Jun 11 2013 1:00pm
The Wheel of Time Re-read: A Memory of Light, Part 17

Brandon Sanderson Wheel of Time Memory of LightSemi-live, from New Orleans, it’s a Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 17 of A Memory of Light, in which there are egregious acts of aggressive greenery, and everything else just pisses me off.

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!


Chapter 17: Older, More Weathered

What Happens
Mat wakes up to find Tuon talking to Musenge, and is appalled that she hasn’t bothered to dress first. She reprimands him, but starts dressing. Another Deathwatch guard approaches to report that they have caught another possible assassin; Tuon sends for the prisoner and General Karede. Selucia arrives just before the guarded prisoner, and Mat groans when he sees it is Rand. He thinks Rand looks older than the last time he’d seen him person (not counting in the colors).

It had been… Light, how long had it been? The last time I saw him with my own eyes was when he sent me to Salidar after Elayne. That felt like an eternity ago. It had been before he had come to Ebou Dar, before he had seen the gholam for the first time. Before Tylin, before Tuon.

Tuon turns from Selucia and sees Rand, and immediately yells for her damane. A guard runs off, and Mat jumps in front of Tuon, telling Rand to be calm. Rand greets him (calmly) and thanks him for leading Rand to Tuon. Mat is astounded, and Tuon is enraged. Something binds Mat, and he yells at Rand, but Rand replies that it isn’t him; he is shielded. Mat realizes that Tuon stole his medallion while they were sleeping. Karede arrives at a run with a sul’dam and damane.

“Thanks a bundle for this,” Mat muttered to Rand. “You’re such a bloody good friend.”

“It’s good to see you too,” Rand said, a hint of a smile on his lips.

“Here we go,” Mat said with a sigh. “You’ve pushed me into trouble again. You always do this.”

“I do?”

“Yes. In Rhuidean and the Waste, in the Stone of Tear… back in the Two Rivers. You do realize that I went south, instead of coming to your little party with Egwene in Merrilor, to escape?”

“You think you could stay away from me?” Rand asked, smiling. “You really think it would let you?”

“I could bloody try. No offense, Rand, but you’re going to go mad and all. I figured I’d give you one less friend nearby to kill.”

Their conversation devolves into bickering and one-upmanship, and Rand is amused that Mat is trying to win a bragging contest against the Dragon Reborn. Mat denies he was worried about Rand, except in the sense of wanting him to make it to his destined duel with the Dark One. He tells Rand to let him do the talking, and Rand ignores him and addresses Tuon himself, telling her the Last Battle has begun and the time for “his trial” is approaching. She tells him he will be taken to Seanchan, as a ruler who resisted her. She says he should have remembered his oaths. Rand asks her what the Seanchan would have done if they had arrived on this continent to find Hawkwing’s descendants still ruling. Tuon says they would have welcomed them as brothers, but Rand is not so sure. Tuon says it is not so, in any case. She says she rules by right of being the only legitimate heir of Artur Hawkwing, the only one to have unified the land in glory and greatness. Rand tells her she is wrong.

“I am Lews Therin Telamon, the Dragon. I ruled these lands, unified, during the Age of Legends. I was leader of all the armies of the Light, I wore the Ring of Tamyrlin. I stood first among the Servants, highest of the Aes Sedai, and I could summon the Nine Rods of Dominion.”

Rand stepped forward. “I held the loyalty and fealty of all seventeen Generals of Dawn’s Gate. Fortuona Athaem Devi Paendrag, my authority supersedes your own!”

“Artur Hawkwing—”

“My authority supersedes that of Hawkwing! If you claim rule by the name of he who conquered, then you must bow before my prior claim. I conquered before Hawkwing, though I needed no sword to do so. You are here on my land, Empress, at my sufferance!”

Tuon backs away, and Mat finds himself shaking. Green grass suddenly spreads outward from Rand, and Mat realizes Rand is singing something very softly, a tune he feels he knows but can’t place. The sul’dam cries fearfully that Rand is still shielded, but the greenery expands to the trees surrounding them, flowers bursting open everywhere. Rand demands to know if Tuon still denies his prior claim, and Tuon answers that he broke the land and abandoned it.

“I allowed you to live,” Rand said to Tuon, “when I could have destroyed you in an instant. This is because you have made life better for those under your rule, though you are not without guilt for the way you have treated some. Your rule is as flimsy as paper. You hold this land together only through the strength of steel and damane, but your homeland burns.

“I have not come here to destroy you or to taunt you. I come to you now to offer you peace, Empress. I have come without armies, I have come without force. I have come because I believe that you need me, as I need you.” Rand stepped forward and, remarkably, went down on one knee, bowing his head, his hand extended. “I extend my hand to you in alliance. The Last Battle is upon us. Join me, and fight.”

Mat pulls Tuon aside and tells her he vouches for Rand and his word. Tuon counters that there is darkness in him. Mat replies that she can trust Rand, and if she can’t, then to trust him instead. He tells her she needs a stable base here in Altara to take back Seanchan, and she won’t have that if her forces have to fight a three-front war. She turns to Rand, and asks his terms. Rand stands, and tells her the terms are peace for a hundred years, by co-signing a treaty with the other rulers and working with them against the Shadow. They haggle over borders, then Tuon demands that all women who channel shall be damane. Rand answers that he will not interfere with Seanchan-born damane, but all women captured on this side of the ocean must be freed. Tuon answers that there is no deal, then.

“If it is that important,” she said firmly, “you can agree to my demand. Our property is our own. You wish a treaty? Then you will get it with this clause: We keep the damane we already have. In exchange, I will allow you to leave in freedom. […] The world is your charge, Dragon, not mine. I care for my empire. I will greatly need those damane. Choose now. As I believe you said, your time is short.”

Rand’s expression darkened; then he thrust his hand outward. “Let it be done. Light be merciful, let it be done. I will carry this weight too.”

He adds, though, that if she takes any more damane from his allies during the battle it will be seen as breaking the treaty. Tuon agrees, and takes Rand’s hand briefly before leaving, telling Mat to follow. Mat mutters to Rand that he has some of the Dark One’s own luck himself.

"I can’t believe that worked.”

“Honestly?” Rand said softly. “I can’t either. Thank you for the good word.”

“Sure,” Mat said. “By the way, I saved Moiraine. Chew on that as you try to decide which of the two of us is winning.”

Mat followed Tuon, and behind him rose the laughter of the Dragon Reborn.

Well, not to be a Debbie Downer or anything, but I really don’t see what’s so funny.

I feel like maybe I have lost my ability to be objective when it comes to Tuon, and maybe even when it comes to Mat, too. But whatever, this is about my opinion in any case, objective or otherwise, and in my opinion, this entire chapter left a bad taste in my mouth.

I mean, I can sort of see this from Tuon’s perspective, if I try hard. Because, it’s not like Rand made the most stellar first impression on her, and just because I know he’s all Zen Ghost Anakin now, instead of Borderline Psycho Darth Vader, doesn’t mean she does. And, if you view damane as… as ordnance, instead of as, you know, people who have been brutally enslaved and brainwashed, then from her point of view what Rand was asking her to do was to strip her army of its most effective weapons, and a responsible ruler wouldn’t agree to that.

Right, sure. And yet: UGH.

I guess I’m just really disappointed that all the buildup of first Egeanin and then Tuon finding out the big secret about sul’dam being channelers too (and thus knocking down the Seanchan’s entire house of cards justifying the dogma of declaring all channelers dangerous animals who must be bound) has effectively come to jack squat, and in fact made my opinion of Tuon even worse. Because now Tuon knows it’s all bullshit, and as far as I can tell, not only has it not changed her perspective on the issue, she doesn’t even care that it’s all bullshit.

Because yes, the argument can be made that practicality indicates that “on the eve of apocalypse” is not the time to be dismantling a system which, again, provides the most significant portion of her Empire’s defense. And I would even buy that, honestly. But the fact of the matter is that nothing Tuon has said or done indicates to me that she will ever be interested in dismantling that system, even after they win the Last Battle.

Therefore, fuck you, Tuon. Because that is utter crap.

And perhaps I am not being fair in not blaming Rand for acceding to such a morally reprehensible deal, but no, I’m still pinning it all pretty squarely on Tuon. She had him over a barrel, and they both knew it. Which is ironic, because while I know that the specific future Aviendha saw in the Way Forward Ter’Angreal has been averted, I really do not see how the Dragon’s Peace is going to last for ONE year, much less a hundred years, between two sides with such fundamentally opposing moral philosophies. And yet, the short term needs were so great, I also really don’t see how Rand had any other choice. Other than basically obliterating Tuon’s entire empire, of course, which I think we have all agreed would be A Bad Thing, since solving the problem of an atrocity with an even bigger atrocity is kind of an exercise in missing the point, if you ask me.

I did like that Rand called her on the hypocrisy of assuming that this giant invading force of hers would have been like, oh, oops, our bad on finding a pro-Hawkwing empire in place on this continent, and turned around and gone home with no further ado. Because, suuuuure, that totally would have happened. Uh-huh. *rolls eyes*

Plus I have to also call bullshit on her line about the world not being her concern versus her Empire, because, um, honey, don’t you think it will be kind of hard to provide for your Empire if there isn’t a world for your Empire to exist in? Seriously, I have a hard time following the logic of what to me is the equivalent of a landlord arguing over whether he has to pay for heating the apartments, when the whole building will be torn down if he doesn’t. Stupid, just stupid.

And then there’s Mat, who I am sort of judging for agreeing to even be part of this craptacular Empire in the first place, even as I acknowledge that that’s sort of unfair of me. Especially considering that he is the best chance the Seanchan have of moving toward not being craptacular, since this chapter does firmly establish that Tuon will listen to him even against her own (highly biased) judgment. And yet, blah. How can he stomach this?

Not to mention his entire interaction with Rand, to which I was rather giving the stinkeye even as I was amused by some of the banter. The one-upmanship thing was funny, but that doesn’t change how disappointed I was that Mat is apparently still, after all this time, trying to weasel out of his Ta’veren Tripod duties. Because, really. Haven’t we got past that yet?

I was even annoyed at Rand for not being angrier about that, because that is also utter crap. Perhaps not as utterly crap as Tuon’s thing, but definitely pinging at least at 8.5 on my internal Crapometer™.

And speaking of the Ta’veren Tripod: I suppose, as long as I’m complaining, that this is as good a place as any to bring up one of my biggest peeves with AMOL, which is that one of the things I have been waiting for literally three fourths of the entire series never ended up happening. Which is, of course, Rand, Perrin, and Mat all being in the same place together again—a thing which has not happened (on screen, at least) since the end of TDR. Which is the third book, I remind you.

I’m not going to lie, this seriously upset me. There are so many reasons why this upset me that it’s hard to even know where to start listing them, but I guess the over-arching meta reason is that it really, really should have happened, for symbolic symmetrical coming-full-circle narrative purposes if nothing else. And yet it didn’t. This was a journey these three boys started together, and they should have ended it together. And they sort of did, logistically, but emotionally they really didn’t.

And that sucks, not to put too fine a point on it.

And you know, I didn’t even really need anything significant to happen in that reunion, plot-wise. I would have been happy just to have the three of them take a moment to look at each other and be like, damn, I know, right?, and that would have been enough for me. And yes, there were geographical/logistical obstacles to putting them all together, but even if we discount Traveling, Rand’s got his dreamshards and all that. He couldn’t have staged even one little quick dreamtime Superboys pow-wow before the shit all went down?


Well, it is what it is. And since I have done nothing but grouse in this entry, let me attempt to lighten the mood by mentioning what I did find cool about this chapter, which is Rand’s time-lapse approach to gardening, and that apparently Rand has found the Song?

Though it is kind of a shame that no one’s probably going to have a chance to mention this to the Tinker community, I must say.

Urgh. Apparently I don’t have much of anything nice to say about this chapter. Which is probably a good sign that I should stop here, and hope for better things next time. Be well, O My Peeps, and I’ll see you next week!

Jay Shifflette
1. jaybird
Ah Leigh - Thank you
such a glowing summary
Deana Whitney
2. Braid_Tug
Re-Read the chapter yesterday. And was just waiting for Leigh to explode today. Sorry! yet you put on such a great show.
William Carter
3. wcarter
What Tuon really needs is for someone to forcibly hold her head underwater for just a little while.
I think you can't truly appreciate the unmitigated horror of not being in control of your own body until it's happened to you first hand.
4. Mehndeke
A few things:

1) The Song - I belive we have enough quotes from BS signings that basically say the song Rand was singing was not The Song that the Tinkers are ever searching for. The Song is more meta than that.

2) Tav'veren Three - BS also has said that he tried to get the three together, but that he just couldn't get it to work in a way that fit the story and made sense.

3) Debbie Downer - Don't worry Leigh, it's gonna get darker soon! After all, Egwene's about to get blindsided.
Adam S.
Great summary as always. I never liked Tuon/Fortuona and the whole Seanchan culture, but by this point in the series had sort of resigned myself to the fact that Rand was going to have to give them a pass on their heinous culture. I can understand if you refuse to do so, but by this chapter I just tended to ignore that aspect of the books. I too was disappointed in never seeing a pow-wow with the 3 ta'varen, but not much we can do about it, there are already so many things that don't get enough (or any) coverage in this book.
Also, I believe I read that the song Rand sings is NOT "The Song". I can't remember where I read it, but I believe it was said that his song for growing is a remnant from the age of legends, but it is NOT the song that the tinkers seek, which is still lost. I think Brandon Sanderson said somewhere that the Tinkers will not find their song, according to Jordan's notes.
6. AndrewB
Mat's attitude confounds me in this chapter. I agree with you Leigh. I had thought he was over that "I am trying to run away from my 'ta'verenness.'" I am unsure whether Mat really beleives he can outrun his t'averenness or it is just a way to hide his true deep down thoughts. I understand we have internal thoughts from Mat that he is running away. But maybe this is his subconscience's (sp) way of dealing with the his issues. If Mat wanted to outrun the events of the world, why go and seek out Tuon. It is not as if Tuon is some minor insignificant person in the world.

I loved the one-up-manship bannter between Rand and Mat. I also appreciated how Rand deal with Tuon. It is a lesson that he (and other characters as well) has had trouble learning in the past: sometimes a even toned analysis is more effective than a shouting match. Egwene has learned this lesson. (Although as we will see, she shall forget it when she has her own meeting with Tuon; despite the "victories" that she is able to achieve during that converation -- more on that when we get to it in the re-read.)

To me, the best part of that interaction is when Tuon tries to raise her claim of superiority because she is decended from Hawkwing and he was had previously conquered (and ruled) all of Randland. It is then that Rand whispers that there is where you are wrong [do not have my book at hand to give the actual quote]. Rand then goes into the dialogue that Leigh quoted. (I am LTT and I did everything that Hawkwing did, but only earlier in time and without the need to conquere via an army.)

Leigh, I disagree with you. I do think Rand's laughter was appropriate. Earlier in their conversation, Rand said that nothing that Mat did could top Rand cleansing of the Taint from saiden. Just as Mat is leaving, he counters (seemingly out of nowhere), that he went to a different realm to save Moiraine. I can understand Rand's reaction.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
7. Lisamarie
I really enjoyed this summary - and I felt pretty much the same way about Tuon and her culture. Although I hope that had Jordan been able to complete his outrigger novels, we would have seen less craptacularness.
Nadine L.
8. travyl
I liked the chapter for the mere fact to see Mat and Rand togehter, though I agree with the criticism. As for not seeing the three boys together - I didn't mind because we hat the 2-boy meetings in all ways (Rand-Perrin; Rand-Mat, Mat-Perrin). They can always meet up with Rand-Reborn in the future .)
Agree with the other commenters that Rand didn't sing "The Song".
9. Aqualung
As per Brandon on this websites Tor chat http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/01/brandon-sandersons-wheel-of-time-answers-from-torchat Rand did not find the song. I'm not really sure how else to explain this scene though. Here is the exact quote:

"Rand doesn’t know the Song and the Tinkers wouldn’t accept anything he taught them anyhow.

Robert Jordan specifically noted that the Tinkers would not find their Song by the end of the series and that the Ogier song of growing is not the Tinkers’ Song. The Song is 'a much more deep and philosophical concept, perhaps unattainable.'"
Rich Bennett
10. Neuralnet
Leigh you echo some of my dissapointments with the ending of the series. what was the point of the three boys seeing the swirling colors when they think of each other if they never really have too reunite in the last battle... what was the point of Tuon finding out about the sul'dam if it didnt change anything with the collars. and I still am not sure I really buy Mat and Tuon as a couple. but most of all here is Rand singing the Song and it never makes it to the Tinkers. I know, I know... I read the other posts about how there isnt really a Tinker "Song." but in my head head I say why not... just let Rand sing/teach them this song... it would have been cool IMHO and was somthing I was looking forward too.
11. SolarSoul25
I actually found this chapter to be one of the more fun reads in AMOL. While I agree that the Seanchan remain a moral black hole in the series, the fact that the battle for existence is looming makes it fairly easy to overlook their well documented short comings in favor of the fact that there is no way the world survives without them. The ragon's Peace is probably doomed to failure, but that accurately reflects the course of human history, where momentary alliances made during times of crisis are short lived (Soviet Union following WW2). The only hope against this is Mat, and that is enough for me to let it go.

The fact that Mat balks at his lot in the Tripod falls perfectly in line with his character, because you know it is hot air and that he will be wherever the fighting is hottest once the moment comes. Egwene actually points this out further down the road when talking about his habit of rescuing people. Mat will gripe, complain, and make sarcastic comments all day long, yet in the end he will still save the day because he is Mat.

Lastly, the banter between him and Rand is absolutely perfect. I wasn't that bent out of shape over not getting to see the three of them together, but this scene reminded me how much each had accomplished in their own right, and just owned me.
12. s'rEDIT
Here's another raised hand to vote with Leigh and her analysis.

This chapter seemed like one more "checkbox" checked off: "OK, now Rand has kneeled to the Crystal Throne, let's get on with it."

The banter is fun, but doesn't ring true somehow.
Sean Dowell
13. qbe_64
How the hell did I end up arguing on behalf of slavery? Sigh.

Left to their own devices Aes Sedai on this side of the continent (right up until they got collectively bitch slapped by Egwene like 30 seconds ago) have spent the last 3000 years in de-facto rule of the continent. While they don't overtly use slavery to obtain their goals, their subtle manipulations and coercion of the world leaders effectively yields the same results. People do you Aes Sedai want them to do, they just think it's their own idea instead of being directly forced into it.

You know why all of Hawking's descedants in Seanchan are pissed of at channelers (other the centuries of war that apparently raged when they first showed up?) Ask Bonwhin Meraighdin.

The Empire and the Aes Sedai both think they know what's best for everyone, and that their path is the only path. They believe this at an institutional level. The Empire because it has always been so, and Aes Sedai at least partly because they would never take in anyone old enough to have formed opinions about the world before joining the tower.

In the end, both their goals are stability. And both use manipulation and coercion to obtain those goals. The Empress, may she live forever, is just more upfront about it.
If you asked a Seanchan why they collar chanellers and ask and Aes Sedai why the try to influence the nations of the world, they would both answer "it's for their own good".

With great power comes great responsibility, and I would say that Aes Sedai have done a borderline terrible job at fostering peace and cooperation during their time in power. Do they all deserve to be collared and enslaved until they die because of it? Probably not, but they don't deserve a free pass either. I think a little more instituational rage directed at the White Tower is in order.
steve cook
14. scook
wrt the deal with Tuon....Sometimes you are not left with good options ie Roosevelt/Churchill in an alliance with Stalin. vs Hitler. Sometimes "pragmatic" is the best you can do.

Brandon never completely got Matt right or his interaction with Tuon...which is a shame. The two of them traveling with the Circus or especially the scene where they run into the Band were moving their relationship along and Brandon failed to build on the emotion evident in those scenes during his three books.
Nick Hlavacek
15. Nick31
I can see the disappointment with the agreement Rand came away with, but would it have been realistic for Tuon to suddenly cave on the whole damane thing? Sure, you've got *both* Rand and Mat to do their Ta'veren (sp?) thing but for it to just suddenly work out, all the problems go away and everybody happily gets along? Seems legit.

Anyway, I _loved_ the whole one-upmanship thing here. That to me is exactly the right tone for the two of them, and it made me laugh. I could relate; my cousin and I sometimes interact that same way. :)
16. K.Budd
Howdy all! First time poster here!

I started reading WoT back in the mid-90s and got as far as the PLoD before dropping the series and moving on to other things. When I found out back in December (only six months ago?!?) that the final book was coming out, I vowed I would start back at the beginning and read all the way to the end.

And that's when I found this re-read blog.

Having slogged through all of your postings up to today's, I thank you, Leigh, for your entertaining and informative synopses of the books. And thank you, fellow posters, for your insights and theories (crackpot or otherwise).

Having had the opportunity to read a chapter and then immediately read Leigh's take on it has been fantastic -- my only regret is that I'll now finish the final book and have to wait for Leigh to catch up.

Not much to say on this chapter, so I'll just wait over here until someone can give me a tour of the bunker.
Chris Long
17. radynski
My problems with the Seanchan go even deeper than that. I was really hoping some would actually happen to justify them, but at the end of the book, I was to be greatly disappointed. I was left with the undeniable question of:

Why were the Seanchan in this series?

What the hell was the purpose of introducing this incredibly morally problematic culture and everything that came of their conquest? What was Robert Jordan trying to do with them? If he wanted to make some sort of statement about it, I feel like it wasn't achieved.

Everything the Seanchan actually did in relation to the plot could have been handled by something else without the sticky moral issues of slavery. To just leave all of it hanging for the entire series and not say anything meaningful about it was just too much for me to take.
Stefan Mitev
18. Bergmaniac
I think this is the worst written chapter in the book IMO, maybe the whole series. The one-up-manship between Mat and Rand is completely out of character and cringe-worthy. The rest isn't much better. Mat again says he came South to escape Rand which is just really dumb on so many levels. Same for Mat thinking and saying that Rand is mad by now.

The deal between Rand and Tuon is one of the least annoying things in this chapter for me. At least it doesn't involve Mat being blatantly out of character and making terrible jokes.
19. NotInventedHere
I don't know, Leigh, the Dragon's Peace might hold together for, oh, 80 years or so... I think the whole damane issue here is a pretty clear allegory for how and why the practice of slavery was incorporated into our nation's own founding documents. Tuon fears that abolishing damane would result in the collapse of her nation (state), and Rand fears that failing to secure the cooperation of the Seanchan would result in the Dark One's victory (no nation) - and the Seanchan seem just crazy/stupid enough to let it get to that point. I think this is basically Jordan (I'm assuming this is according to his design) attempting to explain how something so reprehensible could be accepted by otherwise good people.

I do find it somewhat ironic that Rand resigns himself to adding the damane as a whole to the list of women he has doomed through his actions, when really the damane are the only ones that legitimately belong on the list - as he eventually realizes, all the others chose their actions and made their sacrifices, and putting them on the list was basically taking credit not only for their deaths, but for their choices and sacrifices. The damane, on the other hand, have no choice, and by accepting the institution he upholds that lack of choice - they can be sacrificed, but they can't choose to make their own sacrifice.
Alice Arneson
20. Wetlandernw
I'm really, really tempted to write a totally gushy post about how much I loved this chapter, all full of smiley faces and happiness and giggles, with lots of italics and exclamation points.
Ryan Jackson
21. KakitaOCU
The Seanchan and the lack of resolution serve two very different points IMO.

#1: Jordan specified that not everything would be tied up. With the Series as it stands the Seanch join the Aiel, The Elayne with two kingdoms, the Broken crown, etc, etc as unresolved plots that we know will continue on after this.

#2: Jordan was planning three more books set around Tuon and Mat in Seanchan. I imagine the ramifications of the a'dam, the meeting later with Hawkwing, the Influence of Mat and Min, all of these would have been central to the drama playing out in those books that we will sadly not see.
22. s'rEDIT
@Wet 20: Oh, please do!

(Although I don't know that I would have caught the sarcasm without your prequel.)
23. Rusty Tankard
Personally, I find this chapter to be a great example of how Brandon
Sanderson just didn't understand the characters' true motivations that
RJ had written, and did not understand key plot points and elements that
had been put into place for 5-7 books now re: the Seanchan and how
things would/could be resolved.
24. DougL
I can't swear that I will never read the series again, but I have found no urge to do so, and I feel no urge to do so. I will buy the collected works of Leigh Butler rereader extraordinaire and be content with that. This was one scene that made me put the book down.

When I heard we weren't going to have dealt with the Seanchan in this book, I was like, okay, lots to do, but this is dealing with the Seanchan and it is it shitty. It's a stalemate. I would have been much happier if Mat had procured the services of the Empire and Rand had never gone there.
Liz J
25. Ellisande
I think the point with the song is that even if Rand is singing The Song, the Tinkers won't recognize it as such, because they don't actually know what they're looking for. It's a religious quest for an ideal, not an actual melody.

And ugh, Tuon. I wish Rand had taken her back to the actual Crystal Throne and knelt before THAT, while showing her the ruins. She knows and he even tells her about it (demonstrating that he knows her power's not as strong as she thinks) but maybe letting her actually see it would've opened her eyes to the fact that she's queen of basically one nation in Randland, now. Not the empress of the known universe like she thinks.

I also find it implausible that she/the Seanchan as a people who are supposed to be All About the Omens, can so blithely disregard what Rand does here. I feel like even if she'd been able to ignore his words, the actual demonstration of it should've been more impressive. Though I guess it's like the sul'dam or revelation that the Shadowspawn are real doesn't seem to shake them up at all, even though they really should be facing some cultural upheavals in the face of all this.

Speaking of the Crystal Throne, here we see the Kneeling prophecy literally fulfilled, what happened to the "binding the nine moons to serve him" part? Because if this is Tuon/the Seanchan "serving" him, that's terrible, since it's really more like the Seanchan agreeing not to attack in exchange for pretty much doing whatever they want.

Or, long story short, Tuon desperately needed a reality check and never got it, and as Leigh says, by not getting any of the ones she was served, feels like she will never get them, and that sucks.
Robert Dickinson
26. ChocolateRob
About Mat trying to avoid getting dragged into his destiny, I'm a bit fuzzy on whether he succeeded in this goal by not reading the letter left to him by Verin.
She outright stated that the pattern was forcing her towards him because there was something only she could do for him. Unless I missed something then the letter she gave him was the only thing that qualifies.
Mat successfully managed to avoid getting influenced into reading it and when Olver finally read it, it was only seconds before Talmanes heard the sounds of the battle already raging. The only purpose the letter served was to tell us readers what had just happened.

So while the Pattern tried to force knowledge into Mat's hand he was seemingly able to ignore it untill it became moot. So basically he was once able to avoid the pattern's machinations for the low low price of the lives of most of the people in Caemlyn and the Dark One gaining a massively strategically advantageous position at the flanks of the Armies of Light.

Someone needs to call him out on his 'Nice job breaking it hero'. selfishness.
27. Jill RedHand
I've never really agreed with you, Leigh, about Tuon and the Seanchan. I agree that their culture is gross, and it's so annoying how utterly incapable they are of admitting that they are ever wrong in any way whatsoever, but as far as I can tell, that's the POINT. From the very get go, the Seanchan exist to be a very strange, alien culture that is is diametrically opposed to everything the audience is used to and believes is moral, while still being categorically on the side of the light. The overall conflict in the WOT is not "good people v. bad people" or "slavery v. freedom"; it's "world existence v. world destruction."

The Seanchan basically exist to underline that overall theme; no matter how morally repugnant we and the characters find them, it's ultimately beside the point. The point of Tarmon Gaidon is just to defeat the Dark One, not to fix society. When you express disappointment that the story ends without the "mundane" evil of slavery being done away with and Seanchan society becoming more palatable to the audience, that ignores the fact that the story was only ever about doing away with "cosmic" evil, and the presence of mundane evils was simply to highlight the more dangerous nature of the cosmic evil. Maybe in the Fourth Age, the Randlanders and the Seanchan can get around to fixing societal problems instead, in the absence of a cosmic battle against abstract evil.

TL;DR: The reader may be unsatisfied with the lack of a complete resolution of a problematic fictional society, but the Seanchan society wasn't in the story to be "fixed"; it was there to show that fixing society wasn't the point.

(It's also worth mentioning that the other main point of the Seanchan was to highlight cultural inflexibility/cultural relativism, by making their culture so alien and incomprehensible that the main characters/audience would not accept it. Yes, it was annoying that the Seanchan absolutely refused to respect other cultures or admit that any of their own practices were wrong, but the Randlanders were just as inflexible and ethnocentric and unwilling to consider learning or adopting anything from other cultures. For example, the Aiel, Sea Folk, and Seanchan both have greater gender equality especially in the military, but aside from Birgitte's female guard troop, our main characters mostly refuse to consider women as fighters, even up to the last battle.

The modern reader doesn't ever really want to countenance slavery through cultural relativism or self-determination, but if the Seanchan had conclusively given in on that front, it would have undermined the point that all of the different cultures of Randland have huge problems with cultural inflexibility.)
Nadine L.
28. travyl
26. ChocolateRob, Verin was drawn to Mat, to provide him with a Gateway to bring him to Caemlyn, it had nothing to do with the letter.
Alice Arneson
29. Wetlandernw
s'rEDIT @22 - Well, I was only half-sarcastic... :) I actually did enjoy a lot of things about this chapter, and I certainly don't have the "horrible! horrible!" attitude many of the readers apparently do. One, I've personally made sense out of all three main characters positions/actions, so they don't bother me (in a literary sense). Two, since I don't know what was in the notes, I'm perfectly willing to accept what's on the page as "what RJ intended" without trying to second-guess Team Jordan. Three, I don't have any problems with the characterizations in any of the books. Four, I don't feel any need to attack Brandon for seeing things differently than I did, or writing them differently than I expected them to be written.

So I don't have the problems others do with this chapter. I don't care that we don't get a final resolution to the damane/da'covale issues. I don't care that Tuon doesn't seem to be changing her mind yet. I don't care that the Seanchan don't seem to get a lot better, much less get their comeupance, in this book. I don't care that the three ta'veren don't get together in this book. I don't care that Mat and Rand have a momentary reversion to 17-year-0lds. And so on.

In fact, I don't care that some of the things I anticipated were either addressed differently, or not addressed at all. And I find it mildly bizarre that so many people are so upset that the book wasn't written the way they expected it to be written. One day, people get all critical about an author falling into (what they perceive as) trope-fulfilling predictability, and the next they get in a snit because he didn't fulfill their particular favorite trope expectation.

The one that bothers me the most is when people complain that "Brandon just doesn't understand" a particular character. What they really mean is that Brandon didn't write that character in a way that matches up with that reader's own perception of the character, and they somehow feel that gives them the right to throw insults around. (As if they could have written it better, and in a way that would satisfy all the readers. Riiiight.)

What really bugs them is something I've observed since this reread started - that we all see each character differently, according to our own personality, experience, likes, dislikes, beliefs, world-view and so on. No two of us will see them quite the same, and Brandon naturally had his own perception of each one. (Even RJ and Harriet occasionally disagreed on their perception of a character, after all.) When RJ died, it was a given that whoever finished the job would have to write the characters the way they saw them, tempered by whatever RJ had left in his notes to give additional insight into each one. I came to grips with that when the first pre-release chapter of TGS was made available: Brandon was going to see, and therefore write, some of the characters from a different angle than I see them - and his view is no less valid than mine. More, actually, because his view was also modified by the notes and the discussions with Team Jordan, and mine is only mine.

When I see a thread like this, in which Leigh could find nothing little positive to say, and the commenters all jump on the wagon and complain about every little thing they didn't like... it makes me roll my eyes and want to do something obnoxious. If I were feeling somewhat more creative and quirky, I might have done that fluffy, gushy thing I threatened, but it's hard work to write like that. :) So it's a bit of a rant instead. At least it fits the general tone of the discussion better...

30. Insomnia333
I always thought "The Song" was what we saw during Rand's journey through past lives in Rhuidean. While viewing Coumin's life he saw a seeding ceremony where the Jenn Aiel, Ogier, and Nym all combined to sing a song during the planting.
I always thought that this confirmed that the Tinkers would never find the song, as the song wasn't a solo, it was a choir. Even if the Tinkers learned their part, it wouldn't work without the Ogier and the Nym and since the Nym are now extinct it was impossible to recreate.
31. Shipless
@23 By that logic Maria, and Robert Jordan's widow, and the rest of Team Jordan didn't understand the series either, which seems to be a rather presumptuous assumption - I suspect it's more a case of us either not understanding RJ's vision, or not finding the fulfillment of his vision as satisfying as we would have hoped.
Tricia Irish
33. Tektonica
The only time I was ever slightly amused/interested in Tuon was when she and Mat were doing their courting dance in Lucas' circus wagons. She was making some progress, character-growth-wise, but her arc regressed. She didn't evolve, and it was very disappointing.

Much has been said in defense of Tuon and Mat's relationship....thanks Wetlander!.....but it still disappoints me greatly. Perhaps Mat is the only hope of changing Tuon's views, but it's a long shot, and we will never know, now. The fact that Mat puts up with her culture, so disappoints me in him, my heretofore favorite character.

I, too, thought Mat had grown up and accepted his leg of the taveren tripod. He seemed very responsible with the Band in Camelyn, and helping to rescue Moraine. His banter with Rand was funny but pretty sophomoric. He lacked a certain "gravitas" that I thought I'd seen him acquire. He does always come through in the end, despite his grousing, as Egwene points out later, but meh. This doesn't seem like the Mat I'd come to know.

I understand that Rand is over a big barrel here, and needs Tuons army, although, as it turn out, they do their level best not to get involved. Should we be happy they didn't fight on the Dark side? I just wish we'd gotten even a hint of movement towards change in Tuons beliefs, or some enthusiasm for being part of the solution to armegedon.

And yes....a taveren trio get together, however brief, should've happened. Harumph.

Welcome KBudd! This way to the Bunker...Suffa is serving tea and crumpets this afternoon.

Radinski@17: I agree. I could've done without them....or had them serve some philosophical point, instead of just being left hanging.

As Ellisande@25 says, the scene between Rand and Tuon could've been a revelation for her, and given us hope for change. I think it could've been much more powerful and even reveletory.
Tricia Irish
34. Tektonica
Geez, Wetlander, can't we even have opinions? Isn't that what this thread is for? Do we always have to state that we loved everything? Or that we appreciate Brandon and Team Jordan, before we say something critical?

Of course we're basing our views on our own personalities, that's what makes this blog so interesting! Variety! We have excellent, intelligent, polite people here, that love this series, and appreciate all that was done to finish it. But we can still be disappointed in some specific things.
Glen V
35. Ways
Thank you Leigh!

Thank you Jill RedHand for your thought-provoking analysis!

And thank you Wetlander for expressing my own feelings about Brandon's completion of the series in a more eloquent fashion than I could imagine (although not nearly as succinctly, heh).

And that's what I love about perusing and participating in this forum - the diverse viewpoints and well-crafted analyses really round out the experience of reading the books.


wcarter @3
How about collaring Fortuona (may she live forever) for a few days instead? Or would that be unreasonable torture?

Tek @34
::waves:: Of course we can be dissapointed at times. Just be ready to run for cover in the bunker. Now which cupboard has the cookie stash? And the adult beverages?
36. koko
27. Jill RedHand, I agree.

Tuon may know the secret of the damane/suldam, but that doesn't mean that she should suddenly throw away her empire.

As readers, we are familiar with channelers and are constantly around them. However, we have to look at things from the persepctive of average Joe Randland. Thousands of years of tales about male channelers going crazy and Aes Sedai manipulating world events for "our own good". Then someone comes along and says that we will protect you from them and provide law and order. I may not agree with their methods, but I totally understand their reasoning and can't judge them with my own non-Randland morals.

You can't just say "I don't agree with how this empire works so they should be fixed". Who is supposed to decide on what's the right way and do we just overthrow every nation that doesn't believe in what we do? Slippery slopes and all that other stuff ensues. That's where the role of Mat and Min come in. They are in positions of power that allow them to call Tuon out on her inflexibility. I believe the empire will slowly change in a few generations.

Btw, Mat and Tuon are my favorite characters simply because it's the embodiment of chaos and order colliding.
William Carter
37. wcarter
@35 Ways

My only problem with trying to collar For(Tuon)a is it might be unreliable as an example. Everyone in Seanchan has to undergo the testing every year between certain ages.

This presumably even includes members of the royal family. So the a'dam's effecacy on her would depend entirely on how much she has learned subconsciously about channeling.

If she's close enough that she can see the flows, it should work. In which case I say let Egwene or one of the Aes Sedi Mat helped escape have her for a day or three. Or twelve.

If not it may just be all the "proof" her twisted mind--to say nothing on the culture at large--needs to justify keeping the sparkers collared.

At worst, the monsters may even see it as a good thing, in which case they would just end up retesting the Sul'dam every few years and eventually collar the ones that start to learn since there is already a 'complaint' about there being too many sul'dam and not enough damane.

It's almost a pity Rand didn't opt for the nuclear option against them in TGS.
38. koko
36. koko: Wanted to expand on my earlier post on the role of Mat and Min in bringing about change.

Mat as prince and Min as truthspeaker are able to say things out loud that Tuon can't simply because it is not expected of her. She is very subtle in her ways of doing things and she only does the big showy stuff because people will not notice the small ones. Like showing affection to Mat would be an outward sign of weakness in her mind, but her way of showing affection is allowing him to always get away with calling her Tuon instead of Fortuona.

With Min, Tuon is able to allow her to speak her mind and get away with it. She could stop Min and override her at any time, but by not doing so it sort of shows that she does agree on some level.
39. R0bert
#13 Yeah, I kinda feel the same way. I'm not necessarily in favor of the Seanchen, but have spent the vast majority of the series wanting random bad things to happen to the Aes Sedai in general just because of how their attitude and actions seemed to be at the root of most things that went wrong in general. Which makes it at least conceivable to me as to why a nationality would want to completely neuter that group.

I guess I also look at things from a more historical perspective, as opposed to a "21st Century Emotional" one. Slavery is bad, no doubt about it. But, historically, pretty much any empire that has had success did so on the backs of slaves, at least until (ala America) they got to a point where they deemed themselves too civilized to treat other people like property. So when it comes to a group like the Seanchen, my feelings are more along the lines of "Meh, they're a culture practicing slavery in a medieval world that's gradually gaining technology as the series progresses...just like we did here until the 1860s (which would be, in comparison, a good bit later than a comparable time in Randland)", instead of "THEY ARE EVIL!!!!"
Robert Dickinson
40. ChocolateRob
@28 Trazyl
I can't remember it that well but I think she discussed that there were lots of people who could have provided him with a gateway but the pattern was pushing her in very convoluted ways to meet him, therefor it must have been something that only she could provide.
Any Sister capable of making a gateway could have accidently opened one to where Mat was but Verin was pulled in such a way that she could realise that the Pattern wanted something specifically of her.
41. C Oppenheimer
@QBE_64 #13 and @Jill RedHand #27 I agree. Of course slavery is inexcusable, evil ad infinitum. And while the Aes Sedai might not have clean hands the vast majority of the damane were complete innocents from the Empire enslaved since it was discovered they could channel. I think what Mr. Jordan was doing with the Seanchan was showing that someone would make a "deal with the Devil" when your survival was at stake. In fact I would draw a parallel with the northern and southern colonies during the Revolutionary War. If they had fought then the Dark One (George III) would have won. If you want happy endings stick with GOT. LOL!
42. Faculty Guy
Agree with much of Wetlander's position, yet also with some of Leigh's. I have no serious problem with the characterization, and, in fact, am really impressed at the continuity of it across the KoD-tGS divide. Same with the writing: Brandon did a suberb job and I doubt anyone else could have done as well.

And yet. There are so many questions that have built up in the minds of readers over (literally) decades that remain unanswered, and not minor, trivial ones but major things that we all thought RJ had deliberately injected to stimulate interest and tension and that will now never be resolved. I want to wail about each one: "Then why was the issue created?"

I remember (a long time ago) when the character of Cadsuanne appeared, and I quit the series for about five years. Because I was ready for the series to begin convergence toward climax and here was a NEW major character! I remember explicitly expressing my dissatisfaction with the character of Luc/Isom and his/their seemingly tangential plotline. I remember saying to my then-teenage son (who had introduced me to "the new Tolkien") that I doubted that "the author" could successfully bring about a successful, satisfactory resolution - that he was (had, in fact, already at CoS) created a world so complex the he would never be able to make it logically consistent/coherent.

And the painful thing is that, with RJ's death, we will never know if he could have done it. The fact is that it was NOT (IMHO) done, but I certainly don't blame Brandon! Poor RJ was fighting for his life in the RW and it would be a little unreasonable to expect him to communicate ALL of his enormous worldview of Randland during a time of real life stress and likely pain. Quite possibly RJ himself would have had to put much thought and creativity into putting finishing touches on his artificial reality - that is, it probably was more than just providing a rapid-fire debriefing of previously worked-out details.

I STILL want to know what role Someshta and the Nym played, and more detail about Luc/Isom, and how Tuon deals with her channeling potential, and many, many more things. And I will always wonder if Jim Rigney could have pulled off a complete, consistent ending (which Godel has ruled out for the "real" world).
Ron Garrison
43. Man-0-Manetheran
The Empress. May she be slapped forever. Like Tek, I enjoyed her character up until she became Empress, then meh. But I guess it's not "Seanchan's Got Talent" and she's not looking for awards. But still. Does she really need such a big stick up . . . . . ?
Valentin M
44. ValMar
Howdy folks, been away for a while and just managed to catch up with all threads that I follow on Tor (except for today's DS9 post).

Re: the lack of resolution of the Seanchan's issues- I believe this is because RJ was planning outrigger novels with Mat, Fortuona, and Perrin too, at the very least. I am pretty sure that's where damane, slavery, etc would've been dealt with. As other posters have noted, it would've been impractical to have major improvements in the short time before the LB.

Faculty Guy @ 42

Good post. As for the question "could RJ finish it, to use a lazy term, properly?"- I am sure that he could and would. The only problem (not for me!) is that it would've required more books than he envisioned. RJ was being very adamant on this. But, IMO, he would've capitulated on this in order to do it as best as he could. He could've done it in the number of books it eventually took, or maybe one more ;) Big books they would've been...
Glen V
45. Ways
wcarter @37
I couldn't recall the specifics, so I went looking and came up with CoT chapt. 29 (there may be other references). From Leigh's post on that chapter:
Finally she (Egeanin) sighed. “Renna was leashed, once. So were Bethamin and Seta. They can channel. Or maybe learn to; I don’t know. But the a’dam worked on those three. Maybe it works on any sul’dam.
It seems a bit strange in the here and now, but there was no discussion in the thread regarding that topic. Unfortunately, the quote doesn't answer the question about an a'dam working on Tuon.

I don't believe we ever learned how the testing is conducted either. Does a sul'dam simply slap a collar on unsuspecting young ladies or does it consist of something else?

Hi M-o-M ::waves::.
46. Jonellin Stonebreaker
Once again, Leigh, a great post. While I do sympathize with your position vis a vis the general suckiness of the Seanchan's practice of slavery, I am actually somewhat hopeful, but not because of Empress Fortuona.
Where my hope lies is with the Return and with time.
As they live in Randland and trade and interact with the nations, attitudes will slowly change.
The reformed White Tower (I can't see Cadsuane releasing herself from the Oaths and there is no one else who would dare go against the last wishes of Egwene the Great) will be inhabited by a new type of Aes Sedai, one who sees herself truly as a servant of all, and who sees as her sisters the Windfinders, the Kin, and Wise Ones; The traders and soldiers of the Empire will see, and say to themselves at first, and then to their neighbors , "these are the marath damane we were taught to fear?"
The knowledge that all sul'dam can learn to channel will be disseminated throughout the Empire and forever change what the average subject of the Crystal Throne thinks about wielders of the One Power in their midst.
What we have to remember is that deeply engrained prejudices are not overturned overnight; it has not in book terms been 4 years since a peddler came to a small town in the back of beyond to give news of the rise and fall of a False Dragon; in the corresponding 23 years of our own lives we have gone from a point where liberal politicians supported civil unions but were completely against gay marriage both as a reflection of their own thinking and for political expediency's sake to a point where today conservative politicians are saying forthrightly that they support civil unions and are not in favor of gay marriage, both as a reflection of their own thinking and for political expediency's sake.

Had he lived to write the outrigger novels, I can't help but think that this change in Seanchan culture would have been portrayed.

@Tektonica #33- you can be a corporate CEO and your brother can be senior partner in a white shoe law firm ; when you go home for Thanksgiving, he'll be the little brat Mom made you babysit when you wanted to be at the mall with your friends. As one who has been to 25th anniversary high school and college reunions, when you get together with those who knew you when, you do tend to fall (to some extent) into those old roles. I actually really appreciated that this wasn't a meeting between the Dragon Reborn and the Prince of the Ravens, but between two buds from Emond's Field.
Scientist, Father
47. Silvertip
What @29 Wetlander said.

I'm also with Jonellin@46 on the banter. I've been to round-number high school reunions and gotten caught up with pretty good friends that I haven't talked to in a long time, and it actually sounded a lot like this chapter.

Buddy: It was hard on my first marriage when I was studying for my CPA exam ...
Silvertip: Wait, back up, you're a CPA now? People trust you with their money?
Buddy: Yes, I work for (important local company) , I actually handle a lot of their money.
Silvertip: I wouldn't have trusted you with five bucks! In fact -- you still owe me five bucks!

It's a guy thing.

I'm less disappointed than some commenters that the whole "sul'dam can channel, OMG, when this gets out Seanchan society will collapse like a house of cards" thing came to nothing, but for a backwards reason: I never bought it in the first place. In my experience, both individuals and societies have a remarkable ability to absorb and accommodate new information that at first glance might seem to undermine their principles without actually questioning those principles very much. Cognitive dissonance is not just a river in Egypt -- I always found the level of disruption to Aiel society from Rand's revelations at Alcair Dal to be unconvincing. So their ancestors three thousand years earlier were different? My ancestors were from lands bordering the North Sea, if you want to know what they were doing a lot more recently than that just think Viking raiders. No skin off my nose. Fortuona shaking off the whole thing with one rationalization or another works a lot better for me than if she had suddenly made some huge philosophical left turn. That's how people are. I just wish so much ink hadn't been spilled on that whole dead end earlier in the series.

Rand's agreement reminded me a lot of the "three-fifths"compromise at the time of the U.S. Constitution. It was an ugly ugly business and it took an uglier war eightly years later to begin to purge the evil--but the country probably wouldn't have gotten started without it, and I'm not going to judge the people who signed the document for making the compromise. Within-story, it's probably exactly what a leader in his shoes would have done.

48. Crusader75
I think Mat should be forgiven for his questionable actions. From what Rand says it appears Mat's bout of craveness sent him exactly where Rand needed Mat to be. Rand was monitoring Mat's progress through the "colors" and from what I could glean waited to arrive until after Mat got Tuon into, um...a receptive mood. As for the Dragon's peace, the only reason I can justify it lasting is Tuon having to concentrate on cleaning up the Seanchan homeland, she will not have the resources to cause much mischief on the mainland for some years. But no longer, as Tuon thinks to herself that the Empire does not consider itself bound by any treaty. Unfortunately, changing Seanchan culture is going to take more than Mat charming Tuon,as the Empress has great authority within the norms of Seachan culture but it seems apparent that if she goes outside those norms that's when all her enemies start sending the good assassins. In closing, it is understandable that Rand has to make this deal with theLast Battle at hand, but it is still frustrating to see Rand eat Seanchan crap and have to pronounce it good.
Ron Garrison
49. Man-0-Manetheran
Note to self: You've missed all the high school graduations up to this point. I see no need to start attending now.
j p
50. sps49
I hope that the outriggers would've been pointless without fixing the damane issue. I can't see the author leaving that system in place. Except that he did, here.

And surely MoriRand will mention the song to the Tinkers? and Ogier?

Ways @35-

Yes! Collar Fortuona for as long as it takes. Probably would've hapened in the outriggers... And the collar would work. The testing ter'angreal, iirc, is some rock thing that Seanchan citizens place their hands on, or in, or something. It isn't a collar.
Tricia Irish
51. Tektonica
Koko@36: Great way of putting this!
Btw, Mat and Tuon are my favorite characters simply because it's the embodiment of chaos and order colliding.

Jonellin@46: Oh I agree....I loved the "sibling" rivalry between Mat and Rand...it was very real world. Sophomoric, but charming....and proabably typical.

And it's not that I hoped for a resolution to the slavery dilemma that the Seanchan have....I totally expect that would've been dealt with eventually, had RJ have lived to tell the tale....I was just wishing for a sign of movement from Tuon...an evolution of her inner being...growth. I do understand she has her public and private personas, and is young, newly married, and is still working much out. My only hope for an eventual resolution, is that fact that she married Mat ,and has Min as a Truthspeaker. Those are good things for her Empire, imho.

**Hi Man-O** (Agree...don't go to the reunions....too weird.)
52. Freelancer
How dare a fantasy author(s) complete a story without tying up all the details in a big neat bow, and giving them to us readers as the gift we truly deserve? It is despicable that he created a despicable nation full of despicable practices, then left them to continue being despicable, when all he(they) needed to do was write the ending correctly, and make everyone live happily ever after.
And you would have hated that as well.

Jill RedHand @27 Nailed it in one. Absolutely no need to add to that.

Wetlandernw @29 put some icing on it.

I think a small part of some folks' irritation is with Mat. Here is their favorite sorta-hero, busily NOT fixing an entire empire's problem, but instead finally consummating his very wierd marriage to the leader of said empire. The funny thing to me is, this is the real Mat here. He doesn't like what the Seanchan do, but he isn't about to get involved in politics, and that's what it is if you're going to try and change an entire society's foundation. Not his gig. It would have been more out of character for him to have engaged in that issue. Remember the guy who spanked Joline, and not long afterward, carefully took an a'dam off of her, ONLY after she promised she'd stop pestering Tuon about the damane? All Mat wanted was peace and to avoid being caught by the Seanchan patrols. If that had required keeping the Aes Sedai collared, he would have done it. To not believe that is to misunderstand Mat.

The song Rand sang may well have been the seed-song we observed through his Aiel ancestor's eyes. I believe it is, but there's no proof in one direction or another. That his actions before Tuon resulted in growth similar to that produced by Someshta in that ancient scene strongly support the idea. However, both Jordan's and Brandon's comments about this indicate that the Tinkers just don't know what it is they are seeking, and therefore have no hope of finding it. They went off on a different mission than the one they were sent upon by Solinda Sedai, and got lost.

M-o-M @49

Somehow, I'm thinking you meant high school reunions, yes? Also, amen. I go to my wife's, but not my own. I had about four good friends in high school, with whom I've remained close ever since, and the rest of them treated me as a total outsider for one reason or another. Why would I go play party-time with them? Besides, they're all OLD. To go along with the Mat-Rand banter in this chapter, anytime I meet up with my closest friend from those years, we go immediately into late-70s mode, and start cutting heads. It completely works for me in this chapter.
Katharine Duckett
55. Katharine
FacultyGuy@54 Thanks for your comment! I'm unpubbing it because the comment it refers to has been deleted, though--there's no reason to leave any references to anything that's disrespectful to the author of the article.
56. JimF
Whew. This is a hot tub to stick one's toes into, but I'm going to do it. I'm of two minds here: one mind is agreeing with Leigh, and this chapter is probably the biggest contributor to it. The last three books have been kinetic, for lack of a better term, with lots of action and some plot resolutions, and yet ultimately, like the last movie you saw: not very edifying or fulfilling. The characters and actions are mostly okay. Mat is mostly wrong. The banter between Mat and Rand would have been great, if, say, they hadn't seen each other since the sixth grade. The Seanchan suck, and nobody can fix it. Yadda yadda.

Now my other mind aligns somewhat with Wetlanderw. Yes, I am thankful Brandon finished it, and I think he did a great job. These books are more in accord with the plot lines and tones set in tEotW through aCoS, imo. The literary wilderness after aCoS, up to KoD, was bad news. Brandon and co. brought resolution and direction to our beloved epic, and finally, a conclusion. However, there was so much to be resolved and concluded, that three great thick books - even if written by Jordan himself in the earlier mode - might not have brought about all the things all of us might have wanted to see, like a confab of the Superboys (who incidentally, haven't had much useful or fun intercourse since about the second chapter of tEotW, which I just finished for the umpteenth time).

Anyway, the books are written, we've read them, the Seanchan are still there, and as many questions abound as ever before. I guess the future of Randland is in our minds, being spun out independently like all those similar but so different places one can access through a Portal Stone. As they say, your mileage may vary!

As several said above, I think Rand was singing the song the Aiel sang when he saw Someshta sowing the fields, while in the columns in Rhuidean. Mat thinks he should know it, and he probably has a memory somewhere of that type of rite, but it's only a fleeting one (maybe his comes from one of the armed guards that surrounded and protected the ceremony in Rand's vision).
Glen V
57. Ways
AFK for a while and I miss all the excitement. Gather it was better missed.

Man-o, Tek, Free
No HS reunions yet for me either...and that's plenty missed. Like Free I've attended a couple with my wife, only to find they bore me to tears.
58. thelostbannerman
Hey as Leigh mentioning Tuon and Egeanin/Leiwellin Shipless and with Matrim in the chapter, why does he not recognize Egeanin when she is with Egwene when he says "That Seanchan woman she has around her all the time", (later in the book) This for some reason has stuck out in my mind as wrong, How can he not know her when he was supposed to have run away with her, and spent the bloody time with her and Domon in Bloody Valan Lucas circus? Is this something that BS forgot???
59. Stromgard
I think that it's even more wrong that Rand and Egwene never got a friendly talk, just two friends sitting down and having some tea and chatting for a few hours. Seriously, they haven't been friendly since the day she and Aviendha bullied their way into the Caemlyn assault team (which Egwene didn't get to be on anyway, thanks to Lanfear). Before that, there was the time in the Stone early in Shadow Rising when she and Elayne was trying to help him use the One Power, and early in The Great Hunt when she tried to talk sense into him in the dungeons of Fal Moran. Besides those times, they have had very little interaction after The Eye Of The World, and not any on a friend-to-friend basis after the latter part of The Fires Of Heaven. That's almost 9 books of varying degrees of hostility. It sucks that they never sorted things out, since not only were they ex-lovers (in a non-carnal sense of the word) but also his closest female friend (or, second closest, actually, Nynaeve may hold the number one spot, but still). Especially since Egwene has total authority from the Hall do deal with the Dragon Reborn in any way she sees fit including becoming BFFs with him again, and no one can call her on it. Sadness. Sad.

A talk between Thom and Rand would have been nice, too. Less sad. But still.
60. Stromgard
About the sul'dam and the damane. You do realize that if all the damane in the empire would be released, every single one of them would beg to be re-collared again, right? They'd have to be stashed somewhere and force-fed food for the rest of their lives. Under guard 24/7 to prevent suicides. And if word about the sul'dam being able to channel, many of them would demand to be collared as well. There has been about zero success in over a year with trying to rehabilitate damane, and the sul'dam, as I recall, react first with denial and then demands to be collared.

These things take time to change. Plus, Fortuona is already targeted by assassins. How many would try to assassinate her if she dropped THAT bomb? She can't change the world if she is dead, you know. You expect a LOT of things from a teenager literally BRAINWASHED in the Empire way of thinking. Give her time, and some slack, there are signs of progress.

Also, why is everyone concerned with the damane only, when the Empire has general slavery? To further my point, if Fortuona would, for example, release her bodyguards from slavery, they would commit a mass suicide out of pure shame. The truths that dawn on her needs to dawn on her people too, or the results of enforcing them would be disastrous.
Thomas Keith
61. insectoid
Later to the party than usual (read the post earlier today; great as usual, Leigh), so here's my 2 cents.

Does not have a modest bone in her body. (But we already knew that.)
And yes, it's frustrating that she's unwilling to budge over the damane thing. We just have to hope that her off-screen meeting with Hawkwing taught her something.

Rand/Mat reunion:
Well, I thought it was bloody amusing. Seriously, they haven't seen each other face-to-face in 8 books (can't add it to the "9 Books" list...); they can one-up each other if they want. XD

Rand's singing:
My first thought, of course, was: "Is that the Song???" Brandon stated (somewhere) that the Tinkers would not find the Song, but I don't recall him ruling out someone else finding it... I guess we could call it Rand's "Dragon One With the Land" song.

Rand's bargain with Tuon:
Whew. At least he convinced her to leave Aes Sedai alone... surely that's a step in the right direction? And he didn't kneel before the Crystal... wait. Well, sort of. Doesn't count... they're not in Seanchan! In any case, he certainly put on a nice show of intimidation.

Crapometer: LOL.

And yes, I'm a litte annoyed too that all three Superboys didn't meet up before the end. How the heck are they going to find out where the annual secret reunion BBQ is??

62. birgit
Mat thinks he should know it, and he probably has a memory somewhere of that type of rite, but it's only a fleeting one (maybe his comes from one of the armed guards that surrounded and protected the ceremony in Rand's vision).

Mat's memories are only from the Third Age. The only Song he might remember is Loial's Treesong in the Blight at the end of the first book (or maybe other Ogier Songs from his memories).

The Tinkers wouldn't accept the Seed Singing as The Song although that is what it originally was. One of RJ's big topics was how stories change with time. The Tinkers expect that finding The Song will bring back the AoL. That will never happen.

Mat is funny because of the contradiction between what he says and what he does. He says he still wants to escape the ta'veren pull, but he just doesn't want to admit to himself that he has accepted his duties. And as others have said, meeting Rand makes him behave like he did back in the Two Rivers, not the way he really is now.
63. MjF
Freelancer @52:
Remember the guy who spanked Joline, and not long afterward, carefully took an a'dam off of her, ONLY after she promised she'd stop pestering Tuon about the damane? All Mat wanted was peace and to avoid being caught by the Seanchan patrols. If that had required keeping the Aes Sedai collared, he would have done it.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you. This is the guy who, not a month earlier, risked his own escape from Ebou Dar by sneaking off at the last minute to uncollar one of the Windfinders, simply because he felt that she and the other damane deserved a shot at freedom.
64. Freelancer
MjF @63

Of course Mat is willing to do a good thing when the opportunity arises, even at risk to himself (Gambler, remember?), and yes, he doesn't even recognize that trait in himself. But you are leaving out a key fact. He did not free her "simply because he felt that she and the other damane deserved a shot at freedom". Partly, he wanted to square the books with the Sea Folk in his own mind. But mainly, His successful departure from Ebou Dar was contingent upon chaos in the city. Getting Windfinders free to try and retake their ships was part of his plan:
He did have an errand, and maybe not so small. It was not something he wanted to do. Light, he had tried to talk himself out of it! It was something he bloody well had to do, though. As soon as Egeanin vanished around a corner after Domon and the others, he darted for the nearest room that he remembered containing one of the Sea Folk. Easing open the plain wooden door soundlessly, he slipped into the pitch-black interior. The sleeping woman inside snorted with a rasping sound. Slowly he felt his way forward until his knee bumped into the bed, then felt along the mound beneath the blankets more quickly, finding her head just in time to clamp his hand over her mouth as she jerked awake.
"I want you to answer a question," he whispered. Blood and ashes, what if he had mistaken the room? What if this was not a Windfinder at all, but one of the bloody Seanchan women?
"What would you do if I took that collar off your neck?" Lifting his hand, he held his breath.
"I would free my sisters, if it pleases the Light that should happen." The Sea Folk accents in the darkness made him breathe again. "The Light be willing, we would cross the harbor, somehow, to where our people are held, and free as many as we were able." The unseen woman's voice remained low, but grew fiercer by the word. "The Light be willing, we would take back our ships, and fight our way to sea. Now! If this is a trick, punish me for it and be done, or kill me for it. I was on the brink of yielding, of giving up myself, and the shame of that will burn me forever, but you have reminind me who I am, and now I will never yield. Do you hear me? Never!"
"And if I asked you to wait for three hours?" He asked, still crouching over her. "I remember the Atha'an Miere judging the passage of an hour within minutes."
Mat goes where there's trouble, and gets other people out of trouble. Nobody would ever doubt that and claim to have read the story. But his motives have never had anything to do with correcting societal or cultural ills. They are always personal to bloody Mat Cauthon.
Adam S.
65. MDNY
Freelancer, I think that passage you just quoted is one of the best examples in the whole series of how, despite his protestations, Mat is actually a man who is constantly risking himself to save others. The whole point of the escape from Ebou Dar was to get out quietly while Tylin and Suroth were away. He did not free the windfinders as part of that plan, his freeing the windfinders was something he felt compelled to do for moral reasons, despite the fact that it risked his own escape plans. I think we read that passage very differently.
Marcus W
66. toryx
I don't think that every little thing needs to be wrapped neatly up and tied with a bow. But there are some things that just don't work for me. One of them is the business with the Song.

Okay, I get what Sanderson's saying about the Traveling Folk never finding the Song; they're looking for the idea of something that doesn't really exist. But the source of the talismanic Song that they've devoted their lives to is the song that Rand was singing, whether they knew it or not.

Now if Rand had sung the song anywhere other than Ebou Dar I wouldn't have had a problem with it ending there. The problem is, Ebou Dar had already been established as the place where all the Tinkers have been going to and it had been referenced more than once since.

So why go through all the trouble to place the Tinkers there, place Rand there, and have Rand demonstrate the Song and then just ending it there? It strikes me as uneven. Everything added up to a conclusion that was just left incomplete.

I don't think the Tinkers would have believed that Rand's Song was the Song but it would have been a Song that they'd have been the ideal people to learn. They could have kept traveling and seeking their perfect ultimate Song and along the way healed the earth of the damage done to it by the Last Battle. That would have been a great resolution that had been totally set-up only to be abandoned in the end. Hence my disappointment.
67. Freelancer
MDNY @65,

You did read the part where I said he was squaring the books with the Atha'an Miere in his own mind, right? It isn't either/or, it's both. Ask yourself this question. If Nestelle din Sakura South Star had refused to wait three hours, what would Mat have done? That three hours was timing for the chaos he needed to aid his departure. He understood that trouble around the palace itself would not be adequate to clear the path out of the city. A damane v Windfinder fight in the harbor, though, would bring all of the Seanchan channelers away from the gates. but if that chaos erupted immediately, the middle steps of his plan would be destroyed. And he asked her before he released her.

Mat is a fan favorite. I recognize that, though I don't submit to it. And everyone interprets the actions of characters in accordance with their own view of those characters. I regularly defend Rand's decisions at various points of the story as logical, reasonable and rational while others think him utterly bonkers for those same choices. The eye of the beholder, and all that...
Rich Bennett
68. Neuralnet
I was wondering this morning if the effect of Rand's "song" on the garden is related to the pipe lighting at the end. neither require the one power... is Rand rewriting/manipulating the pattern to get trees to grow etc. similar to how we think he may have lit the pipe... maybe after the last battle he just has more conscious control over it??? just a crazy thought
Ron Garrison
69. Man-0-Manetheran
Freelancer: yes, reunions. *gag* And in all humbleness, I have no doubt that I have accomplished more and still look younger than any of them. And with all that going, I still refuse to go. I fled Indiana when I was old enough to get away, and I have no desire to return.
So, to put this back on topic: the Mat/Rand reunion seemed like so much TV fiction to me, but I'll take you guys' word for it being accurately presented.
Joana Dwan
70. LandRoamer
I am with Leigh there that I never could relate to the Seanchan and Tuon, in spite of being Mat's love interest (and I am a Mat fan), sometimes exists just to make me angry (or so it seems). She is a character that when I thought would grow up, she didnt. When the story brought a chance for her to open her eyes, she didnt. When she learns that Mat is more than she thought and she could trust him, she didnt. In short, a long line of fails.
The one-upmanship in this chapter was amusing at first read.
@6 Both Mat and Rand's attitude confounded me. I also thought Mat over resisting the tavereness (or I expected him to be over it after paying the price to save Moiraine and all the things he went through). And I thought Rand gave up too easily all the collared Aes Sedai.
Then again, this is only my opinion.
Joana Dwan
71. LandRoamer
@69 YES, thank you. You got it right, it sounded very artificial to me, and I was having difficulty putting it to words.

Edited post number.
72. koko
68. Neuralnet

I think Rand says somewhere that the super growth around him is the pattern balancing itself because of the Dark One's evil famine affecting the entire world.
Ty Myrick
73. tymyrick

I've always felt Mat was a very unrealiable narrator, largely because he is fooling himself more than anybody else. Partly, that is his personality, but partly it has to do with the effects of his being ta'veren. Mat has always reminded me of Piers Anthony's Xanth character, Bink, in that the Pattern and Mat's luck affect him without any conscious will on his part. More than any of the other Superboys, Mat seems to be the Pattern's chess piece. Not a pawn, but a knight -- always moving somewhere unexpected, but always ending up right where he is needed. Since so much of his own agency has been overwhelmed by the Pattern, he tends to make up excuses for his actions to himself.

Yes, he has always been afraid of Rand going mad, but I think he sticks to that story when it comes to running away more because it lets him pretend that he is running away from danger by his own choice, rather than running into danger by the Pattern's.

The reason their banter rings true for me was brought up by JimF @56. The only true-to-their-personality interactions we saw between the three friends happened when Rand and Tam first show up at the Winespring Inn in tEoftW. After that, Rand is dealing with the near death of his father, then they are all fleeing Trollocs, Rand is suffering channeling-sickness in Baerlon, Mat finds the dagger is Shadar Logoth and begins to absorb the taint of Aridhol, Perrin finds out he is a wolf-brother and spends all his time fearing he will lose himself. In tGH, Perrin and Mat are still going through their own issues while holding Rand at arms' length because they think he is taking on airs and he is dealing with the knowledge that he can channel and Moiraine's insistence that he is the Dragon Reborn. By the time all three meet up again in the Stone, everyone is dealing with the knowledge that Rand is the Dragon Reborn and he is channeling tainted saidin. It has been a long road, but this is really the first time Rand and Mat have spent together where they are both comfortable with themselves since they left Emond's Field.

I did think his and Rand's brinkmanship was hilarious and true to form. Especially the bit at the end about saving Moiraine. Regardless of what the Dragon Reborn accomplishes, it makes perfect sense that Rand would give saving Moiraine the most credit.

I think Freelander @64 is giving Mat a bad rap and I'm in agreement with MDNY @65. Yes, Mat tried to talk himself out of going to free the Windfinder, and yes, he asked her to wait three hours so he could use their escape as a distraction for his own, but I don't think that distraction was the only, or even the main, reason he did it. Mat always argues with himself when his conscience pricks him, if he has time. If it is something immediate, he acts immediately and tries to rationalize it later, but if he knows something he doesn't want to do is the right thing, he bitches and moans and then does it. I think he knew the Atha'an Miere would honor a bargain to wait three hours, but even if she had not, I doubt his conscience would have let him leave her in captivity.


I don't think it is reasonable for the Seanchan to change as a people in the short time given in the books, but I was disappointed that Tuon did not change more, even though I understand why she didn't. She has lost her family and her homeland and had to take on incredible responsibilities at a very young age. It is no wonder that she clings to what she is familiar with rather than excepting new truths presented to her by outsiders.

That said, I was expecting more from her, especially when I read this chapter. I was disappointed in her for stealing Mat's medallion. She gave it back, but really, what was she planning on doing with it? She didn't know the Dragon Reborn was about to show up. Was she just going to take it?

I forgot that Rand actually knelt to her, but it was really more in supplication and to make her more comfortable since he towers over her, rather than in submission. On my first read through, I noted that Rand never knelt before the Crystal Throne, and never would because of the turmoil in Seanchan. I expected that repudiation of the Essanik Cycle prophecies to have more impact.

Stromgard @60 makes a good point about freeing the damane and the Empire's other slaves. One possible solution, for the damane, would be to gradually replace the a'dam with an oath to serve the Empire, made on the Oath Rod. Not only would it stop the torture, but it would shorten the lives of the damane. As the Empire changed, the brainwashed damane would die out, leaving channelers whose mores would be changing along with the Empire's. If Nynaeve and some of the Kin were given free passage into Altara, it wouldn't take long (well, maybe decades, rather than centuries) for them to begin talking the damane around to believing in their own freedom.
Richard Hunt
74. WOTman
I was never real thrilled about Tuon, I was hoping that Mat could ge her head straight, but that didn't happen. I think I would have thrown it in her face that she could easly be turned Damane also, Mat at least new the truth, I am not sure if Rand did for sure or not.
I didn't mind the banter between the two, but Rand comes off as very condescending which always ticks me off. He knows Mat doesn't see things the same way.
I was disappointed that Rand couldn't get more out of her, and there, I am in complete agreement with Leigh.
The fact that the three never come together physically in the end, doesn't really bother me that much, they all worked to the same ends and that is what matters. They were not physically together, but they were able to fulfil their ends and the way they did it; to me anyway, has more of a real world feel to it than your more typical hollywood endings.
Alice Arneson
75. Wetlandernw
Tektonica @34 – No. When I want your opinions, I’ll give them to you. ;)

The thing is, I don’t mind when people grouse about what someone did based on the fact that they don’t like that course of action; I’m happy to debate (at length!) the relative merits of an individual choice made by a particular character. What bugged me today was a) the overall negativity (to which I obviously contributed, if from a different angle) and b) the complaints about what didn’t happen “even though I obviously had a right to expect it to happen!!!” Okay, “I was bummed that this didn’t happen” is… legit, to an extent. But I don’t comprehend it to this extent. Why can people not enjoy the book that was written, instead of grousing about not getting the book they thought should have been written?

One of the things I enjoy about really good authors is that they can tell True Story while still surprising me. If I can anticipate most of what will happen, it might be a nice story – but it doesn’t delight me. On the other hand, if the reason I can’t anticipate things is because all the “surprises” are random, it’s not True Story. In my opinion, there’s only one major thing that falls out of True in the WoT, even though a great many things happened that I didn’t expect, and some I expected didn’t happen. All those prove is that the author wasn’t going quite where I thought he was – and I don’t find that particularly objectionable. Some, apparently, do. And feel that gives them the right to throw insults at the authors and the entire team who finished this book for us to read. That, I find objectionable.

I think Jill RedHand @27 really hit one of the main things a lot of people are missing. People, societies, all have problems – and WoT was never about fixing all the problems. It was about a bunch of imperfect people learning to work together to survive Armageddon Tarmon Gaidon, with the implication (but not proof, never proof) that as things go on afterwards, they might learn to work together on some other things too. A lot of the complaining that I’m reading is all about things that didn’t get fixed, or were left dangling, when the readers were hoping for an answer.

Well, there was more I was going to say when I started this yesterday, but I hate typing one-handed, so y’all get a break. :P Anyway, "fixing everything" was never a WoT theme (except for Nynaeve), so I really don't think we have any business whining about things that didn't get fixed the way we wanted.
Alice Arneson
76. Wetlandernw
Hmm. Really curious as to why my last post has to be approved by a moderator...
Bridget McGovern
77. BMcGovern
@76: We're actually having some technical difficulties at the moment--no comments are currently publishing, for some very strange reason. I've alerted our developers, and hopefully they'll have it fixed very soon.

Sorry for the inconvenience, everybody!
Alice Arneson
78. Wetlandernw
Ah. Thanks, Bridget. I was wondering if I'd gotten my name on a list... but I've been so good lately... really... :)
Bridget McGovern
79. BMcGovern
Nah, the site's just throwing a crazy temper tantrum, for no apparent reason, but should be behaving itself again shortly :)

Edit: Well, this went through okay, so hopefully we're already back up and running!
Don Barkauskas
80. bad_platypus
Freelancer @67: I agree with your overall assessment of Mat, but I would point out that in the scene with Tuon and the Aes Sedai, he freed them, then asked for their promises not to pester Tuon. In particular, when Joline refused to give her promise:
“I could let Precious keep you for a few days, until you change your mind.” Joline’s collar clicked open in his hands. “But I won’t.”
It's an interesting contrast between the two situations; maybe it was just that there was far more at stake in Ebou Dar, or maybe he changed his mind after his experience with the Windfinder. In the scene with the Windfinder after the part you quoted, he thinks to himself
She could ruin everything, but if he could not take a chance, then who could?
So he's aware that by freeing her his plan could be ruined, but he did it anyway.

If she hadn't agreed to wait, would he have freed her? My reading of Mat's character is that he would have, but the opposite view is certainly a valid reading.
j p
81. sps49
I didn't think the Rand and Mat interaction would cause such a fuss. My brothers and I still will act sort of like that when we reunite, even when together for a funeral.

Stromgard @60- The muggle slaves are not kept in such total domination as the damane. They can resist, attempt escape, and choose death if they want. They lead relatively cushy lives (usualy, as portrayed), are not kept in kennels, can defend themselves to some extent, and do not have to face what the collar can do.
82. Freelancer

Thanks for the correction about Joline, I actually trusted the chapter synopsis at encyclopaedia-wot on that one, and obviously shouldn't have. Still, he used the threat of leaving her in the a'dam to make his point, and that feeds to my point. Whatever his personal feelings about the wrong that is the Seanchan treatment of people who are "less equal" than others, his overriding animus is the expediency of surviving another day.

And in Ebou Dar, he very likely would have freed the Windfinder either way. The point of being the Gambler is that even when he doesn't believe his Luck is in, he's going to take the chance anyway. But he didn't include that condition in his questioning of her without a reason, so it remains a consideration that he might have chosen otherwise.
83. Faculty Guy
Wetlander@75: Hope I'm not being perceived as a complainer or "grouser." My self-perception is that I am grieving. I LIKE really complex and lengthy stories, with multiple plot lines. But a major part of the fun is the anticipation of learning the secrets, solving the mysteries, revealing the unexplained coincidences. I consider WAR AND PEACE perhaps the greatest novel ever written (although I know it appeared originally in installments in a magazine!). Dan Simmons' HYPERION and ENDYMION novels, as well as his ILIUM and OLYMPOS are great. Tolkien, obviously. The Harry Potter books. And many more. The longer and more complex the story, the harder it is to pull it off successfully. When a series is strung out over decades, the anticipation, speculation, and tension builds. And, then, when MAJOR questions, which the reader presumes were introduced into the story to pique curiosity, are left unaddressed at the end, the disappointment is stinging. (Yet more examples: the Ogier, where did they come from, how did they get here, what will they do after the LB? What about the Shaido? Will the Sharan civilization be opened up to visitors? And many, many more.)

I still believe things would have been MORE (if perhaps not completely) resolved if Jim Rigney had not been taken from us. No one is to "blame" (God, maybe). I can't help wondering whether even RJ could have brought it off - or whether the multiple plotlines had escaped control - but I'm willing to entertain the possibility that he could have, and I SURE wish I could read his attempt.

I hope no one interprets this as criticism of Brandon or of Team Jordan. But it definitely is an expression of disappointment.
84. JimF
@62. birgit "...Mat's memories are only from the Third Age. The only Song he might remember is Loial's Treesong in the Blight at the end of the first book (or maybe other Ogier Songs from his memories)...."

Maybe, and maybe not. Thus (courtesy WOTFAQ):
"Slices of other men's lives packed his head now, thousands of them, sometimes only a few hours, sometimes years altogether though in patches, memories of courts and combats stretching for well over a thousand years, from long before the Trolloc Wars to the final battle of Artur Hawkwing's rise. All his now, or they might as well be." [LOC: 5, A Different Dance, 113]

Perhaps we can slice and dice the timeline. The Breaking obviously occupied a fair amount of time. I'm not sure when Rand's vision took place in the upheaval that started with the Sealing of the Bore, but 1000 years later the Trolloc Wars happened. I think it is possible Mat's memories could encompass some of that breaking phase. But, you are probably correct. I'm too far away from the detail I once carried for these stories.
85. JimF
@67. Freelancer: "...Mat is a fan favorite...." Heh. I'm not sure Mat ranks any higher than Nynaeve; you either love them or hate them. But, he's no scoundrel, no matter what he tells himself. I think that is best illustrated in the great scene in the battle outside Cairhien tFoH), where he is doing everything in his power to get away from Rand and everything to do with him. When he realizes that the allied troop he has been seeing here and there are going to be destroyed, he rides down, warns them, and then leads them through one battle after another. There was no personal gain to be had; in fact death seemed all too certain. He won the day, killed Couladin, and perfected his "fave" standing in my book (he already had several fantastic episodes, mostly from tDR on; up until tDR, except for the barn scene where he protected Rand in tEotW, Mat was perhaps my least favorite character).
Alice Arneson
86. Wetlandernw
Faculty Guy @83 – Well, no one wishes more than Brandon that RJ had lived to write the last book(ssss). But RJ was always clear that there would be a lot of stuff left hanging with no answers, no solutions, no fixes:
I will wrap up all of the major storylines, I will wrap up some of the minor storylines. Other minor storylines will be left hanging, and I'm going to do worse than that. I am going to set a hook in the last scene of the last book, that will make some people who don't believe what I say, think that I am setting up a sequel. What I am doing, what I will be doing, is trying to leave you with a view of a world that is still alive. One hope that some fantasies have is that when you reach the end of the book, or you reach the end of the trilogy, all the characters' problems are solved. All of the things that they have been doing are neatly tied of in a bow, all of their world's problems have been solved. And there's no juice left, there's no life left. you think 'I ought to set this world on a shelf and put a bell-jar on top of it, to keep the dust off.
When I finish the Wheel of Time, I want to do it in such a way that you will think it's still out there somewhere, people still doing things. This story has been concluded, this set of stories has been concluded, but they're still alive. (Verbatim, Apr 7th, 2001)
So you might have been disappointed even if RJ had lived to write the next 5 books. He never intended to fix everything.

JimF @84 – According to RJ, Mat had memories extending from before the Trolloc Wars up through the time of Hawkwing. He didn’t say how much before, but the implication certainly didn’t include AOL memories. In another q&a, he refers to Birgitte as having memories from the War of Power, in a comment that was primarily about Mat & the gholam – implying that, since Birgitte’s memories were Mat’s only source of info on the subject, Mat probably did not have memories going that far back. Highest probability is that they extend from sometime during the Compact of Ten Nations up through the Hundred Years War.

Oh, and the Breaking lasted about 100 years.
87. Faculty Guy
Wetlander@86: I can respect Jordan's view and, of course, it is his creation; he is the Boss. And I even agree that a " . . . and they lived happily ever after" ending to any story is unrealistic and implies boring futures for all the victorious survivors.

It's not so much all FUTURE problems the I hoped resolved (although surely abandoning a story on the eve of likely future conflict - between Seanchan and Aiel, for example - is frustrating), but I badly wanted answers to puzzles, clarification of seeming paradoxes, and knowledge of at least the current status of characters in whom I had interest.

I am nevertheless grateful that the saga was created. Each book is, for the most part (maybe CoT excepted) satisfying in itself. The characters are intriguing and I'm glad I got hooked.
Ron Garrison
88. Man-0-Manetheran
wetlander @ 86:
Great quote. I actually had not seen that one. Thanks!
89. Ellanora
I found the conclusion of Mat's story, Tuon's story, and the Seanchan story in general unsatisfactory. I don't pin this at Brandon's door. We know that RJ had intended to write outriggers focused on the Seanchan so this explains why there are still unresolved plot points. However, I don't feel that it is good writing, or good story-telling to leave certain aspects of a story (particularly an epic one like WoT) feeling unfinished, or having plot resolutions feeling like they were artificially delayed because they are coming in a different story.

I get the feeling that the Seanchan reaction to the knowledge that all sul'dam can channel was planned to be a part of the outriggers, in which case it shouldn't have been discovered so early in the main series, because it leaves the Seanchan having unrealistics reactions to this information. I have no difficulty in believing that Tuon, Egeanin, and the others who know about it would leave the system as is and pretend nothing had happened on the outside. That seems very in keeping with the Seanchan.

What I have issue with is the lack of internal reaction to the news. Tuon should be shaken to the core by the knowledge that she is marath'damane. I found her line about potential vs. actual murderers completely unconvincing, particularly as experienced sul'dam are essentially doing the weaving/seeing the weaves themselves. Especially when they have plenty of other channelers in front of them who are learners rather than sparkers and are actively channeling. I would also have thought that fighting in the LB alongside the AS, windfinders, Kin, etc. would make them reconsider there attitude to women who can channel.
Don Barkauskas
90. bad_platypus
JimF @84, Wetlandernw @86: There's actually a direct quote in the books, from TFoH, Ch. 22:
He could remember being tall. Taller than Rand, when he rode against Artur Hawkwing. And a hand shorter than he was now when he fought beside Maecine against the Aelgari. He had spoken to Lan, claiming he had overheard some names; the Warder said Maecine had been a king of Eharon, one of the Ten Nations—that much Mat already knew—some four or five hundred years before the Trolloc Wars. Lan doubted that even the Brown Ajah knew more; much had been lost in the Trolloc Wars, and more in the War of the Hundred Years. Those were the earliest and latest of the memories that had been planted in his skull. Nothing after Artur Paendrag Tanreall, and nothing before Maecine of Eharon.
So that nails down the scope of Mat's memories pretty well. Since the Trolloc Wars started in 1000 AB, Mat's memories do not reach back to the Breaking.
91. d-mac
Author(s) disclaimers aside, as it relates to "The Song", I think the song of growing is the basis for the myth of "The Song" that the Tinkers are searching for. It may be true that it is unattainable, and has deeper philisophical meaning, but it is a meaning that grew into mythic proportions as the origin of the song was lost to the legends that arose surrounding the song by the following generations of Tinkers. Just another example of a misremembered past.
Mike DMonte
92. MickeyDee
Leigh, two words on why you shouldn't be too judgemental on Tuon or indeed the majority of the Seanchan empire:

cognitive dissonance.

We all do it, nothing special.

So do I hate on the Seanchan for leashing their demane? That's an interesting question and let me just ignore and talk on something different. I think that if we truly want to work toward a Randland that is pluralistic and accepting of all cultures that we have to put our bigotry behind and allow our ideals to stand or fall on their merits. I mean, c'mon. Can't we just all get along without the "damn you for your slavery" / "curse you for your red hair" type of intolerance?

Let's just do it for the children yeah?
Mike DMonte
93. MickeyDee
Wow wcarter@ 3......waterboarding is an answer for everything yes?
William Carter
94. wcarter
@93 Not for everything. Not by a long shot. But it would make an excellent object lesson to a slave master who thinks torturing people and treating them like animals is cool.
I really don't like Tuon. As a character I think she's believable and well written. But in terms of personality, I think she is a horrible (fictional) human being.
Sometimes the only way to break a mindset that twisted is to force the believer to face the consequences first hand. When it comes right down to it, waterboarding is a heck of a lot more lienent than making someone feel like they were being boiled alive or any number of twisted "punishements" the sul'dam come up with.
95. JimF
@86. Wetlandernw and 90. bad_platypus: Great scholarship on the duration of Mat's memories. Thanks; I stand corrected (although I thought I was off base after Birgit's comment). It seems to me I recall a comment of Birgitte's where she tells Mat he sounds like an "Eharon" something or other (or maybe it has something to do with shea dancing?). Probably from aCoS.

Also, at 86. Wetlandernw: I never saw that commentary from RJ, but he confirmed what I opined above at 56: "...Anyway, the books are written, we've read them, the Seanchan are still there, and as many questions abound as ever before. I guess the future of Randland is in our minds, being spun out independently like all those similar but so different places one can access through a Portal Stone...." In other words, the Search for the Song continues! Or maybe: "In one Age...a wind rose. The wind was not the beginning. Nor, apparently, was it an ending." It gives me a little chill. Good night, and God bless Robert Jordan.
Dianne Timmerman
96. LaDi
I have to agree with Wtlandernw @33. A lot of the dissatisfaction seems to be stemming from the fact that Team Jordan didn't write what they expected.
Tuan and Seanchan give me an uneasy feeling too. Because it's easy to understand. Why do so many think resistance to slavery (damane in this case) is inevatible? History teaches, resistance almost invariable starts with a very small minority (the American Civil War it is not resistance to slavery from within, it's one government against another; the fleeing slaves and people helping them in the South were the resistance) only when it gains some momentum the majority will participate.
As long as a government provides stability, prosperity, chances for people to improve, rise the majority will comply.
Both my parents and all my grandparents lived through WWII and they all tell this same story.

Couldn't resist the urge to reply.

I do agree with Ellanora @89 would have expected more internal reaction from Tuon, or being shown more of the internal reactions...
Eric Hughes
97. CireNaes
About the Song and Rand leaving the Tinkers adrift. Turn your respective Wheels to the Prologue of TEotW.
"Behind him the air rippled, shimmered, solidified into a man who looked around, his mouth twisting briefly with distaste. Not so tall as Lews Therin, he was clothed all in black, save for the snow-white lace at his throat and the silverwork on the turned-down tops of his thigh-high boots. He stepped carefully, handling his cloak fastidiously to avoid brushing the dead. The floor trembled with aftershocks, but his attention was fixed on the man staring into the mirror and. laughing. "Lord of the Morning," he said, "I have come for you." The laughter cut off as if it had never been, and Lews Therin turned, seeming unsurprised. "Ah, a guest. Have you the Voice, stranger? It will soon be time for the Singing, and here all are welcome to take part. Ilyena, my love, we have a guest. Ilyena, where are you?"
I presume what we are witnessing with Rand's vocal green thumb is a Talent. Those who have the Voice can take part in the Singing which we saw a piece of in the crystal columns of Rhuidean. It is the memory of better times, peaceful times that the Tuatha'an have memorialized by asking a simple question to each stranger they encounter and then inviting them to participate in their evening festivities. The harvest Singing and the what the Age of Legends made possible have become one in the same to them as time has passed and memories have faded.

Even if Rand came in and gave them a historical perspective on why they have conflated the two yet still hold to pacifism and hospitability, does anyone here think that would have gone over well? I imagine it would have been received in much the same manner as Rand's refutations of Couladin's claims followed by the backing of the Clan Chiefs. The Tuatha'an are fine the way they are. They don't need Rand "ending" their search.
Shane Carter
98. BankstownBoy
Highs and lows in the space of a few paragraphs. I get goosebumps each time I read Rand's proclaimation of his pedigree and precedence over all alive today. I enjoy hearing that Tuon backs away "her face full of horror". I cringe when Rand "goes down on one knee, bowing his head". I am flabergasted when Tuon says "you are one of us now Matrim" and Mat agrees. What a sell out, all for a bit of skirt who wont even admit to loving him.
Valentin M
99. ValMar
I wonder if people who focus entirely on Seanchan's despicable practices and ignore enirely their positive ones or the normality of the bulk of their everyday humanity recoil similarly when they read about ancient Rome, Athens, Vikings, their own country's histories...?
People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones at others.
Valentin M
100. ValMar
And now for the really important things in life, never mind slavery, human WMDs and all that... The hunny! It's been a while.
Also, that's one tortured long sentence @ 99.
andrew smith
101. sillyslovene
Now that the hunny has been captured, maybe I can be forgiven for going too far off topic with this.

In my dreams last night, I was treated with a recreation of an epic Age of Legend's Donut (all rights reserved) that Rand al-Thor remembered fondly, somewhere in the non-canonical WOT universe. It was a foot-long maplebar, with a cream filling, but also somehow having a groove baked into the top filled with some sort of chocolate fudge nougat. Then drizzled with chocolate frosting, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Yummy.

As there are very few people I could share this dream with, I thought I would be nice and bring it to you. Multiple Age of Legends Donuts are now in the bunker, get 'em while their fresh.
Alice Arneson
102. Wetlandernw
Bunker, here I come! That sounds awesome! ;)
103. Freelancer
ValMar has reminded me of an interesting story. A tribal leader was fortunate to have the skills of several master thatchers in his home village, resulting in an unprecedented three story royal palace. He put the oddity of his grand home to use by inviting the kings of neighboring tribes to visit him at this remarkable construction, whereupon he would slay the leader, send his warriors to invade their village, and subjugate their people to his rule. He took the thrones of the other leaders as trophies of these conquests. The success of this campaign was so great, that eventually every room of his palace was outfitted with various rival chieftan's chairs on display.

Unfortunately, the weight was more than even the finely crafted thatch-work could support, and the king died when the upper two floors crashed down upon his head. The lesson which the king never had the chance to learn: He who lives in grass houses shouldn't stow thrones.
Ron Garrison
104. Man-0-Manetheran
Clearly you have left everyone speechless, Free! LOL
Janet Hopkins
105. JanDSedai
Hey, Man, I guess you know the story about the beer that made Mel Famey walk us?!
Ron Garrison
106. Man-0-Manetheran
No, Jan, but I do know that Black Label fired Mabel because she had Schlitz in her dress. (OK, that is bad and old. I think maybe grade school old.)
Chris R
107. up2stuff
I like the idea that there isn't any, one Song. I think it is the act itself of The Singing and joining with the Ogier and the Nym that made the growing possible. A it is a collective act of renewal and the question of "Have you found The Song?" means have you participated in a singing and would you like to join ours.

With so many cases, especially in the first book when Rand and Mat were hiding as storytellers, of a song being familiar but with different names or words, I think this possibility has merit. It also just seems like a nice idea that in the Age of Legends, every community had its own Singing Ceremony and maybe a different regionally significant song.
108. s'rEDIT
RE: 103, 105, 106

I have but one response: "Kicks are for Trids."
Sam Mickel
109. Samadai
Nothing to do with WoT, but Requiem by Ken Scholes is out tomorrow, the fourth book in his Psalm of Isaac series. He does a great job of worldbuilding and fast paced action. A very good series for anyone who is interested.
110. Freelancer
JanDSedai @105

Any true baseball fan knows that one. It works best in Minnesota.

s'rEDIT @108

But, there isn't a silly rabbi in sight.
Ron Garrison
111. Man-0-Manetheran
Somebody pass me that last coffin nail. . . . . . . .
Terry McNamee
112. macster
Ugh. Being damn busy with trying to find work does not leave a lot of time for myself, let alone this blog.

As sometimes happens, I just don't get why Leigh is so upset by this chapter, other than the obvious. (I'll get to the Seanchan in a bit.) Because I actually thought it was the funniest chapter in the whole book, from the whole waking up naked in the gardens thing, to Rand just casually strolling in to be captured a la Luke Skywalker, to (to keep the Star Wars theme going) the banter between him and Mat as Han Solo, especially that final line of the chapter--I totally was laughing out loud, and understood completely why Rand was laughing, since it had nothing to do with what he'd just agreed to with Tuon.

Mat still trying to stay away from Rand, and still being determined to escape his fate, I think is answered by one of the very things you quoted, Leigh--the bit about how long it's been since Mat saw Rand in person. Because if you recall, Mat was still in the "must escape my fate, must get away from crazy Rand" mindset well through both TFoH and LoC, and that a big part of why he agreed to go and "rescue" Elayne and Egwene was to get away from both Rand and being ta'veren. In the time period between then and now, while Mat has gone through a lot to show him he can't really escape being ta'veren (the gholam, the Bowl, the Seanchan and Tuon, Moiraine's letter), he has yet to experience anything to make him think Rand wasn't mad or going to go mad. Yes, he knows about the Cleansing via Verin (not that he can trust her word on it), but as we've seen people all over Randland took a very long time to believe it happened, that saidin was safe, and that the men weren't mad or still going to go mad. In fact we also know that the madness remained even after the taint was gone, and that if it weren't for Nynaeve's Healing and Rand's reintegration, that madness would indeed still be around, so Mat's fears aren't exactly unfounded. Particularly when Rand is still convinced he can and should kill the Dark One.

So all that being said, it makes sense to me that Mat would still be in the mindset he has been in toward Rand since the last time we saw them together. At the same time, the very fact he knows his being ta'veren won't let him escape his fate, and that he's been told about the Cleansing, means we can also say that as usual, Mat is just blowing smoke. We all know that when push comes to shove he will do the right thing, be there, be a hero, and all the rest is him either not wanting to appear docile and ready to do what he's told to do or swaggering bluster. It may be annoying, but we know in the end that he will do the right thing, he'll stop running, he'll be there for Rand. And because I knew this was the case, because I saw right through Mat's usual defenses, I could handle the way he was acting. Him 'forgetting' how he treated Rand over the fancy clothes is just another example of how this attitude toward Rand is not new, but also how to a certain extent it is, or has become, more and more of a pose he adopts to save face while still being someone we can count on. Not to mention he does get called on his attitude later by Amaresu. :D

As for all three boys getting together at the end...yeah, that's disappointing, but we can't get everything we want, right? And it seems Sanderson tried to make it happen but it just wouldn't work, story and character-wise. And I can see why. Between dreamshards and the wolf dream, Rand and Perrin could get together easily, but thanks to Mat's medallion the only way he could be there is through Traveling...and not only was he busy with the Seanchan, but Perrin had to go get rid of the dreamspike, then face Slayer. And maybe this is really the way the Pattern had to work, splitting them up, swirling them back together and apart again in different configurations. Notice how Perrin and Mat get together in ToM, then Perrin and Rand at the start of AMoL, then Rand and Mat now, and then at Shayol Ghul Perrin and Mat meet up again. Technically they were all there at Shayol Ghul, just not all interacting, though their presences were likely how the Pattern succeeded in healing and bringing down the Shadow. It would have been great to see them all together, but Jordan was always about being unpredictable, not doing things the way we thought he should, and he always said not everything would be resolved, or resolved the way we wanted.

On that note, I still think that the build-up about the damane and sul'dam was something he intended to address in the outriggers. Something like the centuries-long institution of the damane is not going to be undone and changed overnight. Look at how long it took blacks to receive equal rights after the Civil War and Reconstruction. It's realistic to me that this is something which will happen later, that either something Hawkwing said or (more likely, based on what's been implied about Hawkwing not really having a problem with the slavery) Mat himself will, over time, help Tuon and the Seanchan change. It's a long, complex process that just couldn't be shown in the context of this book and couldn't be dealt with and resolved in any way that would feel definitive without also being too sudden. But once the matter is resolved, I think the two sides will be able to get along and not destroy the Dragon's Peace. It will likely not last, no--or if it does it will remain an uneasy peace as we have in our current world--but as long as eventually the damane are dealt with, that at least won't be the specific reason for the Peace unraveling, I don't think.

Side notes: I enjoyed the fact that the resolution of prophecy happened pretty much the way a number of people, including Leigh herself, predicted: that Rand did bow, but only in the context of showing respect to Tuon while offering her an alliance, and it was this alliance which "bound the Nine Moons to serve him". I also enjoyed how Rand, now that he has all Lews Therin's memories, naturally has "the Voice" again--not the actual Song the Tinkers are seeking, but the seed-singing of the Age of Legends. It would have been nice if he'd had the time to use it more extensively, particularly in helping the Ogier regrow the Great Trees as he did at Merrilor, but I like that we're given an explanation for some of the amazing things Rand has been doing since Dragonmount and that the explanation doesn't lessen the impact one bit--since recovering seed-singing, as well as how this ties into his Fisher King effect, is still an incredibly impressive and Messiah-like thing to do. And having it be some old song from the Two Rivers he's humming was a hilarious but heartwarming nod back to his roots.

(Speaking of being a Messiah, him owning Tuon with his references to what he did as Lews Therin was badass and awesome. And the fact he ruled and conquered in all those ways but did it without armies and swords, and that he came now to Tuon without them as well, definitely has some Jesus parallels.)

Also: did anybody else notice Rand left out one of Tuon's names? She had plenty already, of course, but ever since I found out Kore was a reference to Persephone (and the resonance between that and Mat carrying her away is a very nice touch), I've appreciated the mythological allusion, so it seems a bit unfortunate it got forgotten.
Terry McNamee
113. macster
@10 Neuralnet: I think the color swirls was just the Pattern's way of telling the boys they needed to be get back on track, back helping each other and working together to bring down the Shadow, not that they specifically needed to all be in one place or that anything special would happen if they were all together. Note that they first started for Rand after the whole episode at Dumai's Wells and the box, which is when his Lews Therin problem started getting much worse, and that Perrin and Mat didn't get them until a) they were off on their own and b) both of them, for different reasons, were ignoring Rand/their responsibilities. Once Perrin got back on track he got them a lot less, and Mat didn't get them either once he and the Seanchan came to Merrilor. So it was less "you three must be in the same place" and more "get back to what the Pattern is weaving for you to do".

As for the song, it's true that teaching that to the Tinkers would have been nice, because even if it wasn't the actual Song, the ability to make things grow would have been something I think they'd have appreciated since it would fit with their Way of the Leaf and would give them a larger role in the world post-Last Battle. Not to mention them being descended from the Da'shain who actually did that for a living in the Age of Legends. Then again, maybe they wouldn't have, since they are more about traveling and repairing items than growing things.

@11 SolarSoul: My sentiments exactly.

@19 NotInventedHere: Good point. And to some degree I think Rand realizes what you're talking about when he accepts and releases the others from the list.

@20, 29 Wetlander: I'm glad to know that somebody actually saw this chapter the way I did. To say I am disappointed in the reactions of a lot of fans is an understatement, but then I often am...and I've realized that I am pretty much going to be alone in a lot of my views. And that's okay, everyone sees the series differently, and people hating what I like and liking what I hate is not going to change how I feel. Plus there were so many high expectations for this book there's no way it could have covered everything everyone wanted it to, let alone to all of their satisfaction. And of course your points about everyone having their own individual views that can't possibly be satisfied, or can satisfy others, and of the contradiction between crying "Predictable!" and being annoyed something didn't go as you predicted/wanted, are indeed quite valid.

@21 Kakita: Min too, I had forgotten the influence she would have (though I believe I mentioned it in an earlier post).

@25 Ellisande: Actually, when we get to Chapter 24 "To Ignore the Omens", we find out Tuon was, in fact, affected by what happened (specifically, she mentions the omen of peach blossoms, "the most powerful omen of all"). It's just that, as usual, she's very good at hiding her thoughts and feelings. As for serving him, I would say the fact Tuon agrees to help Egwene instead of trying to collar her, and that she goes along with both Mat and Min so as to help win the day at Merrilor, counts as serving. Just...in her fashion.

@26 ChocolateRob: It seems that the fall of Caemlyn had to happen (probably to be the parallel to Arthur and the Battle of Camlaan). As for Mat avoiding the letter, that may actually have been the Pattern forcing him to do so, since the reason he avoided it was so he could rescue Moiraine--which we were told had to happen for Rand to win. Remember that the Pattern is neutral, not good. Sacrifices will be made for the sake of the Pattern.

@27 Jill RedHand: Agreed 100%.

@33 Tektonica: True, but even if she had had a revelation, it would have been too sudden and unrealistic to have that instantly make her change the Seanchan now. It still would have to have been handled more gradually and subtly. But it seems like you realize that and that that's what you were hoping for, in which case I can agree with you it would have been nice to see a hint of it. Then again we were in Mat's head for this part, not Tuon's, so who knows what she really thought? Her later POVs don't shed complete light on that.

@40 ChocolateRob: The problem is that a lot of people seem to think that because Verin was Black Ajah and could lie, she made that whole thing up. So that completely undermines your point. I agree with you, but I seem to be one of the few people who thinks that despite her being Black, Verin didn't lie constantly, and that she too could have been driven by a ta'veren effect on the Pattern.

@42 Faculty Guy: Perhaps the problem is that we are too used to the purveyors of fiction, especially writers, giving us all the answers, so when things are left unresolved we cry foul, even though that's the way it is IRL. Perhaps Jordan included these things not to resolve them, but to simply ask the questions and make us think about their implications so we could decide for ourselves.

@46 Jonellin: More good points.

@48 Crusader: And another! Mat was indeed where he needed to be, both for this deal with the Seanchan and for what he and they will be doing at Merrilor later. Not to mention him being away necessitated the whole subplot with Faile and the Horn--and if that hadn't happened, would they have discovered the Horn was no longer linked to him, and gotten Olver to blow it, before it was too late?

@52 Freelancer: Amen to all that!

@59 Stromgard: They do get a talk like that, the one in Chapter 19 where Rand discovers the seals are fakes. Granted it still starts off tense and they don't sit for hours talking and having tea, so I guess that wasn't good enough in your eyes. But really, there wasn't time for lots of talking and hobnobbing. It's also clear from several comments Rand makes that he did talk to Thom, but it was off-screen. I am actually a bit more sad about that, considering how close they were in TEotW, TGH, and TSR. But, things change and people change. It'd have been nice to get one more scene of them talking as friends, or playing the flute together, but we can always imagine that did happen. :)

@61 insectoid: The Crystal Throne is a symbol of Seanchan and the Empress, so by kneeling to her he's kneeling to it. This interpretation has been brought up and discussed before.

@66 toryx: That's...a very good point. And I don't see why even if the Tinkers didn't accept it as the Song, they couldn't have learned it as a song and used it while still traveling, as you say. It would have been a better resolution, even as it still wasn't really a full resolution (so it would still fulfill Jordan's need to leave things undone). It seems the only reason it wasn't done was to save space, or because Team Jordan/RJ was convinced the Tinkers just wouldn't accept/learn it. :/

@68 Neuralnet: An interesting notion, and it has merit. It doesn't seem possible he could just be able to exert his will over the Pattern to make things happen (unless that's part of the Dragon/Fisher King effect), but if it were due to the seed-singing, that's something which requires neither being the Dragon nor a channeler. Just having Lews Therin's memories, which he does.

@72 koko: It seems though that Rand was lying, or at least telling an Aes Sedai truth, when he said that, since quite clearly he's doing something here (singing) to make it happen, not just it being the "will of the Pattern" balancing out the Dark One. To put it another way, the Pattern gave him Lews Therin's memories, so he could sing and make things like this happen. It made it possible for him to balance the Dark One, but he still has to be the one to do it, not just something the Pattern does by his simple presence. Or it's both.

@73 tymyrick: Very good analysis of the boys, the bantering, and of Mat. I just want to point out, as I did to insectoid above, that the Crystal Throne is a symbol of the Seanchan and the Empress. Rand doing what he did was kneeling to it, symbolically. It's just another case of, as usual, people interpreting prophecy too literally (in this case, to satisfy their own view of what is right and proper). Why Tuon made no mention of this could be ascribed to a) not wanting to admit she'd been wrong about her interpretation of the prophecy b) realizing to herself what the prophecy actually meant and thus being okay with it because it was still fulfilled, even if not in the way she thought/hoped or c) being so glad the Dragon Reborn knelt to her and gave her his alliance, both out of ego and a desire to see the Shadow stopped, that she didn't care about the specifics of the prophecy any more.

@75 Wetlander: LOL at that opening line!! And again, I have to agree completely. I think I know what the thing is you find not True, but we can debate that later when we get to it.

@83 FacultyGuy: I see where you're coming from. And while I was very satisfied for the most part with Brandon's work, I will freely admit I'd love to see how Jordan would have written it. And not just because it would possibly mean he was still alive.

@86 Wetlander: That's a wonderful quote. And now that we know how the book/series ended, it has even more resonance. It certainly says a lot about Jordan, and more reason to admire him.

@97 CireNaes: Exactly, that is what I was thinking of when I read this scene, it's a direct callback to show that Rand had recovered Lews Therin's memories and this is his/a Talent from the Age of Legends. Not the Song itself. The fact one came from the other, but has now mutated beyond it into something mythical and unattainable, is just part of Jordan's view of how history and legends change with more than a bit of sad irony added to it.

@99 ValMar: Well said.

@103 Freelancer: *groans and buries his face in his hands* Oh man...that one is as awful as the joke I read which ended with the punchline "Only Hugh can prevent florist friars"!

@107 up2stuff: Nice. :)
114. Faculty Guy
Re: Incredibly contrived pun(ch) lines. I believe the ultimate might be delivered by Dale Evans in a singing voice: "Pardon me Roy, is that the cat that chewed your new shoes?" (You have to sing the last six words rapidly.)

The set-up is fairly obvious (I mean, how many ways could that question make even minimal sense), and involves Dale's birthday gift of boots, Roy's hunt soon afterward for a cattle-raiding puma, his being jumped by the cat and bringing the slain animal home slung across Trigger's saddle after an epic fight in which his boots are ripped to shreds, only to be greeted by his spouse . . . well . . .
Scientist, Father
115. Silvertip
@103 Freelancer: Brother, you have given my entire family (currently divided between those getting over strep and those starting not to feel so good) a badly-needed guffaw. Many thanks. (My ten-year-old: Gosh dad, that's way funnier than most of your jokes. Sheesh).

118. Freelancer
Faculty Guy,

I'm afraid I know that one as well, but it helps to know the original song being punned, lest it seem like just a randomly wierd line. Also, as an 8-year-old on a trip to their museum (the first one, in Apple Valley), I got very creeped out by the stuffed Bullet and Trigger, then met Roy as he was riding around on Little Trigger.

Silvertip @115

Sorry to hear of the sickness. I rolled my eyes at tons of horrible old jokes while growing up, and somehow it seems that the only ones I remember well are the clever puns.
119. MasterAlThor
Hello all from the land of the hand.

I just wanted to comment on my favorite chapter in the whole book. Yes I am q week late but hey, I was busy.

First this: Leigh vs Tuon

Leigh crushes Tuon with a visicous overhand right. Felling the Emperess with a massive blow. That whole thing about the world not being her concern....yeah let us know how that turns out once Rand loses. I really wish Rand would have thought to counter with that. Interesting to see how that would have all turned out then.

Second: Why this was my favorite chapter

Do you realize how long we have been waiting to see Rand and Mat back together? And Mat still gives Rand crap about going mad and killing his friends. Then they go back and forth about who has been doing better. Come on that is comedic gold. MO that was superbly written. I hadn't laughed so hard since LoC when Rand told the joke about the farmer and the Maidens didn't get it.

Well that's all I got for this one. Glad to see some of you guys are still around and giving people the old what for (quick glances at Wet and Free....What? I and saying nuttin).


P.S. Look at a map if you don't know the land of the hand
120. K.Budd
MasterAlThor @119: Don't you mean the land of the mitten?
122. stepper
@119 Thanks. I found this chapter to be among my favorite chapters as well. I though the banter between Rand and Mat brought us right back to the Eye of the World characters, but with them having matured and changed.... much like getting back together with your high school or college friends... all have had their own lives/ experiences since last you saw them... but there is still that bond and those shared emotions/experiences.. "you can take up a conversation like you had never been apart". Not a simple emotional connection to put into words.... Bravo Team Jordan!
123. stepper
@119 Thanks. I found this chapter to be among my favorite chapters as well. I thought the banter between Rand and Mat brought us right back to the Eye of the World characters, but with them having matured and changed.... much like getting back together with your high school or college friends... all have had their own lives/ experiences since last you saw them... but there is still that bond and those shared emotions/experiences.. "you can take up a conversation like you had never been apart". Not a simple emotional connection to put into words.... Bravo Team Jordan!
Judy Carmona
124. Farstrider
Mat just told Elayne in TOM (Talk of Dragons) that the Band must be free to fight at the last battle "however Rand wants" - sounds like he had plans to be at the LB to support Rand. It makes sense that he felt it was time to go square things away with Tuon first. If all the other Lightsiders were wary of entering the LB with the Seanchan at their back, why should it not have occurred to Mat, General Royale?
FWIW, I enjoyed this chapter and loved that Mat waited until the opportune moment for his final jab at Rand. It worked for me.
Captain Hammer
125. Randalator
re: The Dragon's Peace

Well, we've seen in Avi's future vision that even though the Seanchan refused to release any Aiel damane the Aiel held relative peace for 17 years after the last battle and while they've been killing Seanchan who venture too close to their camp they're only now about to declare war on them. Also they were close to reaching an agreement before Tuon died and negotiations went *poof*.

So, I think Leigh's estimate of the Dragon's Peace not lasting one year is a bit pessimistic even regarding Avi's craptastic vision of suck to come.

But here's the deal. The whole violent part of the conflict (killing and eventually war) was only possible because the Aiel were not part of the Dragon's Peace. That allowed them to declare war on the the Seanchan and they in turn were free to retaliate without violating the treaty. Note that the Seanchan held the Peace with the Randland nations even after Tuon's death and vice versa. The even held it after the Aiel went to war. It's not until another 40 years later, when the Aiel drag Andor into their war with Seanchan, that the Peace actually crumbles.

And that part has changed, now. The Aiel are part of the treaty and therefore cannot declare war on the Seanchan however much they might want. I'm cautiously optimistic that this 'mutual ground' on which both sides are put by the inclusion of the Aiel will give negotiations on the release of the damane the necessary time or even make them successful during Tuon's reign.

It might even make the prospect of abolishing the whole damane/slavery issue in Seanchan altogether much more feasible. Think about it: Abandoning the very foundation of your nation's power in face of an enemy who's ready to be at your throat any second isn't exactly something a lot of people would agree to. Even just releasing the Aiel damane would seem like a a very bad idea from a Seanchan point of view. You would have to deal with a lot (a LOT) of resistance to that plan.

I can't help but think that negotiations took so long due to that exact problem. After consolidating her reign and bringing order to her civil war ridden nation, Tuon would have had to tread extra, extra carefully and slowly to nudge Seanchan into that direction. And honestly, I don't think it's a coincidence that Tuon just happened to die and be replaced with a very conservative screw-progress-back-to-status-quo-slavery-YAY!-bring-me-some-delicious-Aiel-damane type Empress just as she was about to reach an agreement with the Aiel.

By including the Aiel in the Dragon's Peace, Rand might just have cleared the way for Seanchan entering a post-slavery society and resolving their differences with the Aiel and Channelers in general. Oh, and also ensured Tuon and Mat not meeting their untimely demise a mere decade or so after the Last Battle.
126. hesuchia
I also remember part of Aviendha's vision that said the Seanchan didn't really feel as loyal to the Dragon's Peace since he knelt to the Empress (may she live forever) and in their eyes made him beneath them. I don't remember the context.

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