went into it.

The problem I have with Zorro is that nobody recognizes the horse. That's why I laughed when the Malkieri recognized Lan's horse.
Dale Norman
62. dokipen
Two of my favourite chapters of the book here. Wonderful stuff from Perrin et al.

The Mesaana/Danelle this was always obvious to me from my second read-through of the books. Danelle's the first Aes Sedai we see after Alviarin meets Mesaana. Love being right though, 'tis NICE. :)

I agree with one of the earlier comments that Gawyn's collecting of the rings is a Checkov's Gun if ever there was one.

Thanks Leigh!
Jonathan Levy
63. JonathanLevy
42.ShaggyBella
Two Rivers folk have a very lenghty bethroal, and also needs parents permission. Also woe to those who fool around before marriage.
Egwene cannot just marry on a whim. What would her mother think? She is still very proper.
This is true, but I'm not sure it fits the story so well. Egwene has always assimilated immediately into the the culture of whatever group she has just joined. We saw that with the Tinkers, the Tower, and the Wise Ones. She unbraided her hair, wore cadin'sor, etc. But now we discover that in this regard she's still in the Two-Rivers. Meh.

I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm not saying the writing is bad, I'm not saying it's inconsistent with Egwene's previous characterization. I'm saying that if I made a list of all the brilliantly foreshadowed and impeccably consistent moments of character development in the series (and it would be a long one), this line would not be on it.

47.Balance

Never would have spotted it without help.
William Carter
64. wcarter
@41. jcsalomon

I could have sworn I posted this comment last night. Huh.

It would be interesting to see how the ter'angreal rings interacted with the Warder bonds. Based on what we've read so far, it's almost like the rings put use some sort of slow acting poison in the blood of the wearer in exchange for shadowy ninja skillz. My guess, they were created by the Shadow during the War of the Power for jobs very much like the ones the Empresses have in mind.

I would imagine the Warder bond would help somewhat, but I can't imagine it would allow the user to survive indefinitely, at the very least without taking it off and having an Aes Sedi heal him or her.

For that matter, there's also a potential risk factor for the Aes Sedi holding the bond. For instance, what would happen if Birgitte tried to use one with how closely the warder bond makes her and Elayne mirror one another?

We also don't know if a user can wear more than one at once, if doing so would net any benefits, kill them faster, or just be a fashion faux pas.

Who knows, maybe Gwayn will get them mixed up with the wedding bands in his and Egwene's marriage ceremony...Do Andorans use weddding bands?
AndrewB
65. King of Flames
@55

It's easy to underestimate the Trollocs because they aren't dangerous to most of our POV characters. But for an ordinary soldier, they are massive, armed, armoured frenzied monsters that you didn't know existed the day before. Plus they appeared out of thin air, I can't honestly say I think any non-Aiel/Borderlander army would have done better.

About Lan: He doesn't want to have to watch thousands of people die in his name and for a country that doesn't even exist. This is Lan, he is probably the most qualified person in the world to know that 'the outcome is almost foretold when Trollocs force battle inside the Blight' (From TEOTW). He was planning to go to his probable death, and now even if lives he has to watch most his people die (a lot of them are old men and boys, remember). He's not stopping any of them from seeking revenge, if they want they can join the local army or just march into the blight, but he doesn't want to be the cause of the inevitable death of everyone who goes with him.
Joe Walters
66. josepph
and all is once more right with the world.

how we doing pacewise for finishing before the final book? sorry if someone asks this every week... course i guess i could go pop my book open do a little counting and division... but im at work and my books at home so i will rely on you guys maths skills in the mean time
Sam Mickel
67. Samadai
Don't worry Leigh is on track to finish before AMoL, even if it is going to push it a little

Just in case someone didn't notice, and if you aren't avoiding "reading" AMoL early. Tor has released chapter 2 on audio on its main page
AndrewB
68. jms1969
As others have commented, these are three of the best chapters in TOM.

I noticed several comments about Egwene's reaction when Gawyn talked about marriage. I took this reaction to be based on the extended lifespans of Aes Sedai. I seem to recall a few spots in previous books where this exact issue is brought up as a reason why Aes Sedai do not normally marry, as their husbands would grow old while they do not change. I don't believe the warder bond changes this, as there are several examples of old warders in the books. Egwene is simply thinking about marriage with her brain, where Gawyn is thinking about it with his heart.

I guess the same issue exists for Lan and Nynaeve, but it hasn't really been explored, possibly because Lan is so convinced he will die in battle.
AndrewB
69. Jeroen van Berkel
Hm. I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but in these chapters Perrin just feels a bit... off. You know?
Matthew B
70. MatthewB
I concur.

YAY.

Definitely one of the high points of WoT. Thank you Robert Jordan for making it possible and Brandon Sanderson for bringing it home.
Donna Harvey
71. snaggletoothedwoman
Jeroen @69 I didn't think so, Perrin is now acting, thinking and talking like an adult. He has stepped up to shoulder his responsibilities as leader. Once he made that decision, everything else falls into place. He is more sure of himself and uses his Ta'vereneness to his advantage.
I agree with many above that these three chapters are defining points for each of the young ones. They each grew a bit, in different ways to be sure, but they DID learn something new about themselves.

About Lan....well FINALLY, get a grip Man! Everyone should be able to make their own choice whether to follow you or not!
something that bugged me...Didn't Lan realize how many of his people were still around? I mean, did he just ignore the numbers because he didn't want to think about it? Didn't he know they would want revenge for their lost country too? That is just down right selfish! Hmmmm...He had me fooled the whole time!
AndrewB
72. Jeroen van Berkel
Snaggletoothedwoman @71 You are so right! So absolutely right. And I was just kidding. These chapters almost always bring tears to my eyes everytime I read them. Perrin is filled with greatness. Burn my eyes if he isn't.
William Carter
73. wcarter
Something just occured to me, not sure if it's a pleasant thought...
Lan's last name is Mandragoran as in Mandragora...and he just heard the scream of his people's rage... but does that scream mean death for the shadowspawn or Lan? o.O
j p
74. sps49
I worried a bit when Perrin felt "something leaking from him into the thing he is making". Like Sauron, maybe?

I never thought about comparing the downhill charge with Helm's Deep, probably because my reads (and re-reads) painted a different picture than what PJ put onscreen.
AndrewB
75. Bungo
Egwene's reaction to Gawyn's proposal is because of this Dream (aCoS Chapter 10):
“...a man riding on a black stallion. Gawyn. Then she was standing in the road in front of him, and he reined in. Not because he saw her...but the road that had been straight now forked right where she stood, running over tall hills so no one could see what lay beyond. She knew, though. Down one fork was his violent death, down the other, a long life and a death in bed. On one path, he would marry her, on the other, not. She knew what lay ahead, but not which way led to which. Suddenly he did see her, or seemed to, and smiled, and turned his horse along one of the forks...”
She thinks that marrying him may somehow lead to his violent death.
Roger Powell
76. forkroot
@75
She thinks that marrying him may somehow lead to his violent death.
Yes - she will strangle him with Air after he leaves the seat up one too many times.
Valentin M
77. ValMar
forkroot @ 76

And the Oaths won't stop her because leaving the seat is a conclusive proof that he is a DF.

I really liked Perrin's chapters. When reading them for the first time I didn't really pay attention to the forging scene- I was anticipating the battle and was impatient with Perrin fannying about with his blacksmithing stuff... Now I appreciate it much more.

I also agree with the ones cutting the WCs some slack for their performance vs the trollocs. Galad's view was through the prism of righteous invincibility- the WCs as the paladins of the Light should be winning by default vs the forces of the DO.
The WC were in a very bad tactical situation- ambushed, hemmed in they couldn't use their chief weapon- cavalry. In such a wild fight the massive trollocs have an advantage over almost anyone. This all not including men's moral facing for the first time such monsters.

I didn't think of PJ's version of Helm's Deep during Perrin's charge. My image of it was way too different- and quite rightly since the situation vs the trollocs was very different. But I can see why one may think of it.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
78. ZEXXES
It would be kind of Kool if Gawyn hooks up with Birgitte and Sleete to use the 3 rings on some clandestine mission. They are all Warder bonded, so...


Z
T C
79. Freelancer
The crafting of Aegis-Fang Mah'alleinir was anticipated from the time that Elyas told Perrin to keep the axe until he loved using it. Going to battle with a heavy blacksmith's hammer was never appropriate (destroying with a tool of building), and since Wulfgar's Perrin's entire theme is struggling for balance, there would need to be a tool created which was both a weapon, and a symbol of hope for the building of a future.

The timing and length of the scene was flawless for drawing out the various elements required, and while I agree that the creation of the Hopper badge gets a slight handwave (beware), focusing on the details of carving and shaping that design would have been over the top. We got proof enough of Perrin's abilities at the forge in "The Hammer" (TDR Ch50), so going on about the tools and the stamping and the chiseling and the scraping...

When ToM was first released, one of the complaints about this scene was how improbable it was for Neald to just suddenly start channeling into the forging. This was well explained very early in the series, that the Pattern would provide people, Talents, and such as they were needed. The very concept of ta'varen indicates this, and while we focus on it less than the other two, Perrin is still a top-tier ta'veren, and the Pattern shapes itself around him. Some will be quick to augment that argument by saying that once he'd come to the point of accepting his place, his influence would be magnified. Maybe, but I remain convinced that a ta'veren's influences are out of their own control, and are wholly subject to the Pattern. At the same time, the need for those magical influences would be at the zenith when the ta'veren is at their weakest or most uncertain.

Berelain has never been a character I liked, admired, or hardly cared about. All suggestions of her deft skill at manipulating other people must have been confined to the particular attitudes of the High Lords of Tear, because she hasn't positively influenced anybody since she first appeared in the Stone to act as Lanfear's delivery babe. It is oddly fitting, that she should be made so utterly transparent in her twitterpation with Galad that nobody buys her "good solid political connection" fib. And yet, while it was clear well before now, following Min's vision of her falling for a guy in White, and Galad becoming the Head Cheese of the Children, it's painful to imagine a less well-matched pair than the ostensibly selfless and square Damodred, and the self-absorbed and politically scheming Paendrag. Run, Galad, run.

It was a very comforting moment when Dain Bornhald shed all but a small scrap of the misinformation which has been driving his hatred of Perrin for twelve books, and did the right thing by stopping Byar. Some have had sympathy for Byar because he'd been Fain'd in the Two Rivers, but his zealous madness has been there from the first. It required the calm, senior leadership of Geofram Bornhald to keep it in check, and lacking that, he became the proverbial loose cannon on a rolling deck. Good on you, Dain, hope you survive the Last Battle to carry on your father's name...
Roger Powell
80. forkroot
In a defense of Berelain's abilities, I will note that she apparently administered Cairhien quite effectively as a caretaker ruler (admittedly with Rhuarc's help.)

FWIW, the Wise Ones also saw enough good things about Berelain that they approved of her in general.

Yes - she was a total jerk about the "competition" with Faile. But that's why we love RJ, he created complex characters that have both admirable traits and distinct weaknesses.

Call me a Pollyanna, but I think that Berelain and Galad will actually be good for one another.
AndrewB
82. Wortmauer
Also, it is awesome that linking to another post at tor.com makes your post more likely to be spam. (: That is all.
Valentin M
83. ValMar
forkroot @ 80

I agree with you about Berelain. She gets more hate than she deserves. The thing with Faile and Perrin was very bad of her but it worked out alright at the end... One could point to some mitigating factors with different degrees of justification but one has to call a spade a spade- naughty Berelain...but if the "Wise Ones defence" works for others (e.g. Eg and Cads) so it should for her. If they respect her she's probably alright.

As for her "professional" abilities, she has a track record which is clearly excellent. Her rule in Mayene is as good as it could be and she is very popular amongst her people. And anyone who could do well when governing Cairhien must be a genius.
AndrewB
85. alreadymadwithberelain
Freelancer @79
LOL
Run, Galad, Run.

ValMar @83
Exactly. I love Berelain. One of the few here who do.
Roger Powell
86. forkroot
It would be interesting if, post-TG, there was still a need for the Children of the Light.

Since it seems that Amador will likely remain under Seanchan influence, the Children might be looking for a new home base. Perhaps Mayene?
Deana Whitney
87. Braid_Tug
@79, Freelancer: Again a wish for a “Like” button. Even though I really don’t like FB.
Congratulations! This is the first time I’ve see “twitterpation” used successfully outside of Bambi. Impressive.

Berelain: She’s an interesting contrast and foil to the other female rulers. She’s the only one I think, that uses “sex as a weapon.” Or is the only one that we’ve seen using it. Then again, the High Lords of Tear didn’t seem all that, so why not use a simple and effective method?

I’ve seen her as the flirt who doesn’t know when to stop / doesn’t realize the object of flirtation doesn’t understand the rules of flirting.
So many cultural clashes! RJ glosses over mis-commutation that could happen because of accent’s and language shift. But he really nails the mis-commutation because of cultural differences
AndrewB
88. alreadymadwithflirts
Braid_Tug @87
More like uses sex as an implied weapon. Despite her seeming flirtatiousness and the general hate-on she gets from the Grrrls(who are ironically enough recipients of their own amount of hate-on from fans), she admits to not having had that many lovers. Certainly a lot less than the Grrrls' hate-on for her would warrant. That duality is probably part of what the Wise Ones love about her.

Admittedly the fiasco with Perrin got on everybody's nerves, but then again, Perrin alone can get on a lot of nerves. And then there's the Grrrls, collectively and individually. So nobody's really perfect on that account.
Valentin M
89. ValMar
alreadymad @ 88

Indeed, Berelain appears to use the tactics of Domani merchants.
T C
90. Freelancer
I'm not surprised, but I remain disappointed. So, point by point...

I do not hate Berelain. As was very clearly stated, she evokes little more than utter ambivalence from me as a person. As a ruler, she is completely dismissable. When her existence first presents itself to the reader, she has been a "guest" in Tear for an extended stay, presumably because she would not cooperate with a less forceful request of some sort from the High Lords. This indicates nothing about her one way or another, other than Mayene's relative weakness and size that Tear can so easily kidnap and hold their First. The upside is that she has not capitulated to their desires during that time. The downside is that neither has she persuaded Tear's High Lords to consider her position on the matter. For one who is supposedly so persuasive, there is no evidence of merit on that score as of yet.

With the "fall" of the Stone, Berelain is somehow once again a free agent, yet rather than sneak out of the fortress and flee Tear altogether, she remains. Again, no proof of either a positive or negative judgement for her in this regard. We must presume that she chose to remain because of the potential political gains by acquiring the favor of the Dragon Reborn. Did she do so? No, offered herself to him in a manner which comparisons with "Domani tactics" would draw the anger of any Domani merchant. There was clearly no intent on her part to simply play off her sexuality to entice him, she planned on consummating the deed on the spot. I cannot see this for anything but what it was, and it gets neither respect, admiration, nor any suggestion of defense as a reasonable political action.

After being utterly terrified (through horribly bad timing) by the first bubble of evil to attack Rand, rather than reconsider her motive or method she decides to shift the aim of the tactic to one of whom she perceives to be Rand's lieutenants, Mat and Perrin. Mat, she summarily dismisses as too like herself (a strongly telling consideration on its own), and targets Perrin, with every intention of entangling him in a politically motivated romance, with no thought of whether either she or he would be pleased by such an arrangement, and no concern that he was already romantically entangled.

As an undefined interlude, we know that she made some error in judgement related to Rhuarc, which can only be imagined, earning her the first noted spanking of the series, if we don't miss our guess.

As to her administration of Cairhien, she did indeed manage fairly well. She does not deserve sole credit for this, however, for several reasons. Primarily, that she was operating under the sanction of the Dragon Reborn, who had just forced a deal upon the High Lords which prevented mass starvation in Cairhien, and who later liberated the city from the Shaido. The Cairhienin were both grateful and fearful of Rand, and unlikely to too easily interfere with Berelain as his temporary regent. Also, Rhuarc and Dobraine, a contingent of Mayene's and Tear's military are there in support.

When Rand liberates Cairhien from the Shaido, things seem to be otherwise well, but as soon as there is any significant tension, Berelain practically goes into hiding, and must be all but bullied into to doing her duty by Rhuarc.

After Rand is freed from his Tower Aes Sedai captivity, upon return to Cairhien he discovers that Berelain is in hiding aboard a Sea Folk vessel. When Colavaere's treachery is uncovered, mostly due to the work of Berelain's thief-catchers, Rand decides that she'll be safer back home in Mayene. This is the first time that Berelain asserts herself politically in a way which doesn't involve her neckline, and demands that Rand allow her to serve in another way. She is still fearful of pressure from Tear, and afraid that she will be powerless to oppose it away from Rand. And so she ends up with Perrin's entourage, and we all know where it goes from there.

So, her leadership prowess is on display ... where? If she isn't using her physical attributes, she isn't very successful. Sadly for her, even that isn't successful for her when employed against the morality of a Two Rivers upbringing. Perhaps she should have chosen Mat, he at least would have bought a ticket for the ride. She is what she appears to be. Regardless of the notches on her bedpost, she consciously permits her reputation to be that of a strumpet, and her behavior more than complies with that perception.
Sam Mickel
91. Samadai
Freelancer, I am not sure I understand your position on Berelain, perhaps you could expand on it. ;)
Jonathan Levy
92. JonathanLevy
91.Samadai
Freelancer, I am not sure I understand your position on Berelain
I think Berelain is in the habit of choosing the position.

:: bunker!!!!!!!!! ::
JAMES MCCLELLAN
93. ZEXXES
I don't have a problem who use there sex as a weapon, tool or bargaining chip. Especially women. Men with their dominance of strength have used their own power brutally against their weaker sex since the very beginnings of our race. Why then should women be punished for using their only power over men.

You know it's kind of funny. I've studied this phenomenon for as a pet project/hobby for years. There is a double standard amongst women that is plainly prevalent throughout there sex. The degree of beauty dictates the strength of the effects and thus how many and what caliber of man the woman can attract. Every woman, and I mean, every woman, has used their sex as a power. Some women will consciously make efforts not to use that power but even they succumb to the temptation of the benefits their beauty will bring. What is so amusing, is when those who are among the more comely percentiles cry foul when someone who is acknowledged to be more beautiful is accused of being any number of things simply because she is more beautiful, whether what she is accused of doing is true or not. But my personal favorite is they fact that they, women, all manipulate with beauty and are genetically designed to do so and thus should do so. But men over time, through religion, status and position, and out of many forms of jealousy and out sexual spite have convinced women all across the world that their sex is evil and that using it to get what they want is evil too.

The Berelains of the world have realized the truth of the matter and have realized that strategically speaking, if you have a weapon that works so well, why would you or should not use it? The question is so ludicrously stupid and the answer easy. In war if you have created a sword that allows users to kill with one stroke every time instead of three and is superior to any weapon in your enemies arsenal, why would you not use it? Because the enemy doesn't think you should? Because the enemy is jealous?

I'm tired of beautiful people being persecuted for what they are. Oaks and maples. Deal With It. Awwww did she get the job you wanted? Why does she go first? I'm so tired of people whining about what they wish they had, but don't. And so feel that jealousy gives them license to call what another does as morally wrong because they can't do it.

There's a word for people like that. It'll get me banned from this forum if I say it here. But I sooooo wish I could.


Z
Roger Powell
94. forkroot
Hmmm ... looking at the Chapters ahead, it seems like chapters 43 through 45 could well fit within one post (they are all within the Perrin/Galad/Morgase then Elayne thread.) Here's hoping Leigh's up to another three-bagger tomorrow!

And, oh yeah ... twitch
AndrewB
97. alreadymadwithBerelain
Freelancer @90
Well, consummating the deed isn't exactly reprehensible to Domani merchants. As Leane's aunt said, you paid the price and enjoyed it. Clearly Berelain thought the cost worth it.

It's been remarked multiple times that not even the end of the world could stop the Cairhienin from scheming. Agreed her administration of Cairhien was mostly done in the background. But having overwhelming military force on her side is hardly telling. These Cairhienin won't resort to military force in light of their broken military. They'll still keep plotting, though, and Berelain was able to keep them at bay and administer the City satisfactorily.

So what if she was elsewhere when things went down. She was not a fighter. She was a negotiator, an administrator. Whatever was about to happen, she had no place in it. It was between Rand and the usurpers. A usurper who had shown enough sangfroid to murder anyone in her way.
Valentin M
98. ValMar
The mere fact that Berelain had to give way before the coup in Cairhien shows that she didn't have military muscle with which to achieve whatever she did in order to gain the respect of the Wise Ones.
I believe that the nature of Berelain's transgressions (there are two that I can see and I believe one of them isn't, as per Z @ 93) makes her character irredeemable in some readers minds.

On a side note, I hope folks here, and their families, from the storm-hit areas of the US haven't suffered too badly.
Deana Whitney
99. Braid_Tug
Wow, I think between Frelancers and Zexxes, Berelain has now had more discussion on this thread, than she has in all the books combined!
Sorry, I didn't mean to start a few rants.

Echoing the wish that our friends in the New England area are okay.
Roger Powell
100. forkroot
Braid_Tug@99
Wow, I think between Frelancers and Zexxes, Berelain has now had more discussion on this thread, than she has in all the books combined!
You, um, missed the "bonk, marry, kill" thread from quite a few books ago where Berelain held her own :-)
Deana Whitney
101. Braid_Tug
Yep, I did. I had not found the re-read yet.
Hope Tor is able to publish the next one around noon, like normal!
Sandy Brewer
103. ShaggyBella
Well, I am watching the devestation of the coast from the calm safety of the Borderlands. Hope you are all well and Delta gets me off hold sometime today. (Just did...$150 t0 rebook $241 ticket at a later date.) Oh well.

There was a lot I really liked in these chapters. Perrin accepting the leadership and raising the wolfshead banner. Faile was pretty understanding.
“I’m Perrin Goldeneyes,” he said, “the man who can speak to wolves. And I guess that’s a good person to be.”
(aka Stuart Smiley)
And now he carries the hammer of a king.
Alliandre realizing what she had 'signed up' for.. fighting Forsaken, etc.
The great battle itself, exciting and interesting. Who is the mysterious DF channeler?
Arganda eating it up...
"For this day alone, I’m glad we followed you!”
The funny bits between Perrin and Galad. How worried Berelain thought Perrin was going to attack her new sweetie.
Don't have much for Egw & Gawyn.
And Lan, realizing Nyn has his bond and gaining strength from seeing the Malkeri. And then with the prince...
“I have not raised it(Golden Crane), Prince Kaisel. My plan was to ride alone.” “Of course. I would like to ride alone with you. May I?” (Frodo & Samwise?)
Anyhow good fun.
And then, with a deep sigh, he gave in. “The Golden Crane flies for Tarmon Gai’don,” Lan said softly. “Let any man or woman who wishes to follow join it and fight.” He closed his eyes as the call went up. It soon became a cheer. Then a roar.
Chicken skin moment. Love it!
JAMES MCCLELLAN
104. ZEXXES
I too had gooses crawling over me.

....

....

How did those gooses get in my room? And why were they tickling me? And where are they now?

I bet you their hiding in the attic! Where's my damn flash light!


Z
William McDaniel
105. willmcd
I really loved the two Perrin chapters (which hardly distinguishes me from most everyone else who commented here). The scene with the hammer was tingling-skin, moist-eyes kind of stuff, and it and the battle scene stand out as perhaps my strongest memory of reading this book back in December 2010. I also was greatly amused by all of the Wulfgar/Aegis-Fang jokes made by the commentators in this thread; it seems at times that we have all read every major work in the genre.

It was necessary, symbolically, for Perrin to cast aside the hammer he has been using (given to him by the smith in Tear in another awesome scene from TDR, right?), as it seems to me it was inexorably linked to the "hammer and axe" dichotomy which tormented Perrin through so many pages. With that now resolved, Perrin needed something new, a fusion of his creator and destroyer halves. The hammer of the blacksmith, but emblazoned with the symbol of the wolf.

(And like Braid_Tug @ 12, wondering if Perrin had the tools, time and skill to craft a detailed wolf on the head took me out of the story for a moment, but I loved the scene and the symboism of the hammer so much that I'm happy to forget the whole question).

There was some irony, I thought, in Galad's coming to the realization that his "light makes might" (as Leigh well puts it) outlook is flawed here, and yet there does seem to have been a miraculous provision for the rescue of his forces, with some of those farthest removed from the actual Team Light (epitomized by Byar) being winnowed out in the process.

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