Tue
May 14 2013 1:00pm
The Wheel of Time Re-read: A Memory of Light, Part 13

The Wheel of Time Re-read A Memory of Light Part 13See this hat? This is a Wheel of Time re-reading hat. I Re-read Wheels of Time in this hat.

Today’s entry covers Chapters 12 and 13 of A Memory of Light, in which variously shocking revelations are made, and some of them make a hell of a lot more sense than others.

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!

 

Chapter 12: A Shard of a Moment

What Happens
Birgitte sneaks swiftly through the wood with a small group of Aiel, trying not to think about her fading memories of her past lives, and whether that means she has been broken from the Horn, and thus might never see Gaidal again. She and the Aiel ambush and dispatch a fist of Trollocs, and Birgitte tries to remember if she’d ever asked Hawkwing about that possibility. Her company scouts out another group of Trollocs, but these are too many for them to engage, so Birgitte signals a silent retreat.

After his failure at Tarwin’s Gap, Rand flees to his dreams, to a dreamshard that is not truly of Tel’aran’rhiod but is kin to it. He thinks of all the knowledge like this Lews Therin had stored away without ever really using, and wonders if things would have gone differently if he had.

Rand didn’t know. And, truth be told, this valley was no longer safe. He passed a deep cavern to his left. He had not put it there. Another attempt by Moridin to draw him? Rand passed it by without looking.

The cavern appears again, and this time Rand enters it. He hears splashing and gasping, and soon finds a pool in the cavern with a woman in white struggling to stay afloat in it. She has a different face, but Rand knows it is Mierin, and unwillingly remembers his time with her, in the Age of Legends and as Selene in the present. She begs him to free her from where “he” has claimed her, and he answers that she chose this.

He held himself back. He finally felt like a whole person again, after a long fight. That gave him strength, but in his peace was a weakness— the weakness he had always feared. The weakness that Moiraine had rightfully spotted in him. The weakness of compassion.

He needed it. Like a helmet needed a hole through which to see. Both could be exploited. He admitted to himself that it was true.

She begs him again, and he wavers, but then returns that she used to be better at this kind of deception. The pool disappears, and Lanfear observes that at least she is no longer obliged to deal with “a simple farmboy.” She asks for asylum as an equal, instead of as a damsel in distress, but Rand laughs and asks when she ever considered anyone her equal. He points out that she swore to kill him, and she counters that she didn’t mean it, which Rand knows is true, but he snaps that he was nothing but an ornament to her, and he will not give her a second chance when he knows it is all a ploy. He demands that she open her mind to him completely, as can be done in this place, and prove her sincerity. She hesitates, but then refuses. He says he is done with her, but she asks how he can ask that of her when she has so often been betrayed.

“You really remember it that way, don’t you?” Rand said. “You think I betrayed you for her?”

“You said that you loved me.”

“I never said that. Never. I could not. I did not know what love was. Centuries of life, and I never discovered it until I met her.” He hesitated, then continued, speaking so softly his voice did not echo in the small cavern. “You have never really felt it, have you? But of course. Who could you love? Your heart is claimed already, by the power you so strongly desire. There is no room left.”

He only feels pity for her now, and opens his mind to her instead. Lanfear gasps as she sees not only his plans and intentions, but also the truth that it is Rand and not Lews Therin who forms the core of him. He shows her his past love for Ilyena, and his present love for Elayne, Aviendha and Min, and how he feels absolutely nothing for her.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I really did mean it. I am finished with you, Mierin. Keep your head down during the storm to come. If I win this fight, you will no longer have reason to fear for your soul. There will be no one left to torment you.”

He turned from her again, and walked from the cave, leaving her silent.

Perrin makes sure his people’s camp is secure, and goes to find Edarra. He asks if she is a dreamwalker; she answers no, but admits (to his surprise) that she knows a little of it. He asks if there is a way to enter the World of Dreams physically, and she tells him it is an evil thing. Perrin thinks of how strong Slayer is in the dream, and how he grows stronger the more “there” he allows himself to be, and is sure that Slayer is there physically.

Our contest will not end, Perrin thought, until you are the prey, Slayer. Hunter of wolves. I will end you.

He asks why it is evil, and she replies that it costs the dreamer a part of what makes him human. And worse, if he dies that way, he may never be reborn, his thread burned out of the Pattern entirely. Perrin says that the servants of the Shadow are doing this, and he may need to take the risk to stop them. Edarra tells him it is a terrible mistake, and he should not “cut off [his] foot for fear that a snake will bite it,” and leaves him.

Commentary
Ah, the moon and stars icon. It’s been a while since I saw that one. Bit of a blast from the past, it felt like.

I really liked this scene between Rand and Lanfear. Rand doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know about either Lanfear or himself, I think, but this interlude in particular really nailed their respective tragic flaws, directly and succinctly. Lanfear’s flaw, naturally, being her inability to put anything above her pursuit of power (“Who could you love? Your heart is claimed already, by the power you so strongly desire. There is no room left”).

And Rand’s tragic flaw, of course, is his chivalry, in the sense I have used the term before on this blog. Which is, when the normally praise-worthy qualities of empathy and the desire to protect are taken to obsessive, unreasoning and dogmatic extremes, ultimately to the detriment of the very person or persons he wants to protect. And if you don’t think this is Rand’s central character flaw, you are reading a very different story than I’ve been reading, let’s just say.

Rand himself, as I said, acknowledges it in this chapter, calling it his “weakness of compassion”—not in the sense that he has compassion in the first place, but in the sense that Rand has rarely or never been able to pin down the proper proportion of it to apply. Rand’s been burned by his compassion both ways over the course of this story, either by giving into it too much, or trying too hard to block it out (or trying to do both at the same time, and no wonder boy nearly went bugnuts, trying to figure out how to make that work), and he’s not done dealing with that conundrum by a fair sight. We’ll be coming back to this later, fo’ sho.

I was genuinely shocked, on first reading, when Rand opened his mind to Lanfear. Not because I thought it was a bad move (though I think you can definitely make an argument both ways on whether it actually was a bad move or not, depending on whether you think the revelation that Rand/Lews Therin had never loved her was the tipping point for her actions at Shayol Ghul, or whether you think she would have ended up doing that regardless), but because even now I’m still not completely used to the notion of a Rand who doesn’t hide things from people. Open honesty, like all the time? Goodness! IT’S ALL SO SHOCKING.

(Well. Mostly open honesty. It’s still like a freakin’ smorgasbord of truth-telling compared to what we previously had.)

So, in conclusion, good scene, and nice set-up for what happens later. Definitely one of those scenes that has a hell of a lot more resonance (and significance) once you know the end of the story.

And Birgitte and Perrin were in this chapter too, briefly. Speaking of things which are still vaguely shocking even though they probably shouldn’t be anymore, you can put “three different POVs occurring in less than ten pages of a WOT book” on that list.

Birgitte doesn’t have that much to do here, other than be badass as usual (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), but I do love the suggestion in this and earlier chapters that one of Birgitte’s past lives might be a foundation for/parallel to the legends of Robin Hood. At least, that’s the first thing I thought of, when told about legends of an improbably skilled outlaw archer hanging out in the woods with her merry men “skilled companions,” robbing royalty and such. But maybe I’m just crazy.

(Also, Rule 63 FTW!)

(Also also, if that parenthetical made no sense to you, you clearly have not been wasting nearly enough time on the Internet. For shame!)

Perrin: to be discussed in the commentary on the next chapter. On you scroll!

 

Chapter 13: What Must Be Done

What Happens
Egwene rides toward the Kandor front with a hundred Aes Sedai, mostly Green Ajah. Two other smaller groups of sisters ride toward the army’s flanks. As they move into position, she pulls out Vora’s rod, the sa’angreal she’d used in the Seanchan attack on the Tower. She and the other sisters embrace the Source as the Trollocs charge, and begins with erupting the earth under the Trollocs’ feet. The other sisters join in, adding fire and wind to the fray. Egwene attacks again, but this time concentrates on metal, exploding armor and weapons into deadly shrapnel.

There was something energizing about using raw power, sending weaves in their most basic forms. In that moment—maiming, destroying, bringing death upon the enemy—she felt as if she were one with the land itself. That she was doing the work it had longed for someone to do for so long. The Blight, and the Shadowspawn it grew, were a disease. An infection. Egwene—afire with the One Power, a blazing beacon of death and judgment—was the cauterizing flame that would bring healing to the land.

Trollocs and Myrddraal die in droves under the Aes Sedai onslaught, until finally the enemy force falls back. Bryne’s soldiers are wide-eyed, having not been required to do a thing for the entire battle. Gawyn calls it “impressive,” but an exhausted Egwene tells him there will be more the next day, and they will not be so easy to slaughter next time.

“You didn’t just hold, Egwene,” Gawyn said with a smile. “You sent them running. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an army so thoroughly trounced.”

The army cheers as the Aes Sedai depart the front, and Egwene is content to allow them to enjoy the easy victory, for she knows it will not remain that way for long.

Bashere reports to Elayne that the Lord Dragon’s forces are waiting for the battles at Kandor and Shienar to draw out more forces from the Blasted Lands before moving on Shayol Ghul. He is confident that Kandor is holding well with the Aes Sedai, but is concerned about Lan and Agelmar’s army’s retreat from the Gap. Elayne studies the maps and sees the route their retreat will inevitably take, and reluctantly orders that the cities of Fal Dara, Fal Moran and Ankor Dail be evacuated and then razed, along with all the surrounding farmland.

“I’m sorry,” Bashere said softly.

“It is what must be done, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Bashere said.

Light, what a mess. Well, what did you expect? Neatness and simplicity?

Talmanes enters the tent as Bashere reports that the Trollocs control almost the entire southern half of the forest, and adds that the dragons are practically useless on forested terrain. Elayne asks about Aludra’s “dragon teeth”—ammunition which shoots a spray of metal rather than one big ball—and Talmanes answers it is better, but still not that effective in the woods. Bashere wants to pull out of Braem Wood and build raft bridges over the Erinin to gain the open terrain to the east, and keep drawing the Trollocs east and north all the way to Cairhien. Elayne frowns; she needs a swift and decisive victory here so she can join the battles to the north, not an endless retreat, but Bashere says they are “stirring” this battle, not controlling it. Elayne doesn’t like it, but approves the plan.

Tam and Perrin read Elayne’s orders, and Tam comments that she is a good tactician, by which he means she is smart enough to listen to those who are better tacticians than she. Perrin sees Rand in the colors, talking to Moiraine, and feels the tug toward him. He tells Tam that he will be taking command of their forces here, with Gallenne, Arganda and Galad under him. Tam is startled, but then intuits that Perrin intends to leave.

“Rand needs me,” Perrin said softly. “Burn me, Tam, I hate it—but I can’t fight along with you here in Andor. Someone needs to watch Rand’s back, and it… well, it’s going to be me. I know it, somehow.”

Tam points out that the other men might not listen to “a common farmer” without Perrin there to back him up, and suggests putting one of them in charge instead. Perrin turns to their assembled forces and loudly announces that he is hereby making Tam al’Thor a lordsteward of the Two Rivers, with all of Perrin’s authority in Perrin’s absence, and his heir in the event of Perrin’s death. The men nod and salute, and Tam groans.

“Is it too late to turn you over to the Women’s Circle for a good talking to?” Tam asked. “Maybe a sound swat on the behind and a week spent carrying water for Widow al’Thone?”

“Sorry, Tam,” Perrin said.

Neald tries again to make a gateway to the Black Tower, and cannot. Perrin thinks of Lan’s report from Shienar, and knows something is very wrong there. He has Neald make a gateway to Merrilor instead. He makes a speech to the soldiers, apologizing that he must go to the Lord Dragon and promising a celebration when they win. The men cheer him, and Perrin goes to leave, but Dain Bornhald approaches and asks for a private word. Perrin is suspicious, knowing that Bornhald hates him, but agrees. Bornhald then shocks him with the abrupt confession that it was not Trollocs who killed his family, as he’d been told, but Ordeith. The Whitecloaks with him had not participated, but they hadn’t stopped it, either. Perrin is stunned.

“This is an awful time to tell you this, I know,” Bornhald said. “But I couldn’t keep it in. I just… We may fall. Light, it might all fall. I had to speak, say it.”

He pulled away, moving back toward the other Whitecloaks with eyes downcast. Perrin stood alone, his entire world shaking.

Then he pulled it back together. He had dealt with this; he had mourned his family. It was over, through.

He could and would go on. Light, the old hurts returned, but he shoved them down and turned his eyes toward the gateway. Toward Rand, and his duty.

He had work to do. But Ordeith… Padan Fain… This only added to that man’s terrible crimes. Perrin would see that he paid, one way or another.

He tries to get Gaul to stay behind, but Gaul informs him he’ll have to kill him to make him do that, so Perrin gives in. He sees two white-clad figures on the other side of the gateway to the hospital in Mayene, watching Gaul, and wonders how it must feel for Bain and Chiad to sit out the Last Battle. He and Gaul go through the other gateway to Merrilor, where they gather supplies, and then Perrin browbeats the Asha’man at the camp into sending him to Rand in the Blight.

Distant, in front of them, rose the peak of Shayol Ghul. Perrin felt a shiver. It was distant, but Perrin could not mistake the intense determination in Rand’s expression as he regarded the peak.

“Light,” Perrin said. “Is it time?”

“No,” Rand said softly. “This is a test, to see if he senses me.”

Perrin draws him aside from Moiraine and Nynaeve, and tells Rand that he needs to enter the wolf dream in the flesh, rather than “the easy way.” He asks if Rand has anything in “that ancient brain” to help him. Rand tells him it is a very dangerous thing, which some call evil.

“It’s not evil, Rand,” Perrin said. “I know something evil when I smell it. This isn’t evil, it’s just incredibly stupid.”

Rand smiled. “And still you ask?”

“The good options are gone, Rand. Better to do something desperate than to do nothing at all.”

Rand didn’t reply.

They discuss the Black Tower; Rand says he needs to go there, but he knows it is a trap. Perrin says he thinks he knows part of who is behind the trap, but he needs to be able to face him on equal terms in the dream. Rand nods slowly. He thinks they will have to leave the Blight to make the gateway into Tel’aran’rhiod, but it turns out they do not, and Rand comments that “the worlds are drawing together, compressing.” Perrin arranges for Rand to have an Asha’man make a gateway like this for him once a day at dawn at Merrilor.

“The Light willing, we will see one another again,” Rand said. He held out his hand to Perrin. “Watch out for Mat. I’m honestly not sure what he’s going to do, but I have a feeling it will be highly dangerous for all involved.”

“Not like us,” Perrin said, clasping Rand’s forearm. “You and I, we’re much better at keeping to the safe paths.”

Rand smiled. “May the Light shelter you, Perrin Aybara.”

“And you, Rand al’Thor.” Perrin hesitated, and realized what was happening. They were saying goodbye. He took Rand in an embrace.

He warns Moiraine and Nynaeve to watch over Rand; Nynaeve sniffs and asks when she ever stopped. She asks if Perrin is doing something foolish; Perrin tells her, “Always,” and then he and Gaul step through the gateway, into the World of Dreams.

Commentary
Re: Egwene’s thoughts about being a cleansing flame to clear the infection of the Shadow from the land: I really hate that I can’t turn off my brain sometimes. Because instead of just enjoying how epic fantasies provide ways for statements like that to be literally true (thus allowing the reader to enjoy the inevitable scenes of wholesale slaughter guilt-free!), the only thing I could think when reading it was to wonder how many real-life despots/conquerors/terrorists have used that exact rationale to justify their own, much less fun versions of wholesale slaughter. Blarg.

Other than that the Egwene scene was good, mostly because it was so nice to see the Aes Sedai finally act in concert and bring all their thus-far-mostly-potential badassedness to bearon the right enemy to boot! Though I had to wonder a bit at this point why Team Shadow apparently has so few Dreadlords that they couldn’t spare any for Kandor. However, I think this objection gets addressed quite emphatically later on, so I’ll leave it.

Elayne’s bit here was pretty brief and straightforward, but it did cement my conviction that Bashere and the other Great Captains were already being messed with by this point. There are only so many iterations of “wait, you want to do what? Oh, well, you’re a Great Captain, so I’ll convince myself that whatever cockamamie thing you just said to do must be tactically brilliant!” that I can see before the writing’s on the wall, and ladies and gentlemen, we now officially have grafitti.

(Ba doom shhhh.)

Perrin’s POV made me feel rather schizophrenic, because there were parts of it I loved, like his tactical lordening of Tam (and Tam’s reaction to it), and parts of it I hated. Well, okay, there was only one part I hated, but I really hated it, and that was the scene with Bornhald.

Because, what the hell was that? Where did that come from? Bornhald drops this GIANT bomb on Perrin of “oh hey, I totally watched my nutcase of a pseudo-commanding officer slaughter your family and did nothing to stop it and then lied about it for months, my bad,” and doesn’t even get a fist (or a hammer) to the face for it? And Perrin, apparently, absorbs and accepts this information in like ten seconds and then just moves on? What?

Ugh, no, it was clunky and weird and dissatisfying in the extreme, and I don’t even know why we needed Perrin to learn this information if he was going to decide ten seconds later that it wasn’t going to change anything. And it didn’t; Padan Fain ends up being Mat’s problem in the endgame, because Perrin has to concentrate on Slayer and then Lanfear (which, that whole thing has its own problems, but we’ll discuss that when we get there). So why Perrin needs any more emotional ammunition against a character he never ends up facing himself anyway (at least not as far as I can recall) is beyond me, from a narrative perspective.

[ETA: Peter Ahlstrom points out in the comments that Brandon has said that Bornhald's confession was supposed to have happened much more organically, in a sequence involving Perrin's forces going down into the Ways, which was later deleted. And now that he mentions it, I remember hearing Brandon talk about that; sorry, it slipped my mind previously. And that certainly explains why the scene feels so shoehorned in, because apparently it literally was. I still rather feel that it might have been better to leave it out entirely, in that case, since again, as far as I recall the knowledge ultimately doesn't have any effect on Perrin's future actions. *shrug*]

Anyway. Perrin’s scene with Rand was good just because I was like THANK YOU PERRIN, for finally being the one to call bullshit on this whole “entering the dream in the flesh makes you evil!” thing, which I have always kind of regarded as the WOT equivalent of an urban legend. Certainly all the evidence for it was entirely circumstantial. Because sure, Rand almost became evil, but I’m PRETTY SURE that factors other than his episodes of running around in the dream physically were behind that near-downfall. And sure, Slayer smells less than human to Perrin, but again, PRETTY SURE there are other reasons for that in play there. So you go, Perrin, telling it like it is!

Also, many quiet and understated badass points go to Gaul and his “bitch, please” response to Perrin’s attempt to leave him behind. I heart him lots.

Lastly, the scene with Rand and Perrin makes me very sad in retrospect, because unless I’m mistaken (and I might be), this is basically the last time they interact in the series. And possibly the last time they interact, period, depending on how committed Rand decides to be to his J.D. Salinger impression, post-apocalypse.

But, I guess sometimes the fact that we’ll never know for sure is a blessing in disguise. Because this way, I can decide that in my personal post-Tarmon Gai’don headcanon, all of the surviving Superfriends eventually get together and have yearly secret barbeques or whatever, and no one can prove me wrong. YAY.


And on that happy image, we out! Come back next Tooooooosdy for Moar, y’all!

83 comments
T C
1. Freelancer
Perrin makes others schizo, but he himself has always been the same guy. Let him be who he is, not who you wish him to be.

That said, it was nice of you to qualify your displeasure with chivalry. Some of us still believe.
neverspeakawordagain
2. neverspeakawordagain
My one big problem with Egwene's battle scene here (and basically every single battle scene in the entire book involving channelers)... erupting the ground under somebody's feet is just about the least effective method possible for killing somebody with the power. We're used to conventional weapons, and so RJ has always used the "erupting the ground" effect as something similar to an artillery shell because it's something we can comprehend... but there are much better ways of killing things with the pattern.

The one that's always stuck out to me was Asmodean's trick in Rhuidean with a series of thin, razor-sharp filaments stretched parallel to the ground at waist / neck height. From what I remember, Rand commented that those used very little of the power. So... get a circle with a sa'angreal, make a waist-high filament like that a quarter-mile long, and just move it through the Trolloc armies. You could kill the entire army in a matter of minutes. Why not do that?
Kat Werner
3. Sakaea
So glad I'm not the only one who thought the bit where Perrin finds out who really killed his family was not done well :/
andrew smith
4. sillyslovene
On Perrin and Bornhald,

I can totally understand Bornhald's timing: knowing something that is completely eating you up inside, but being unable to find the right time or place to out with it - lacking the courage to say something that you know will hurt, but must be said is extremely difficult, especially if you are expecting a fist/hammer to the face (and knowing it would be completely justified, if not summary execution). Note that this only arises in Bornhald's mind after truly getting to know Perrin and seeing the respect built between him and Galad. Before that, there is no reason for him to even think he should tell because Perrin and his family 'were darkfriends.' However, in the few weeks (chronology anyone?) since that relationship was patched, Bornhald starts realizing that he is in the wrong, majorly and needs to tell the truth, both for his own soul and so that the real perpetrator may be punished.

With all that said, he sees Perrin leaving and "holy crap this is my last chance before we all die. I don't want to go to the Creator with this on my chest" leads to blurting it out badly. Very human. Very understandable.

From Perrin's side, while Leigh may think this was all clunky, I think it points out clearly the changes and developments in Perrin's character, leading to the ending of his character arc, culminating in getting rid of full Compulsion. He has grown new strength and capacity, both to deal with emotional blows (something he wasn't ever good at), but also to put off those things that don't matter (i.e. himself and his family relationships **cough cough PLOD cough cough**) for the bigger/more important fight. Here he is putting off the emotional compulsion to dredge up old wounds, and plod onward (see what i did there? ;P)

Whether it was good writing to address the issues in a small POV as the transition in the middle of a chapter is another question altogether. I think it works thematically, as it is a transitionary moment (with Perrin leaving those he considers his family, perhaps to die, and heading to support Rand, the bigger/more important fight). Haven't looked at the writing itself, perhaps it does come off a little clunky, and could have used a few more passes with the magic editing ter'angrael...
Stefan Mitev
5. Bergmaniac
Raft bridges over the huge Erinin when you have Travelling? Say what? Is building such bridges even possible with Randland technology? And how are the Trollocs supposed to cross once you burn those bridges?

I know Bashere has a big reputation and all, but really Tam with all his experience and Elayne with her training should've realised it's a ridiculous plan.
Damon Garner
6. IrishOmalley
I like the open endedness of the conclusion to WoT as well. In my head, all of the main characters, that are still alive, meet up in the Two Rivers for a LoTR cartoon style ballad delivered by Thom... "Frodo of the nine Fingers and the ring of doom. :)
Sam Mickel
7. Samadai
I have always liked Perin, and these chapters with him in them are great
neverspeakawordagain
8. R0bert
Re: Bornhold and Perrin -- Bornhold is one of those minor characters who plays a decent-sized role in the books simply because he's always near more important characters. Part of that is probably to simply show the Whitecloaks can be redeemed, as he goes from an antagonistic zealot (even if some of his antagonism can be justified by things like his dead dad and being treated like a low-level butt monkey in the first couple books) to a more sympathetic guy willing to kill a crazy friend (Byer) due to him taking the same sort of kill-first/think-later action he would have done a few books earlier. In likelihood, due to the influence of Galad...and possibly the way he seemingly finally ran out of booze in Book 13 after spending about eight straight either hammered or hungover.

So, I think his confession was sort of a final step to making that point where you have the former arrogant young officer doing a 180-degree turnaround to admit his wrongdoing to a person, whom up until recently, he thought was the devil. The sort of thing that, in the grand scheme of the plot, means little; but means a lot in fans imagining that the post-AMoL world could really have peace, as it gives an example of one of the most rigid and confrontational groups in the series showing humanity and a willingness to admit they really hadn't been helpful to the cause, regardless of what they had been telling themselves.

Now, the poor timing of his confession combined with how it played no role in the plot due to Perrin and The Man-Creature Of 500 Names never crossing paths is another story. But, at least in my head, I can see why the confession was made and considered noteworthy enough to be mentioned.

I guess you could also say that it shows a certain evolution in Perrin's mindset. Your favorite multiple-book subplot could be basically described as "Perrin's wife is abducted, so he drops everything to rescue her, not thinking about one other thing besides her for multiple books". Here, he does nothing to Bornhold, looks at Fain as someone who will pay sometime, and then simply continues with his plan to set up camp in Dreamland and dispatch Slayer without letting the revelation completely reduce him into Angsty Emo Perrin again.
neverspeakawordagain
9. LordBigMikeOfHouseKickass
#2. great point, I have always had an issue with the simplification of channeling techniques in battle. This is really where I think Brandon could have let his imagination run wild and he didn't. I am very happy with the book as a whole but I was left rather empty by the battle scenes.
David W
10. DavidW
Egwene—afire with the One Power, a blazing beacon of death and judgment—was the cauterizing flame that would bring healing to the land.
I thought that this was good foreshadowing for Egwene's later awesome weave of anti-balefire that she unleashes later on.
Roger Powell
11. forkroot
In the missed opportunity department: When Egwene pulls out Vora's sa'angreal it would have been a great time for an internal thought about it not having a safety buffer. Admittedly, the best time would have been back in TDR (when Siuan used it in a circle to heal Mat) but since BWS couldn't go back and fix the RJ books he chould have at least introduced that "misfeature" now vs. 10 seconds before Egwene overdraws.
Jordan Hibbits
12. rhandric
Perrin's always been a stoic character, so I'm not surprised that he didn't overtly react to the news that it was Fain, and not Trollocs, that killed his family. sillyslovene@4 makes a good point about Bornhald's timing, but left out one thing that might have crossed Bornhald's mind: when Perrin leaves, Bornhald doesn't know whether they will survive the upcoming battles, let alone meet after. For all he knows, it might be the last chance he gets to clear his conscience.

I loved Rand opening himself to Lanfear: "I don't dislike you. I nothing you."

This reread makes it easier to see when the Great Generals corruption started. It might seem like nothing at first, but every minor detail, every strong strategy changed to further draw out the battle at Caemlyn, perhaps even the rapid withdrawl from the Gap.
William Carter
13. wcarter
Sanderson said at JCon that the Bornhold thing was something that was trimmed back from an earlier version.
Originally Perrin was going to get scenes involving shutting off the Caemlyn waygate and a better entrance for the Ogier, etc. The Bornhold stuff was supposed to be built up more, then they axed all of that for spacing issues and because alpha readers thought Perrin had too much "screen time."
It probably would have been better for them to axe Borhold's admission altoghether or have it happen off screen, but whatever.

Gaul. Yeah, something tells me that he would end up a clan chief post epiloge whether he wants to or not.
Brook Freeman
14. LongStrider
I'm right there with you for the secret barbeques.
Peter Ahlstrom
15. PeterAhlstrom
Brandon has said publicly that Bornhald's revelation was supposed to happen in the deleted sequence where Perrin goes into the Ways. I personally much preferred it in that context, and that's just another reason it's too bad the sequence didn't work out, though the reasons for getting rid of it were good ones.
Jordan Hibbits
16. rhandric
wcarter@13: are you saying Gaul would get the Cadsuane treatment?
Tina Pierce
17. scissorrunner
Best line in the chapter is Perrin's:
“The good options are gone, Rand. Better to do something desperate than to do nothing at all.”
Of course I went into this knowing it was the Last Battle & everything was going to go wonky - fast. But this one line really brought it home.
neverspeakawordagain
18. itsjustme
I think the whole "losing part of yourself" by entering the dream physically is actually answered later by Slayer. He mentions something along the lines about having to be tied to something else to do it. That's why he has to be 2 different people. Extend that to Perrin and the wolves, and that is how he can jump in and out of the dream. It's possible this knowledge of having to be tied to someone/something else and giving up part of yourself to be replaced by this other side got twisted over the years into a big danger sign that wasn't as extreme as the Wise Ones thought. And it may have only applied to people who can enter it without the power.
Deana Whitney
19. Braid_Tug
Yay! 2 Chapters!

Egwene—
afire with the One Power, a blazing beacon of death and judgment—was the cauterizing flame that would bring healing to the land.
This quote also shows how she's thinking of herself less as "Egwene a person", and more "The Amyrlin, a Force." As you say Leigh, the 20/20 of hindsight is great even while it hurts.

Perrin –
Then he pulled it back together. He had dealt with this; he had mourned his family. It was over, through.
He could and would go on. Light, the old hurts returned, but he shoved them down and turned his eyes toward the gateway. Toward Rand, and his duty.
His Duty: there is why I love Perrin.
Yes, it took him books to pull his crap together, and really understand his duty. But the guy has drunk that Kool-aid 150% now. He is as unmovable as the anvil he made his hammer upon.

Now will he spend some time crying on Faile’s shoulder after all this is said and done? Probably, but he can’t afford to let it interfere with his current duty, so it doesn’t.

Just had a thought… Could brining up Fain’s name again to Perrin, be a bit of Team Jordan misdirection? Is this the only character mention of him we get before the end? I don’t remember.
So maybe they were setting us up to think that Perrin was going to deal with him. This way, Mat getting the kill shot comes as a double surprise.


Agree: Two Rivers reunion in the Bunker!
Eric Wyatt
20. SunDriedRainbow
@11 I interpreted that as Egwene had overpowered the safety buffer in the sa'angreal, not that it didn't exist. Which is its own problem, of course, but it didn't come across to me as "oh btw this is the female callandor surprise!", just the tragic consequences to fighting Taim with his sa'angreal.

@2 yeah, I definitely have always wondered why the Aes Sedai waste so much energy on Earth and Fire when Air and Water can just as effectively kill. Egwene makes a waterspout later on, but why aren't we making bubbles of water around Trollocs' heads, or tying up Myrddraal so they can't move and get archer'D? E/F weaves are supposed to take much more energy when you don't have strength in them, so it would be MUCH more efficient to use A/W weaves for the majority of women.

Which I think Leane talks about later in the book; she's so weak now, she has to play to her strengths and maximize effort/return. I loved that! But it was the only time anyone ever mentioned it.

At least Pevara FINALLY figured out you can use Air to block arrows.
Alice Arneson
21. Wetlandernw
Birgitte – I’m so very glad she gets her answer later, and that it’s the answer she wants. (Because, of course, we all want the same answer, right?)

Mierin – I enjoyed this scene. I kept waiting for something bad to happen, with the cavern, and then Mierin-in-distress, and when Rand opened his mind to her I was sure she was going to try something nasty… but she couldn’t. Or didn’t. (I wonder if it’s possible to do something nasty when someone opens their mind like this, or if you just get to look but not touch.) Loved the way it finally convinced her, though - that she really, truly had thought she still had some power over him, and now she has to face the fact that he couldn’t possibly care less about her. Yes, it may affect her later actions, but it was still so fun (for a certain definition of fun…) to see her have to realize she was dead wrong in that regard. (And also, to see her dead. That will be good, too.)

About that compassion thing… I think he’s using the wrong term. It’s not a weakness; it’s a vulnerability, just like the eye-slit in the helmet. It’s absolutely vital – not having it would make you blind, and that would be a weakness. It just creates a particular vulnerability that you have to be aware of, and not let someone exploit it.

Egwene – Yup, nice little bit of foreshadowing there, about Egwene being the cauterizing flame… Ouch. The big difference between Egwene and the various RL power-mongers feeling justified in destroying whole armies, is that she’s right. The Trollocs are not a natural part of this world; they are twisted mutations perpetrated by Evil (real evil, not just other-than-Me evil), their goal is to kill and eat as many humans as they can, and the best thing for the whole world is for them to be wiped out to the very last one. So unlike the RW dictators, she is truly on the side of Right.

In retrospect, I rather wish something had been mentioned along about here regarding Vora’s sa’angreal and its lack of buffer. A hint, at least, so when we found out the full detail later we could realize that it had been coming. Oh well. What he has written, he has written.

And also, I’d like to point out that even with all the fighting Aes Sedai, the sa’angreal, and (presumably) all the an’greal they could muster from the Tower, they are exhausted by the time they get done with this one day’s battle. Given the way it turned out, that the Trollocs never even came close to the AS, this was one battle where using the Accepted as “batteries” might have been acceptable, I’m not sure I’d have taken the risk were I in Egwene’s shoes. Talk all you want about how they wouldn’t be in danger, and should be well enough trained to keep their heads… I wouldn’t risk it. I wouldn’t want to go into battle with a “battery” I didn’t fully trust – one who might panic, or sick up, or pass out while I was linked to her and depending on her. I’d rather go in with whatever I had myself, than go in with an untested “power source” giving me a slight boost.

(In the ensuing argument, and the one about linking, let’s not forget that the power is not additive. One plus one does not equal two in a link; it equals one-and-a-bit. So if I get even a two-thirds boost, but I’m constantly wary of what might happen to that other two-thirds… I think I’d turn it down. Especially knowing that I’d inevitably feel protective toward that two-thirds, and be constantly checking to make sure I wasn’t using her too hard.)

Bashere/Elayne – In retrospect, now I’m starting to suspect Graendal-meddling here. I still think that Lan & Agelmar came to the right decision, but I’m sure questioning Bashere right here. Poor man. Although… I have to point out that if he is under Compulsion already, he’s doing a fine job of making his decisions look good; Tam confirms it as good tactics.

Speaking of Tam… I sure do love that man. His and Perrin’s interaction here is priceless. “Is it too late to turn you over to the Women’s Circle…” Nice one. Also, from the “For What It’s Worth” department, it looks like right about here that the Black Tower arc catches up with the rest of the world.

Bornhald – I really don’t know what I think about this, other than that as usual, he’s a complete jerk. He’s had about two moments of semi-positive behavior in the whole series, but I can’t think that this is one of them. Yes, on some level it’s right that Perrin should know, but this timing stinks. It reads like it’s more about Bornhald getting it off his conscience so he can feel better, than about any question of whether it’s right for Perrin to know. Which is rather selfish, you know? It’s like the therapist who tells you that in order for you to feel better about something, you should go tell other people all about something that happened years ago, regardless of the effect it might have on them. (True, stinking true, extremely annoying story behind that. You don’t want to know.)

On the other hand, the scene plays rather well in showing how far Perrin has come in some ways. Not necessarily all good, but he’s gotten to a point where he can acknowledge his pain, and still set it aside to do what needs to be done.

And then comes what remains my favorite line from AMoL: “It’s not evil, Rand,” Perrin said. “I know something evil when I smell it. This isn’t evil, it’s just incredibly stupid.” When I read this the first time through, I burst out laughing so hard I nearly fell out of my chair – and when it’s a big recliner, that’s saying something! I managed to keep the volume down out of sheer selfishness – I didn’t want the kids coming downstairs to find out what was going on, since my husband was gone for the evening and I’d be the one to have to stop reading and get them settled down again. I almost broke something trying to keep it quiet, though.

And by now, I see there are way more than the two comments that showed up when I started writing... So I'll post and then read more. Yay!
William Carter
22. wcarter
@16 rhandric

I forget when, but I'm pretty sure he was threatened by a wise one in a previous book that they would seen him to Rhuidean essentially because he did too much naval gazing for an ordinary Stone Dog.
I dunno, my memory could be faulty on that one...at any rate, with Rhuarc unceremoniously taken out later on there is a vacancy.
Marcus W
23. toryx
Because instead of just enjoying how epic fantasies provide ways for statements like that to be literally true (thus allowing the reader to enjoy the inevitable scenes of wholesale slaughter guilt-free!), the only thing I could think when reading it was to wonder how many real-life despots/conquerors/terrorists have used that exact rationale to justify their own, much less fun versions of wholesale slaughter. Blarg.
Yeah, I felt exactly the same way, both when reading it for the first time and again today when you wrote about it.
Deana Whitney
24. Braid_Tug
@ 22, wcarter: you are correct.
Gaul has been warned about being sent to become a Clan Chief. Wonder if one of his wives is going to become a Wise One or not. Don’t know if there is a non-channeling Wise One’s apprentices age limit.
Because you know he’s going to get a 2 for 1 situation, no choice.
neverspeakawordagain
25. Staizer
What, no comment on how Rand and Perrin's talk was a call back to their earlier comparisons of each other?

"I wish i could do A like Rand because Rand is awesome at A." Now its we recognize each others faults and we definately all have some similarities. Like being wreckless.

Also, i know it has been said in the comments before, but doing what perrin and slayer do means you have to be different BEFORE going to TAR in the flesh, legend just changed it so it made it so TAR changed the person.

The reasoning is actually quite Sandersonish, two souls occupying one body, whether they are truly different souls, or just two halves of a whole. One as an anchor in TAR and one in the real world. Just throwing that out there again.
Dixon Davis
26. KadesSwordElanor
OK. Question about Birgitte. Why is she so concerned about losing her memories? IIRC, the wheel has spit her out several times. She wasn’t born with her memories each of those times was she? I realize this time is different because she was plucked from TAR. So, does that make all the difference because, as far as anyone knows, this is a first. As usual, I am sure there is something I am missing/forgetting.
William Carter
27. wcarter
@26 KadesSwordElanor

No, it's because she isn't supposed to have them at all. She should be born normally. Choosing the bow is supposed to be an organic process with no memory of the past or Gaidal or any of it (in fact she typically hates him when the first meet only to fall in love sometime later...)
She's freaked out because she wasn't spun out naturally, and she feared losing the memories equaled losing her connection to the horn because she wasn't supposed to be in the living world at all at that point.
Alice Arneson
28. Wetlandernw
And before I even get to the other comments, there’s something else I just noticed in scanning through the chapters. It turns out to be a good thing, all those Aes Sedai bonded to Asha’man, and vice versa. Those are currently the only Asha’man to have escaped the Black Tower RotoMatic, and without them, there’d be a lot more hurt going on. Worse yet, if they were still in the BT being Turned, some of them would be out here fighting for Team Dark. Funny; one way and another, most of those bonds were… something less than voluntary, at least to start with. Perhaps the Pattern was taking a hand with a bunch of stubborn channelers.

Bergmaniac @5 – While it seems logical to “just use Traveling” to get across, it’s a mighty big army to move. I don’t recall at the moment just how many channelers Elayne has with her, but not enough. They’d have to beg or borrow from other fronts, right? The plan is to move the bridge-builders there ahead of time to get things built before the army gets there.

On one hand, this would be one place where I could see bringing some of the Yellows & Accepted in; stand them on the other side of the river, out of range of the Trollocs, and have them open gates for Elayne’s troops to cross. OTOH, part of the point is to get the Trollocs to follow the army, which will be harder if they don’t see a chance of crossing the river.

And… several comments which serve to show that great mind think alike. (@10 and @11)

wcarter @13 & PeterAhlstrom @15 – Okay, that makes a lot of sense. And oh, how I long to read that scene, even knowing it “didn’t happen that way” after all! I completely understand the reasons it was cut, and I know they were good reasons, but… I think it will always be a mental part of my book. I’ll include it in my head, even if it’s not in print.

wcarter @22 – One problem with that scenario: Gaul and Rhuarc aren’t from the same clan, so Gaul can exactly fill the vacancy. However, there’s a fair chance that Jheran died at Thakan’dar like so many other Aiel, so that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of Gaul becoming a chief.

KSE @26 – When Birgitte is spun out the normal way, she doesn’t remember any of her other lives, and she knows that. While in TAR between lives, she remembers everything. The key is that this time is different. She was ripped out, not spun out, and she came out with her memories intact. The fact that she is now losing them is making her worry that along with the memories, she’s losing her link to the Horn. As you say – as far as anyone knows, this is a first, so she’s understandably worried that Moghedien, in attempting to hurt her permanently, may have actually done so.

(ETA: Birgitte has been worried since Day 1 that Moghedien actually knew what she was doing, and managed to break her loose from her normal connection with the Wheel and the Horn. As her memories start to fade, that worry grows. By now, with her past memories largely gone - and knowing that she had them before but doesn't have them now - the worry has grown full-size until she's nearly convinced.)
David W
29. DavidW
@27 Correction, she believes that she wasn't supposed to be in the living world at that point. However, the wheel weaves as the wheel wills and she was needed at that point with the memories that she had and so Moghedian was required to rip her out of tel'arand'rhiod the way she did.
William Carter
30. wcarter
@29 DavidW

That's what I mean't when I said it was her fear. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
Roger Powell
31. forkroot
SunDriedRainbow@20
@11 I interpreted that as Egwene had overpowered the safety buffer in the sa'angreal, not that it didn't exist.
No, the text is pretty clear on this. Here is the direct quote:
She closed her eyes and drew in the power. More than a woman should be able to, more than was right. Far beyond safety, far beyond wisdom. This sa'angreal had no buffer to prevent this.
neverspeakawordagain
32. Aellinsar
"...and adds that the dragons are practically useless on forrested terrain."

Then perhaps you should use them in Kandor or the Borderlands! This part really bugged me.
Leigh Butler
33. leighdb
PeterAhlstrom @ 15:

Oh, yeah, I had forgotten about that. Thank you for reminding me! I have edited the post to acknowledge this information.
neverspeakawordagain
34. D-Mac
Re: Perrin
When I read this chapter, specifically when he was transferring command to Tam, I harkened back to the last book after he forged Moljnar (?), gave this big ole speech about accepting command and agreeing to lead them in the last battle, only to come back in this book and "pull a bunk" on his followers. Granted, all in the cause of the last battle, and of course Tam is no scrub, but if i were one of his followers, i think i would have felt abandoned by him. I understand it had to be done, but still...
Ron Garrison
35. Man-0-Manetheran
Chapter 12: Birgitte gets a HAFO!
“People couldn’t be unbound from the Horn, could they? Hawkwing might know. She’d have to ask him.”
Thomas Keith
36. insectoid
Ah, a lovely Re-read. Great job, Leigh!

Let's see... we have a rare Birgitte POV...

Dreamshard:
An interesting concept, and does a good job explaining Ishy's dealings in the first 3 books.

Same old Lanfear, even if in a different body. I *almost* feel sorry for her. I was certainly a little startled that Rand opened up like that.

Egs and the AS being awesomesauce...

Tam:
Amusing that the shepherd-turned-Dragon's adopted father becomes a lord too. (On first read, this immediately reminded me of a Jack Sparrow quote: "They're just giving the bloody title away now!")

Perrin:
“It’s not evil, Rand,” Perrin said. “I know something evil when I smell it. This isn’t evil, it’s just incredibly stupid.”
Boy, you got that right. XD

Bornhald:
You idiot. (Like Leigh, I thought this was rather jarring and mis-placed in the overall narrative; luckily we have Peter's thoughts that it wasn't supposed to be, so.) It's still stupid timing on Bornhald's part.

When Rand was able to open a gateway to the Dream in the Blight, it reminded me of some theories about Shayol Ghul/[i]Tel'aran'rhiod that I had read.

Rand and Perrin's parting is kind of sad in retrospect.

Bzzz™.
Thomas Keith
37. insectoid
Heh... secret barbeques.

Free @1:
Hey, where've you been? I left you a PM on FB.

IrishOmalley @6:
Heh. We should have Forkroot write that.

Fork @11:
Good point—but see below...

Peter @15:
Thanks for the info!

Braid @19:
Agree: Two Rivers reunion in the Bunker!
Wouldn't that make it kind of crowded in here? :P

SunDriedRainbow @20:
@11 I interpreted that as Egwene had overpowered the safety buffer in the sa'angreal, not that it didn't exist.
I agree. It makes sense that Vora's sa'angreal has a buffer; if it were significant that it didn't have one, I'd think it would have come up before now.

Fork @31:
Hm, well... er... oh, you got me! Has anyone asked Brandon about this? :S

Man-0 @35:
Hah!

Bzzz™.
Tricia Irish
38. Tektonica
Perrin: It was nice to see him not go crazy or be re-hurt when Bornhold drops the bomb about Fain. He has indeed grown strong. (Even though it was a totally out of left field moment for me.) And yay Perrin, for calling shenanigans on the "entering TAR in the flesh" is evil. Pish posh! And I LOVED the scene with Perrin and Rand. It was intimate, close, and a real, acknowledged farewell. So poignant. (I think all the Two Rivers Heros will have super sekret get togethers too...with Rands wives, as well .)

Lanfear: I was still wary of her pull on Rand, after the ending when he saw her fading into the dark in his dream, at the end of ToM(?) Rand really came together for me in this scene. And I love his honesty in showing her his true mind, fearlessly. Nothing to hide. How rare in Randland! He knew that it wouldn't alter her selfish actions.

Egwene: I agree with you Leigh and Toryx@23....I thought Egwenes thinking was pretty megalomanic-like. I appreciated seeing the dark forces destroyed, forcefully, but Egwene almost declared her enjoyment of doing it. Weird. Scary.
Stefan Mitev
39. Bergmaniac
We never got any kind of "Dad, here's my second girlfriend"scene with Tam, Rand and Elayne, right? Or am I forgetting it? Elayne spoke to him a few times but never thought of him as Rand's dad IIRC which is weird...
Tricia Irish
40. Tektonica
Bergmaniac@39: No, I dont' think we did. Ummmm...I wonder what Lord Tam is going to think about 3 daughters-in-law, with his son that doesn't look the same? (Frankly, I think he'll cut him some slack, after Shayol Ghul.) Do you?
Thomas Keith
41. insectoid
It would certainly be a strange family reunion. ;)

Bzzz™.
j p
42. sps49
I am glad it worked out okay, but why did Rand feel the need to enter that cavern whne something was obviously wrong?

Call me a sucker, but I did think Mierin would get a clue before the end.

ETA: Yes, Rand won't just hide from his buds. He has too much compassion.
Tina Pierce
43. scissorrunner
"& oh Dad, by the way, you're going to have 6 grandkids this year."
Tam is going to need to make sure that when he rebuilds the old house has a nice big playroom.
neverspeakawordagain
44. AndrewB
All the talk of a TR post AMoL reunion (with spouses/signifcant others), reminds me of the scene at the end of Ocean's Twelve (where you see all the characters, including Catherine Zeta Jones meeting up to play cards). I wonder if Tuon would be welcomed?

Thanks for reading my musings
AndrewB
(Sent from my smartphone; please excuse any typos)
Lee VanDyke
46. Cloric
RE: Birgitte and Robin Hood,

I was at the signing in Birmingham and asked Brandon point blank about Birgitte being Maid Marion (it's close to the name she used when with Valan Luca's group), and he said he didn't think that RJ drew any of his material from that "mythology," but that it was an interesting idea.
Mike DMonte
47. MickeyDee
neverspeakawordagain @2

I thought of this when reading the scene at the manor house of Algarin in back country Tear. When LTT/Rand and Logain are at the windows and Rand/LTT start doing their deathgates and blossoms of fire and teenage angst and stuff.

I thought why not razor ribbons of air suspended and then moved back and forth across the field...low power drain and lots of organic mulch. Simple. And you dont get too much of the Trollocs-at-the-window-with-dandruff syndrome as a bonus. Or if they do get to the windows they dont do much except shake still bleeding stumps at you. ;)
neverspeakawordagain
48. Teddroe
The Tam/Elayne conversation in this chapter reminded me of something I found peculiar in this book--everyone seems totally nonplussed by Rand's increasingly public polygamy. His relationship with Min is well known by now, Elayne (an extremely public figure even before she becomes the world's commander-in-chief) announces she's carrying his twins, and by the epilogue Aviendha seems to be common knowledge as well. And, judging by Darlin's consternation at their lack of mourning, it seems that everyone more or less knows that all three are much more serious than just flings.

I suppose the common Westlandian reaction is probably just "well, he's the damn messiah, I suppose he can do what he wants", but it seems a little odd that none of the people who are a little more in the inner circle react at all. The only one who does is Nynaeve, who nearly has a nervous breakdown in Winter's Heart when she finds out. But Perrin, Mat, Egwene, Faile, Moiraine, et al. aren't ever shown reacting at all (unless I'm forgetting a scene, which is very possible). I'm especially curious what Tam and Morgase (and Min's offscreen aunts, who I really wish we'd met at some point) had to say. Talk about awkward in-law interactions...

I dunno...seemed odd to me. *Shrug*.
neverspeakawordagain
49. Teddroe
Whoops, that's what I get for posting before reading all the comments. Looks like some others had the same reaction I did.

Yeah, that first Two Rivers barbecue (and I'm with Leigh--in my headcannon Rand starts to reveal his suvival to those he trusts after a couple years, so that barbecue is totally happening) is going to be super weird.
Birgit
50. birgit
she felt as if she were one with the land itself. That she was doing the work it had longed for someone to do for so long.
Eg is like a female Dragon / Fisher King here and in her final scene.
James Kendall
51. JKsilver
I like how, while it's obvious with hindsight they're being influenced by Graendal, the decisions that the Great Captains are making are just about sensible enough to be plausible responses to the situation. It helps that the Shadow are clever enough to give the Light forces several smaller victories first to build up their confidence, allowing them to be led into the wider trap.
Dixon Davis
52. KadesSwordElanor
RE: Two Rivers BBQ

Tuon inebriated on Tam’s apple brandy and fussing at Mat for flirting with some young AS would be priceless. Mat would go from the most powerful man in Seanchan to the lowest Da’covale in seconds.

Also, am I falsely remembering some minor allusions to Tuon being able to channel?
Maiane Bakroeva
53. Isilel
It is kinda funny that Rand thinks about LTT keeping useful skills/knowledge back, when he himself is far more guilty of not teaching the 3rd-agers whatever he could in the time he had re: channeling and use of OP during the War of the Shadow, available *angreal from several stashes, etc.

His face-off with Mierin is awesome psychologically, but I find it strange that she didn't use the info he gave her by opening his mind to gruesomely murder the threesome. She clearly did use knowledge of Rand's plans to a nearly-disastrous effect, though.

BTW - what was Cynfear supposed to be doing during the Last Battle according to Moridin? We only saw her doing her own thing. I'd have expected him to keep her busy, if only to keep her from interfering with his own plans.

I am kinda bummed that going into T'AR in the flesh being evil is revealed as yet another baseless prejudice. I mean, in the early books one of the Forsaken (Moghedien?) said that things could be done in T'AR that can't be done in the waking world and some changes made there are more permanent - which I always thought to be the source of the notion of evilness of entering it in the flesh. I.e. that it is easier to be changed or even change oneself if one loses control or lacks judgement.
But then we see wholly inexperienced and not specifically T'AR talented Gaul do swimmingly there in the flesh, so I guess that it is just another old wives tale? Disappointing.

It also makes the dreamwalkers wholly useless - after all their cautions and holding Egwene back because of oh, so great danger, a complete newb does better than them on his first attempt. I like Gaul and everything, but I would have much preferred if, instead of being obstructional for once, one of the dreamwalkers went with Perrin.

Loved Rand's and Perrin's interaction, as always, since the earliest books. Those 2 are truly friends, despite all the obstacles fate threw in their path.
A pity about the nixed Ways segment - I really would have loved to read it.

Also, hah! in the direction of Elayne as CiC detractors. She is clearly more naturally talented in military matters than Tam or Lan despite their experience.
She had been smelling a rat in Great Captains' plans for some time. Would that she had the confidence to seriously dispute them earlier. Tam's "she is good because she doesn't worry her pretty head about it and lets the Captains do all the work" is really hilarious in retrospect.

Moiraine appearing as an extra without lines? That's a new low.

Wetlandenw@21:

Talk all you want about how they wouldn’t be in danger, and should be well enough trained to keep their heads… I wouldn’t risk it. I wouldn’t want to go into battle with a “battery” I didn’t fully trust – one who might panic, or sick up, or pass out while I was linked to her and depending on her.

Sigh. This only makes sense if you think that (barely) adolescent boys are intrinsically better able to handle stress and keep their heads in dangerous situations than adult women. Because it is Asha'man and the armies that have 12-14-year olds at the frontlines and nobody worries about them sicking up or whatever.
And even the most sheltered of novices and Accepted - those who remained in the WT, did quite well against the unexpected Seanchan attack, once given proper leadership. Fighting in circles, I have to point out.

No, it is just part and parcel of the general drastic reduction of numbers of channelers in AMoL, so that non-channelers can shine. We only see dozens out of about 4-5 K Aiel channelers, ditto out of hundreds of Seafolk, ditto out of more than 1K Asha'man, ditto out of almost 2K Kinswomen... only most of the absences are unexplained, while that of WT initiates is given a half-assed explanation. For that matter, Egwene has less than half of currently available AS with her.

And, of course, it would have made vastly more sense to completely destroy Caemlyn Trolloc force with OP from the distance. No/little danger, Elayne's force immediately free.

This is the instance where I think that sentiment of Erikson's series (which wasn't followed through even by him, alas) that mages balance and cancel each other out on the battlefield, so that mundane troops can fight (and be relevant) would have been much preferrable. No need to fudge the numbers, dumb down tactics/abilities, etc.
Smaller, but more knowleadgeable/powerful Shadow contingent keeping Lightside channelers in check, so that they could only rarely affect the battle directly. Etc.

@2 Neverspeakawordagain:

Yes, specifics of channeling tactics are downright stupid. Just throwing raw power or AS (who are largely weak in Fire and Earth) using primarily those powers in battle is wasteful and tiring. For that matter, we see neither the Asha'man nor AS using the cool tactics from Dumai's Wells. Or from attack on Seanchan in PoD. Or at Algarin Manor. Or circles. Or, or, or... Better not to analyse, I guess. This way lies madness.

Forkroot @11:

Couldn't agree more about Vora's.
neverspeakawordagain
54. Ellanora
Totally agree with the others who have commented on Egwene's response to power. I loved her character arc from LoC-KoD but in the final three books more and more of her thoughts made her seem like she was absolutely tripping on her power, particularly during the Seanchan attack of the WT and the fighting during AMoL.

I'm kind of glad Egwene died as I feel like Egwene the character was completely lost, and we were left with Egwene the Institution. All her thoughts that ran along the vein of her being the Light embodied, judgement, the power of the White Tower etc., were cringy/slightly disturbing to read.

It comes across especially bad as most of the main characters are very humble, and often overly so. The only character to compare with this was Rand's episode in PoD where he thinks he is all powerful as he is the Dragon, and we all know how that ended. I wish Egwene could have had her own version of VoG, but her little conversation with Rand after her death was very touching and felt more like the old Egwene.
Deana Whitney
55. Braid_Tug
@ 48, don't forget all the time Egwene spent with the Aeil.
The whole "sister wife" thing, she had come to accept before her time ended with them.

Guess the others became exposed to it enough to just say "Well if that works for you, good luck with that."

And maybe while Rand was away becoming Zen, Tam and Min talked about his other women. The did interact, so who knows.
neverspeakawordagain
56. Staizer
@others regarding egwene

If Rand can be one with the world in a fisher king type scenario why cant egwene be one with the WT? Why should you hold one person to a standard and not the other?

i personnally dont tink egwene was being egotistical, i think she actually felt like she was the tower, and it could have literally been true, (rand as an example). Yes she lost herself in it but is that bad? Is it bad to become something more for the greater good? Is it bad to lose yourself to something so others have something to follow? Is it bad to attain a level where the pattern can actually use you to fix things that were broken?

an egotistical egwene would not have sacrificed herself to weave that anti-balefire weave, an egwene who didnt believe herself The Tower wouldnt have had the strength to hold enough power to cast it. Only an egwene who believed she could do it and was willing to, would do it.
Deana Whitney
57. Braid_Tug
@ several, Re: Channeling tactics:
We now know that RJ based all the battles on RL battles. Haven’t heard that anyone’s ID them yet.

Maybe this (and is military training) hampered his imagination when it came to tactics. He was staying too close to history.

Maybe he was too traumatized by his time in Vietnam. Didn’t want to bring up the imagery of razor wire decapitating and disemboweling creatures left and right.
When you stop to think about it, clouds of dust thrown up by the air hide some of the horrors you are experiencing.

Razor wire across a battlefield? Clear and graphic, and yes smart.
It would cause many people to lose their lunch at the horror of it – even if they are ‘only’ killing Trollics.
But it’s a guerrilla or an assassin’s trick. This keeps bugging me every time someone says it.

I haven’t seen the AS be assassin’s yet, have you? (Not including Black). A certain mindset needs to exist to develop that trick, thankfully we are not in that world in Randland.
Even the Seanchan’s “Blood knives” don’t use garrotes, and they are the trained assassins of this world!

Should they have used some of the other tricks? Sure, but those were mostly A’M doing them. Not AS. How many A’M were with Egwene?

We, the readers, have been exposed to every nasty trick ever done in warfare. The Characters are dealing with pretty straight warfare tactics. We should be happy they are not stuck in the British Redcoat thought patterns (line up and shoot straight) that allowed the US to win our War of Independence.

Re: 12-14 yo Asha’man – I haven’t seen one. They youngest I remember is, what 15? Most were older, because it was always said that boys came into the One Power “later” than girls.
Haven’t see too many 12-14 yo boys on the front line with the regular armies either. Just the messenger boys from the Borderlands. And that wasn’t supposed to be front line action.
neverspeakawordagain
58. Rhienne
@Stazier:

I kind of agree with you, and kind of with the other comments on Egwene.

I disagree that Rand and Egwene are the same. I think there is a difference between Rand and Egwene. Rand is the Dragon Reborn, a soul specifically woven out by the Pattern/Creator as a champion of the Light to fight the DO. He is completely unique, and this unique power and responsibility is granted to/forced upon only him. The Amyrlin is an elected leader of an essentially political body. I would be concerned about Obama talking about the White House, freedom, liberty, etc. the way Egwene talks about the White Tower, the Light, judgement, etc. And yes, Egwene is a great Amyrlin, but she is not unique - she's no different from Siuan, or Cadsuane, or even Elaida. Egwene seems to come across as though she has forgotten this. Why should she be the 'Light personified' or 'Judgement' any more than any other person on the battlefield fighting against the Shadow?

I agree with you in that I think her becoming wrapped up in becoming the Amyrlin/White Tower was actually a good thing for the AS and the White Tower. They were falling apart at the seams and I don't think anything short of Egwene's complete conviction in the strength and justice of the Amyrlin and the White Tower could have reunited them. I just don't think its a good thing for Egwene's personality - she just comes across as arrogant and with an inflated sense of self-importance.
Maiane Bakroeva
59. Isilel
Braid_Tug@57:

A 12-year old Asha'man Saml al'Seen was on-screen in KoD and it was revealed that Taim lied to his men that the WT recruits girls that young (WT only recruits 15 and older, the only exception being girls who have already sparked and thus are in danger) and ordered them to do the same.
For that matter, IIRC some of Rand's first recruits (Hopwyl, Morr, etc) were really young too, under 16.
That Bordelrander boy was considered a full soldier at 14, his age of majority.
It has been repeatedly mentioned by Elayne (and, IIRC, Egwene) how a lot of recruits in the armies are under the age of majority, which in most of Randland is 16, etc.
Oh, and how about the Younglings, most of whom never needed to shave?

Nearly all novices and all Accepted are significantly older, needless to say, and by virtue of being channelers are already trained to keep their cool in danger (which they are in every time that they channel). The Seanchan attack on the WT proves that even the most sheltered of them could do well on a very short notice, given proper leadership. Leave alone with a whole month or more to prepare and train. IMHO, YMMV.

Rhienne @58:

IMHO, it has been made clear that Egwene was not just any old Amyrlin, but the necessary female counter-balance to the Dragon Reborn this time around.
The one who kept the world together while he sealed the DO. The one who created the new thinness in the Pattern by her imperfect patching in the process of keeping the world from disintegrating, while Rand closed the old Bore perfectly.
Saidar to his saidin.
Yes, not as special as him, but nevertheless specifically picked for the Pattern for that role. IMHO, Egwene's feelings of connection with, well, everything, similar to, but weaker than Rand's were the right and necessary consequences of her role, rather than the result of megalomania.
neverspeakawordagain
60. Caseyy
But, I guess sometimes the fact that we’ll never know for sure is a blessing in disguise. Because this way, I can decide that in my personal post-Tarmon Gai’don headcanon, all of the surviving Superfriends eventually get together and have yearly secret barbeques or whatever, and no one can prove me wrong. YAY.
THIS is what I disagree with so many other readers about this book. The series is OVER! They left us the question about the Dragon's Peace and Seanchan and numerous other things to debate because the authors have had the last word. This world WAS RJ's - now it is ours, and I for one am glad that some things were never cleared up fully.
neverspeakawordagain
61. Staizer
Isilel @59

that is what i was trying to say... Thank you
Alice Arneson
62. Wetlandernw
JKsilver @51 – It’s more than that, actually. Every move, by itself, looked more than “just about sensible enough to be plausible,” it looked clever, wise, even genius. It was only when you saw all of it together, along with something no scouts saw because they weren’t in the right place… An apparent “mistake” here, a tiny wrong move there, scouts not sent where they should have been because someone else was assumed to be there – it added up to sheer genius turned (Turned?) to sabotage.

KadesSwordElanor @52 – You are remembering correctly, sort of. :) Tuon could learn to channel; she is a trained sul’dam. She’s not a “sparker” – she won’t channel unless she’s taught and wishes to learn, but she could learn.

Isilel @53 (and others) – Re: “going into T'AR in the flesh being evil is revealed as yet another baseless prejudice.” Despite the comments, I’m not convinced that this is true as a general rule. I suspect that, for those without the double binding, it might really be dangerous, with a real possibility for damage to the mind and spirit. For someone like Perrin, with his wolf side, the dream world is a natural environment, and it’s not evil for him. (Slayer is already evil, so I don’t think he presents much valid evidence.) I don’t think it would be evil for Elyas, although he believes it would be. For a channeler who opens a gateway and walks in… I don’t know. I think it’s left open-ended there; I think the tradition is probably based on ancient truth, but doesn’t acknowledge possibilities like Perrin’s situation. I’m not sure what I think about Rand/LTT – did the presence of the “dead hero” personality (which may “belong” in the dream world) make it safe for him? Anyway, just because Perrin knows it’s “not evil, just stupid” for himself, I don’t think that’s sufficient proof that it’s generally safe.

Of course, it’s also entirely possible that the tradition is based on people who went into TAR in the flesh and were injured, or otherwise meddled with, or died – none of which can be fully “corrected” in the waking world – and it was recognized as “extremely dangerous.” It’s not hard for time and tradition to mutate “extremely dangerous” to “evil” in the right context, so maybe Perrin is right – it’s just incredibly stupid to do it, because of the dangers involved.

As for Gaul – he’s a quick learner, he’s careful, he was protected by Perrin, he wasn’t targeted all that much, he was with a ta’veren, and he was there for the purpose of protecting the Pattern. Maybe he was just lucky. The kinds of things you and I both thought of (the changes that can be made to a person who is physically there) wouldn’t necessarily happen to every person, every time, right? Gaul wasn’t trying to change anything about himself, other than almost absentmindedly learning to control his clothing; he was trying to stay the same and stay alive. I think it’s plausible that none of “those things” happened to him, partly due to his protections and partly to his mental focus and self-control.

And the dreamwalkers… well, there are only three of them. I’ll admit I’d hoped to see them doing more cool stuff in AMoL, but they had their shiny moments in ToM. They weren’t useless; we just didn’t see them in action during the LB.

Re: my comment @21 – I wouldn’t say that I trust 12-year-0ld boys at my back either, but I woudn’t be the one making that decision, would I? I’m saying that I, personally, (were I an Aes Sedai) would not want to be in a link with a bunch of novices in a battle situation. Feel free to take your circle of novices onto the field! :)

Staizer @56 – Bravo! Well said. I, too, think Egwene was justified in considering her position more than her self. I think she did that rightly all along, and she displayed it fully at the beautiful, bitter end.

Isilel @59 – “Egwene's feelings of connection with, well, everything, similar to, but weaker than Rand's were the right and necessary consequences of her role, rather than the result of megalomania.

This.
neverspeakawordagain
63. Ellanora
Stazier @56

Will respectfully agree to disagree here :) I got that Egwene was a balance/parallel to Rand in a literary device sense, but not in terms of actual plot significance. There weren't any prophecies about Egwene, and I don't believe there was anything inherently 'special' about her. I would argue that she was special because of her strength of will, her nobility in her sacrifce and her conviction in her beliefs; not because of anything the Pattern/Creator imbued her with, and IMHO it actually takes away from what she achieved under her own steam if you say the Pattern took a hand.

Her anti-balefire weave was awesome, and she was the one that figured it out, but it was just a weave - it wasn't some special power unique to her. I am pretty sure that BS confirmed that the weave was witnessed and other sisters could replicate her. It wasn't any different from Nynaeve figuring out the weave to cure Compulsion, or Madness, or Stilling - all things that were unheard of (like Egwene's weave) in any Age we have heard of.

I do think she was arrogant, and that she lost some of her everyday humanity, but also that this was somewhat neccessary for her to become a powerful Amyrlin from her starting point. But I don't think characters are likeable unless they have flaws as well as virtues. What I really like about Egwene is that (IMO), she achieved pretty much more for the Light than anyone but Rand, and she achieved it on her own. She wasn't ta'veren, she wasn't set up by the Pattern, she did it herself, as an 'ordinary' Randlander.
Alyson Mahn
64. AyeJaySedai
Late to the party but I am all over the secret bbq headcanon
neverspeakawordagain
65. Teddroe
@Braid_Tugger: All totally plausible, but it's a little weird that any/all reaction to the situation took place offscreen. I'm not saying that it would necessarily be negative or anything (though considering how Nynaeve reacts and how uncomfortable Rand himself is for basically the whole series...), but you'd think there'd be some sort of reaction. Particularly considering how well the main cast all know each other. For example, Perrin has known Min had a thing for Rand since all the way back to the beginning of Book 3--and is pretty good friends with her, even Rand notwithstanding--but barely knows Aviendha at all. Again...seemed weird to me.

Re: Egwene
Though she did start to get a little uncomfortably Crusade-ery (it's a word, dammit) there at the end, Egwene's not wrong to think of herself, and the institution she represents, as hugely important at the last battle. Sure she isn't ta'varen, but she's arguably the second most important light-sider in the world at this point. Only Tuon can (unfortunately, because I can't stand her) really contest that.

Which actually brings me to something that's bugged me for the whole series: why isn't Egwene ta'varen? Or Elayne, or even Nynaeve? Does the pattern have to, like, ration it? Egwene and Elayne (and perhaps Nynaeve) are just as important to the Light as Mat and Perrin, and accomplish just as much in the series. Egwene in particular has almost as much cool, improbable stuff happen to her as Rand does--doesn't her sudden ascension to Amyrlin just scream ta'varen?

It also bugs me on a more meta level. Why are only dudes ta'varen? As far as I can remember, all the ta'varen we ever meet or hear about (including Artur Hawking, Lews Therin, and maybe one of the false Dragons...Guaire Amalasan maybe?) are men, which strikes me as quite odd, considering the whold series' themes. Particularly when the WoT has such an obvious six main characters (in terms of PoV importance and with apologies to Min): Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve. Why are the three Superboys ta'varen but the the three (main) Supergirls aren't?
Terry McNamee
66. macster
More foreshadowing of what we'll learn when Birgitte dies. It seems so obvious now in retrospect that this was going to happen and we'd find out whether or not she was still tied to the Horn. I'm sure everyone else expected the issue to at least be addressed and resolved in some way before the end because it kept being brought up (I certainly did), but somehow the idea of her dying and us finding out that way when the Horn was sounded never crossed my mind. Even though going into AMoL Birgitte was one of those I suspected could or even would die! (Because for all her awesomeness she wasn't a channeler, she kept getting put in danger to save Elayne, and the whole needing to be dead thing to be a Hero of the Horn again.) I really dropped the ball on that one...maybe I just didn't want to think of her dying, or I thought the foreshadowing was so obvious it must be a sign Team Jordan was going to subvert expectations. The Untwist played successfully for a change!

The scene with Rand and Lanfear: yes this definitely has a lot more resonance when we get to the end of the book (I am not sure if this revelation is why she acted as she did, or at least if it's the only reason, but I am pretty sure it had at least some bearing on her choices), but it's also when I first started feeling sorry for Mierin again. I really got the sense here that she almost, almost gave in, that she was that close to coming back to the Light. (Another thing that had been hinted at in the series was possible, but never really happened. Neither Ingtar nor Verin were truly evil, and Asmodean was the least evil of the Forsaken. I guess this is proof that there really are people who are too truly evil to come back--because they choose not to.)

Not that everything would have been fine if she had, being a Forsaken would likely still have led to her arrest and execution, assuming she didn't get killed by Moridin or the Dark One for her treachery, but it certainly would have been interesting to see! In the end though, Mierin is who she is, her pride is too great as well as her love of power. Still, it's this scene, plus the one with Perrin in "Doses of Forkroot" where she goes on about her history not being what legends say it is, that made me cry for her in the end. Yes, she was evil. Yes, she made the wrong choices and that is what led her to the only denouement that was possible. But it is still tragic that it happened, and it acts as a warning to those of us who might be too consumed by pride...

Dreamwalking: Interesting that Edarra knows of it even though she is not a dreamwalker. I am guessing that even though the abilities are not tied to channeling, the fact that all dreamwalkers are made Wise Ones means it gets talked about a lot in Wise One councils, and thus non-dreamwalkers like Edarra could learn about it. I'll say more below about this topic otherwise, but for now I'll just comment that another aspect of the dreamwalkers always going on about how "evil" going to TAR in the flesh is is that the Aiel are a very superstitious and in some ways primitive people, so it makes sense to me that, even aside from the passage of time since the Age of Legends and the way knowledge was lost or twisted, the Aiel would just plain fear and call evil things they don't understand. While they don't call the ways of the wetlanders "evil", they certainly consider them so foreign and strange as to be beyond comprehension (outside of Aviendha, who seems to understand at least some of them after interacting with Elayne so much), and things from the Age of Legends would be even more outside their experience than the ways of the wetlanders.

On the other hand, considering they've managed to retain their aversion to using swords despite having completely forgotten their pacifistic ways, maybe this fear of going to TAR in the flesh is based off memories of something the Age of Legends Aes Sedai told the Da'shain in an attempt to protect and shelter them--the singing doesn't seem to have any connection to TAR, but it's possible the Aes Sedai of the time feared that the way it worked, combined with the nature of TAR, could make the Da'shain especially susceptible to being hurt, killed, or changed from their peaceful ways, so they scared them away from TAR with such stories of "evil".

(I always thought of Birgitte being connected to the Robin Hood legends even before the story revealed here about her leading a band of outlaw archers in the woods. The name she took at Luca's circus, Maerion, seems like such a gimme in that regard. Sanderson may not know for sure if Jordan drew on that mythology because it wasn't explicitly in his notes, but Jordan had to know the parallel he was drawing with that name and with the outlaw archer story--unless that second one was added by Sanderson, in which case I think he's being deliberately cagey and tongue-in-cheek in claiming he doesn't know but "it's an interesting idea". :P So anyway, yeah I think Jordan at least knew exactly what he was doing and was making the parallel.)

Two things re: Egwene's thoughts on being one with the land and such--one, aside from being an obvious and nice parallel to Rand's Dragon/Fisher King motif, no I don't see it as Egwene being arrogant at all. Or if she is, then as others have said already I think it was something absolutely necessary for the White Tower and the Aes Sedai to be united, and for Egwene to do what she does in the end, even as it was a detriment to her personal character. So I wasn't bothered by it at all; it'd be interesting to speculate whether Leigh or anybody else would be as bothered by it if such thoughts had come from Rand, particularly post-integration. (Obviously such a line of thought could be seen as problematic in a guy we know is unstable and losing his mind, but after it's healed...?)

And two, not only is this foreshadowing of what she does when she sacrifices her life, it draws an interesting comparison to what we saw in the prologue, with the idea that everyone is drawing together and coming to the Blight to face the Shadow because they know it must be done to save the world. On the one hand, the destruction Egwene is doing runs completely counter to the creation and order pushing back the Dark One's touch we saw with Bayrd; on the other hand this doesn't mean destruction is of the Dark One and can never be used, by people or the land, to work against him--case in point, the dragons.

And the fact she feels she is doing the land's will, getting rid of the horrible taint and disease within it, feels to me rather similar to the idea Bayrd and his fellow soldiers have as they go off to fight the Shadow, that everyone and everything must rise up and stand against the Dark One (and, for that matter, Rand's later awesome moment of listing everyone who fights and why they do). It's just that the method used is different.

Quick side note: the scene with Elayne and Bashere is the one I was thinking of, where the cities of Shienar were ordered to be burned. Having been to Fal Dara back in book one, I felt quite the jolt and pain at hearing of it being destroyed, if not as much as I did for Caemlyn.

I have to go on record to say I still thought Bashere's plan was good. I wasn't so sure about Agelmar's, and Bryne's caught me completely off-guard (perhaps because not as much attention was devoted to it in the narrative), but Bashere's seemed sound to me, and apparently Tam and Lan thought so too. It wasn't until they got close to Cairhien, and especially when he found out the scouts weren't out where they were supposed to be (or at all) that Tam started suspecting Bashere of treason. That suggests to me that there isn't necessarily anything intrinsically wrong with his plan--as has been said, it wasn't any one thing but the accumulation of many details and slight errors that brought the Great Captain's plans down. Personally I think Bashere's plan could have worked fine, if he had just had the scouts out there where they were supposed to be.

Loved Tam's reaction to Perrin lordening him! And yes, this whole scene between Rand and Perrin is so warm, loving, friendly, and honest, and it also includes such wonderful bits as Perrin admitting what he was doing was still stupid, saying he and Rand are "much better at keeping to the safe paths", and the exchange with Nynaeve.

So, the bit with Bornhald confessing to Perrin was supposed to happen during the segments in the Ways. Now it makes a lot more sense...because I have to agree, while I completely understand why Bornhald would feel the need to confess it, particularly to salve his own conscience and when he thinks he'll never see Perrin again, and I also understand how Perrin's growth as a character explains why he handles the news so well, its exact placement and the manner of its relation is indeed rather clunky.

Though I'm with Braid_Tug and think that making it seem Perrin would be the one to kill Fain, only to have it be Mat, was actually a nice bit of misdirection on Sanderson's part. It'd have been nice to have Perrin get to kill him based on this information, but there is more resonance with him killing Slayer and Lanfear (he was the one she approached first in TDR, after Rand in TGH, he saw her quite a bit in TAR and it turned out was affected by her more than we knew, while Mat only had that one visit in the Tower plus having Keille around him in TSR and TFoH). And having Mat do it really does bring everything full circle back to TEotW, since it was while facing Mordeth that he took the dagger in the first place.

I will say, though, that it also rather feels as if Sanderson included the information being revealed at all (regardless where/when it happened in the book) simply to address fan commentary and complaints about secrets and hidden knowledge never being passed on during the series--people were annoyed Perrin didn't know who really killed his family, so he made sure it got revealed now. A similar case could made for Gawyn suddenly finding out Rand was Galad's half-brother, so he could then pass that on to Galad. The difference being that scene felt a lot less tacked on, following naturally from the situation and characters (Rand mentioning he has a brother while comparing Egwene to the sister he never had), and that Gawyn had the proper reaction to the news as does Galad.

To Leigh: the reason there aren't any Dreadlords in Kandor, it seems pretty clear, is because that's where Demandred intended to bring the bulk of his Sharan forces, once the forces at the Gap and Caemlyn had been forced to retreat thanks to the manipulated generals. So yes, Egwene was absolutely right to think it was too easy and what lay ahead would be much more dangerous and deadly, the Shadow was lulling them into a false sense of security.

As for the entering the dreamworld in the flesh thing, I'll just further say that I agree, it isn't that it's evil per se, but that it is dangerous, and one of those dangers is that you could lose your humanity/become evil by going there too much. While Rand had other reasons for his darkness, TAR probably didn't help, and while we know Isam was evil before he was joined with Luc, there's nothing saying the Dark One giving them the ability to go to TAR in the flesh didn't further that evil (or corrupt Luc). So in the end it really comes down to individual cases and circumstances--if done wrong, or in the wrong way, or too often, or if you leave yourself vulnerable, it can lead to evil, but it doesn't have to and can be done for the right reasons, when the person knows what they're doing and can guard against such things, when there's no other choice and something has to be done. As with Perrin here.

I also agree with the secret BBQs, naturally. :)
Terry McNamee
67. macster
@2 neverspeakword, 47 MickeyDee: In the Aes Sedai's defense, a lot of the weaves you speak of are ones they clearly don't know or remember over the years since the knowledge of the Age of Legends was lost, and they must not be exactly intuitive or they'd have rediscovered them by now. And as Isilel pointed out down below, it's not as if Rand has been going around teaching everyone his special weaves or telling them how they can more effectively use the Power.

@4 sillyslovene, @8 robert: Very good points, agreed completely.

@11 forkroot: It could also have been revealed by Sanderson when he first used it in his own WOT books--during the Seanchan attack on the Tower in TGS.

@21 Wetlander re: weakness vs. vulnerability, Egwene--Exactly. As for the brilliance of Bashere in being able to still make his tactics look good to Tam while under Compulsion, while you're right about Bashere being good I also think this could point to how good a tactician and general Graendal is. Sure, she's subtle enough with Compulsion she could control Bashere's ultimate decisions while allowing him to still reach them and set up his own plans in a clever and seemingly effective way, but I bet she could also have been behind some of those seemingly good tactics in the first place.

@28 Wetlander: *chuckles* I just love that something so many people, including Leigh, were up in arms about (the forced bonding) turned out to be key to the Light winning. Seems like a nice little take that to those who were so offended and infuriated by it. Though to be fair using such an event to a positive benefit doesn't change whether the event itself was right or appropriate. Whether the Pattern made the bonding happen in the first place or simply found a way to weave it into an advantage is up for debate.

@32 Aellinsar: Aside from the fact the dragons were with the Band, whom Mat had agreed would work for Elayne (not the Aes Sedai or the Borderlanders), Mat wanted to keep the dragons away from the Seanchan so they wouldn't learn how to make them, and they end up being paired up with the Aes Sedai in Kandor. Yes, you can say such petty concerns shouldn't matter in the face of the end of the world and putting your best people and weapons in the places they can do the most good, but people being short-sighted and making mistakes is just people being realistic people. And they do end up with the dragons in the right place in the end.

@34 D-Mac: If the scenes in the Ways had remained in the book, there would have been a lot more examples of Perrin leading his men before leaving to join Rand. Also, there were plenty of examples of him delegating his followers (including Tam) to lead various divisions during battle before this, so it's not as if his men aren't used to him putting someone else in charge. Also, promising to lead is not the same thing as promising to always be their direct personal commander--he can tell them where to go or who to follow, then leave, and still be leading them.

@42 sps49: You weren't the only one who thought that about Mierin.

@48 Teddroe: Well, Perrin at least knew Rand and Elayne were together as of the Stone in TSR, if not when he and Faile meet her again in ToM, and he also knew about him and Min as of TDR as well as when they meet again in LOC. I can't recall what if any reaction he had then. Moiraine and Mat, at least, have the same explanation for lack of reaction as Egwene, having become acquainted with Aiel customs in the Waste. And of course Mat being a player probably thinks it's awesome, other than Elayne being a noble and Aviendha a "bloody Aiel".

@53 Isilel: The theory is that Cyndane was the one hiring Slayer to kill Rand in the prologue, in which case what Moridin wanted her to be doing was going after Rand...this would explain why she keeps having to disappear while with Perrin in the next chapter, because she isn't doing what she's supposed to be. Once Moridin is stuck in the Pit of Doom under time dilation, he can't keep an eye on her so she's free to do as she wishes. This moment here with the pool would presumably be part of what Moridin actually wanted her to do; he seemed to be surprised and even angry when he found out from Rand that he had seen Mierin but that could have been an act, or he later told Lanfear to keep doing what she'd been doing.

Yeah, Tam's line is rather humorous, in a bitterly ironic way.

@54 Ellanora: Agree on Egwene's post-death conversation with Rand sounding more like her old self.

@55 Braid_Tug: I bet they did talk, it would explain why Tam didn't seem surprised there were three mourning women at his son's pyre.

@56 Staizer: Agree 100%.

@59 Isilel: Love your thoughts on Egwene too. And I didn't even pick up on the lattice of anti-balefire over the cracks in the Pattern being the new thinness for the Bore the next time the Wheel comes around. Subtle, but it makes perfect sense. And it's not even wrong--with as damaged as the Pattern was, that was the best that could be hoped for and she still did an amazing job. Plus we know that thinness has to be there next time.

@63 Ellanora: You make some good points about Egwene too though. This is why we love this series, because it's so complicated!

@65 Teddroe: This has been mentioned before, but it should be noted that while none of the Supergirls are ta'veren, they are all close to or connected to ta'veren. This can explain the amazing and improbable things that happen to them just as much (particularly Egwene) as if they were ta'veren themselves--Perrin or Mat or especially Rand needed them to be the places they were and do the things they did, and so their ta'veren effect twisted the Pattern to make it happen. So that's why the girls didn't need to be ta'veren--they already had the three most powerful ta'veren in the Pattern doing it for them. As to why Jordan chose to do it this way despite his theme of the genders being equal, oppression of women being wrong, and the two halves of the Power needing to work together to save the day...I'd say it goes along with the theme of the men and saidin having been viewed as evil and tainted for so long. Just as saidin had to be cleansed, so did men have to redeem themselves for the Breaking (and Lews Therin's pride), and so the ta'veren had to be men to accomplish this. Also, just because we never saw any female ta'veren doesn't mean they never existed. In the meantime we got to see women doing amazing things without having to be ta'veren to explain it...which is pretty awesome, I think.

Also, side note: while the Pattern doesn't ration ta'veren per se, it does only spin them out as they are needed to fix the Age Lace. If only three are needed, that's what you get. Considering how much flux their presence puts on the Pattern, it makes sense not to have too many out there. There needs to be enough to correct what's gone wrong, to fight against the Dark One, but not so many it goes the other direction. More would only be spun out if things became so bad it required them.
Alice Arneson
68. Wetlandernw
Teddroe @65 – Why are the dudes ta’veren, while the girls aren’t? At the risk of sounding sexist… the girls do just fine without it, thanks. They don’t need the boost. :)
(Reminds me of the exchange from Narnia – “Why can’t girls keep a map in their heads?” “Because our heads have something in them!”)

Seriously, though… We’re told that the Pattern spins out what it needs. The girls are born with great strength in the Power, and some Talents that were thought lost, because that’s what the Pattern needed. The boys were made ta’veren, those who are woven more tightly and who draw others into the weaving, because that’s what the Pattern needed.

Also, because that’s the way the author wrote it…

But RJ was quite clear: there’s nothing that stops the Pattern from spinning out female ta’veren – just that at this point in time, none of the major female characters happen to be ta’veren. I would guess that there were times he wished he could make one of them ta’veren, but it would mess with a) what was already written and b) some of the symbolisms and symmetries he was using. So… he gave them what he needed in the story as Talents thought long lost, and plausible in-story reasons for them to get where they got. (Well, plausible depending on the strength of your disbelief-suspension muscles, I guess. Mine are pretty strong, so I didn’t have a problem.)

macster @66 – Re: Birgitte, I think that at some level I did assume she would die and come back as a Hero, but even so, the way it happened was far more emotional, amazing, and awesome than I had anticipated. ::shivers::

I guess this is proof that there really are people who are too truly evil to come back--because they choose not to. Nice insight. I agree. It’s still their choice, but some people will never choose to turn back.

Re: dreamwalkers, I would think all of the Wise Ones know a fair bit about it. It’s one of their great means of communication, really – the few dreamwalkers can speak to anyone in their dreams, but given the way Aiel society functions, they are most likely to speak to other Wise Ones (or their own husbands) that way. Any WO would be prepared to receive such communications; it might even be possible for them to train with it and develop the skill to respond on some level. So I’m not surprised that Edarra knows a lot about it.
Deana Whitney
69. Braid_Tug
@ 59. Isilel: I didn't remember Saml's age. Looked him up on WoT Wiki, didn't see an age.

Younglings: Always saw most of them in my head as 15 -22. Because, if the WT only took sparker's at age 12-14, why would they allow the Waders to take on students younger than the average Novice? But I'm not a guy, so I don't know when you have to "shave regularly." As a Native American to boot, many of my male relatives don't have to shave regularly either. Because Gawyn is 22 and "one of the oldest", right?

But I asked at JCon if there was ever a plan to use the Novices and Apprentices as "anything other than batteries for the Yellows." The answer - No.
So we can speculate all day about taking a circle of inexperienced channelers into battle, but Team Jordan has spoken. They had no intention of doing that. Note: I did not say "young channelers", just inexperienced. Because yes our Supergirls learned amazing things in a short time. But then we got hit over the head with how "wrong" it was to Force them, as they were.

@65. Teddroe: I think we got an on screen reaction from Mat, thinking Rand was nuts to dally with the three girls, since two of them knew how to kill him easily. But once Avi and Elyane became all buddy-buddy, he only wondered what was going to happen when they found out about Min. But that was many books ago.
Birgit
70. birgit
Maybe the Supergirls aren't ta'veren because unlike Mat and Perrin they don't have to be forced by the Pattern to do what they are supposed to.

Eg herself says that Egwene al'Vere is unimportant and she would step down if someone else was competent to do the job. How is it arrogant to give up any personal concerns to become the embodiment of an office that she believes is important? Elaida was megalomaniac because she wanted to be personally worshipped. Eg gives up everything to do what is necessary.

When Graendal wants to go after Rand after her failure with Perrin she is told that that chance has been given to someone else. That must be Cyndane.
Nadine L.
71. travyl
“I know something evil when I smell it."
Compare to Chapter One:
Rand caught a slight hesitation on the word “seem.” Had Perrin been about to say “smell” instead?
It seems Perrin and Rand finally had the discussion about Perrins abilities and Perrin isn't holding back anymore. Rand isn't surprised, when Perrin asks to enter the "Wolf dream."
- So YAY for open communication, even if it happend off screen.

Re the Ta'veren (Tedroe @65):
in addition to what macster and wetlander said: the pattern shapes itself around ta'veren, so better not to many, it could get really complicated. Note that the three ta'veren we have aren't seperate, they form one big "taveren unity" around the main one, Rand.
Besides it not being necessary, I bet, Egwene would have been "not so happy" to feel Rand's tug or to see him with his lovers, had she been ta'veren also.
Birgit
72. birgit
Eg's problem is not arrogance, it's complete self-denial. She has forgotten Rand's last lesson for the Asha'man: "We are men, not weapons." In the end, Eg is her office and not a person. She always had a tendency to identify with any culture she is exposed to. Her love for Gawyn is the last remnant of personality. Some have complained that she never thinks about her wedding night, but it fits with the theme of her giving up her private life. After Gawyn's death all that is left is the Amyrlin. That is why she has to die. A fanatic symbol of office might be an inspiring leader in a final battle, but she is no good as a peace-time ruler.
neverspeakawordagain
73. alreadymadwithbuffers
forkroot @11
It's kinda moot to think about a sa'angreal not having a buffer when you're in a circle that fixes the problem. Every other time it's been used, there was a circle, so she might not have noticed.

LongStrider @14
Power-wrought barbecues?

Braid_Tug @19Meh. Thinking of yourself as less of a person or even less a position, but an actual force of nature has always stank of hubris to me.

Braid_Tug @24
I wouldn't be surprised if one of them gets encouraged to train as a Wise One. Wise Ones love setting up ties to clan chiefs like that.

Man-0-Manetheran @35
LoL

insectoid @37
OTOH, how would Egwene know how to overpower something so integral to a sa'angreal? It's not like the thing came with a switch she could flip on and off.

Teddroe @65
Ta'veren by their very nature are disruptive influences to the Pattern, that's why it's extremely rare to have more than one at a time. I don't know why they are all dudes. Or why the superboys were while the supergirls weren't, but macster @67 presents a good point.
Roger Powell
74. forkroot
alreadymad@73
Yeah, that's one reason why this moment here (first use not in a circle) would have been ideal for an internal cautionary thought about the lack of a buffer. BWS could have had Egwene either notice the buffer lack for the first time, or just make an internal comment. The point is to set up the plot device further in advance (vs. casually mentioning the lack of buffer a couple of sentences before over-drawing her saidar account.)

macster@67 notes that BWS had an opportunity to mention it in TGS; however Egwene was in a circle (of a necessity quite apart from any issues with the sa'angreal) so perhaps a mention at that point would not have felt integral to the story line at hand.

As I've stated before - the ideal time would have been back in TDR as part of the scene where Mat was healed.
Shane Carter
75. BankstownBoy
Isilel@53 Raises quite a few interesting points. Firstly about the underuse of the dreamwalkers. All along I thought the light side were missing out on an oppurtunity to utilize this resource to break down the time/distance barriers between out various goodie factions. But now when Perrin really could use an experienced possibly non channeller dreamwalker he doesn't push harder for or get offered help. This is the end, time to risk all! Back with more on @53 later, back to work!
Shane Carter
76. BankstownBoy
wet@28 Yes in hindsight maybe Bashere is being meddled with already. The plan only works if it is a swift victory to remove the threat from behind the front lines. As we do not see any scenes where someone closes the waygates that means the shadow is free to send in reinforcements so that a swift end to this battle is unlikely. Possibly the coercion started with the council of war agreeing to this guerilla warfare strategy when, as others have suggested a swift use of one power on Cameyn would have been the harsh but more prudent choice. Once they started to cross rivers and head to Cairhien the strategy was a failure.
neverspeakawordagain
77. mitspeiler
Secret barbeques are the best!
Eric Hughes
79. CireNaes
Regarding the perception of hubris as Egwene 'splodes the first Trolloc advance (and don't get me wrong, she's certainly cocky and prideful at times, but this wasn't one of them):

When wielding a sa'angreal without a buffer, you tend to get a bit...heady.
After all, the OP gives you a natural high to begin with. It appears to me that non-buffered angreal are only safe to use in a circle to create a natural buffer and keep the channeler controlling the weaves a little more grounded.

We all know Calendor magnified the taint, but I'm pretty certain that's just part of what made it dangerous to the user. I think the lack of buffer was the real issue when Rand lost control and walked lighting strikes into his own forces and nearly blew himself and his entourage to pieces, all the while screaming about his greatness.
neverspeakawordagain
80. Teddroe
You all raise some good points about the ta'varen (though I should mention I was kidding when I wondered why the pattern was rationing them). As Wetlandernw says, in the end it's just how Jordan wrote the series. That's pretty reductive logic when applied to literary criticism generally, but particularly given how much of a meta plot device the whole ta'varen thing was (and I mean that as a compliment to Jordan--it's a brilliant idea), it's probably not a bad way of thinking about it.

It's just that the supergirls--especially Egwene--are ta'varen for all intents and purposes of the narrative. The pattern provides what they need (in terms of people, talents, resources, etc.) in the same way it does for Rand, Mat, and Perrin. They don't get a super-neat Old Tongue title, Siuan doesn't get to see them glow, and...that's about it. I sort of wish that Egwene had become an official ta'varen during the series (right before going to Salidar would have worked); that would have been really cool and totally made sense. Oh well.

I was also (sort of) joking about how it's only men who are ta'varen, but I do wish there would have been some throwaway line at some point about Birgitte having been ta'varen a couple times in past lives, or...something. It's nice that women can be ta'varen, but we never actually see or even hear about an actual woman who was, so I don't know how far that goes. (And for the notion that Wetlandernw brought up jokingly, and Macster did less so, about the women not needing to be ta'varen...that's problematic on a number of levels, so let's not even go there).

Others have mentioned it, but I want to mention how much I loved the whole Great Captain subversion plot. It's so deviously cunning and I never saw it coming, even though in retrospect it seems like an obvious ploy. Really great idea and well executed by Jordan/Sanderson.
neverspeakawordagain
81. Ellanora
Teddroe @80:
I think if Egwene had been ta'veren some of the people who dislike her might have given her more leeway. I've often seen her described as a Mary-Sue - if she was ta'veren there would be a legitimate reason for scenes like the meeting of the Hall where the Grey Sitters don't seem to realise that Rand is the King of Illian, etc.

Maybe its my British reserve, but I do find Egwene arrogant (don't get me wrong, I really like her as a character in the second half of the series). I think its in the Seanchan attack scene where she thinks of herself as the Light personified, or something to that effect. I find it arrogant because it doesn't acknowledge that Nynaeve, Elayne, the other AS, the other soldiers are essentially fighting the same battle, and she sees herself as an individual as the one that is Judgement, the will of the WT, etc. Its a very self-centered viewpoint, and when you translate it to the real world it is disturbing. You never see Elayne thinking 'I am the might of Andor, I am the White Lion' or Perrin thinking he is the wrath of the wolves or some such. I think its her mental consideration of her in isolation as the saviour, judgement, the Light, without considering the others involved in the same fight who are essentially just the same as her.
neverspeakawordagain
83. Hookedonweaves
Egwene had all the right traits to make her a great achiever and Warrior Leader, but most of these, strong will, arrogance, self righteousness etc are liabilities for a peacetime leader. I can not help thinking that if she had had to lead the WT in the aftermath the "Peace" would have been shortlived. The Pattern it would seem, knows how to weave.
Deana Whitney
84. Braid_Tug
Off Topic: Anyone here from Oklahoma? Are you and family okay?
I know moondivatx is safe and fine.

Sending out positive thoughts.

Everyone, if you can and are willing, in light off all the recent crap around the country, please donate blood. The overall supply is low.
Captain Hammer
85. Randalator
re: Graendal meddling

Like Leigh (heh, "likely"...ahem. Sorry), I think that Bashere and the other Great Captains are already compromised but not quite for the same reason. As far as I see it (and the way I think it is portrayed), they're sound in their overall tactical judgement. However Graendal's influence forces them to start making what seems to the outsider like small mistakes (sending two units independently to reinforce breaking lines instead of one) and unconsciuously undermine their own battleplan (e.g. by not deploying troops they meant to deploy or by not sending out scouts/giving falls accounts).

Even Mat doesn't find fault with their plans. It's not until he notices how they're not being executed correctly that he thinks something's fishy. The same goes for Lan.

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