Tue
Apr 30 2013 12:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 11

The Wheel of Time Re-read: A Memory of LIght Part 11 Robert Jordan Brandon SandersonReady, set, Re-read! *cannon boom*

Today’s entry covers Chapter 10 of A Memory of Light, in which a mystery is introduced, involuntarily bad decisions are made, and a deeply unfortunate race is begun.

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. The index for all things specifically related to the final novel in the series, A Memory of Light, is here.

I am also thrilled to continue to tell you that the Wheel of Time Re-read is also now available as e-books, from your preferred e-book retailer! How cool is THAT, seriously.

This re-read post, and all posts henceforth, contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

HEY YOU GUYZ: JordanCon V totally just happened, and it was a metric ton of awesome. I had so much fun being Toastmaster I can’t even express it—though naturally I tried. At length.

If you’ve not read my reports on it, you can find them here and here. The latter now including video of the Opening Ceremonies! Whoo!

Onward!

 

Chapter 10: The Use of Dragons

What Happens
Perrin and Arganda lead a sortie against the Trollocs outside the city, trying to get them to break from the walls. It is unsuccessful, and Perrin tells Arganda they will sweep past as many times as they need to make them break.

A messenger brings this news to Elayne in Braem Wood, who complains to Birgitte about the slowness of this kind of information relay. Birgitte ignores her until Elayne suggests popping over to the city to look at the situation, and then informs her that if Elayne tries it, Birgitte will throw her over her shoulder and carry her back to camp.

Elayne frowned. “Remind me why, exactly, I gave you one of those medallions?”

“I’m not sure,” Birgitte said. “It showed remarkable foresight and an actual sense of self-preservation. Completely unlike you.”

“I hardly think that is fair, Birgitte.”

“I know! It is extremely unfair for me to have to deal with you. I wasn’t certain you’d noticed. Are all young Aes Sedai as reckless as you are, or did I just end up with the pick of this particular litter?”

“Stop whining,” Elayne muttered, maintaining a smile and a nod for the men who saluted as she passed. “I’m beginning to wish I had a Tower-trained Warder. Then, at least, I wouldn’t hear so much sauce.”

Birgitte laughed. “I don’t think you understand Warders half as well as you think you do, Elayne.”

Elayne is shocked then to see Uno, who tells her that the Amyrlin wanted a “flaming messenger” to report to Elayne’s commanders from Kandor, and he was “bloody chosen.” Elayne smiles and uses a particularly vile curse in return, which causes Uno to do a spittake. Birgitte watches admiringly as he leaves, to Elayne’s embarrassment. They go to the command tent to meet Bashere, Abell Cauthon, Gallenne and Trom (Galad is with Perrin’s strike force). Bashere reports Uno’s news from Kandor, that Egwene’s ranks are being swelled with refugees from the country, and that Ituralde’s troops are still waiting on Rand. Elayne is taken aback at the news that Agelmar is considering a retreat from Tarwin’s Gap, saying she thought he had enough men to hold.

“They are holding for now,” Bashere said. “But they’re still being mightily pressed.” He held up a hand to her objection. “I know you’re worried about a retreat, but I counsel that you shouldn’t try to overrule Agelmar. He deserves his reputation as a great captain, and he’s there, while we are far away. He will know what to do.”

Elayne accepts this, and they move on to their own situation. Elayne reflects that she must win here, and quickly, or the other armies will be left without reinforcement and lose slow wars of attrition. She orders that they step up the harrying of the Trollocs at the walls. Trom asks, what if they retreat back into the city, and Elayne tells him that in that case they will have no choice but to level Caemlyn with the dragons.

Androl barely manages to stay awake against the strange tea they’d forced on him. Pevara is asleep, and Emarin is weeping; they haven’t managed to Turn him yet, but Androl thinks he is weakening. Taim is furious at the thirteen channelers he’s been using, who are exhausted. Taim’s minions drag in Toveine, one of the Aes Sedai bonded to Logain, and Taim orders her Turned next. Androl sees Taim fondling something disc-shaped for a moment, before he gathers up Mishraile and leaves.

Lan gallops toward the Gap with Prince Kaisel and King Easar. Queen Ethenielle joins them as they all hear why Lan went off: explosions. Narishma dashes up with his Aes Sedai to confirm Dreadlords at the front, possibly up to two dozen. Agelmar points out that the Dreadlords will cut through them “like a sword through a spring lamb.”

Lan looked across the bitter landscape, once his homeland. A homeland he’d never known.

He would have to abandon Malkier. Admitting it felt like a knife twisting inside him, but he would do it. “You have your retreat, Lord Agelmar,” Lan said.

Narishma is saying that it will be difficult to stop the Dreadlords without making targets of themselves when an explosion almost unhorses Lan. He shouts to Narishma to go to Elayne and bring back more channelers before they are all cut to ribbons.

Light protect us, Lan thought, yelling himself ragged and salvaging what he could of his cavalry. The Gap was lost.

Elayne waits nervously in the Wood. She asks Birgitte about a story in which Birgitte in one of her earlier incarnations had robbed a queen in these woods, but feels guilty for bringing it up when Birgitte can’t remember all of the story. A messenger arrives to report that Lord Aybara has succeeded in baiting the Trollocs, and they are on their way. Elayne sets about getting the news to the rest of her commanders.

Later, Elayne embraces the Source as she hears Perrin’s forces approach their position, and calls the archers to the front, then yells at them to wait until their own troops are past. Tam tells her that no Two Rivers bowman would miss at this range, and Elayne sees the Trollocs readying to shoot their own bows. Though she has qualms about Tam’s claims, she shouts for the archers to fire, hoping he is right.

The arrows arced and dropped, not a one falling too short. They rained onto the Trolloc ranks, especially on the Trolloc archers. A few straggling Trolloc arrows returned, but the Two Rivers men had handily broken up their lines.

“That’s some fine archery,” Birgitte said, riding back up. “Fine indeed…”

The Two Rivers men fall back, and Elayne orders the Legion of the Dragon’s crossbowmen forward. Their assault fells thousands of the enemy, and the Two Rivers men climb trees and begin shooting from above. The Trollocs still advance, and when a contingent breaks toward the road to the east, Elayne calls for her troops to fall back to where the Ghealdanin pikemen are assembled, and past, Elayne shouting to Alliandre to make sure they fall back as well as soon as the Trollocs hit them, drawing them to where the Aiel wait further in. She continues on to the road, hearing explosions from where troops are slinging Aludra’s “roarsticks” at the enemy. She reaches the road at the same time the Trolloc contingent does, where the Band of the Red Hand awaits them, ranked behind the dragons. They shoot four volleys in succession, deafening Elayne and obscuring the battleground with smoke.

A strong breeze from the west cleared the smoke enough for her to see… Elayne gasped softly.

Thousands of Trollocs lay in smoldering pieces, many blown off the road completely. Arms, legs, strands of coarse hair, pieces lay scattered amid holes in the ground fully two paces wide. Where there had once been many thousands of Trollocs, only black blood, broken bones and smoke remained. Many of the trees had been shattered into splintered trunks. Of the Myrddraal that had been at the front, there was no sign at all.

Elayne is exultant, but Birgitte is solemn. She comments that having channelers in open combat is bad enough, but now “any boy with a tube of metal” can destroy an army, and it worries her. Elayne tells her that on the contrary, the dragons will ensure peace once it is over.

“Nobody but Trollocs would go into battle, knowing they face weapons like these!”

“Perhaps,” Birgitte said. She shook her head. “Maybe I have less faith in the wisdom of people than you do.”

Commentary
Ah, so nice to see Randland joining the arms race with the rest of the world, eh?

Er.

Elayne and Birgitte’s exchange at the end of this chapter is about as succinct a summation of the arms race dilemma as I’ve seen, and the problem is, as history stands no one can yet say for sure which one of them is right. Possibly, the question does not admit of an answer. Unless we do actually manage to destroy ourselves in a nuclear apocalypse, in which case Birgitte is right.

But thus far, in a limited way Elayne has been right: given the development of sufficiently horrific weapons of mass destruction, we have managed to refrain (so far) from engaging in a scenario of total and mutually assured destruction. Even if only by the skin of our teeth on occasion.

She’s not completely correct, of course, unless you stretch the definition of “peace” to be the non-nuclear shenanigans we’ve all been merrily and homicidally engaging in for the last sixty-odd years since nukes were invented. And I like making a word work for its supper, y’all, but that’s probably taking it a bit far even for me.

So, no, Elayne, inventing bigger and badder weapons does not ensure peace. All it ensures is that the other guy is either going to invent an even bigger and badder weapon than yours, or, lacking that, find some way to make your big bad weapon irrelevant.

Thank God for human ingenuity, amirite? Yeah, we’re awesome.

Blurg.

This is where the cosmology of the Wheel of Time occasionally falls down for me a little bit. Because I can certainly follow how the Third Age eventually morphs into our own Age, wherever that may fall on the cycle, but seeing how we get from the rather shitty Age of Us to the (apparently) pristine and lovely and violence-free utopia of the Age of Legends is a bit of a hard sell, sometimes.

Cynicism: it’s what’s for breakfast!

I’m not really calling Elayne out for her blithe optimism on the dragons, mind you. Well, I am, but it’s worth pointing out that many many supposedly very wise people have thought the exact same thing before her. So even if we’re pretending that she’s not a fictional mouthpiece representing all those people (which she totally is), we can certainly say she is not alone in her massive misconception of the fundamental nature of human aggression towards itself. Yay?

Yeah, probably not yay. But anyone expecting happy warm fuzzies as we move into the middle(ish) section of this novel should probably quit reading and go find a puppy to hug or something, because it all just gets more and more dire from here.

That said: Uno! Hooray!

It was a very little cameo, but I enjoyed it. Uno’s one of those strange minor characters that (I feel) has become very unexpectedly popular with the fans. Probably because of the cursing. Because as we know, people who curse a lot are AWESOME.

(What?)

Also, Birgitte: still awesome. I love how she never fails to call Elayne on her shit. And how Elayne still doesn’t really get that that’s the actual second-most important function of Warders in the first place. Possibly, the most important.

(Warders: equivalent to the Seanchan practice of Truthspeakers? DISCUSS.)

The battle scene in Braem Wood was sort of parallel-ishly interesting alongside the cannon/dragon thing, because of the reminder that until gunpowder was used in weaponry, the most significant weapons advancement in warfare was the longbow. Which we also see employed to devastating effect in this chapter. I don’t really have an especially deep observation to go with that; I just think the way Randland occasionally dogpiles historical periods/developments on top of each other is fun.

Androl’s little blip of a scene here was, as I recall, rather shocking, or really just befuddling. Because how in the hell, thinks me, does Taim have a seal? All but three of the seven seals are broken (I know this because of my FAQings), and we just saw Rand hand those three unbroken seals to Egwene at the Team Light Symposium of (Mostly) Non-Evil Plotting™ in Chapter 6. So what the hell, over?

And… erm. I don’t remember what the explanation is for this. Although the most logical and obvious thing to assume, of course, is that the seal Taim gave to Rand as a peace offering in LOC was a fake from the start, and Taim’s had the real seventh seal all along. Oooooh.

Very sneaky, if that’s the case. Though I have to ask, if so, why no one thought to wonder why one of the seals wasn’t leaking icky Dark One juice everywhere, as we learned the other seals were doing. Or maybe it was, and the ruse set-up was just that elaborate. Sure, why not.

Randomly, I was oddly pleased that Emarin proved to be resistant to being Evilled. That whole storyline is filled with characters I never expected to empathize with this much, actually. Which is awful nice.

As for the strategery in this chapter (what, that is totally a word), it’s amazing (or not, really) how much more ominous every word coming out of any of the Great Captains’ mouths are, now that I know It’s All An Evil Plot. But, I guess, kudos for it being one of the few Evil Plots of the series that (a) was nearly totally successful, and (b) I genuinely never saw coming.

Also: LAAAAAAAAAAN. Speaking of someone who’s getting utterly hosed by that Evil Plot. Though it’s worth pointing out, terrible as it might be to say, that if the Borderlands are the only thing Team Light loses in this war, it’s probably cheap at the cost, you know?


Yeah, you totally know. Just like you totally know I will be back next Tuesday with Moar! Cheers!

96 comments
Alyson Mahn
1. AyeJaySedai
I think I picked up on the seal thing pretty quick and had an 'oh shiz' moment, I just wondered how they managed to get the past Jebus!Rand and his parnoia/evil detector. I buy that it could totally happen, I just want a good explination as to how.
Eric Wyatt
2. SunDriedRainbow
Emarin is the gay one, right?

WOO TEAM RAINBOW! You resist that Dark One!

I think Birgitte's little speech here was one of the Memories of Light that got emailed out to those of us who opted in because MUST HAVE EVERY SCRAP OF AMOL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and I chortled as heartily (note: chartling hortily is not a thing) at the email as I did at the scene in question. It (unlike certain scenes in TGS and TOM) was funny and rang true at the same time, to me.
Deana Whitney
3. Braid_Tug
Love Birgitte's "pick of the litter" comment in this chapter.

Emarin – I had to look him up. Because all the Asha’man were introduced so late, I couldn’t keep them straight (no pun intended).
It really didn’t help that he took on his brother’s name from when we first met him. Agh!
Yes, I think he was our throw away “he doesn’t like women” gay man reference.

Seals: Did it ever feel like a the shell game to anyone else? Show of hands – who saw it?
I sure didn’t, but I also didn’t make note of it.

How is it that only the Two Rivers had the tradition of Long bows? Not sure if this has been discussed or not. But Leigh’s right pilling the long bow, the crossbow, and the cannons together as a “Seen for the first time on a battle field” moment, is rather awesome.

Yes, I know each has been used in various fights along the way, but this was when everyone got to see them in full action.

Oh the war historians of this world are going to have a field day in the future.
neverspeakawordagain
4. neverspeakawordagain
@ 1 AyeJaySedai: If you remember correctly, in the prologue to... I think it was Knife of Dreams?... there was a plot to steal the seals, which involved assassination attempts on Bashere and Dobraine (the latter of which Karldin and Loial walked in on), where Loial and Bashere independently realized that they were trying to steal the seals. They sent word to Rand, and he immediately safeguarded them, but it's likely that the seals had already been stolen by that point and he was safeguarding the copies.
Alyson Mahn
5. AyeJaySedai
2. I thought it was one of the Borderland nobels, the Queen's swordbearer, who was gay? Lan mentally comments on it in a later chaper.

4. So the Dark had a plan that actually worked and we are just finding out. I know we are supposed to root against them, but I want to hear more about this super effective 00666.
neverspeakawordagain
6. Joruus
Leigh,

Recall that Rand figures out the 3 seals he gave to Egwene were fakes and he had no idea where they really were. Obviously Taim still has one, but I don't think we ever find out who has the other two.
neverspeakawordagain
7. Insomnia333
Out of the 3 battlefronts that are going on right now, this one never made any sense to me from a tactical standpoint. The trolloc forces here where supposed to be much smaller than the other fronts (around 100,000 or so I thought) and we heard after the fact about Perrin's raid on the waygate to prevent reinforcements
Yet, this was supposed to be the "quickly wipe out the force to our rear and rejoin the main fronts" force and yet their strategy is to pull the trollocs out of Caemlyn into Braem Woods, but the woods are supposedly around 100 miles away. That would take several days of riding, and why would the trollocs leave the city to chase that long? Then despite the dragons taking out thousands of trollocs at a time they get harried across hundreds of miles to Cairhien and only get saved by last second unexpected reinforcements.
Seems to me since they already used the oil to burn most of Caemlyn, and they weren't trying to save the city, then take 100 or so of the Aes Sedai and at the same time they light the oil have them reign destruction down on the city. Most all the trollocs were bunched up in the city, so it'd be like shooting fish in a barrel. Then the calvary and dragons can clean up the rest of the stragglers and you can be done with the place and join the other fronts.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it and there are some great scenes, but from a tactical standpoint this front made no sense to me at all.
William Carter
8. wcarter
Warders are awesome. Birgitte doubly so.

Never mind all the other duties queen 'leap then look as your plummeting' foisted on her, just rescuing Elayne from Yet Another Kidnapping was a full time job for the poor woman.
It's amazing Birgitte didn't lose her min-- you know what? Never mind, I'm not even going there...
Sean Dowell
9. qbe_64
Back already? I thought we had another week off before the re-reads return. Haven't re-read the chapter yet, but it kicks off last battle,
phase 1, fronts Gap and Andor, quite nicely.

It strikes me as odd that the Queen of Andor, in which the Two Rivers resides (albeit ignored by Camelyn for the most part), doesn't know about Longbows? I can't imagine Tam was the only Two Rivierian to fight the Aiel, did no one notice the magical bows they brought with them? Twenty years and no one has thought to train a legion or two? Even taking into account that you apparently need to grow up using a long-bow to fire it effectively, you've had TWENTY YEARS to train a legion. C'MON!
neverspeakawordagain
10. neverspeakawordagain
Leigh: If all the lightside lost were borderlanders, it would be cheap at the price. But that certainly wasn't the case. Using the military force section from the FAQ: http://wotfaq.dragonmount.com/node/136

Rand had access to about 420,000 Aiel. They fought in Shayol Ghul, along with the Arad Domaners and non-Seanchan Taraboner rebels, which was probably a force of around 40,000 or so... to make the numbers even, let's say there were a half-million fighters on the front at Shayol Ghul. At the end of the book, we're told that only one in ten survived, so over 400,000 soldiers died at Shayol Ghul.

The Borderlanders fought at Tarwin's Gap, and we're told at some point that two thirds of their number are killed before Jagad's compulsion is found out. The FAQ says that there were 200,000 soldiers in the Borderlander army, and another 20,000 or so Malkieri came with Lan for the initial charge at the Gap, so we can figure that approximately 140,000 borderlanders were killed in the fighting at Tarwin's Gap.

The FAQ also says that there were about 500,000 additional soldiers at Rand's disposal (between Tairens, Cairhienin, Illianers, Andorans, Ghealdanin and Mayeners, Bashere's Saldaean light cavalry, the Legion of the Dragon, the Band of the Red Hand, and Perrin's army). Let's say Murandy was able to supply another 35,000 or so troops. Between information we got from A Crown of Swords and The Gathering Storm, we can estimate that the Aes Sedai Tower Guard contained about 150,000 troops. Then let's say that there are, roughly, 10,000 remaining Children of the Light.

Then there are the massive numbers of stragglers who came into camp (which the FAQ doesn't include), who were said to come from all nations and all backgrounds, but contained a disproportionately large number of people who were unexpectedly skilled at fighting. I don't remember an exact number on that (although I vaguely seem to recall something along the lines of their numbers being equal to those of all the other soldiers combined, but my memory isn't clear enough to state that definitively)... so let's say there were, conservatively, another 150,000 of them.


That would put the total number of troops available to Rand's armies (not including Seanchan) at Kandor and Caemlyn at around 850,000 soldiers. I don't think it's a stretch to say that nearly half of those soldiers were killed, either in Kandor and Caemlyn or at the Fields of Merillor after that. So that's another 400,000 dead.

So, adding up the losses at Tarwin's Gap, Shayol Ghul, and the other battlefields, I think a conservative estimate of the number of lightside soldiers killed (to say nothing of the number of channelers and non-combatants, such as the slaughtered commoners Logain ends up saving in his last POV scene), not including the Seanchan, is approximately 950,000 dead. Throw in the Seanchan losses, and the Last Battle took well over one million lives just in combat (to say nothing of the mass starvation resultant from all the food spoilage of the previous few months).
Deana Whitney
11. Braid_Tug
@ qbe_64: you're forgetting that Tam was fighting as a Companion of Illian. So was using a sword. The Two River's "militia" was never called up or sent to the Aiel war. He was one of the few men from there because he'd already left home several years prior.

Guess he left his bow at home and never showed anybody how to use a long bow. Just made due with the short ones everyone was familiar with.
neverspeakawordagain
12. neverspeakawordagain
@5 AyeJaySedai: Two male characters are described as gay in this book; both Emarin and the sword bearer you mentioned.
Alice Arneson
13. Wetlandernw
@ several re: the seals - Rand was carrying three copies, and Taim has (at this point) all three originals. As noted @4 (neverspeakawordagain), the “attempt to steal the seals” much earlier was actually successful, because it never occurred to Rand (or the rest of Team Light) that they weren’t merely stealing, they were swapping. It’s probable that the one Rand received from Taim was a fake – and adds an interesting twist to Taim’s apparent fear when Rand looked like he would try to smash it on the spot. (What really would have happened if he had? Was it even really made of cuendillar?) I think it’s fair to say that from the time the seals in Dobraine’s and Bashere’s keeping were swapped out, Taim has been carrying (or hiding) the last three.

(ETA: minor correction - it was the Prologue to Crossroads of Twilight when Bashere's and Dobraine's quarters were burgled.)

@2 and @5 – Both. Emarin and Baldhere.

Neverspeak @10 – Nice summary! Also: Ouch.
Alyson Mahn
14. AyeJaySedai
12. neverspeakawordagain There is already fanfiction, isn't there?

13. Wetlandernw Thanks, I am bad with names.
Jordan Hibbits
15. rhandric
Remember, the Seals Rand has are fake (though, unless I missed something, Team Light doesn't realize it yet). That's (partly) why Androl and Pevara end up as double agent spy folk with Androl being double-Mask of Mists back to his own appearance and all.
“I’m not sure,” Birgitte said. “It showed remarkable foresight and an actual sense of self-preservation. Completely unlike you.”
I love that comment
Kat Werner
16. Sakaea
I think Warders are definitely the equivalent of Truthspeakers, because they call BS when it's apparent to every one but their particular Aes Sedai that that is what it is. (That totally made sense in my brain...)
Roger Powell
17. forkroot
Wetlandernw@13
It's possible that the seal Taim gave Rand at the start of Load of Choss was itself a load of choss :-)

On the other hand ... I really like Samadai's theory that the seal had a finder weave on it and that Team Dark expected Rand to store it with the two others he had. In this case, since TD planned a "swap raid" why chance Taim's cover with a fake seal? It would make more sense to give Rand the real thing, just in case he examined it closely, then plan to swap it at the same time as the others.
Alice Arneson
18. Wetlandernw
I see a couple of new folks on here. YAY! (I'd do the Leigh-sparkly-yay, but I can't.) Anyway, welcome! Ayejaysedai and Sakaea, you're both new(ish), right?

(Also @16: it made sense in my brain too - so either it actually made sense, or our brains are frighteningly similar in their incomprehensibilities...)
William Carter
19. wcarter
@11 Braid_Tug

Taim wouldn't have bothered trying to teach Illian soliders how to use the long bow. It's too specialized and takes way too long to train someone to proficiency.
You'll hear the phrase "a lifetime" thrown around a lot when Welsh longbows are discussed. Conversely, a crossbow needs very little training at all.

*edit spacing issues
Robert Dickinson
20. ChocolateRob
My take on the seals is that Taim probobly had some sort of subtle tracking spell on the one he gave to Rand so many books ago. All the ploting to find the seals in the earlier books probably caused Rand to keep them together somewhere only he knew of. It makes sense that the Dark One would sacrifice one of his seals earlier in order to gain them all later. I have no specific proof of this but with no oficial word otherwise it makes the most sense. Quite simple really.
neverspeakawordagain
21. TBGH
@3

If I remember right, all of the two rivers longbows are made from black yew which was implied to only (or primarily) grow in that area. I do know that IRL only a few varieties of trees can be made into effective long bows because of the tensile strength needed.
neverspeakawordagain
22. Ser Tom
@10 Leah never said it was only Borderlanders lost during the Last Battle, but that land-wise, the only territory lost was the Borderlands. Nice bit of number crunching there, though.
Alyson Mahn
23. AyeJaySedai
18. Wetlandernw Long time lurker, first time poster. I just caught up with the reread yesterday.

It would have been nice to see the switcheroo happen. We don't get to read about many competant darkfriends. What is written is cool because there is forshadowing, but it also would have been nice to havet the readers find out before Team Light, because then there would have been the tense "No lightsiders! Those are not the seals!" thing going on for us. If that makes sense?
neverspeakawordagain
24. AndrewB
Joruus @6. M'Hael has the three remaining Seals. During the LB, Androl swipes the pouch containing all 3 seals. In the aftermath of the Battle of Fields of Merrilor, Logain breaks 3 seals.

Very nice coordination among the various forces in Elayne's army during the Battle at Braem Wood. The forging of the nations of Randland into one force is something that (IMO) has been overlooked in this re-read. At least, I do not think that I have seen many comments regarding this topic. Given the tendencies of some nations to "shoot first, then ask questions" this cooperation is quite remarkable. I think it says a lot of the leadership qualities of those who helped build and/or lead the coalition (especially, in no particular order, Elayne, Perrin, and Bashere). I do not put Rand in this group as the factions he cobbled together were the result of the sword. The exception to conquering by the sword was the exception of the Aiel and the Broderlanders: both of whom initially followed Rand due Rand's fulfillment of prophecy.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Nick Hlavacek
25. Nick31
@3, @19 and @21 are both correct. Building an effective force of longbows requires a large supply of the specific types of wood that can be used (such as yew) and LOTS of training. I've seen discussions that stated it took training over not just lifetimes, but entire generations. Two Rivers, because of its relative isolation and forests of black yew, had the resources and even more importantly the time to train longbow archers. No other region in Randland had that.
Sean Dowell
26. qbe_64
@11, @19 - I'm not saying that Tam would be training people for the war, but you would that in a 2-3 year war, SOMEONE in a position of authority would have seen a Two Rivers longbow at some point and thought, HEY those are handy! maybe we should think about using those in the future.
There's at least a half dozen passages between soldiers talking about how awesome these bows are in the current war. I can't imagine that not a single Two Rivers man brought one to the war. Especially since they wouldn't have formal training in much anything else.
Stefan Mitev
27. Bergmaniac
That Elayne comment at the end really seems out of character to me. She's too well aware of the ugly side of politics and the realities of war. And besides, it's not like she hasn't heard reports by now of the battles between Seanchan forces with their damane and Rand's Asha'man supported armies, and a channeller is a more destructive than a cannon. Or all the other battles the Seanchan has had to fight until now. it's not like people just gave up because they had damane.
Alice Arneson
28. Wetlandernw
qbe_64 @26 - Don't forget that Tam was... something of an oddity, for even leaving the Two Rivers. It didn't happen often. So there wouldn't have been more than (at most) a handful of men from the Two Rivers in the Aiel War at all; the chance of one or more of that handful having brought a bow along and having the chance to use it where someone in a position of authority would even see it is pretty small. Just saying.

I think if the Two Rivers hadn't been quite so isolated for so long, what you're suggesting would probably have happened. But we're told that they're very isolated, and that while merchants and peddlers come and go, virtually no one leaves the TR. The chances of someone else leaving at the right time, and joining up with an army to fight in the Aiel war, are pretty slim. And let's not forget that the entire conflict took place well away from the Two Rivers - far, far to the east and north. Recruiters weren't exactly streaming in. :)
Deana Whitney
29. Braid_Tug
Re: Long bows -
Isn't there a bit about the boys being made fun of for their bows until they use it? Or is that just Mat after he finds the bow stave?
No regular soldier believed in the power or distance of the bows until they saw them.n Then, those who tired failed to draw it properly.

Still like it when Perrin has to worry about anyone telling Faile that her bow is a "boy's" bow.

Yes, in RL England and Wales had a law about requiring men to practice with their bows on Sunday after church. I cannot remember how long that law was in place but I think it was from the 11-12th century.
William Carter
30. wcarter
@26 qbe_64

My guess is if there were any other" Two Rivers men" in the Aiel war, they would probably have been from Taren Ferry. It's the only place in the region that might get enough news from the outside world to actually react to it.

Even if a few went, they may or may not even use the bow. They are afterall the closest thing the Two Rivers had to townies.

But let's say that a few did go and one or two of them actually brought bows. Well, they're still part of conglamerate force of multiple nations and factions. It's actually pretty damn hard to get noticed in those conditions.

But let's ignore that. Let's say some captain or lord did happen to see some hayseed shepard with an oversized bown. In the actual books we see time and time again that that the average response to the the Two Rivers bow by soliders and lords who see it is mockery and derision--at least until they see it fired.

O.K. Let's assume captain hypothetical did see the bow hit an aielman at 80 or 100 paces further out than he might have thought.

At the end of the day, there is no reason any sane general would choose to equip his forces with long bows over the infinitely more practical crossbow if they didn't come pre-trained. Yes the long bow is better in terms of range and armor piercing capability (in the hands of a master at least), but it's not better by enough of a margin to overcome the drawbacks.


Think about it:

1 . Soliders have to carry their own equipment, the bow is bulky.

2. They have to be trained to use it--flat out impossible for a long bow in 2-3 years, and unlikely in even the 20 years between the Aiel war and Rand's leaving the Two Rivers.

3. Soliders have to be able to maintain their equipment. Black yew or a similarly dense, flexible wood would be needed in large quantities. Again not happening.

And with the advent of the canon, it's unlikely that it ever will in the 4th age. (My guess is crossbows stay dominant for a while thanks to Mat's improved crank then are eventually overtaken by rifles).
Valentin M
31. ValMar
Nice effort sosoon after the JCon Leigh!

Re: the longbows. No way Tam was going to introduce the weapon during his career in Illian for the reasons folks had spelled out already. For the same reason the longbows couldn't be proliferated during the timespan of the main series. It would've stretched credibility past breaking point.
The creation of the crossbow weilding Legion of the Dragon made sense, OTOH. After all, in RL the famed (in the English-speaking world) longbow didn't really spread whilst the crossbow, Hussite-style wagons, pikes, gunpowder did.
It may be very nice if you could produce with a lot of effort a couple of thousand extra longbows and manage to train by some miracle men to use them. But it will be better to spend the time and resources to produce twenty times as many crossbows instead.
Ron Garrison
32. Man-0-Manetheran
"After all," Elayne said, "I can defend myself, as I have proven on a number of occasions."
No response.
Heh. I can just see Brandon chuckling to himself as he wrote that.
neverspeakawordagain
33. Jonellin Stonebreaker
Welcome back, all!
@leighdb

"Because I can certainly follow how the Third Age eventually morphs into our own Age, wherever that may fall on the cycle, but seeing how we get from the rather shitty Age of Us to the (apparently) pristine and lovely and violence-free utopia of the Age of Legends is a bit of a hard sell, sometimes."

That's because it's not an immediate succession.

While superficially it seems that we will be in the Age of Us after the LB, we have to go through several steps before that can happen.
While I can't be certain what will happen, I believe that the sequence might go thusly:
4th Age: channeling & technology develop together, with Rand's Schools, the remaining Supergirls (and Aviendha's devoted slave Hessalam!), and the reformed Black Tower leading to insights and developments perhaps surpassing those the Age of Legends.

The fact that channelers can now live out their full lives, however, means that there will be a very long time indeed before truth turns into legend and legend into myth.

The end of channeling and the life extension associated with it will be necessary for the transition to the Fifth Age, and the loss of high nonmagical technology for the transition to the Sixth Age. During these ages, even if the events at the end of the Third Age were ancient history, they would still be history. Some type of cataclysm would be needed to bring society down to the lowest level of civilization that we currently find in our exploration of humanity's past on the Earth.

If we were in the WOT universe, we would most likely be the Seventh Age; the growing atheism of our age is the only manner in which I could see things developing to the point where the very idea that a Dark One could exist would be completely forgotten while also leaving enough of a gap after it so that pre Age of Legends artifacts such as Portal Stones and the unearthly beasts of the Seanchan could exist without anyone having any knowledge of their origin.

And even in our Age, we are actually getting less violent as time goes on. 200 years ago, to be hanged for stealing a loaf of bread was more or less par for the course almost anywhere in the world, whereas today only a handful of countries have capital punishment even for murderers; the entire combatant casualty list, both Western allied and Taliban allied, during this 11 year long war if Afghanistan could be equaled or surpassed in any number of single battles during many wars in the past. It's not entirely unimaginable that if societal and intrapersonal violence keep diminishing at current rates that 1000 or 1500 years from know even striking someone in anger with a fist will be seen the way an armed attack is viewed now.
Kimani Rogers
34. KiManiak
Thanks, Leigh. And welcome back from Jordancon; glad to hear (read) that you and some of our reread posse had such a great time.

I haven’t had the chance to read and respond to the comments yet (and won’t be able to do so until much later), but I wanted to at least provide my response to Leigh’s post.

I love Birgitte being the voice of the reader in criticizing Elayne’s traditional foolhardily impulsive behavior, by a rare display of “remarkable foresight and an actual sense of self-preservation.“ Birgitte is right; it’s not fair that Birgitte (and many others of Elayne’s followers) had to be subjected to Elayne’s recklessness, as well as Elayne’s tendency to not think about the consequences of her actions before she acts.

I don’t have much to say about Perrin’s arc or Androl’s here. It was somewhat sad to read Lan’s acceptance that he had to “abandon Malkier.” However, knowing how Lan’s arc ends makes the rereading of sections like this a bit more palatable. (Also, people who curse a lot can, indeed, be AWESOME at times. Plus the Shienaran lancers just seemed really badass)

As for how the chapter ends, it appears that the reader is reminded once again that the survival of humanity past Tarmon Gaidon and the transition into a new Age will still lead to other changes, with potentially horrible outcomes and side effects, as well. It is somewhat naïve of Elayne to not grasp the magnitude and possible exploitation of dragons in warfare; but, at the same time, it’s kind of sweet to see her be idealistic and believe in the good of people.

I don’t necessarily equate the introduction of dragons into the world with the nuclear arms race, though. Dragons/cannons lead to more devastating warfare, but they don’t potentially destroy the earth or leave it incapable of sustaining human life. Nuclear bombs, MAD and nuclear winter, on the other hand? The end result of those is most likely human extinction, or pretty darn near close to it.

As for the seals, I’m assuming that by now multiple folks in the comments have reminded Leigh that, somehow, Taim was able to pull the big switcheroo and steal the seals from underneath Rand’s nose. What Rand gave Egwene was a facsimile. (EDIT: 3 facsimiles, to be exact)
Heidi Byrd
35. sweetlilflower
Hello, All! It has been awhile since I have actually posted (insert sad face) but I have been reading the posts and keeping up with the comments. I have to say that while I enjoyed reading Birgitte's comments to Elayne...they felt a little off to me. I'm not sure why; it is all stuff that Birgitte has said before, but somehow the back-and-forth dialogue bothered me.

Other than that, I can understand Elayne's reaction here. Yes, she has seen the damage channelers can do; but that is onyl 2% of the population. Anyone with enough money and a little training can make and fire a cannon. I liken her argument to how both sides stopped using balefire during the War because they realized they were destroying the entire planet. That, and I doubt the main continent is going to have much trouble with war for many, many generations. Their population is so serverly diminished that they can't afford to start killing each other until they do some serious replenishing. They just don't have the human resources necessary to risk losing hundreds to a canon blast. Give it 50 years or so, and that's another story :)
neverspeakawordagain
36. Halibulu
I can't recall exactly, but we never see a reunion between Mat and Abell do we? I know we see scenes where Abell proudly exclaims "that's my boy" in response hearing of various instances of Mat's awesomeness, but I don't think we ever see them together.

I was especially curious to see how Mat would have presented his father to Fortuona, but if they saw fit to deny us the Hawkwing-Tuon meeting, then Abell Cauthon definitely wouldn't merit such a scene.
neverspeakawordagain
37. Little-WOT-fan
So I know you've heard this about a gazillian, million time Leigh but thank you so much for the re-reads :) they are the highlight of my week

Now I pretty much agree with everything here but
@7 im pretty sure the deal with the tactics of the "quick" battle was that they wouldn't need as many channelers and want to reserve them for the bigger battles happening in the Borderlands and at Shayoul Ghul, because that's where they're needed the most. So the lack of channelers is what led to this battle plan, which is effective but I will admit its not the best battle plan

Oh and I only just turned 18 and have been reading WOT since I was 10 and these re-reads are great because I read so fast that I miss all these interesting tidbits :)
Thomas Keith
38. insectoid
Sigh, a Re-read... I'm missing JCon already!
Great post as usual, Leigh.

Elayne:
Still headstrong, but no more utter foolishness at this point. The passage you quoted about Birgitte having a medallion is hilarious. XD Birgitte is still awesome.

UNO!
AHAHAHAahaha... I needed that. It's a good thing I wasn't drinking anything when I read the part where Elayne curses right back at him. XD

I was puzzled initially as to why Elayne has a sword. Sure, the other monarchs ride armed into battle, but she has the Power!

Dragons:
...go BOOM!
In other news, Birgitte certainly knows a watershed moment when she sees it, even if she's lost some of her memories.

And as for cannon being WMD's... I don't know. I think the One Power (and specifically balefire) already falls into that category, and now they have weapons that non-channelers can use to do almost as much damage? Eesh.

Braid @3:
Seals: Did it ever feel like a the shell game to anyone else?
Well, that's one way of putting it. Sneaky scary Shadow sleight-of-hand.

Fork @17:
It's possible that the seal Taim gave Rand at the start of Load of Choss was itself a load of choss :-)
LOL!

Interesting insights into the longbows, commentfolk!

Man-0 @32:
"Yeah, lookit ME, I've got a SWORD!" (Waves sword around randomly)

Sweetlilflower @35:
*waves*

New commenters, yay! Welcome to the zoo group. (The Facebook group is the zoo.)

ETA: Happy May Day!

Bzzz™.
James Kendall
39. JKsilver
I have to admit, the dragons and handguns thing in WOT has never really sat right with me. I'm not a military expert, but the the process of their conception to development to manufacture to mass usage seems to take place in a year, which seems much too fast considering it took centuries in real history.

They also seem highly reliable (do we ever hear of any of them discharging, or exploding?), and it doesn't take long at all for the Band of the Red Hand to become experts in their use. There's also the fact that artillery using gunpowder and actual handguns are two separate inventions, with the latter coming after the former, yet in WOT they're just kind of lumped together.

Still, I suppose in fairness historical nations didn't have the end of the world breathing down their necks to inspire them to make gunpowder weapons so quickly, and the lack of organised religion in WOT means that they're aren't any religious objections to overcome either. And when you have channellers able to do much the same thing, gunpowder weapons are kind of more of the same, only available to wider society.

...kind of answered my own question, I suppose. Still, the sheer speed of it does bother me.
Terence Tidler
40. libertariansoldier
I adore your rereads, but recommend you avoid blanket pronouncements on military history, especially when reflecting an Anglo-Saxon ethnocentricity.
"because of the reminder that until gunpowder was used in weaponry, the most significant weapons advancement in warfare was the longbow."
I think learning how to forge copper and then iron, make steel, the domestication of the horse, the stirrup (not weapons in themselves but turned cavalry into a decisive arm), and "Greek fire", and even composite and/or recurve bows all had greater military significance, if only because their effects were not limited to a small region of NW Europe. And no doubt there are others I cannot think of off the top of my head. Regards.
Aaron V. Humphrey
42. alfvaen
Re: longbows, I remember reading a historical essay by Isaac Asimov called "The Unsecret Weapon" about how only the English ever used longbows, and speculations on why even their opponents, who got slaughtered by them in several crucial battles, never tried to pick them up. A lot of it rested on codes of chivalry and disdain for "peassant" weapons, IIRC, so that wouldn't apply here, but the long training time is probably a factor too.

Re: getting to the Age of Legends...I can't help but wonder if channeling ever really "goes away", or if it just goes underground, somehow. Maybe, even in our age, there are channelers who keep their existence secret. They may have some kind of elaborate concealment weaves, and maybe some kind of organization devoted to, among other things, keeping the non-channelers (or "Muggles") from noticing them. They obviously have the ability to detect those with the potential to channel from an early age, because by the age of eleven they're whisked away to their version of the White Tower (boys and girls both), although they have, for some reason, become convinced that you need little wand-shaped ter'angreal to do any channeling...
Deana Whitney
43. Braid_Tug
@ 41, Indeed we do! It's getting busier by the day.
You have to ask to join, but in FB search for "WoT Tor.com rereaders."

Many pictures from JordanCon V and other fun things can be found there.

@39. JKsilver: hand guns? Where are there handguns in the book? I don't remember that.
I figured the dragons were so good because:
1) Aludra’s experience with illuminator launch tubes. Guessing she already knew about rifling so the fireworks would target the right area of the sky and be tightly grouped. Thus you get to by-pass that step of cannon evolution.

2) The teams got to drill and drill for about a month. Under Aludra, who knew what she was doing. So much like it doesn’t take much skill to be a crossbowman, it doesn’t take much to be a good cannoneer, when all you have to do is hit a large wall of Trollics. We aren’t talking about hitting a moving ship on the open seas yet.

3) Mat’s Luck, his ta’veren nature pulling in people and inspiring the improvements needed (yes, plot driven “Pattern” enhancements).

What I have to just close my eyes and accept is not how quickly they were good – but how quickly they were created in a city just recovering from a siege, in a world falling apart.

How many bell founders did Caemlyn have? The whole creation process was speeded up. Anyone know how long it was from Mat giving Elayne the plans to the Last Battle?
So not good at keeping the timeline straight. The more I think about it, the more impress I am with Allen of Team Jordan.
Amy Hajny
44. calicodisko
@42 does that make Remus Lupin a Wolfbrother!? (Runs)
Valentin M
45. ValMar
libertariansoldier @ 40

I agree (obviously, since I made similar point @ 31). I can think of only one major conflict in which longbows played crucial role- the 100 Years War between the English/some French vs some other French. And the English lost it, eventually! They even lost against the Scots- Mel Gibson, Bannockburn and all that.
The effect on society (the empowerment of common people) could be argued, but if so then the crossbow is far more significant.

Living in the UK as I do, I have to listen to a lot of backslapping like how hugely important the longbow was so it's a bit of a pet peeve for me. There was a documentary series on TV, last year I think, about key weapons in history (e.g. the longbow- obviously ;), the bayonet, etc). Apparently, every such military develpoment down the ages was due to the British...

alfvaen @ 42

IMO it was the difficulty in training which stopped the spread of the longbows. For peasant/commoner weapons at the time there was the crossbow, used by the militias of numerous Free cities across Europe, and the pike. Socially and militarily they were more significant than the longbow.
Deana Whitney
46. Braid_Tug
Okay since we are "going there" HP style: check out Not Literally Productions! I want to introduce these women to the WoT world and see what they can do with it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGjVXzI2g4M

Figured the Gryffindors song was the best for this group (red and gold?) But I really like their Doctor Who.
James Kendall
47. JKsilver
@43 Braid_Tug

Ah, all good points. As you say, they do have the advantage of Illuminator technology and expertise to speed along the transition.

As to hanguns, I think that was just a case of me misremembering - wasn't there something about the Band improvising slingshots with gunpowder when fighting the Seanchan in KOD? Do they use them again ever?
Deana Whitney
48. Braid_Tug
@JKsliver
KOD, Chapter 37;
I was going to say they just had improved cranks on the crossbows, but then I looked it up. (Thank you WoT Wiki & Leigh!)

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/09/the-wheel-of-time-re-read-knife-of-dreams-part-21

Sounds more like the sling men used a type of modified firecracker, but could be seen as a type of “gun / bullet” combo. Don’t think we ever see the little fireworks used like that again.

Funny, seems we as commentators were so focused on Mat getting married and the 13x13 reveal that we let this tidbit slide by with little fanfare.
Alice Arneson
49. Wetlandernw
Aludra created a sort of hand grenade that they used in the prologue, thrown by hand; they had used them before, against the Seanchan, throwing them with slingshots. I'm sort of assuming these are the "roarsticks" referenced in this chapter, though it could be something smaller that mostly makes a lot of noise to intimidate and distract.
Rick Maxon
50. Cromax
Wetlandernw @28, Briad_Tug @29 and all: Don't forget that the truly impressive and devestating effects of the longbow resulted when they were used en masse. At the battle of Agincourt, the English fielded perhaps as many as 5,000 longbowmen and this allowed the largely outnumbered English forces to defeat the French. The handful of Two Rivers longbowmen who may have went off to the Aiel War probaly wouldn't have made a large impression overall, even though the range and accuracy of the weapon would have been noted by the small number of those who saw them.
Alice Arneson
51. Wetlandernw
Cromax - Agreed. I think what impressed the socks off everyone in WoT (and IRL, I suppose) was the effect of a whole fleet of arrows knocking out the first ranks, at a distance where they were supposed to still be safe. One or two arrows at that distance would be cool but not terribly effective; several hundred, on the other hand, makes a pretty strong impression. "One or two" is a fluke. "Hundreds" is a significant advantage, and well worth noting.
Michael McCarthy
52. KilMichaelMcC
Anyone else find Abell Cauthon's presence here jarring? There had never been any indication before this that he was part of Perrin's forces, as far as we knew he was back in the Two Rivers. Then suddenly here he's one of Perrin's commanders.
William Carter
53. wcarter
@KilMichaelMcC 52

I thought he and Tam were pretty much Perrin's most trusted advisors/lieutenants since he came back to the Two Rivers in TSR.

Tam gets mentioned more often, but Abel gets a few mentions here and there.

He's one of the best archers and probably the best man with quarter staff, so I can't see him willing staying out of combat.
Roger Powell
54. forkroot
FWIW the guy in the "weapons" booth at JCon reiterated to me that the longbow was indeed a game changer, but specifically because someone figured out how to make light steel points on the arrows.

He seemed to know a lot about the history of warfare, but I am certainly no expert so I can't judge.

--
wcarter@53
It's too bad we didn't get scene with Mat and his Dad like we did with Rand and Tam (I know ... there's only so many pages). I suspect that if Mat could have gotten another ashandarei made for his Dad, Abell could have done some serious damage with it!
Kimani Rogers
55. KiManiak
Catching up on the comments:

Braid_Tug@3 – (Raises hand) I didn’t see the whole “Seal switcheroo” until it was spelled out for us. I admit that I was barreling through the novel, trying to absorb what I could while also trying to see how the entire story ended as soon as I possibly could.

wcarter@8 – Warders are awesome. Birgitte was awesome to begin with; her being a Warder took it to another level; and finally, her having to protect Elayne (sometimes, especially having to protect Elayne from herself) cemented her legendary status.

never@10 – Thanks for the tally. The Lightside truly lost a lot of good troops. I plan to revisit this when we get there, but this proves to me that it was essential that a truce and then treaty with the Seanchan be reached.

The Seanchan clearly took the least damage of all of the effected nations. If there were no treaty/agreement/alliance reached between the Seanchan and the other nations, then it would have made perfect sense for the Seanchan to attack Illian, Murandy/Andor and/or Arad Doman immediately after the Last Battle, as those nations were vulnerable.

This is (of course) ignoring the likelihood that Mat would have attempted to stop them.

forkroot@17 – I must have missed (forgotten) Samadai’s theory about the finder weave on the Seal, but I also think it’s a good one. That could be another reason why M’Hael was raised to Chosen status. I do believe that the Seal that Taim gave Rand in LoC was one of the real ones, though.

(Here’s a slight nit to pick, however. Since Taim had the Seals, why didn’t Ishmael keep them in his *greal storehouse we see in ToM? Why leave them with Taim, who is on the battlefield, and risk the possibility of the Seals being recaptured? Why not have them far away from there, and warded, and guarded by 13 Fades, and Shaidar Haran, and a Wyrm or 2? :-) )

AndrewB@24 – I think that the Coalition of the Nations of Randland is, indeed, rather remarkable and worthy of props. I applaud all of the nations for being willing to follow the overall direction of a Supreme Leader (Elayne) and the strategies of 4 Generals (The Great Captains).

I actually would give Rand a lot of credit for bringing the coalition together. He was the catalyst, just by his presence (well, the Pattern responding to Tarmon Gaidon is really the catalyst, if you want to get technical). He laid the foundation for Tear, Illian and Cairhien to overlook a contentious history and be willing to work together. He saved Andor while Elayne was leaving the circus to head to Salidar. He brought the Aiel together to act as one force (barring the Shaido), and not as 12 separate clans. He brought the Borderlanders to Merrilor as one united force (true, they had united to find him and had traveled to Far Madding to do so; minutiae). He returned Arad Doman’s king.

Whether it was by the sword, or by other means, it doesn’t diminish Rand’s influence on bringing the nations together.

Jonellin@33 – I don’t have much of a comment on most of your post. However, I don’t know if I agree with our Age growing less violent. Certain rules and laws (such as hanging or capital punishment) may have become outdated in most countries, but there are still atrocities happening throughout the world to show that violence is still prevalent. Appropriate and acceptable actions and reactions to circumstances/situations vary from country to country, religion to religion. It would be nice to believe that humanity may rise above than in another 1000-1500 years, but I don’t see it as a foregone conclusion. Chances are just as good that the division between the “haves” and ”have-nots” ( however one chooses to define those somewhat ambiguous terms) continues to grow until some major confrontation arises. Or, maybe we just end up with a Zombie Apocalypse; who knows? :-)

Halibulu@36 – Was Abell exclaiming in response to Mat’s awesomeness, or Mat’s charming way of causing problems/difficulties for others? :)

JKsilver@39 – I don’t believe there were any handguns at the time of the Last Battle. Aludra had created cannons and grenades. Fireworks and launching tubes had been around for decades; this was a different application of these.
Edit: And I see that Braid_Tug@43 & @48, and Wetlander@49 already spoke to some of these issues.

alfvaen@42 – re: underground Channelers in present day – You’ve done it! You’ve found the link between WoT and Harry Potter! :-)

Seriously, it’s not impossible for there to be a hidden society of magic users. That is how a lot of fantasy stories view magic in present day society.
(Edit: to change "implausible" to "impossible." Whoops. I don't think it's likely; I'm just saying that almost anything is possible...)
neverspeakawordagain
56. koko
It's been a long time since I read the books so someone please correct me, but here's my 2 cents on the seals. In Path of Daggers, Rand sends Narishma to fetch Callandor. In chapter 21, he comes back with Callandor which for some reason I thought is also where he was hiding the seals and the access keys. Narishma complains that he almost died because there were traps that Rand did not tell him about.

I can't remember where I read about it, but there was a discussion on whether Narishma was Demandred or a darkfriend because Rand's traps would naturally be aimed at those working for the Dark One. I kept waiting for Narishma to turn on Rand in this book. Since he didn't, I can only assume that Taim gave Rand a real seal with a tracking weave. The weave could have been inverted saidin or a saidar weave, which Rand wouldn't have detected. He steals the seals and replaces the traps and also adds a few more to surprise Rand when he goes back to retrieve them.

If this was true, then this opens up the question as to why not steal Callandor and the access keys too.
Roger Powell
57. forkroot
koko@56
You bring up an important "loose end" - the "extra" weaves protecting Callandor. That's one of a number of questions that we can hope are either addressed by the forthcoming Encyclopedia or by interviews with Team Jordan.

What I don't agree with is that the idea that there would be any connection with the Seals. Callandor isn't hidden, it's in plain sight driven into the heart of the Stone of Tear. There's no reason to assume that Rand would hide the Seals anywhere near there.

We also know that (fortunately) he didn't hide the Seals in the same place that he hid the access keys to the Choedan Kal. That would have been a disaster!

In point of fact, we know that he had given one Seal to Bashere to protect and one to Dobraine. There are plot consequences that follow, including what we initially thought were failed "raids" to retrieve the Seals (that in retrospect were probably successful swaps.)

KiManiak@55
Here’s a slight nit to pick, however. Since Taim had the Seals, why didn’t Ishmael keep them in his *greal storehouse we see in ToM? Why leave them with Taim, who is on the battlefield, and risk the possibility of the Seals being recaptured?
Gee, for that matter, why wouldn't Ishy just have broken the Seals? Assuming he's under direct command from the DO, the only reason I could see would be that breaking the Seals prematurely wouldn't do the DO any good. Perhaps Dark Prophecy was specific that if the DO were to win, it would be in conflict with Rand at SG at the appointed time only.
Valentin M
58. ValMar
forkroot @ 54

The longbow, used en-mass, was horrific weapon and thanks to what happened at Agincourt (& Crecy and Poitiers) it is rightly famous. But the English were beaten out of France within 35 years of that battle. A time of sieges and no more large pitched battles were the enemy lined up to be slaughtered at leasure. After that the use of the longbow petered out on the English battlefields within another generation during the Wars of the Roses.

This weapon might have had the potential to be a "game changer". The war which made it famous was lost whilst at the same time rich and independent cities fielded large militias armed with easily used crossbows and hired mercenary pikemen.

To take all this away from patriotic backslapping and bring it back to WOT- the TR's longbow couldn't have been adopted by outsiders in time for the LB because of training and production (I guess).
It wouldn't be adopted post-LB because of the improved crossbows and the gunpowder weapons, in addition to the hassle of training. Not to mention that opponents would develop tactics to match. For the longbow to be used to its best effect the enemy has to be very cooperative.
In the TR itself people could still use it- what we see is that they are actually like the snipers of WOT, if nothing else. With the increased population they could train more archers and refuse to train anyone else. People will think very carefully about invading the place.
Birgit
59. birgit
The only guns are in Avi's future visions.
Dixon Davis
60. KadesSwordElanor
Been lurking and busy working (Someone crop dusted all of the Juveniles in my county with “crazy” fertilizer). Have enjoyed being educated by all the progression of weapons talk. Nothing productive to add thus far.
Valentin M
61. ValMar
Looks like my efforts to kill the thread are bearing fruit! If it starts to perk up again next time I shall post an essay on 18th century Danish pottery (or rather copy and paste it from Wikipedia).
Thomas Keith
62. insectoid
Hm, well... If the chapter material has run out of discussion, maybe you all should wish our Fearless Leader a happy birthday? :o)

Bzzz™.
neverspeakawordagain
63. s'rEDIT
KSE@60: It's that time of year, isn't it?
neverspeakawordagain
64. s'rEDIT
Happy, HAPPY, H_A_P_P_Y birthday, Leigh!
Valentin M
65. ValMar
Happy birthday Leigh!

PS happy birthday wishes don't count as thread revival.
Thomas Keith
66. insectoid
ValMar @65:
Unless they actually revive the thread. Which, so far... isn't happening. (I tried.)

Bzzz™.
Jeff Schweer
67. JeffS.
18th century Danish pottery wouldn't revive it either but you don't scare me.
I'll riposte with a treatise on existentialism and its influence in Shienaran thought using the saying "Duty is heavier than a mountain, Death is lighter than a feather." and include a discussion of the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors (???? Gunjin Chokuyu of pre WWII Japan. Contrasting that to the fatalistic outlook of Sparta contained in "With your Shield or on it."

There, moderately on topic and showing some quick Wiki Fu skillz.

Anyone, Bueller? Bueller?
Jeff Schweer
68. JeffS.
Oh, and Happy Birthday Leigh.
There's Mint ice cream in the bunker for all.

My wife is donating some snickerdoodles, still warm from the oven.
Dixon Davis
69. KadesSwordElanor
Yes s'rEDIT, yes it is. If I was a betting man, I would bet that you are a teacher.

Happy B-day Leigh.
neverspeakawordagain
70. JimF
The fruition of Mat's idea - fueled by Aludra's creations and her drive - has taken a long time since The Dragon Reborn, but we knew from the moment Mat blasted his way into The Stone what was going to happen (Mat might have been content to be a sapper; Aludra is truly the mother of artillery).

Similarly, from tEotW (certainly not later than The Shadow Rising), we knew that the Two Rivers people had a weapon that would wreak havoc whenever put to the test.

I guess one arms-race question that I don't know the answer to, is this: does Mat's "fast reload" crossbow system (tKoD) show up here? It should, as Mat and many of his troops are in the action.
neverspeakawordagain
71. JimF
Actually, the question of Aludra sort of piques me. We first met her, I think, in The Great Hunt, where disaster struck her fortunes. She next shows up in a really exciting episode with Thom and Mat in tDR, where she is revealed to be a tough, very attractive woman with explosives to spare. Later she becomes known to E&N in tSR(?). She gets into every(?) book after that. Mat is usually trying to hit on her, but never succeeds.

She is a staple, and the force behind a new battle force, and yet, what do we know of her? I know that I like her just because of that barn scene in tDR, and because Mat likes her, but what else is there? I'd like to meet her.
neverspeakawordagain
72. alreadymadwithguns&bows
The only appearance of handguns in the story is during Aviendha's Way Back trip. They are the primary weapons of the Raven Empire's military.

As for longbows, it takes a lifetime to develop the skill and strength to pull it. Examination of longbowmen from the era showed bumps on the skeleton where the muscles used to pull the bow are connected. Such a bump could only have occurred after a long time of continuous practice, as the skeleton then adapted by increasing the area where the the tendons connect to the bone.

On Callandor and the Seals:
Callandor was right there in the open so its sudden disappearance might have seemed suspicious. Furthermore, Rand made a point to set wards and traps on it. He even went back to set wards and traps using inverted weaves. So rather than risk triggering any of it, Team Dark instead added their own weaves to the ward and trap structure, which Jahar fortunately managed to circumvent.
neverspeakawordagain
73. s'rEDIT
KSE@69: Close, but no cigar.

Before becoming an editor, I taught 8-12 grades for 8 years, so I remember well what it was like, esp the graduating seniors!
Karen Fox
74. thepupxpert
@53 re Abel - Mat also always had great things to say about his da, especially that he knew horseflesh better than anyone.
neverspeakawordagain
75. konigr
I was not sure about whether or not I liked the phrase "pick of the litter" being used in WoT. I have no real basis for this shying away from it, but I guess that I was just expecting the WoT equivalent rather than the actual thing.
Terry McNamee
76. macster
Love the exchange between Birgitte and Elayne near the start of the chapter. Aside from it being a great way for Sanderson to lampshade Elayne's stubborn willfulness and reckless lack of personal danger awareness (which he amusingly enough got to show at perhaps its height during her stint disguised as a Chosen in ToM), it really underscores their relationship. And the bit where Elayne once again (as she has throughout the whole series, if only in her thoughts) complained about Birgitte not "behaving properly" the way Tower-trained Warders do, only for Birgitte to suggest those other Warders aren't as pliable and obedient as they seem, is rather hilarious. (If we want proof of that, just look at Lan! And Gawyn, although despite his Tower training his being a prince probably has something to do with his refusal to submit as well--he did admit as much.)

Uno reappearing: awesome. Elayne shocking him with foul language: hilarious. Birgitte admiring him: priceless.

I'm still not sure whether the great captains are all being interfered with or not at this point, but if they are it's clear Graendal must be coordinating the failures in judgment as much as the captains would normally be coordinating their successes--i.e., Bashere is supporting Agelmar's move because he's been made to by Graendal, rather than just because he is reserving judgment due to not being on the scene as Agelmar is. I guess it all comes down to a) whether the idea of the retreat itself isn't a bad plan, that the Shadow-influenced part of it is combining this with the lack of a rear guard/scouts which ends up bringing down Tenobia at the Gap and nearly does in Elayne's army in Cairhien and b) if we again assume that Bashere is already being influenced too.

IMO the plan Bashere had to get the Trollocs into Braem Wood, and then how they would draw them out across Cairhien and take them out, doesn't seem flawed; it was just not keeping an eye on their flanks, so that the second army could sneak up on them, that undermined it. Since we haven't yet learned about this failure on Bashere's part, and his plans so far sound good to me, I'm not sure if we can assume Bashere supporting Agelmar here means he's already being influenced. He could be right that they can't know, without seeing what's going on at the Gap, whether Agelmar's plans are right or not, though Elayne being shocked about the retreat does suggest that that wasn't the original plan the captains put before her.

Re: the Black Tower subplot: I have to say I am very glad Emarin didn't get Turned. Partly because as one of the only two outed gay characters in WOT it would look really bad if he were made into an (apparently) irrevocably evil bad guy, but also because he's just a smart, capable, amazing fighter and it'd be a shame to lose him. Oddly, I also have to say that despite her being a Red and her overall snotty attitude toward Logain, I am rather sad that Toveine did get Turned--maybe because she was one of those eager to bring down Elaida, so she couldn't be all bad.

As for the seals, while it's true that Taim could have given Rand a fake from the beginning (especially since in his craziness he probably couldn't have sensed the lack of the Dark One's touch in it), I too suspect that at least the other two were switched back during the supposedly failed attempts to steal them made in CoT, and probably all three. Whether Taim was behind those too on Moridin's orders, or Moridin sent the thieves directly and only later gave the seals to Taim because of his great track record for Team Shadow and his currently being in an impregnable location, it would explain how he has all the seals now.

The interlude with Elayne and Birgitte is one of many such as we near the end of WOT, especially in this book. What I like about it is that what appeared to be just quiet character-driven moments that reminded us of Birgitte's pain and what she has lost (possibly forever, if Moghedien really did sever her from the Wheel and the Horn for good), instead turned out to be foreshadowing for her eventually dying, being summoned by the Horn again, and getting all of her lives and memories back. This is one of many reasons re-reading the series is so enjoyable.

Speaking of Birgitte: you know you're a good archer if she's praising you. Wow.

The end of the chapter is indeed rather ominous. Even with as awful as Trolloc and Fades are (though I too have to wonder if they, especially the Trollocs who are descended from humans blended with animals, have souls and threads in the Pattern--if so we can only hope they will get a better future the next time they get spun out!), it's a bit disturbing seeing them blown to pieces like that. And while I think I agree with Elayne (and Leigh) that generally such horrible weapons do act as a deterrent to war, at least in our world, Birgitte is also right to be skeptical. For one thing, if said weapons don't get brought into play, there's nothing stopping people from going to war--Exhibit A, any nations in our world who don't have nuclear weapons and thus fight each other or have civil wars. And even when the weapons are present and the threat to use them is leveled, some people still seem willing to risk it, or at least push the matter as far as they can--all it takes is someone bold and reckless enough, or fanatical/insane enough, to call the 'bluff' and war could still happen. It's certainly less likely with such weaponry around...but it's not going to just go away the way Elayne hopes, either.

BTW, it should also be noted that despite how the Age of Legends was first presented to us, nothing actually says it truly was a perfect utopia free of war and conflict. The most complete and detailed picture of it comes from the Guide, which we know was written only with Jordan's slight involvement, and from the POV of in-universe historians with their biased view of said Age as one of enlightenment and perfection. Nostalgia filter could very well have hidden the darker sides of that Age in an attempt to shine with rosy optimism when compared to the present-day Crapsack World of Randland. Also, Rand, with his fully integrated Lews Therin memories, said right in this very book, when talking to Aviendha in Chapter 5 (after she disdainfully called him on "only thinking they got rid of war"), that the Age of Legends was not as perfect as they all wanted to believe it was, and war could very well have been inevitable even without the Bore. So while it is still hard to believe our world could become as relatively peaceful and good as that of the Age of Legends, I think there's enough hints and outright opposing points to indicate that, with all ills, flaws, and sins not actually wiped out, it may not have been as impossible as cynicism would suggest.

Hmmmm...comparing the Warders to the Truthspeakers. Quite the viable parallel there, considering that Warders (as we know from Gareth and Gawyn, and now Pevara and Androl) have an inside look into the minds and hearts of their Aes Sedai that no one else is privy to, thus allowing them to a) know when their Aes Sedai are being deceptive/misleading/misled/illogical and b) call them on it...while the Truthspeakers, though not having a literal bond with the Empress, are similarly only allowed to speak their minds because they get to live with her and have an insight into her mind and heart that no one else in the Seanchan court has or will ever have.

What makes this even more interesting is that, on the one hand, having these Warders who can act for their Aes Sedai as Truthspeakers do for the Empress is giving the Randland channelers the exact same kind of, ah, leashes that the Seanchan claim they must have to be kept from ruining the world--just that these are voluntary ones (assuming the Warders aren't bonded against their will) and that the control is exercised through advice and arguments rather than magical slavery. And on the other hand, that both sides having something/one that acts this way for channelers is another indication that the Seanchan and the White Tower may be Not So Different.

(Did I go there? Yes I did. Am I saying they're identical or no better than each other? Of course not. But the fact Jordan included these parallels indicates to me he wanted us to think about what makes the two sides the same and different--and in-story, it's something that could, one day, possibly lead to the Aes Sedai and Seanchan being able to come to sort of agreement more peaceful and beneficial than the rather heavy-handed, tense one Egwene and Tuon reach later. At least if the damane are released and both sides can relax their views toward each other.)

@13 Wetlander: That was my summation as well. In fact as soon as I found out the seals Rand had were fakes, my thought process went something like this: "Oh, crap, then where...?" "Gah, the thief attempts back in CoT switched them!" "Team Shadow actually did something right? And nobody saw this coming?" "They are so screwed."

@24 AndrewB: I agree, it was pretty awesome seeing so many different nations and groups fighting together. It really underscored not only the good leaders they had, but that once everyone truly understood the Last Battle was here and it was fight or lose everything (dying being optional, since that apparently wasn't the Dark One's true intention), they really could set their conflicts aside to fight as one. Makes you have hope for humanity after all.

@55 KiManiak: Who said Taim had them all that time? It's entirely possible Moridin's thieves took the other two seals (or all three, if the one from Taim was real) to him, he kept them hidden where we never saw, and only gave them to Taim along with the second dreamspike, since between it and the Dreadlord factory the Black Tower would be the safest place to keep them away from Team Light. Too bad he didn't count on Lanfear going her own way again, or clever tactics from Androl and Pevara thanks to 3rd Agers once again inventing something new (the double-bond)!

@71 JimF: You're right, Aludra is an intriguing character. Some people even think she would have made a better love interest for Mat than Tuon. Regardless, it's very true that she's been a key point in the series ever since her introduction--but thanks to ta'veren effect (first Rand's in TGH, then Mat's in TDR) she ended up where the Pattern needed her, where her skills and knowledge could do the most good. Since she hated the Seanchan for what they did to the Tanchico chapterhouse, I'm guessing after the Last Battle she will still stay with Elayne and at least some of the Band of the Red Hand once Caemlyn is rebuilt, even if Mat goes off to Seanchan.

Re: the mysterious extra weaves around Callandor: Narishma not being able to see them could be because they were inverted saidin weaves...or because they were saidar weaves. We know Mesaana investigated Tear (because she found there were traps keeping her from getting into the Great Holding) and Moridin could have sent Moghedien or Cyndane (she had just shown up in PoD before the Illian campaign) or gone himself. I don't think this visit is when the seals were switched, that had to be the thief attempts in CoT, but instead that the Forsaken wanted to try and keep Rand or his followers from reclaiming Callandor. Considering how key it turned out to be to winning the Last Battle (and Dark Prophecy could have indicated this too), it makes sense the Shadow would do this.
Maiane Bakroeva
77. Isilel
Not much to add here except that yes, they should have totally destroyed Trolloc in Caemlyn with OP, if the idea was to finish them quickly and support the other fronts.
The strongest 100 or so from 2K+ WT initiates shipped to Mayenne could have provided the juice for big circles _and_ had enough time to recover for when major casualities started to roll in.
But the idea was to give non-channelers space to shine, even when it didn't make a lot of sense so eh...

Re: Elayne, I find it a bit hypocritical that Lan, who is also a commander of a whole front rides into melee again and again, tired on a tired horse, etc., and everybody thinks it cool and badass, but with Elayne desire to participate in a fight is always considered reckless. Perrin would also through himself into thick of battle without backup and never get criticized for it. Etc.

Also, how is it that only Aes Sedai require warders to balance then and talk sense to them? Asha'man wives were conspicious by their absence in any decision making in the BT, so, clearly, they don't fulfill the same role.

Re: Aludra, yes, I would have liked to learn more about her as well. She is one of the few non-channeling women, who had a great impact on the Last Battle. I would have preferred her to have even more and command the dragons after the tescape from Caemlyn... Oh, well.
And yes, I am among those who saw chemistry between her and Mat. In fact, IMHO Mat has more chemistry with practically any female in the series than he does with Tuon IMHO, YMMV.
Alice Arneson
78. Wetlandernw
Re: Graendal's meddling with the great captains - let's not forget that in spite of her frequent heavy-handedness, she was extremely subtle in this case. None of them made obvious bad decisions; in fact, they made what appeared to be very good decisions, right up until something broke. Then, in retrospect, it became clear how diabolically clever they'd been in undermining their own commands. So for Agelmar's decisions to look reasonable to Bashere is no stretch; no one on the spot was seeing flaws in his decisions either.

@Isilel re: Elayne - "I find it a bit hypocritical that Lan, who is also a commander of a whole front rides into melee again and again, tired on a tired horse, etc., and everybody thinks it cool and badass, but with Elayne desire to participate in a fight is always considered reckless." Well, there's the minor detail that Lan trained all his life as a warrior, where Elayne trained all her (much shorter) life as a monarch. Slight difference when it comes to going into battle... Sure, she has cool Aes Sedai skillz, but she's been practicing those (rather haphazardly) for less than two years, where Lan has been practicing his sword & command skills for more than 40 years. Sorry, but I don't see the "hypocrisy" you mention.
Stefan Mitev
79. Bergmaniac
The training difference doesn't matter much, fact is Elayne is way more effective in killing Trollocs on her own than Lan. As good as Lan is as a sword fighter, he can't compare to a strong channeller at all.
Nadine L.
80. travyl
I disagree ;) about warders being equivalent to Truthspeakers. Especially in the beginnig Lan shows us time and time again, that he might disagree and discuss with his Aes Sedai, but in public they remain one strong front: warders "only" contradict off screen. If I remeber correctly Truthspeakers are allowed to do it publically.

wcarter @30:
Let's assume captain hypothetical did see the bow hit an aielman at 80 or 100 paces further out ...
Are you (hypothetically) suggesting Aiel could be seen (and hit) from 80 paces far away? Now way.

@78. Wetlander
The hypocrisy in Lan going to battle (and the front line) is not in comparing him to Elayne, but to Gawyn. Gawyn was called stupid for his suicidal behaviour (because of his wader relation to Egwene) - while Lan-Nynaeve never got the same treatment. (Yes I'm still defending Gawyn if the opportunity occurs, which admittedly isn't often.)
Roger Powell
81. forkroot
travyl@80
Good call on the Lan/Nynaeve bonding issue! What if Marishma hadn't saved Lan? (Oh yeah, that reminds me ... I forgot to harass Brandon about Narishma healing Lan while he still wore the medallion.)

We don't know the exact timing, but the struggle inside SG was still going on and we know that Nyn was essential to that (in particular, if she hadn't treated Alanna with herbs enough to bring her awake, Alanna would not have been able to release the bond in time to save Rand from the effects of her own death.)

It was sheer lunacy for Rand to be bonded at all. Just think - if Mellar gets to Elayne a little sooner, or Min dies in the attack on the command tent, or Avi doesn't survive the fight with Hessalam, there might have a been a different ending for Team Light, especially since the effects on the "Warder" end of the snapped bond are worse.

What should have happened was that Alanna should have been forced to release the bond to Rand way back when Cadsuane had her hands on her. Furthermore, the three gals should have removed their bond to Rand at Merrilor. (And Nyn should have removed her bond to Lan when she visited him shortly after Merrilor.)

An aside... we don't know if the effects would be less for a channeler like Rand. It's possible, since Alanna found that a strong channelers cannot be compelled by the bond. So it's reasonable to argue that Rand might not have gone berserk on the spot the way that Bryne did. Still, I'm sure he would be affected, so why take the chance?

It's not quite so bad for the other end of the bond .. but given what we saw happen to poor Egwene when doofus (err, I mean Gawyn) died, I have to come to the conclusion that having ANY of the key members of Team Light bonded (especially Rand) was a bad idea.

Silviana had the right of it when she asked Egwene to pass Gawyn's bond to her. It would have avoided Egwene being knocked out of the battle for a while, and might have avoided her suicidal (albeit very effective) final weave.

All those bonds could be restored after Team Light won - but having all those extra ways to be knocked out was indefensible. All the "emo" crap in the world doesn't cut it either ... these are the folks that are supposed to save the world and they need to eliminate any vulnerability that they can.
Alice Arneson
82. Wetlandernw
travyl @80 - Well, I was addressing Isilel @77, where she specifically compared Lan and Elayne, and accused (someone?) of hypocrisy in calling it "badass" when Lan does it but "reckless" when Elayne does it.
neverspeakawordagain
83. JimF
Hey, leave my fave Supergirl*, Elayne, alone. The only reason I would caution her here is because she is pregnant, and therefore should show some caution because she isn't alone in her ventures. But she is a warrior - something she has demonstrated time and again, in tGH, tDR, tSR, aCoS and elsewhere - and I suspect Lan would strongly appreciate her verve and sense of duty, although he might somewhat question her headlong tactics (Toujours l'audace! Lan seems pretty good at that, too).

*I put Nynaeve in another class - Superwoman - because she is about 6 or 8 years older than El, Av, and Eg. She and Elayne (lesser degree Av) are - outside Ayla and Elizabeth Bennett - the greatest female characters in fiction to me. I've got to start my reread of this whole darn thing soon.
Nadine L.
85. travyl
forkroot @81: the problem is, if you "un-bond" the key-players, theirs warders are a lot more likely to die, because of the warder bond-benefits taken away from them. You could argue to transfer all the bonds to other sisters (eg. the healers), but that renders the whole thing void - the bond remains a personal thing (Lan made that clear, by his outrage about his bond being transferred to Myrelle in case of Moiraine's death, which still affected him, by the way) - and how could you ask another sister to bear the threat (most of them probably already bonded), which endangers not only her but a second warder, if the transfer-bondee died).

Wetlander @82: I understood that quite well, but you havee to grab a chance (to point out injustice towards Gawyn), when one occurs.
neverspeakawordagain
87. s'rEDIT
RE: Elayne going into battle while pregnant

Someone who knows about warrior societies with female combatants tell us this:

In those societies, did pregnancy disqualify the woman from being a soldier?
neverspeakawordagain
88. DouL
@87 s'rEDIT

Well, she wasn't exactly swinging a sword around, more looking to be ceremonial and bring hope to those around her. Having said that, like Lan said about Tenobia, if he could give every woman a sword, he would. This is the end of the world here, and while it wasn't quite as all encompassing as we'd have thought; there are a lot of wives and kids in the Two Rivers who may miss their dad if he died, but other than that, weren't exactly on death's doorstep.

Either way, as a Queen, she kind of had to be seen. As to the general rule, there are not a lot of real warrior societies where women made up any significant part of the actual combat force, so any evidence is a bit sketchy.
neverspeakawordagain
89. AndrewB
forkroot @81 said: "Silviana had the right of it when she asked Egwene to pass Gawyn's bond to her. It would have avoided Egwene being knocked out of the battle for a while, and might have avoided her suicidal (albeit very effective) final weave."

On of the possible cons to your argument could be that but for the loss of Gawyn, she would not have put herself in the position to feel she needed to sacrifice herself to kill M'Hael and the Sharan channelers.

(My own personnal opinion is that even Gawyn not died, she would have placed herself in the same situation and released released him from the bond as she did with Lewillen (sp?). Her character seems to be written as one who would consider her life for that of M'Hael and almost all of the Sharan channelers to be an even trade.)

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Chris Chaplain
90. chaplainchris1
Just finished my reread of that section last night - and I'd forgotten just how badly things went when Egwene died. Just before Egwene went out in a blaze of glory, Taim had balefired a bunch of Aes Sedai and resurrected all the Sharan channelers they'd managed to kill. Things had very suddenly and very direly gone all wrong; plus, reality in that area was set to fracture.

In my initial read, I was really upset by Egwene dying, and attempted to console myself with her 'bagging another Forsaken' (while grumbling under my breath that M'Hael wasn't a real Forsaken). But Egwene did much more than that. Without her action then, the battle was very, very lost; and the Pattern was moments from shredding, at least in that spot.

So...Egwene's sacrifice, ultimately, was necessary.
Roger Powell
91. forkroot
@88
Well, she wasn't exactly swinging a sword around
Actually, at one point in AMoL she does. It doesn't go too well :-)

travyl@85
Agreed that the bond is a personal thing - but we're talking the "End of the World" here. If Rand loses, game over. Notice that I'm not arguing for all of the Warder bonds to be dropped, just those that directly affect the key players in the showdown inside SG.

The situation with Egwene's bond is a little trickier. Without knowing the specifics (that she bonded a dunderhead who would go haring off vs. doing his Warderly duty and protecting her) I would say that she (like the other AS) should stay bonded, of course. Everyone understands the advantages of a Warder to the Aes Sedai are likely worth the risks involved should the Warder die.

There's several implicit assumptions though. The cold-hearted assumption is that the life of the Warder is less important than that of his AS. (Consider how much worse the Warder has it when his AS dies vs. the other case.) The other assumption is that the Warder's primary function is to guard and protect his AS.

Gawyn was an idiot and tragically forgot his role. It was sad, but in this case we can say that the fault was his.

Lan is a different case - he's not near Nynaeve and he's an important battle leader. The two of them maintaining the link (thus potentially imperiling each other's mission should the other fall) was selfish. Like I said before, it's potentially the end of the world. No time for "emo". They could reestablish the bond should they both make it.

If Lan/Nynaeve was ill-advised, having Rand bound as a Warder (to four others, all in some form of Harm's Way) was sheer lunacy.
Chris Chaplain
92. chaplainchris1
forkroot @ 91 - Elayne's sword-swinging rallies the troops at a point when the battle at Merrilor was nearly lost. She's not skillful, but she has the effect needed!

Re: your and travyl's discussion about the bond...well, I'm diving in. I'm actually gonna defend Gawyn a little bit.

Point 1: Gawyn was already dying because of the bloodknife rings.
a) But he was an idiot for putting them on in the first place.
b) Maybe...but Egwene likely wouldn't have escaped the first appearance of the Sharans without this.

I think I'd argue that Egwene saved the world by taking out M'Hael and stopping the sa'angreal powered balefire and patching up the Pattern. She's not there to do so if Gawyn hadn't saved her from the Sharans. (Not to mention having previously saved her from the Bloodknives themselves. As Egwene tells Silviana when she calls Gawyn an idiot.)

Since Egwene saved the world/kept the battle from being lost (taking out Mesaana and M'Hael and Sakarnen), and Gawyn saved her, that means Gawyn saved the world.

Point 2: Gawyn was protecting Egwene by confronting Demandred. At least, he was trying to. When Gawyn slips away to go fight him, Egwene and several Aes Sedai are discussing Demandred - that he's doing devastating damage, and that something must be done. The point where he leaves is the point where they're discussing building a circle of 72 to face him.

Egwene's the Amyrlin, one of their strongest channelers, and holds (as far as we know) their strongest available sa'angreal. Who's gonna lead that circle to fight Demandred, if it comes to that?

And it's pretty sure she'd have lost.

So Gawyn, knowing he's dying already, and knowing that if someone doesn't take out Demandred that Egwene will probably have to face him...banks on his skill and the rings allowing him to do something that matters before he dies.

He fails, and that's sad, but...he distracts Demandred for a bit, and that probably saves a lot of lives, and...well...his death drives Egwene to the emotional place she needs to reach to take down M'Hael and the entire contingent of Ayyad.

Re: Rand and his bond with his ladies...would he have had the stamina to hold up against the Dark One's attacks without it?

Did his emotional connection with the ladies give him the emotional, as well as physical, fortitude that he needed?

Re: Lan and Nynaeve's bond, would Lan have had the stamina to beat Demandred without the bond? Or to survive his duel?

Should Androl and Pevara have dissolved their double bond before Merrilor, so as to not risk each other?

The bond is risk as well as reward. (You might as well tell them not to fall in love on the eve of battle.) It can be a distraction, even a deadly danger, but it also gives something more for which to fight...plus magical benefits.

Truthfully, though, I hadn't even thought about the danger to Rand if Graendal had taken out Avi, for instance, or the other dangers you cite. *shudders*
Kirk Shank Zehr
93. Kirk
Hallo, all. I've been gradually catching up with the re-read over the past year and a half, and am finally up-to-date enough to join the conversation.
Thanks to Leigh and all the common taters for a very educational and entertaining discussion. Slow writer that I am, I don't expect to be a frequent contributor, but I'll probably have something to say from time to time.

I'm jumping in here rather than on the newest thread because Birgitte's comments to Elayne in this chapter hearken back to one of my favorite lines in this book, which I think no one picked up on at the time. From Chapter 7:
"… just be careful."
"I'm always careful," Elayne said absently.
I giggled at that. Very nice light touch by Brandon.
Glen V
94. Ways
Welcome Kirk! Glad to have you. This thread is still slightly active, which is unusual since they normally die out when Leigh puts up a new post.
neverspeakawordagain
95. MasterBL
Thoughts on the passing chapter:

Warders DEFINITELY fill a function equivalent to Truthspeakers, though much more informally. It'd be awesome to make it official, but the sisters would never let it happen. Though if it did, it could only be the result of a massive plot within the Warders to manipulate the Aes Sedai, which would be hilarious if it could be pulled off.

When Birgitte of all people calls your archery fine, then it is damn fine indeed.

I certainly understand her reluctance to do so, but Elayne should have leveled the walls of Camelyn the day after the city was lost. This is the Last Battle, it's All-In, for all the marbles, no holding back. Because she's right, time is not on their side.
Captain Hammer
96. Randalator
Late to the party but I'd just like to add my thought on the whole AoL-utopia-peace-thingy Leigh mentioned.

First about the "was it actually a peaceful utopia" issue. From Rand's memories and his glimpses into the past in the glass columns, I'd say yes. At least old Charn, Mierin's Aiel, used to tell stories from a time when not only had there been no war but they didn't even have a word for it. Granted, that could rose-tinted glasses but then every AoLer we ever get to see ever would have to have them because all of them seem to agree on the fact that war did not exist until the DO was freed. As far as I remember even the Forsaken viewpoints support this and they should be the first to jump all over every justification or relativisation (yes that's a word. I looked it up) of their actions personal-narrative wise. As in "Come on, the AoL has always had its fair amount of epic suck, it's not like I deserve all the blame". But even they can't come up with any reason beyond either the most petty of slights ("I totally wanted to be the Dragon!" – Demandred, "I totally wanted to have the Dragon!" – Lanfear, "I'm a scientist, not a teacher, FFS!" – Mesaana, "I totally need evil immortality or I'll never reach artistic perfection!" – Asmodean) or decidedly brain-into-a-knot-tyingly philosophical mumbojumbo (hi, Graendal and Ishy). So I'm inclined to think that the AoL actually was what it is said to be.

As for the "How do we get there (Second Age) from here (First Age) with all our waring and killing and stuff": Well, on would have to assume that a) we're still a ways from the next Age or rather the actual utopian period that will come along some time during the Second Age and that b) at some point in between we'll have to discover the One Power. And that right there is the gamechanger. Looking at our present day conflicts, what they come down to are basically conflicts over wealth and resources or oppression/exploitation. Even cultural conflicts, at the end of the day, only ever turn to violent conflicts when one of the above is added to the mix.

Enter the One Power. The One Power is limitless resources and therefore the great equaliser. It does away with uneven distribution of wealth and resources and therefore with the need to exploit or oppress other countries/regions/people etc. I can sort of see how that fundamental change could over centuries lead to an actual peaceful society.
neverspeakawordagain
97. pcslaurifer
Well done as always a Leigh.

On Elayne and Birgitte: barring an actual nuclear exchange and the apocalyptic annihilation that would ensue I would have to disagree with you to a certain extent. While it is true the world has not been at peace since the advent of nukes a level of peace has been achieved. Recall that in the thirty years before the splitting of the atom we had two world wars that cost tens of millions of lives. While in the nearly seventy since there has been no major conflict between the more powerful nations of the earth. Though the cold war saw Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan these were wars where at least one of the major powers fought through surrogates and thus all out war was avoided. Since the cold war ended (as much as it has anyway) the conflicts have generally been between smaller nations or wars where either the world's great powers were aligned against a common foe or where the war was fought by one power with, at least, the tacit approval of the others.

So have nukes brought an age of glorious peace.....No. But have they prevented slaughter on the scale of the wars of the first half of the twentieth century...... most emphatically.....Yes.

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