Tue
Nov 27 2012 2:00pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 28

The Wheel of Time Re-read on Tor.com: Towers of Midnight, Part 28Happy Month of Shopping Frenzy, WOTerians! If you buy this Wheel of Time Re-read post, you get the next one at half off.

WHAT A DEAL AMIRITE

Today’s entry covers Chapter 53-55 of Towers of Midnight, in which we have a rescue.

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 53: Gateways

What Happens
Pevara walks with Javindhra and Mazrim Taim as he shows off how the Black Tower will soon be impregnable. Javindhra brings up the issue of bonding full Asha’man again, and Taim repeats that he will only allow soldiers and Dedicated to be bonded. He mocks them for their continued “consideration”of the matter, and wonders if they do not worry about the other Aes Sedai waiting to bond Asha’man as well. Javindhra dismisses them as “rebels,” and Taim points out that the “rebels” have a larger force than they do; Pevara is made uneasy at the reminder that their party is only six sisters, but reminds herself that she is no easy meat.

“I once saw a skyfisher dying on the city docks of Illian,” Taim said. “The bird was choking, having tried to swallow two fish at once.”

“Did you help the sorry thing?” Javindhra asked.

“Fools will always choke themselves when they grasp for too much, Aes Sedai,” Taim said. “What matters that to me? I had a fine meal of it that night. The flesh of the bird, and of the fish.”

He leaves, with an off-handed warning that now that the perimeter is up, they must tell him if they wish to go outside it. Pevara tells Javindhra that she mislikes their situation, and thinks they should just bond a few Dedicated and go. Javindhra disagrees, almost insolently, and opines that Taim will bend soon on bonding full Asha’man. Pevara thinks this wildly optimistic, and wonders at the other woman’s reversal on the mission, since originally she hadn’t wanted to come at all. She tells Javindhra that the Black Tower is turning into “a cage,” but Javindhra dismisses this, reminding Pevara that they have gateways. Pevara gives up and parts ways with the other woman, fuming. The men of the Black Tower still unnerve her after all this time.

Those dark expressions, like the eyes of executioners while waiting for the next neck to line up before them. The way some of them muttered to themselves, or jumped at shadows, or held their heads and looked dazed. She stood in the very pit of madness itself, and it made her skin creep as if covered in caterpillars. She couldn’t help quickening her pace.

She goes to the hut she shares with Tarna Feir, deciding to get Tarna to help convince Javindhra, since Tarna had agreed last night that they should leave. She tells Tarna this, as well as about Taim’s new restriction on their movements, but to her surprise, Tarna dismisses it as “nothing.” She adds that she has reconsidered her position on leaving, as there is “much to learn here.”

The woman looked up, and Pevara froze. There was something different in Tarna’s eyes, something cold. She’d always been a distant one, but this was worse.

Tarna smiled, a grimace that looked completely unnatural on her face. Like the smile on the lips of a corpse. She turned back to her writing.

Something is very, very wrong here, Pevara thought.

She makes a hasty excuse and leaves the hut, noting that previously unmanned positions on the wall around the village now have channeling men at them. She moves to a secluded copse of trees and attempts to weave a gateway, but the weaves fall apart. She tries other weaves, and they all work, but the gateway weave will not, and Pevara feels chills as she realizes they are trapped.

Perrin wishes Mat luck, and Mat grins and remarks that he’s good with luck. Perrin hopes that Moiraine does indeed turn out to be alive, and warns Mat that he expects them to return safely. Thom gives him an amused look.

“Is every last farmboy I know going to transform into a nobleman by the time this is through?”

“I’m no nobleman,” Mat said.

“Oh?” Thom asked. “Prince of the Ravens?”

Mat pulled his hat down. “People can call me what they want. That doesn’t mean I’m one of them.”

“Actually,” Thom said, “it—”

“Open the gateway so we can get going,” Mat said. “No more nonsense.”

Grady creates the gateway to near the tower, and repeats Perrin’s instructions to open one in the same spot each day at noon. Mat, Noal, and Thom go through with a wave from Perrin. Perrin debates letting Rand know about Moiraine, but decides it would be cruel to raise his hopes before they knew for sure she was alive. He notes that he can still faintly feel the wound in his leg from where Slayer wounded him, even though it had been fully Healed. Faile approaches, and Perrin notes with amusement that she had deliberately missed Mat’s sendoff, as she does not approve of him. Faile tells him the army will be ready within the hour, and it is. Grady, Neald, the Aes Sedai and Edarra link to form a huge gateway to the Field of Merrilor, and Grady is astonished at the sheer number of troops gathered on the other side. Faile asks Perrin if they’ll be enough to stop Rand from breaking the seals as Egwene wanted.

“Oh, I told her I needed to be there,” Perrin said. “But I never said I was going to take Egwene’s side. I trust Rand, Faile, and it seems right to me that he’d need to break the seals. It’s like making a sword. You usually don’t want to forge one out of the pieces of a broken and ruined weapon. You get new good steel to make it. Rather than patch the old seals, he’ll need to make new ones.”

“Perhaps,” Faile said. “But this is going to be a fine line to walk. So many armies in one place. If some side with Rand and others with the White Tower…”

Nobody would win if they turned against one another. Well, Perrin would have to make sure that didn’t happen.

Perrin’s troops begin to march through; Perrin instructs Aravine, now his camp steward, to set them up somewhere apart from the other armies already present. He walks down the columns as they go through, noting that Galad and Berelain have managed to put the Mayeners and the Whitecloaks next to each other. He returns the salutes of Alliandre’s Ghealdanin troops, to her pleasure, and notes that somehow even without wolf senses most of the troops had seemed to sense that he had finally stopped resenting his leadership role. He tells Alliandre that he will need her to send some men back to Jehannah to gather any able-bodied fighters left there and bring them too, as Berelain and Tam are doing in Mayene and the Two Rivers, respectively.

Light, but he wished he could let them stay behind, on their farms, to live in peace while the storm raged elsewhere. But this really was the end. He could feel it. Lose this fight and they lost everything. The world. The Pattern itself. Facing that, he’d field boys who could barely swing a sword and grandfathers who had trouble walking. It twisted his stomach to admit it, but it was the truth.

When he reaches the Two Rivers men, Jori Congar approaches him to apologize for “foolish words” he’d said re: the Berelain thing, just as a dozen other Two Rivers men had in the last few days. Perrin tells him it’s all right, and Jori smiles and assures Perrin they’d follow him anywhere. He leaves, and Perrin blesses Faile for straightening that out. He goes to the gateway himself and steps through.

Come quickly, Rand, he thought, colors blossoming in his vision. I can feel it starting.

Mat looks at the metal tower and thinks seeing it is one of the few of his own memories from after Shadar Logoth he remembers. Noal is dressed in clothes of an unfamiliar cut to Mat, and Thom is back in his gleeman’s garb; he had commented that it felt like what he should wear to see Moiraine. They step to the tower, and Thom draws an inverted triangle with a wavy line through it with his knife on the side. A portal appears, but it is too small, and Thom has to redraw the triangle large enough for them to walk through.

“And so we begin the game that cannot be won,” Thom said, sliding the knife back into its sheath.

“Courage to strengthen,” Noal whispered, stepping forward, holding up a lantern with a flickering flame. “Fire to blind. Music to dazzle. Iron to bind.”

“And Matrim Cauthon,” Mat added. “To bloody even the odds.” He stepped through the doorway.

He finds himself in an off-kilter black room, with glowing white steam rising from vents in the corners, and four corridors leading off in each direction. Thom and Noal follow him, stumbling. Thom comments it doesn’t look like either of the places Mat had described. Noal tries going back through the triangular opening, and returns to report it sealed him out and he had to draw the triangle again to get back in. This relieves Thom, but Mat is not so convinced, remembering how the rooms had shifted before. They see that the mist actively bends away from the flame of their torches.

“Don’t ask me,” Mat said, scowling. “I said this place doesn’t make sense. If that’s the oddest thing we see here, I’ll be a Murandian’s mustache. Come on.”

He picks a hallway and they begin walking. They come to a window, and Mat realizes they must be in one of the three spires he’d seen from the window of the Aelfinn’s domain on his first visit. As they walk, they all feel like they are being watched, but see no one. They reach the end of the corridor to find a chamber identical to the first except without the triangular entrance. They pick another direction and go, Noal making a map. They reach another identical chamber, and on impulse, Mat turns and leads them back the way they came, to find that the first chamber is now empty, the triangular entrance gone. Mat hears faint laughter, and then one of the Eelfinn appears, saying they have broken the bargain. Mat answers that there is no bargain entering this way, and they can bring what they want. The fox offers to take them where they want if they will lay down their iron, music, and fire. Mat refuses, and has Thom play a tune on his flute. The fox glares, and Mat says they won’t leave their fire unless the Eelfinn take them directly to Moiraine. The fox says that is impossible, but offers to lead them half the way to “the Chamber of Bonds.” Mat begins singing along with the flute, and the fox yawns and lays down to sleep.

Thom lowered the flute from his lips, looking impressed.

“Nicely done,” Noal whispered. “I had no idea you were so fluent in the Old Tongue.”

Mat hesitated. He had not even realized they had been speaking in it.

Noal wants to know how they will find their way without a guide. Mat reasons that the “Chamber of Bonds” must be where he’d met the Eelfinn leaders, and remembers they’d said that once you were there, they had to bargain with you. He also remembers they’d said he was wise to ask for a way to leave, but cannot remember what that way actually was. He says there must be a correct path, and Noal says the odds against them finding it are incredible.

“Odds,” Mat said, holding out his hand. He opened it, revealing a pair of dice. “What do I care for odds?”

He says there are twelve total possible rolls, leaving three for each choice of passageway. Noal points out that you can’t roll a one with two dice, and Mat promptly proves him wrong when one die stops on one pip, and the other lands on edge, caught between two tiles. They follow the corridor thus chosen, and at the next chamber Mat rolls a nine, which sends them back the way they came. The sleeping fox is gone when they get there. Noal offers that he could have woken, and Mat counters, or it’s a different room. He rolls another nine, and they go back the same way again.

“[…] this place has rules.”

“Rules have to make sense, Mat,” Noal said.

“They have to be consistent,” Mat said. “But they don’t have to follow our logic. Why should they?”

It made sense to him.

They get to the other chamber, and Mat again rolls a nine, so they go back the same way again. Noal is arguing how foolish this is when they reach the other end and emerge in a totally different room, with a white floor, black columns and no visible ceiling. The columns are lit with glowing yellow stripes, and Mat tells them he’s been in this room before.

“We’re on track. If Moiraine still lives, then she’ll be somewhere past here.”

Commentary
First things being first, can I just state for the record that it is RIDICULOUS that anyone remotely still believes Taim is a Good Guy? What does he have to do, twirl his moustaches and tie a flapper-esque damsel to a railroad track? HE IS EVIL, PEOPLE, HOW HAVE YOU NOT GOTTEN THIS MEMO. Sheesh.

Seriously, we’re talking like weapons-grade malevolence here! The man is not subtle! Come ON. How do you not notice this? Unless you’re also Recently Evil™, of course, in which case I guess you get a pass. In a weird way.

Speaking of which, Tarna! NOOOOOOOO! *shakes fist*

Granted, it’s not like she was my favorite character or anything, but along with Pevara she was that rarest of WOT fauna: a non-sucky Red sister. And such rare and elusive creatures should be protected and cherished, Team Jordan, not chucked willy-nilly into the gaping maw of M’Dickhead’s 13x13 McEvilmaker (pat. pending)!

Gah.

I am divided, at the moment, whether Javindhra is also on the Recently Evil train along with Tarna or not. This chapter makes it rather ambiguous; sure, she could be evil, or she could just be unwittingly supporting Taim’s evil plan of evil because she is of the much more frequently observed variety of Common Sucky Red, and therefore sucks on general principle.

(I was briefly tempted to call Evil on her simply because of how incredibly annoying her name is to type, but then I decided that might be a tad judgmental on my part. Just a tad.)

Anyway, the now lack of gateways from the Black Tower definitively signals to me that we are all caught up here, timeline-wise. And also fills me with dread, because eeeek. I’m pretty sure that, Aviendha’s Future of Suckage aside (and, you know, that whole overall apocalypse thing), the Black Tower cliffhanger that TOM leaves us with is one of the things I am most looking forward to seeing resolved in AMOL. Go, Pevara, go!

As far as Perrin’s section goes, my radar was (perhaps overzealously) pinged by the random observation he made about the wound he received from Slayer still hurting him even though it had been Healed. I dunno, that was just kind of odd. I’m not sure what the significance there is (or even if it has any significance), but if you ask me the observation was far too out of left field for it not to mean something. But what that is, I have no idea. Glad I could be of help!

Also: Ah ha! I knew I was right that Perrin would be on Rand’s side!

That gleefully said, I’m really hoping I’m not going to end up in a position where I have to be pissed because it ends up Supergirls Vs. Superboys at Merrilor, with all the girls, then, on the wrong side. Because that’s just not cool. I don’t think that’s going to be the case, because I’m pretty sure that Nynaeve, at the very least, will be solidly in Rand’s camp, but the possibility that I’m wrong is kind of setting my teeth on edge. Seriously, people, let’s not do that.

And then we come to the sequence which will be occupying our attention for the rest of this post, which is, more or less, Through the Looking Glass and What Matrim Found There.

Because, while obviously there is a whole smorgasbord of cultural/mythological references getting dog-piled in here, the dream-logic/Alice in Wonderland vibe of *Finnland really cannot be denied, at least not in my opinion. You know, just with less chess and poetry, and more gore and death and stuff. Whee!

In that vein, if the hypothetical movie/TV show/miniseries of WOT ever happens, I envy the lucky hypothetical set designer who gets to go hog wild on designing the Aelfinn/Eelfinn world, because I bet that would be all kinds of freaky fun to play with. (To say nothing of the costume and makeup designers.)

[Mat] carried his pack slung over one arm and his ashandarei in his hand. He had practiced with the new iron counterweight on the butt, and was pleased.

The Eelfinn had given him the weapon. Well, if they dared stand between him and Moiraine, then they would see what he could do with their gift. Burn him, but they would.

Nice clue right there on the actual significance of the ashanderei. And yet, I never saw it coming. More on that later.

 

Chapter 54: The Light of the World

What Happens
Things move in the shadows of the five-pointed room, and Mat instructs Thom to play more music. Noal finds a melted lump of slag on the floor of the chamber which Mat realizes must be the remains of the twisted doorway destroyed on the docks at Cairhien, and says they’ll have to bargain their way free. He shouts into the darkness for the foxes to show themselves, thinking that they’d let him go the first time only to draw him back, like cattle to the slaughter. An Eelfinn appears then, calling Mat “son of battles,” offering to lead them where they want to go, for a price. Mat answers that they will not bargain until they are in the Chamber of Bonds. Another fox says their “comforts” (fire, music, etc.) will not slow them, and Mat, Noal and Thom are soon surrounded by Eelfinn, taunting and baiting them. The three fight back with iron, wounding some, but cannot gain ground, and the Eelfinn close in with bronze weapons. Mat throws a nightflower, blinding the foxes momentarily, and spins around to choose a direction at random in which to run. Thom declares this insane, but it works, and they end up in another corridor.

Birgitte, you were right, he thought. You probably walked past the corridor you needed several times, never knowing it was only a few feet away.

Never choose the card a man wants you to. Mat should have realized that. It was one of the oldest cons in creation.

They walk until they arrive at a suddenly appearing doorway, and step through into the eight-pointed chamber Mat remembered from his first trip. There is a woman floating in the center, cloaked in mist, and Mat realizes it is Moiraine.

Mat felt a surge of emotions. Worry, frustration, concern, awe. She was the one who had started this all. He had hated her at times. He also owed her his life. She was the first one who had meddled, yanking him this way and that. Yet—looking back—he figured that she had been the most honest about it of anyone who had used him. Unapologetic, unyielding. And selfless.

She had dedicated everything to protecting three foolish boys, all ignorant of what the world would demand of them. She had determined to take them to safety. Maybe train them a little, whether they wanted it or not.

Because they needed it.

Mat tries to reach into the mist to grab her, but the mist is blazing hot and he jumps back. Thom steps forward and reaches into the mist anyway, ignoring the pain to pull her free. He says she is alive, and takes off the strange bracelet she’s wearing to put it in his pocket, remarking it looks like a ter’angreal. A voice interrupts to tell them it is an angreal, a powerful one, and it can be part of her price if they wish. They turn to see the eight pedestals in the room are now occupied by Eelfinn, and Mat warns Noal and Thom to watch their tongues. Mat declares that the Eelfinn must abide by any bargains made here, and one answers that the bargain has been arranged.

“Burn you, what bargain?”

“A price must be paid,” one said.

“The demands must be met,” said another.

“A sacrifice must be given.”

Mat demands a way out as part of the bargain, hedging the demand with conditions to try and cover any possible trickery, including that the foxes cannot “knock us unconscious or try to kill us or anything like that.” The Eelfinn look disgruntled, and one asks what he will pay for such expensive demands, but another whispers that “the price has been set.”

And it had been. Somehow, Mat knew. A part of him had known from the first time he had read that note. If he had never spoken to the Aelfinn that first time, would any of this have happened? Likely, he would have died. They had to tell the truth.

They had warned him of a payment to come. For life. For Moiraine. And he would have to pay it. In that moment, he knew that he would. For he knew that if he did not, the cost would be too great. Not just to Thom, not just to Moiraine, and not just to Mat himself. By what he’d been told, the fate of the world itself depended on this moment.

Well burn me for a fool, Mat thought. Maybe I am a hero after all. Didn’t that beat all?

“I’ll pay it,” Mat announced. “Half the light of the world.” To save the world.

“Done!” one of the male Eelfinn announced.

The foxes leap down and surround Mat, ecstatically sniffing at him, and Mat yells at Noal and Thom not to do anything. He growls at the foxes that this is the last they will get of him, and one of them steps forward and rips Mat’s left eye from its socket. Mat screams in agony, falling to his knees.

“The savor!” one Eelfinn exclaimed.

“So long!” cried another.

“How it twists around him!” said the one who had taken his eye. “How it spins! Scents of blood in the air! And the gambler becomes the center of all! I can taste fate itself!”

Mat continues to scream before finally forcing himself to stop, and the Eelfinn collapse around the room in a seeming drunken stupor. Noal and Thom dash to Mat, but he only picks up his hat and ashanderei and forces himself upright, defiantly ignoring the pain. Thom says he should have been the one to pay, but Mat replies that it had to be him; the snakes had told him so. (“Bloody snakes.”)

“To save the world?” Thom asked, looking down at Moiraine’s peaceful face, her body wrapped in the patchwork cloak. He had left his pack on the floor.

“She has something yet to do,” Mat said. The pain was retreating somewhat. “We need her, Thom. Burn me, but it’s probably something to do with Rand.”

They leave the chamber, and the corridor beyond is straight, as Mat had demanded. Mat tries to ignore the agony as they walk, contemplating how his fighting would have to compensate for the missing eye, and wondering at how tenderly Thom was holding Moiraine. They reach the chamber with the melted doorway slag again and continue on; they see Eelfinn lurking in the shadows, but none attack, and Mat begins to feel proud of the bargain he made. Then they enter a corridor with black, interlocking, scaly triangles on the floor. Noal says his Old Tongue is rusty, but that he’d understood most of what Mat had said to the Eelfinn back there, and that part of the bargain was that the foxes couldn’t hurt or kill them.

“You said foxes, Mat,” Noal said. “The foxes can’t hurt us.”

“And they let us pass.”

“But what about the others?” Noal asked. “The Aelfinn? If the Eelfinn can’t hurt us, are the Aelfinn required to leave us be as well?”

The shadows then resolve into dozens of figures with slit-pupiled eyes, armed with swords, advancing upon them, and Mat yells for them to run.

Commentary
So, Egwene Dreamed it – twice:

Mat, placing his own left eye on a balance scale. [TDR]

...Mat throwing dice with blood streaming down his face, the wide brim of his hat pulled down low so she could not see his wound, while Thom Merrilin put his hand into a fire to draw out the small blue stone that now dangled on Moiraine's forehead.  [TFOH]

And Min saw a viewing of an eye on a scale around Mat all the way back in TEOTW, and now it’s come to pass, twelve books later.

That’s… pretty cool, y’all. Not particularly surprising, at this point, but cool.

The “balance scale” aspect of the prophecies isn’t literally represented, of course, but that’s pretty efficiently covered in how Mat is weighing the cost of his eye versus what it may cost if he doesn’t sacrifice it. Also, we don’t yet know, obviously, how Moiraine’s reunion with Rand is going to go, but if there isn’t also some aspect of “restoring balance” to that meeting I’ll eat Mat’s hat.

The Odin parallels with Mat’s eye sacrifice have been discussed ad nauseum by this point, so I won’t belabor them further, but I did notice with amusement that at least one of the versions I’ve read of the story of Mimir’s Well mentions that after he lost his eye, Odin would wear a hat pulled low over his face when he went out so as not to be so easily recognizable. It’s a little tidbit, but it tickled me. So I share it!

Also, if you’re in the mood to give yourself a raging headache, you can always try contemplating how Mat knew what price he had to pay the Eelfinn because the Aelfinn had told him what the price would be, but the Aelfinn only knew what his price would be because they looked into his future and saw that that would be the price, and so they told Mat that that would be the price and so that’s how Mat knew it was the price, but if they hadn’t told him he wouldn’t have known, and that’s not what he would have paid in the future for the Aelfinn to see and so that’s not what they would have told him, but they did tell him so he did pay it and chicken and egg and oh no I’ve gone cross-eyed.

Also: HI, MOIRAINE, LONG TIME NO SEE.

Just short of two decades, in reader time. But you’re unconscious at the moment, so we’ll come back to you.

Instead, a writerly grousing:

“The price has been set,” another whispered from behind.

And it had been. Somehow, Mat knew. A part of him had known from the first time he had read that note. If he had never spoken to the Aelfinn that first time, would any of this have happened? Likely, he would have died. They had to tell the truth.

They had warned him of a payment to come.

So, I was initially really puzzled by this passage, because “that note”? Which note? As far as I knew, the only “note” the *Finn have ever left Mat is the inscription on the ashanderei:

Thus is our treaty written; thus is agreement made.
Thought is the arrow of time; memory never fades.
What was asked is given. The price is paid.

Which, as you see, does the opposite of warning him of an upcoming price; it tells him a price was already paid. So I was confused, until it occurred to me that “that note” might be referring to Moiraine’s letter to Thom. Which does sort of obliquely mention a price as well:

“…Mat knows the way to find me, yet you must not show him this letter until he asks about it. That is of the utmost importance. He must know nothing that is in this letter until he asks. Events must play out in certain ways, whatever the costs.” [from KOD, emphasis added]

Which, okay, but considering that for the rest of that paragraph (and for the rest of this entire lead-up to the big revelation) Mat is talking about what the *Finn said, then if he did mean Moiraine’s letter it really should have been made clear that that was the “note” he was referring to, because for a while there I was thinking I had really missed something. It was actually doubly confusing, because not only did Mat not mention Moiraine, he called it a “note,” when as far as I can recall it was only ever called “a letter” before this – for the very good reason that it was a letter, and not a “note.”

This may seem nitpicky, but this happened at the crucial turning point of not only this chapter but of this entire storyline, and having to stop and think through unnecessarily ambiguous wording in order to figure out what Mat was talking about came perilously close to throwing me out of the moment. Which is, needless to say, bad.

Clarity, y’all. It is seriously important. Especially when it is such an easy fix: change “that note” to “Moiraine’s letter” in the passage above, and bang, no confusion. I’m just saying.

I do think it’s interesting that this entire sequence raises some questions about Mat’s “luck,” and whether his deliberate use of his “randomness” factor here kind of inherently contradicts the nature of his gift in the first place. I think the problem, really, is that as far as I can tell Mat’s luck never once steers them wrong in Finnland, whereas his luck factor in the real world historically has always had that element of uncertainty. Mat wins at gambling far more often than he loses, naturally, but he doesn’t always win. And that little margin for error is what always gave Mat’s gift that bit of realism, because in the real world nothing ever works with 100% efficiency and we know it.

So, that’s a thing. Which… is there. I throw it to others to decide what they think on that score.

“We are the near ancient, the warriors of final regret, the knowers of secrets.”

“Warriors of final regret”? I’m… not sure what I think that means, but I kind of like it.

But onward, to the finish!

 

Chapter 55: The One Left Behind

What Happens
Mat, Thom, and Noal run, Mat tossing fireworks behind them to stall and/or kill the snakes, but he is running out of ammunition. Noal tries using a drum to soothe them, but it does not seem to be working, and he soon tosses it aside. Mat tries spinning to pick a direction, but it points back the way they came, and they cannot run headlong into the Aelfinn chasing them. Thom asks how Mat got out the last time, and Mat answers that they threw him out. Exhausted, Thom says there’s no winning this game, and Mat takes Moiraine from him and gives him the ashanderei. Noal tells Mat to give him his pack. Mat asks what he is doing, and Noal tells him they need more time, to get far enough ahead of the snakes that they can double back. He says the corridor has natural choke points where a man might last a few minutes holding them back. Thom realizes what he is suggesting and protests that he can’t, but Noal answers that Thom is in no shape to fight, and they need Mat’s luck to get out, but he can stay. Mat says they won’t be able to come back for him.

Noal met his eye, that weathered face determined. “I know. A price, Mat. We knew this place would demand a price. Well, I’ve seen a lot of things, done a lot of things. I’ve been used, Mat, one too many times. This is as good a place as any to meet the end.”

Mat nods respect to him, and tells Thom to come, ignoring his protest. As they go to leave, Noal calls to Mat and he looks back.

“If you ever meet a Malkieri,” Noal said, “you tell him Jain Farstrider died clean.”

“I will, Jain,” Mat said. “May the light hold you.”

Noal turned back to face the Aelfinn and Mat left him.

There was another boom as a nightflower went off. Then Mat heard Noal’s voice echo down the corridor as he screamed a battlecry. It was not in any tongue Mat had ever heard.

Thom is weeping as they run. Mat thinks that he used to think dying with honor was a foolish notion, but he has too many memories of soldiers, both old and new, to believe that now. He thinks Noal is the hero, not him. He spins and points them back the way they came; they run, and come to a different chamber than where they left Noal. Mat gives Moiraine back to Thom and takes the ashanderei, and then spins again and takes the corridor he lands on. Moiraine begins to stir in Thom’s arms, and they reach a chamber which Mat recognizes as where he entered to speak to the Aelfinn in Tear, but the redstone doorway here has also been destroyed, and the chamber is a dead end. Thom sinks down, exhausted, and Mat screams curses. He tries spinning again, but only ends up pointing at the broken doorway. He feels hope slipping away, but stoutly maintains that there is a way. Then Moiraine opens her eyes.

“Thom,” she whispered, smiling. “I thought I heard your voice.”

Light, but her voice took Mat back. To other times. Ages ago.

She glanced at him. “And Mat. Dear Matrim. I knew you would come for me. Both of you. I wish you hadn’t, but I knew you would….”

“Rest, Moiraine,” Thom said softly. “We’ll be out of here in two strums of a harp.”

Mat looked at her, lying there, helpless. “Burn me. I’m not going to let it end like this!”

The Aelfinn approach, smiling in triumph, and in desperation Thom begins playing his harp. Mat recognizes the song as a lament for the fallen dead, and racks his brain, trying to remember how he got out the last time. He thinks that the Aelfinn’s answers were about things now in the past, of no use to him now, but then thinks to reflect on what the Eelfinn had given him. The Aelfinn continue to advance as he remembers: he’d wanted the holes filled in his memory, and they’d filled them with other men’s memories. He’d wanted a way to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power, and they’d given him the medallion. He’d wanted to be away from them and back to Rhuidean, and…

And what? They sent him back to Rhuidean to hang. But hanging was a price, not an answer to his demands.

[…] “They did give me something else,” Mat whispered, looking down at the ashandarei in his hands as the Aelfinn began to hiss more loudly.

Thus is our treaty written; thus is agreement made.

It was carved on the weapon. The blade had two ravens, the shaft inscribed with words in the Old Tongue.

Thought is the arrow of time; memory never fades.

Why had they given it to him? He had never questioned it. But he had not asked for a weapon.

What was asked is given. The price is paid.

No, I didn’t ask for a weapon. I asked for a way out.

And they gave me this.

“So come at me with your awful lies,” Thom bellowed the final line of the song. “I’m a man of truth, and I’ll meet your eyes!”

Mat spun the ashandarei and thrust it into the wall. The point sank into the not-stone. Light sprayed out around it, spilling free like blood gushing from a split vein.

The Aelfinn hiss, shying back as Mat carves the triangle-and-wavy-line symbol in the wall, revealing a glowing white hole. The Aelfinn attack, and Mat defends, screaming at Thom to get Moiraine out. Thom goes, and Mat fights the dazed Aelfinn, forcing them back in a pile of wounded bodies.

Mat stepped back and tipped his hat to the creatures. “Looks like the game can be won after all,” he said. “Tell the foxes I’m mighty pleased with this key they gave me. Also, you can all go rot in a flaming pit of fire and ashes, you unwashed lumps on a pig’s backside. Have a grand bloody day.”

He held his hat and leaped through the opening.

All flashed white.

Commentary

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MATRIM CAUTHON HAS LEFT THE BUILDING.

That’s right, biznatches. Mat was here, and then he left. SUCK IT.

YEAH I SAID YEAH

Arms up in the air like you just don’t care, y’all!

\o/

Okay, look, it’s 4 AM right now, shut up. Because the sentiment is giddy, yet VALID. So sayeth me.

I think back in my initial review of this entire Finnland/rescuing Moiraine sequence, I said that I enjoyed it, but that it hadn’t quite thrilled me the way Perrin’s storyline in TOM did. Mainly because (I said) Perrin’s story was largely unknown (and therefore surprising) to me, while so much of what happened in Mat’s storyline had been foreshadowed and prophesied out the wazoo for decades, literally, that it just didn’t have that same zing of something completely new.

On re-reading, I think that is… sort of still true, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that there is one part of this whole shindig I absolutely and totally did not see coming, and yet was clearly an element of it that had been planned since at least TSR, and is one of those things that is so obvious in retrospect that I kind of want to whap myself upside the head for not getting beforehand.

But since I have never ever, to my knowledge, come across anyone else in fandom who’d correctly sussed out the true function of Mat’s ashanderei beforehand either, I’m not going to let myself feel too bad about it. Because maybe I was a dumbass, but then SO WERE ALL OF YOU, HA HA NEENER.

But seriously, that was a total Holy-Crap-slash-OMGDUH moment for me, because exactly! Why would the *Finn have given Mat a random spear just to leave him a little Receipt of Sale poem on it, when a piece of parchment would have done just as well? How is it that I never wondered why the ashanderei didn’t seem to fit (or fulfill) any of the requests Mat made to the foxes! Well, It Is All So Clear Now!

Ah well. I’ve always said I rather like my frequent lack of ability to see twists coming before they arrive; entertainment is infinitely more entertaining that way.

So, I have never had an eye torn out of my head, nor do I plan on trying the experience, like, ever, because wow with the amount of No on that one, but I kind of have to wonder whether that can be a thing that happens to a person and that person be even remotely functional afterward, much less running and fighting and quipping and stuff.

I mean, I guess that is more or less a function of Mat Is Just That Badass, Thank You, and we can certainly roll with that, but I’m remembering a thing I read where an author was talking about how she really really wanted to have her character get her shoulder dislocated in the middle of a fight, and didn’t believe her editor when he told her that a dislocated shoulder would absolutely incapacitate said character with pain, until said author actually witnessed her own husband dislocate his shoulder, and saw how he basically couldn’t do a damn thing except lie there and scream in excruciating agony until they got him to the hospital, and how she called her editor afterward and was like, okay, right, you win, because it turns out that extreme trauma to the human body is a pretty unignorable sign to said human body that it is time to shut the fuck down until said trauma is addressed.

That said (in one ridiculously run-on sentence, no less), adrenaline is known to suppress pain, in the short term at least (love that dopamine), so in a survival situation (which this pretty damn clearly qualifies as) perhaps it is not so unbelievable that Mat would be able to ignore such extreme trauma. It’s kind of a toss-up, really, because honestly I have no idea whether losing an eye is more or less painful than dislocating a shoulder. Logically it should be, but I was hit by a pickup truck as a child (no, really), and snapped both bones in my left arm, and yet when the EMTs got to the scene they told me later I was screaming at them the whole time to ignore my stupid arm, and instead do something about the brushburns all over my legs from skidding across the concrete. And clearly broken bones trump brushburns in the scale of “bad things you don’t want happening to your body,” but as far as relative pain scales go apparently that was not the case from my point of view.

So, who knows, is my point. Talk amongst yourselves, you’re like butter.

Noal: I really do wish we had gotten more of a chance to get to know who he really was before he died. It was pretty obvious from fairly early on that he was really Jain Farstrider, of course, but more of a chance for anyone to acknowledge that would have been nice. His death scene was moving, but I feel like it might have been even more so if we’d had the opportunity to understand him better.

But space is at a premium here (all evidence seeming to the contrary, sometimes), and so like so many things, Jain/Noal was ultimately only a footnote in the grander story of WOT, and I suppose I can’t be too upset that the story was not able to give him quite the character development he deserved. I can be a little upset, but not too.

(I wonder if we’ll get to see Mat pass on Noal’s message? To Lan, presumably?)

Also, I kind of feel like I should be having opinions about Moiraine’s contribution to her own rescue—which is to say, less than your average sack of potatoes—but then there are probably very few characters who fit the damsel in distress stereotype less than Moiraine, so I don’t actually have those opinions in this case. Moiraine, I think, has more than got in her quota of Badass Awesome in this series (and there is a definite possibility of more to come), so really I think it’s okay for her to relax and let someone else do the heavy lifting for once.

Also also, I do love that snakes and foxes icon. It’s a shame it’s not likely to come up again in the series, since (I devoutly hope) we are now officially Done with the *Finn for the rest of WOT, world without end, amen. I’m still kind of amazed about it too.


Speaking of things being Done, one of those things is me! Have a splendiferous week as is usual, my chickens, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

158 comments
Machin Shin
1. Machin Shin
Off subject: Question from TGS.
Time and again I hear it voiced that Rand should not/cannot kneel to Fortuona. The Seanchan Prophesies, however, say he will kneel to the Empire. Now, tell me, who is the most “experienced” general in the land? Add to the memory of hundreds of battles he is also ta’veren and an Emperor to the Seanchan; would it not be wise of Rand to ask Mat to lead the Armies of the Light into the Last Battle thus fulfilling the prophesy?
Jim Burnell
2. JimBurnell
I can't seem to find the "Buy" button. I can't afford to pass up a deal like this, please help!
Machin Shin
3. Earlgrey
I thought Javindhra was Black?
Ryan Jackson
4. KakitaOCU
On the 100% luck thing. I don't think it's 100%. You mentioned that he wins most of the time. The same is probably true with the picking doorways, but how would you know?

If we say he's only right 3/4 of the time, then every fourth die toss or so he picked the wrong way. (not literally, but in the numbers break down). He'd still eventually end up where he needed to be, it'd just take 25% longer to get there factoring in the mistakes.

For what it's worth, I never recognized the Keyblade nature of his spear because I grossly misunderstood where it came from. Was younger when I first read TSR and I assumed the ashandarei was in the various collection of nicknacks in Rhuidean. In my mind I had somehow worked out that the Fey carried Mat out, picked it up, carved their poem and then hung him for it, heading back into the doorway before Rand came out.

In retrospect this clearly doesn't make much sense, but it's what I first thought and so never really questioned it as time went on and nothing raised a point to contradict.
Sean Dowell
5. qbe_64
I had almost the exact same reaction to the *finn storyline. First time I read through it I thought, well that happened essentially exactly as was expected, but the second time, boy howdy! Good chapters. Very entertaining.
Machin Shin
6. DougL
Mat doesn't sit on the Crystal Throne, he is a Prince, but not equal to the Empress. Plus asking someone do a job they have already agreed to do, though in Mat's case that is just obviously implicit, should not require kneeling. Maybe nobody kneels, I could be happy with that, but I loath the Seanchan more than I do the Trollocs, so I don't want to see Rand kneel.

These chapters were really well done, if only because they didn't disappoint. When you have so heavily foreshadowed an event for so long, well, it would be easy to drop the ball, but it was well done.

I expect Nynaeve to also be solidly in Rand's camp, but there is cause to wonder, no matter what she told Egwene after her Tower test.
Ryan R
7. CorDarei
Loathe the seanchan more than trollocs?

At least the Seanchan don't eat your family.
Stefan Mitev
8. Bergmaniac
I have the exact same fear as Leigh about Merrilor - that it will be yet another "men vs women" moment, as if we haven't had more than enough of those already.

I also thought Javindhra was confirmed as Black before this chapter, but it doesn't seem to be the case, at least according to my quick check on the WoT fansites.

As for Mat's parts, I am honestly still so annoyed Jordan cheated with Moiraine's comeback (the whole "I don't know what happens in the world after" lie in her letter to Rand, etc), that I am quite prejudicied against those chapters. Besides, Mat being able to run and fight right after his eyeball was ripped out killed the plausibility for me. At least the whole thing was short and the descriptions of Finnland were creepy. Maybe I need to reread them fully now to see if they seem better, haven't done it since ToM came out.
Mark Lawrence
9. incurablyGeek
I'm with you ... one of the most satisfying culminations in the series to date. So many payoffs in these two chapters really made the book satisfying to me and ready to see the big payoff's in the next. Thanks Leigh for a great re-read.
Machin Shin
10. Twedge
Thanks again, Leigh, for a great reread!
Vincent Lane
11. Aegnor
“Warriors of final regret”

Good name for a band... :P
Sean Dowell
12. qbe_64
So if next week wraps up the book, and maybe one additional final entry to sum up the re-read, there's this and one or two more posts left. So I'm going to share so thoughts on the re-read as a whole, in three parts. Books 1-6 today, just in case it ends up having to be two parts. (Welcome others to do the same)

I had been out of the WOT fan universe for quite some time, I had always read the FAQ but never contributed, and the last few books have been pretty point blank about resolving things without creating any more mysteries.

So when I came across the re-read and found out that not only had Leigh played a huge part in managing the FAQ over the years, but she (and others) actually managed to end up gainfully employed as the result of something that started off as a fan message board. Well I can't imagine that any of them would of thought that possible at the time.

Books 1-3, I can honestly say that I rarely go back and read. I find them to be much more self contained than the later books tend to be, and play less to the overall world and more to their own stories. I would describe 1-3 as a series of books while from 4 on became books in a series (if that makes sense to anyone but me). Anyways, going through the re-read there were many more nods to future events than I recalled.
One part that very much did not remember which occurred in book 3 or 4, was Mat introducing himself to Berelain and her ignoring him. His responding dress-down which cause her to think that he's too much like her. Loved it. Always prefered Berelain to Faile, well probably because she's hot. But I didn't really know anything about her at that point so it obviously didn't resonate.
Book 4-6 - trollocs seige of two rivers, Dumai wells, the fight with Rahvin and effects of balefire, great fighting epics all around.
When I first read through the series, I really didn't care for the female heroines. They seemed to be off on fetch quests most of the time, and at the time I had a pre-existing bias against female characters because apparently I was chauvinistic as a teenage boy. On the re-read, I still skip through alot of the filler, but have definately come to appreciate the girls in their own right. Much moreso in the later books when they start doing relevant things. E.g. The only time I've ever cried while reading this series was Egwene in the tower battle with the Seanchan.

There was one mention, in TFOH I believe, of fetch quests and Leigh made a reference to giant chickens (i.e. Chocobo's) and literally only ONE person commented on it. As someone who put in the time to breed chocobos for speed and stamina in FFVII, I was very disappointed with the commenters.

All in all, I very much wish I had joined the re-read sooner. As it absolutely destroyed my productivity at work for about 2 straight weeks, and it seems like a great community of readers.
THANKS LEIGH!
Machin Shin
13. talha
Wow leigh just wow.....u getting more pumped up as amol approaches....great post as always
Machin Shin
14. RoyanRannedos
@ 8 Bergmaniac

The thing is, though, Moiraine doesn't know what's going on in the world: all she has is a glimpse of possible futures from her trip through the Rhuidean Future Machine. She doesn't know how all the people will choose, she only has a glimpse of the consequences of possible events (possibly with a lengthy explanation from Mat and Thom while they wander for days in Finnland - that would explain how she could tell Thom not to show the letter to Matt). It's a technicality, but you can't know something that you're only 99% sure of. And technicalities are what Aes Sedai are all about.
Machin Shin
15. NotInventedHere
Regarding Noal/Jain - I agree, I sort of felt shortchanged to have a character who we the readers knew to be a giant piece of in-world lore knocked off without satisfactory realization of his true identity by surrounding characters. No fair!

I also think his death lost some of its punch, essentially being a one-for-one repeat of Ingtar's death back in tGH. Heroic figure that is secretly a dark friend/worked in some way for evil? Check.
Strange foreign creatures/culture attacking? Check. Sacrifices himself to allow the others to flee? Check. It might have been a little bit stronger if we hadn't seen this exact situation with a character who had a lot more on-screen time previously, but I guess it works okay - it just felt underwhelming to me; here is Jain Farstrider, hero of stories and a figure of almost legendary stature in-story, and he doesn't even get an original death scene.
Erik
16. gadget
Good re-read, as always. I believe, as others above have mentioned, that
Javindhra is Black Ajah. If that has not been outright revealed, it is implied. That would by why she is going along with Taim's over all evil plan of Mc Evilness. Other than that, I agree about the first reaction to Mat and Snakes & Foxes. It does take a re-read to appriciate.
Machin Shin
17. arby64
I think Mat's luck does work 100% of the time, just not the way one would expect it to. He doesn't win EVERY roll because that would be unlucky due to 1. People thinking he is a cheat. 2. People wanting to kill him for said cheating. 3. People refuse to gamble with him at all. (cutting off his money supply) His luck allows him to "lose" just enough to keep him out of trouble. (Or put him into trouble if that is where he needs to be.)
Machin Shin
18. neverspeakawordagain
@Leigh: I'm doing a back-re-read of all your comments as I go through my own reread of the series (currently on Crossroads of Twilight), and I ran into a comment of yours about how Jordan never wrote any polygamous marriages with one woman and multiple men.

Not true. Myrelle Berengari married all of her warders (except Lan).
Sydo Zandstra
19. Fiddler
I always appreciated the irony in the fact that Mat was the only Protagonist who never read The Travels of Jain Farstrider...
William Carter
20. wcarter
On Perrin's injury: that's not foreshadowing that's just consistency in world building it's perfectly forgivable to forget with the intentional pace of the reread, but injuries done in TAR do not heal correctly.

We learned this all the way back in TDR when Verrin showed Egwene her scar from using the twisted ring ter'angreal. A scar she kept despite going to another sister for healing.
Nyneave also has a scar on each of her palms from the blackthorns she mentally stabbed herself with in her trip through the Acceptatron (which presumably has similar rules).

Perrin not being 100 % fixed just conforms to that already mentioned rule.

On Mat's luck working perfectly--It seems to be powered by a combination of chaos and need. The greater amount of each, the greater the effecacy.

It's mostly his skill at judging horse flesh, not luck which won him money in races, it makes him above average at cards, it's really good at dice, and in a world where the normal rules of physics are defenstrated and Mat is completely ignorant of the one's in place, it's nigh untouchable.

There is also the factor of Mat being a Taveren which needs to be factored in. He was bodily thrown out of the door fram in Tear because he was a Taveren and he and Rand being in there at the same time was apparantly capable of seriously jacking the place up. Him going in again and staying an extended period may have helped augment his luck in that other reality.
Machin Shin
21. evinfuilt
Jain should be back in AMOL. He was already a legend, a living legend and much like our heroic trio, I feel he'll be called by the Horn (well, they would be if they weren't already alive.)

I think Matt seeing Jain appear when he blows the horn will/could be magnificent.
Scott Mayer
22. tiornys
When Mat is feeling his luck, it does work perfectly. He just doesn't feel it that way all of the time. It's not at all unreasonable that the jaunt through *finnland would be one of the times he's feeling it.

Shouldn't Min be on Rand's side re: seal-breaking, what with her logic training and investigations?

The first time I read through this sequence I came out of it thinking "that was cool, but it should have been longer". Then I went back to it and went "what do you mean there were multiple chapters covering that sequence!?" I got so pulled in that I managed to completely miss the multiple chapter breaks. Take that however you wish.
Ryan Jackson
23. KakitaOCU
Just want to toss in some thoughts and experience regarding how plausible it is for Mat to fight and act while missing an eye.

It all depends on the situation and circumstances. The above refferenced Shoulder Dislocation dropped the victim in pain. But from what I saw and read it wasn't something that happened in a fight, it was something that happened as an accident in a relatively safe enviroment.

Enviroment and circumstances are everything. As an example I have two cases where I have broken bones. Details aren't important but ultimately the first involved me cracking but not actually breaking two ribs. It happened in a safe enviroment in my home and I pretty much doubled up and could not do much beyond slowly lurch towards getting help. I could not focus, I could not stand straight, I could not do much of anything except hurt.

The other involved a full out break in my arm that drove my radius through my skin and left it jutting out about half an inch. In that situation I pretty much didn't even respond to it. I noticed less because of the pain involved and more because my arm no longer functioned. Upon seeing the wound I actually took the rational "This is not good, lets go take care of it" approach. I functioned without any significant drop in my normal capabilities beyond the lack of use in the limb.

Anecdotal or not, that experiece gives me absolutely no problem believing Mat fought with his injury. The shock of it all, the danger of the situation and the NEED to stay focused overrode how much it hurt.
Eric Hughes
24. CireNaes
Just googled eye loss and pain levels...I've seen enough.

It has always amazed me how subjective an experience pain is for people. Due to that subjectivity (startle factor, locality, gender conditioning, tolerance, training, previous pain experiences, shock), I thought Mat's initial and brief sustaining reactions appropriate seeing as the latter was boosted by initial eustress (Mat was in his element), oxytocin (fondness towards Moiraine and male bonding sacrifice moment with Noal), and survival adrenaline (steadily increasing danger levels requiring movement to avoid death).

My wife completely overreacts to startle pain, yet successfully birthed 2 children with neither pain assistance from the anesthesiologist nor agonized screaming or threats to anyone's continued existence. I'm a complete baby when it comes to stomach pain, but I fall out of a tree, break a bone and don't feel all that bad. Strange stuff. Like Leigh's story.
Vincent Lane
25. Aegnor
I am not speaking from experience, but I would think that someone ripping your eyeball out would be less painful than dislocating your shoulder. Not initially, but definitely medium to long term.

A dislocated shoulder is continuously painful, because every movement (even slight) will cause extreme pain all over again. Having your eyeball ripped out would cause extreme pain at first, but would be reduced to a more managable level over time (expecially when you factor in adreneline).

I remember reading about an NFL football player a long while back (can't remember who) that dislocated or broke his pinky. It was too painful to continue playing. He had them cut off his pinky and he was able to continue playing. It isn't the initial pain, but the recuring pain upon movement, that disables a person. That's why I don't think it is unreasonable that Mat was able to fight through the initial pain, recover, and continue fighting.
Nadine L.
26. travyl
Yay on the Perrin staying firmly on Rand's side, trusting him about breaking the seals. - Given last weeks post with the head-desk-count this should definitvely earn an "un-head-deasking".

Re Mat's luck: it got increasingly near 100% in the last two books (for exemple his always loosing back in Hinderstrap) - so combinded with the taveren need to safe Moraine I'm ok with 100% here.

Re fight capability: there is a huge distinction between dislocated shoulder and torn eye: as soon as you move your shoulder it keeps inflicting pain until relocated, as compared to the eye ... I would say no. Though I haven't had an eye torn out from my face either (and I'm not planning to).
Chris Long
27. radynski
On the ashandarei:

The idea that it was important never occurred to me until Sanderson (on one of his tours) mentioned that in the upcoming TOM book (before it was released obviously) that there would be a huge surprise regarding something that's been around since TSR that no one has ever commented on.

Fandom obviously went crazy and eventually a ton of people (myself included) guessed that it was the Ashandarei, and that it was in some way going to be crucial to the plot. So that whole conversation 6+ months before the books release pretty much killed any surprise I had for this section.

And that folks, is why I stopped going to Dragonmount.com.
Machin Shin
28. Faculty Guy
Surely Moraine will also side with Rand at Merrilor. In fact, maybe this is why she "has to" be at TG.
William Carter
29. wcarter
I've seen more than one car wreck where a driver or passenger was a lot more messed up than they thought they were.
We also can't forget that RJ himself was a vietnam vet who saw combat. Chances are he saw a few nasty injuries on men who kept fighting himself.
Deana Whitney
30. Braid_Tug
Ch 53: - Dear Lord, I hope Perrin uses his sword blacksmithing analogy during the negations at the Field. Maybe that will make everyone take minute to think how Right Rand is about breaking the seals first.

One practical analogy is worth a ton of eloquent speaking!

So when is Pevara going to bond the Gateway Master? And they get out of Dodge with all the good guys?

“And Matrim Cauthon,” Mat added. “To bloody even the odds.”One of my favorite lines of this book.

Ch 54:
“And the gambler becomes the center of all! I can taste fate itself!””
So does this mean, at that moment, Mat was the dominate Taveren
of the world? Rand took a back seat while this played out in a different plane?


More later..
Dawn Boyall
31. deebee
Noal `s sacrifice to buy time for Thom and Mat to escape reminded me of the time Thom takes on the Myrrdraal so Rand and Mat can escape back in TEOTW. They believed for a long time that he died to save them.

I`m still not sure in my own mind that this is the fulfilment of the Halls Of Mourning Dark Prophecy. If the mourning refers to Noal`s death, Mat and Thom and Moiraine escape from the tower so quickly after that it doesn`t really seem to fit. They didn`t really have the time or the opportunity to mourn, being more occupied with escape and survival at the time.
Roger Powell
32. forkroot
NIH@15
Agreed that Jain/Noal's death was reminiscent of Ingtar's death, but there was one key difference. Ingtar was a repentant Darkfriend, whereas Jain/Noal never chose the Shadow, even though he was used by Ishamael (compulsion.)

Noal was no more on Team Dark than, say, Juilin who was compelled by Liandrin to betray the SuperGirls.
Machin Shin
33. Halibulu
In light of Faile's reaction to Mat being a bad influence, it occurs to me that Mat is the friend everyone would LOVE to have, but if he were just a friend of your significant other (regardless of if he were a guy or girl), then you most certainly wouldn't want them in your spouse/partner's life. Kinda funny to think.
Brandon Daggerhart
34. BDaggerhart
Re: Mat's Luck,
Haven't we always been told that, sure in card games and coin tosses, he didn't win all the time, but when it mattered, he always won?
michael gaston
35. Ashenladoka
Honestly how could anyone stop Rand breaking the seals? I think he has all the remaining semi-intact ones from what I remember. So really all he could do is say "Oh you want to argue with me huh? Don’t want to listen to reason?" Travel out, play wack a seal, bring back the shards and say..."Now what'cha gonna do?"

They can't stop him, can't gentle him, heck they probably can't even hold him if he does a backslide. Only he can change his mind and that doesn't look like a possibility. Also hope it's not a SG vs SB thing but an agreement. I just hope Egwene doesn't push the whole "I'm Watcher of the Seals, even though I don't have them!" Thing too far totally toasting the Tower in the process. Oh well we shall see in a few weeks...Come on early release for Christmas!!!(I can hope)

Pretty sure the scene isn't going to be put like that but...if you owe the football field, you own all the teams, you own all the equipment, you pay all the players and ref's...well you probably can set the schedule whenever you want.

This may be wrong and if so just say it. But Supergirl rundown;
Elayne...possible for Rand due to her statements.
Nye...probable for Rand since she's going to SG with him.
Min...probable/yes for Rand from her studies.
Avi...possible for Rand due to the upcoming sexy time they will have.
Egwene...No for Rand
Then Cads...I'd say she understands the reasons but? Rand weak possible.
Moiraine I'd say probable
Siuan not sure but I bet she is a weak supporter of Egwene here.
WO? Good lord who knows with those women but I'd think they would follow his lead.

So several possible/probable and only 1 strong no on Supergirls. The older women I'm not sure on.
Amanda Perez
36. ViciousCircle
radynski@27
I know what you mean, sometimes you are so eager for any new info, you forget they are called spoilers for a reason. :/
I also thought it was cool Brandon gave us that hint, but after figuring it out, I lost out on the moment of awesome feeling.
R B
37. MasterAlThor
I missed last weeks edition so I had to go back and read it. I have to say about last weeks entry....Leigh, you haven't made me laugh like that in an extremely long time. "I will cut you" made me laugh hard enough to have my neighbors worried. Thanks for that.

For this week I love the Mat centric chapters. His final line should be put on a Tshirt and sold everywhere.

Have a grand day
Dragon
Kimani Rogers
38. KiManiak
Thanks as always, Leigh!

Poor Tarna. One of the most mentally competent and balanced Reds we meet, and she appears to be 13x13ed. That really bites. I liked her character. Here’s hoping that there is some reversal to the 13x13 effect. (I support the not-so-loony theory that the Fisher King effect of the Dragon Reborn is the only counter to the Shadow-based-lobotomization of being 13x13ed. Come on Rand; save your people!).

Perrin is definitely a loyal and reliable friend. I like how he goes to support Rand in his actions without knowing the specifics of his plan. He has come up with a rationale for Rand’s breaking of the Seals without knowing everything Rand is about to do. His knee-jerk reaction wasn’t to oppose Rand, just because he doesn’t know the specifics. It ultimately comes down to these two points: He knows Rand is the Dragon Reborn; he trusts Rand. That’s loyalty, and that’s a good friend.

Nynaeve is likely to be on Rand’s side too, and I wouldn’t necessarily count out Elayne supporting Rand, either (especially if her sister-wives Min and Aviendha stand behind Rand in the confrontation). So no, I don’t think it will be Supergirls vs Superboys; I anticipate it being Egwene and the Aes Sedai vs Rand, the monarchs and Rand’s friends. But we’ll see…

But the main focus of today’s reread post: Mat finally goes to rescue Moiraine! After 3 books of planning, Mat finally goes to rescue her! After 7 books of waiting, we finally see Moiraine onscreen again. Leigh, I totally support your 4am giddiness and all the funniness that came from it!

“And Matrim Cauthon…to bloody even the odds.”

We knew Mat was going to get to Moiraine, sacrifice an eye and get them out. But it was a treat for me to read the “how” part of things. I have to admit, I had slight issues (in the back of my mind) with the whole “receiving the ashanderei” thing in TSR and how it seemed…off somehow, but I didn’t guess that the ashanderei would literally be the key to Mat (and the party’s) escape from the Tower until maybe a page or two before Mat did. But, I was definitely one of those “dumbasses” Leigh was referring to.

(Although I do recall reading somewhere about Brandon mentioning that one guy did correctly guess something major about the series that the vast majority of fandom had missed for several books and years. I think the true function of the ashanderei was it. So there was at least one person…)

As for the “that note” issue that Leigh has, I admit I didn’t notice it before and that it hadn’t bugged me at all. Team Jordan probably could have rewritten the phrase to state “that letter” like Leigh suggests. Well, since everyone admits that ToM was rushed and it impacted the quality of the novel (grammar, spelling, little mistakes), I am willing to overlook this little error. Team Jordan spent extra time proofreading AMoL, and I have faith that these little niggling issues won’t be that much of a problem for the final novel.

Mat’s luck working almost perfectly for him in Finnland: I always look at it as him bending chance in his favor, based on his need. Does Mat need to win every dice or card game? No; winning more than he loses is enough for his well-being. He also loses dice games when it’s in his best interest as well. However, his chance-altering powers identify that he needs to make his way to the Chamber of Bonds, save Moiraine and get out, or he dies (and by proclamation, the world will not be saved either). I believe that the Pattern would have his chance-altering powers at their strongest and most potent in that type of situation.

The last stand of Jain Farstrider: that was heroic. I’m a sucker for when people sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Gets me almost every time. Even reading Leigh’s reread… Maybe Mat will see him again when Mat sounds the Horn of Valere again?
Kimani Rogers
39. KiManiak
Earlgrey@3 – I do believe that Javindhra is Black. I thought we found that out in TGS, but I don’t have the book with me. I’m sure some of the other comments will address this better. I see @8, @16 and others have…

DougL@6 – Um, all of the Trollocs are “bad,” and worthy of ire. The Seanchan societal norms may not be your cup of tea, but every Seanchan isn’t the opponent of humanity and soldier of the Shadow like a Trolloc is.

Qbe_64@12 – I will say that, like you, I rarely reread books 1-3 when I went through a series reread. I’ve almost always picked the series back up at The Shadow Rising. It was good to get Leigh’s summary and the rereader’s posts to refresh parts of my memory. I’m still planning to reread TEotW before AMoL comes out as I’m almost positive that there will be several ties and callbacks to that one. Anyway, glad you joined the reread too! There are always so many interesting views and opinions and dynamic posters on here.

arby@17 – I mostly agree about Mat’s luck. I see it as an ability to alter probability and push chance in his favor. It works how it needs to work for his long term benefit; not for every little minor issue.

@23-26 re: eye-loss and associated pain – I would speculate that the situation and the damaged body part do determine the intensity and duration of the pain. I don’t ever plan to experience it, but I totally bought Mat’s immediate great pain followed by a less intense period of pain. We find in the next chapter that when Mat finally does sit down and the adrenaline fades, he internally dwells on how much the pain hurts (although he does refuse to be healed). Also, I believe the football player Aegnor@25 referenced was Ronnie Lott.

radynski@27 – Yeah, that was the Brandon comment I was mentioning. Good guessing on your part; sorry it may have negatively impacted the reading experience for you and Vicious@36.

Braid_Tug@30 – Obviously, it’s one of my favorite line too :-)

Ashen@35 – I think that is (a small) part of my issue with the whole Egwene/Rand confrontation as well. Rand has the Seals. Egwene does not. I respect that, in her mind, she is Watcher of the Seals. But the Tower and Aes Sedai lost them. Rand was able to gather them back, through gift or circumstance. I personally wouldn’t be too surprised if he breaks them before they even meet. I don’t think he ever promised to not break the Seals; he just promised to meet with Egwene in one month’s time to talk.
Machin Shin
40. DougL
@7. CorDarei

This is a problem I have with demons or monsters created to be only evil in general. The Trollocs and Mydraal, and anyone 13x13ed don't have a choice, they are what they are.

I hate humans who choose to be evil more than the above because they made the choice. The Seanchan won't just kill you they will imprison your daughter for hundreds of years and they practice slavery on more than just channelers. Making the choice to be evil is more abhorrent that those creatures who have no choice and are evil by nature.

Also, dying in WoT is heavily implied to lead to either recycling or finding the embrace of the Creator or going to the Void, either way, it's over quickly and leads to rebirth, contentment or oblivion, none leads to hundreds of years of torture and humiliation save if you have sworn yourself to the Dark One, in which case you deserve it.
Tricia Irish
41. Tektonica
The Black Tower continues to get creepier. I do hope Pevara saves the day! And the timelines should pretty much be in sync now, no?

Yay, Perrin, for being on Rands side!

I completely agree with your new found love for Mat's storyline here. The first time through, I liked it, but as you said, it was pretty much what we thought it would be.

This time, however, I was struck by the characters. Mat really was thoughtful here....almost profound. His thoughts on Moraine having something key to do.... his realization of his role, and this moment being a turning point.....his acknowledgement of Noel being the real Hero, and yes, Noel was, but so was Mat's sacrifice! I like the comfort level he has now with his "luck", and how it works. He really is a mastermind/general/badass here. I can't imagine doing all he does, while in so much pain and physical distress. When it's life or death, who knows what you would be capable of? I hope to never find out.

I do appreciate that we finally got confirmation, from the characters own mouth, that he is, in fact, Jain. And he died clean, even though he'd been used......I assume that's a reference to Ishmael planting compulsion in him and how it affected Malkier? He has redeemed himself, indeed, by letting Moraine get away, to do whatever she has left to do, presumably with Rand. I do hope she's gotten some helpful info from the Finns!

Such good chapters!!
Debbi Chambers
42. dchambers59
MiManiak@39 and Aegnor@25 - Yes, it was Ronnie Lott. However, he didn't actually have it amputated during the game. He had the tip of his pinky amputated after the 1985 season so that he wouldn't miss any time during the 1986 season. Still...impressive.
Kimani Rogers
43. KiManiak
me@39 (to clarify and correct my comment to Ashen@35) – So fortunately Google books decided to not block out the relevant passages in chapter 3 of ToM so that I could double check. I was a little off in my earlier suggestion.

Rand states that he plans to go to Shayol Ghul and break the Seals. He requests that Egwene and others meet him at the Field of Merrilor the day before he goes to Shayol Ghul to discuss his “terms.” I guess that’s not technically a promise to only break the Seals after he meets at Merrilor, but he did establish a timeline of his own actions, so it probably is unlikely that he would break the Seals beforehand.

But, he very clearly did not promise to let their meeting at Merrilor dictate whether/not he will destroy the Seals. He just proposed the negotiation of his terms for the Tower and other nations “support,” which can very much be open to interpretation. Egwene sees the meeting as a means to force Rand to change his mind about the Seals, but that may not even be what Rand expects to discuss in detail (many speculate this is where he will introduce the “Dragon’s Peace”)

Anyway, reason #1,259 to look forward to January 8th!
Machin Shin
44. emmyloo03
Gosh I cried like a BABY when I read these chapters... Thanks for bringing that all back! haha
Tricia Irish
45. Tektonica
Notinventedhere@16: Jain might not have gotten a legendary death scene, but I bet he gets a great Song from the Master, Thom, who witnessed the event! It will become legend!
Deana Whitney
46. Braid_Tug
Just realized:
These chapters talk about the events on the cover, but no rant about the cover art?
Where’s the art rant?!

12.qbe_64: looking forward to your summaries. I too lost a lot of work time shortly after discovering this re-read and getting caught up.
Alice Arneson
47. Wetlandernw
Another thing that jumped out at me from the Perrin section was this: “Nobody would win if they turned against one another. Well, Perrin would have to make sure that didn’t happen.” Looks to me like exactly the fulfillment of Min’s “second time” viewing.

Ashandarei – Nope, I never saw it coming either, even though it’s key purpose was right there in TSR when he got it. That was so… stunning.

“A part of him had known from the first time he had read that note.” – Huh. I never even thought hard about it; either I didn’t bother the first time through and figured it out later, or I immediately assumed he meant Moiraine’s letter to Thom. It’s impossible to go back and be absolutely sure, but I think it was the latter. At least, I know it didn’t take me out of the story; I was caught in the avalanche right here, and any minor quibbles like “what note?” would have taken a distant last place to getting on with the rescue.

As for Mat’s luck – hey, this is a whole different world. No reason Mat’s luck should follow the same rules it does in the “normal” world. It could have gone the other way, and not worked at all; instead (as was the point of all his “luck” in the first place) it went this way and was 100% reliable. Works for me.

Comments on the comments later tonight… much later tonight…

(Except this: many have assumed Javindhra to be Black, but there’s no solid evidence yet. I think most people base it on her part in the coup and general association with Elaida and Alviarin; she seems Evil, but she could just as easily be The Quintessential Sucky Red instead.)
Matthew Smith
48. Blocksmith1
I recall during my first read of the last two chapters that Mat/Tom/Noal's entrance and Mat/Tom/Moiraine's exit (and Jain's death) seemed rushed.

Of course, for a plot line that has been running for about 8 books now, why should I complain that it got wrapped up? I guess it felt a bit forced to happen within a certain span of time.

Otherwise, I did not question Mat's ability after having his eye removed. I attributed it to a combination of bad-assery/adrenaline/previous acceptance it was going to happen. He did not have to deal with emotional pain (i.e. shock that someone just ripped out his eye which I think would incapacitate most anyone...except Lan), only the physical.

I completely missed the note issue. At the time I was likely not thinking hard and linked it to Verin's letter.

Color me blind on the Ashanderei...never saw it coming. And I must have spent two weeks looking through the first five books trying to find that one little thing everyone (but one) missed.

Like others, I did wish that Noal's/Jain's last moments included more info about him. Maybe if as they were running he started reciting a running commentary about getting caught by Ishy, modified, etc. Although, I suppose it is likely he was still having issues recalling and articulating all of those experiences.

Thanks again Leigh, great post.

Edited for typ-o
Machin Shin
49. makloony
My theory on tarna and the other 13X13ed guys is that Nyeave is going to find a eay to heal them beacause anything short of death can be hraled. She has already figured out how to heal taimt-madness. The other posibility is that it is similar to the conection the forsaken have. Rand might be the one to figure it out.
Richard Hunt
50. WOTman
I can't help repeating myself - this is my favorite book! That said, I did feel that after all this time, the rescue went rather quickly but I know that for these things, the longer you go, the more things will go wrong. Better get in and out quickly for success.

I am confident that Rand will gitr done in Merilor, obviously the Taveren trio will overcome, and I am hoping that there will be more to it than that, there will be a host of issues resolved before they actually go to SG.

I can't wait to see what goes down at the BT, should be very interesting!

I have been through a lot of pain in my life, broken bones, eye injuries, blown up, fell fifty feet in a mountain climbing accident, had more concussions than I can remember. I seriously doubt that Matt could have been very combat effective afte his eye incident. The pain would have been excruciating and made him naseous and incapacitated. But that is in the real world and I am willing to forego that in favor of a real hero :)
Warren
51. WOTsUP
@ 47.Wetlandernw. I also thought:
Nobody would win if they turned against one another. Well, Perrin would have to make sure that didn’t happen.” Looks to me like exactly the fulfillment of Min’s “second time” viewing.
But I also have another theory that I think may be possible - when Rand dies (assuming he does...) and before he comes back (hopefully he does...) Perrin will protect him from being killed forever in Tel'aran'rhiod -> THAT would be terrible for light side, remove their hero forever.

Not sure if this is a known theory.. I'm sure many people have thought of it. Unless it's not possible because I'm missing something.
j p
52. sps49
I was surprised by the ashanderei, so there.

Leigh, you rock. Your writing skills usually, and more so lately, excel. This is likely helped by the source material becoming Ever More Awesome with these closing books.

Regarding pain- I have had severe pain from injury, but not where continued motion would increase it. One can continue with whatever the immediate situation requires, probably on a sliding scale of how important an action is to survival.

I am loving these kickass sequences.
T C
53. Freelancer
Pain is subjective. Even excruciating pain can be all but ignored dependent upon the circumstances, and to an extent, the location and type of injury causing the pain. An eye being torn out of a socket must be a 9.5 on the pain chart, but by itself, it does not impact mobility or other bodily function, so at that point, it is nothing other than pain.

While a person has the opportunity to focus on the pain of an injury, it is easily an all-consuming sensation. However, when another need is present and pressing, pain moves relatively further back in one's focus, and come a life-or-death situation, it may be pushed entirely into the background. Some of this is chemical, as alluded to by others, owing to adrenaline, dopamine, etc. Some of it is emotional, and some determinable by desire to achieve a goal.

In-story, Mat's pain gets all of the attention. But what of Thom? I have seen more than enough to know that of the various forms of painful injuries, burns go right to the top. Mat cannot broach the steam long enough to even touch Moiraine, but Thom carefully lifts her out of it without a whimper. Boiling hot steam can instantly bring a scream from the toughest individual, and it is almost unimaginable that someone could ignore, or as the Aiel say, accept that pain. Love and devotion overcomes all for Thom, and he dismisses the pain to retrieve Moiraine. For Mat it is duty and resignation to his place in the plot which permits him to submit to the pain, but self-preservation which allows him to fight his way out regardless of the pain.


RE: The cover art

That topic is consistently addressed by Leigh with the concluding post for a volume. So Real Soon Now. Don't worry, we'll all stomp on Mr. Sweet one last time. The funny thing is, when a pre-release version of the cover art was shown, the fandom uproar caused some quick revisions. There are still a few things inconsistent to the story about it, but that can wait...


RE: Jain Charin

I have little doubt that we haven't seen the last of Farstrider. When he appears with the Heroes, come to Mat's call, he'll shrug and say, "Who knew?"


DougL @40

Just to be nitpicky, in the Bible, demons are fallen angels. They chose. They were created not to be evil, but to serve the Creator. Humans, on the other hand, were created to love Him.


On Perrin being determined not to let things get out of hand, it's just like the scene in ACoS, before he is "exiled" from Rand, where he tells Rand he isn't going to let him hurt Colavaere and the others who plotted against Rand in Cairhien.
Machin Shin
54. Cyndi
I want to take this moment to say that I love love love your reread. I love your writing style and your lack of fear in speaking your mind and opinion, both on the story itself and the writing of the story. In the spirit of your own admitted nit-pickiness (alass, I am not a writer, but I am a medical professional) I must point out that adrenaline and dopamine are two different chemicals (neurotransmitters). The other name for adrenaline is epinephrine.
I hope you don't take this as insult, but I know how particular you are and I thought you'd like to know...
Machin Shin
55. Rand al'Todd
Unfortunately, I am of the school that thinks Jain may have been captured alive rather than killed by the 'finn. I think they would love to feast on his memories. Not really fair to him, but...

And I also think that any clarification of his fate will need to await the Encyclopedia as it will be one of the (many) loose ends left unaddressed in AMol.

Hope that I am proven wrong on both counts.
Roger Powell
56. forkroot
Braid_Tug@46
Just realized:

These chapters talk about the events on the cover, but no rant about the cover art?

Where’s the art rant?!
FWIW, Leigh addresses the cover art on the last post for a given book. I don't know if she's going to bag the last two chapters and the Epilogue next week, or whether it's going to take two more posts - either way it will be soon, so have your rant ready to go!

EDIT: I see Freelancer addressed this while I was still composing.
Machin Shin
57. D-MAC
@19 Fiddler
...he always meant to read it. lol

I do wish we got more of Noal's backstory from the time he was dealing w/ Isam and Mom in Malkier, to Ishamaels, then Graendals puppet...not sure exactly how he found escape from them...just walked away and joined up with Mat? His is such an incomplete picture, they should have spent more storyline on Jain and much less on Masema's useless storyline, imo.
Jeff Monheit
58. psyc3oo2
What has always bothered me about these chapters was the omission of Mat speaking the Old Tongue on screen.

To quote Leigh from The Shadow Rising recap part 4:

"I didn’t even notice, the first time, how Mat’s speech patterns changed once he was inside talking to the snakes (or the Aelfinn, as we finally learn in the freaking ninth book which is which), so I didn’t initially realize that he was speaking the Old Tongue until Moiraine brought up interpreters afterward. Which was so cool. Brilliant chapter all around."

This change in character voice also took place in ACoS Ch21 Swovan Night during Mat's convo with Birgitte.

"She laughed. Put a hand over her mouth and laughed! “You have the wrong end, Hornsounder. I do not command them. I am Elayne’s Warder. I obey.” Her smile became rueful. “Birgitte Silverbow. Faith of the Light, I’m not sure I still am that woman. So much of what I was and knew has faded like mist beneath the summer sun since my strange new birth. I’m no hero now, only another woman to make my way. And as for your secrets. What language do we speak, Hornsounder?”
He opened his mouth . . . and stopped, really hearing what she had just asked. Nosane iro gavane domorakoshi, Diynen’d’ma’purvene? Speak we what language, Sounder of the Horn? The hair on his neck tried to stand. “The old blood,” he said carefully. Not in the Old Tongue. “An Aes Sedai once told me the old blood runs strong in— What are you bloody well laughing at now?”

It was simply omitted in these chapters despite it being pointed out multiple times that he is speaking the Old Tongue.

I questioned Brandon Sanderson about this during the ToM signing in NYC. He answered that because at this point in the story that Mat is conscious of his Old Tongue fluency his narrator's voice does not need to change. It seemed like a throwaway answer. I received a very telling look from Harriet after asking the question. I didn't intend to put Brandon's back up but it was something that stood out to me in my read as something missing. It isn't something I would ever expect to see corrected in future versions but it seemed like a massive omission to me.
Machin Shin
59. Rooish
Long time reader, first time poster! I love the re-read, Leigh, and your awesome commentaries.

I have been waiting for this scene for years. The Finns in TSR were such powerful and unforgettable imagery, but were largely forgotten.

I found it honestly a little lame that the Finns wanted to take Mat's eye. I know it's been building up forever, but what's so great about his eye? Why not... take him entirely?

Also wouldn't it suck if they just trapped Noal instead of killing him? I wonder if Mat feels guilty that his little slip of the tongue got Noal killed?
Machin Shin
60. JimF
Leigh: It is so delightful to be able again to spend time going through my favorite books of all time with such a bad ass, awesome commentator. You do great work.

The ashanderei: I too entirely missed its significance, but I definitely recall that Mat, on more than one occasion, called the *Finn "cheaters." I couldn't figure out exactly why that bothered me - and I think, neither could Mat actually point to what they had done to cheat him. They had complimented him on asking for a way out, then they ignominiously threw him out of the joint, managing also to hang him. Obviously something was disjointed there, and the big knife seemed like something out of place.

Whatever, it makes a great end to the story arc.

@45. TektonicaVIEW ALL BY TEKTONICA | TUESDAY NOVEMBER 27, 2012 04:19PM ESTNotinventedhere@16: Jain might not have gotten a legendary death scene, but I bet he gets a great Song from the Master, Thom, who witnessed the event! It will become legend!

That is a great observation. If Thom, the greatest bard of his era, survives, then this part of the story will be an epic to be told in full chant.
Mo -
61. Astus
I wish we would have seen the release of an actual book of The Travels of Jain Farstrider. I know I would have bought it. RIP RJ.
Alice Arneson
62. Wetlandernw
WOTsUP @51 - That's a good thought. It could easily play out either way. It jumped out at me here, but sometimes the fish that jump are just red herring.
Wesley Parish
63. Aladdin_Sane
I'm baaaaaack! It's good to see Mat kicking ass! (The whole courting of Tuon seemed a trifle too arse-kiss to be completely enjoyable for me. You count your teeth after kissing an Empress, even an Empress-to-be.

You took the teeth right out of my mouth.
It must've been while you were kissing me. )

Now, speaking of pain levels, I once played amateur level Australian Football. On one occasion, one of the players dislocated his kneecap. While we were waiting for the medics to put it back in place, someone told us about a professional AFL player who likewise dislocated his kneecap - he gritted his teeth then belted it back into position with his hand. On two occasions I sprained my ankle during a game, and had to sit the rest of the game out. But at that time I also played amateur level Ice Hockey as a goalie, and we had very little equipment. I got bruised quite a bit, and never gave it another thought - I was the only goalie my team had, so I couldn't waste time taking time off.

I think Mat would've thought of it in those terms - he doesn't have time to take time out and feel the pain. I expect that Fortuona, who's lost her heart to him quite unexpectedly, will be shocked to see his face the time she bumps into him in Merrilor ...
Jonathan Levy
64. JonathanLevy
Well, here's the thing that bugged me on the escape scene. The pieces just don't quite fit together perfectly.

Mat says to himself:
"They did give me something else," Mat whispered, looking down at the ashandarei in his hands as the Aelfinn began to hiss more loudly.
Thus is our treaty written; thus is agreement made.

It was carved on the weapon. The blade had two ravens, the shaft inscribed with words in the Old Tongue.

Thought is the arrow of time; memory never fades.

Why had they given it to him? He had never questioned it.

But he had not asked for a weapon.

What was asked is given. The price is paid.

No, I didn’t ask for a weapon. I asked for a way out.
And they gave me this.
Let's go back and see exactly what he asked for in TSR:
If I had my way, I would want those holes filled, but at least answers to my questions might fill some in my future. You have to answer—!”

“Done,” one of the men growled, and Mat blinked.

Done? What was done? What did he mean? “Burn your eyes,” he muttered. “Burn your souls! You are as bad as Aes Sedai.

"Well, I want a way to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power, I want to be away from you and back to Rhuidean, if you will not answer me. Open up a door, and let me-"
"Done," another man said, and one of the women echoed, "Done."
He does not actually ask for a way out. He says he wants to be away from them and back in Rhuidean.


The wording of Mat's recollection suggests that the resolution of this plot point was supposed to be as follows:

1) In TSR Mat asks for a Way Out.
2) To fulfill that wish, they give him the Ashandarei.
3) As payment, they take Mat outside and hang him.
4) Mat mistakenly believes his wish (1) was fulfilled by (3), and doesn't understand why they did (2).
5) In ToM, at the last moment, Mat understands correctly that the Ashandarei was and always had been his Way Out, and escapes.

This would have been quite elegant, because:
1) Mat correctly recalls in ToM what he actually asked for in TSR.
2) Secretly giving a key to someone who asked for a Way Out is a much more elegant deception than giving a key to someone who asked to 'be away from you and back in Rhuidean'. I am not saying that the latter is impossible for the *finns, merely that it is less elegant from a literary perspective.

(note that it is possible to reconstruct a different resolution which fits the facts better, but then it will fit Mat's train of thought much worse)

However, the phrasing in TSR does not have quite the degree of ambiguity required (should have been "I want a Way Out" instead of "I want to be away from you"), and in ToM he recollects what should have been written in TSR instead of what was actually written.

This can be harmonized by some mild mental contortions, but the need for them I think, actually reinforces my point: The pieces of the puzzle do not fit together perfectly, and must be forced into place.

19.Fiddler
Ha!

58.psyc3oo2
Good catch on the speech patterns.
Birgit
65. birgit
Shouldn't Min be on Rand's side re: seal-breaking, what with her logic training and investigations?

Of course she is on his side, she was the one who told him he must break the seals.

The part that is on the cover reads like it was written for the artist and ended up unchanged in the book.
Machin Shin
66. Ben-Oh
"Well, I want a way to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power, I want to be away from you and back to Rhuidean, if you will not answer me. Open up a door, and let me-" "Done," another man said, and one of the women echoed, "Done."
He does not actually ask for a way out. He says he wants to be away from them and back in Rhuidean.
Maybe you should also highlight the "Open up a door"? It is a part of the request, otherwise they could have interrupted Mat somewhere in the sentence "if you will not answer me".
Terry McNamee
67. macster
First off Leigh: love your delicious understatedness with "in which we have a rescue", particularly in comparison to how excited you get later on in the commentary. ;)

Javindhra: No, we don't know for sure if she's Evil. Egwene certainly seems to think she is because she is missing from the Tower and nowhere to be found after the Black Ajah purge, but while her conclusion Evanellein is Black becuase she was missing turned out to be true, and we know Duhara is also Black (still wondering if she had something to do with opening the Waygate), Pevara was also one of those missing Egwene was suspicious of, and she certainly isn't Black.

Of note besides Javindhra's attitude here, though, is that she was initially against the idea of Reds bonding Asha'man, changed her tune when Tsutama ordered it, and then secretly smiled. You commented on that yourself, Leigh. And while Tsutama (and Tarna, and Pevara herself) agreed with the idea, Javindhra's sudden turnaround and secret smile certainly implies something. With Katerine, Galina, and Duhara all being Black, it would be pretty odd for Javindhra not to be, and for her to go along with Taim's plan. But we shall see; if she isn't of the Shadow to begin with, she likely will be soon.

Side note: the conversation between Taim and Javindhra about watching the bird choke on the fish reminds me very much of Asmodean and Rand talking about the man hanging on the cliff and whether he helped him. Aside from being a nice callback (and suggestion Jordan wrote this part), it seems like more confirmation (as if we needed it) that Taim is a Darkfriend, since Asmo was a Forsaken and, at the time of that convo, only on Rand's side by default and self-preservation rather than genuinely coming back to the Light, as Jordan said he was later.

Nothing really to say about the 13x13 that hasn't been said before. But yes, major freakout alert. And poor Tarna. Whether it's Wonder Woman Nynaeve or Zen Jesus Rand, I hope she (and the others) can be saved. (Also, "not chucked willy-nilly into the gaping maw of M’Dickhead’s 13x13 McEvilmaker (pat. pending)!" is hilarious.)

Another reason to like Pevara: her "not being easy meat" comment is one she shares with Mat. Okay, Rand thought it too, but Mat's is far more memorable considering it came from his dagger-Healing scene in TDR. And anyone who is like Mat is awesome. (See Verin and her father having the same "toss the dice" expression.)

Perrin's unHealed wound is, as wcarter said, definitely just a continuity nod to Verin's unHealed wound she showed Egwene back in TDR. And it also suggests something interesting: Perrin got his from fighting Slayer, someone who could control TAR. Since the Salidar Six when they got caught in the nightmare were able to be Healed just fine, that suggests unHealable wounds only can be given by someone outright manipulating and controlling TAR rather than nightmares and random manifestations. So...who or what did Verin face? It couldn't have been Slayer himself or he'd have recognized her in the Two Rivers (or did he? He did seem wary of her...). Moridin, perhaps? Lanfear?

I concur that Perrin being at Merrilor is the second time he needs to be there from Min's viewing. I don't think it will actually come down to a battle (partly because Egwene and some of the Aes Sedai following her seem to be the only ones against Rand, and partly because I think once Rand/Min explain their rationale Egwene will see the light and they'll plan how to do the breaking, but in the proper place and time)...but whatever disagreement could or will happen will, I think, be prevented or mitigated by Perrin.

Or at least they might be, if Alliandre isn't a Darkfriend and if Aravine isn't Moghedien in disguise.

Noal's costume must be Malkieri in origin; I bet Lan would've had quite the reaction to seeing it. Maybe he will get to, once the Horn is blown. :)

Chapter 54's title had me both extremely excited and filled with dread--not because I didn't know what it meant, but because I had yet to know what the circumstances or full consequences of it might be.

I loved Mat's thoughts upon seeing Moiraine again. And how unexpected that Egwene's Dream was fulfilled literally and not just figuratively--that instead of it merely being symbolic of Thom rescuing Moiraine from durance vile, he actually had to reach into fire and burn himself to save her. I love it when prophecies really are literal truths, so that everyone who works to interpret and decipher them comes up with convoluted explanations when in the end the truth is simple and staring you in the face. And in this case, it definitely represents how much she means to Thom, what he will go through for her. Mat isn't the only one willing to sacrifice here.

I have no idea what the "center of all" and "tasting fate itself" can mean. On the surface it does suggest, as Braid_Tug said, his ta'veren nature is incredibly strong at that moment, if not stronger than Rand's, but I suspect it may be more than that. Perhaps it is less him being ta'veren than it is him fulfilling his prophetic role. He isn't just a thread spun out to correct the Pattern--by giving up his eye to save Moiraine, who will be key in helping Rand win, he is actually affecting all of existence to stop the Dark One. What is left unclear is whether this is a temporary thing, or something that will now stay with Mat till the end of Tarmon Gai'don. If so, his presence will be even more critical now, whether to the Tuon/Seanchan/White Tower/Aiel mess, blowing the Horn at the Last Battle, the Field of Merrilor, or something more...

Not that this makes him infallible--poor Mat, so focused on stopping the foxes in front of him he forgot to mention the snakes. But then there wouldn't be drama if he hadn't! The balance part, BTW, I've taken to mean not just what would happen if Mat didn't rescue Moiraine or what she might do when she returns to redress the balance, but specifically the fact that Mat was weighing whether to rescue Moiraine vs. opening Verin's letter. If he'd done the latter he could have saved Caemlyn, but at the cost of the Light's victory. So as happened in the Arthurian canon, Camlaan had to fall for the evil (Mordred--Moridin/Demandred) to be defeated.

The bit with Mat fulfilling his fate that was told to him by the Finn, but which they couldn't have told him without reading a future in which he fulfilled it, is just a perfect example of a Stable Time Loop. And I didn't even notice the "note" bit. I assumed he meant the letter from Moiraine and that was that. This might indeed be an editing mistake, however.

Put me also in the camp that Mat's luck worked perfectly because this time it was absolutely critical that it do so, that the Pattern needed it to in order to save all of creation. Though I also think it is important to note he was in Finnland at the time. Not only did we see in TSR that the Finn (and Moiraine) were worried about the effects of a ta'veren being in their world, but Jordan told us the physical and natural laws in Finnland are very different from those of the normal world. So who's to say that wouldn't also affect luck and probability, so that Mat would always succeed there? That could even be why the Finn were so afraid of him and kept trying to capture or kill him.

"Warriors of final regret"...that whole line gave me chills when I first read it. Vintage Jordan, IMO.

I didn't so much mind Noal's sudden sacrifice and death (this sort of thing happens during war, as Jordan knew from experience) as the fact that it left his plot unresolved. We know he's Jain, Mat and Thom know, and Mat may get to tell Lan. But barring him being summoned by the Horn, the whole subplot about him being Compelled by Ishamael didn't go anywhere.

But that may be a case of us reading too much into it. Jordan may have deliberately teased us with Noal's jumbled memories and him having been used, coupled with the story about Jain from TEotW, but that doesn't mean it necessarily had to lead anywhere--once Jain had been used to spread the story about the Eye (and before that, his part in the fall of Malkier), he was of no further use to the Shadow. Him being Graendal's old man shows she at least had a use for him (I still maintain he was a source of modern-day information which Asmodean, her ally, used to create his Jasin Natael persona), but once he was in Ebou Dar, the Shadow was done with him. If he'd been serving Sammael as a sleeper agent, he would have been activated along with the gholam rather than helping Mat escape it. And by now, Sammael is dead while Graendal is no longer relevant to the story, so anything one of them may have done to Noal no longer matters. It's probably just another example of Jordan telling us not everything in life can be explained or resolved or have greater meaning.

I loved Thom's defiance in the face of impending doom--after so long of Thom not doing much (ever since Tanchico really, and possibly before, but definitely ever since he got to Salidar and Ebou Dar), it was great to see him being brave and standing up to evil (if not the Shadow). And the counterpoint with Mat's realization was well done, too.

As for what he discovered...I have to say that I figured out right away it was the big thing Sanderson said had been missed from books 4-6, since one of the things which kept coming up in those books, whether in the re-read summaries or those on the WOT Encyclopedia, was Mat's experiences with the Finn--usually his memories were brought up at least once a book, but also the things he received, and especially the ashandarei. So in that respect, I wasn't surprised. What did surprise me was what the actual explanation was, and its relevance to the finale here. So kudos to Jordan on fooling almost all of us with something, once again, right under our noses.

While the chapters could have been longer and more detailed, I loved every bit of them, and as far as I'm concerned they more than lived up to the foreshadowing and anticipation. Exciting, dramatic, with some heartfelt moments and even some tear jerkers. And lots of mythic and archetypal references too. What I've come to expect from WOT. And I especially loved the last line from Mat. ;)

I did remember thinking at the time how suddenly Mat seemed to get over his eye loss, but then again I don't think we wanted to sit there through paragraphs of him writhing and screaming over it--what was shown was sufficient to address the pain, but then Mat's badassery coupled with pressing concerns, fear and adrenaline rush would explain him being able to move on to running, fighting, and escaping. And he does think about it more in the last chapter of the book.

We want realism in our fantasy, but not too much--we want to see our heroes excel, overcome obstacles and be amazing fighters and such, so really this seems like a compromise between that desire and showing the realistic consequences of fighting. Perhaps the transition could have been a bit smoother, but the overall idea of Mat moving past the pain and how he did it was sound.

Also to keep in mind, people can ignore pain if they need to, and we have examples of it from this very series through the Flame and the Void. Yes, this is a focusing technique for channeling saidin (which explains how Rahvin could still be up and mobile while being BBQed), but it's also a focusing technique in general--Tam taught it to Rand for his bowmanship and he first applied it to his sword training. Considering Mat can fire bows too, it wouldn't surprise me if he learned it from Tam or his dad, even if he never consciously thinks of it. In any event, the idea of ignoring pain for something more critical and pressing is still established as part of the world, and is true to life as well.

Moiraine being a damsel in distress is kind of unavoidable: even if she hadn't been drained by the Finn, we knew they were holding her, so presumably for that to happen she'd have to be incapacitated in some fashion, so it isn't surprising she's so weak and worn out that she needs to be physically carried. And factoring the draining into it (which we had guessed happened based on Lanfear/Cyndane), it's no wonder. Really, anyone in her situation (especially a One Power-user) wouldn't have been any better off, so it's not a commentary on her being a helpless woman.
Terry McNamee
68. macster
@1 MachinShin: That's a pretty original idea, but I don't know if being married to the Empress makes Mat Emperor, and I can't really see Rand bowing to him, even if he does formally request Mat lead his armies.

@8 Bergmaniac: I agree with RoyanRannedos: Moiraine is just using Aes Sedai speak in the letter, not lying. She doesn't, in fact know what will happen in the world after, just what could, what she hopes will but doesn't know. And the reason she doesn't tell Rand about it is indeed that it doesn't concern him--not that he wouldn't care or it won't affect his fate, but that what happened in the Tower didn't concern (involve) him, only Mat, Noal, and Thom. And since she saw only those three, she couldn't chance Rand coming along and ruining things if he found out she was alive--Perrin tried to, after all, until Mat dissuaded him. So she said something that was technically true but isn't the full truth, as Aes Sedai are wont to do. For a good cause, to save the world.

@19 Fiddler: Good eye, that is indeed pretty funny.

@22 tiornys: Considering Min is investigating Herid Fel's books thanks to his note on the subject, then yes she should be on Rand's side. In fact I got the impression that the whole reason he believes he needs to break them is because of her studies, and Fel. (Since he was against it when Lews Therin wanted it.) Birgit addresses this too.

@40 DougL: You make a very good and sobering point. However the other thing you fail to consider (even though you yourself just pointed it out) is that the Seanchan, being human and not pure evil by nature, have a choice. The Shadowspawn can't stop being evil; the Seanchan, however, can be swayed and changed and made to stop being evil just as much as they could be made evil in the first place. The ability to choose hasn't been taken away from them, so even though they have done horrible things to channeling women, as long as they have the chance to realize the error of their ways, release the damane, and make amends, they shouldn't be summarily killed off.

@45 Tektonica: Oh I'm quite sure Thom will have many wonderful stories to tell and songs to sing, and some of them will be about Jain!

@53 Freelancer re: Perrin: Which means that that plot point, both the trouble between Rand and his various allies and the staged argument, has more relevance than we thought and has indeed come up again, even though Leigh thought it wouldn't/didn't.

@57 D-MAC: Offhand I can theorize that Graendal gave him to Sammael during one of their visits, but he, not seeing a use for him, released him. Then before he could realize and rectify his mistake (after the angreal stash got recovered and he sent the gholam packing), he got killed by Mashadar, so the Shadow was never able to get him back.

@58 psyc3002: So are you saying you think that was just a mistake on Brandon's part, and Harriet gave him a look because he was covering his ass? Or that her look meant there is more significance to the dialogue not changing diction, which we may find out about in AMoL?

@59 Rooish: Eyes have great symbolic and mythological value; that's why Odin (Mat's analogue) gave up his for knowledge. It may be that by taking his eye the Finn gain his knowledge, the same way they may have had a link to him through the memories they took. The implication is that by taking his eye they gained something even greater (since losing it made him the "center of all" and caused fate to fill the air around him), but what that may be isn't clear.

@64 JonathanLevy: You really, really like to harp on word choice and writing goofs, don't you? But at least this time it seems clear that if you are right and that's a mistake, the mistake was on Jordan's part and Sanderson was correcting it to what it should have been, which you say as much yourself. Also Ben-Oh makes a very good point.

On a related note: "A Way Out" was a chapter title way back in TDR, when the Supergirls gave Mat the letter to take to Morgase. Considering that trip is what led him to overhear Comar and Rahvin, which in turn led him to Tear where the doorway was, I wonder if that is very subtle foreshadowing of this moment with the spear? I also like how the chapter when Mat first meets the Finn is called "Doorways" and the one where he goes to face them once and for all is called "Gateways". Nice parallel.
Machin Shin
69. Shloz
I'm interested in the 'Finn calling themselves "soldiers of the final regret".

Couple that with the numerous references to eyes (besides the obvious, think of Thom's final line of song as Mat opened the gate) here and by so many cultures in Randland (esp. the Aiel Sightblinder and the Seanchan "steal my eyes", "eyeless", etc.) leads me to wonder whether the "dark Aiel" seen in the epilogue aren't actually Finn.

Could the Finn be somehow associated with the DO? Questions touching on the Shadow are considered "dangerous" by Moiraine.

Maybe we can discuss this more after the Epilogue.
T C
72. Freelancer
macster @68

The conversation between Perrin and Rand to which I referred was not the staged scene:
"Rand, the Aes Sedai. . . ." A smart man would let this lie, probably. He had never claimed to be particularly smart, though. "The Wise Ones are ready to skin them alive, or near enough. You can't let them be harmed, Rand." In the corridor, Sulin turned to study him through the doorway.
The man he thought he knew laughed, a wheezing sound. "We all have to take risks," he responded.
"I won't let them be hurt, Rand."
Cold blue eyes met his gaze. "You won't let it?"
"I won't," Perrin told him levelly. He did not flinch from that stare, either. "They are prisoners, and no threat. They're women."
"They are Aes Sedai." Rand's voice was so like Aram's back at Dumai's Wells that it nearly took Perrin's breath.
This argument (ACoS, ch6) is real. It later becomes the pretext for the scene where Rand throws Perrin out of Cairhien, hoping that nobody will think to follow up on Perrin's movements after that as being under orders from Rand.

No, my reason for bringing up the parallel is purely about Perrin being the Builder, one who abhors destruction. His motives and actions always speak of holding things together, of maintaining maximum cohesiveness in a group. Any time that he suspects the potential for division or damage to a party, whether small or large, it drives him to action, and no thought for personal consequences.
Jonathan Levy
73. JonathanLevy
66. Ben-Oh
The reason I didn't highlight "Open up a door" is that the sentence is interrupted by a "Done." I interpret an interrupting "Done." as confirming the request given in the previous sentence, because this is what happens with Mat's first wish:
If I had my way, I would want those holes filled, but at least answers to my questions might fill some in my future. You have to answer - !"
"Done,"
Here, 'Done' refers to his memory holes being filled, not to his (interrupted) demand that they answer his questions.


67. macster
Another reason to like Pevara: her "not being easy meat" comment is one she shares with Mat.
And with Ingtar :) (TGH:45)
"You see," Ingtar said softly, "we are no easy meat."
68.macster
You really, really like to harp on word choice and writing goofs, don't you?
Glad you noticed :) Still, this is the climax of a major plotline, and deserves attention. Even so, it took me three re-reads before I managed to figure out what was bugging me.

Ben-Oh's point was addressed above.
Machin Shin
74. Mehndeke
Re: the eye pain, it always struck me that the pain receeded, in part, because the *Finn are feeding off of the emotions. It eventually knocks them out. Yes, Mat feels it too, but between the adrenaline, dopamine, situation, preparation, and parasite-itis, I figured it receeded to manageable levels.
Machin Shin
75. DougL
@53. Freelancer

Heh, okay, well, I read the children's bible when I was like 8 and decided religion was not for me, I was speaking in the RPG D&D sense of the word demon.
Machin Shin
76. re-read fan
@59: I found it honestly a little lame that the Finns wanted to take Mat's eye. I know it's been building up forever, but what's so great about his eye?
It's The Eye of the World. Or at least the half that he saves.

Rand lost his hand. Mat lost his eye. Perrin should be getting nervous. What body part will he lose?
michael gaston
77. Ashenladoka
It's easy JonathanLevy...

When Mat was talking to the Finns it was in the Old Tongue. When he was thinking to himself in his mind he reverted back to Common Randland. Two different languages with two different ways to say something but meaning the same. At least that's the way I thought about it when I read it.

As for the pain Mat was having. I’ve never lost an eye but I’ve had my leg dislocated at the hip, cracked hip and two cracked feet from a wreck. With all the anger/rage flying through me and wanting to get my hands on the jackass that just destroyed my bike (he didn’t look and decided that he wanted to use the same space as me so he just “bumped” me at 70mph) I didn’t notice the pain as much as I probably would have if it was a different circumstance.

Knowing that if you give into the pain and your dead probably had Mat so hyped up that after the initial shock he may have been able to just flat out ignore it. More than one Hero in RL has ignored massive damage to his/her body to save the life of a loved one or stranger.

The Last Stand of Jain…Moving and sad and I felt robbed since so much of his life was left out. Would have loved to read The Travels of Jain Farstrider and looney thought but maybe he left some notes for Mat to read somewhere. Now that would be AWESOME! Telling Mat how he was used, etc. They have to fill up AMoL and I don’t for a second think that it’s only going to be the LB. I see some back and forth timeline shifting. I will say though that of the two Last Stands, Ingtar’s was a lot more in TGH. That few seconds of back story speaking to Rand at his end was the clincher.
"It seemed the only way. We would be destroyed for nothing, defending people who do not even know, or care. It seemed logical. Why should we be destroyed for them, when we could make our own peace? Better the Shadow, I thought, than useless oblivion, like Carallain, or Hardan, or . . . It seemed so logical, then....”
“I know, Ingtar.” Rand drew a deep breath. “The Light shine on you, Lord Ingtar of House Shinowa, and may you shelter in the palm of the Creator’s hand.” He touched Ingtar’s shoulder. “The last embrace of the mother welcome you home.” Hurin gasped.
“Thank you,” Ingtar said softly. A tension seemed to go out of him. For the first time since the night of the Trolloc raid on Fal Dara, he stood as he had when Rand first saw him, confident and relaxed. Content.
Why couldn't Jain have something like that?

And this next part.
“We are the near ancient, the warriors of final regret, the knower’s of secrets.”
Initial thought…Holy Crap Mat’s in serious trouble now. Kind of spooky, ferryman, fallen angel reference. Fallen angels were supposedly the ones who taught man how to make weapons of war, gave them forbidden knowledge and I’d assume they are near ancient. Just a thought.
Machin Shin
78. DP64
The injury and trauma could be overcome. Aaron Ralston amputated his arm in the climbing incidednt and still repelled and did other physical exertions. Survival is the key. How bad do you want to live?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aron_Ralston
Alice Arneson
79. Wetlandernw
Jonathan Levy @64 – Well, if you don’t like the way the TSR and TGS wording lines up, the best you can do is take it up with Harriet. The person who wrote both those scenes is no longer available for comment. Note also that, as Ben-Oh says @66, he requested a door, but you didn’t highlight that part. You say (@73) that it’s because he was interrupted, but there were two “Done” exclamations, both after the “door” statement. One probably refers to “free of Aes Sedai and the Power” – but does the second only refer to “away from you and back to Rhuidean” or does it include “Open up a door” as well? I don’t think you have justification to say definitively that it doesn’t; merely that you don’t think it ought to.

re-read fan @76 – Okay, that’s a thought I didn’t need to entertain… But it is certainly a valid consideration.

Re: the many complaints about not seeing more of Jain’s backstory – I honestly don’t think we’ll get more of his story in AMoL, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up when Mat blows the Horn again. We already know there’s a whole book (in-world) about his life, but this story isn’t it. That’s another story, and it won’t be told here. Seriously, there are no secrets about his past that will change anything going forward, though we know he had some significant effects in the past. I think the best you can hope for will be a nice long entry in the Encyclopedia. For myself, I’m really glad his backstory didn’t get stuffed into these chapters; it doesn’t fit here, and would, IMO, disrupt the flow of the narrative.

I’m also glad this scene didn’t get stretched out over a bunch more chapters; that really would have been padding, and I honestly think that it would have badly reduced the tension and the sense (entirely appropriate to this event) of things happening too fast and the related adrenaline rush for the reader. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my adrenaline was pumping from the moment they stepped into the ToG; if the story had slowed down, I’d have lost that, and I don’t see how it could have been stretched without slowing it down. I think it was absolutely masterful; it didn’t need more pages to give it more impact.
Karen Fox
80. thepupxpert
Wetlander @ 47 - agreed, I immediately thought it was Moraine's note to Thom.
Tricia Irish
81. Tektonica
@51: Interesting theory re: Perrin being there for Rand, protecting him in Tel'Aran'Riod from total oblivion and thus the light-siders ultimately losing. I have not seen that one before.

Totally missed the Ashandarei.

JimF@60: Thanks for the shoutout, but How did my name/info get highlighted as a link? Weird. If that can be changed, it would probably be appreciated by all.

JonathanLevy@64: You are becoming the high inquistor of wording in the WoT! This is a somewhat new position for you, isn't it?
Francesco Paonessa
82. ErrantKnave
Leigh, not to pick a nit, but I believe it should be:
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MATRIM BLOODY CAUTHON HAS LEFT THE BUILDING."

And maybe a sparkly YAY as well.

:)
Valentin M
83. ValMar
I'm a bit late here, which is a bit ironic given that I've waited for Moiraine to get rescued for about 12 years. FINALLY! With every new book one of my main concerns was is "she coming back this time?"

The lenght of the rescue was fine, we didn't need another book in a different universe. Plus Moiraine was unconcious for nearly all of it and thus, it was a wasted space by definition ;)

I'll state the obvious, but might as well do it anyway, didn't get the Ashandarei thing. Never thought about it, really. But liked the resolution.

Like many, I hope Tarna gets fixed back into a decent block of ice from an evil zombie.

Lastly, I see JonathanLevy has struck again with his Quill of Doom and Logic ;)
Machin Shin
84. DougL
I kind of hope Tarna dies, and that 13x13 can't be fixed. We need some pathos finally, we need sorrow, we need desperation, we need that for the resolution to have the gravity and joy that it should. It won't feel as fulfilling if it's everybody lives happily ever after there was no great loss type of win. I know we are losing Cads, or Lan or someone like that, but we need a broader consequence to TG than Camelyn getting sacked and unknown city folk getting killed.
Alice Arneson
85. Wetlandernw
ValMar @83 - "I hope Tarna gets fixed back into a decent block of ice from an evil zombie." ROFL!! A decent block of ice, indeed.

DougL @84 - Bloodthirsty, aren't we? ;)
Machin Shin
86. izz
Just had a thought on the note that Mat mentions. Maybe he was thinking about Egwene's note way back in TSR. Haven't read it in a while but I think she mentions the danger of going through the red stone doorway to talk to the Aelfinn. That would fit the context of his thoughts about his first time into the finn world, but it is still not very clear.
Bill Stusser
87. billiam
I've read a few comments now where people have said they think the Finn chapters felt rushed or weren't long enough. I think this is a good example of the differences in RJ's and BS's writing styles.

Over the last two books we've gotten used to how BS writes and now we get to a couple of chapters that we know are pretty much all RJ and we can feel the difference. Please note, I'm not saying one style is better than the other, just different.

At least, that's how I felt when I read these chapters.
Machin Shin
88. DougL
@85. Wetlandernw

Heh Might as well be reading a well written Smurfs novel if everyone lives. At least the Smurfs don't have the Seanchan around, I think.
Machin Shin
89. KMK
And the princess is rescued from the tower. Check.
Don Barkauskas
90. bad_platypus
izz @86: Egwene didn't give Mat a note; she just told him about the doorway in person.
Alice Arneson
91. Wetlandernw
billiam @87 - Funny - even though I know these chapters are almost pure RJ, it reminded me irresistably of the "Brandon Avalanche". In many ways, these chapters are much more like Brandon's usual style - but his usual style isn't necessarily typified by the way he needed to write most of TGS and ToM.

DougL @88 - Not to worry, I'm pretty sure lots of people will die. For some people, I'm sure it won't be enough, or enough major characters, or the right major characters, while for others it will be too many, ditto, ditto. Where you fall in that spectrum remains to be seen, I guess.
Jay Dauro
92. J.Dauro
Braid_Tug @30

At least one other of our main folks has used the "blacksmithing analogy."
“... It is said by blacksmiths that a sword can never be whole again once it has been shattered. It must be completely reforged, the metal melted down to slag, then reworked and re-formed."
The Gathering Storm - 46

This was said by Egwene as she became the Tower Amrylin.
Machin Shin
93. Weatherman
Sacrificial lamb,

The significance of Jains end is that it was said in the note from Moiraine that 3 and only 3 had to enter, or it would be a disaster. What was implicit in my view was that only 3 could leave, so the third man had to be a sacrificial lamb.

Because of the nature of Finnland and its you get a boon for a sacrifice logic, the sacrifice needed to have something the Finns could accept in exchange.

So we needed a Hero who had no other role in the books except as a mythical reference and plenty of experience for the Finns to savour.

As a BONUS Jain gets redemption for his past sins.
Bill Stusser
94. billiam
Also, in chapter 53 when Pevara is walking with Taim we get this:
And you see," Taim said, walking with one hand folded-fingers making a fist-behind his back.
Just like Rand does after he lost his hand. And:
"This again?" Taim said. He had fire in his eyes, this Mazrim Taim.
More fuel to add to the Taim is Moridin fire.
Machin Shin
95. RoryB
@84 -- IIRC, Perin's death is pretty well foreshadowed... by, well, team shadow.
Jeff Monheit
96. psyc3oo2
@68. macster

I was saying that Harriet gave ME a look after I asked the question. The way I interpreted it was that I noticed something that she had noticed as well and she was acknowledging it.
Alice Arneson
97. Wetlandernw
psyc3002 @96 - Somehow that doesn't make sense to me. Harriet is the senior editor and the owner of the copyright; if she "noticed" it and didn't like it, why would she have let it go through? Why would she not have asked him to rewrite that section so it matched the others? I'm not saying it's not possible - just that it doesn't make sense to me.

Of course, the biggest reason it doesn't make sense is that we've pretty much been told that these chapters are almost purely RJ original writing. Maybe they had talked about changing it - since RJ certainly would have done further work on it if he had been able to - but they decided to leave it as it was. We know they had to clean up the prose somewhat (e.g., some of it was written in present tense), but most of this was written by RJ, and Harriet was the one in charge of making the prose work right. She was the one who decided that it would be better to "blend" their styles, and she was the one who sometimes modified Brandon's stuff to blend with RJ - and sometimes modified RJ's stuff to blend with Brandon's. It simply doesn't make sense that she'd be "acknowledging a problem in Brandon's writing" over a question like this.
Jonathan Levy
98. JonathanLevy
76. re-read fan
Rand lost his hand. Mat lost his eye. Perrin should be getting nervous. What body part will he lose?
Oh, Perrin lost two small but important body parts somewhere between TSR and ACoS. Can you guess what they are?


Hint: Faile has them.

77.Ashenladoka
When Mat was talking to the Finns it was in the Old Tongue. When he was thinking to himself in his mind he reverted back to Common Randland.
Not unreasonable, but this is special pleading, since none of the other phrases which he heard in the Old Tongue suffers from any inaccuracy in translation. E.G. he is told he will marry the daughter of nine moons (in the Old Tongue), and when he arrives in Ebou Dar - Lo! She is called precisely 'the daughter of nine moons', not 'the daughter of nine shining spheres', or 'the daughter of moons nine', or even 'the daughter of the nine moons'.

And besides, if we're in Mat's head, and he's recalling a phrase he heard in the Old Tongue, who's to say he's not thinking that phrase in the Old Tongue? He's been chatting with the *finns for the last hour without being able to tell which language he's speaking.

79.Wetlandernw
One probably refers to "free of Aes Sedai and the Power" - but does the second only refer to "away from you and back to Rhuidean" or does it include "Open up a door" as well?
By analogy with the previous example, interrupting 'Done's refer to the previously completed sentence. The last two wishes were expressed in one sentence. Is there any reason to suppose that the two cases behave differently? Besides, there are all sorts of problems with supposing that the *finns interrupt people's requests in the middle and grant the first fragment of a sentence.


The simplest explanation is that when you finish sentence containing a wish, they grant it, and say 'Done', and if you're talking quickly enough to have started a new sentence, you get interrupted. I have not yet seen any fact which this interpretation does not explain, so by Occam's razor, I have adopted it.

Besdies, the key difference between 'give me a Way Out' and 'I want to be away from you' is that the first can be easily interpreted to mean 'give me a permanent means of leaving', but the second is much more of a one-time thing. The same difference exists between 'give me a Way Out' and 'open up a door'.


Quite apart from that, I do have another interpretation of the two parts which resolves the difficulty I pointed out, but at the cost of creating other difficulties. I'm sure you're dying to hear it. It goes like this:

1) In TSR Mat asks "to be away from you and back in Rhuidean".
2) To fulfill that wish, they take Mat back to Rhuidean.
3) As payment, they hang him.
4) They give Mat the Ashandarei in anticipation of his future visit to rescue Moiraine.
5) Mat correctly believes his wish (1) was fulfilled by (2), and doesn't understand why they did (4).
6) In ToM, Mat asks for a Way Out.
7) To fulfill this wish, the *finns turn his Ashandarei into a Key which can open a door back to Randland.
8) At the last moment, Mat understands correctly that the Ashandarei has recently been turned into a Way Out, but was given to him back in TSR so he would not realize what it was in ToM. After all, if they had given him the Ashandarei in ToM after he asked for a Way Out, he would have figured it out easily.

A variant of this is to say that the Ashandarei was always a Way Out, and in ToM the *finns did nothing to fulfill Mat's wish for a Way Out, because he already had one.

This is much more subtle and complex than my original interpretation. The difficulty is that Mat's thought process in ToM is focused on TSR, and follows in a logical progression. He even refers to the writing on the Ashandarei ("What was asked is given"), understanding it to have been given in TSR. There's no back-and-forth jumping between the two times.

81.Tektonica
I've been stewing these thoughts for the last book and a half, waiting for the re-read to catch up so I could share them with someone :)

83.ValMar
:)
Gerd K
99. Kah-thurak
@Jonathan Levy
What if the Eelfinn dont hold to the same exactness of semantics as you do? They could well interpret what the person actually wants in opposition to what they say. They do read their minds/emotions after all and the exact "wording" is not allways the key to everything.
Machin Shin
100. MJF
Glad I wasn't the only one to get hung up on the Annoying Thing of Varying Wording! Otherwise I don't have much to say, just wanted to snatch the Hunny hanging there so temptingly.
Machin Shin
101. MRCHalifax
Regarding Perrin's injury: he's a maimed blacksmith, following in mythological traditions.

Regarding issues with writing in the Mat sections: So far as I understand, they were 100% Jordan. If Mat sounded like Mat while speaking in the Old Tongue, it's by Jordan's intent.
Jonathan Levy
102. JonathanLevy
99.Kah-thurak

First, I should repeat that my main objection is that in ToM Mat incorrectly recalls what he asked for in TSR. This suggests than in TSR he was supposed to ask for a Way Out. The fact that "asking for a way out" fits an Ashandarei Key better than "Open up a door" is a secondary point which reinforces the main one, but is not enough to stand on its own.
What if the Eelfinn dont hold to the same exactness of semantics as you do? They could well interpret what the person actually wants in opposition to what they say.
Everything we know about the Eelfinn indicates that they do hold to the "same exactness of semantics", while not caring very much what the person actually wants. (It may be that this is precisely what the Chamber of Bonds forces them to do.)


RJ said as much in an interview on Jul 19th 2005 (thanks to theoryland's interview database):
If you said that you wanted to be King of the World, you might well find that what you received was not what you expected. For example, they might put you out of their world into a world with no other sentient life, where you would be king by default. Then again, you might find yourself with the necessary skills to make yourself King of the World, if you were able. Actually achieving it would be up to you. But then, many of their "gifts" are skewed in this way. You must be very careful as you're asking if you want to receive what you are hoping for. And yet, remember that Mat actually did receive very much what he asked for. Just not in the way that he wanted.
The fact that the Eelfinn are so careful to fulfill the precise wording of the wish makes Mat's incorrect recollection more glaring. In fact he is sitting there trying to figure out how his Ashandarei could possibly have matched the precise wording of his wish (while ignoring his actual intentions) - but he gets his own wording wrong!

Edit to fix a *finn-consistency
Gerd K
103. Kah-thurak
@JonathanLevy
You mean Mat might have not absolutely exactly remembered the way he phrased his demand of the Eelfinn back in Rhuidan? Bummer. Maybe he should have looked it up ;-)

The point is: He remembers what he wanted and realized what he was given.

As for what is given not beeing what one wanted... that works with intentions just as well as with wordings. As you can see because it happened in the book :P
Jonathan Levy
104. JonathanLevy
103.Kah-thurak
You mean Mat might have not absolutely exactly remembered the way he phrased his demand of the Eelfinn back in Rhuidan? Bummer. Maybe he should have looked it up ;-)
I know, right? C'mon, they packed food for a month, you think Thom didn't bring any WoT ebooks on his kindle? Or he could have googled it on his ipad or something. And if saving Moiraine is that important to him, he could have just gone to a TGS signing ahead of time and asked Harriet himself. :)

My point is: This happens in real life all the time, no argument there. But as a literary technique, it doesn't catch many superlatives. In fact, it's something you're more likely to describe as a writing excuse.

If your character solves a critical puzzle only because he misremembered something 8 books ago, you give some indication in the text that he is misremembering.

Especially if this is the first time such a technique appears in a 13-book series.

Also if it's the second time (this is insurance against the counter-nitpickers out there :)

And if it's the third time (there are some very skilled counter-nitpickers out there).
Rob Munnelly
105. RobMRobM
JL - go, man, go! Interesting thoughts.
Jonathan Levy
106. JonathanLevy
105.RobMRobM

Did you catch my delightful pun in the last line of post 102? ;)
Valentin M
107. ValMar
As in "f**king" consistency? Also, there was no need for hints @ 98 ;)
Gerd K
108. Kah-thurak
@Jonathan Levy
I can see why these things bug you, but I honestly cant make myself care about it that much. The absolute clarity you wish to have is a mixed blessing in my opinion anyway... but thats why I like the Malazan Book of the Fallen better than the Wheel of Time after all... no absolute clarity there, and certainly not by mistake ;-)
Tricia Irish
109. Tektonica
I'm with you on both points, Kah-thurak@108....The intent was there in Mat's wording vs. remembering. I didn't even notice the problem, until JL brought it up.... and also the preference for MBotF. ;-)

But that's what makes this thread so interesting, JL! Different interests, different ideas.
Machin Shin
110. Rancho Unicorno
I love reading the comments once we get past about...2. I can usually work up a thought or two, but quickly find myself out of my league on depth and profundity.

So, I've got a totally unrealated (to WOT) question, and figured you are the folks to ask. I have my choice of midnight Hobbit watchings - I can go to the Alamo or a proper (70mm) IMAX. The Alamo is a couple miles from home, the IMAX maybe 20 min at that time of night. Which should I go to?
Jonathan Levy
111. JonathanLevy
107.ValMar

I had to correct an "Aelfinn" to an "Eelfinn" and noted the edit. This was the first post where I strayed from the safe and cowardly notation ("*finn") and immediately regretted it. :)

108.Kah-thurak
109.Tektonica

Like you said, different people, different ways of looking at things. And the only reason WoT gets the microscope treatment is that it is capable of standing up to it in so many ways - an incredible accomplishment for such a huge work.

Leviticus and Numbers don't do half as well. ;)

I'm not sure I'll ever again put so much time and effort into a series, so I suspect that I will never properly appreciate the complexity of the Malazan series, regardless of its intrinsic qualities. But that's a problem for another day.
Valentin M
112. ValMar
JL @ 111

Damn it, now I've betrayed my state of mind for all to see... Talking about corrections, the original phrase regarding your Quill of Doom and Logic referred to a Quilt of...

Totally agree re: the microscope treatment we give WOT and how well it stands to it, which is one of the main reasons we do it.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
113. ZEXXES
Oh Jonathan, it is obvious to just about everyone except you that the Finn do indeed include whatever wording they choose to use. The only way one could get what they gave, which in this context is the Ashendarei, the Finn would have to include the entirety of what Mat said before they said "Done".

Logically, as humans, this would absolutely not make sense and thus cause all kinds of confusion. But, as we know, the Finn are not Human and it is not so far fetched to believe that they play by a set of rules differing than ours. We know this, because they in fact are known to not play by anyone's rules other than their own. If you don't know the entirety of the Finn's rules, as Mat obviously did not, then it is your own fault that you didn't get exactly what you wanted, as Mat famously and life threateningly found out.

Given what he said before they said Done, Mat got almost exactly what he asked for, if you take ALL of what he said into consideration. If you don't and only take it as far as his completed sentences, then you can very obviously become befuddled about the outcome of the whole arc and how it came to completion.

The choice is yours as to what scenario you're willing to except. There are only two. One makes sense, the other doesn't.

Z
Sean Dowell
114. qbe_64
I am also currently reading the star trek TNG rewatch. And just came across an episode (Season 3: Sarek), where Sarek's WIFE'S name is.....PERRIN. Weird. Even weirder, apparently she also appears in a Star Trek book called 'Enter the Wolves'. Just thought I'd share.
Deana Whitney
115. Braid_Tug
@ 92, J.Dauro: Well I hope Egwene remembers this statement before long. Since the Seals on the Dark One are much more complex than a sword.

@93, Weatherman: 3 enter, 3 leave – That’s what I always thought would happen. Just sad that Jain had to be the “red shirt” left behind.

@ JL, on 98: LOL, no need for a hint at all. You could argue that he lost his original eyes and ears, since the Wolfing gave him a new set. Something traumatic might happen to him in the Last Battle. Losing a leg would really hurt him as a wolf, but not so much as a man.
(If it’s below the knee, should be able to still sit a horse. )

Then again I was impressed that Pixar had Hiccup lose his foot.
So rare for Fantasy movies to show permanent (negative) consequences for actions taken, besides the mentor figure who must die for the hero to grow.


@110, Rancho Unicorno: since the Dragon won’t be in part 1, you’re probably okay with just seeing it in a normal theater. Save the IMAX for part 2.
Glen V
116. Ways
This thread has been a hoot for the last couple of days. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'm kicking myself (gently) because I forgot to turn on this infernal machine at 7 AM EST today to say something tremendously important and catch the hunny. Congratulations MJF!
Craig Jarvis
117. hawkido
Matrim flavored Skittles: Taste the Fatebow.
T C
118. Freelancer
JonathanLevy @98

Live by the sword, die by the sword. While ranting about the wording Mat understands from the Aelfinn, you stated:
She is called precisely 'the daughter of nine moons', not 'the daughter of nine shining spheres', or 'the daughter of moons nine', or even 'the daughter of the nine moons'.
Which is not accurate:
"To marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons!"
"To die and live again, and live once more a part of what was!"
"To give up half the light of the world to save the world!"
" Go to Rhuidean, son of battles!"
"Go to Rhuidean, trickster!"
"Go, gambler!"
"Go!"
It is interesting that they call him son of battles before it is a proper title for him. This, because they know his future. They also know that he'll be back and giving them his eyeball. Therein lies the key to the seeming discrepancy of what Mat asks the Eelfinn, and what he gets.
Jonathan Levy
119. JonathanLevy
118. Freelancer

I am hoisted by my own petard! :)

The Snakes know he will be back. But it is the Foxes who give him the Ashandarei, and get his eyeball, not the snakes. Of course, they do cooperate quite well, so you wouldn't be surprised if the Foxes knew he was coming back.

As I said before, the main objection is Mat's incorrect recollection of what he said, not the Foxes' clever interpretation of Mat's wishes. The question of wording only arose because of the suggestion that Mat was recalling his words in a different language (Old Tongue vs. modern Tongue), and that therefore no accuracy could be expected.
Machin Shin
120. alreadymadwithsweetfate
This idea of the ta'veren effect being sweet to the point of narcotic to the Finns isn't exactly new. The Aelfinn were pretty much the same way when Mat first went to them. The more he asked, the more they delved into his thread, his fate, and the more they liked it. So much that they practically begged him to ask some more.

They feed on fate. Or something like it. Ta'veren with their reality bending ability to twist fate are obviously of great value to them. As are Aes Sedai, with their One Power ability giving them a greater chance to directly impact the fates of others. Or perhaps their One Power ability is directly translatable into whatever it is the Finns feed on.
Machin Shin
121. Staizer
@115 Braid_Tug, Hiccup was actually a Dreamworks character, not Disney/Pixar.

@Most all, I may be suffering from a Golden Mean Fallacy (DO NOT CLICK!) However, I think both sides are right. I think they did stop Mat before his correct wish was given i.e. "Open a door" however I think that your interpretation of "I want to be away from you and back to Rhuidean" is incorrect, in fact the only logical answer is the other option you gave, of them changing the Ashanderai into a key now, only they had done it then because of his demand now. . .

Why have the phrase "Thought is the arrow of time; memory never fades." Engraved on the weapon? In their dimension time is not straight, hell in the WOT world time isn't straight. Mat got an answer of what he had to pay to the Eelfinn from the Aelfinn, he demanded a way away from them, then on his second trip he again demands for "a way out."

In order to clarify my thoughts let me break it down again.
If I had my way, I would want those holes filled, but at least answers to my questions might fill some in my future. You have to answer—!” “Done,”
They actually with this wish granting filled both his holes in his memory and clarified some holes in his future. . . This one. (As well as the memories fixing some of his futures problems.)
"Well, I want a way to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power,
This one is straight forward. Medallion. . .
I want to be away from you and back to Rhuidean, if you will not answer me. Open up a door, and let me-" "Done," another man said, and one of the women echoed, "Done."
Here is where it gets iffy. They literally take him back to Rhuidean, but why give him the Ashanderai in order to do that? Yes, taking him there is "away from " but he asked for two things in one statement, and here is where the wording of the contract is important. They gave him a way to always be able to be away from them. They knew he would ask for essentially the same thing the second time and so gave him a key to be away from them whenever he wanted.
On a different topic I wanted to mention this part of his Aelfinn prophecy. . .

"and live once more a part of what was!" Is part of the "To die and live again," prophecy, but why state it that way? Everyone dies and lives again in the Wheel of Time. We assume the first part is talking about his days of hanging, but what about that second part? Is that a reference to his memories, or is it a reference to Mat blowing the Horn, or dying and being a Hero of the Horn, or what?
Machin Shin
122. alreadymadwithopendoors
He asked them to open up a door for him. And instead they gave him a way to always open the door. A key.

To live a part of what was. What was usually refers to the past. So, in living, he becomes a part of the past. But this is the Finns, so the concept of order and sequence is a bit convoluted to them. What he got was that the past became a part of him.
Bill Stusser
123. billiam
@121

The hanging wasn't where Mat died and lived again, he didn't actually die when he was hung. The die and live again refers to when he was killed by Rahvin's lightning at Caemlyn and then came back to life when Rand balefired Rahvin.
Machin Shin
124. AndrewB
JonathanLevy & others re the language of Mat's third boon when he went through the doorway in Rhuidan.

What if the treaty that the Foxes had with Randland requires that so long as the doorframe to the Foxes realm is accessible, anybody who enters will return through the doorway. Thus, "being away from you and back to Rhuidean was an automatic. They ignored that statement and waited until Mat's next demand: "Open a door".

This begs another question. Both the Foxes and Snakes make mention of a treaty. Who from Randland negotiated the treaty with the Foxes and Snakes? How did such individuals first encounter the Finns. This would be interesting information to know (IMO, at least). Hopefully, something like this could be discussed in the Encyclopedia. (Given everything else that has to occur, it does not belong in AMoL.)

Count me among those who like the pacing of the ToG chapters. I believe that having those chapters in a row created a better effect than if there were other storylines between the Chapter 54 (The Light of the World) and Chapter 55 (The One Left Behind).

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
JAMES MCCLELLAN
125. ZEXXES
The One Left Behind.

Luck came with two, but left one behind.
The one left? His right.
The price he paid
and left half the light.

He came with two,
the one left behind
The sacrifice for salvation
and the one the three find.

One must burn
to save the one lost.
Two must lose one, for three to return
Three to return and leave one for the cost.

Salvation returned,
Luck did find.
But not lucky enough
for the One left behind.


Z
William Carter
126. wcarter
@124
That isn't included in the treaty. Which is why the foxes called Mat "wise" for asking a way out but "foolish" for not setting the price.
I'm in a hurry so I'll have to dig up the transcript later but in one of RJ's old interviews he said one of the Fox's most common prices is the death of the petitioner unless they negotiate prices part in parcel with the bargain, or in Mat's case: make getting out alive one of the wishes.
Sandy Brewer
127. ShaggyBella
AMOL Countdown.... What do we have now? 38 days?
Got the audiobook peordered
:-)

"TWITCH"
Dawn Boyall
128. deebee
Zexxes

Love the poem: a fitting lament for the one who died clean.

Wonder if that`s the last we'll hear about Jain Farstrider?
Machin Shin
129. AndrewB
Zexxes @125 -- Excellent

wcarter @126 -- I understand that my analysis is not part of the portion of the treaty that is ever quoted. Yet we do not know everything about the treaty.

We only know certain aspects (cannot use fire, iron or music; that the Snakes provide answers to 3 questions and the Foxes give 3 boons to those who enter through the doorways). I was merely trying to explain why Mat's boon was "to open a door" as opposed to "I want to be away from you and back to Rhuidean, if you will not answer me."

Thanks for reading my musings.
AndrewB
Ron Garrison
130. Man-0-Manetheran
“it seems right to me that he’d need to break the seals. It’s like making a sword. You usually don’t want to forge one out of the pieces of a broken and ruined weapon. You get new good steel to make it. Rather than patch the old seals, he’ll need to make new ones.”
Me likes the new Lord Perrin. No more agonizing over everything. Just good clear thinking. What a relief! Now if only the Amyrlin can understand direct logic...
J. Dauro @ 92: “This was said by Egwene as she became the Tower Amrylin.” DAMN! Gotcha! Damn!
Freelancer @ 72: Your analysis of Perrin’s character as The Builder is spot on.

“M’Dickhead’s 13x13 McEvilmaker (pat. pending)” — still laughing!

Chapter 55: All kinds of bunches of awesome. I just love that the true function of the ashandarei stayed a secret to (most of) us. WTGRJ!

“broken bones trump brushburns” – I once shattered my ankle but my mind shut down the pain (almost) completely. However, the second I tried to stand, the pain was right there telling me to give it up and sit down. Same thing when I broke my wrist. “Are you OK?” I looked at the S-curve of my forearm and quipped, “I don’t think this is OK.” Pain has a function. Really serious pain just emphasizes the situation. Thank God the brain has a limiting switch.

re-read fan @ 76:
“Rand lost his hand. Mat lost his eye. Perrin should be getting nervous. What body part will he lose?”
Good question. Faile? That might make up for the PLOD.

ZEXXES: nice!

---—
JordanCon - April 19-21. BE THERE Re-Readers! Ms. Leigh is our Hostess!
Jonathan Levy
131. JonathanLevy
124. AndrewB
was addressed well by 126.wcarter.
They ignored that statement and waited until Mat's next demand: "Open a door".
If this is true, then the immediacy of their reaction to each wish is different.

In the third wish, they interrupt him before he finishes the sentence.

In the first wish, they answer quickly, interrupting the next sentence.

In the second wish, they let him finish a sentence long enough to contain an expressed wish which they ignore, and interrupt in the following sentence.

So you have to twist their behavior in an ugly way, and for what benefit? To replace "I want to be away from you" with "Open up a door", two phrases which are equally distant from "I want a way out", in that they contain no suggestion of a permanent exit.

And all this only addresses the secondary support to my argument (Mat's third wish in TSR does not correspond nicely with the receipt of a key) without addressing the main argument (Mat does not recollect correctly the phrasing of his third wish).


@others

Let me put it another way. Do any of the harmonizing explanations which have been suggested here sound like something which would go through Jordan's head as he was writing?

That is, when writing TSR and typing out "I want to be away from you and back in Rhuidean" in TSR, he would think to himself: "Ah yes, in ToM when Mat tries to figure out why they gave him the Ashandarei, he will remember this as 'I asked for a way out', but that's close enough for me. It's not as if the precise phrasing really matters, and he'll be recollecting it under stress of battle, and maybe he gets his languages mixed up!".

Not that I've spent much time in Jordan's head, mind you, but we've seen how much attention to detail he gives even to trivial plot elements. The mystery of the Ashandarei links two pivotal scenes. Do you think he wouldn't give it his best effort?

I think it's more likely that there's another reason for this. A simple explanation is that the wording in TSR was subtly changed during editing, without anyone noticing the slight mismatch this will cause 9 books later. Alternatively, the last bit of the Tower sequence was written by Sanderson (though I know we were told the bulk of it is pure RJ) from notes left by RJ saying something like 'When trying to figure out why they gave him the Ashandarei, Mat recalls that he asked for a way out and that this must be it'. Sanderson kept the phrasing from the note while fleshing out the scene, and did not notice the slight discrepancy it caused.
Bill Reamy
132. BillinHI
Re: Jordancon: I'm signed up altho I haven't made my travel or hotel reservations yet. Really looking forward to it.

Oh yeah: Great post as always, Leigh. I really liked listening to this set of chapters.
Machin Shin
133. weatherman
@115 braidtug: the sacrifice of Jain has been foreshadowed, due to the constant references throughout the series but especially in TOM the choices of the 3rd were Olver (not enough of a prize), Perrin (essential to the LB) birgitte (been there got the Tshirt), and Noal. Mats luck was that the 3rd would be enough of a prize for the Finns, and of course they always new that he would be

@125 Zexxes; nice poem
Amir Noam
134. Amir
@JonathanLevy:

Your quote from RJ (at comment 102) actually does not support your interpretation of the text. As Jordan has said, if a person had asked to be "King of the World", the *finn might grant this by giving them "the necessary skills to make yourself King of the World".

Therefore, it doesn't seem a stretch to extrapolate that if someone asks "to be away from you and back to Rhuidean", the *finn might grant this by giving him the means of leaving their realm. It seems a decent parallel to RJ's example.

BTW, my own personal reading the scene is as follows:
1) In TSR Mat asks for leaving the *finn realm and back to Rhuidean.
2) To fulfill that wish, they give him the Ashandarei (a means of leaving).
3) Mat uses the Ashandarei and leaves.
4) Because they want to, they make Mat forget this (just another hole in his memory to be filled with battles).
5) As payment, they hang Mat.
6) After being revived by Rand, Mat has no memory of how he got back to Rhuidean, and mistakenly believes his wish (1) was fulfilled by being in Randland again, and doesn't understand why they did (2).
7) In ToM, at the last moment, Mat understands correctly that the Ashandarei was and always had been his Way Out, and escapes.

Yet another *finn practical joke - a guy asks to leave, they give him the means to do so, but they never promised he'll be able to remember it :-)

I know there's no direct evidence in the text for this interpretation, but I kinda like it. Especially since otherwise it seems that the *finn actually did two things to grant Mat's 3rd wish: they both gave him a way out (a key) and returned him to his world (making the key redundant). In my interpretation they gave him one thing to grant his wish (the key) and played a practical joke to reduce its value (making him forget).
Michelle Bilokrely
135. GardenGnome
@125 It is interesting to note that this time the Eelfinn mention both a price and a sacrifice. If his eye is the price, then Noal Jain is the sacrifice/
Ron Garrison
136. Man-0-Manetheran
BillinHI: Yeah! Glad you’re coming to JordonCon. Tektonica and I are trying to encourage as many re-readers as possible to make it. This might be the best one ever!

Amir @ 134: “As Jordan has said, if a person had asked to be ‘King of the World’, the *finn might grant this by giving them ‘the necessary skills to make yourself King of the World’.”
—OR—They might just put you aboard the Titanic.
---—
JordanCon - April 19-21. BE THERE Re-Readers! Ms. Leigh is our Hostess!
Tricia Irish
137. Tektonica
BillinHi@132: Great news!! So glad you are coming to JCon! Get your room asap...they're going fast! It's going to be so much fun for all of us to finally get together outside of this Bunker!

JordanCon - April 19-21. BE THERE Re-Readers!n Leigh is our Toastmistress this year!
Jonathan Levy
138. JonathanLevy
134.Amir
Your quote from RJ (at comment 102) actually does not support your interpretation of the text.
It gives with one hand (the *finns are bound to the precise phrasing of the request, not the intention) and takes away with the other hand (they have vast leeway in interpreting the request).

But my main point is that he misremembers what he requested (sorry for repeating this so often, it's just to avoid confusion). The only reason I mentioned the interpretations is that what they actually did fits better with what Mat remembers than what he actually asked, and therefore suggests that the mistake lies in what he actually asked.
BTW, my own personal reading the scene is as follows:
This scenario (#3) is a slight variation on my scenario #2. I also think it's an improvement on it, for the reason you mentioned in the last paragraph. It also tickles my memory - have we discussed it before?


I think there is some indirect evidence for it. We never get an explanation how Mat apparently goes instantaneously from standing in the Chamber of Bonds to hanging from the tree. We've kind of ignored this, perhaps because we assumed that teleportation is a piece of cake for the *finns. But if they can't magically affect the world outside (as Jordan also said on Jul 19th, 2005), but we know they can affect human memory, then the simplest solution is that Mat got outside in a fairly straightforward way, and had his memory tampered with. Your scenario (3) provides a good explanation and motive.

However, it suffers from the same drawback as scenario #2: Mat still thinks of 'A way out' in the context of his visit in TSR, not ToM. I'm quite happy to acknowledge a small fault in the work here and adopt this interpretation, as I don't think a better one will be forthcoming.

BTW, you could make this same variation on scenario #1.
Amir Noam
139. Amir
Man-0-Manetheran@136:
I like it! :-)


JonathanLevy@138:
This scenario (#3) is a slight variation on my scenario #2.
That would be because I've copied your scenario and modified it :-)

As you said, we've never had an explanation on how Mat got to be hanged from the tree, so it has always seemed to me that whatever the *finn did to him, they made him forget. And, as mentioned, he only asked for one thing and there's no reason for the *finn to give him two (a key and bringing him back to his realm).

I personally don't see a problem with the way Mat remembers that scene from TSR. As mentioned above (and you acknowledged), it's quite realistic for Mat to not remember the exact wording of his request to the *finns (after all, TSR happened (... checking ...) more than... 20 years ago? (HOLY CRAP - where did that time go?? (and what's with all these encapsulated parenthesis?)))

So, you have no problems with the *finns interpreting Mat's request by granting him a means to leave, and you also have no problem with Mat misremembering the exact words. If I understand correctly, your only complaint is the literary device of Mat's epiphany (the way he is thinking about it) not matching 100% with the words in TSR.

But I have no problem with that. This is because Mat did ask for a way out. Maybe not literally, but that was definitely his intent then and now and that's how he remembers it. This doesn't cheapen his epiphany moment for 2 reasons:

1) Regardless if he asked for "A Way Out" or "To Be Away from You and Back in Rhuidean", his epiphany here in TOM is that he's always taken the Ashandarei for granted but he's never asked for it -> Therefore, they must have given it to him in order to grant one of his wishes (and the other 2 wishes are accounted for).

2) When Mat thinks back on the TSR scene, he is not considering the exact words he had used. This is not the important part of his revelation. You would have had a point here if Mat's thinking had been along the following lines:
What was asked is given. The price is paid.
No, I didn’t ask for a weapon. I specifically asked for a way out. Those were the words I used back then and they are compelled to provide exactly what is asked in the Bargain (though they might cheat, bloody foxes).
And they gave me this.
But, Mat is not concerned with how he phrased his request back in TSR. He's only concerned with his relevation that the Ashandarei is probably there to fulfil his 3rd wish, however it was phrased.

Put another way, how's this for a modification of your original scenario #1 (from comment 64)?
1) In TSR Mat asks to be away from the *finns and back in Rhuidean.
2) To fulfill that wish, they give him the Ashandarei (a means to leave).
3) As payment, they take Mat outside and hang him.
4) Mat mistakenly believes his wish (1) was fulfilled by his being back in Randland, and doesn't understand why they did (2).
5) In ToM, at the last moment, Mat understands correctly that the Ashandarei was and always had been his "Way to be Away from the *finns and Back in his World", and escapes.
Jonathan Levy
140. JonathanLevy
139.Amir
and you also have no problem with Mat misremembering the exact words
No, I do have a problem with Mat misremembering his exact words, because the text gives no indication that he's having any trouble remembering. He's having trouble understanding, but not remembering.


It may be realistic for a person to misremember without realizing it, but as a literary device it's much more difficult. If you set up the resolution of a riddle that way, then fine, but there's no setup whatsoever in this case.
When Mat thinks back on the TSR scene, he is not considering the exact words he had used. This is not the important part of his revelation.
The 'consideration of his exact words' is the means by which he tries to reach his revelation. He's trying to figure out how the Ashandarei fits with what he asked for. He knows the nature of the *finns is to give you what you asked for but not what you wanted. He must therefore compare what he asked for with what he received. For this purpose, the precise phrasing of his request is crucially important.


Now it may be that a dozen trivially different phrasings back in TSR would have given him the Ashandarei, and therefore if in ToM he wrongly remembers one of these dozen phrases he will still reach the correct conclusion (by an incorrect means). That doesn't mean that he isn't trying to remember the phrase he used.
You would have had a point here if Mat's thinking had been along the following lines:
The missing lines you have supplied are a concise description of the typical perfidy of the *finns. But Mat already knows this quite well. There's no need for Mat to explain to himself in his own head what he already knows. When he tells it to Olver, he might use those words, but to himself they're not necessary.


Don't you think the whole thing would have been neater if one of the following emendations had been made?

Either:
1) In TSR Mat uses the phrase 'a way out'.
or
2) In ToM Mat thinks 'I asked to be away from them'.
or
3) In ToM Mat thinks 'And just now I asked for a way out. Maybe I had it with me all the time'.
Machin Shin
141. Iavasechui
Does it really matter at this point people? It's a key and its the third wish item. This isn't really disputable so why are we argueing about exact phrasing when there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it at this point?
JAMES MCCLELLAN
142. ZEXXES
Okay, I get it now. We have an argument over specific phrasing. But what no one has directly mentioned, is that Mat in the present does not ever mention EDIT- "Specifically", in his head or out loud, what he said way back in TSR. He was only remembering that he asked for a way out, not that he used the exact phrase "a way out". I think this is the important distinction that must be acknowledged. Mat never says exactly what he said in the past . His mentioning of "a way out" was only in reflection and was a abbreviated description of what he actually asked for and thus realizing his mistaken ideal of the past.

Z
Machin Shin
143. alreadymadwithfinnprice
The Finns might have also taken the memory of what the Ashandarei was for as part of the price. Since as they pointed out, Mat never gave a price, leaving it to them to set it. And also as pointed out, the price is usually one's life. So what better price than letting someone die, or close to it, and take the memory of how it happened. Mat therefore ended up with (one more)part of his life missing.
Deana Whitney
144. Braid_Tug
@ 137, Tektonica: Thanks for the heads up about the rooms at JordanCon. I just booked mine.
Would it be odd to put my handle from here on my name badge? Along with my real name of course.

I'll worry about the flight later.
Tricia Irish
145. Tektonica
Braid_Tug@144:

Great! Looking forward to meeting up with you too! We usually put our "real" names on the Tag, and then write in our "handle" underneath. It is helpful to have that!

So glad you are booked!

Come one, come all!!
JAMES MCCLELLAN
146. ZEXXES
I think I may show up to the shindig. I've never been to a Con before. It should be interesting at the least.

Z
Jay Dauro
147. J.Dauro
This should be a very interesting JordanCon. A lot of questions answered, and arguments over what has happened (heck, you should have seen the one after we found"Who killed Asmodean?")

Even more, dicussions about the questions that have not been answered, and whether they will be in the Encyclopedia.

But we always have fun. Where else can you see trollocs?
Ron Garrison
148. Man-0-Manetheran
Braid-Tug: Yeah! Glad you're coming. In the text box I asked if they could put Man-0-Manetheran on my badge, but there is always a Sharpie!

ZEXXES - Do come. This one will be special!

J.Dauro - Looking forward to meeting you!
---—
JordanCon - April 19-21. BE THERE Re-Readers! Ms. Leigh is our Toastmistress!
Alice Arneson
149. Wetlandernw
Re: the debate about the ashandarei and the bargaining - For a bit of clarity, I'm copying Mat's thoughts, without the intervening bits of Thom singing and suchlike:
What did the Eelfinn give you?

"If I had my way," Mat whispered, staring at the oncoming Aelfinn, "I would want those holes filled."

"I want those holes filled . . ." Mat whispered to himself. "That's what I said. The Eelfinn obliged, giving me memories that were not my own."

"I want those holes filled," Mat repeated, "so they gave me memories. That was my first boon."

"I asked something else, not knowing it," Mat said. "I said I wanted to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power. They gave me the medallion for that. Another gift."

"And . . . and I asked for one more thing. I said I wanted to be away from them and back to Rhuidean. The Eelfinn gave me everything I asked for. The memories to fill my holes. The medallion to keep me free from the Power. . . ."

And what? They sent him back to Rhuidean to hang. But hanging was a price, not an answer to his demands.

"They did give me something else," Mat whispered, looking down at the ashandarei in his hands as the Aelfinn began to hiss more loudly.

Thus is our treaty written; thus is agreement made.

It was carved on the weapon. The blade had two ravens, the shaft inscribed with words in the Old Tongue.

Thought is the arrow of time; memory never fades.

Why had they given to him? He had never questioned it. But he had not asked for a weapon.

What was asked is given. The price is paid.

No, I didn't ask for a weapon. I asked for a way out.

And they gave me this.

Mat spun the ashandarei and thrust it into the wall.
Mat remembers exactly what he said - the parts in bold are exact (except for tense) quotations of what he said in his TSR visit. I think it is correct to say that the ashandarei was the answer to "away from you and back to Rhuidean" while the hanging was (as Mat notes) the price he paid. His realization in this chapter was that in saying "I want to be away from you and back to Rhuidean" he had essentially asked for a way out; they gave it to him but took his memory and (attempted to take) his life as the price. Whether he actually used the ashandarei in TSR to get out, and then forgot, is something we will probably never know, but it was the fulfillment of part of the bargain they made whether he used it or not. The fact that it was that fulfillment simply got subsumed in the whole hanging business. Nastily clever of them to use the bargain-fulfilling object as part of the "price" mechanism.
Jonathan Levy
150. JonathanLevy
149.Wetlandernw

Ah, thanks for that, Wetlandernw. This does add a bit of clarity.

On the one hand, it shows that Mat is trying to remember precisely what he asked for, and is doing a good job, notwithstanding suggestions that the pressure of the circumstances or translation difficulties make this too hard.

On the other hand, this presence of the quote "I said I wanted to be away from them and back to Rhuidean" is significant. It might just be possible to understand the phrase "I asked for a way out" as a slightly sloppy reference to the previous phrase, rather than an incorrect recollection from TSR. This interpretation looks reasonable when the text is abridged, but it's not quite as good in the actual chapter, since the two phrases are quite widely spaced. I guess a re-read is in order :)

(Under this interpretation, the fact that "I asked for a way out" is congruent with something Mat asked for in ToM is merely a coincidence.)

I still think it's a bit inelegant, but it's not quite as bad as I had originally thought.
Machin Shin
151. rhandric
Since we know that time in the ToG/*finn world works differently (as the *finn knew he would return, and give up his eye, and that circle), it's possible, perhaps even likely, that since he asked for a way out *both* times he met the Eelfin, the ashandarei was given to him in answer to both requests, even if the first time he didn't phrase it the same way.

Which makes sense; while it's not obvious if you don't take into account every detail we know (or don't know) about the *finn-verse, it does end up fitting together.
Nadine L.
152. travyl
This thread has been interesting and fun to read. -
Jonathan I enjoyed all your posts and arguments, even if the problem (now seemingly solved, thanks to wetlandernw) never bugged me.
Terry McNamee
153. macster
@72 Freelancer: Um...you just admitted the staged scene was made in reference to the conversation you quoted which was a real argument. My point was that while the scene was staged, it was about the same thing they actually argued about (Rand's treatment of the Aes Sedai and the division between his allies). I never disputed your point about Perrin being the builder and wanting to keep everyone united and working together, in fact I agree completely. I was just noting that the fake argument referenced what they really did argue about, and that both arguments referred to a division among Rand's allies which has occurred again now, which Perrin may help defuse--in which case both the real AND fake arguments in ACoS have come up again and are relevant, when Leigh thought they wouldn't.

@73 JonathanLevy: Ah, I'd forgotten Ingtar said it too. Well see, my theory still works--Ingtar said the same thing Mat did, and he was awesome and we like him because he came back from the Shadow and did a heroic sacrifice. ;)

@76 re-read fan: I am pretty sure Thor, one of Perrin's antecedents, lost his leg during Ragnarok--to Fenrir, if I remember correctly. (A Darkhound?) See also Braid_Tug's comment @115.

@77 Ashenladoka: The speech of Ingtar's you quoted reminds me--on the WOT Encycolpedia site a footnote for that chapter points out his statement that "it seemed logical" to join the Shadow was hinting he'd been subverted by a member of the White Ajah. If so, it almost had to be Alviarin...who was, in fact, at Fal Dara.

@79 Wetlander: If it wasn't clear, my only specific issue regarding Jain was not getting to find out what was up with his being Compelled by Ishamael--the bits with him in Ebou Dar having fuzzy memory, not knowing what he was supposed to do, only knowing he had a short time to do it, seemed like foreshadowing that Jain had had implanted commands which would make him betray Mat at a later date. But it seems clear now that this was just a red herring and, as I said above, whatever he did for the Shadow (under Graendal's control, possibly helping Asmodean with his disguise, and maybe serving Sammael for a short time before released from service) is no longer relevant and that's why the point was dropped. As far as his full backstory and life, I have no problem not getting to see or learn it in-story.

@83 ValMar: "decent block of ice"--LOL!

@84 DougL: Even if Tarna gets fixed, and in general if Nynaeve or Rand find a way to undo the 13 x 13 trick, that doesn't mean everyone subjected to it will get to be restored, or that many won't still die. Including ones we know and care about.

@93 Weatherman: Very good point. I remember something ominous niggling at me when Moiraine made those statements in her letter, and later I realized what it was--that when she said that in some versions of the future she saw "three come and three leave", and she also said there were versions where "all" of them lived or died, that didn't mean these were the same futures. I.e., nothing guaranteed the three who left were the same three who came, and if one of those was Moiraine that did guarantee one of the three rescuers wouldn't make it. And GardenGnome @135 addresses the sacrifice aspect too--it was foreshadowed right before it happened as well as back in KOD.

@98 JonathanLevy: Ouch! A fair point, though he later got them back when asserting himself over her. :P

Also, while I continue to find your nitpicking semantics to be a bit silly, I do commend you for coming up with an intriguing interpretation of the wording to explain why it didn't match--namely, that the ashandarei was only made a key to get out after Mat's request in this chapter. The only objection I would make to that (since I agree that with time being different for the Finn they could not only know Mat would return but what request he would make) is that his request to leave with Moiraine and the others wouldn't necessarily require the ashandarei be made into a key. Because he had asked for "the way out restored"--meaning, the opening they'd already made with the bronze knife, but since it was on the outside of the Tower the Finn couldn't do that--and for a straight pathway to it which the foxes couldn't attack them along. They knew the doorway was gone but Mat didn't, so taking him to its ruins would fulfill the letter of the request without the spirit, and similarly, if they knew his spear could already open a way out, then they could truthfully say (especially with seeing the future) that "it will be restored" (by the spear, not them). It's not their fault if Mat doesn't figure out in time what its power is and use it. If the Eelfinn already knew what he was going to say on his second trip to them, they could have given him his spear to fulfill that, regardless what he said to them in TSR.

@104 JonathanLevy: How is it a writing excuse if you acknowledge such a thing happens all the time in real life? Just because writing can be crafted in a literary way doesn't mean it can't reflect real life. Sounds to me like you're complaining about reality being unrealistic--that even though we know memory problems happen all the time in real life, we expect fictional characters to have perfect memories, and when they don't it needs to be explained, justified, or properly foreshadowed and set up or we cry foul and call it bad writing. I'm sorry you don't get to have your cake and eat it too.

@121 Staizer: Pretty sure it refers to his memories, since they are from men of the past and therefore a part of "what was".

@125 Zexxes: That's a wonderful poem. Very moving. And you do some very clever language play.

@134 Amir: Love your interpretation. It makes perfect sense and explains why and how Mat suddenly got back to Rhuidean which we all always wondered about. You're quite right, that sort of move fits well with the Finns' M.O., and it isn't even against what they promised to do since they never said they wouldn't take any of his memories, just that the holes (whether ones already existing or new ones) would be filled.

@JonathanLevy: So basically you're complaining because Harriet either didn't fix Jordan's words (or Sanderson's) so they would match, or had perhaps deliberately made them not match in this section so the styles would blend, and you don't like this because you think it could easily have been edited to make them match perfectly and the fact it wasn't has flawed the books. Well, Wetlander has given you a good explanation for the discrepancy (that Mat did remember his exact words, but stated them differently because he was summing up/doing a sloppy shorthand) and you've accepted it, but otherwise, I would suggest you take the matter up with Harriet and find out why she didn't change it or why she did blend the styles in this manner.

Because otherwise it seems you're just complaining about the fact that the language not matching happened solely to keep us from guessing ahead of time what the resolution of the Finn arc and Moiraine's rescue would be (i.e., that if Mat had said "a way out" in TSR, the truth about the ashandarei could have been figured out sooner). Which fine, if you don't like that, in your estimation, Jordan, Harriet, and Sanderson pulled a literary trick to keep you in the dark on a plot point, that's your prerogative. But assuming the discrepancy exists because the authors and editors screwed up something that could easily be fixed, rather than there being a deliberate reason behind it, doesn't seem fair. And when several viable explanations have been made for why Mat's words now don't match what he said in TSR (particularly Wetlander's), continuing to quibble just sounds like more unpleasable fanbase. Unless a later edition corrects his words to match, you have to assume it was written as it was for a reason, and if you don't like that reason...well, the series isn't written solely to please you. :P

On a side note: I've always thought (though I've seen this disputed like so much else in WOT) that Perrin's wolf dream view of Mat naked, snarling, and struggling while bound with the spear behind him was referencing the moment the Finn took him back to Rhuidean to hang him. (Perhaps they put his clothes back on afterward, or that was merely symbolic of him "bargaining like a child/babe" since he'd left himself at their mercies by not negotiating a price.) Since it's pretty much clear we won't be going back to Finnland in AMoL, then unless some torture and beating lie in Mat's future during or before the Last Battle, I think Perrin's vision had to mean when the Finn brought Mat back to Rhuidean. Which just proves they must have taken his memory of the return--since he certainly doesn't remember being bound, struggling, with the spear behind him, let alone being naked. So if they took those memories from him, they could just as easily have taken his memory of using the spear, or of what it could do.
Machin Shin
154. JimF
Well, I had to go read about it to make up my mind. In tSR, Rhuidean, Mat encounters the Foxes. He misinterprets their role, thinking them to answer questions, of which he has many re DotNM; life and death; half the light of the world. When they don't respond, he grows angry and starts monologing. He makes a statement about having the holes - in his memory, in his life - filled, and gets a response: "Done."

This really sets him off. He launches on them, comparing them to Aes Sedai , and says he wants a way to be free of them. And furthermore he wants away from the Foxes and back to Rhuidean. He demands they open a door...and gets two more responses of "Done."

"Done? What is done? I see no door. You lying goat-fathered..."

Here the foxes interrupt, calling him fool, and yet complimenting him on asking for leavetaking. They state that what was asked will be given, and the price will be paid. Then the lights go out for Mat...

who awakens to Rand's desperate resuscitation efforts in tSR, The Dedicated, with a bad headache and an ashanderei in his hand. He informs Rand he had been through the twisted door and talked to the folks inside, but they cheated, because they didn't answer questions. He reads the script on the ashanderei - in the Old Tongue - and laughs. "I'll keep this (also he keeps the medallion, which he apparently instinctively recognizes for what it is), too. Their joke, but I will keep it."

Rand asks: "A joke?" Mat reads the inscription, about what was asked being given, at a price. "A pretty joke, you see..."

Obviously, Mat interprets the ashanderei as a receipt for his little transaction with the Foxes. It is only later that he remembers he asked for a door, a way out - and got it in the form of the ashanderei.

And it seems possible, in the reading, that Mat may have got four boons: the back history; the medallion; shipment back to Rhuidean; and a future door-maker. He was cheated. With the Snakes (and Rand also being in the ter'angreal at the same time) he got SIX answers: 1) Should he go home to help his people? (You must go to Rhuidean.) 2) Why should he go to Rhuidean? (You will die otherwise.) 3) Why will I die? (Because you will have sidestepped your fate.) 4. What fate? (To marry the Daughter of THE Nine Moons! To die and live again, and live once more a part of what was! To give up half the light of the world to save the world!) The latter three came because Mat's ta'veran nature was tearing the place apart (and I suppose that Rand's was augmenting this effect in a major way) and the Snakes wanted Mat out of there, NOW.

Yes, being ta'veran seems to have real benefits.
Chris R
155. up2stuff
macster 153...

Odin was Fenrirs victim, swallowed whole. Fenrir was then killed by one of the other Gods, Odin's son Víðarr. Thor is generally known to be the victor in the battle with the Mid-Gard Serpent, (whos name I wont even attempt), and died of it's venom after winning his fight. There are multiple mentions of "Nine Steps" and nothing in admittedly brief research about him losing a leg. Tyr loses his hand when Fenrir is bound, but that is the only Maiming that is broadly mentioned.
T C
156. Freelancer
JimF @154

Mat doesn't have a clue what his foxhead medallion is/does at first. It is after Moiraine's Healing fails following the darkhound attack (TFoH ch6), that Mat puzzles out that it blocked her channeling. This was also his first realization that the Eelfinn granted requests rather than answering questions.
Machin Shin
157. Jimmy Finley
156. Freelancer says: "...Mat doesn't have a clue what his foxhead medallion is/does at first...."

Oh, I agree with that. In Rhuidean, I think he realizes the thing is important, and only later connects the dots to find out what it does. But when he first sees it, he merely pockets it with no comment (Mat doesn't complain when he thinks he got something useful). The ashanderei evokes some bitter words because he thinks it is intended to be a reminder of what - to him - was a deceptive and fraudulent transaction. His luck must have been in good standing, because he blundered into several enormously useful gifts.
JAMES MCCLELLAN
158. ZEXXES
Jormungandr is the Midgard serpents real name. He is the mid brother to Fenris and Hel, one of the three children born to Loki or Utgard-Loki and the giantess Angrboda.

Z
William McDaniel
159. willmcd
I first read the Wheel of Time starting in November 1993, and finished up the last available volume, the Fires of Heaven, a couple of months later. Not long after that, a friend forwarded me "The Wheel of Time FAQ" via email (I had never been on this thing called "the World Wide Web" at that point) and as I read it, my mind was blown by all of the hidden meaning that I had completely missed during my read-through of the books. Chief among the stunning revelations was that Moiraine was almost certainly not dead, but would be rescued by Thom later in the series.

I guess it was because the end of TFoH was where I was originally left waiting, but for whatever reason as the years wore on, the two questions that I eagerly looked to see some movement on as each new book was released were: (1) Who killed Asmodean? and (2) When is Moiraine coming back? --- the two looming questions from the last chapters of TFoH.

Now, I was pretty disappointed for 7 books (and 17 years) or so, but was greatly relieved in 2010 to finally get the answers. I had no problems with the pacing of these chapters, and generally thought they were great. I agree with Leigh that the depth of foreshadowing and prophecy that surrounded Moiraine's rescue may have taken some of the wonder out of them on first reading. Some of that wonder is a casualty of the Internet Age, when instead of just gradually pulling nuggets out of books on our own (or discussing them with a small group of friends), we can get excellent summaries of every thought that the most hard-core fans in the world have ever had about the books.

I share the disappointment of many other readers that we never got to find out exactly how Jain had been "used" by Ishamael and how he ended up in Graendal's clutches, but I really liked that he was in the story at all, as like many readers from the first mention of Jain Farstrider I had a vague hope and suspicion that he was still kicking around we would see him before the series was over.

Interesting thoughts by billiam @94 on Taim's "behind-the-back fist" being an indicator of the "Taim is Moridin" theory. I read it as being a more basic type of symbolism that Taim's aggression is for the moment concealed, but still poised to strike out.
William McDaniel
160. willmcd
One thing that wasn't discussed much in these comments was the song that Thom sings during what seems like the last moments for our heroes. Interspersed as it was with a heart-pounding action scene and Mat desperately trying to figure out how to escape, I kept feeling like I was missing some of the meaning in it, so I wrote it out separately to see what I could figure out (with line numbers for easy reference!):
(1) Oh, how long were the days of a man,
(2) When he strode upon a broken land.
(3) He sailed as far as a man could steer,
(4) And he never wished to lose his fear.
(5) For the fear of man is a thing untold.
(6) It keeps him safe, and it proves him bold!
(7) Don’t let fear make you cease to strive,
(8) for that fear it proves you remain alive!
(9) I will walk this broken road,
(10) and I will carry a heavy load!
(11) So come at me with your awful lies,
(12) I’m a man of truth, and I’ll meet your eyes!
It seems to me that lines (1-3) contain some references to Noal, who has indeed lived for long days (1), and who has indeed "strode" (2) "far" (3).

Lines 4-8 seem pretty general, in suggesting that fear in itself is not altogether a bad thing and that we should carry on in spite of it.

Re: Line (9), the "road" that Mat, Thom and Noal walked in the Tower of Ghenjei was certainly "broken", in space-time even. Thom literally carries a “heavy load” (10) in Moiraine, whereas Noal is carrying the burden of his past failures. In carrying Moiraine out of the Tower, all three of them are carrying the weight of the future of the world.

The "awful lies" of line (11) might refer simply to the deceitfulness of the 'Finn in their bargaining, whereas the "I'll meet your eyes!" of line (12) seems to capture Mat being willing to meet the 'Finns demand that he sacrifice his eye.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has other thoughts on the song.

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