May 28 2013 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: A Memory of Light, Part 15

Happy post-Memorial Day weekend, WOTers! Spread some aloe on that wicked sunburn, and have a Wheel of Time Re-read to soothe and balm you!

(What, I am totally soothing. Trufax.)

Today’s entry covers Chapter 15 of A Memory of Light, in which we examine, with only a moderate amount of incoherency, my reactions to two very different exhibitionist relationships. With a side note of how context can really really really change what the term “exhibitionist” means. Thank God.

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.

Also, for maximum coolness, the Wheel of Time Re-read is also now available as e-books,from your preferred e-book retailer!

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!

Before we start: I have a non-spoiler review up of the WOT short story “River of Souls” in the upcoming Unfettered anthology! LOOKIT.

And onward!


Chapter 15: Your Neck in a Cord

What Happens
As he climbs up the outside of Tarasin Palace, Mat tries to ignore the heights, and comforts himself with the knowledge of how well he knows the place, and that if he had snuck out, he could sneak back in. He tries to convince himself that he will just get in, warn Tuon about General Galgan, and leave, and then stay as far away from Rand as possible. He climbs into Tylin’s chambers on the fourth floor, and almost gets shot by Selucia, and exults that he was right about her being a bodyguard. She demands to know what he is doing there, and he claims he is out for a stroll. She asks what happened to his eye.

“You bet the eye on something, didn’t you?”

Mat stumbled, pushing open the door. He chuckled. Light! That was strangely close to the truth. “Very cute.”

It’s a bet I won, he thought, no matter how it may seem. Matrim Cauthon was the only man to have diced with the fate of the world itself in the prize pouch.

Selucia is astonished to discover Mat is concerned about Galgan’s plans to assassinate Tuon, and tells him Kriga is the one to worry about. Mat declares them all insane, and demands to know where Tuon is; Selucia tells him she is in the gardens, and is skeptical of Mat’s intention to “explain” a few things to her about wandering around at night. Selucia tells him that normally the Prince of Ravens would be Galgan’s competition.

Prince of the Ravens. “Don’t bloody remind me,” Mat said. “I thought that was my title when I was married to the Daughter of the Nine Moons. It hasn’t changed at her elevation?”

“No,” Selucia said. “Not yet.”

She shows him a secret passage, and tells him Tuon never actually sleeps in her own chambers. He tells her that he took care of the thing that killed Tylin, and thanks her for not calling him “Highness.” She laughs and tells him the only way to stop being the Prince of the Ravens is with “his neck in a cord.” Mat decides he prefers when she wouldn’t talk to him, and starts down the passage.

Rand heads to Tam’s tent in Braem Wood, letting himself be seen by the soldiers as he’d promised Elayne he would.

And so he did. He wished he could protect them better, but he would simply have to carry that burden. The secret, it turned out, had not been to harden himself to the point of breaking. It had not been to become numb. It had been to walk in pain, like the pain of the wounds at his side, and accept that pain as part of him.

He enters Tam’s tent, and gives him his gift: a magnificent sword with red and gold dragons on the sheath. Tam tries to give it back, declaring it too fine for him, but Rand begs him to take it as a balm to his conscience.

“Think of it as a thank-you,” Rand said, “from all the world to you. If you had not taught me of the flame and the void all those years ago… Light, Tam. I wouldn’t be here right now. I’d be dead, I’m sure of that.”

Tam asks where the sword came from, and Rand replies that it belonged to “a kindred soul.” Tam decides that he should practice with it, then, and they go to the sparring grounds. Rand watches his father move through forms for the first time, and feels envious that he is no longer able to do many of them, missing his hand. Tam asks if the sword is Power-forged, but Rand doesn’t know; he reflects he’d never had a chance to fight with it. Tam observes that he is worried, and Rand calms himself; Tam observes this, and insists they spar with practice swords, saying he wants to see what Rand can do. Rand points out his amputated hand, and Tam binds his own left hand.

[Rand] sighed, stepping forward. “I don’t need the sword to fight any longer. I have the One Power.”

“That would be important,” Tam said, “if sparring right now had anything to do with fighting.”

Tam attacks, and Rand fights back, but he keeps instinctively trying to use his left hand, and Tam bests him easily. Rand grows frustrated, and Tam tells him to “let go.” On the next pass Rand uses his left arm to block the blow. Tam is alarmed that he had injured Rand, but then Rand follows his advice and begins fighting on instinct, knowing he is not as good as he had been with two hands but going with what he has.

He did not care. This focus… he had missed this focus. With so much to worry about, so much to carry, he had not been able to dedicate himself to something as simple as a duel. He found it now, and poured himself into it.

For a time, he wasn’t the Dragon Reborn. He wasn’t even a son with his father. He was a student with his master.

Eventually he signals an end, and the Warders and Maidens gathered to watch applaud. Tam says his lost hand must have been quite a weight for him to carry, and Rand agrees that it was.

Mat crawls out of the secret passage into the gardens, and sneaks up on Tuon (and the Deathwatch guards) as she is practicing fighting hand combat forms, and reflects that he had been very lucky not to get killed the night he’d captured her. He tries to figure out if he loves her, and reflects that their courtship had been much more of a game than a romance.

Mat liked games, and he always played to win. Tuon’s hand had been the prize. Now that he had it, what did he do with it?

Mat sees a gardener nearby, and initially dismisses him, but then wonders what a gardener is doing working so late, and readies a knife. Tuon hears the move and sees Mat with the raised knife, but then looks over her shoulder. Mat throws his knife into the shoulder of the “gardener” just as the assassin raises his own knife. Tuon lunges for the assassin but he escapes. The guards pounce on Mat, but Tuon orders them to go after the assassin, though they do not notice him until Tuon points out the blood on the ground. The guards sheepishly release Mat and take off.

Tuon folded her arms, obviously unshaken. “You have chosen to delay your return to me, Matrim.”

“Delay my… I came to bloody warn you, not ‘return to’ you. I’m my own man.”

“You may pretend what ever you wish,” Tuon said, looking over her shoulder as the Deathwatch Guards beat at the shrubbery. “But you must not stay away. You are important to the Empire, and I have use for you.”

“Sounds delightful,” Mat grumbled.

He explains about Gray Men and Galgan, and Tuon answers that Galgan is “not serious” about the attempts to kill her. Mat opines that she is insane, and she asks who he gambled his eye away for, and if he saved the woman he went to rescue. He asks how she knew about that, and she ignores the question to remark that the missing eye suits him, as he was “too pretty” before.

“Good to see you, by the way,” Mat said. He waited for a few moments. “Usually, when a fellow says something like that, it’s customary to tell them that you’re happy to see them as well.”

“I am the Empress now,” Tuon said. “I do not wait upon others, and do not find it ‘good’ that someone has returned. Their return is expected, as they serve me.”

“You know how to make a fellow feel loved. Well, I know how you feel about me.”

“And how is that?”

“You looked over your shoulder.”

Furyk Karede and Musenge return and humble themselves before Tuon for their failure, but Tuon tells them the assassin was a creature of the Shadow, and that the Prince of Ravens will teach them how to spot it in future. Mat protests being called that, but Tuon ignores him. She orders Karede to search the perimeter and clear out of the grove, as her consort has requested that she “make him feel loved.” The guards leave, and Mat watches in astonishment as she disrobes before grabbing her and kissing her, to her surprise. He tells her that he will not be her toy, and she assures him that his battle scars assure her and everyone else that he is no toy, but a prince.

“And do you love me?” he asked, forcing the words out.

“An empress does not love,” she said. “I am sorry. I am with you because the omens state it so, and so with you I will bring the Seanchan an heir.”

Mat had a sinking feeling.

“However,” Tuon said. “Perhaps I can admit that it is… good to see you.”

Well, Mat thought, guess I can take that. For now.

He kissed her again.

“And then they consummated their not-loving-or-maybe-loving-but-just-not-saying-it-but-no-probably-just-not-loving-yeah-I-don’t-know-I-am-so-confused bizarro telegram marriage by fucking in public, The End.”

Um. Yay? I guess? Should I be snickering this much right now?

You probably need to picture me at this point as looking like that owl that twists its head completely upside down to look at things, just in case they make any more sense that way, except the owl is also giggling, because whaaaat.

(Okay, admittedly the image of a giggling owl also does not make sense, but LET’S MOVE ON, SHALL WE.)

I don’t know, you guys. I’m not always a hundred percent a fan of how the romantic storylines have gone in WOT (I’m sure you can probably recall one of the more infamous examples of that), but at least most of the other major ones made sense to me on a… er, character-connecting-to-character level, so to (awkwardly) phrase it. This one… well, not so much.

Perrin and Faile (known in the tabloids as “Perile”—pick your pun!), for instance, may have driven me up a tree, repeatedly, over the course of their courtship, but even on the occasions when I was like OMG WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHY ARE YOU PUTTING UP WITH THIS WHYYYY, I still had no trouble believing that they were. Putting up with this, I mean. To clarify (because I think I have the dumb today my words are going sproing sorry), I bought their relationship even when I didn’t agree with it. At least, that’s how I remember it, so there.

Same with Rand+Aviendha/Min/Elayne. (Who are known in the tabloids as… um. Ravimayne? Melaravi? Avilaymirand? No, I got it! El Ravimin! Olé!)

…Let’s start that thought again, shall we?

So, Rand’s love life: Unusual set-up? Sure. Logistically and possibly symbolically problematic in certain ways? Absotively. But I bought it, that they are in love. (Although, Elayne actually has a sliiiiightly weaker case than the other two, just owing to how much more facetime Aviendha and Min got with Rand compared to her, but you know.)

(Heh. “Facetime.” *is twelve*)

But Mat/Tuon, I don’t get. I never really did, I think. Tuon’s mindset is alien to me in a lot of ways (see: slavery, practice of), and I think the most alien of all is the way she views affection (which is to say, with suspicion) and love (which is to say, as an unacceptable liability). Or rather, I understand why she views these things that way (for reasons which can basically be summed up as “the Seanchan suck”), but I guess I don’t get (or maybe just resent) her refusal or inability to get past those barriers for Mat’s sake. And more, I’ve always found it a little incomprehensible that a person like Mat would love a person like Tuon in spite of that fact.  

And yes, fated to marry, written in the prophecies, no choice in the matter, yadda yadda yadda, I know, but we’re told that Mat really does fall in love with Tuon, and that’s where it falls down for me. Because it really kind of sucks that Mat, one of my favorite characters in the entire series, is basically left to deal with an unrequited love that (in my opinion) puts him at an insurmountable disadvantage, emotionally.

Of course, cue someone to argue that Tuon really does love him and is just saying she doesn’t because she doesn’t want Mat to have that kind of leverage on her. Which, okay, maybe, but (a) she’s sold me a little too well on how stubbornly she clings to her cultural prejudices/practices, no matter how fucked-up, for me to be willing to really buy that, and (b) how exactly is that any better, exacerbating as it does the already fundamentally unequal power balance between the two? So (in this scenario) Mat lays his heart bare to her, and she can’t even be woman enough to give him the same amount of honesty/vulnerability? Yuck. No.

“His neck in a cord,” indeed.

I dunno. I don’t think I’ve really brought it up before this, mostly because I was still waiting to see how the whole relationship played out, in hopes that it would take a more palatable turn for me and justify the whole thing in retrospect, but here we are at the final book, and the entirety of their relationship is officially both puzzling and off-putting to me.

And I’m honestly not sure if all that is me taking a slam at the characterization (i.e. the writing), or if it’s just the opposite.

But onward to the other relationship featured in this chapter, which falls on the extreme other end of the scale as far as my affections for it are concerned. Which is to say, the scene between Rand and Tam in this chapter is possibly one of my favorite passages in the entire novel.

I am just so glad we took the time to have this moment between them. There are a lot of should-have-been moments in AMOL that I kind of feel like we got cheated out of, for the mostly justifiable (but still sad-making) executive decision to actually, you know, finish the story, but I am intensely pleased that this one didn’t end up on the cutting floor, so to speak.

Because it was lovely and intimate, and oddly peaceful considering it featured two people trying to whale on each other with wooden sticks. And something about it made me remember fondly that (if you don’t count the Prologue) Tam al’Thor is literally the second character we meet in the entire series, after Rand himself, and that he has essentially never changed, from then to now. He is still what he has always been, which is basically the Platonic ideal of A Good Father.

Normally it’s not a good thing to say a character’s been static throughout a multi-book series, but the thing is, unlike Rand and the rest of Our Heroes, Tam’s character did all his growing up before the story started. He already knows who he is by the time we meet him, and he has already (unknowingly) fulfilled his most essential task as a character, which of course was to raise the future savior of the world. From there, he just had to keep being the anchor to Rand he always was.

From that point of view, in fact, it was vital that Tam never change. Rand said elsewhere that the difference between himself and Lews Therin is that he’d been raised right, so in case you were wondering just how important Tam’s contribution was (and is) to that whole world-saving thing, I’d say that about sums it up, wouldn’t you?

Also, I really appreciated that time was taken to finally acknowledge the fact that Rand has been seriously and irrevocably maimed, and that that has a psychological toll as well as a physical one, and that Rand should not be allowed to try and play like it was nothing. Because I don’t care how many magical compensatory superpowers a person has, losing a hand is a BIG DEAL, and there is a release and relief in recognizing and accepting that fact. And it was both lovely and fitting that Tam should be the one to offer Rand that support and comfort.

So, in conclusion, Mat/Tuon nay, Rand and Tam yay. DISCUSS.

And that’s the score, shut the door, there ain’t no more! At least not until next Tuesday, eh? Cheers!

Sam Mickel
1. Samadai
MAt, Rand and Tam, that's too much awesome for one chapter (not) I love the "you turned around and looked over your shoulder" line.
And the "thats a lot of weight you've been carrying around" Tam just sees right to the heart of everything, doesn't he?
2. shairk
Re: Mat and Tuon: I would argue that for Tuon trust is far more important than love is, and I think it is clear, both here and in later chapters that she does trust him.
Don Barkauskas
3. bad_platypus
Re: Tuon loving Mat

For me, the most telling indication that she will come to love him (and, in fact, maybe already does) is the passage from KoD where she is talking to Karede and we have from her PoV:
In love with her? Perhaps. She thought she might be able to come to love him. Her mother had loved her father, it was said.
So she's certainly aware that love is possible for someone in her position.
Ron Garrison
4. Man-0-Manetheran
"Rand-Tam yay." Check.

For me this is probably the most emotionally satisfying relationship in the books. The Orphaned Hero. The Single Father. Contemporary. Relevant.
5. Twedge
Great recap; thanks again, Leigh!
Tina Pierce
6. scissorrunner
I've been mildly disturbed by Mat & Tuon's relationship too. Yes, she has the Imperial upbringing, he the rascal, but at some point shouldn't they meet in the middle? Mat does try (the whole wardrobe thing is a delightful farce), but I don't recall seeing Tuon bend. C'mon girl - be a human!! However, maybe that is her problem, she is just a girl really, and feels that if she bends, all anyone sees will be the girl, not the Empress.

Tam's lesson with Rand needed to come from his dad. Right then, Rand was busy with plans & thinking. He wasn't in a place to "let go of his hand". Tam, as his dad, just put his boy to work. Rand followed a lifetime of obeying and working with his dad. Only then, with his Dad, could he let go.
7. AndrewB

I agree with you. The Tam/Rand scene was one of the best written scenes in the entire series. I wonder how much of this scene was written by RJ before his death. Did he write most of it beforehand or did he leave notes and Brandon did the rest?

Thanks for reading my musings,
Nadine L.
8. travyl
Mat and Tuon - I sort of do believe it as it played out. Staged by the prophecies, then being forced to travel with each other... Mat is more open with his feelings, but he is right with the "you turned around and looked over your shoulder"
And while Tuon, doesn't admit to love him, I see enough in her demeanor, to believe, that with time, she will become more of a person, our hero Mat deserves.

Rand and Tam was a great scene, I totally agree with you about the importance that his lost hand (and its effect on him) was adressed.
Jordan Hibbits
9. rhandric
Tam's conversation re: Rand's hand is oddly reminscient of his conversation with Rand on the road into Emond's Field, some 14 books earlier (about seeing Egwene). Rand might not come out and vocalize his thoughts, but Tam knows him well enough to know what he's thinking, and what needs to be said to get through to Rand.
10. neverspeakawordagain
I liked the Rand / Tam sparring session, though I can't say it was my favorite scene in the book (that would have to be Lan v. Demandred, although I have a soft spot for Nalasean's scenes in Caemlyn in the prologue).

I do find it odd that you feel it's necessary to have them notice what an enormous loss it is to have Rand lose a hand, but Mat seems not to be affected in even the slightest, tiniest bit by his loss of an eye, and everybody seems perfectly cool with that. As somebody who's been gradually losing the use of one of his eyes since I was in grad school a decade ago, I can tell you that it's a pretty huge pain in the ass, and although you get used to it over time, it's still going to have a definite impact on, say, your ability to fight -- which it never seems to for Mat. Luck aside, the way he carves up the Sharans later in the book lends creedence to the idea that he's just as good a fighter as he ever was (i.e., significantly, massively superior to Lan in a sword-v-ashendarai contest).
Dixon Davis
11. KadesSwordElanor
Thanks Leigh and great insight into Tam’s contribution. I am so blessed to have a Father who stuck around and raised me right. That is somewhat of a rarity in today’s world and I recognize its impact on who I am (and who I AM). WOT world - and our story - would not have been the same without a literal father who took the time to show his son the way.
Eric Wyatt
12. SunDriedRainbow
I've always been the same. I have never liked Tuon, and I never felt like Mat/Tuon was an actual relationship; I thought it was Mat's weird deterministic refusal to try to buck the marriage prophecy (ironic as that is) that made him delude himself into thinking he was in love.
William Carter
13. wcarter
The thing about Tuon is, I think she is even less honest with herself about some things than Mat is. In that respect (and only that respect), they are perfect for each other.

Her ability to rationalize or ignore things that are obvious because they don't fit into the world view she thinks "should" be right is downright astounding.

But the proof is in the pudding. If she didn't feel something for Mat, she never would have stalked him in the Tarasin palace when they first me. She definitely wouldn't have cared about him leaving, let alone try to stop him. And she sure as hell wouldn't have married him or automatically assumed someone was behind her when he went to throw a knife.

All that being said, I still think that she represents the absolute worst ideals a human being can possibly have and still not technically be the card carrying villian of the story.

Count me in the camp that thinks Aludra would have been a far better love interest for Mat.
Stefan Mitev
14. Bergmaniac
Great scene between Rand and Tam. Tam is awesome as usual.

As I've said before, Mat's early scenes in this book are my least favourite part of it. He seems way off - too many forced jokes, and him running away from the LB is just dumb and irresponsible. The loss of an eye has absolutely no effect on him apart from the initial pain and being the source of a few really bad jokes. He even throws knives with amazing precision, which is just about impossible with only one eye. Tuon even finds him better looking.

I actually like that Tuon is not in love yet, I am really not a fan of the "let's fall in love because the prophesies said so" trope Jordan loved so much.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
15. Lisamarie
I loved the Rand/Tam scene.

I have to agree with number 14 in that I think it is much more realisitc that they didn't fall in love, although I generally agree with Leigh in that their relationship is kind of meh. I actually have a hard time believing that Mat is going to fall in love and stay in love. In my experience, the trope of 'player who gets outplayed and falls in love' doesn't really ring true. Although at the same time I like how Mat does want to be honorable (even if he isn't honest with himself about it) now that he does have a wife.
Matt Wright
16. matty42
Here's another possible tabloid relationship name for Perrin and Faile = "Faile-in." See what I did there?
Adam S.
17. MDNY
I actually buy Tuon's love more than Mat's- mostly because I don't WANT Mat to be married to her. Tuon/Fortuona acknowledges being comfortable around Mat, and feeling "safe" around him, which is about as much as you can expect from her. But Mat? His love for her never felt real to me, she's not his type, she never treated him in a way that SHOULD have made him care for her, and soon she's going to demand he change his name to the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Can't he be married to her for the pattern's purpose of aligning the Seanchan with Rand, and then like, get a divorce after the last battle and lead the rest of the nations to crush the Seanchan? Not going to happen, but it should....Mat needs freedom, or at least a woman who deserves him. It's like having Indian Jones married to that annoying singer from Temple of Doom.
Kat Werner
18. Sakaea
"El Ravimin." Leigh, I heart you so much.
Alice Arneson
19. Wetlandernw
Contrary to my usual habits... I'm just going to say that I like Mat & Tuon, I find them plausible, and I really don't have any problem with them behaving the way they do, given who they are. They'll be fine, and someday (in private) she'll come right out and admit that she loves him. And meanwhile, he'll learn to read between the lines better.

Not much else to say on the Rand/Tam scene, because all you have to do is read it to love it.
20. (Avi) theravenchilde
People who don't think Mat and Tuon love each other

(yes, it's a weird, convuluted, mutual-loving-rivalry than a typical romance, but it totally works for them! They each needed someone who could balance out their worst faults and love/hate them enough to force them to improve themselves. Mat needed someone to kick his feet out from under him, and Fortuona is an extremely skilled and capable woman with more commanding abilities than Mat has in one... eh, I'll be generous and give him a whole half of his body, because he's so good at leading. Fortuona needed who could outwit her but still be trustworthy and remind her to be human sometimes while still being The Empress (may she live forever).
This is where I'd use Homestuck terminology because honestly they are the perfect example of blackrom. It is quite possible to love someone you hate).
B. Dowdle
21. Lancer
I can understand your POV Leigh about Tuon/Mat but I think you forget that all of the monarchs ie. Elayne, Morgase, & even Lan to an extent has some sort of distance between the persons they eventually fall in love with. These monarchs have to have some distance between the "King" or "Queen" and the Man/Woman in them. A ruler must "Love" their country and put all else behind them. A Man/Woman puts Family first and all else behind them.

Now maybe not to the Extreme as Tuon, but I do think she should get a pass from people...Or give the same scrutiny to Elayne & Morgase as well :)
Tricia Irish
22. Tektonica
Yes, the Rand/Tam scene is wonderful. Tam is Rand's bedrock, and there is probably no one he trusts more. I'm glad Tam got his due in this book.

I'm not a Mat/Tuon fan either.
I *Sigh* for one of my favorite characters. Mat may like the "challenge" of the games she plays, but will she make him happy? Ah, I don't personally think so. As WCarter says, Aludra would've made a great choice....into weapons and battles, smart, creative, a bit more heft to her. Tuon isn't even Mat's avowed physical type. And then there's the "being royalty" thing, which he says he hates. I dunno. I think it just had to be for the book plot to work...the prophecies fulfilled, etc. I'm not sold on it. Her whole horrid culture goes against everything Mat Cauthan says is important to him.

I wish Mat had found someone who really appreciated him. But then, she does trust him, maybe more than anyone else besides Selucia, and she does see him as a great general, so maybe in time.....
23. Staizer
Doesn't anyone else think the mat tuon relationship is ironically beautiful?

Lady Luck, who has never left Mat's side has dictated that Mat will NOT be lucky in love. The one thing he actually has to try for, the one thing he cannot just swing and hit, toss and win. Is the woman he loves.

and what of Tuon? She has her own irony. The omens have dictated she marry a man whom she doesnt know, whose world view is not only completely different from her own, but is actually fully capable of blind siding her (pun intended, Mat's eye... Get it?). She found him intriguing not because omens told her so, but because of who he is. And he will always keep her on her toes, which is an empress would expect, but she will be able to trust him completely because he won't try and kill her. That is a man whom she can love.
Rob Munnelly
24. RobMRobM
I'm a Mat-Tuon fan - keep in mind that they spent much more time together than the typical WoT relationship, so it makes sense that they actually know each other very well and have developed a connection. I totally buy that they love each other. That said, I like RJ's version of Tuon (WH though KoD) more that she has been written in the later books.

Re Rand-Tam - lovely chapter, and surprisingly important to the way things turn out in the end.
25. Staizer
Sorry for the double post but just had another thought as someone posted before i could and brought it to mind.

There are many a true love that happened because someone met someone other than their avowed "type." In fact i would say the truest loves are those that break the mold of our previous relationships, and yet encompasd them all as well.

My own wife is none of and all of the women i have dated before. Her body, personality, speech and talents are all different from them, but taken in parts she has aspects of every woman i have ever loved. And honestly the parts i loved most.

So, does tuon fit the body type? No, but she isn't some buxom lass who is easily won, she isn't some temptress queen, she isn't a murdering warrior. She isn't a mysterious inventor. She is none and all of them. She isn't buxom, but she is willing to have fun, she is a queen but she knows mat is no toy. She is not a murderer (YMMV) but she is definately a warrior. If anything i think she shares the most with aludra, she is an enigma to mat just as aludra was, and she is willing to try new things, create new ways of doing things. She might even be more adaptable than aludra is.

Anyway, i think i have made my point. I think it is a believable relationship...
Gary Singer
27. AhoyMatey
Hail Daruo indeed!

Rand giving Tam the sword was my hands-down favorite scene in the book. And the sparring afterwards.

I think Mat and Tuon's relationship is interesting. Mat alway wins, so if she doesn't love him now (which I don't believe), she will eventually.
Glen V
28. Ways
*Sproing, sproing, sproing*

It's a very minor issue, but...I didn't get the impression that the DW Guards were sheepish, chagrined or otherwise remorseful about pouncing on Mat. They were just doing their job protecting the Empress (may She live forever) from a potential threat. Chagrined about not finding the assassin, yes, and ready to commit seppuku for that failing.

Bravo Tam "The Rock" al'Thor! It was interesting to learn that he must have practiced sword forms one-handed routinely at some time. He is one of the most under-appreciated characters in the series IMHO. It's fantastic to see Rand re-bonding with dad.

Mat+Tuon. Hmmm, love is blind, right? Count me in with the crowd that believes Tuon does love him. She's just too caught up in her Empressness to admit it. I think wcarter @13, Avi (theravenchilde) @20, and lancer @21 have it right (and I would add Rand to what lancer said). Yes, Aludra would have been a more "practical" mate, and the plot could have worked out just fine with Rand alone ta'verening the Seanchan into the LB, but that's not the way it went. Now I really wish we would get to read the outrigger novels. Those 2 sentences RJ left...ah, well.
29. Teddroe
100,000% agree with everything Leigh opined this week.

For the longest time I was very dubious of Mat/Tuon--and really, Tuon as a sympathetic character at all--but willing to give RJ/BS the benefit of the doubt. But now the series is over, and she was never even close to salvaged for me. It's maybe my biggest problem with the entire series (which probably says more about how much I love the Wheel of Time than anything else).

To be clear, I like the character of Tuon. I think she's well-written, multidimensional, and fascinating...as an antagonist. But I never came close to liking her as a person. And the fact that Mat did (or, at least we're told he did. Not sure I ever really believed it) has caused me to really turn on him in the last third of the series, which is a shame because I love Mat as much as anyone books 3-9.

I could write a whole polemic about all the reasons that I can't stand Mat/Tuon (or just...Tuon), but the short version is that Mat just seems to stop caring about the various ways in which the Seanchan are vile and despicable starting in book 10, which goes completely against the character we know and love(d). His risking everything to free the Wavemistresses (and Teslyn and Edesina) in Book 9 remains one of my favorite moments in the series...and just about the last time I really liked Mat. He goes from risking his life to free damane to seeming to barely care about them once he gets the hots for Tuon. "Ruined" is a strong word, but it comes close to describing how I feel about Mat's character once Tuon becomes involved. And then later in this book she starts to sink her claws into Min too...well, I'll rant about that once we get there. Blergh to everything about Tuon and the Seanchan. Blergh I say!

But that Rand/Tam scene was just sublime. GREAT stuff.
30. Ellanora
Wcarter@13: Totally agree that Aludra would have made a much better love interest for Mat. I have never liked Mat and Tuon. I don't understand why Mat seems determined to love her. Yes I get that he feels trapped by the prophecy, but I feel like it would be more in keeping with Mat's character to keep to the bare minimum requirements rather than consciously trying to fall in love with her.

To me reading Mat and Tuon scenes has always been like watching love scenes in a movie where the actors have zero chemistry. You can see them going through the motions (in this case Mat more than Tuon, but I can see the arguments that from her cultural stand point she is trying too) but it is completely unebelievable and almost slightly cringey to you as the spectator/reader.

I just do not understand what they see in each other. Both of them (in text) acknowledge characteristics they like/admire in the other, but these seem at odds with the rest of their personalities and world views. I don't think it is just a cultural thing, although I can't imagine Mat who is such a good guy at heart could ever countenance Tuon's attitudes to slaves, women who can channel, etc., as Aviendha and Rand have pretty different cultures, and we see how this influences their relationship without making it difficult to believe in.

I find the consummation in public scene totally cringey. I can't believe that RJ would have actually written it, at most I feel he would have aluded to it very subtley. It just seems totally bizarre and pointless - why not go back to her rooms!?
Alyson Mahn
31. AyeJaySedai
22. Tektonica

You hit on my main headwall bit about Mat and Tuon. Culture. Destiny is throwing Mat into the most different culture imaginable for him. Two Rivers is informal and relatively egalitarian, while Seachan is extremely formal with a complex hierarchy. Outside of Two Rivers we see Mat promote the ideals of his birthplace: promotion on merit, and honest collaboration between officers regardless of social rank. You see some promotion of merit in the Seachan, but the nobility also have a culture of fear going. ‘Don’t displease the Empress or you will be enslaved or tortured.’ I don’t see out fun loving trickster doing well in that environment.

The unequal nature of their relationship also grates at me: she is the Empress and won’t let him forget it. Dominance and proper place are huge aspects of her culture. Being the ultimate general is nice, but it still makes him less than her. This stands out in contrast to Rand and Aviendha where she refused to go to him until she could stand as an equal. It is a bit sad that Mat, who fought against being seen as an inferior by Elayne and Nynaeve, is stuck with someone like Tuon.
William Carter
32. wcarter
@30 Ellanora

I agree RJ probably wouldn't have handled it quite that way, but it isn't necessarily unlike him either. Some of his pre-Wheel of Time stuff (Fallon trilogy and licensed Conan the Barbarian works) were bordering on pornographic at times.

Harriet mentioned at the first JordanCon that she was largely responsible for his switch to the 'fade to black style' because he wasn't actually good at writing those kinds of scenes and she told him women didn't behave like that.

I believe her exact comment was that it happened when he was writing a scene about a woman with nothing on but "a string of pearls around her waist."
Jay Dauro
33. J.Dauro
Thank you, glad to make an appearance.

My view of Mat and Tuon. Yes, I do feel they love one another, I feel their thoughts show it. But they do have a hard time showing it.

Now for the meta part. We know that RJ planned to write another part of their story. He left little of his ideas, so we will never get to see it (but I will picture it the way I want.)

He needed conflict, and arcs for his characters. Heck, he couldn't resolve everything here, no story to continue. And we don't want a static end.

So I choose to believe that the outrigger is where he would finish the job of Seanchen recognizing that their system has some major problems. Mat & Tuon have to re-take the homeland, well, the new homeland. Heck, the Seanchen continent. They will in the course of this resolve the channeling issues. They also will fight and eventually come together and express their love. There will be conflicts between Mat and the others he cares about. (We don't know Mat is the friend that Perrin thinks he may have to kill, but I can choose to think so. And that Perrin will not have to do it.)

Seriously, I think that RJ did plan to address some issues that we would have liked to have seen resolved in the outriggers. Just didn't make it.

That's my story ... and I'm sticking to it.
Richard Hunt
34. WOTman
I was needing a Tam /Rand fix for a while, after getting his hand burnt off, he commented on working with a sword again, but I don't think he ever did, so that was needed training, especially for what he was planning with the DO.
I do like the Mat/Tuon couple, they are two totally different people while he seems to be a carefree dude, he has definite conservative values. Tuon's only problem is she has been cradled and protected from life and she never had any kind of relationship with a man prior to this. Afte realizing her fate and later realizing that Mat was the one, she was very curious and childlike but I felt that there was something that made her interested and she basically is stubborn and refuses to admit she likes him and probably loves him, I do know she is very proud of him. This royalty thing was never about love, it was always about successors and protecting the realm as witnessed by other characters in the story. I know they are in love, and I think they are meant for each other and I couldn't see Mat with any other including my hottie, Aludra.
Nick Hlavacek
35. Nick31
Like everyone else here, I loved the scene with Tam teaching Rand that no matter how much has changed, there are still lessons that Rand needs to learn, and that there's no better teacher for him than Tam. The reminder of the truth that is the love of a father for his son, and of a son for his father, is exactly what Rand needs.

And just to be contrary, I like Mat & Tuon together. Possibly because I'm just a bit of a smart-ass like Mat and can totally understand his attraction to Tuon. Well, understand isn't the right word. What I do get is that very often love makes no logical sense. If you have someone describe their perfect mate, sometimes the person they fall in love with is a very different person than the one they described but is still the "right" person for them. Do I see what it is that Mat likes in Tuon? Sort of, but I can see why it confuses some people. In the real world there's lots of couples that are truly in love despite what I think about their compatibility. Bottom line, I'll just be happy for them and happy for myself that I have found my one and she's everything I need. :)
36. Jonellin Stonebreaker
Dear Leigh,

Count me as one who totally agrees with you on Rand & Tam's sparring/healing session, but totally disagrees with with you on Mat & Tuon. I find them fairly believable in their connection despite their differences.

I say this from experience. I met this woman who was my preferred physical type, had my values, beliefs, etc. and was in a relationship with her that should have been perfect, but turned out a bloody shambles.

Even as we were going through some very bad patches, complete strangers would come up to us saying what a great match we seemed to be! Just goes to show you that we live in world of illusion.

My current partner is of a different faith, different political belief, and of a different body type than I am usually attracted to... but just looking at her fills me with warmth and Aludra's entire chapter of Illuminators would be needed to equal the fireworks in the bedroom!
j p
37. sps49
I like Matuon just fine, and note that they were in an open area, not in publick. ("I was drinking in the bar! They threw me into Pub. Lick.") Um.

Now, is Rand gifting Justice to his father? I thought it was a one-handed sword, more suited to him now, and Tam has mostly trained with the hand-and-a-half or two-handed Randland sword. Did I miss something?

I do want to give Leigh a quick *mmWah* for, not just her talent at finding meanings and entertaining us with her re-reads, but for her writing skill foundation. I don't recall anyone having baited breath, or pulling in reigns, or any syntax mistakes that were not used purposely to express a point. This is not as common among professional writers online, or even my local paper every now and then, as it should be, so I'm saying Thank You.

Maybe not for the final "DISCUSS", though.

But I will buy a drink or lead a toast for her if we meet next JordanCon.
Glen V
38. Ways
Public Service Announcement:

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But did you know that a very limited edition (250), hard cover ARC is now available for $100? It is signed by 4 of the 23 authors (not BWS). It hasn't been widely publicized. The down-side is that Todd Lockwood's interior artwork is not included (but his autograph and story contribution are).

So if any of you have some extra coin and want to (a) support a great cause, (b) read some new authors and get "River of Souls" in the bargain, and (c) latch on to a collectible, then you might want to check it out at grimoakpressDOTcom.
39. Freelancer
It had been a major theme recognition to me by about the middle of TDR: Nobody gets the spouse they think they should have. Of course, at that point of the text, Mat hadn't yet gone through the doorway into Sindhol, and learned of the Daughter of the Nine Moons. But the foundation had been well established. Each of the three guys felt that one or both of the others understood women better than themselves; each had at one point or another made clear what sort of lady they were interested in; it was obvious that none of them was going to get their wish. I've known couples far more dysfunctional than Mat and Tuon, and with less in common.

Tuon is stuck believing that permitting emotions makes her vulnerable, and she does her best to seem impervious to same. But there is significant evidence that this is a false front. A subtle but notable example is her wish to be taken to a hell. It wasn't to experience the place, it was to observe Mat's behavior under dangerous tension. She wanted there to be a fight, wanted to be able to objectively determine what skills he possessed in defending himself and others. That is far more than simple curiosity, she has to evaluate Mat's potential as either competitor or companion. If she had no desire to be close to him, this wouldn't be important. And her reaction of pride and pleasure at how well he fought with his knives, coupled with her disapproval that he hesitated to kill a woman, speaks volumes.

Way back when, perhaps TSR10 or TGS Spoiler Review, or one of those other monster threads, someone called for a poll of favorite characters. It turned into, IIRC, most folks' top ten lists or something like. Tam al'Thor was always in the top five for me, Mat and Nynaeve never in the top five. It was so very cathartic for me, when Lan salutes Tam and acknowledges that he deserved the heron. And this scene beats that hands down. Tam sugar-coats nothing, hides nothing, pretends nothing. He is the ultimate WYSIWYG character. Honest, discerning, caring, and immensely capable. The quintessential role-model, understated and unconcerned with recognition.

Tai'shar, Manetheren.
Terry McNamee
40. macster
Nice continuity nod, with the secret passage being the same one the gholam used to kill Tylin. And considering the fact Tuon seemed to respect her and regret her death, it was good of Mat to let Selucia know he'd gotten her killer.

I'd forgotten, or missed, that passage about how Rand came to deal with the burden of caring for those he would lose no matter how he tried to protect them. The whole walking in pain, and especially "accepting the pain as part of him" is, appropriately enough, very Aiel. Makes for an interesting parallel between himself and Egwene, and resonates more with how he views her during his "And This is For" speech to the Dark One.

(Although how did he know Egwene "would not bend her back while she was beaten"? As far as I know he didn't know about her meeting toh with the Wise Ones, and he certainly didn't know what was done to her by Elaida. But then again most of what he thought about the various characters at that moment was things he couldn't have known, so I think it was poetic license plus Rand being outside the Pattern at that moment and able to see and understand all the threads of reality. He went meta, through the fourth wall?)

Correct me if I'm wrong but that sword with the dragons is of course Justice, right? With the kindred soul being Hawkwing? If so, talk about a kingly gift for Tam! But while Tam is no ta'veren, and probably not as good a general as Hawkwing, he's still more than good enough at leading men and fighting in battle to be worthy of that blade.

The whole scene with Tam is so resonant in so many ways--character-wise, emotionally, symbolically. I'm not ashamed to say it made me tear up, especially the way it ended. This, along with Perrin making Tam Steward in his stead, justifies the focus and importance Tam gets later on during the battle for Merrilor, but more than that it shows what is at the heart of the series, or at least Rand's part in it. The stricture to "let go" will have so much importance later when Egwene tells him the same thing, but you're also right that Tam's relationship with Rand is key to how he differs from Lews Therin, why the Dark One didn't break him, and showing both Rand and the reader what he is fighting for, why he fights.

It's wonderful to see Tam again, to see why he is such a good man and why he was able to train and raise Rand so well, not to mention being a relief from all the parentless heroes out there in fantasy. Because for all the fact Rand lost his biological parents and his adopted mother, he never lost Tam and having him with him is more important than can be stressed, it means so much. But above all what he stands for--love, acceptance, nurturing, wisdom, doing the right thing--was a reminder both Rand and the reader needed. It's absolutely fitting he get a sword called Justice.

I also have to observe as a side note that a lot of people might think calling Tam a static character is a bad thing, but it absolutely isn't. Being flat is what's bad (and sometimes even that isn't either, since flat characters often serve useful purposes in a narrative), but Tam is most definitely a well-developed, round character. He just doesn't change, and that's what matters. After all, even aside from the fact he already did his growth before the series proper, and that Rand needed him to stay the same as a source of grounding, a rock he could rely on, Tam's unchanging nature just serves to show how much more other characters, particularly Rand, do change. He's definitely the father a lot of people wish they had. So I wholeheartedly agree this is a scene that was needed, and I'm extremely glad wasn't cut. Whether other scenes we didn't get could have been as good as this, I don't know. But at least we got this one, and it's awesome.

Mat and Tuon: I'm still not sure, even now, how to feel about them. Aside from her...particular Seanchan ethics we all have discussed to death, I never really disliked Tuon herself as a character--she's strong, she's smart, she's insightful at times, she's a good leader, and she could even be sweet and funny when she wanted to be. It's more her connection to Mat I am uncertain about. In the end it seems more like they are just good friends with an adversarial relationship, who enjoy snarking and competing and maneuvering for advantage with each other than they do being in love or being committed to one another.

Of course it's possible to be both, and some of the most fun, or at least memorable, relationships have involved couples who snark and compete and gamesplay even as they are also really in love, but I'm not sure if that applies here. I think, Seanchan slavery aside, Tuon is a worthy match for Mat as far as her personality and strength of character go, that the woman for him should be someone who's strong-willed, clever, and well able to match wits with him if not surpass him on a regular basis. I.e., I enjoy watching Mat and Tuon trade barbs and play cat-and-mouse with each other. What I don't know is if there's real love there, or ever will be, or whether they should just stay snarky friends trying to be more clever than the other. Love could grow someday, and it can indeed be argued Tuon is just lying to herself (and Mat), but...eh, I don't know.

To sum up: they're fun to watch, and it's as enjoyable to see her outwit him as it is for him to prove her wrong and sway her thinking, but I don't know if they do or ever will love each other. One thing that can't be denied, though, is they definitely have an unusual relationship. Which is why I'd say that the way this chapter ended (and how they consummate it) is absolutely appropriate both for them and the relationship. I can't really imagine it happening in any other way, it's as outlandish, strange, and audacious as they are.

And I know what you mean about the others, Leigh. I always bought Rand and Min from the start; I bought him and Aviendha, since the most attention was devoted to it and it seemed the most organic and natural of the relationships; I even bought him and Elayne, since for as little time as they spent together, and despite the Love at First Sight thing, they are both brave, strong-willed, and kind people who care for those they rule (or end up ruling) and can understand the pressures and responsibilities they're under. And while Perrin and Faile's adversarial relationship/culture shock was at times maddening, we at least got plenty of textual examples where they both said and showed their feelings for each other, and did things that could make us understand what they saw in each other. (Some of us; others of course disliked Faile on sight and never stopped. I liked her right from the start. What this says about me is best left unspoken. :P ) Mat and Tuon...not so much.

Two other things: I have to wonder what Leigh will say when we get to the end of the book. Since here she goes on about how wonderful it is that Rand's hand loss and what this does to him psychologically as well as physically has been acknowledged...only for it not to matter at the end since he gets to have two hands again courtesy of Moridin's body. But I suspect she might say it's okay, because this is basically a "have your cake and eat it too" moment, or as TV Tropes would put it, Sweet and Sour Grapes. We get to see Rand deal with his loss, which is realistic, painful, and meaningful, but then he later gets rewarded for all his suffering and heroism. This scene with Tam shows Rand could and probably would have learned to adapt to being one-handed...but in the end he won't have to. Some might consider it a cheat or evasion, but I think it may be a best of both situation. Plus it's not as if we didn't see a loss which stuck--Mat's eye.

And second...I was amused by Tuon's bit of lampshading of her previous Arbitrary Skepticism. In a world with so much magic as well as the omens she does believe in, she would dismiss anything she had no experience of as mythology and superstition. (Not that people don't do that in real life, but usually we have more evidence that the thing doesn't exist. Usually.) Now thanks to seeing Trollocs back in TGS, she's finally able to admit that there may be things outside her understanding which are nevertheless real...and so she pretends she never made any such dismissals. Typical of her, but still funny, since I think she knows she isn't fooling Mat just as much as he does.
Terry McNamee
41. macster
@2 shairk: Good point.

@4 Man-o-Manetheren: It most certainly is.

@17 MDNY: LOL! That's a very good analogy. Because while it was always fun, at least IMO, to see Willie and Indy going at it verbally (just as it is to see Mat and Tuon doing that), I could never see them in love and working together as an actual relationship. At least not without a lot of change from the woman, in either relationship.

@20 That's what I was suggesting above. They work well together as characters, they play off each other well, they're fun to watch and can certainly help each other change and improve. The question is whether they do, or will, love each other, and if they actually will improve. I hope so, but I'm not sure if all the evidence of it is there in the text.

@23 Staizer: True enough. I also like how he was insistent she not treat him as a toy like Tylin did, and she praises his skill in battle and that he is a man, not a toy. Some of her treatment of him later makes me question her stance a bit (and no I don't just mean during the faked falling-out), but overall she does respect him and trust him, and that's important--you can't have love, whether now or in the future, without those.

@29 Teddroe: Well Mat does still say, even in this book, that the Seanchan are, pardon my French, fucked up. But he couches it in terms of being crazy, strange, or beyond understanding, not evil or despicable. Of course the Seanchan aren't evil, just their culture, and perhaps he's realized that the only way to change them is slowly, and from within, but... I will say this though, that even though she claimed her as a Truthspeaker, I never got the impression Tuon succeeded in "sinking her claws" into Min at all. Min stood up to her, gave as good as she got, and won a number of victories, especially moral ones. If anything it seemed to me that having Min there to advise/dictate to Tuon will be as good for the Seanchan as Mat is, because her personality, abilities, and the respect Tuon holds for her will allow her the leeway to say and do what needs to be done to guide them away from their evil ways.

@31 AyeJaySedai: We can only hope that the feelings she does have for Mat (whether or not they are love), coupled with her respect for his skills as a warrior and general, will make Tuon give in to Mat enough for him to change her outlook, and her culture.

@33 J.Dauro: That's about what I imagined for their future too, if it goes the way that fits the characters and situation but would also resolve things the most satisfyingly for us.

@39 Freelancer: Totally agreed on the scene where Lan salutes Tam. While not as important to the series' themes and Rand's character progression as this one was, it was so very satisfying on the "one badass fighter to another" front. Not to mention that from what we learn of Malkieri values, particularly in New Spring, it makes a lot of sense Lan would respect and admire Tam for those values you enumerate as well. It also explains why Lan connected with Rand so well and was able to "teach him how to stand".
Thomas Keith
42. insectoid
Leigh, you are a hoot. (Pun intended!)
Great post as always.

Still being hilarious.

Rand giving Tam (what we can only assume is) Justice was kind of out of left field... but Tam deserved such a wonderful gift, just for raising the savior of the world, and for being Rand's anchor when he needed it the most (see: end of TGS). The sparring session, of course, was a wonderful moment in the book... very cool.

Our own J.Dauro gets a cameo appearance as Daruo the Deathwatch Guard! :D

Then there's the "Really?!?" moment of the chapter... Tuon's insistence of "making (Mat) feel loved". Right in the middle of the freaking garden. Really, Tuon?!? What an odd couple.

Giggling owl with head turned completely upside down:
I laughed for about 5 minutes on that one. XD

I think I would go with "Failin"—but "Perile" is a pretty good pun too.

(Who are known in the tabloids as… um. Ravimayne? Melaravi? Avilaymirand? No, I got it! El Ravimin! Olé!)

edited for: Misuse of square brackets and a bbcode tag out of place. *facepalm*

Lindy Brown
43. lbrown
I also think Mat should be with Aludra.
44. JimF
This is one of the best skeins of comments I can recall. Yes, Tam and Rand = SWEET. I'm rereading tEotW, and their relationship is well developed there, and Rand's love for and anguish over Tam is laid out plain and strong. The cited passage is sort of the wheel turning on the opening chapter of the series, in which Tam gets to be the one to lead his boy back to safety.

The Mat/Tuon discussion is delicious (I feel like one of the Ael- or Eel-Finn savoring Mat, Rand and Moiraine at the same time: it's awesome but painful, too). I think they love one another, but she won't say it and he really never does say it, does he? He is the most mind-opening thing she has ever encountered; he's told her all sorts of things that she disbelieved, and yet they just keep turning out to be true. He has the selected memories of thousands of men, in all kinds of situations - war, politics, dancing, etc. He can aid her in so many ways she could never be rid of him.

Outside of Perrin, he's the only one of the SuperKids who has had any kind of high-level, agreeable dealings with the Seanchan, and in every case he seems to just keep on being Mat and chopping through their intensely structured and limited social construct (and he has witnessed that the common people actually are treated well within that system). I doubt that he will ever agree with or countenance the subjugation of Aes Sedai or other channelers. The voluntary subjugation of people in the Seanchan system is something that they have to work out, but Mat probably presents some sort of balance to that, because he won't play their game.

He's actually only raffish instead of a rake: recall the dance scene in the inn with Betsy(?) when the newly-formed Band was marching south to Tear (tLoC?). Despite all the insinuations from the SuperGirls in particular, Mat never forced any woman to do anything; they either come to him or they don't. He won't stray on Tuon; she's the most fun he's had.

And finally, "doing it in the road" so to speak, actually didn't happen. The Seanchan simply turned their minds to something else and paid no attention to Mat and Tuon, or if they did, they will never, ever admit it to anyone. One has to respect Tuon's appreciation of her own status/culture.
45. JimF
@40. macster: "...I even bought him and Elayne, since for as little time as they spent together, and despite the Love at First Sight thing..." Actually I bought this a whole lot more than Min. Rand literally falls into Elayne's lap; she gets to do her nurse thing; he presents himself to her mother and Elaida in an eye-opening way; and by the way, he's really big and handsome. Then she finds out much more through Egwene, and she's really entranced. Then comes the time together in Tear (the absolute sweetest bait and switch love manuever in the entire book) in which she helps him immensely with the problems he's trying to come to grips with. And did I mention that she's drop-dead beautiful, to boot, and kisses like a dream?

Min, on the other hand, having talked to Rand on two occasions in Baerlon (and apparently saw the light based on her viewings) shows up dressed in tight pants, jumps in his lap, and begins to browbeat him constantly. She finally manages to consummate the relationship in the most wanton sex scene in the entire series. Min is of course Top Ten, but Elayne is much more my favorite.
46. JimF
“And then they consummated their not-loving-or-maybe-loving-but-just-not-saying-it-but-no-probably-just-not-loving-yeah-I-don’t-know-I-am-so-confused bizarro telegram marriage by fucking in public, The End.”

Leigh, you continue to soar to new heights! Thank God I wasn't drinking something when I read that.
47. Voodoo
No time to read everything, but I totally buy the Mat/Tuon thing.
I agree with an above post about Mat being ironicly unlucky with love. But i also think his character arc overall has been a more comic one since about after he lost the dagger. Part of his patern is doing things that he really doesn't want to do, snarking about it the whole way and being awesome at it anyway. Its funny, its awesome, it works.
And thats why the pattern has forced him to a Culture he should ritefully despise, to a woman he has no business feeling affection for, and a title he claims he doesn't want.
Also, hes being positioned by the pattern to effect the changes we all want to happen in Seanchan. Remember, there was gonna be a whole series about him and Tuon. Social reforms FTW.
Alice Arneson
48. Wetlandernw
@ several - In case anyone is still not sure... YES, the sword Rand gives Tam in this chapter is Justice. I specifically and directly asked Brandon that question, and he specifically and directly confirmed that it was.
Roger Powell
49. forkroot
And I still think it would have been very interesting if Tam and Hawkwing had run into each other on the battlefield, looked at each other's swords and thought: What the heck??
50. Teddroe
@41 Macster: We'll get to Min in a little while. Suffice it to say I disagree. As to the argument that Mat is going to "change it from within", well, that's certainly plausible, but he never actually plans that, and even if he did it's...not a great foundation for a loving relationship. "Hi honey, I got milk. So...thought any more about freeing the slaves? No? Okay, let's watch Marley and Me tonight then."

More broadly, my issue with Tuon and Mat isn't that I don't buy that they do (or would) love each other, or that purely on a personality level I don't like them as a couple, or that Aludra makes more sense in a lot of ways, though all of those things are true. It's that Tuon is the unrepentant, unapologetic head of an institution that is dedicated to fascistic enslavement of thousands of people. There's even a line from Tuon's POV (in book *mumblemumble*) where she mentions how much she enjoys "training" damane. We see in book 2 exactly what that means in all its horrifying detail, and that, to me, is a complete moral event horizon (don't click that). She doesn't just condone and tolerate the systematic enslavement, degradation, and dehumanization of human beings--she enjoys it!

I thought during the whole last third of the series that RJ was setting up a come-to-the-light moment (pun sort of intended) with Tuon and the damane, so I was shocked when the whole multi-book Setalle Anan dialogue didn't really go anywhere. Was RJ saving it for the outriggers? Maybe, but those don't exist and never will, so all we have to go on is what's actually in the Wheel of Time. And in the Wheel of Time, we never get any indication that she's changing her mind. At all.

In the end, it seemed to me like the freedom-loving Matrim Cauthon ended up marrying the series' equivalent of, like, Jefferson Davis*. I simply cannot get past that. Can you tell I feel strongly about this? I hate it, and I hate that I hate it as much as I do. I want to love everything about my darling WoT. But try as I might, I can't get over this. Unfortunately.

(*Sorry for the mental image. I tried and failed to come up with a female historical figure prominantly involved in slavery/the slave trade. Anyone?)
Dixon Davis
54. KadesSwordElanor
Forkroot @ 49

You made me SOL (Snicker Out Loud). I will not LOL. I am in a office setting, and it would not be appropriate.
Maiane Bakroeva
55. Isilel
So, forgive me if I am wrong, but wasn't trying anything against the Empress an absolute taboo even for Seanchan High Blood in the earlier volumes? So much so that even Suroth couldn't think about it without some debilitating physiological syndroms? And now sending asssassins is suddenly totally expected?! ORLY?

In fact, I seem to distinctly remember that only those who could be considered plausible Imperial heirs were allowed to compete between each other this way? And not that it pervaded the whole society/nobility as implied in this chapter and later in AMoL, IIRC.

I can imagine that Tuon not having been crowned in Seandar and not sitting on a huge Compulsion ter'angreal would destabilize things somewhat, but it should have been a new complication, rather than business as usual.

Couldn't agree more with Leigh about Mat/Tuon. WoT romances are generally very weakly written, of course, but this is the only one where I see not a glimpse of real chemistry between the couple, only a pairing forced by the iron fate of fate. An arranged marriage, where Mat is in a role of an unwilling dowry-hunter and has to get the greatest heiress.

IMHO, Mat had great chemistry with Elayne and a decent one with Aludra. I wish that the Seanchan could have been brought in in a different way or kept out of saving the world entirely.

I really loved Rand-Tam scene, but I still think that "let go" lesson should have come from Moiraine, particularly since it is reiterated in this chapter how rescuing her is supposed to save the world and how this lesson will be so integral to Rand's victory over the DO. Also, it is a lesson that Moiraine herself had to learn prior to her fateful dive and she also struggled with it. There is such a wasted thematic link there.

It would have been emblematic of a truce in the gender war - Moiraine was supposed to occupy the role of Rand's mentor in the early books, except that it never worked out that way, in large part because of the battle of the sexes.
One would have hoped that after all the experiences those 2 have undergone in the interim this would have come full circle and Moiraine could have given one vital piece of wisdom that Rand could have willingly accepted.
In this light, Rand getting it from another man, even one as wonderful as Tam, was disappointing to me. IMHO, YMMV.
56. Doctor Thanatos

El Ravimin?

How clever of you to find a cognate for the Hebrew El haRachaman, translating as "God of Mercy."

Which I believe is what Rand said when all three of his women showed up in the hot tub on the same night.
57. Freelancer

If you're going to employ a uniname for Perrin and Faile, it's more than a bit ironic for you to suggest Puerile, especially in the same post as your commentary on Mat and Tuon. Maybe Failin would fit most readers' impressions of the couple.

Somebody flip JimF over, please. He must be upside down.

Isilel @55,

That's exactly the point. With no family members nor known succession prospects surviving on the Seanchan mainland, and with no issue on the horizon for Fortuona, Galgan is the "heir apparent" to the Crystal Throne, and it falls to him to compete for it. By doing so openly, with no intrigue, and employing incompetents, it is his way of saying to Tuon, "you have nothing to fear from me". And Tuon not doing anything to stop him is her acknowledgement of his loyalty. They understand one another in this political sense.

Mat had no chemistry with Elayne. He regularly made note of her physical attributes to himself, but always with the awareness that Rand saw her first. Elayne never expressed the smallest iota of interest in Mat. Besides, Birgitte would have clobbered Elayne for ruining her best drinking buddy. And Aludra? The one who smiled at Thom and said, "He is young yet, eh?" because Mat had tried to give her a few coins so that she wouldn't starve? She only half-heartedly showed any affection toward Mat, which evaporated the moment she saw the chemistry (however carefully hidden) between he and Tuon. And Mat never considered Aludra as a romantic prospect. Perhaps a fling, nothing more.
58. boquaz
Imagine how different the story would have been if Tam had escaped with Rand in that first Trolloc fight and been the emotional compliment to M along their first travels.
Rich Bennett
59. Neuralnet
I have to chime in just to say that as much flack as I gave sanderson about Mat in previous books... I really liked him a lot better in this book. I liked these Mat chapters. The romance between Mat and Tuon is definitely dysfunctional but I buy it (just dont ask me why). And I love the line about Mat knowing that Tuon loves him because she looked over her shoulder... classic.
Stefan Mitev
60. Bergmaniac
A Mat and Elayne relationship would've been so much fun to read. It really should've happened, it would've prevented the ridiculous Rand foursome too. If Mat had to become royalty, Andor suits him way better than really stuffy and formal Seanchan court.
Tina Shelby
61. shelbyte
While Tuon is not a likeable character, she does have the capacity to match wits with Mat, the ultimate strategist. I do not think Aludra could match Mat in the same way. The Mat-Tuon relationship grows as they travel with circus and moves from something in a prophecy to a real understanding of the other person. The trick of giving flowers to Selucia, until the last one, is great. Tuon trusts Mat, something that is probably more important to her than love. Plus, despite everyone fretting, she does not have him killed for any of his many breaches of protocol. I am not a fan of the overly comical Mat in the last 3 books, but for me this relationship works and I can see how it would have been awesome in the outriggers.
62. Caseyy
Interesing perspective on Mat and Tuon. I think this is one of those plotlines that isn't meant to be resolved, along with most of the Seanchan. It seems that their relationship could also factor heavily into whether or not the Dragon's Peace end's up working, so I think it's meant to be a bit of a mystery.

We do get a POV from Tuon, I think sometime in CoT (no wonder no ones remembers it) that suggests she at least feels deep affection for Mat, and hints that she might be falling in love with him.

And of course, they are together because Mat is ta'veren. That ends up limiting his choice in the matter just as much as it limits Tuon's.
William Carter
63. wcarter

Mat and Elayne? Nah, how about Mat and Min!

Think about it, all the witty banter, the multiple funny reunion scenes the two had together over the 14 book series, how often they were there to give each other advise... it just makes sense that Fortouna is going to walk in on them "comforting" one another in her throne room a few years down the road.

And with that, I have used up my sarcasm quota for FY 2013.
Alice Arneson
64. Wetlandernw
forkroot @49 – That would have been fun. “Hey, what are you doing with my sword?”

Teddroe @50 – My major problem with your argument against Tuon is that you’re applying your own “moral event horizon” to someone from a completely different culture, and I don’t think that’s valid. We, in all our 21st-century western civilization wisdom can point our fingers and say, “Look at what she’s doing! She enjoys the systematic enslavement, degradation, and dehumanization of human beings! She’s a horrible person and doesn’t deserve to be loved by my boy Mat!” However…

Try, if you can, to get inside the head of someone who has grown up in her culture, where the very idea of channeling the One Power is repulsive – where it is assumed that doing so is, of itself, dehumanizing. This is a culture that fully believes that the ability to channel makes a person both extremely dangerous, and less than human. For the good of society, the safety of all around her, and her own good/safety, a woman who can channel must either be killed or contained. (The men don’t get the “contained” option; they just get killed.)

From that perspective, when you find a girl who will unavoidably channel (a.k.a. a sparker), you are doing her a favor – really, you’re saving her life – by leashing her and training her. In that culture, it’s no more horrible to train damane than it is to train horses or hawks. Don’t forget, too, that in a very real sense, you are saving her life; according to WT statistics, only one in four “sparkers” will even survive the onset of channeling without training; at least the horses and hawks would live just fine untrained. To us, the method of training makes all the difference, and in a way it does – but the training really is necessary.

Do I think slavery is horrible? Yes, I do. Do I automatically condemn everyone in history who has ever owned a slave, including those who treated their slaves very well? No, I don’t. Do I think the Seanchan would be improved by wising up about the One Power and all its implications? Absolutely. Are there other things in Seanchan society that I find repulsive? Of course; I’m pretty hard over on individual freedom unless forfeited by individual behavior. But I’m not going to condemn a person who grew up in a different society simply for being a logical product of that society.

(OT Re: Jefferson Davis – I was going to suggest that he wasn’t a good comparison, since he was more known for defending the idea of a sovereign state’s right to secede from the union (even though he had voted against doing so) than for being an example of the evils of the slave system. On further reflection, I think he’s a much more apt comparison than you intended; he was merely living and defending his accustomed way of life, much as Tuon is.

If you want someone to hate on for enslaving so many Africans, you should probably back up to the early 1400s and the instigation of the Atlantic slave trade. You can blame the Portuguese who bought the first of those slaves, if you like. Or you can blame the rest of the Europeans who bought the slaves from the Portuguese, making it economically viable to continue. Better yet, blame the Ashanti who sold their conquered enemies into slavery, shortsightedly failing to realize that some Europeans would eventually decide it was cheaper – and perfectly legitimate - to go capture their own slaves instead of buying them, and would not distinguish between black skins of this nation versus that one.)

Count me in with those who thought that neatly tying up all the Seanchan cultural issues in this book would have been implausible. I have always assumed that changes of that magnitude – or even a significant beginning to those changes – would necessarily be the subject of the outriggers. It’s too much to tuck tidily into a corner of this book. At the very most, I thought that we might see Mat convince Tuon that maybe, just maybe, channelers aren’t actually dangerous or subhuman by definition, and that she could start to grapple with that. More than that would, IMO, stretch credulity a little too far.

I think the combination of Mat and Min in such close proximity to Tuon, plus the inevitable shake-up of the Last Battle, plus the chaos back on the Seanchan continent, might be the only way the Seanchan culture could ever change in ways we’d want to see. They’re too big and strong to be defeated militarily (especially by what’s left after the Last Battle!), and they have too much momentum to change quickly. Stunning revelations from the Doomseer, mixed with the persuasions of the Prince of the Ravens, and both combined with the Dragon’s Peace treaty, might be enough to change Tuon’s attitudes over a little time, and enable her to begin changes in the Empire over more time.

As for the “chemistry” debate… I can never quite decide between being baffled or amused by the number of readers who insist on superimposing their ideas of “chemistry” on fictional characters. (And I only hope they don’t try to impose those ideas on their friends or family members in real life…) Sometimes, I just feel sorry for them. I can understand, “You haven’t convinced me that these two characters could actually love each other.” (Clearly, I don’t agree with that in this case, but I can at least understand the statement.) Insisting that one’s own ideas of what makes a good relationship must be universally applicable, though, is just silly – and worse, it deprives one of full enjoyment of the book that was written according to the author’s imagination instead of one’s own limited notions.

Lucky for me, Freelancer pretty much summed up the relationship between Mat and Aludra the way I’ve always seen it. To add just a smidge, she’s got a good 15 years on him, and sees him as… young. And she’s got other priorities; if he’d been able to persuade her to a “fling” it would never have meant more than that to her.

As for Tuon and Mat… well, I’ve always loved their relationship. I don’t love every aspect of either character - except as it contributes to well-written, believable characters. As written, though, I think their personalities are a great match. Tuon has the rare (!) perception to see past the scoundrel mask to the “lion on the high plains” – a perception that is vital to a good relationship for them. (She needs a man who is all that, and he needs to be respected for who he is.) And Mat has the… cultural perspective (or lack thereof, according to the Seanchan) to see past the royal mask to the actual woman, which Tuon needs even if she doesn’t yet acknowledge it. Add in their mental and verbal sparring abilities, their individual tactical skills, their mutual interests and areas of respect, their physical attraction… I’m good with it. (I love the bit where Mat finally realizes that the flowers and jewelry he thought “any girl would like” aren’t exactly appropriate, because she’s not “any girl” - and he finds her a spectacular horse instead… And she has the knowledge and interest to appreciate not only the horse, but his eye for horses…) I know some people probably thought it was weird, but I think her reaction to his missing eye was totally in character – and I loved it.

One more thing…
“When you saw me,” Mat explained, “with a dagger in my hand – as if to throw at you – you didn’t call for your guards. You didn’t fear I was here to kill you. You looked over your shoulder to see what I was aiming at. That’s the most loving gesture I think a man could receive from a woman.”
I loved, loved, loved this. And I wish more women understood this. I think it shows well with the (maturing) relationships of both Perrin and Mat – men need the trust and respect of their wives, every bit as much as (and probably more than) they need what we women tend to think of as “normal” ways to show love. Women are (weirdly) capable of loving where they have no respect, but a really good relationship requires respect and trust even more than emotional love.

Okay, that’s enough wall for now. Probably more than enough, but it’s a typical late-spring-in-the-wetlands day here and I don’t want to do anything else. And… I’ll bet there are a bunch more comments to read.
andrew smith
65. sillyslovene
Wet @64 - concur heartily.

Isilel@55 - some interesting thoughts about the thematics of it. I agree it could have made sense for Mo to have given him the lesson. But I think the impact was greater with having Tam: closure on all the daddy-issues that Rand has been lugging around since TEotW. Yes, there are places in the last couple books where he seems to be coming to better grips with Tam, but I think it is here that he finally lets all that go as well, accepting Tam's role as his father, although not biologically, just as he accepts that he is LTT, just not biologically. YMMV
Ken Stankiewicz
66. Kenjs
I have been following this re-read almost from the beginning, but have rarely posted, feeling that others have commented far better than I ever could have. A perfect case in point is Wetlandernw @64. Your comments from first to last sum up how I feel about both Seanchan society and the relationship between Mat and Tuon. Thank you for expressing it far better than I ever could have.
Glen V
68. Ways
Teddroe @ 50
WH, chapt. 14: "...but she found as much enjoyment in training damane as in training horses..."

Wet @64
Your well-constructed analysis hits the proverbial nail squarely on its head.
Robert Crawley
69. Alphaleonis
Teddroe - I agree with you with relation to Tuon's character. I like to think that if I had grown up in such a culture (or in Genghis Khan's empire, or Hitler's, or Mao's, or Stalin's or the human sacrificing Aztec's) I would have found a back door or died trying. No excuse to become a part of it. I may be wrong, and when I meet God, he will say to me "No, you would have grown up to become one of them." (He knows). But I hope not. I hope there is something deep inside of me that would have rebelled against the culture and not enjoyed torturing or eating other humans. Could never stomach what the Seanchan did to innocent men, women, and children as smelled by Hurin at Falme in The Great Hunt.

Maybe if we had gotten to know Hitler personally, as we have gotten to know Tuon, we could excuse his actions too??? I don't give either of them much leeway as to how they treated their fellow man no matter what their upbringing. Sorry, Wetlander, one of the few times in the whole series I couldn't agree with you.
Alice Arneson
70. Wetlandernw
Alphaleonis @69 - There's a major difference between Hitler and Tuon.

Tuon grew up (all her short life) in a culture that had held these beliefs for nearly a thousand years. They are so deeply ingrained in the society that it simply wouldn't occcur to anyone that things could - much less should - be different; not without major extra-cultural influence. If you had been part of that culture, the only way you'd be likely to consider rebelling is if it somehow had a sudden negative impact on you personally. Possibly, just faintly possibly, if you found out that your beloved and only daughter could channel, you'd think about it. More likely, you would be so steeped in the beliefs that you would be sad to lose her, but would feel much the same as if she'd merely died of a fever. She's lost to you, but there's nothing to be done about it.

Hitler was not in that situation. He was the leader, the instigator, and the chief proponent of his notions of racial superiority; he collected around himself a group of equally twisted individuals, and they first manipulated and then forced their countrymen into compliance. He was not the logical result of the culture of the past millenia in Europe; he was a psychotic aberration from the past hundreds of years. In that situation, many Germans did rebel against his would-be culture to whatever extent they were able. Some escaped, some died, some quietly lived on while doing what they could to protect the targets of Hitler animosity. Some bought the lies they were fed, some went along because it was the easy way. Which would you have been? Only you and your Maker will ever know. But it's not the same situation at all.
71. Teddroe
@Wet 64

Oh yes, the old moral relativism debate. *Waves to old undergraduate classes on political philosophy*. I think we can pretty safely say I'm a little more morally objectivist then you, but give me a little credit--I'm perfectly aware of the history of slavery, and I understand that I'm taking an arguably unnecessarily objectivist stance here (no, not that kind of Objectivism. Away, Ayn Rand! Shoo! Despite your last name, you are not wanted here!). I get that you disagree with me, but I have considered the implications of my views.

Anyways, we could rehash the old debate--I say I'm troubled by the implications of the idea that there is no such thing as intrinsic evil, you say I'm arrogantly projecting my own uprbringing, I say that you're essentially rendering morality meaningless, you use the phrase "Western cultural imperialism" a lot, someone (probably me) invokes the Nazis, etc, etc. Let's save some time and agree to disagree.

However, what I was trying (and, apparently, failing) to articulate vis-a-vis Mat and Tuon is a little different. I agree with everything you say about Seanchan culture, I think it's a fabulously (and somewhat diabolically) constructed fictional society, and I really do love the character of Tuon just so long as I'm not being asked to be personally invested in her. But the issue for me isn't my problem with the Seanchan--it's Mat's lack of problem.

Mat, like almost all of the main characters, has a fairly contemporary American/British/Western moral worldview (relatively speaking, of course). There's a reason Jordan chose to have most of the main characters come from the very English Two Rivers/Andor region. The various customs we as readers (or, at least, those of us in the States) find peculiar--Aiel polygamy, Seafolk toplessness, Saldaean domestic relations, Illianer syntax, etc.--are for the most part also somewhat alien to our main cast. Just think how strange Mat found just about everything the Aiel or Ebou Dari did. It's a very deliberate choice that Jordan made to ease us into this fantasy world.

That is why I found Mat's nonplussitude (it's a word, dammit) over the damane issue in the last few books so offputting. He was at Falme, he knows what Egwene went through, he did everything in his power in Book 9 to free the captive seafolk and Aes Seadai...and then sort of seems to stop being more than mildly uneasy with the whole institution.

To put it another way, though I personally am repulsed by the Seanchan, the problems I have with the Mat/Tuon relationship wouldn't exist if Mat himself came from a culture that embraced slavery. If Mat were Seanchan, I wouldn't find his stated love for Tuon strange or offputting at all.

For another (poor) semi-historical/semi-literary analogy: Mat deciding he's in love with Tuon would be like Robin Hood suddenly deciding that crippling taxes on the poor aren't that bad and shacking up with the Sheriff of Nottingham. I personally felt it really undercut his character.

Does that make a little more sense?
72. JimF
@57. Freelancer "...Somebody flip JimF over, please. He must be upside down...." What am I to make of that? I seem to be properly disposed! ;)
73. mndrew
Weird, it wasn't until I read your description of Rand's accepting the pain of not being able to save every person in the world as a comparison to the never ending pain of his side wounds that I realized that the resolution of his storyline neatly bypassed the whole issue of healing the never-healing wounds. I can now hear the death knell of thousands of theories on that subject crying out for vengence. I smile at their pain.
74. Freelancer
Setting aside for just a moment the inherent difficulties in translating potential morality from a work of fantasy fiction, there are several issues to ponder, and a lesson to be learned.

Let us consider the question of whether the behavior which we readers can all agree is immoral -- that of the Seanchan indiscriminately leashing any female able to channel -- has any pragmatic or logistical foundation for having been set in place. The answer is yes. The female channelers who inhabited the Seanchan mainland during the latter end of Luthair Paendrag's reign had abused their ability, joining with darkfriends, fighting to overthrow Hawkwing and install an absolute tyranny over the people. They had become bloodthirsty power-mongers. The a'dam was crafted in response to this clear and present threat to society. There is nothing immoral about an a'dam. It is a tool of constraint, and its original intent was defensive, not ignoble.

The all-too-human, and currently easy to recognize, inability of many humans to meter their response to either fear or access to control, led in short order to requiring ALL channelers to be so constrained, under the false (but understandable) fear that any channeler free to access the Source would also strive to dominate society through their wizardry. Regulations were put in place demanding that all be tested, and all who pass (fail?) required to be leashed.

Was there ever a point in time on the Seanchan continent, where every single channeler had turned to evil and power madness? We simply don't know. Still, one rogue channeler can do immense damage on a whim. If an a'dam is the only way to stop them, then it should be used to stop them. Right?

And here is where the real lesson begins. At what point is it proper, not simply to stop a misbehavior already exhibited, but to prevent it? Any society with access to adequate technology faces this question. A law which says that "doing X is a crime, because it directly harms oneself or another" is good, for it establishes boundaries and justifies enforcement. A law which says that "doing Y is a crime, because it might lead to X" is bad, for it obscures boundaries and ambiguously criminalizes what isn't directly harmful. Leashing every channeler who has done harm to another soul is understandable. Taking the preventive measure of leashing every potential channeler BEFORE they can do harm, is itself immoral, even if done for supposedly protective and noble reasons. But, are we not able to recognize the very same sorts of laws all around us today, which too many of us who despise the fictional Seanchan applaud and promote?

Pop quiz. Is it moral to make a law, which criminalizes abilities or objects for their very existence, solely based upon the concern that the potential misuse of said ability or object could cause harm?

Oh, Teddroe. I understand your point, but it appears that you've reversed the use of nonplussed. It means to be utterly perplexed, disconcerted, or confounded, while your comment seems to suggest that you intended it to mean that Mat was unaffected or unconcerned.

And finally, if you think that Wetlandernw's argument is one based upon moral relativism, you're a tad off-target about that as well.


Oh, nothing important. Citing a sentence which ends in the gutter as "soaring to new heights" had me thinking that your origin of reference was inverted.
Amanda Perez
75. ViciousCircle
Usually when I say "Is it just me...?" it is, but I'm gonna throw it out there anyway. Many people are speaking of Min as having committed to continuing on with Fortuana in the Role as her Doomsayer. When we last see her, she is standing before Rand's funeral pyre with Elayne and Aviendha. I see no reason to assume she will return to take up this position in the Seanchan court. Elayne is a master politician and it's hard to believe she would pass up the opportunity to exploit Fortuana's respect for Min(or what ever that godawful name she gave her) by having her be an ambassador between them. As Prince of Ravens Mat couldn't be expected to be a neutral party anymore. Since Fortuana seems to think she can take whoever she wants, I would recommend Min use the speaking to someone through a gateway trick already used to keep from actually being on Seanchan territory. OK this reasoning is to keep me from having nightmares about Min being trapped with those people.
Glen V
76. Ways
Mat is smitten with Tuon and Randland is being attacked on several fronts by the DO and his minions of evil. The wheel has woven a role for Mat (which he might like to deny, but cannot). Can we loyal readers not forgive him some seemingly incongruous behavior until the infatuation wears off and life in the WoT-verse settles back into something resembling a stable state? Then he can set about righting the inequities in Seachan. WoT's equivalent of Nietzsche or however he chooses to go about it. What a fascinating topic for an outrigger. Oh, what's that? Well, nevermind, just use your imagination.

Free @74
Pop quiz (I suspected one was in the works) answer: Of course not!
Shane Carter
77. BankstownBoy
Love is .....never having to believe you're trying to throw a knife at me. Add me to the "love the Tuon and Mat interaction" brigade. As unlikely a couple as they are I have seen worse. I love their jousting and growing realization of eachothers true nature.
I agree Mat's life now is the antithesis of where he started. He was always the reluctant hero (e.g. saving the drowning boy) but all the other trappings he has adopted are not what those into which he was born. His pursuit of Tuon was another game of chance to him, however winning was a double edged sword (Justice?). In winning her he lost himself. He did become the man Tuon and the forces of light needed. However he has shown he has kept his loveable rogue outlook and perhaps his mission now is to reassert his own self and values, and perhaps introduce these to the despicable Seanchen society. How are they tofare in future. Compare them to Elayne and Rand. He no longer even looks like the man she fell in love with, he is no longer the ruler of nations (which they enjoyed discussing only a chapter or two back) and he can no longer channel. All they have left is the sex, which they may have had only one night together.
Shane Carter
78. BankstownBoy
As far as Tuon, being a trainer of damane, is considered a negative attribute for her we should remember that from within her cultural constraints she is may be very different from other suldam. The aes sedai that looked certain to die Tuon coddled and saved. Yep she is still a slave owner and exploiter. The Seanchen system seems more like the Roman one than the European exploits Africans version however. Under the Romans slaves could rise to positions of trust and power, ultimately to freedom and position within the family they served. Still nasty but better than the alternative systems.
Shane Carter
79. BankstownBoy
As far as Tuon, being a trainer of damane, is considered a negative attribute for her we should remember that from within her cultural constraints she is may be very different from other suldam. The aes sedai that looked certain to die Tuon coddled and saved. Yep she is still a slave owner and exploiter. The Seanchen system seems more like the Roman one than the European exploits Africans version however. Under the Romans slaves could rise to positions of trust and power, ultimately to freedom and position within the family they served. Still nasty but better than the alternative systems.
80. Freelancer
ViciousCircle @75

I thought that I had a quote from Harriet which stated that Min does indeed remain in the position of Doomseer in the Court of the Nine Moons for a time. I can't find it, so no confirmation of that idea. Brandon did say that his own imagining would have Min catching up with Rand after a time and they would travel the world ala Jain Farstrider.
81. Faculty Guy
Borderline political, risking deletion, but can't resist Freelancer's pop-quiz @74:

Answer is "of course not." I should have the right to own a nuclear warhead (or stockpile of Sarin) until I mis-use it, at which point I should be punished. Kim Jong Un agrees with me.
Stefan Mitev
82. Bergmaniac
The a'dam doesn't prevent abuse of the One Power at all, it just switches who can yield it. There's nothing stopping some of the sul'dam of acting the same way as the worst channeller monarchs of the Seanchan history pre-Luthair. That's why the Seanchan official attitude towards channellers is such a joke. Not to mention hypocritical to the extreme - their propaganda is all about vilifying the channellers who used the one Power to gain political power and take over realms, yet the Seanchan monarchs have done exactly the same on an even larger scale.
Don Barkauskas
83. bad_platypus
Bergmaniac @82 touches on the point I was going to make: Suppose that the a'dam's only function were to prevent the wearer from channeling and that it was not removable at all. Now there's a social stigma from wearing the collar but no reason to enslave them for their power. Does that change the discussion?
84. konigr
I would say that the scene was written, by whomever, after hand! Dumdumcha! :P
85. Freelancer
So, Faculty Guy, you approve of everything the Seanchan do in the name of peace and security. Gotcha.

But, since you tried to invalidate my argument through absurd hyperbole, here you go. North Korea has already repeatedly proven itself a bad-faith actor when it comes to geopolitics, and both nuclear warheads and sarin gas have no function but to offensively do mass harm in a very indiscriminant manner. My point and my question remain.

Bergmaniac @82

You are absolutely correct, and it's a point which had been made in the past, and needed to be refreshed. What makes a sul'dam any less dangerous as the leash-holder, and therefore indirect One-Power wielder, than a damane? It is easy to conjure a Seanchan-esque answer, that a sul'dam who misused the link may have her privileges revoked, never allowed to wear the bracelet, and then she is as mundane as any other non-channeler, while the damane is always one who can touch the True Source.
86. Faculty Guy
I think that Freelancer and I are not too far from agreement:

"nuclear warheads and sarin gas have no function but to offensively do mass harm in a very indiscriminant manner"

Is there anyone, anywhere, who had trouble filling in the blank here?
Amanda Perez
87. ViciousCircle
Thanks Freelancer @80

Far be it from me to argue with Mrs. Creator, but I would much prefer Brandon's imagination of Min's future.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were allowed to know what those "few lines" that RJ had actually written about the outriggers were? Then we could base all our idle speculation on a kernel of truth. :)
Ryan Jackson
88. KakitaOCU
Those two lines give us nothing really. Brandon Paraphrased them at Phoenix Comicon this last weekend.

One line was about Mat, wearing a wool cap, sitting in a gutter, apparently having gambled away everything.

The other line was about Perrin, on a ship sailing, thinking that he was going to have to kill a friend.

And that's literally all we have. So we can speculate a bit, but really, I doubt we have any way of interpreting those scenes at all correctly.
89. Freelancer
Ask, and ye shall receive:
Brandon Sanderson: Well I can tell you a few things actually. The sequel trilogy that he was writing, he left us two sentences. One is, Mat is dicing in a gutter somewhere. And the other is Perrin is on a boat traveling to Seanchan thinking about how he's got to go kill a friend.
That's all that has been revealed to date. Harriet has assured folks that the text of these sentences will be featured in the upcoming WoT encyclopedia. (H/T Theoryland WoT Search)
Amanda Perez
90. ViciousCircle
Well. That was... anticlimactic. so... yeah.
Roger Powell
91. forkroot
The mere knowledge that RJ planned the Outriggers gives us a lot more than anything we glean from the two sentences. Obviously, it let us know (before AMoL was published) that Mat and Fortuona were going to survive the Last Battle. On a deeper note, it implied that there would be unresolved issues regarding the Seanchan Empire (no issues = no plot tension.)

It seems wholly reasonable for RJ to have reserved any sort of "awakening" on Fortuona's part to be part of that planned series. IMO, this was a "feature" of AMoL in the sense that the focus of the book stayed squarely on the Last Battle and not on what might come after in the Fourth Age.

With that said, there was one real "Huh?" moment for me that was either BWS having fun or (more likely) something from RJ's notes that might have had some planned significance for the Outriggers:

The moment occurs during Egwene's tense meeting with Fortuona. They spend an awful lot of time dickering over the fate of Tremalking. This has absolutely no effect on the plot for the remainder of the book. I can't see why Brandon would have put it in (or Harriet have kept it in) unless it was something specific in RJ's notes. That, in turn, leads me to believe he had something in mind for Tremalking in the Outriggers.
92. JimF
@74. Freelancer "...JimF, Oh, nothing important. Citing a sentence which ends in the gutter as "soaring to new heights" had me thinking that your origin of reference was inverted...." Heh. It just happens that when Leigh goes off on one of her rants, it strikes me as funny as anything Mat (in the RJ version of him at least; BS never really got him right) ever did, and sometimes a LOT more. Her writing of those screeds is either a Talent, something dashed off with amazing ease, or else those blasts took hours of work to hone to the correct edginess. Anyway, she makes me laugh a lot and that was a definite keeper.

Now what is this "outriggers" thing? The continuation of our favorite epic, set "somewhere in the South Pacific, where forces of Randland battle the vicious, weaselly little bug-headed slavers from benighted Seanchan" with Mat somehow having lost that winning feeling, and Perrin picking up the ax again to do it to somebody from tTR? I was told here about four chapters ago, that there aren't going to be any more Randland books, as though it came straight form the horse's mouth.
Ryan Jackson
93. KakitaOCU
@92. They're sadly something we won't be seeing.

Mr. Jordan confirmed sometime before book 11 that he had 5 other books planned for WoT beyond the Core series. Two more prequels, one for Tam, another for Moraine and Lan. And then a Trilogy set with Mat and Tuon after the last battle.

The above comments that Freelancer and I mentioned are sadly all that were actually put down or plotted by RJ before his passing. In theory we MIGHT get something more in the encyclopedia, but I wouldn't plan on it. We'll just have to let our imaginations write how that goes.
94. birgit
Moiraine doesn't make sense for teaching Rand to deal with the loss of his hand. She is too focused on fulfilling the prophecies to care about personal concerns. When Rand tries to leave a positive world with the Dragon's Peace she says he is wasting his time with unimportant things and should go to SG immediately. Tam is the one who teaches Rand to care about human matters (Cads tries but fails).
95. AndrewB
Wetlandernw @70. If you are insinuating that Hitler initiates the notion of racial superioirty, that is not correct. (If you are not, then I apologize for misconstruing your comment.) Hitler took beliefs/opinions espoused by others (including, but not limited to Wagner and Henry Ford) for close to a millenium. He then took such beliefs and opinions to a whole new level (and bloodthirstiness) when Hitler secured his power base.

Freelancer @74 re the morality of Seanchan leashing all female channelers under all circumstances. Excellent points. An excellent Hollywood example of your analysis is Minority Report (the Tom Cruise movie).

Thanks for reading my musings,
96. Freelancer
Faculty Guy,

Certainly, the answer is box cutters. You really have to do better than that.
Dixon Davis
97. KadesSwordElanor
If box cutters were outlawed, only outlaws would have box cutters. :)
Alice Arneson
98. Wetlandernw
Teddroe @71 – Sorry it took me so long to get back to you on this. FWIW, that’s the first time in my life anyone has ever accused me of “moral relativism” – I was genuinely nonplussed by that. In fact, I had to reread it a couple times to be sure that’s what you were saying. I’ve never argued that something was True just because it’s the cultural norm; my argument is that in order to be believable, characters must behave in ways that are reasonable given their culture, society, upbringing, personality and experience. That doesn’t make an action right in a moral sense – but it does make it “right” in a literary sense. So while it’s morally inexcusable to enslave another human being, in a literary sense it would be all wrong if someone from within Seanchan society – and especially from the top levels, like Tuon – suddenly just… figured it out without adequate external input. I can readily acknowledge the awfulness of the culture, but at the same time admire the completely consistent world-building which went into its development – and that requires acceptance of the way a normal human being from within that culture would reasonably behave. Otherwise, it’s just authorly shenanigans – or poor writing, take your pick. It amounts to the same thing, in my opinion.

So… your problem with Mat & Tuon is less about Tuon’s behavior, and more about Mat’s acceptance of it? It makes a little more sense this way, to an extent – except that now I think you’re projecting our 20th-century western civilization culture on to Mat instead of Tuon. Also, you're superimposing our timeline on him. There are several things worth considering, and I’ll give you the weaker ones first.

For one thing, Mat did not grow up with our cultural slavery issues. Particularly in the USA, we have spent the last 150 years actively trying (to one degree or another, and with sometimes questionable results) to mitigate the effects of the previous 150 years or so. For multiple generations, we have been developing the rhetoric of the evils of slavery; it’s pounded into the marrow of our bones that Slavery Is Evil. Mat doesn’t have that hyper-awareness, so his reaction to seeing someone chained up (i.e., a damane on a leash) is on a more individual rather than social/political level. He thinks it’s disgusting, but he doesn’t have our horror-of-slavery mindset.

For another thing, Mat is terribly pragmatic, for all that he’s also a terrible romantic. (No wonder he’s such an unreliable narrator!) They are coming up on the Last Battle, and the whole world depends on having all the armies and channelers of Team Light as fully-functional as possible. This is not a good time to make a big stink about the damane situation; in the next chapter, we’ll see that even Rand (who has more personal experience with channeler enslavement than Mat ever can) decides not to make it an issue for now.

Third, Mat is ta’veren, and as such the Pattern weaves him more tightly than most people. He may not like it, but we’ve seen many times how he responds to “fate” in his life. He’ll deny it, and spit in its face – as long as it’s only himself on the line. When someone else’s life depends on it, he’ll quit pulling away and will suddenly, aggressively, actively, passionately grab that fate and wrestle it into the best possible outcome. (See Tower of Ghenjei)

Primarily, though, I think your answer lies in a simple run-down of their relationship – not ours – from their initial meeting up to the present.

- They first meet in Ebou Dar, where he is Tylin’s Toy and she is “High Lady Tuon.” He spends 15 days in the Tarasin Palace, avoiding her like the plague mostly on principle. He doesn’t know who she really is until the night he kidnaps her, when Egeanin names her “the Daughter of the Nine Moons” and he inadvertently performs the first half of the marriage ceremony.
- From there, they spend the next 35 days with Luca’s caravan, mostly fighting – but he begins to get to know her as a person, and (though he doesn’t know it) she begins to see him in a rather different light as well. During this time, he also manages to effect a truce between Tuon and the Aes Sedai travelling with them.
- They then leave the caravan, striking out into the forests with their own party, consisting of Mat, Tuon, Selucia, Setalle, Thom, Noal, Olver, Aludra, Juilin, Amathera, Domon, Leilwin, the three Aes Sedai, their Warders, the two sul’dam, and assorted Redarms – with Mat clearly in charge. (I probably missed someone…) Very shortly, they meet up with the Band, and spend the next 16 days trying to figure out how to get out of Altara, how to keep Tuon from the traitor Seanchan troops sent to kill her, and how to get her back to Ebou Dar safely. Lots of fighting, lots of chance for Mat to be in charge while Tuon watches. Oh, and he kisses her for the first and last time (prior to the chapter under discussion this week).
- They meet up with Karede, Musenge, and the Deathwatch Guard. In this scene, Mat sees Tuon with a damane for the first time since they left Ebou Dar, and Mylen (the damane) clearly adores her. (Which may be totally freaksome to us, but it doesn’t give Mat any reason to think it's all terrible horrible no-good very-bad, right?) Tuon completes the marriage ceremony and rides off with Karede.
- The next time they see each other is this scene right here, with assassins and kisses and consumations, oh my.

In other words, for the entire time Mat was actually getting to know Tuon, he was with her as an individual – a displaced/kidnapped princess, at most – with her attitudes and her maid/companion/bodyguard, but not much other visibility of just how Seanchan society works. Once he left Altara, he didn't have any further contact with the Seanchan until his return here. While they were apart, he thought about her a lot but was mostly busy getting on with the business of rescuing Moiraine. From here on out, he’ll be… rather busy with this whole Last Battle schtick.

When you think hard about that sequence of events, the fact that he’s fallen in love, and his general resistance to thinking about being enHighnessed, I don’t think it’s all that difficult to imagine Mat seeing Tuon much more as a person and somewhat less as The Horrible Leader Of This Horrible Slaveholding Culture of Horribleness.

(What? Of course it’s a word. Okay, “ennobled” would have worked, but it’s not nearly as good.)

AndrewB @95 – Don’t worry, I’m not giving Hitler credit for originality, merely for the instigation of the aggressive, brutal enforcement of his beliefs on all of Europe. Clearly, the culture(s) around him didn’t exactly agree with his notions. My point was simply that he was not a valid real-world comparison. While claims of racial superiority have been around for millennia in various places and forms, Hitler did not grow up in a culture where the superiority of the German people was an accepted “fact.” His own people didn’t, on the whole, believe it – neither the Austrians nor the Germans. It was merely an idea held by some, and the platform on which he stood to reach for power.
99. Rand al'Todd
Wall of Text Warning:

A number of comments back we got on the topic of slavery (again) and the attitudes of those raised in a society that condones and justifies slavery and other “obvious” social abuses.

WetlanderNW commented @70 that

“There's a major difference between Hitler and Tuon.” She goes on to say Hitler “… was not the logical result of the culture of the past millenia in Europe; he was a psychotic aberration from the past hundreds of years.”
I beg to differ somewhat. Hitler obviously took things to the extreme, but the reason he achieved power in the first place was that he was hitting on anti-Jewish sentiments which WERE the logical result of the culture of the past millenia in Europe. In fact, the past two millennia in Europe. The history books are full of examples of both leaders and common people mistreating Jews. The major reason Jews were tolerated at all was that they did not have the Christian prohibition against Usury (making profit by charging interest on loans) and therefore the bankers and lenders who financed most of Europe’s wars were Jews. Therefore, when Hitler blamed the Jews for the rampant inflation in Germany during the 1920’s and early 30’s, and claimed that JEWISH arms dealers were the ones that had instigated WWI and devastated Germany to make a buck, his message fell on receptive ears who believed him because his message was based on the lessons the people had been hearing for generations.

I was born in the South in 1949 so I think I have a little different perspective than many of the younger folk here on the re-read. I was raised as a white child in a society which required “colored” folk to ride in the back of the bus, drink water from separate water fountains, use separate restrooms, sit in separate waiting rooms at the doctor’s office, attend separate (but equal??? not on your life) schools, etc. My father managed a movie theater and employed a “colored” janitor, but “colored people” were not allowed to buy tickets to see the movies (some places in the south the theaters had balconies with separate entrances for “colored,” but not our town). We “knew” (because we had been told often enough by our elders) that “colored” were lazy, dumb, and untrustworthy. They were physically dirty and stank to high heaven (physical fact, not opinion – most of them had jobs requiring hard labor, and seldom had access to air conditioning. Also, they had a culture –no doubt based on lack of resources – of not taking baths. My drill sergeant at boot camp (himself black) noted that numerous black recruits had to be forcibly scrubbed by the other recruits because they had never taken a bath or shower in their lives and refused to start in boot camp. That was in the early 70’s.)

Bottom line: when you are told from early childhood that you can get social diseases (i.e. syphilis) from sitting on a toilet previously used by a “colored” person, you don’t hit 21 and suddenly think to ask WHY “colored” have to use separate bathrooms.

And before you say “Well, that was the South. They’re all prejudiced down there.” When I was in the military in the early 70’s I was stationed in Denver. Very few blacks in Denver. Lots of ‘holier than thou” who made comments about the prejudice in the South. Until you got them talking about “Indians” (i.e. Native Americans) or “Chicanos” (now I believe the proper term is “Latinos”). Folks who gave me grief about prejudice against blacks in the South said they would kill their sister if she came home married to a “Chicano.” When I called them on it, they tried to tell me stories and experiences which established the stereotype as justification for their beliefs. Essentially the same type of stories and experiences which the South used to justify our beliefs. And those folk refused to recognize their prejudices as prejudice. It was FACT.

And just 30 years earlier, the US Supreme Court upheld the internment of thousands of US citizens just because they happened to be of Japanese ancestry.

Yes, we have come a long way in the last 70 years. And now we have people in power wanting to “profile” non-citizen Arabics trying to fly on US airlines. And more people trying to take guns away from citizens because one of them might become a wacko.

Who do you let have nuclear weapons? So far, only the United States has ever actually used one against the people of another nation. Does that make US the terrorists? Who do you let have guns? Who do you let Channel? Who do you let hold the leash of the A’dam? It is all the same question.
Maiane Bakroeva
100. Isilel
Wetlander @64:

Try, if you can, to get inside the head of someone who has grown up in
her culture, where the very idea of channeling the One Power is

But that's the thing - we don't have to try. We have textual proof that an intelligent and honest Seanchan, when confronted with the fact that what she had been taught about channelers doesn't conform to reality, is perfectly able to change her views. Egeanin, remember?
By comparison, Tuon, who had as much or more opportunity to observe this discrepancy, appears particularly intransigent and prejudiced, which makes it difficult to respect her or to see her as a good prospective ruler.

I agree that as a sul'dam and Imperial Heir/Empress, Tuon is more invested in the system than Egeanin (who also owned slaves and damane), but the problem is - we never saw her grappling with surprising revelations and their ramifications - she just completely blocked everything that didn't agree with Seanchan creed in that matter. Which, again, made her look bad even for a Seanchan.

Count me in with those who thought that neatly tying up all the
Seanchan cultural issues in this book would have been implausible.

But WoT does a lot of implausibly quick developements. For instance, we are supposed to think that male channelers started being acceptable to the general populace of free Randland and will be trusted enough to exist as an independant organization.Which is, IMHO, a harder sell than Seanchan issues.

There is also a lot of drastic changes in Aiel society, Tear, etc.
Dragon:s Peace is a huge change.
Heck, artillery has been invented from scrap and reached level of efficacy it had during Napoleonic wars iRL in just a few months.
Horseless carriages went from first prototype to being able to cover hundreds of miles in days without proper roads! Etc., etc.

But the Seanchan issues are suddenly too weighty to be resolved with the speed of everything else?

IMHO, this was also compounded by the fact that at every point where narrative could/should have underlined the inacceptability and practical inferiority of Seanchan system, it very obviously skirts around them.

IMHO, it is just very clear that RJ intended to go one way with the Seanchan and laid a lot of groundwork for tackling their slavery issues head-on, prior or concurrently to the Last Battle - i.e. Egeanin, Alivia et al., Elayne's captive sul'dam, Sea Folk escape, brutal hereditary (!) enslavement of everyone who tried to resist them, Mat remembering Hawkwing, who was the opposite of Seanchan on most things, etc.
And then Jordan decided to write the outriggers and suddenly did a 180° on them, who suddenly became not that bad and their slavery almost acceptable for the moment. Because there would need to be issues for Mat to tackle in the outriggers, etc.

What also gets me about the Seanchan is that they accuse everybody of betraying their oaths to Hawkwing, but they themselves very much betrayed everything Hawkwing stood for. Which is why it was so disappointing that we didn't see Hawkwing/Tuon meeting on-screen.

I can never quite decide between being baffled or amused by the number
of readers who insist on superimposing their ideas of “chemistry” on
fictional characters.

In my experience that is a reasonably widely used shorthand for "this relationship didn't convince me on any level". That was certainly my intention when using the word. And when one considers that WoT romances generally are weakest part of the books...

Yea, and maybe it is a failure of imagination on my part, but I couldn't imagine myself falling in love with a person who insists that my little brother is an animal, who needs to be perpetually enslaved and broken and ditto my friends who share a certain trait with him. I am unable to empathize with Mat accepting this.


The female channelers who inhabited the Seanchan mainland during the
latter end of Luthair Paendrag's reign had abused their ability,
joining with darkfriends, fighting to overthrow Hawkwing and install an
absolute tyranny over the people.

Or so the official propaganda says. We have no idea how much of it was accurate. I'd note that it took most of a millenium to conquer the whole Seanchan, so some/most of those indigene rulers may not have been the awful tyrants depcited.
And that the way Tuon approached her alliance of necessity with channeling rulers of in Randland and how she didn't really consider any such agreements binding may shed a better light on how and why Luthair's descendants triumphed. I.e. that they were more treacherous than the opposition, as well as better organized.

As to collaring preventing misuse of OP - we know that it is not true. We know that they were very much used on all sides during rebellions, etc. It is just that the High Blood misuse the power of damane.

Birgit @94:

Moiraine doesn't make sense for teaching Rand to deal with the loss of
his hand. She is too focused on fulfilling the prophecies to care about
personal concerns.

That's why I find depiction of Moiraine in AMoL so disappointing. It is like she was reset to her TSR personality. She moved far beyond that in TFoH and her captivity was supposed to change her too.
And "letting go" is not primarily about loss of a hand, but about loss in general and leaving people behind, giving up control and micro-management and trusting them to do their part. Which Moiraine had to do.

And BTW, we know that Moiraine cared about people, she just hid it well. And Rand, trying to emulate her took it to a whole different level, of course.
Ryan Jackson
101. KakitaOCU
It's actually even less of a question because you can, in theory, make sure that only appropriately trained individuals have access to weapons. When we go genetics and random occurance of channelers it's a whole new game.

Despite being completely against Slavery, I have to admit a certain level of understanding of the "Pro registration" side of these fictional scenarios. We're disscussing people who can level cities if they so choose. It's scary to trust that kind of power when you have no real way to deal with it. The Suldam/Damane path isn't morally right, but it can be easily understood how they got there.

Aside from that, does anyone take into account that Mat REALLY doesn't like channelers? Almost on a Hawkwing level? He's against the Damane because he's against loss of personal freedom. But he's not against keeping channelers in check. So I think it's less an issue of Completely for Tuon vs Completely against Mat. I think it's completely for Tuon vs Middle of the Road leaning to against Mat. That combined with the circumstances makes his behavior perfectly understandable.
Ryan Jackson
102. KakitaOCU
@100 Isilel.
Re: Tuon vs Egeanin. We're comparing someone with no direct interaction with Damane who was thrown out on her own for a long period of time and who was won over by the personal actions of two channelers to someone who got thrown on her own in a much smaller capacity with her only exposure being Setalle, whom she probably thinks of as an outside view, and three completely childish and obnoxious channelers that can't be trusted. It's not shocking that she didn't come around the way Egeanin did.
Re: Quick change. I don't see the changes you mention. The Black Tower isn't widely accepted, it was accepted by it's own people and by a group of refuges who were personally saved by them. Spider man is loved and accepted by the handful of people he's saved, the City at large still thinks he's a menace most of the time. Aiel Society didn't change much yet, most "changes" were parts of prophecies they were all expecting. Tear changed under force of Rand and ta'veren influence. Dragon's Peace has been semi agreed to by a handful of rulers. Not the same as being widely accepted and embraced. Tech developed quickly, though I personally think that's a Pattern issue. The DO was forcibly holding the world in stasis via Ishamael's actions. Once allowed to progress it sprung forward.
The Seanchan issues weren't going to be fixed by the end of the last battle. Even if Tuon herself had a change of heart, the empire as a whole wouldn't role over. In fact, I imagine Gallgan and others would be out for her head for Treason and Blasphemy. Assuming they don't learn she's a channeler herself.
As for your opinions that RJ was aiming at fixing this, I disagree, I think he was aiming at it as in progress. The Damane/Suldam in Elayne's hands were a nightmare or a very slow to eventual pay off plan. Egeanin was a loan individual separated from her people. Hawkwing, per Brandon, while against the outright slavery is actually proud of Seanchan and what they've accomplished. I actually find it mildly insulting to suggest RJ deliberately changed the pace of his books because of the outriggers. They easily could have been just as tense and issue filled if Tuon was already on board as they would have been now. Again, Tuon's acceptance =/= Seanchan as a society accepting. We see that in the books. For every Egeanin or Alivia accepting reality we have a Suldam demanding she be leashed because she's now a danger.
And again, they didn't betray Hawkwing. They altered and distorted some, but he'd have been proud of his legacy. (Again, quoting BS).
Alice Arneson
103. Wetlandernw
Isilel @100 – Congrats on the hunny, but I think my point stands and is even proved by Egeanin. She didn’t come to that conclusion all on her own from a couple of quick observations. It took time and significant extra-cultural influences to make her realize that her understanding was incorrect - and she wasn't nearly as involved with the damane as Tuon was. Also, see KakitaOCU @101 and 102 re: Egeanin, Mat, the Black Tower, etc.
104. Freelancer
When comparing Tuon and Egeanin, KakitaOCU pretty much made the point as I saw it.

Egeanin had already had her life traumatically disrupted, found herself shore-bound and doing work that she didn't care for. Her sense of loyalty to the Empress remains intact, but to the general manner of society not so much. This leaves a space within which she can change what she believes. Then she suffers the accidental shock of learning that sul'dam and damane are more alike than she'd ever have believed. That's when she decided to hunt for the truth, desperate enough to employ Floran Gelb to do the street work for her. Through that, she meets Elayne and Nynaeve, and suffers a further shock, that all of the prejudiced propaganda to which she'd been exposed from birth was invalid.

Tuon learns the truth as well, but given her position, her sense of duty to the empirical system, she chooses to hold to the extant beliefs. Even when she admits that she could learn to channel, she specifies that there remains a difference, and that she chooses to not be a channeler, and is therefore not an unsafe animal which needs to be caged/controlled.

The cultural pressures which force Tuon to ignore the truth, and remain in bondage to the lies of the society, no longer have a hold on Egeanin, who has been freed to empirically determine the truth for herself.
105. birgit
For one thing, Mat did not grow up with our cultural slavery issues.

I noticed the difference between American and European focus on social evils in the discussion of several issues in the books. Americans are making a much bigger issue of da'covale while not paying much attention to the Seekers. For me da'covale are more like Roman slaves than American slavery and both are more remote than the Stasi Seekers that remind me of things going on in Eastern Germany. To Mat both issues would be foreign.
Another cultural difference is the sword bonds in Far Madding that seem perfectly reasonable to me but are probably strange for gun-crazy Americans.
Tuon is less open-minded about damane than Egeanin because it is easier for Egeanin to be objective about something that doesn't affect her personally. Tuon is a potential channeler herself and the ruler of a state that depends on using damane. Of course it is harder for her to admit that there is something wrong with the system.

What also gets me about the Seanchan is that they accuse everybody of betraying their oaths to Hawkwing, but they themselves very much betrayed everything Hawkwing stood for

They don't. Hawkwing also conquered an empire and created a peaceful, safe realm (as long as you obey his rules). He also hated channelers. How does that betray Hawkwing?
Shane Carter
106. BankstownBoy
Perrin also, was not so adverse to the damane situation that it prevented him using the Seanchen when he needed them. He also threw hundreds of his enemies into that same slavery to sweeten the pot when he brokered the deal with the Seanchen.
Shane Carter
107. BankstownBoy
Getting back to Rand and Tam, I also loved this scene and teared up again while rereading it. It was not like learning to seek the void or wield a sword but it did remind me of my dad teaching me to play chess and the many games we played, even the first time after many years I managed to beat him. I only wish he was still with us for me to play again.
Nadine L.
108. travyl
Wetlander @98
Mat did not grow up with our cultural slavery issues.
I come form a country (and culture) which didn't had slaves "ever since" (at least 500 years) - it's still recognized as repulsive. Mat can't use his upbringing (non-exposure to slaves) as an excuse, the Two Rivers culture had quite a strong moral code.
... for the entire time Mat was actually getting to know Tuon, he was with her as an individual – a displaced/kidnapped princess ... but not much other visibility of just how Seanchan society works.
Tuon never behaved like a kidnapee - I know that's not a word - and never held back how she feels about the Aes Sedai. Mat perfectly well knew those traits of her culture, as well as the fact that her mere will could make any person into a slave / cup-bearer.
In these points I agree with Teddroe, Mat should have felt more strongly the need to change Tuon, though I still accept him falling in love with Tuon and (as Jay Daruo and others) I chose to believe, that he will change Tuon and the Seanchan in the future we'll never get to read.
Alice Arneson
109. Wetlandernw
travyl @108 - As near as I can tell, Randland hasn't seen slavery for 4000 years or so... And as I said, Mat finds it disgusting, but more on a personal level than a social or political level. Certainly the idea of himself being made property is revolting, but he doesn't have a cultural aversion to slavery per se; it's more a cultural affinity for freedom - which is not the same thing.

As for the time they're traveling together... as I said, he was with her as an individual. Sure, she treated the Aes Sedai as she felt about them, and of course Mat was aware of her beliefs and some aspects of her culture, but they weren't in his face. There weren't any damane or da'covale to look at, and that does make a difference. Additionally, as I noted, he was able to effect a truce between Tuon and the Aes Sedai, which if anything would induce him to think he could have some effect on changing her attitudes. So sure, I assume that he's got an unstated expectation of getting her to shift her attitudes on some of these things. But he's just not stupid enough to think he can make her change instantly, and he hasn't exactly had the luxury of a lot of time for quiet reflection and discussion of these things with her, has he?
110. Freelancer

It isn't strange at all to any who can comprehend. But how sad that, while speaking of perspectives, you choose to name-call those with a different perspective than your own. I had always believed much better of you.
111. Freelancer
It would be worth noting, as this point where some are superimposing upon Mat a shame he should have been feeling for "permitting" slavery to continue in his presence, that there are larger fish to fry. Mat is in a unique position vis-a-vis the Seanchan, and for him to risk utterly alienating their ruler over this very important, but not world-saving issue, would be more than unwise. A belief shared by Rand, when he chooses not to make it a deal-breaker for Tuon's signature to the Dragon's peace. A belief shared by Lincoln when he made it clear that, while he believed wholeheartedly in the freedom of all humans, he would take that path that secured the Union and restored peace, whatever its impact on the issue of slavery.
112. birgit
I didn't mean to insult anyone. Maybe I should have expressed that differently. I just wanted to say that not everyone thinks the same way as Americans and there is no reason a fictional character should think the same way as the readers. When the Two Rivers people hear about slavery in Shara they don't really understand how humans can be sold like animals because they have no memory of slavery in their own history.
Mat could also be criticized for being friends with Tairen nobles despite their attitude to farmers, but that seems to be all right while loving Tuon is unaceptable although Mat is better able to understand the situation of farmers by comparing their life to his own in the Two Rivers.
113. Staizer
@111 freelancer

also the belief shared by the majority of founding fathers, even some of the current slave owners, that was subsumed by a bigger, as they saw it, issue: freedom from a repressive country.

@112 birgit

good point, it might even be said that seanchan is in a better position to change its ways than some of the randland countries. They (read tairen, illian nobles) consider peasants to be little more than slaves anyway and no amount of "laws" will make them behave differently because their positions are pretty much guaranteed. However a country in civil war with no leaders and most of their army across the ocean would be very easy to reform
Shane Carter
114. BankstownBoy
There’s nothing like sex in public places and discussion of slavery to get the posts flowing. But since we are off chapter a bit does anyone know if, post last battle, our survivors of the Ta’veren Trinity are still Ta’veren? In fact also is Mat’s luck with gaming also a manifestation on his Ta’verenness? Because if they are in fact no longer Ta’veren then that does not bode well for Mat’s gambling luck and may explain the isolated sentence about him being in the gutter dicing. Also it may negate some of Perrin’s diplomatic success.
Roger Powell
115. forkroot
I don't think we have conclusive proof, but there's a strong suggestion that the three are no longer ta'veren. Earlier discussions have brought up textual passages that indicate it is possible to start or stop being ta'veren, so it seems reasonable that with their primary mission fulfilled, the three will be released from the Pattern's tight grip.

What's less clear is how much that will affect their innate abilities. We have no reason to assume that Perrin will lose his "wolfbrother" nature - so why should Mat lose his unusual luck? What they will likely lose is the direct ta'veren effects, such as what Galad felt when bargaining with Perrin or what the Sea Folk felt when dealing with Mat in Ebou Dar.

All speculation, of course.
Shane Carter
116. BankstownBoy
Too true Forkroot, but isn't that half the fun!
117. alreadymadwithmat'sluck
I thought Mat's luck was part of the Ta'veren nature. Even without it he's still got the experience and knowledge base of 200 years worth rattling around in his head.
118. Freelancer

Thank you, I believe that we agree completely on that point.

RE: Mat

He had always been lucky, according to his own POV. His misadventure with the Shadar Logoth dagger inflamed its nature, and his Ta'verenness twisted its randomness. Even with the loss of the latter, he remains affected by the dagger, however that would impact chance in his presence.
119. s'rEDIT
The secret, it turned out, had not been to harden himself to the point of breaking. It had not been to become numb. It had been to walk in pain...and accept that pain as part of him.
It was these few sentences that gave me the key I needed to dealing with my grief. I had tried hardening myself, I had tried denial/numbness. Those didn't work. I was slogging through day by day, trying to fight it off so I could function.

These sentences gave me direction. There is only one thing to do with unbearable grief . . . embrace the pain and accept it as part of you.

I am thankful I read AMOL, in spite of associations that are painful for me, because this one nugget was a revelation for me.
120. Interested Eric
We have some entertainingly veiled references happening here, to an ongoing intellectual debate about certain... tools with potential for dangerous misuse.

I'm reminded of the old joke, how does it go? A gentleman offers a lady a million dollars for a night of passion, and after some soul searching, she accepts. Then he says, "How about $10?" Insulted, she demands to know what kind of girl he thinks she is. "Madam, we've already established that. Now we're just haggling over the price."

If Freelancer is going to argue that it is Evil, on a level with slavery and damane, to have any regulation based on what people *might* potentially misuse or abuse, then it doesn't make sense to call foul when Faculty Guy brings up nuclear & chemical weapons.

If those should be regulated, then we've already established what kind of girl we are. Now we just need to haggle over the specifics of the regulations. Do we regulate tanks (or cars for that matter)? Shoulder-launched rockets? Machine Guns? Explosives? Knives? Box cutters? Should any of these be different when we're on an airplane, or when we're mentally ill or have been convicted of a crime?

I think it's clear that there is no black and white moral position on regulation of potentially dangerous tools. Rather, there is an ideal level of regulation, upon which reasonable people can disagree, and which can change over time depending on circumstances.
121. Freelancer
I fear we're going to go 'round and 'round on this until the mods step in. You mischaracterize my argument, and I wish that would not continue.

There are indeed clear moral positions on the regulation of potentially dangerous tools. First, there is the law of the land. One which has existed in the United States since its inception. As the pro-abortion folks like to claim, the law of the land is settled, and should be left alone. Second, there are easily established lines of behavior upon which a person found guilty of abusing such a tool has renounced their claim to the right guaranteed in that law. And yes, that goes for cars, knives, or computers, if those are the tools being illegally abused.

Making a law which presumes to prevent an otherwise law-abiding person from committing a crime, when there is no reason to suppose they might commit a crime, is every bit as tyrannical and wrong as demanding the collaring of anyone who can channel, in order to prevent any of them from potential abuse of that ability.

It is not quite as dehumanizing, not quite as evil. But then, I never said such a thing.

As for your final statement, when applied to those devices which have somehow remained unnamed in this discussion, I utterly disagree. There is no basis for disagreement, and without altering the founding Document, is not subject to change. What part of "The right . . . shall not be infringed" is unclear?
Bridget McGovern
122. BMcGovern
Stepping in as a moderator, I think this conversation is approaching the point where real life politics (and differences in opinion) are starting to overtake and eclipse the discussion of the Wheel of Time, and I'd prefer not to cross that line into a fullblown political debate. It may be time to agree to disagree and move on to other topics.
Deana Whitney
123. Braid_Tug
And what many don’t know is that whatever Lincoln’s personal feelings were about slavery (yes, he hated it). The reason he made the Emancipation Proclamation speech – when he did – was political.
It only “freed” the enslaved people in places “in rebellion”, i.e. the slaves in the other areas were not freed.

But the timing of the speech was to prevent the South from gaining political recognition as a separated and independent country from other countries, namely Brittan. Great Brittan had a lot to gain from an Independent South, including great trade deals on the cotton that helped keep their factories going. And once G.B. had recognized them, other countries would have followed. Once that happened, it’s a whole new war.

But they had already outlawed slavery and the slave trade in their empire. To recognize a country that was fighting for its “States Rights” was one thing, to recognize and help group that was fighting to “Keep its Slaves” was a whole different issue.

So you can be personally turned off by something, but as a politician or the savior of the world, you can hold your nose in the short term to fix a larger problem.

@ Freelancer, re: calling out Birgit - guessing you are objecting to the “gun-crazy Americans” comment?
Maybe it’s because I’m from Oklahoma, and now live in Texas. But water off a ducks back, dude. We all over simplify – and often wrongly so.
When I’m in Europe, I’ve just stopped counting the number of gun and teepee remarks / questions directed at me. In college, I was staying at a student dorm in Vienna. Some of the guys got mad at me for agreeing with them regarding W. Bush. I was supposed to be a rabid crazy American who supported everything my president was doing.

Aren’t all Canadian’s friendly?
The average American is going to be more favorable to gun rights that the average European.
Let’s move on. And look I over simplified! To think there is an “European” mindset is to be greatly mistaken.

Can we go back to sighing over the greatness of Tam?
124. Faculty Guy
Freelancer, the key word that is very unclear is "arms." In the 18th century the Framers presumably meant swords, muskets, and possibly cannons. Today it is consensus that they "meant" to include hunting firearms, sidearms, and that they did NOT mean to include nuclear warheads or nerve gas. The argued ground, of course, (which shall hereby be named) is military-grade assault type weapons. My point, and I believe Eric's, is that the argument cannot be all-or-nothing: a line must be drawn, and the discussion is simply about where.

BTW: I am a gun owner. But I do not believe that military grade weapons belong in civilian hands, and most ex-military and law enforcement personnel that I know agree with this position. NOTE TO MODERATOR: I admit this is only marginally WoT related - the discussion was initiated by a consideration of control of Damane. But the discussion has been pretty civil, and this post (if if stands) concludes my comments on this particular matter.
125. Faculty Guy
BMcGovern: Oops. My 124 was under construction when your 122 was posted. I did not intend to defy a ban. Still, I do think the discussion was polite, and even useful in that issues were clarified, if perhaps politically far from WoT.
Bridget McGovern
126. BMcGovern
Faculty Guy @125: That's fine--I'm not declaring the discussion over; I'd just like to steer it back toward more book-related territory and avoid things getting too heated or personal. I think everybody's on the same page!
William Carter
127. wcarter

One thing I like about the WoT Reread: rare is the day rereaders stop being civil towards one another even when we disagree :)


On the note of Tam: One thing that hasn't been touched on much this time around is the fact a farmer who presumably spent 20 years never even touching the sword he had locked up in his chest going right back to being a Total Boss just a few months after he started practicing with one again.

Tam did think to himself that he's rusty much later on in a Last Battle POV, but the logical part of my brain wants to scream and throw a temper tantrum at the implausibility of level of skill he does have.

But for some reason, it just doesn't bother me all that much.
Alice Arneson
128. Wetlandernw
wcarter - Aw, c'mon, Tam's is Just That Awesome, and we all know it.
Roger Powell
129. forkroot
Ouch, what you are doing is re-opening the wound of my disappointment that we're never going to see the planned prequel that featured Tam.

I agree though that Tam did seem to regain his skills quickly - the question to me would have been: "Who did he spar with? (using swords)". He might have brushed up his quarterstaff skills with Abell Cauthon, but it was unlikely that there was anyone in the Two Rivers that was anywhere near a blademaster.

The period that I'm thinking of would be post-TEOTW before he joins Perrin's forces in Gheldean. (Obviously in TEOTW he's just using muscle memory cutting up Trollocs who likely expected no serious opposition.) One possibility is that he might have sparred some with Ivhon and Tomas while Verin and Alanna were in the TR.

Once he joined Perrin's forces, there wereplenty of possible sparring partners and we can reasonably assume he was diligent in recovering his formidable skills.
Roger Powell
130. forkroot
Just posted the above and another thought occurred: What the heck ever happened to Ihvon anyway? I can't remember if he was ever even referenced when Alanna disappeared in ToM.
Sam Mickel
131. Samadai
Lets not forget that if Rand can go from sword-newbie to blade master in a year and a half, there is no reason that someone who was a blademaster can't get back his skills in that short of time. Especially when he is still a very active person who can whip most everyone else with a quarterstaff. Of course now I want to see Tam and Mat in a quaterstaff duel
Alice Arneson
132. Wetlandernw
re: Ihvon - I sort of assumed that if he was with Alanna, he went through the gate with her and was killed on the other side; if (more likely) he wasn't actually in her room at the time, he probably took off hell-for-leather toward the Blight to catch up with her. And... was probably killed, if he got anywhere close. We're not told anything about him after Winter's Heart.
Shane Carter
133. BankstownBoy
To post or not to post? Actually I think the discussion between Birgit and Freelancer is quite illuminating in our attempts to understand the perspectives of protaganists in WOT in the area of their motivation and choices.
If I may explain….I cut out the two initial posts and showed them to my three daughters and my wife, and asked them what was Freelancer's objection to Birgit’s post. They are not readers of WOT and I explained a few references for example for “dacovale” read “slave” and “Stasi” read “secret police”. The other character names I suggested they ignore and just attempt to work out the gist in context. The consensus was that the objection may have been to the throw-away line about guns but it was more likely that to have been about the prioritising of evils, secret police over slavery. They were answering from their cultural perspective.
My point is that in this era of internet, tv, radio, blogging and newspapers , where we think we can be so au fait with the world view, it so easy to get cultural nuances wrong. Cross cultural communication is so fraught with the chance for miscommunication in our universe, it easy to imagine and speculate on how difficult it would be in the WOT universe where alien cultures may be seldom encountered or needed to be dealt with.
Deana Whitney
134. Braid_Tug
@ 127. wcarter, let’s not forget Tam has had several months / 1 year (?) to brush back up on his swordsmanship.

He’s been training the Two Rivers men and Aram with swords since the Trollocs invaded back in FoH. Nothing brings your skills back faster than teaching!
And I agree with Samadai, betting his quarterstaff skills helped keep his battle instincts from completely dulling.

Now there would be a cage match, Tam vs. Mat in quaterstaff! Didn’t Mat say his dad and Tam were the best in the TR area?

@ Forkroot, sorry it’s a wound for you.

Why didn’t Rand have the A’M learn the quaterstaff? It’s it faster to learn than the sword? And wouldn’t half of them already know something about it?
Or were they learning the sword in addition to other fighting skills? He didn’t want them to be helpless if blocked.
135. Freelancer
For completeness' sake, and clarity to anyone who may have been unsure, I was neither offended nor insulted by birgit's comment, simply disappointed. Yes, it was the phrase "gun-crazy" as a characterization of all the inhabitants of a nation, to which I took issue. Embedded as it was within a statement regarding the values of various perspectives on a given topic, it was ironic that an overly generalizing, mildly insensitive, and indeed condescending phrase would be applied to a group whose perspective on a defined topic was simply different than that of the commentor's.

For the record, I know quite a large number of Americans who hold the Second Amendment in quite as high a regard as do I, for all of the most rational reasons of individual liberty in opposition to tyranny, who own no firearms at all. Are they also to be characterized as "gun-crazy" while possessing none? My point is that belief in a thing, a belief so strongly held and so fundamentally necessary to the forming of a truly free society that its guarantee is defined in the nation's most basic laws, ought not blithely be referred to as a defining trait of insanity.

Now, while I accept that this is certainly afield of directly WoT-related material, I have always held that Robert Jordan was giving his readers far more than a story. Many of his most strongly defined and sympathetic secondary characters such as Lini, Setalle Anan, Siuan, et al, spend much of their dialogue spouting various categories of platitudes. Often these appear as mildly humorous in the context of the scene, but there is great depth in the common sense and morality of those tidbits of wisdom.

It was due to some of those that I became a more careful reader of the series, and began to recognize the larger lessons being shown, through the foibles of individual characters, the various contentions amongst groups, and the overarching heirarchy of issues such as Seanchan failures regarding human rights as we would see them. As others have rightly pointed out, the damane are hardly their only troubling example of such. Making persons into property of any sort is anathema to we who possess the mental liberty to read and appreciate these books; it is meant to offend us, to inflame our outrage and wish for it to be terminated; to feel some sense of remorse that the story proper has concluded with this injustice unsettled.

It is no accident, but an aspect of the author's craft. For me, believing such to be true, it permits, virtually Compels, rational and parallel discussion of like and unlike issues of our time along the Wheel, which bear analagous attributes to those presented in the text. And so I shall.
Bridget McGovern
136. BMcGovern
As I stated above in my comment @ 126, it is not my intention to stop the discussion entirely, but simply to intervene before the conversation became overly heated, overly personal, or started retreading the same ground, becoming mired in the sort of "round and round" cycle mentioned in comment 121. While politically-relevant topics will be an inevitable part of these ongoing discussions of the Wheel of Time, the fact remains that Tor.com isn't a political discussion board--there are plenty of other sites dedicated to debating purely political opinions and issues all over the internet. Speaking for myself and the other moderators, we always appreciate the civility and respect with which the WoT community approaches differences of opinion on this site, and I just want to ensure that remains the case here.
137. The_Wanderer
I think the most intriguing thing about the Mat/Tuon relationship is just how different it is. A lot of the relationships in WoT are really cut and dry. This relationship isn't clear, it has the potential to work, but it's never really confirmed. That's what I like the most about it: it could work, but it could also blow up in their faces.

That being said I don't think anything could be worse than the Thom/Moiraine relationship from Towers of Midnight.
Shane Carter
138. BankstownBoy
Interesting Wanderer. What is your concern with Mo/Thom? maybe this is a part of a previous discussion that as a newcomer I am not aware?
Scientist, Father
139. Silvertip
For what it's worth, if it helps to drop the temperature any (waves at moderator): My oldest daughter is regularly referred to, by herself and others and with some justice, as "horse-crazy." I don't think either she or anybody else takes this to have anything to do with literal insanity.

(The effects on her father, of course ... !).

On to the next chapter, y'all!


(In a year or two, this is my plan to get her into WoT ... tell her what a tremendous hero Bela is. )
140. Freelancer
BankstownBoy @138

Not speaking for The_Wanderer, but numerous readers have expressed disbelief (or failure of suspension of disbelief) regarding the Moiraine~Thom relationship. I don't follow that line of thinking, as I see this plot thicken from very early on in the series, and brought out from shadow to clear daylight in the Stone of Tear. Thom's internal POV about her qualities makes it plain that he is interested in her, even if he does remind himself that she's Aes Sedai. And the cluebat from her side is in two parts; the swiftly (but not so deftly) waved-away remark by Moiraine that she knew the face of the man she would marry, followed not long after by her conversation with Thom in which she promises him that no harm will come to him in Tanchico, and she specifically assures him that by the First Oath he can know that it is true. The two (telling the girls that she knows her husband's face, and telling Thom she knows he won't die yet) went together fairly obviously, though some protested the idea as a red herring. Well...
Shane Carter
141. BankstownBoy
ThanksFreelancer. Nope did not see it coming at all and was sort of shocked. Now I'll have to reread all the areas you referenced. :-).
142. The_Wanderer

The romantic part of the relationship between Thom and Moiraine appears late in the series with two characters that had been introduced nearly 20 years ago. This relationship feels like it is being put into the book in order to justify Jordan saying Moiraine knew who she was going to marry in tSR. There just isn't any organic chemistry between the two characters, it feels like a forced relationship. Every single major character ends up married in this series, even when their isn't any kind of realistic justification for it, like in the case of Thom and Moiraine.
143. hesuchia
I didn't understand the "empress does not love" thing. Like people quoted, in an earlier book after they got married she mentioned that her mother loved her father (or so it was said). Not sure if Sanderson forgot about that or just made her say it this way.

I mentioned in that chapter's comments that I believe Tuon does love, or at the very least is on the path to loving Mat. I noticed that she looked behind her the first thing before he mentioned it too. Her POVs have suggested her mindset focuses on him more than normal. Don't remember which book where she came back to Ebou Dar and was in the palace thinking about him and wishing he were there, which she described to herself as an odd/curious feeling. I honestly don't think she's holding back her feelings out of fear of giving him leverage as you suggest. I mostly think she just doesn't understand that type of feeling. You're in a culture where people you love can stab you in the back (literally) and you can't trust anybody, especially other nobles (and those related to you), so love is definitely not fostered among them. She was fond of one of her brothers I believe but he died, and she didn't care for her mother too much. I don't think she knows what love is, but the way she acts and thinks regarding Mat show to me that she does have feelings that she can't put into words or really sense for what they are. I think one day she'll put 2 and 2 together, thoughts and feelings, and realize that she enjoys having him around just for the sake of having him around, and come to realize that's a sign of real affection. I also remember in her earlier POV that she also thought it was odd that she really thought it'd be a "shame" to train him to be a proper Seanchan royal member, presumably because she likes him for who he is. I have confidence that she does harbor feelings that she doesn't know how to explore but will grow into them one day. The first read-through I was disappointed, but re-reading these makes me have hope for those two scamps.
144. Oldwizard
Hey, I know this was posted like a million years ago and probably no one will ever read this message, but I'll put it down for posterity's sake anyway. :-) Maybe not relevant for this post exactly but - Family.
Family is important. I know my father is my real father, but I also know that my grandfather on my mother's side is not my biological one. Still, I have never met the drunk bastard that made my mother happen, nor do I care to or can since he is dead. I have known the man that raised my mother all my life - HE is the father of my mother. HE is my true gradfather.

So Tam al'Thor might not be Rand's "true" father - and though I am sure that if things had been different Rand's bio Aiel father would have raised him well - Tam is Rand's father in every sense of the word. Family is about much more than blood, and family help one another through difficult patches in life, even when a son might have erred in judgement over money flow (like me) or need to realize that the loss of a hand might be more than just a thing to shrug off (like Rand). Just sayin'. :-)

Have fun in the future,

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