Tue
Jun 18 2013 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 18

Gather ’round me, everybody, gather ’round me while I’m preachin’ the Wheel of Time Reread!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 18 of A Memory of Light, in which you’ve got to AC-CEN-tuate the positive, E-LIM-inate the negative… but Gawyn still insists on being Mr. In-Between.

*ear-flick*

Previous reread 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 reread is also now available as an ebook series, from your preferred ebook retailer!

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

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 18: To Feel Wasted

What Happens
On the battlefield in Kandor, Gawyn guards Egwene and the other sisters from the Trollocs who make it through the defensive line, while the sisters concentrate on blasting the enemy apart on a larger scale. He reflects that the battle is going well; they have held position without falling back for a week now. He kills his fifth Trolloc for the shift, and then he and Egwene and Silviana retire from the field as Sleete’s contingent arrives to relieve them. He is concerned that Egwene is pushing herself too hard, though he is barely sleeping himself, guarding her from the assassins sent into the camp.

He knew he was needed, and what he did was important, but he couldn’t help feeling wasted. He was one of the finest swordsmen in the army, and he stood on the battlefield for two hours a day, killing only the occasional Trolloc stupid enough to charge two Aes Sedai. What Gawyn did was more like putting them out of their misery than fighting them.

He urges Egwene to sleep more, and lies playfully about his surprise when she agrees, to her amusement. He comments on the convenience of the fact that while Aes Sedai must follow the Three Oaths, their Warders do not—an observation that Egwene omits to comment on. They go to the command tent, where Bryne reports that Elayne has asked them to push further into the hills to keep the Trollocs from regrouping. He comments on the effectiveness of the Aes Sedai on the battlefield, and Egwene tells him that is why the Shadow tried so hard to bring the Tower down. Siuan cautions that they’ll need to watch for Dreadlords, given Lan’s reports from Shienar, and Egwene orders Bryne to send riders by gateway to the Black Tower to try and make contact with the sisters camped around it, and have them return to Kandor. She says the Dreadlords will come, and that she will send more sisters to aid Lan; Gawyn is unhappy that this means there will be fewer sisters to support Egwene here. Egwene sees his expression, and decides that she needs to sleep. They leave, and Egwene lets herself slump against Gawyn for a moment before reasserting her Amyrlin face.

So young, he thought, to have so much required of her.

Of course, she wasn’t much younger than al’Thor himself. Gawyn was pleased, and a little surprised, that thinking of the man did not provoke any anger. Al’Thor would fight his fight. Really, what the man did was none of Gawyn’s business.

They go to Maerin Sedai’s tent, where Egwene is sleeping today, and find Leilwin and Bayle waiting there, which sours Egwene’s mood. Gawyn reflects that Egwene has a blind spot regarding Seanchan, but Gawyn himself trusts Leilwin. Egwene enters the tent, ignoring Leilwin, and she observes to Gawyn that the Amyrlin will not let her serve her. Gawyn answers that Egwene doesn’t trust her, despite her oath, and Leilwin answers that she thinks Egwene considers all Seanchan Darkfriends.

Gawyn shrugged. “You beat her and imprisoned her, making her into an animal to be led by a collar.”

I did not,” Leilwin said. “If one baker made you foul bread, would you assume all of them seek to poison you? Bah.”

She stalks off to get Gawyn food, Bayle in tow. Gawyn pulls out the three ter’angreal rings he’d retrieved from the Bloodknives. He knows he should turn them over to Egwene, but he thinks the Aes Sedai will just hide them away instead of using them, and reflects that the Last Battle is the time to be taking risks instead.

You decided to stand in Egwene’s shadow, Gawyn, he thought. You decided you would protect her, do what she needed of you. She was winning this war, she and the Aes Sedai. Would he let himself grow as jealous of her as he had been of al’Thor?

Leilwin and Bayle return and see the ring, and she hisses that only Bloodknives may wear such a thing. Gawyn points out that he isn’t wearing it, and Leilwin warns him not to let his blood touch the ring; she doesn’t know much about how they work, but she has heard they kill their users. She leaves, and Gawyn tells Bayle that Leilwin should avoid the topic of assassins around Egwene. Bayle agrees, and leaves too. Gawyn feels a little shamed at his misdirection (implying that Egwene already knew about it). He tells himself that using the ring does not mesh with his determination to be a simple Warder, but he still does not tell her about it.

Disguised as Jur Grady, Rand destroys a phalanx of Trollocs for Elayne’s troops, making sure to camouflage his true strength. He wonders if the Trollocs will all die immediately if he kills the Dark One. He thinks back to the first time he (as Lews Therin) had seen one, the result of Aginor’s mad experiments.

Rand worried that these things might be humans reborn. Aginor had used people to create the Trollocs and Myrddraal. Was this the fate of some? To be reborn as twisted creations such as this? The idea sickened him.

He sees that the clouds are clearing, as they do in his presence, and as the sunlight breaks, he dismisses his disguise and creates a column of light to mark himself. The army cheers him, and he leaves via gateway before any of the Shadow’s traps can find him. Min meets him at Merrilor, and remarks that he looks sad.

The Shadow had seen him fighting on all fronts. He had joined Lan’s fighting, Egwene’s fighting and Elayne’s in turn. By now the Shadow had committed most of its armies to the fighting in the south. The time for Rand to strike at Shayol Ghul was at hand.

Rand comments that Moiraine thinks his forays are a foolish risk. Min agrees that they are, but says she is glad that he is the kind of person who cannot sit by while others die. Rand hugs her, and wonders how he would have survived without her. Cadsuane and Moiraine both approach, but Moiraine turns back when she sees the Green sister, avoiding her. Cadsuane examines Rand from all sides, and Rand asks if she’s deciding whether he’s up for his job. Cadsuane replies that wondering that is for fools, and asks if he is one.

“An impossible question,” Min replied. “If he says that he is, then a fool he becomes. If he says that he is not, then he implies he does not seek further wisdom.”

“Phaw. You’ve been reading too much, child.” Cadsuane seemed fond as she said it.

Cadsuane brings up the gifts he’s been giving his loved ones, and remarks that it is a typical practice for those preparing for a battle from which they do not expect to return. Rand is disconcerted. She asks to talk to him alone. After Min leaves, she remarks that Moiraine is growing impatient with his delays, but Cadsuane is much more concerned that he obviously expects to die. Rand answers that he has embraced his death, and that she should leave it.

“I am pleased at that,” she said, “and do not think—for a moment—that I would not trade your life for the world.”

“You’ve made that obvious from the start,” Rand said. “So why worry now? This fight will claim me. So it must be.”

“You must not assume that you will die,” Cadsuane said. “Even if it is nearly inevitable, you must not take it as completely inevitable.”

She asks if she gets a gift, and Rand tells her he is only giving them to people he cares about. This amuses her, and she tells him their relationship may not have been the smoothest, but that she is pleased with how he turned out. He asks sarcastically if he has her permission to save the world, then, and she answers, seriously, that he does—as long as he does it soon. Rand asks her to assist Aviendha in fending off the Forsaken after he enters the mountain, and to bring Alivia. She agrees, and then asks about the Black Tower; Rand knows the Black Tower is a trap for him, and answers that he sent Perrin to deal with it, but she correctly divines that he still wants to go himself.

“They’re free.” Cadsuane turned to walk away. “Taim and his men have been cast out of the Black Tower.”

“What?” Rand demanded, stepping up to take her by the arm.

“Your men there freed themselves,” Cadsuane said. “Though, from what I’ve been told, they took a beating doing it. Few know it. Queen Elayne might not be able to use them in battle for some time. I don’t know the details.”

Rand is both exultant and guilt-ridden by the news, wondering if he could have prevented more deaths by going himself. Cadsuane sighs and tells him he “has cracks in him”, but he’ll have to do.

Lan’s men toast Deepe’s memory, and Lan finds he can’t be angry at the man for disobeying orders, when he’d taken the chance to take down one of the Shadow’s most dangerous channelers. He is pleased that the soldiers are beginning to treat the Asha’man as comrades. Lan goes to check on Mandarb, who had miraculously survived the attack earlier, and promises the horse a peaceful life in restored Malkier one day.

It had been a very long time since Lan had thought of the future with anything resembling hope. Strange to find it now, in this place, in this war. He was a hard man. At times, he felt he had more in common with the rocks and the sand than he did with the men who laughed together beside the fire.

That was what he’d made of himself. It was the person he’d needed to be, a person who could someday journey toward Malkier and uphold the honor of his family. Rand al’Thor had begun to crack that shell, and then Nynaeve’s love had ripped it apart completely.

He thinks Rand will never know how similar they are. Lord Baldhere, Queen Ethenielle’s Swordbearer, approaches, and confesses to Lan that he is worried about Lord Agelmar. He says that he is confused by some of Agelmar’s strategy choices, that they are too aggressive. He brings up the recent loss of two entire cavalry squadrons; Lan points out that everyone makes mistakes, but Baldhere counters that he does not think that that was one Agelmar would have made. Lan asks if perhaps Baldhere is expecting too much of Agelmar just because he is one of the Great Captains, and Baldhere concedes this.

“I guess it comes down to an instinct, Lan. An itch. Agelmar seems tired a lot, and I worry it’s affecting his ability to plan. Please, just watch him.”

“I’ll watch,” Lan said.

Lan goes to the command tent. Agelmar is not there, and Lan studies the maps for the next day’s campaign; he thinks the plan is ambitious, but nothing strikes him as out of the ordinary. Agelmar enters and sees Lan, and asks if he approves. Lan answers that it is very aggressive for a retreat, and Agelmar answers that they are razing Shienar as they go, and he will have Trolloc blood “to quench those ashes.” He correctly guesses that Baldhere came to Lan about the cavalry losses, and freely admits it was a mistake. Lan says Baldhere thinks Agelmar is pushing himself too hard, but Agelmar insists that he knows his limits.

“But—”

“Relieve me or let me be,” Agelmar said, cutting in. “I will listen to advice—I am not a fool—but I will not be second-guessed.”

“Very well,” Lan said, rising. “I trust your wisdom.”

Agelmar nodded, lowering his eyes to his maps. He was still working on his plans when Lan finally left to turn in.

Commentary
Dun!

So I’d speculated that we’d seen evidence of the captains being tampered with before this, but this chapter is the first time it’s happening for sure. I’m fairly certain that I found the later reveal of Graendal’s scheme to be a shock, so I assume, therefore, that on first reading I took this whole interlude at face value—i.e. I bought that Agelmar was making mistakes because he was tired. If so, well played, Team Jordan.

Not that it wasn’t just as worrying, either way.

Lan’s reflections, both on his similarity to Rand and his faint stirring of hope that he might actually survive this, dovetailed nicely with Cadsuane’s conversation with Rand earlier in the chapter, so that was also nicely done.

I am never going to be Cadsuane’s biggest fan (any more than Rand is—I snickered out loud at his explanation of why she doesn’t get any presents), but of course she is nothing but correct in her assertions here. Because in a weird way, going into a highly dangerous situation already accepting that you won’t walk away from it is the easy way out, emotionally. If you assume your death is assured, you have nothing to lose, and thus you don’t have to deal with the stress of hope. And while I am not a soldier and never will be one, I can still intuit that in such dire situations as war, hope can be more stressful than almost anything else.

So what Cadsuane was telling Rand was, once again, he doesn’t get to cheap out on the pain of his path, any more than when he tried to do so by feeling nothing at all. Because it just doesn’t sit right that the last hope of the world has no hope himself. In a way, he’s almost morally obligated to look on the bright side, if you think about it. Which is sort of hilarious and sad at the same time.

But you know, it’s tactically dangerous anyway. A person who feels they are going to their certain death makes different decisions than one who is still striving to stay alive. And in literature, at least, decisions made in hope are always better than those made in despair. I’m not sure if that actually translates to real life, but real life is not what we’re doing here anyway.

So, good scene, although I rather pouted at being deprived a Cadsuane-Moiraine confrontation. Yet another meeting I would have loved to see, and (as far as I recall) will never get to. Sigh.

I was very amused, though, by Min employing her Logical Fallacy-fu to pwn Cad’s attempt to manipulate Rand re: his readiness. That is indeed of what comes from reading too much, y’all, and it is awesome.

And then there’s Gawyn.

*heavy sigh*

Oh, you special snowflake, you.

Yeah. The only reason I am not actually headdesking at him right now is because I have apparently devoted a disproportionate amount of migraine space to him already, and I wouldn’t want to have my indignation at fictional characters distributed unfairly, quelle horreur! We have standards here, after all. I’m not sure what those standards are, but I am sure that we have them!

And, probably I am also not full-on headdesking because I do have to acknowledge (I suppose) that he is making progress. Sort of. A Little.

I mean, yes, he’s still doing the eminently stupid thing of not telling the local Mysterious Magical Object Experts about his Mysterious Magical Object, even though one of them is YOUR WIFE, GAWYN, and even after being specifically warned about how dangerous it is, but at least he recognizes that his desire to go off and be a Big Damn Hero with it is backsliding on his part.

And I can even see how that would be totally tempting, because it really does kind of suck to know that you’ve voluntarily relegated yourself to the role of sidekick forever. Especially when you’ve been told your whole life that you’re supposed to be the hero. Yes, chapter title, you feel wasted. But honey, you made a smart decision for once in your life, please just stick with it, mmkay?

No? No dice? Sigh.

But, aside from that whole thing, slightly startled props do go to him for actually admitting that his hatred for Rand was really about jealousy. Not that that is aside from the above thing, because it absolutely ties into his resentment that Rand gets to go be the Big Damn Hero when he, again, doesn’t.

Then again, the fact that Gawyn actually wants on some level to be in Rand’s shoes (his blood-stained, too-tight, callus-rubbing, fatal-athletes-foot-causing, angsty, angsty shoes) just shows how much Gawyn has really, really not thought that wish through.

Because Gawyn is and always has been a special, special snowflake.

*pats him on head a little too hard*

Leilwin (I guess I really do have to stop calling her Egeanin): has a very good point about tarring all Seanchan with the same brush, and yet there’s an incoherent and Godwin-tastic point in here somewhere about Germans living in Nazi Germany who didn’t actually vote for Hitler which I’m sure you can figure out. Bah.

Final, mostly random notes:

Rand’s thought about human souls being reborn as Trollocs is horrifying, and I categorically refuse to believe it. What say you?

I am deeply amused that Lan’s horse is even more unkillable than Lan is. You go ‘head with your bad self, Mandarb. Heh.

Was I the only one restraining myself from making stoner jokes at the chapter title? Just me? Okay.

And:

Besides, anyone who paid attention would know that Baldhere clearly preferred men to women.

*beams*

I don’t care what anyone says, this put warm sparkly rainbow feelings in my anti-heteronormative heart. AMOL may not have given me absolutely every last thing I wanted out of it (and realistically, all complaints aside, there was no way it ever could have), but this wish, at least, got granted, and granted unambiguously, and that makes me a happy Leigh. Happy enough that I am choosing to ignore the voice that whispers about bread and circuses, because LA LA LA happy. Right? Right!


Which makes this a much more cheery entry than last time, neh? Yeh! Have a week, WOTers, and see you next Tuesday!

121 comments
Sam Mickel
1. Samadai
So, I can already hear the Gawyn whiners......... ;)

I loved this chapter, Rand and Cadsuanes bit was a real fun read. They have learned respect for each other. Lan commenting that the soldiers are treating the Ashaman like comrades really shows that there is great hope of acceptance for them ( as well as Logains pov from later on)
neverspeakawordagain
2. neverspeakawordagain
There certainly was a very tense meeting between Moiraine and Cadsuane, Leigh, although it happened in New Spring, not in this book.

The stupid Chekov's gun of those rings really just makes me wonder at Gawyn as a character. Evidently, he wasn't that good of a swordsman (even with the advantage of three of the rings, he couldn't even come close to defeating Demandred); he indirectly caused Egwene's death by making her more suicidally reckless than she should have been because of the whole bond-misery thing... I mean, was there any point to having Gawyn as a character in this series other than to be a pain in the ass who got in the way of everything?

Also, I can only assume that the introduction of a gay character was at Harriett's insistence, since Sanderson would never have done that on his own ( http://brandonsanderson.com/article/51/EUOLogy-Dumbledores-Homosexuality ).

(Comment edited by moderator)
Stefan Mitev
3. Bergmaniac
Cadsuane - annoying to the end. Rand is sacrificing himself for the world yet she continues to insult and provoke him. And she insulted Elayne too (who she has never really met, but since when has that stopped her?).

I don't get how most of the Aes Sedai are unable to annihilate with ease the Trollocs in Kandor. It should've been a cakewalk.
neverspeakawordagain
4. neverspeakawordagain
@3 Bergmaniac: I've always thought that an essentially unstoppable weapon against Trollics would be the red-fire filaments that Asmodean used against Rand in Rhuidean at the end of The Shadow Rising. Supposedly, they used so little of the power that Rand missed them completely, but they sliced right through anything that passed them. Get in a circle, make one of those fire-filaments a mile long, and move it through the Trollic horde at waist-height -- BOOM, instant death to all of the Trollocs. This doesn't seem like a hard concept.
Sudo Nym
5. Shakerag
@2

Did you read that article? One of his major points is "DEPICTION is NOT ENDORSEMENT". Here, I'll just quote the whole damn paragraph:

"Conservatives and artists have gone the rounds about this one since the days of classical Greece. (And probably before.) The fact of the matter is that gay people exist. They're a part of the world, and regardless of what you think of their sexual orientation, they are no more likely to be "good" or "bad" than any of the rest of us. Putting a gay person into a story isn't an attempt to say "Look, you should all be gay." It isn't even, necessarily, an attempt to say "Being gay is all right." It's simply being true to life."

And later on: "Well, look at it this way. If I were going to put a gay person into one of my books (and I do intend to do so at some point) I would make absolutely certain to make them strong, competent, and worthy of respect. Why? Because I worry about my internal bias, and feel that the only way to be respectful (and, in a way, loving) of those who disagree with me is to present their case as BEST I can."
Jared Wright
6. J Town
@5 -

There's no point. Having someone cite that article and then refer to the author as having homophobic proclivities confirms something that I have long suspected. No one can carry on any kind of intelligent discourse about the topic of homosexuality without someone, usually erroneously, calling someone else a homophobe. Discouraging, but informative. Just let it go.
neverspeakawordagain
7. Jeff S.
Leigh,
I am ex-military as you know, and many of the re-readers are. About the burden of hope. It isn't in my mind. I have gone into situations where the odds including dying. I know the Propecies all say that Rand will die. I think Cads is correct here (Whoah, did I actually say that) Thinking you have no chance is self-fufilling and hope and belief is a must. Otherwise you're just cannon fodder.
This is probably why Lan puts so much weight on how to learn "Sheathing the Sword." It's not an act of desperation and a lack of hope. If anything it is the reverse. A move that insures that your hopes and dreams can come about.
Margot Virzana
8. LuvURphleb
"Cadsuane seemed fond as she said it."
Am I the only one that finds problems with that sentence. What is she fond of? Now it's totally true that in my sickness fogged brain the right synapses aren't working but still this sentence needs to be rewritten. Nope just spoke it aloud again and it still baffles me.
Anywho, Gawyn you ARE SUCH A JERK! FYI I still haven't come to terms with their deaths. I've read many books and the death is sad but it works.
Gawyn and Egwene? Nope. Doesn't work. It just seems so... I don't know. I think when I read it I said "oh"
I guess though that even with everything he wants now his Gawyn would never be happy because he didn't get the cake. And since they were out of the cake due to shadow interference he got Death.
Huh.
Nick Hlavacek
9. Nick31
@6 - Exactly. It's my opinion that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they describe people they disagree with. Believe it or not, it is possible to disagree with someone and still respect (and be respectful to) that person. I highly recommend it; it makes these kinds of discussions much more pleasant. :)

As for the chapter, nice summary here. Gawyn will be Gawyn. No point trying to change him this late in the game. A special snowflake indeed.
And go Mandarb!
Stefan Mitev
10. Bergmaniac
IIRC it was Sanderson's own idea to include gay male characters, not Harriett's.
neverspeakawordagain
11. AndrewB
Gawyn is one of the two characters who disappointed me the most in AMoL (Toun is the other. When appropriate, I will indicate why I am disappointed in her). This is not to say that Team Jordan did a bad job writing Gawyn. In fact, I think that everything he does in AMoL is within his character. Rather, I was hoping his character had evolved. IMO, it did not.

Throughout most of WoT, Gawyn did not grow up. He wants everything the way he would have it; not the way others may want it. He wanted to be Warder to Egwene; yet he could not accept her as an Aes Sedai - let alone, as the Amyrlin. I thought when he came back in ToM, Gawyn would accept his role as Warder in truth -- somebody who serves in the background.

Gawyn summed up the concept of the Warder in TGS (in the scene where he is sparring with Sleete and the other Warder) where he thinks about Sleete. Yet, his desire to be the hero is anti-Warder. had he wanted to be a prince who leads the soldiers, he should not have chosen to be a Warder.

I will grudgingly accept that Gawyn's use of the rings when he and Egwene are trapped behind the Sharans' lines was a necessary evil. However, his riding off to duel with Demandred was reckless and irresponsible. His primary purpose was to protect Egwene. He should have known (as somebody who was familiar with the ways and effects of the Warder bond) that his death may have had adverse consequences on Egwene. At that time, she was far and away the most important Aes Sedai on the field. He should not have risked himself like that, certainly not without consulting Egwene first. I beleive that in the back of his mind, he acted out of the thought of glory. Galad, on the other hand, did not act out of glory. Galad's character (as written) was incapable of acting out the thought of glory. Galad would only take an action if he thought (in Galad's own mind) that such action was the right choice -- irrespective of the consequences. Gawyn did not have this similar though pattern.

Likewise, Gawyn decision to duel with Demandred was different than Lan. I will acknowledge that Lan was throwing his life away. Unlike Gawyn, I do not think Lan ever thought he would survive the duel. The difference is that when he let Nynaeve bond him, Nynaeve understood that Lan beleived that it was his destiny to die in the fight against the Shadow. Lan may have thought that such a death would be at the Gap, and not in a sword fight with one of the Chosen.

(Whether Nynaeve believed that she could save Lan is another agrument.)

Once Lan began his march across the Waste, Nynaeve had to understand that Lan may have died. Further, I do not know if Lan knew the exact role that Nynaeve was to play when Rand faced the Dark One. Had he known the role, one could argue that maybe Lan should not have sought his death so readily. However, during the Last Battle, some chances had to be taken. I would say that at the time, Lan's decision to duel Lan was one such. I do not think that when Gawyn did so, such a decision was needed.

Is it possible that I am being a hypocrite because I like the character of Lan better than I do Gawyn? Possibily. I will do not think so. But I will let others decide.

Thanks for reading my musings.
AndrewB
neverspeakawordagain
12. HathsinSurvivor
2. Yes, Sanderson has never had any gay/lesbian characters that were his own creation. Obviously, Harriet was the one who put
Ranette into Alloy of Law (which was released before AMOL).
LT Tortora
13. Lucubratrix
Hmm... I don't often comment on here, though I've been following the re-read for quite some time (I think I picked it up mid-TGH), which clearly means I should leap into what could turn out to be a controversial discussion. Sanderson is quite right--gay people exist, and including them in fiction is being true to life, not making a political statement. The key is to create a character who has X qualities (be they good or bad) and oh by the way happens to be gay. I find it bizarre when people fixate on sexual orientation, whether they think homosexuality is OK or immoral. In real life, the only way a person's orientation affects me is when there's some possibility of one wanting to sleep with the other. In fiction, it's an important part of building a character, since who we love does say something about who we are and how we interact with the world. All that said, I don't think it's fair to bring Sanderson's personal opinions into the discussion about the characters he wrote. It might be fair if the two gay guys in AMOL were depicted in a negative light, but they're both pretty admirable. So, while it's a fair discussion, I don't know if it's one for this forum. But as I said, I don't comment here often, so it's not my call on what is/isn't talked about. :)

As far as hope... I'm active duty military. In my experience you get to a point where you don't want to hope, exactly, or think about the future at all, but in order to function you do sort of have to assume you'll make it through the day. Sort of a weak form of hope, I guess, but there you go. Assuming you're going to die doesn't do anyone any good, and if you're in charge you damn well better not let anyone know about your doubts. That's not entirely analogous to Rand's situation (he believes he's going to die but that his death will allow the Light to win), but at the same time, you don't want to follow someone who has no hope, so Rand is being a bit counter-productive.
neverspeakawordagain
14. Jonellin Stonebreaker
Thanks as always Leigh for the new post
@4 neverspeakawordagain:

That would be a great weave to use, but unfortunately the impression I have is that its secret, as well as the secret of several other lethal weaves used by various male Forsaken in their battles with Rand, were lost with the users.
Realistically, the only Lightside channeler who might know these weaves is Lews Therin and he's sort of busy at the moment.

I find that this is a realistic aspect of this war, namely, that you fight with the forces you've got and the weapons you've got, no matter what nifty weapons you may have in the development or prototype stage.

Yes, it would have been wonderful to have these weaves used; it would have also been great to have all the armies of the light clad in cuendillar plate mail, to have the Black Tower united and integrated into different armies, and to have all of the Aes Sedai well drilled in the combat techniques of the Greens. Randland life, just like real life, turned out messier.
Deana Whitney
15. Braid_Tug
Leigh, while expecting a "headdesk" on your new headdesk mouse pad, somehow patting the "special snowflake" on the head seems even better. More special.
Must remember that one.

Not defending Gawyn, but I kind of understand this moment of frustration.
The best analogy would be an athlete who is hurt or unable attend the big game for some reason. Instead has to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. But I’m not an athlete.

I lose my voice about once every two years to a cold. Every single time, this happens, someone I know makes the world’s dumbest statement. My eyes pop out of my head and I want to talk with them about their statement, and I can’t get a single word out.

The worst was a classmate who “didn’t want to impose his morals on his 3 year old about President Clinton lying and cheating on his wife”. Hello? It’s a 3 year old. They learn their morals from watching and listening to their parents. Plus you just say people are mad because he told a lie. Leave it at that. Leave all the other complications for when the kid is older.

Is Gawyn still pouting like a 10 year old who is missing the big game? Yes. But he is also still doing the job he has promised to do. His moment of self-indulgence and failure comes later.

And at least we get one un-killable horse...

Bela!!!!!
Adam S.
16. MDNY
Before you start giving Gawyn too much respect, remember that he was not "supposed to be the hero". The tradition in Andor has been for the First Prince to act as a general and bodyguard to the Princess/Queen. At some point (I forget which book) he even reminisces about how he was supposed to sacrifice himself for Elayne (my blood before hers). I always viewed Gawyn more as having failed to act in a warder-like fashion for his sister, leaving Birgitte to take all his responsibilities, as bodyguard and general. He shouldn't feel disappointed in being relegated to second fiddle, because that's what his WHOLE LIFE was supposed to be trained for. Definitely worthy of a headdesk IMHO.
Bridget McGovern
17. BMcGovern
neverspeakawordagain @2: I've edited your comment slightly, so that Sanderson's essay can stand on its own, for those who choose to read it and judge for themselves.
T C
18. Freelancer
Others have touched on it, but I would like to expand on Cadsuane's directive to Rand to not give up on hope. Respectfully, Leigh, your analysis of the import of that misses slightly. Cadsuane has already confirmed here that she wouldn't hesitate to trade Rand's life for the survival of the world, so there is no sentimentality involved. Cadsuane's behavior, whether likeable or not, has always been one of tactical decisions, and this is no different. A person who heads into a fight expecting to not come out, may also reach a point where they are no longer interested in even trying to win. As long as a spark of hope for survival remains, the fight in a person is magnified by an unquantifiable amount. I would refer to an experiment done decades ago to make this point.

Rats are put into a large tub of water with smooth sides, so that they cannot climb out. Within ten minutes, every one of them gave up and quit trying to swim. As each began to sink, they were scooped out of the tub with a net, put in a warm cage with food and water. Two days later, they were put back into the tub. Not one rat gave up and accepted the fate of drowning in less than three hours. The expectation of survival drove them to fight far longer.

And for Rand, the chances of survival increase dramatically the longer he can keep going. This is Cadsuane's objective in charging him to not lose hope.

*Edited to remove comments in response to words which have since been excised by Moderator...
Stefan Mitev
19. Bergmaniac
@16 - The First Prince of the Sword has a lot more official responsibility, prestige and chance for glory than the Amyrlin's Warder. Now he's only a bodyguard when he was supposed to be so much more.
Scientist, Father
20. Silvertip
For me, the build to the corruption of the Great Captains was one of the really well done aspects of AMoL. It started with little dribs that really only show up on reread but started to set the tone of something wrong, and built in ominousness (if that's a word) to the point where the multi-staged reveal both came as a shock and felt like an inevitable arrival of something we'd been hearing coming for a great while. Really skillfully done, all the more so because it's playing out in four theaters at the same time.

The best part of the "Baldhere is gay" thing? It wasn't what any of the characters involved really cared about with respect to the fellow, and didn't immediately become the dominant thing driving what his character said or did. (Well OK, except for the people trying to marry him off for dynastic purposes, and that's inevitable in a society of this stage, so fine). It was just a bit of character-building along the lines of someone always having a pipe in his mouth or hating to ride in a boat, which is just how Baldhere (should he exist) would probably have chosen to have it.

S
neverspeakawordagain
21. Faculty Guy
Have read Leigh's recap and commentary, but not yet any following comments - will enjoy those later - so sorry if this dups anyone else's points. ABOUT GAWYN here: twice his thoughts turn to Rand and both times he avoids the hate reflex of earlier books. He even reflects on awareness of his jealousy. But he does NOT regret, feel sorry, rue, or otherwise prove self-critical about his ever-so-long COMPLETELY UNJUSTIFIED blaming of Rand for the death of his mother (with whom, oh-by-the-way, he has since been reunited)! In fact, it seems a semi-major emphasis of the series that VERY SELDOM do those who make really stupid mistakes based on bad assumptions (or acting on rumors) EVER seem to agonize over their stupidity - agony which just possibly might help them learn something and avoid similar future stupid mistakes.

Is this absence of self-criticism an accurate depiction of Real Life?
Alice Arneson
22. Wetlandernw
neverspeakawordagain @2 – “Evidently, he wasn't that good of a swordsman (even with the advantage of three of the rings, he couldn't even come close to defeating Demandred)…” Aren’t we being a bit hard on Gawyn here? The only way LanLAN!! – defeated him was by “sheathing the sword,” and Lan is the acknowledged best-ever-super-dooper-most-amazing-and-awesome Blademaster in the world. Galad, who was supposed to be definitely better than Gawyn, had to retreat. Sure, Gawyn had the bloodknife rings, but he had no training in how to use the difference they would make, and there’s no evidence (one way or the other) that “more is better” in when using the rings.

Also – you don’t know Brandon very well. Did you actually read the essay?

@Many re: Gawyn – When we were talking with Brandon at the Seattle signing, someone commented that as soon as Gawyn put the rings on, they knew he was going down, and that when he went down, Egwene would too. Brandon’s response was, “If you’re following the literary scope of theory of plots, that was a good guess. Because Gawyn is a tragedy, right? If you read from the beginning, Gawyn’s plot arc from book one has been a tragedy.”

As far as the basic wisdom of taking on Demandred (not to be confused with the wisdom of the actual method), there was this conversation:
Emilie: Why would Gawyn and Galad and Lan all go after Bao?
Brandon: He had to go down!
Eric: Was it just a convenient way to kill those characters?
Brandon: No, someone had to take down the Forsaken. They were going to lose that battle, and each of them realized that it needed to happen. Some of them approached it more wisely than others, (general laughter!) but –
His perspective was that Gawyn was taking on a job that had to be done – Demandred was killing, killing, killing, and he had to be stopped. If he wasn’t stopped, keeping Egwene alive wasn’t going to happen anyway, right? So he tried. He failed, but he gave it his best shot – in fact, he gave it his all, and he hoped. It wasn’t enough, and maybe his approach wasn’t the smartest, but it was the best he could come up with, and no one else was doing it, right? Even if he didn’t accomplish the job he set out to do, he gave everyone a break while he had Demandred distracted, so there’s that, too.

HathsinSurvivor @12 – LOL!
neverspeakawordagain
23. Jeff S.
Wet @ 22
That was me. I said as soon as Gawyn put on the rings I knew he was DOOMED and so was Egwene.
Brandon's anwer made perfect sense to me then and now. Tragic figures are tragic.
Alice Arneson
24. Wetlandernw
I thought it might have been you, but didn't have that in my note. Oddly, my memory isn't working that far back... ;) And yes, the answer made perfect sense. That's who/what Gawyn always was.
Glen V
25. Ways
neverspeakawordagain @2
Gawyn was Egwene's spanky-new husband too, however tragic and headdesk-worthy he is. Surely that also contributed to what can be construed as Egwene's recklessness (or was it simply a sense of duty?) toward the end of the LB. Perhaps the loss-of-new-husband thing was actually the largest factor since Egwene bonded Leilwin as a warder shortly after Gawyn's death. That act must have mitigated the bond-misery to some degree.

Braid @15
"Special Snowflakes" could be a theme for JCon t-shirts next year.
neverspeakawordagain
26. AndrewB
Re my post @12 -- I meant to say "Blight" not "Waste" when discussing Lan's journey across the continent.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
neverspeakawordagain
27. Namaste
Trollocs will be reborn as Trollocs..

Interview: Dec 9th, 2002Wotmania and Dragonmount Q&A

Question How does the idea of souls apply to constructs such as Nym and Trollocs? Could either of them be reborn?

Robert Jordan
"To whoever put this one forward, this is one of the best questions I've ever gotten! Nym and Trollocs both have souls, and either could be reborn, but since Nym were a pure construct (i.e. each of them was individually made, like hand-crafting) a Nym would not be reborn as a Nym. You might say that a Nym's soul was borrowed temporarily from the supply of souls awaiting rebirth. A Trolloc, however, bears a twisted, or corrupted soul, and would be reborn as a Trolloc. Though frankly, a Trolloc's soul is such a pitiful thing, it hardly seems worth calling a soul."
neverspeakawordagain
28. RoyanRannedos
@8 The cake is a lie.

From Fight Club:

Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

There are two mindsets: the fixed mindset, where your value is determined by events, titles, and minute-to-minute results. Woe to those who aren't special snowflakes.

Then there's the growth mindset, where you define success as improvement on yesterday's weaknesses and strengths. In my mind, Lan exemplifies growth, while Gawyn's fixed mindset makes him a special snowflake indeed.
Chris Chaplain
29. chaplainchris1
So the Month of Four Funerals is over, so you might think that I have time to participate this week. Nope. I'm chaperoning high school students at a youth camp all week long. (Today's speaker referenced Patrick Rothfuss and quoted Kvothe!) but I'll take a quick moment to say a word about Gawyn. he is definitely a special snowflake, and I love that line Leigh! but he decided to face Demanded when the Aes Sedai began talking about necessity of facing him, and the likelihood that even in a circle they wouldn't be able to beat him. (Of course Egwene would be the only viable choice to lead that circle.) So while I think Gawyn used that as an excuse to play hero, he was trying to be a Warder and protect Egwene. Plus he knew he was dying anyway. And he did buy time, and did start the sequence leading to Demandred's fall.

The real tragedy of Egwene & Gawyn, in true WOT fashion, is that they never learn to communicate with each other and work together. If they'd worked in tandem, could they have put Demanded down?

I'm horrified about Trolloc souls. Gotta run!
Ty Myrick
30. tymyrick
@27 Namaste

Thank you for that quote from RJ, but the idea that Trollocs have corrupted souls and will always be reborn as Trollocs is rather horrifying. The Nym as a pure construct still had a soul that would have gone to another creature, probably a human, but who knows. Trolloc were also constructed, even if humans and animals were used in that construction, so presumably their souls were normal souls before being corrupted. That means Aginor and the other Forsaken were able damage souls beyond repair or hope of redemption. Once all the Trollocs are destroyed, those souls will forever be corrupted and unborn.
Kimani Rogers
31. KiManiak
Thanks Leigh.

It’s kind of funny to go through this reread and view Moiraine. It’s almost like she has regressed to the before-late-TSR-era Moiraine.

She expects Rand to do what she wants him to do her way, without allowing for the possibility that anything else he is doing (or any other way he goes about doing what she wants) may indeed have merit. It still fits the overall character of Moiraine (focused on nothing but getting the Dragon Reborn safely to Shayol Ghul to fight the Shadow in the way that makes sense to her), but Team Jordan continues to show us the flaws in such a simplistic course of action again and again. Rand disguising himself while fighting on each of the various battlefronts was the key factor in why Demandred acted slowly and not so forcibly during the Last Battle. It’s good to see Team Jordan lay the seeds of that action here.

Poor Lord Agelmar. I would argue that right now is where we start seeing Graendal’s influence on the Great Captains. We get hints of Agelmar being tired, seeming different. Up until this point I don’t think there was much to point to as obviously Graendal’s influence, as opposed to the randomness and product of unpredictable battle activity.

Gawyn…is Gawyn. To expect more from him at this point is the mistake of the reader. He is written to be a dense, stubborn, short-sighted, “I-know-what-I-know” type person. His death was expected by most and anticipated by many. He –and Team Jordan- does not disappoint.

Gotta catch up on the comments…
neverspeakawordagain
32. Diahbeetus
The Wheel of Time is eternal, yeah? Those Trolloc souls might have to wait a while before being reborn, but when Trollocs are reinvented, reborn they shall be.

I'd always figured that having your soul become a Trolloc soul was the end result of swearing to the Shadow and giving your soul to the Dark One. We all fill in the blank spaces with our own imaginations, and there's nothing to back it up, but here's my own theory.

Become a Darkfriend, die. Your soul is the Dark One's. He mutilates your soul and places it within one of his artificial Trolloc constructs, without which it couldn't function. You continue to be reborn as a Trolloc for a few Ages/cycles. Eventually luck wins out and you're reborn as a Myrdraal, which is close enough to human that when they die they are reborn as a human and given a chance to make a new choice and achieve redemption. It's not eternal damnation, but it's a long and harsh punishment. This solves the problem in that eventually if the human to trolloc soul route is only one way, you have an infinity of Trolloc souls laying unused and no more human ones.
Thomas Keith
33. insectoid
Yay, post! Yay, birthday! This day is full of Yay!
Except for Gawyn; he's just an idiot. ;)

Great job as usual, Leigh.

Gawyn:
NO, you idiot. Stop messing with the ring(s)! Talk about your fantasy series crossovers... "Never put it on, for the agents of the Dark One will still beat you." I mean, seriously; guy doesn't listen to Leilwin's warning, doesn't tell his wife or anyone... Gah, the stupid, it burnsss!

Moiraine:
Appears to not be getting along with Cadsuane. Agree that it's too bad we didn't get a confrontation between them on-screen...

Min:
Gotta love her. So wise. And awesome.

Lan:
Is talking to his unkillable horse again. XD
And it's plainly obvious (in hindsight) what's going on with the unusual orders from Agelmar... but I certainly didn't suspect it. Strange orders=must be tired. Nope, no Shadow interference here. Go Light.

Baldhere:
...I guess all I can say is: we like Happy Leigh.

Sam @1:
Don't worry, there'll be plenty of chances to yell at him later...

Namaste @27:
Thanks for that quote! Also: gyahh. O.o

Off to engage in arcade antics and pizza plundering. Or... something like that. :D

Bzzz™.
Alice Arneson
34. Wetlandernw
Happy birthday, insectoid! Enjoy that pizza!
Jeff Schweer
35. JeffS.
Happy birthday and many happy pizza plunderings of the day.

Oh and Wet. James started with the Gawyn was doomed part and I finished with the Egwene part. Since I was commenting at work during a short break, I mispoke on how it played out.
Anyway, Gawyn, the Special Snowflake FTF. That would be "For the Fail"
Scientist, Father
36. Silvertip
@33 insectoid; Happy Bday!

And yes: Good. Happy good. Happy Leigh good. Sad Leigh bad. Happy Leigh good. Desks for miles around breathe a sigh of relief that they and their brethren will remain undented for another day.

S
neverspeakawordagain
37. j.m.s
This has inspired me to re-read the book now... it's been a few months. Lan's parts make me happy. And Gawyn is, indeed, a special snowflake.
Roger Powell
38. forkroot
I have mentioned it before. but since we're at that chapter. I thought it was a very nice foreshadow: Lan ruminating on Deepe taking a big chance to take out a critical enemy channeler.

Another interesting point: We see Cadsuane agree to take herself and her entourage to help Avienda at Shayol Ghul. Guess what happens though? Her #1 lieutenant bails on her!

Jahar wanted to be with the Borderlanders (of course), so Merise did not go with Cads. It's been a very fun subtle plot watching the power balance in that relationship evolve. Of course Narishma ends up doing a fair number of useful things, #1 being saving Lan.

AndrewB@12
I do not think Lan ever thought he would survive the duel. The difference is that when he let Nynaeve bond him, Nynaeve understood that Lan beleived that it was his destiny to die in the fight against the Shadow.
Lan never gave Nynaeve permission to bond him. Myrelle held his bond (from Moiraine) and Nynaeve took it from her. Granted, this was Moiraine's original plan - however Lan was never consulted.

Would he have given permission? I honestly don't know. Certainly in earlier books he had run from involvement with her, precisely because of his intention to die reclaiming Malkier. OTOH, he did allow the marriage in Ebou Dar and we don't see him disappointed when he senses that she's taken the bond.

Wetlandernw@22
Don't forget that in addition to Gawyn, Galad, and Lan, Logain took a crack at Demandred. We tend to overlook it because it was a OP duel vs. swords - but it was the same basic idea ("somebody's got to get this guy").

Logain's attempt didn't last that long, and he was a complete idiot for trying it without handing off the Seals for safekeeping before he did. Nevertheless, his effort was partially successful as it allowed Galad to escape (via Annoura's MOA) which in turn allowed recovery of the medallion for Lan's later attempt.
Deana Whitney
39. Braid_Tug
@ 26. AndrewB: that's why you should "take the black!" :-)
Ability to edit your posts.

@ insectoid: Hope your day was great, Bug!

@ Ways; "Special Snowflake" Could be fun for a design. But it's an insult. We could take it and make it a positive.
Or make something along the likes of “Aren’t you a Special Snowflake” / "Leigh thinks you are a Special Snowflake" … will have to think on that one.
Others have ideas?

Re: Male gays in the WoT. Felt they were played right. It was very much a "He's gay. You didn't know? Oh well, what does it matter?" to the characters.
R B
40. MasterAlThor
Happy B day bug

I felt like the first mention of a male gay character was rather shoehorned in and this one was more organic. An arguement could be made that they shouldn't be included at all (male or female). But why waste our time. It doesn't add or take away from the story for me.

Gawyn,
Oh man, while I simpathize with you I can't believe what you are going to do. I really think that Sanderson really wanted to put you through this cause he despises you. Oh well.

Mandarb,
The king BA of all horses....arguements? I didn't think so.

Shipless,
Wow did she really say "hatin on all Seanchan is wrong cause we ain't all alike"? I wonder if that applies to the Sea Folk as well?

Well I've done all I can here. Hello again to old friends. Always happy to see you're still around.

Dragon
Dave West
41. Jhirrad
@27 re Trolloc souls - Good find on that quote. Also, as far as Myrdraal go, this was a passage of AMOL which bothered me, because they messed up. Earlier in the series (sorry I don't have the site handy) it was said that Myrdraal were in fact Trolloc offspring, some weird blowback to the human origins of Trollocs. They were an accident which Aginor had not foreseen. This passage seems to say that they were both deliberately created species, which is not the case. Small dropping of the ball, but still frustrating.
Rob Munnelly
42. RobMRobM
Yes, Belated Happy B'Day Bug!

I don't have much to say about this chapter other than in reference to Gawyn, to quote then-Candidate Reagan, "There you go again." Ack.
Alice Arneson
43. Wetlandernw
Happy birthday, forkroot! If I were feeling clever this morning, I'd come up with a WoTified version of the song for you... :P
William Carter
44. wcarter
The trolloc souls thing just makes me wonder how a soul gets permenantely damaged or if the Creator actually made them that way from the onset (and if so, why?).

Obviously the Dragon wasn't permenantly damaged as LTT from the Taint since he didn't start out his "Rand" incarnation already mad as a hatter. And yes, I know Ishamael 'healed' him before he died, but the text was very ambigious about how long it would have lasted had he not died.
Birgitte also wasn't obviously damaged forever since the Horn snatched her back up then sent her on for rebirth.

So, what makes a soul like that, does getting 13x13'd screw up your soul forever? If so, then those poor victims are even worse off than I initially imagined.

And of course it all circles back to the one burning question I have had for quite some time: If souls can be forever removed from the Pattern, are new ones ever added?
Because if not, then eventually, the Dark One will win.
Ty Myrick
45. tymyrick
Regarding Darkfriend souls, if Ishamael is to be believed (questionable, I know), the Dragon has previously served the Dark One, and yet each time he gets the choice to fight or serve again. That would mean every incarnation is a clean slate and the choices made in a previous incarnation do not carry over.

Back to the RJ quote @27, maybe RJ meant that Trolloc souls are not real souls, but something created by Aginor using the One Power and the True Power. They won't ever have the chance to be reborn as humans and make their own choices, but they were never humans to begin with. I hope so, anyway. Otherwise, that is just horrifying.
Alice Arneson
46. Wetlandernw
wcarter - This is one of those areas where I just have to try not to think about it very hard, because my suspension of disbelief completely fails when reincarnation enters the picture. :) It's just such an unworkable notion.
neverspeakawordagain
47. alreadymadwithagelmar
On the Trolloc souls:
There has to be some element of karma involved. Everybody's always swearing on their hope of rebirth, but what sort of karma would you have to incur to have your soul be twisted in such a way. Also, you can't blame people who were coerced. The Pattern has always put great stock in one's choices and voluntary action. Lews Therin did terrible things, but somehow he was still salvageable. Perhaps having essentially been under Compulsion the whole time made a difference?

On taking the Black:
Meh. I kinda like the Red. Reds seem to do a lot of the spanking. Without being, you know, agents of the Dark One.

On Gawyn:
Yeah. He was a tragedy. Looking at it now, I can't help but think that having been formerly part of the fandom before being upgraded gave BWS some sort of bias against Gawyn. Guy can't ever seem to catch a break. Or give himself a break and shake out of it. He's always I should have been this and I should have been that. Taking himself too seriously. He should learn to just go with the flow. Getting laid helped, but not enough apparently.

On Agelmar:
Knowing what we do now it's easy to see this is where it starts. Agelmar didn't take being questioned very well. Because at the scale he's working on, he can't afford to indulge in self doubt. And if we go by Ituralde's example later, we know that they are fighting it, trying to still make the right decisions. But that fight also feeds that doubt. And having somebody point it out probably drove Agelmar over the edge and made him blow up.

On Insectoid:
Birthdays are always good. Pizza is always good.
William Carter
48. wcarter
@46 Wetlander
True, religions that are based on reincarnation have never really made much sense to me either.

@47 Alreadymadwith

Taking the black? Eesh, we're dealing with some stuff in this chapter that's depressing enough without bringing Martin into this don't you think? ;) And as River Tam would say: you look better in red...
Tricia Irish
49. Tektonica
Happy Belated Birthday, Bug! I hope your pizza hangover was worth it!

Yeah, a Cadsuane/Moraine meeting would've been an interesting confrontation of "who's the real guider"...but pretty pointless, actually. I think avoidance was necessary.

However, I am curious if Min ever got a present from Rand? I know she had many more nights with Rand than the other "wives", but there's no real loving farewell scene onscreen between them, that I remember. Anyone?

Gawyn is completely in character here. He may, in fact, have been trying to kill Dem/Bao to keep him from killing Egwene and everyone else, or he could've been using this confrontation as his desired MoG. I'm glad he's acknowledged his anger at Rand was jealousy, but he still seems to be a bit of a victim of it, nontheless. Meh. Just meh, Gawyn.

I loved that Rand doesn't have a present for Cads, and why. They can respect each other without affection, it seems.
Ron Garrison
50. Man-0-Manetheran
“An impossible question,” Min replied. “If he says that he is, then a fool he becomes. If he says that he is not, then he implies he does not seek further wisdom.” “Phaw. You’ve been reading too much, child.” Cadsuane seemed fond as she said it.

Another reference to The Fool -- or do I just read too much?

I loved the banter between Cadsuane and Rand. I knew the haters would not read it that way, but there has always been an affection there for Rand. She just has a unique way of showing it (that some folks will never see.)

Mandarb Lives!
neverspeakawordagain
51. konigr
I was totally prepared for some sort of duplicity on Agelmar's part. I did not guess Grendy's plan, nor its extent, but I was prepared to think that someone high up was a Darkfriend or something. It would have been too easy otherwise.
Roger Powell
52. forkroot
I guess I'm just the suspicious type, but I pretty much saw the "mess with the Great Captains" trick as soon as Perrin followed Graendal as she went into people's dreams (like Eg and Lanfear do). Not being smug, Lord knows I missed plenty of other stuff - I just happened to be on top of that one.

Man-O@50
Totally agree with you - Cadsuane has a definite affection for Rand but she shows in her own way. Any doubters should check the Epilogue.

As for Mandarb - he is quite possibly the only other creature in Randland that is as bad-ass as Lan.
neverspeakawordagain
53. s'rEDIT
RE: Trolloc souls

Shades of Tolkien once again. He evolved a backstory of Elves captured by Morgoth and twisted into Orcs by unnumbered ages of torment, but he never did clearly resolve the question of immortal souls.
Valentin M
54. ValMar
Sigh... Gawyn... How can someone with his background (or a gram of common sense) not appreciate the value of killing one or two trollocs who are about to gut the Amyrlin (and his wife!!!!!!!) instead of wandering off and taking out a score or two of trollocs that wouldn't make any difference whatsoever.

About his going to kill Demandred, some had to go for it, true. It made some sense, nevermind the execution- no pun intended. But, IMO, gloryhunting was also a major motivation for Gawyn.
That's why he didn't discuss it with anyone. A decision might have been reached where he wouldn't have been cast in the Hero role. Would have been taken most likely. He is the Amyrlin's Warder and this Duty of his would not have escaped others as it did escape him.
neverspeakawordagain
55. s'rEDIT
Hey, Insectoid! *waves*

Belatedly: many happy returns to you!

::had to avoid saying it in one breath with above::
neverspeakawordagain
56. Lord Foul's Bane
I remember reading this chapter the first time and seeing Baldhere's concerns about Agelmar and thinking, "This is interesting... the Great Captains usually don't make obvious mistakes that others can see... and I don't remember them being assigned any Aes Sedai to ward their dreams... I wonder..." so I was (kinda) happy to be proved correct later on. Oh, well. Sometimes, being able to protect yourself in certain ways leads you to forget that not everyone who you might need to depend on can do so; to me this highlights Egwene's inexperience more than anything else.
"And then there’s Gawyn. *heavy sigh* Oh, you special snowflake, you."
Leigh, I couldn't said it any better. Meaner, yes. Viciously, yes. Better, no. Personally, I think that Team Jordan didn't handle this situation in a way that... well, my sense of Egwene is that her feelings of responsibility as Amyrlin Seat would have been enough to lead her to killing herself to heal the wounds of balefire. (That, and I'd liked to have seen Gawyn go mad in a group of Trollocs and get killed doing something remotely useful.)
"Rand’s thought about human souls being reborn as Trollocs is horrifying, and I categorically refuse to believe it. What say you?"
The Wheel recycles all souls it can spin out from under its rim, seemingly without regards to one's own wishes (see Mordin) unless one happens to become a Hero of the Horn (see Noal and / or Hopper) so I would surmise that Trollocs being human / animal hybrids wouldn't stop The Pattern from doing so. It would depend (I think) on whether Trollocs have souls or not. (And if they do, would they ever get a chance to be redeemed?)
"I am deeply amused that Lan’s horse is even more unkillable than Lan is. You go ‘head with your bad self, Mandarb. Heh."
Yeah. That's nice for Mandarb. RIP, Bela. (Yep, I'm still not happy about that one. I have to respect a horse that gets you where you need to go when you need to get there, and goes all-out when you need her without hesitating at the danger you put her into or balking. And give Secretariat a run for his money. :D )
Ok, on to the posts (I brought leftover BBQ ribs, baked beans and coleslaw for the bunker, just case anyone wants some.)

@2 - I agreed with you until you started in on BS's essay... it doesn't sound like we read the same one.
@17 - Thank you.
@21 - Yep.
@22 - And Lan thinks Tam is pretty awesome with a blade too; I have to wonder how Tam would have done against Demandred...
@27 - Ouch! That means now that there are Trollocs, we can't completely eradicate them for all time! (Or does it?)
@32 - I like your conjecture; everyone needs a (ok, infinitesimally small and remote) chance to walk back into the Light.
@33 - Re: Gawyn, "You can't fix stupid."
@49 - After the whole "sad bracelets" thing, if I were Rand, I wouldn't give her a present either. She'd just lose it. ;)
@53 - Well, J.R.R.T. never said where the souls of men go after they leave Ea (and even Mandos doesn't know or can't say)... RJ said he would leave some questions unanswered; maybe this is one?

Ok... well, BBQ in front of the bunker if anyone wants some. :)
T C
57. Freelancer
Body, mind, soul

Keeping the functions, attributes, and effects of each distinct prevents many sorts of confusion.

I would say that it is the mind which is damaged by the Turning event, not the soul.

Likewise, Lews Therin's mind is driven insane by the Taint following the Sealing. This has no bearing on Rand al'Thor's mind, except for the influence of one personality on another, and the soul is unimpacted.

Trollocs? Sadly, every bit of their existence is twisted, and irredeemable.
neverspeakawordagain
58. Ihadtowaitforbook2
Finally...... I have caught up to real time on this re-read..
didn't stumble upon it until February of this year while looking and looking for the last segment and have veen trying to catch up since.
Overall nice job. It has indeed been a fun ride.
neverspeakawordagain
59. Faculty Guy
About re-incarnation: the idea is usually assocoated with Hinduism and Buddhism, but also apprear on Plato's REPUBLIC (Book X). In WOT universe a few souls seem to "remember" past lives in some form, but most do not, and Plato goes to great lengths to explain that the re-birthingg process involves erasure of memory of past lives.

Here is my issue: if my "soul" is reincarnated in a thousand years (or a million, or a billion - maybe on another planet) but I have no memory of any past lives, HOW IS THAT DIFFERENT from simple termination of "my" present soul, with new organisms getting new (instead of recycled) souls?

Take my present life, for example. What is different if I have lived many times previously, but have no memory of these past lives?

What would give this scheme meaning would be a Karma-based system of promotion/demotion or (as with Plato) the ability of the "cleansed" about-to-be-born souls to CHOOSE a life status (which could be animal).

But a random re-incarnation, with no memories, seems to me identical with just all-new souls.
Thomas Keith
60. insectoid
Thanks for the birthday wishes, guys/gals. Pizza and cake were great. Pics on FB.

JeffS. @35
Gawyn, the Special Snowflake FTF.
Well put.

Silvertip @36:
LOL!

Braid @39:
I was afraid you'd forgotten. No worries—a belated birthday wish is better than none. :)

MAT @40:
*waves*

Tek @49:
Mm, wasn't so much the pizza, as it was the combination of pizza, cinnamon rolls, Mt. Dew, and cake, all in one night. And over-exertion on air hockey.

Lord Foul's Bane @56:
"You can't fix stupid."
Truer words have seldom been said.

same @56 re: s'rEDIT @53:
Reminds me of the puzzle of there being two Glorfindels; whether the one who died in the First Age returned during the Third, or is different entirely.

Bzzz™.
neverspeakawordagain
61. Dendrinite
Gawyn went out a hero.

He already knows he's under a death sentence. He knows that Demandred is tearing the Light forces up, and that Egwene and the Aes Sedai are preparing to face him directly, a confrontation that will at the least result in horrific casualties, and more likely the deaths of everyone sent to face him, which would likely include Egwene.

So what does he do? He uses his super sneaky bloodninja ring, climbs up the hill, removes his gauntlet, slaps Demandred in the face with it, and demands a duel.

Hah, just kidding. THAT would be stupid. What he did instead was attempt to sneak up on Demandred and cut his head off before anyone even knew he was there.

And, ya know, not for nothing, but it nearly worked. He took a beating in the swordfight, but there was never supposed to be a swordfight in the first place.

Egwene was going to die either way. She had to, in order to fix the tear in the pattern. Which is more heroic, going insane and charging into the Trolloc army to die, or attempting to take down the single biggest threat on the battlefield with your cursed ring's powers before it kills you?
neverspeakawordagain
62. Old timer
I know this will be met with fanboy resentment, and quite likely this comment will be erased by the thought-police here, but here goes:

 

Gawd, Sanderson's trite and ad-hoc writing style is just overflowing with itself in this chapter. From the flimsy character motivations to the sub-standard, almost awkward, plot devices. Despite the upbeat action-esque rhytem his style attempts, i had to slug through every single page of this million-word-long-catastrope. If this is the best author they could get to finish the series, it would have been better left untold.
neverspeakawordagain
63. Faculty Guy
Old timer @62 certainly has a right to his opinion, but one advantage with a near-thousand-page work is that, once you make a decision that you hate reading it, you can abandon the effort. I'm fascinated that someone would punish him/herself for (presumably) hours and hours, then complain bitterly and blame someone else for the experience.
Bridget McGovern
64. BMcGovern
@62: As one of the moderators here (as far as I know, there are no "thought police" on the payroll), I'll just point to our Moderation Policy, since you seem unsure of how to express yourself without insulting or alienating the other people in this conversation. As long as you remain civil and treat everyone with respect, you're more than welcome to participate in the discussion. Thanks.
William Carter
65. wcarter
@Old Timer

Nothing has yet been made in the whole history of the Earth with true, universal appeal. So I have to echo Faculty Guy's sentiments: why did you keep reading if you didn't like it?

There are many thousands of times more books in the world than could possibly be read in one lifetime, and a fair number of the better sci fi and fantasy ones are showcased or mentioned on this very website from time to time.

You certainly have a right not to like Sanderson's wrting style even if we feel differently. I don't think any of us-- even the hardcore fans--liked everything about WoT, but I at least certainly liked enough to keep reading (And believe me, if I didn't I wouldn't have).

If you don't like something, don't bother working through it. It's counterproductive to goal of reading for entertainment, and there are so many other stories waiting in the wings.

Just hit the local library or bookstore and try again.

*Edit for werid spacing issues
neverspeakawordagain
66. Old timer
@64 it's one thing to be modeated for how you say things and quite another to be moderated by your opinions. I found these comment sections to tended toward the latter than the former.

@63,65 after being invested in a series for 11.5 books, I couldn't well leave it alone *knowing* it was there. Seeing Sanderson botch the job wholesale is far worse than having never got and ending. I put it to question whether a fan-fiction ending, based on the original notes, would not have been better. Sanderson is a small-scope writer who was way out of his depth in the breadth and length of the WoT universe, and he missed the mark so wide that any sense of authenticity was lost. The characters don't sound themselves, their motivations are whimsical, their rationale not in line with whats established, and the outcome of their actions rests on what's needed for the plot regardless of anything. If you want examples just look at logaine and sandersons per Mary Sue. Even world detail is botched at a criminal level, as Sanderson time and again omits, forgets, or changes established world detail and "natural law". I've no idea why he was chosen for this task, but he did an armature's try at it, and that's exactly how it reads.
Ron Garrison
67. Man-0-Manetheran
As for me, I would really hate to see the WoT completed as fan-fiction — especially if it was rife with mispellings, poor grammer and incomplete sentences. At least Brandon is not and armature. (sic)
neverspeakawordagain
68. s'rEDIT
Old timer @66

Nothing, if not honest.

Actually many of your specific observations about technique have been stated (albeit, perhaps more circumspectly) by one or the other of us from time to time. However, your overall evaluation of the competance of the writer is just unnecessary to the discussion at hand.

I feel as if I'm just being baited, so someone shut me up if necessary?
William Carter
69. wcarter
@66 Old Timer

I don't think everyone was going to be satisfied with the ending even if Jordan himself had lived to do it.
Remeber a lot of people were complaining he let the plot get away from him towards the later books.
In any case, If I were you I would just let it go and move on to another series or writer.

P.S. Maybe give Terry Pratchett or Brent Weeks a shot if you haven't already.
Bridget McGovern
70. BMcGovern
@66: Well, again, you have a link to our policy. Don't attack people, be polite, and you should be fine. Those are the rules.
Rob Munnelly
71. RobMRobM
@52 - I for one am well and truly miffed that we never got that Mandarb-Bela romance we were all pining for. *Le Sigh*
neverspeakawordagain
72. AndrewB
RobMRobM @71: Do we know for sure what Mandarb and Bela's preferences are on the romance front? Maybe Team Jordan will make a Dumbledore pronouncement regarding one or both of these characters.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
neverspeakawordagain
73. Old timer
@67 I'm telegraphing this from a smartphone and not overly concerned with the end result. Id have expected sandersons fans to feel right at home.

@68 I never got the sense that sandersons shortcomings, even specifically in context of this series, we're being addressed in the comments and certainly not by Leigh. It's only natural her affiliation with tor will make her have reservations about an all-out criticism but this borders on self-censorship. I don't feel any particular need to sugar coat my criticism of Sanderson, I'm as entitled to an unpopular opinion as anyone. So long as I adress his literary style I don't think I'm out of line.

@69 I've had my problems with Jordan, but he was nothing if not consistent. I felt Sanderson rushed this, in addition to any other faults, and it shows in this final volume most of all. It's no secret he wanted to get back to his own writing and had to "clear the table" first. So we got hundreds of generic battle descriptions and improvised motivations to close off a series we all cherished for a couple of decades. So yes, I think a better choice of an author could and should have been made. (and I've no shortage of books, I wasn't looking for a recommendation in a comments thread).

I'm glad for people who enjoyed these final volumes, really am, but I hardly think they could have overlooked these glaring problems. (e.g. Has anyone seen nyaneve? I could've sworn she was a major character at some point)
neverspeakawordagain
74. Ihadtowaitforbook2
Clarifying beforehand that I certainly did not hate reading this last book, which I waited for just as impatiently as I did the second and all in between, I would be lying if I said it met all of my hopes for what it would be.
Sanderson was faced with an epic challenge and I believe made an epic attempt to meet it. But...........
I also believe it needed at least two and likely three more books to meet it succesfully. That would have required an epic commitment from all involved. That is a lot of life to give to someone else's work.
Even so, though I may not be totally satisfied with how it ended, I am greatly impressed that it did and regard it as time well spent.

Now as to this re-read, I have found it greatly enjoyable and have been consuming it voraciously since I discovered it back in February.
Thank you Ms. Butler for your insights and musings on this portion of my last two decades of reading pleasure.
neverspeakawordagain
75. Teddroe
I don't have the book with me to check, and this question might be answered next chapter, but was that the final scene in the series with Min and Rand?
Eric Hughes
76. CireNaes
I liked the verbal exchange between Cads and Rand here, two old souls badmintoning about the end days. It had its own type of charm.


And I've forgotten over the last month or so to say hello to all those who've found the reread a little late and have finally caught up. Welcome. When Leigh gets around to the second do-re-read-fa-so-la-te-do it will be nice to interact a fresh perspective or two.

Edit: Spelling, as usual.
Roger Powell
77. forkroot
Old Timer@73 (and before)
Everyone (including BWS) agrees that the best person to finish the books would have been RJ - obviously not an option. You are claiming that Sanderson was not the best choice.

Obviously it's a matter of opinion, but the person whose opinion counted most was Jordan's widow, the editor and controller of the rights for the series. She actively sought out BWS after being made aware of both his deep love for WoT and after reading some of his work.

Just as I'm more likely to pay attention to the opinion of a professional artist when he/she criticizes the work of another artist, so I'm more likely to give credence to the opinion of someone who knew the series better than anyone (alive), who was a distinguished professional in her career (editing), and who was highly motivated to have the series finished with the utmost quality since it carried her husband's legacy.

You'll find that virtually every one of us who shows up regularly in the comments section has had some complaints on how Sanderson handled a particular character, situation, etc. That's to be expected - we all love WOT and (like yourself) were highly invested in seeing it through.

When we do complain though, we tend to be specific about the character, situation, whatever. I will note in passing that some complaints have been later found to be about portions that were written by RJ or about plot developments mandated by him.

To date, your criticisms have been mostly generic, although you did specifically mention Nynaeve's role as reduced in your opinion. I may respond to that in another comment.

You'll get the most interest (if you care) when you keep the criticisms focused. Among other things, it will allow for meaningful discussions to occur vs everyone just saying they liked or didn't like Sanderson's effort overall.

Lastly, if you really think that Sanderson was NOT the best choice to finish the series, I'd be curious to hear who you might put forward instead. I'm going to write off your remark about "fan fiction" as hyperbole - if you genuinely believe that, I doubt we'll be able to have a very constructive debate.
Shane Carter
78. BankstownBoy
Hyperbole? Is Dallas playing Houston this year in the hyper bole?
neverspeakawordagain
79. alreadymadwithmandarb
Ya know.. It just hit me. We've been looking at the wrong place all along. Bela isn't the Creator... Mandarb is!
T C
80. Freelancer
As a writer of training materials, technical materials, service agreements, NDAs, and various other non-fiction documents, I very strongly wish that I were saddled with Brandon Sanderson's "shortcomings" as a novelist. Does finer prose exist? Yes. Stronger characterizations? Yes. More deft storytelling? Okay.

And yet, his stories are engaging, compelling, interesting, and by all measures, eminently worth reading. I have specifically discriminating taste regarding the threshold for what I do and do not enjoy in fiction. Many current authors who are otherwise considered popular and successful fail to meet that threshold. Brandon never has.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I find his work delicious. The two people, however, who needed to be convinced, who are more qualified than any other regarding the capability of a fantasy author, are Tom Doherty and Harriet MacDougal. After writing the final three volumes of her late husband's great saga, Brandon still has Harriet's trust and approval, and Tom Doherty took a major leap of faith in Brandon by publishing The Way of Kings with all the accoutrements included as they were. There is hardly a stronger rebuke to any criticism of Brandon's craft than their praise of same.
neverspeakawordagain
81. Teddroe
@ Oldtimer

Like everyone here, I have my reservations about Sanderson's tenure at the helm. Indeed, I probably have more than most (I don't have a very high opinion of his prose mechanics and turns of phrase, for instance). However, starting your critique with "I know this will be met with fanboy resentment, and quite likely this comment will be erased by the thought-police here, but here goes" is not a good way to make people take your opinion seriously. It makes you sound petulant and arrogantly dismissive right off the bat, and it's hard to read the rest of your post(s) fairly.
neverspeakawordagain
82. Lord Foul's Bane
Run off to the RW for a day or so and see what I missed? That'll teach me! :)

@62 - To quote: "I know this will be met with fanboy resentment, and quite likely this comment will be erased by the thought-police here, but here goes"; that statement is basically tying track shoes on a troll and putting it in the starting blocks. Even if it wins, it's not getting a prize because it wasn't supposed to be there in the first place (no matter how much the troll complains). So while I'm not a huge fan of Sanderson's writing style either, any legitimate points you might have tried to make were lost in the clamor and chaos of your troll crashing at the finish line. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism#Techniques_of_constructive_criticism)
(Ok, yeah, that was my straw for the camel, but hey I just got back. :) )

@63 - Yeah, that too!

@66 - Ok, moving right along...

@68 - "Trust your feelings, Luke..."

@69 - "Remember a lot of people were complaining he let the plot get away from him towards the later books." Yep, RJ sure did. it was one of the reasons I left the series at CoT for a few years. My sister is a librarian and pointed me in the direction of Leigh's rereads a few years ago; that why I came back to it.

@71 - Oh, the potential for badass super horses there; now THAT would have been awesome!

@72 - C'mon, we can dream, can't we?

@73 - Since I'm skimming down the posts, I think some of these clearly condescending (to me, anyway; YMMV) slaps can be safely ignored for now.

@74 – Agreed on all points. The original problem being that the series was too long four books ago (IMO) and that to me points right back to RJ.

@81 - Ok, I should have started here and worked back to my last post. Teddroe, your summation is spot on (and way more polite and / or eloquent then I could ever be).
neverspeakawordagain
83. Wani
I really don't know why the last three books get so much flak. Yeah, the writing style's a bit different, but at its core, it's very clearly still Robert Jordan's story, and it's the story that made me love this series. Would it have been better if Jordan had finished it himself? Yes, but, well, the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.

Also, finally caught up to this re-read in my own re-read. Not that I'm going to stop here. :O I've gotta say, I've picked up way, way more this time around (This is my third time through the series, once when I first read it, I think KoD came out a month or two after I finished, and again just before TGS came out). First time, I really only cared about Rand's story and that was half of why I really didn't like, say, CoT at first. Second time was a lot better because I was following the minor characters more. This time, I started after getting through most of this re-read and, based on the commentary and stuff, I'm picking up way, way more stuff that I was like "Oh hey, I totally didn't notice that until now. Cool!"

Also, as a random note: "Deepe had wanted to kill one of the Shadow's most dangerous channelers. Lan couldn't say he would turn down a similar opportunity, if it were given him."

Good ol' Lan.
Glen V
84. Ways
Like Lord Foul's Bane, I've been away from this thread working on RL for a couple of days. So, like *wow*, man!

s'rEDIT @68 - I feel like I'm being baited too, and I'm not going there.

The only semi-relevant (to the chapter under discussion) thing I have today is posing a question: Is Mandarb overtaking Bela in popularity?
neverspeakawordagain
85. Lord Foul's Bane
@84 - "Is Mandarb overtaking Bela in popularity?" Sad to say, I think so. (Probably because Mandarb can fight Trollocs if he needs to; and unlike Gawyn, he tries to protect the person he's supposed to protect.)
neverspeakawordagain
86. Old timer
Alright, lots of well-deserved criticism that deserve a response (and other notes), so here goes:

@77 I Asked myself that question a lot, and couldn't come up with a satisfying answer *specifically*. But much like when interviewing for a job, i do have some profile in mind. First and foresmost, i'm afraid it would have to be a little-known author, someone whose own body of work is big enough to show competence but slim enough to allow him to postpone his own writing indefinitely- a point I feel Sanderson has long passed when he was approached. I think he was not expecting to be engaged in this for as long as he did and wanted to get back to his writing, making him consiously or unconciously rush the job (which obviously cannot be proven in one way or another, but sujectively is quite evident). A tremendous bonus would have been an author who was as knowledgable as Jordan was in military history, or a dedicated consultant on the matter, as all sense of military realism was yanked from under us with Sanderson.

@80 If the proof of the pudding was in the eating, then we'd all agree that the new Star Trek movies were far superior to the originals, as the popularity of the latters eclipses the formers many times. We'd all say that and turn a blind eye to the fact that anything that made Star Trek unique and personal was stripped and replaced with glitter dust and lens flare. Sanderson's wheel of time is the "into darkness" to Jordan's "wrath of khan" - caricatures (not to say cardboard cutouts) of better, more well-developed characters; action-driven rather than story-driven; full of cosmetic winks to the original but containing none of its qualities.

(p.s. and "by all measures"? well, obviously not all. but hey, it's your party).

@82 and others: OK, so not the best opening, in hindsight. Had had some comments erased before (justly? I guess we'll never know, nothing to clash with the moderation policy I felt) so may have stopped a bit.
T C
87. Freelancer
Old Timer

While attempting to seem as though adjusting your tone (and failing miserably, your contempt for the readers as well as the author remains entirely transparent), you prove a point of ignorant in your presumption that Brandon did not fully take to heart this task. In the dozens of public appearances and dozens more interviews given since being selected by Harriet to finish the story, I never heard him fail to focus on having only two novels published by that time, Elantris and the first Mistborn volume, with the second heading for release. I'd say his body of work is precisely in line with your presumptive criteria.

But aside from all the other potential rebuttals available to your screed, there is but one item of importance, which is a repeat of that I offered before. Harriet MacDougal and Tom Doherty both believed that he was the best choice, and the success of the final three books has borne that out. Harriet graciously chose to travel with Brandon for much of the post-release AMoL tour, wearing the dual hats of Robert Jordan's widow, and the story's lead editor. Nothing made it into the Sanderson-authored volumes without her permission and acceptance. Do you also claim to have superior editorial experience to hers?

Why spend your passion on something which gives you no joy? Find another book to read, there are a few out there.
neverspeakawordagain
88. Old timer
@87 I'm more than willing to adjust my tone and adress rebuttals, while you seem to have made up your mind without regard to facts. My contempt is distributed sparsely and to deserving individuals You claim my ignorance, and yet you've not bothered checking sandersons prolific activity during the time he was "fully taking to heart this task": 4 novels, 2 of which a running series, a first novel in a new series, and a standalone; 3 young adult novels; several short stories; and early drafts of upcoming releases(? Many due in 2013). I'd say that judging by these numbers, his commitment to WoT is suspect at best. I don't imagine Jordan would have written standalone books while working on the final volume of his epic series, and a similar dedication is to be expected from anyone asked to fill his shoes. Add to that the fact Sanderson released these books much faster than the rate Jordan was publishing and the evidence is all clearer.

I don't presume to know what Harriet and Tom thought or felt at the time or today, as far as I know they may have regretted the decision and tried to save face or were delighted by the result, it really has no bearing on any criticism leveled at Sanderson (an appeal to authority is a rather weak argument, especially when that authority's statement are suspect due to emotional involvement).

Thanks but I don't need to be sent to bed early. If you don't care for the discussion you're welcome to leave yourself out of it. Or do we only praise and compliment in these comments threads?
neverspeakawordagain
89. Faculty Guy
Old Timer: Your recent posts are much more specific and thus better stimulate thought and discussion compared to your original shout. Thank you. And "Old Timer" is an interesting label. I am 68 and thus might be a competitor for your title. My reading of science fiction started in the late 1950s with Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein. I lean toward "science fiction" more than "fantasy" although I loved Tolkein when I read it in the 60s. My love of SF (along with Sputnik and the RL space program) was a major factor in my decision to go into science, obtain a PhD in physics, participate in research (I've worked on grants finded by all three military service research offices - ARO, ONR, AFOSR - plus NSF and DOE. Alphabet soup.) For 30+ years I've taught physics to college students, including more than 20 who have gone on to earn PhDs of their own (with serveral in the pipeline). My reading of SF has been steady, though recently more selective, and I've become at least "tolerant" of fantasy. Favorite writers over recent decades include Zelazny, Stephen Baxter, Dan Simmons, the classics by Poul Andersen, Simak and many others, AND I've made it a point to read early works: E.E. Smith, Olaf Stapledon, Cordwainer Smith, A.E. van Vogt - well, the list is long.

So I consider myself well-read, though not a literary scholar. Although I enjoy character development, I read mostly for the story. Favoring "harder" SF over fantasy generally, when I do read fantasy I look for consistency and complexity. I agree with the Sanderson principle that a magic system must have RULES, and one of the fun things is to gradually discern the hidden "system" which explains the mysteries which have piqued interest.

So: The WOT world was instantly fascinating; if nothing else it looked like a Tolkein knock-off and I wanted to see if he could carry it off. By the end of TEOTW the story and characters had developed enough on their own to keep me around for sequels - at least for awhile. I thought that a "climax" had been reached with the Dumai's Wells battle, I was ready for convergence and a wrap, and was a little turned off when the next couple of books seems to "slow down." I began to think that, in fact, RJ had stopped worrying about consistency, and was just writing story line at random, creating events as they occurred to him to keep the soap-opera going forever. An example was that dead Forsaken began to re-appear in different bodies! How could a battle EVER end if the bad guys, once killed, would not stay dead? And new "major" characters kept being introduced (e.g., Ituralde). I became less interested. When I heard (from one of my students) that RJ had died, I thought to myself that the issue had become moot.

Then came the news that the series was going to be finished! My interest reawakened to the extent that I read through the entire series (through KoD - this was "only" my second time through the early books) in anticipation. COULD the story be made coherent? It was around this time that I discovered Leigh's re-read and the WOT Encyclopaedia website. Afterward, I began using the audiobooks on my 1.5 hour/day commutes, and have enjoyed the audio version of the series a couple of times - just NOW hearing AMOL (having read it only once) after finally getting it from the library. So It was after RJ's passing away that I discovered the "plod" of CoT and then the rejuvenation of the story in KoD.

To the point: I found Sanderson's first two books wonderful! There were surprisingly FEW jarring discontinuities, IMO. I guess it depends on one's expectations, and yes, there were a few differences, but I was actually happy to see acceleration toward resolution and completion - amazed that a young author who had NEVER MET the creator of an imaginary world could so smoothly take over a story line that just might be the most complex in the history of SF/fantasy!

I WAS disappointed with the last book, and I've previously explained why. Briefly, there were many mysteries which RJ had introduced which were left unresolved. I will never know whether RJ had these internally resolved, and, if not, whether he intended to and COULD HAVE resolved them.

BUT: I do not blame Sanderson. And, would I rather the story line had never been completed? NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!

So I disagree strongly with those who seize on what I consider surprisingly few discontinuities in writing style and criticize an author who was facing an immense challenge. To take on this project was to tempt just such criticism, and to know that your legacy as a writer would be heavily influenced forever afterward by comparison with a legend. A sports equivalent would be to follow Vince Lombardi as football coach at Green Bay or Red Auerbach in Boston!

I've read ELANTRIS since, and enjoyed it, but will stay with SF over Fantasy mainly. But I am grateful to Sanderson for his effort, and glad that the saga was completed. Sorry for the mini-autobiography, but wanted to establish my reading history and the importance of SF/Fantasy in my life as it relates to my view of WOT.
Alice Arneson
90. Wetlandernw
I can't recall now which well-known author said it, but on learning that Sanderson was going to finish the WoT after Jordan's death, someone said something on the order of, "Everything good will be credited to Jordan, and anything bad will be blamed on Sanderson." We've seen that in spades - and with every reader, a different take on what is "good" and what is "bad."

Team Jordan was quite up-front with the stance that Sanderson was not ghostwriting the last books; Harriet specifically, as both owner and editor, was adamant that he write in his own style, and not try to slavishly imitate Jordan's style. It became clear very quickly that some readers found that terribly offensive, as though the style was the essence of the series rather than the story itself. To them, I can only offer pity; I have no sympathy, because I cannot find a way to enter into that attitude.
Scientist, Father
91. Silvertip
So I said this in the initial threads following TGS and, without wading into the weeds of the current discussion too much, it may be worth saying again. What BWS tried to do in finishing WoT is bloody bloody hard. The example I used is "Poodle Springs." Never heard of it? I'm not surprised. It's a Philip Marlowe mystery that Raymond Chandler left unfinished upon his death. A few years ago, at the height of the popularity of the Spenser books, somebody handed it to Robert B. Parker to finish. So, two of the best people ever to set pen to paper in that genre. I picked up the book when it came out, and as produced, unfortunately, it's terrible. The seams between the writers are just incredibly obvious, the plot and character discontinuities enough to give you whiplash. And remember: this is one fairly slim volume being finished by a very well-respected guy with a lot of pride in his craft. Finishing somebody else's work with any modicum of grace is just incredibly difficult. I am beyond impressed with Sanderson that we got the books we did. Are there things he didn't do as well as RJ would have? Beyond doubt. And I'll have some specific criticisms of AMoL as we go (short version: More sneaky Verin please). But boy oh boy, did he do something really difficult really well. We're lucky this was done at all and I venture to say we're really lucky it was BWS doing it. (For all that I was thinking to myself at the time, "get Tad Williams, get Tad Williams ...")

S
Alice Arneson
92. Wetlandernw
HARRIET MCDOUGAL: A friend from Minneapolis was visiting me in the week of Robert Jordan's funeral, and she came up to me—I was sitting at the dinner table —and she said "You need to read this." It was Brandon's eulogy for Robert Jordan which he had posted online, and Elise Mattheson is her name, and Elise knows that I am something of Luddite, so she couldn't just say, "Here's a good link." If she put it in front of me on paper, I would read it. And I thought, my goodness, this is just the feeling for Robert Jordan's work, that I would like to see in anyone who was going to finish the books.

So then I called Tom Doherty, who is of course the publisher of Brandon's own individual works, and said, "What do you think?" And since he's a publisher, he began telling me sales figures. And I had no particular interest, and I said, "Would you send me one of his books, please?" And he said, "Yeah, I'll send you Mistborn; Elantris is a good book, but it's a first novel" —if any of you are in the industry, you know first novels are misleading; you have to look at something later—so I read the first forty-seven pages of this book, and it was a period of enormous stress, and I should say that, as a professional editor, if I'm reading a book, and I want to go to sleep, I can't do it until I know the story is in good hands. Otherwise I'm going to keep reading it until I throw the book across the room and say "This is lousy."

Anyway, I fell asleep after forty-seven pages, not because I was bored, but because it was good. And when I woke up, the world, the characters, the conflict, even what they ate—everything was clear. And I said to myself, "This guy can do it." So I called Tom, and said, "I think this guy can do it." And he said, "You don't think you ought to read the whole book?" It was a pretty important decision. And I said, "If I were asking him to write a Brandon Sanderson novel, then I would have to read the whole book, but I'm not." "I'm asking him to write a Robert Jordan." And that's how it began.
-- January 9, 2013

Harriet McDougal has made it abundantly clear that she thoroughly approves of Sanderson's handling of the completion of the series. As for the work he has published while still finishing the WoT, the record is clear for those who wish to know. Many of his own works that have been published between then and now are things that were already written, which he set aside to work on the WoT. He merely returned to them during publishing-related breaks in writing the WoT, doing revisions and preparing them for publication. Everyone needs to take a break sometimes; Sanderson is a bit unusual in that his "break" usually consists of writing something completely different rather than going to Hawaii.

Hero of Ages, Warbreaker, Rithmatist and Steelheart (in other words, most of his major works for the past five years) all fall into the category of "things that just needed revision."

Alloy of Law, Legion, Emperor's Soul, and an assortment of other short works generally fall into the category of "things that worked to clear his mind between major writing and revisions." Most of them were ideas he'd had floating around, and just took a little time to put down in words; for example, the novella "Legion" was almost entirely written during one trans-Atlantic flight.

The Way of Kings is in a category of its own, in that it was completely written long before he took on the WoT, but he felt it needed to be completely rewritten before it could be published.

The wilful ignorance bothers me, but the attitude that bothers me far more is the one claiming that Sanderson ought to have completely set aside his own career while he was working on the WoT. Aside from the fact that everyone needs a break (in this case by writing other things), it would be completely unfair to expect an author to spend five years being only "that guy who finished the Wheel of Time." He contracted to write the last book, not to sacrifice his career to it. The fact that he wrote the last three books is a testament to his commitment - to make it an ending worthy of the author and the series that had such a formative effect on his own writing.
neverspeakawordagain
93. s'rEDIT
RE: Wet @92

::standing ovation::
neverspeakawordagain
94. L13
I for one enjoyed Mr. Sanderson's work more than Mr. Jordan's work from his last 6 or 7 books of the series. Mr. Jordan has received serious and well-deserved criticism for his writing. Mr. Sanderson has written 3 exciting books. To be honest, there is a whiff of fan fiction in his writing, but I'm glad. Mr. Jordan had a lot of great ideas, but his vision was a bit too big for his talent. His fascination with minutiae lost many readers and frustrated those of us who stayed on. Mr. Sanderson's prose is easier and more fun to read. He did make a few small errors (Pevara lying, for instance), but his books wrapped up subplots I never expected to see wrapped up (Annoura and Masuri's visit to Masema, for instance). The last three books weren't perfect, but they were satisfying, and that's a lot more than can be said of Jordan's WoT.
T C
95. Freelancer
Wetlandernw @92

::tag:: As usual, on the nose. The aspersion that both Harriet and Tom might have simply said nice things about Sanderson "to save face" while actually being sorely disappointed in his work, or that their authority was "suspect due to emotional involvement", made it clear that no amount of discussion would result in a breakthrough. Old Timer has definitely met neither of these incredibly professional and sincere people.

That Brandon is a prolific creator of words is true, and does bring with it the drawback that more editing is required (I still regret reading the earliest, rather than latest, complete Word version of Warbreaker, but not because of content, just typos which chew on me like a wild _______ gone loose), but that again is Harriet's job. But supposing that he gave short shrift to WoT in favor of his own work is still a lack of understanding of the person. As you pointed out, many of those stories were already well established, and required little more than final drafting and polish. Adding to that, Tom Doherty made a specific point to Brandon that he wouldn't be comfortable with an entire year going by without a new Sanderson being published, so any complaint about Brandon working on his own stories at the same time can also be pointed at the Publisher. Brandon said on more than one occasion that once he committed to Harriet to finish WoT, he felt that it was his responsibility to not keep the readers waiting any longer than necessary. He wouldn't rush the work, but wouldn't ever neglect it either.

And for his efforts, critics from one side hate how rushed and incomplete the final books seem, and critics from the other side hate how long it took to finish a story when the finish was already outlined in the notes. It is an unfortunate fact of the condition in which the story was left, and the length of time since KoD was released, that a balance between the two would be a compromise in one direction or the other. We can all agree that another two volumes would have been required to wrap many of the lesser subplots, and resolve the final disposition of many of the characters, without there being a sense of "rushing to the end". But Team Jordan and Tor agreed that three was the limit of volumes for which they could, in good conscience, ask the readers to wait.

None of the above (after the first paragraph) is my opinion, but things which have been stated by the relevant parties quite regularly at public appearances since the end of 2007.


Faculty Guy @89

I push Van Vogt on folks whenever they express interest in classic SF. The Isher books are a treasure.
Deana Whitney
96. Braid_Tug
My impression of BWS’ take on WOT.

When I finished reading TGS, I told a friend who had abandoned the series, “It’s like he put the books into gear and punched it into drive. “

This impression has not changed.

When I first read PoD, and realized how little time passed when the book ended, I was furious with Jordan. And no, that was not the first book I had to wait on, FoH won that award.

Nor will I blame BWS for some of the military mistakes of the last three books. Jordan had been tossing around unrealistic numbers, long before then.

BWS took on an almost impossible task. He knew it was almost impossible to begin with, but he strived and finished it. Arguably much faster than Jordan could have done.

We all wish for “something more about X” or “less of Q”. But I’m just thankful that the series was put into drive and crossed the finish line. BWS did a fine job of finishing Jordan’s marathon race.
neverspeakawordagain
97. AndrewB
Silvertip @91. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but Verin died at the end of TGS. Hence, she could not appear on screen in AMoL (unless you think she should have been a Hero of the Horn). If that is the case, I respectfully disagree.

Verin may have been many things, but a true Hero she was not. She herself said that she choose to become Black Ajah for selfish reasons -- she did not want to die. Yes, her sould and heart (no pun intended) were not with the Dark One. Yet, that does not excuse the murders and other crimes that she had to commit in service to the Shadow. A true hero (in my opinion) would have accepted death in her circumstances so that she could stay true to her prinicples and always walk in the Light. Verin choose the cowards way out.

Wetlandernw @92. Well said. Eloquent as always.
(Truth be told, I am jealous of your writing skills.)

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Alice Arneson
98. Wetlandernw
OT: Andrew @97 - Thank you. It's a combination of natural proclivity, training, and hard work - and the best reward is when I work hard to say something the right way, and someone else says, "Yes! That's what I wanted to say!" Then I know that it worked, and the time I spent was worth it. I know I sometimes spend more time wordsmithing a comment than is really justified, but that's the price of being OC. :)
Thomas Keith
99. insectoid
Wetlander @92, Free @95:
*claps* +Like!!

Hunny's up for grabs...

Bzzz™.
neverspeakawordagain
100. s'rEDIT
Let's see if I'm too late.
neverspeakawordagain
101. s'rEDIT
Oh, fun! My first hunny out of . . . how many of Leigh's posts have there been?

Anyway, in order to say *something* on topic, I will add a question:

How did Cadsuane know that the Black Tower had freed itself? Do we ever find out?
Alice Arneson
102. Wetlandernw
s'rEDIT @101 - I was wondering that, myself, but haven't yet taken the time to go search. Anyone else??
Valentin M
103. ValMar
The AS grapevine? Some of the AS at the BT must've come back to report the big news from there. I haven't actually gone to search so this is just an educated guess from memory. Unless told specifically, IMO, pretty likely guess.
neverspeakawordagain
104. Faculty Guy
Braid_Tug@96: Commenting on the accusation that Sanderson showed lack of awareness of military tactics, and pointing out that "Jordan had been tossing around unrealistic numbers . . ."

No kidding, and I remember discussing this on this site some time ago (not long after I discovered it). Has anyone else wondered what millions (tens of millions?) of hungry trollocs ATE while biding their time (training?) in a waste where NOTHING GROWS? Has anyone read Jared Diamond's excellemt GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL or (even more relevant to this point) COLLAPSE?

There's a reason, I guess, why they call it "fantasy."
neverspeakawordagain
105. AndrewB
ValMar @103. I will take the other side of the coin. My guess is that some of the Asha'man traveled from the Black Tower to Shayol Ghul and told Asha'man bonded to Cads Aes Sedai (Flinn, perhaps). That Asha'man inturn told Cads.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
T C
106. Freelancer
I was never much bothered by Cadsuane passing the news to Rand about the Black Tower. That she said so with certainty insinuates that she had either a firsthand or a reliable secondhand report. Remembering that there were Aes Sedai monitoring the surroundings of the BT, there could be numerous Sisters who are likely to have entered the grounds once the dust settled and it was clear that Taim's faction had been expelled.
Valentin M
107. ValMar
AndrewB @ 105

Yep, the Asha'man are the other option. I thought that it will come to Cads via an AS more direct and quicker. There were some AS just outside the BT.
Walter Jones
108. waltjones40
A word in Gawyn's defense. Did he really know what would happen to Egwene if he got killed? I don't think he did. It's obvious Elayne is clueless about the downside of the bond, even after going through it with Birgette. I think that the reason he felt free to take the risk he took was because he didn't know. Even when Egwene was going through the sorrow of losing him, she could not comprehend that it was going to be hard and her judgement would be impaired. Remember, neither she, nor Elayne had proper training before being raised. Egwene spent most of her Amerlyn career learning the ropes and being kicked around by Eliada.
Scientist, Father
109. Silvertip
AndrewB @97 I did, in fact, notice when Verin died -- kind of a hard scene to miss, after all. What I was hoping to see in AMoL was the continued playing out of the effects of the various letters she left behind. In addition to the little misfire with Mat, we know at least about Rand's, Galad's, and Alanna's, but for the first two especially to my recollection (I'd be happy to be corrected) we don't even have an idea what the topic was. I was actually hoping that the contents of those letters and perhaps others would be revealed in AMOL to be part of the clockwork driving the forces of Light to the defeat of the Dark One. Regardless of one's ultimate judgment of Verin as a human being, (and it certainly wasn't me who said anything about the Horn), it would have made for a fun aspect to the book. Not to be, not to be.

S
Terry McNamee
110. macster
Sigh...I sympathize with Gawyn, and to some degree he has a point--as one of the greatest blademasters in Randland, his talents are to some extent being wasted in his current position. On the other hand, he is forgetting how important Egwene is to the war effort, and that by protecting her he is actually serving a far more important function than just "being a Warder". And really, if he weren't protecting her, what would he be doing? The only real swordsman on the other side for him to fight at this point (what with Moridin being busy at the Pit of Doom) is Demandred, and we all see how that goes later...of course he doesn't know how badly outmatched he is and if told of Demandred at this point would likely think he could take him. Or there's always using Mat's medallion or one of its copies to fight Dreadlord Asha'man... Still, the point is, he's still trying to be the prince he was trained to be, but in the process he's forgetting the lessons he's learned in the last couple books.

And what with the portents of doom we've received (Egwene's dreams about him walking barefoot and getting his feet cut open, the whole marry her/don't marry her/long life to die in bed/die quickly in battle branching future), we don't even really need the constant references to the Bloodknife rings to know things are going to go horribly wrong. Personally I always thought that the matchups would be if he married her, he'd die quickly in battle while if he didn't he'd have a long life and die in bed...because even though one would think not marrying her would free him up to go haring off and get himself killed, it just seemed too Happy Ever After-ish to assume he'd get to marry her and then have a long happy life. Jordan wasn't likely, in my opinion, to be that obvious with happy endings--at least not with every couple in the series. So once they got married, I pretty much had a feeling that meant he was a goner. Of course I never guessed how he would go, or what that would lead to for Egwene (since sisters have lost Warders and still survived)...

Side note though: I laughed at that playful lie he made to Egwene about supposedly laughing because he'd been Late to the Punchline on a joke Sleete told, and Egwene seeing right through it. (Also while she dodged the bit about Warders being able to lie, we may note she didn't outright say sisters couldn't take advantage of such a loophole, just that she hoped it didn't happen very often. Which is perfectly understandable I think--however we feel about the Three Oaths, it'd be pointless to have them if you could just use your Warders to evade them--yet also suggests Egwene hasn't completely drunk Siuan's Kool-Aid about the Oaths, if she's willing to admit that such a loophole could occasionally be useful.)

And Leilwin's puncturing of Egwene's generalization about the Seanchan rather dovetails, I think, with what Leigh herself said about them back during the "Education of Miss Egeanin" Tanchico storyline in TSR. As for any Nazi parallel...I would say that falls apart since as much as we can say the Germans shouldn't have simply accepted what was happening, everyone agrees (or should) that we can't hate all Germans for what happened, so why should we hate all Seanchan? Not to mention the Seanchan didn't even choose their Empress, she's an absolute monarch (that would be like blaming the people of medieval England or France because they went along with their kings' plans for the Crusades), and they've been raised all their lives for generations to believe what they do about channelers as opposed to the few short years of indoctrination Hitler applied.

Re: people being doomed to be reborn as Trollocs and Fades (I don't think Draghkar used to be people, did they?)--I talked about this a bit last week, and I still think that while people's lives are spun out and woven by the Wheel, if they have free will (and the way Jordan had the confrontation with the Dark One play out, that is clearly a key part of his cosmology) then it stands to reason that no one is "doomed" to be a Shadowspawn. Whether one becomes one would depend initially on if Aginor and his lackeys happened to capture a particular person back in the Age of Legends for his experiments, and while some degree of chance is involved there, how one has made choices in life also determines if one happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. After that yes it would seem to be predetermined, via Trolloc breeding to produce more of themselves or Fades, but the initial becoming of a Trolloc would still allow for choice to prevent it.

Also, to a point what the Dark One does is all chaos working against the order established by the Creator, and by definition chaos is about randomness. Yes, the Pattern is too because it's neutral, but my point is that while it is random whether people around Rand (for example) suffer positive or negative effects, it's also random who gets struck by a bubble of evil and who doesn't. So while this means that often choice won't matter in whether you become a Shadowspawn if the Dark One/his minions/random chaos picks you for it, at the same time you won't always get picked in every turn of the Wheel.

Love Min's comment that even if what Rand is doing is foolhardy and risky, it's wonderful that he is the kind of person who would take those risks--it pretty much dovetails with what we've seen from Cadsuane and her reason for testing Rand as she has, that it really doesn't matter what Rand does against the Shadow if he isn't the right kind of person, with the right kind of mindset. Seeing Rand do these things, even if they could endanger himself and the cause of the Light, is actually a relief since it shows he'll be ready to do the right thing in this battle, and actually will.

Also loved the dry wit where Rand reveals he was only giving gifts to people he cared about, and where Cadsuane says she and he had not always had smooth interactions: "That would be one way to say it." And as much as I have been a defender of Elayne, I also had to laugh out loud when Cadsuane commented that she'd spoken wisdom "once in her life...a better average than I had assumed of that one." Hah!

(Although when would Cadsuane ever have met her so as to be able to make such an assumption? Must have been before the series started, because she never actually met her on-screen, unless they had an off-screen meeting at Merrilor. She certainly wouldn't have been getting info on her from the Salidar Aes Sedai or Moiraine...though I suppose she could have gotten it from Egwene.)

Rand "has cracks in him". Like the land itself, after all the balefire usage? And he ends up healing those over when he is helped to let go of the list, and all his guilt, by Egwene...the same one who comes up with the Flame of Tar Valon to heal the land. Nice symbolic Fisher King parallel again.

And indeed, it is critical that Rand, well, not be a Debbie Downer going into this. He always has seemed to be a man about extremes, either being a hopeless optimist and idealist or an utter cynic and pessimist. What Cadsuane is saying, what Elayne said, and what Min said when she was praising Rand being the person who would do something foolhardy because he cared about his people, is that Rand needs to be more of a middle-ground guy. Blindly assuming he will die and there is no hope is as bad as thinking he can win and good will always triumph...it's more healthy to go into it cautiously optimistic, thinking there is still a chance he could live so that that hope will fuel him, give him reason to fight harder and refuse to give up. On Dragonmount he swore he would do it right this time, but it's kind of hard to do that if you don't believe you will live through it.

I'm not surprised, really, that we didn't see a meeting between Cadsuane and Moiraine. Wetlander always said she thought their meeting would be a non-event, and she was right! Moiraine may have been suspicious of Cadsuane being Black, but by this point she should know Rand wouldn't allow any Blacks near him, and can detect them too, and Cadsuane may have looked down on Moiraine back when she was young and reckless, but she's done enough since reappearing to prove Rand's faith in her. So seeing them sniff, glare, and otherwise avoid each other seems perfectly in character to me.

It may be a small thing, but I like that Lan is glad his men are treating the Asha'man as comrades. We've never really seen any prejudice toward male channelers from Lan, and once he found out who Rand was he never stopped being his friend, confidant, and mentor, so it makes perfect sense he'd do all in his power to help others overcome their prejudice. Particularly since, you know, he was there when the taint was cleansed, and by now I bet Rand told him of Nynaeve Healing taint madness. So it's just another nice feather in Lan's cap, showing what a good man he is that he's doing his part to end the hatred toward saidin users.

Also nice to have references to Mandarb keep showing up. Too bad Moiraine never had a chance to go back to Cairhien and pick up Aldieb. But I imagine she'll do that after Tarmon Gai'don, in preparation for her and Thom wandering the world.

I too was suckered about Agelmar. Though to be fair, since I hadn't really seen anything wrong with any of the plans, I doubt I would have picked up on this clue anyway. I am not a military strategist, so it made sense to me the way Ituralde laid out the plan for Shayol Ghul, Bryne not using the Aes Sedai at first seemed perfectly justified as him not wanting to overstep his bounds and now that he is using them, all seems to be going wonderfully, and as I'd said before, if Bashere had actually been sending out scouts like he said he was, Elayne's army never would have been surrounded the way it was. As for Agelmar...I was worried that he was making mistakes, just as I was when Bryne was berating himself after the ambush by the Sharans. But I had no idea what was causing it until Lanfear dropped her bombshell on Perrin, so yes--well played indeed, Team Jordan. And knowing this was something Sanderson came up with, not Jordan, I have to admire it even more, because it was so subtle and woven in so well.

While the reveal that Baldhere is gay was not subtle (well, it used Jordan's typical off-handed circumspection, but it was still stated unequivocally so that we knew the truth), I still liked how it was handled--if anyone would a) notice such a thing and b) not care a bit, it'd be Lan. How I love that man. :)
Terry McNamee
111. macster
@2 neverspeakaword: Um...where did you get from that that Sanderson would never include such a character? He said right in that essay that he had every intention of putting a gay character in his work at some point, because gay people exist in the real world so putting them in fiction is just being realistic. And while he said a character shouldn't be made gay "just to be gay" or it would overshadow the story, he also pointed out that making one gay works when it is not a major character so that the theme won't take over the book. And that's exactly what happened with Baldhere and Emarin, they were minor characters so it didn't take over the book.

@7 Jeff S: Well said.

@8 LuvURphleb: What she's fond of is the very fact that Min has been reading, educating herself, and is thus able to hold her own against her, philosophically and intellectually.

@11 AndrewB: No, you're not being a hypocrite, at least I don't think so. You sum up my feelings pretty well on the matter. I just am a little more sympathetic toward Gawyn than you--I think what he did was wrong, but I understand why he did it and I feel sorry for him because of it. I also think you're right, Lan didn't know exactly what role Nynaeve would have in the Last Battle. Besides, I think it is pretty clear that when he went up against Demandred, it wasn't just being suicidal, it was doing something that had to be done, to save the forces of the Light. Gawyn may have claimed he was doing it for the same reason--and to some extent he was, because he saw what fighting Demandred was doing to the Aes Sedai and he was afraid of what would happen if Egwene went up against him--but in truth it was as much about feeling useful and being a hero. He wasn't throwing his life away because he felt such a sacrifice was necessary to stop Demandred, he was fighting him, foolishly thinking he could win, just because he wanted to protect Egwene and be a hero. What he did and the fact he lost isn't the issue--Galad lost too, as did Logain (though we can argue the latter was being reckless and foolhardy too, albeit for more justified reasons thanks to what the attempts to Turn him did to him)--it's why he did it.

@13 Lucubratrix: Couldn't have said it better myself.

@16 MDNY: You're right, that is what he was meant for and him trying to be a hero instead is going against what he was trained to do. But I can still understand why he'd want to be a hero. A lot of people do. The problem is that he was so focused on doing so that he not only forgot or dismissed his actual duty, he didn't think it through properly so that he didn't actually get to be heroic and his sacrifice was for nothing. Then again this not thinking through thing runs in his family--the whole reason Birgitte dies and Elayne has to be saved by the Horn being blown is because of her screw-up in ToM that allowed Mellar to get away (and with one of the medallion copies).

@21 Faculty Guy: While obviously (and hopefully) not a constant facet of all people IRL, I think it is very safe to say that refusing to or being unable to be self-critical and learn from it is indeed sadly something that appears a lot in life.

@22 Wetlander: Agreed, though with the caveat I made above that while Galad and Lan and Logain were all going after Demandred because it had to be done, he had to be stopped (though note both Galad and Logain had other reasons for doing so--revenge on Galad's part, his near-Turning and his desire for glory on Logain's), Gawyn was also doing it to feel useful and be a hero. So even if the act had to be done, and even setting aside the method he used, his motivations were not pure and selfless. Does this make him bad or someone we should rag on? I don't think so, very few people in life can ever manage to do things for only the right reasons, without self-interest coming into it, so why should fictional characters be any different? But it does make what happened exactly what Brandon said: a tragedy.

@27 Namaste: That...is so very sad and horrific. And for the first time I really want to ignore something Jordan said as true. Basically because of the rationale I put forward above--maybe once Trollocs are made, they and all their descendants will always be Trollocs, but what about the people who were originally used by Aginor to make the first Trollocs? Surely they were not destined to be used so, and would always be spun out for that fate? I still stand by what I said, that a combination of luck/randomness of both the Pattern and the Dark One's chaos, and of people making choices in life which put them where Aginor could get hold of them for his experiments, determines who does and doesn't become Trollocs in each turning of the Wheel, not a fixed fate.

@29 chaplainchris: Considering what Egwene does to Taim, it's possible she and Gawyn together could have brought Demandred down.

@30 tymyrick: If that really is true, then that means a new set of souls gets corrupted and forever lost with every turning of the Wheel. The Pattern must spin out a huge amount of souls then, if the number of threads in it is to remain the same. This also means Aginor deserved far worse than he got, I think.

@31 KiManiak: It is also possible Moiraine is acting on knowledge she was given by the Finn and therefore thinks Rand must follow her advice to succeed, but overall your point is valid.

@32 Diahbeetus: That makes sense to me. Harsh and horrible, but not an eternal sentence.

@38 forkroot: Narishma may not have done much with Callandor itself, but he certainly "followed after" Rand in how he did critical, heroic things for the Light.

And yes indeed...even as all of them to various degrees did stupid things or made bad choices, it's pretty clear that Gawyn, Galad, and Logain all made important choices or acted at the right time to eventually lead up to Lan's MOA. It was very well-written, a buildup which helped show what a credible threat Demandred was while still letting him eventually get killed--all through an indirect, seemingly random confluence of events. How like the Pattern.

Also I didn't notice that bit with Lan before. Nice foreshadowing indeed!

@44 wcarter: Since Jordan has always said that every turning of the Wheel is the same, with small variations, that implies the Dark One never wins. By your logic then, for that to happen, it must be the case that new souls can be spun out to replace ones that were corrupted and forever ruined. We just don't know how it happens.

@49 Tektonica: Cadsuane says right in this scene that Rand had given Min jewels; it must have happened off-screen. As for a farewell scene between them, there is one at Shayol Ghul when he sends her off to join Mat and Tuon. It's admittedly not as loving as we might have wished, but then his parting from Aviendha wasn't much better (other than the "shade of my heart" bit--that phrase has always made me choke up a bit for some reason). Only Elayne really got the full loving sendoff.

@51 konigr: I was expecting it to be Bashere, thanks to Min's viewing of darkness around him. I wasn't alone in that either.

@61 Dendrinite: Also true. While I take issue with (some of) the reasoning behind why he did it, I do not dispute that trying to take out Demandred was a heroic thing to do, and that it did contribute to everyone else's efforts so it wasn't completely in vain. And yeah, Egwene probably would have died regardless. Doesn't change how tragic it still is, but sometimes tragedy is necessary to be heroic and spare others that same suffering, or is at least an unavoidable consequence of it.

@62 Old Timer: I will say that I certainly found moments, individual lines or sentences, of Sanderson's WOT work, particularly in AMoL, to be...not the most stellar of writing. But there was just as much if not more that I found serviceable, good, or even brilliant. So to dismiss all of it as being equally bad writing, let alone something it would have been better to leave the series unfinished so that we wouldn't have to see, seems...a rather broad generalization.

Also to you @73: that first comment I think crosses a line from being polite criticism to an outright attack, both on Sanderson and his fans. Not appropriate at all. There's a difference between not sugarcoating and being outright hostile and snarky toward those you disagree with or whose work you dislike. As for Nynaeve, it seems you missed the important things she did like helping undo Compulsion on Kerb, helping locate Perrin and Tam to save Rand, her testing to be Aes Sedai in the Tower, fighting the Black Ajah...

@75 Teddroe: No, their last scene is on the slopes above Thakan'dar in Chapter 20.

@86 Old Timer: So now you're equating any praise or admiration for Sanderson's work to mere quality by popular vote? (Even though it is fairly clear that even for those who like/love the last three books, they still prefer Jordan's and therefore don't consider Sanderson's better and they aren't more popular by a long shot. The only ones who don't are ones who never liked Jordan's style in the first place and thus don't really count as good arbiters of the series' overall quality.) Nice straw man you've set up there.

As for @88, how is it an appeal to authority when the authority in question actually has the acumen to know whether or not Sanderson had the skill and talent to write the books? Basically what you are saying is that we can't appeal to their better judgment in this matter because their judgment isn't better in your opinion. Because, you imply, they are too close to the product and its original author to be able to properly judge good writing when they see it. For someone who claims not to be presuming what was in their heads when they chose Sanderson, you sure are doing a lot of presuming. Either Harriet and Tom knew what they were doing, or they didn't. If they did, then appealing to their authority is not a fallacy, but simple common sense--they know better, and if you don't like the results it is due to your background, world-view, interpretation etc. of the books, not any flaws in their editorial knowledge. If they didn't, then you would have a case--but we have no proof of them not having this knowledge other than your own assumptions based, again, on your personal view of the books.

And may I also note that while it is true Jordan took longer to write his later books than Sanderson took to write these, this is not necessarily a sign that he was doing so in order to polish them and make them perfect--in fact many have noted that it seemed he was having a hard time making the story gel, progressing the characters, balancing everything, and that that was all part of the story getting away from him, that far from the extra time being time in which he was making it perfect, it was time during which he was struggling with getting it done, let alone right. Jordan admitted to some of this. Also, while it is true he didn't take breaks to write other things, he did pause the series at one point to write New Spring (which some people complained about because of where he'd left us at COT or because they think he would have been able to finish the series, or more of it, before dying if he hadn't written that prequel). So it's not as if he remained completely focused either.

@101 and 102: In this very chapter, Egwene speaks of needing to send sisters (with Bryne) to the Black Tower so as to rescue/bring back the Salidar delegation. We don't see that until Chapter 21, but with the timeline being a bit off, I think it is safe to say it was when Lyrelle and the others met with Pevara, Androl, and company that the news of the coup against Taim was shared. Then Lyrelle and her group told Bryne and the sisters with him; they told Egwene; and she told Cadsuane.

@Wetlander: Yes, you did indeed state things so eloquently and perfectly I too have to applaud. Though as usual, forkroot and Freelancer made equally good cases.

@108 waltjones: You could be right, but seeing as he trained with Hammar, Sleete, and a number of other Warders, I am fairly sure Gawyn would have been told at some point just what happens to a Warder's Aes Sedai if he dies. It seems more likely to me, as foolish as it was considering the Bloodknife rings, Gawyn just actually thought he would win and not die. Or perhaps that he'd be able to get back to Healing in time.

@109 Silvertip: While we don't know for sure, it seems pretty clear from ToM that Rand's letter contained the information about Mattin Stepaneos, which is what led Rand to deduce where Alsalam was and send Cadsuane to find him. But the exact nature of what Alanna was told and how that led to her ending up at Shayol Ghul is unknown, and Galad's letter is still a complete mystery--we only know it couldn't have been about Tigraine being Rand's mother since he doesn't learn that until Gawyn tells him as he's dying. I admit to being rather frustrated about these tidbits.
Glen V
112. Ways
Faculty Guy @89 - I enjoyed reading your mini-autobiography. It's interesting, to me at least, to learn something about regular commenters who remain "in the red" with no profile info. Many of the regular and semi-regulars commenters herein met in person at Jordan Con this past April. We became friends on level that would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in these threads. I will say that I felt a bit intimidated about the impending conference in the couple of weeks leading up to the event, but it turned out to be an experience I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. So thanks for your contribution upthread, it helps us get to know you as a person somewhat more than we did (although I do believe we had a brief discussion about Simak, van Vogt, etc. a while back). Perhaps you will see your way clear to join us at Jordan Con next year. By the way, you are far from the only 60+ year old participating in this re-read. And regarding your question @104, that's been bugging me too. I justified it by assuming the millions of Trollocs ate each other and whatever other Shadowspawn might be wandering around the Blight and Blasted Lands. ::tries somewhat unsuccessfully to remove tongue from cheek:: Finally, my 'enter' key is not working again in the comment box (Internet Exploder or Tor??), so the formatting of this comment is not exactly what I had in mind.
Don Barkauskas
113. bad_platypus
Ways @112: As was pointed out to me (I believe by Freelancer, actually), clicking the "Compatibility View" button (the one that looks like a torn sheet of paper) will make the Enter key function properly in IE.
Stefan Mitev
114. Bergmaniac
@108 - not sure where you get that Elayne doesn't know about the downside of the bond. It's mentioned quite a few times that she does. For example when she bonded Rand and they discussed the terrible price she and the others would have to pay when he dies.
neverspeakawordagain
115. Old Timer
Been away for a while, so this may be a bit moot, but-

 

@89 Faculty Guy. Hi, thanks to you too. I enjoyed reading your input, and I definitely lean toward science fiction rather than fantasy as it is considerably more thought-provoking than fantasy (YMMV, with some exceptions obviously- e.g. Tolkin, Zelazny). Still, there's still a warm place in my heart for the genre from my youth, and it makes for great light-reading (ideal for audiobooks, where thought can be turned down to a minimum).

 

I agree with you regarding Jordan letting the story getting away from him somewhat during some of the latter books, but not on a wholesale manner (at least for me), as I did feel he was beginning to wrap things up. Furthermore, I don't think it should save Sanderson from due criticism (and it's criticism, not "blame"). The amount of discontinuities can be argued over, but for my money the most troubling aspect is how shallow everything became, to a point of caricature. While I sure didn't like ALL characters Jordan wrote, they all at least felt authentic in their motivations, issues, internal debates, etc. Now they all feel like cardboard cutouts of their former selves, their good and bad aspects becoming a parody. And if Jordan had a tendency to have his characters drag on their issues to a point of tedium, Sanderson's inverse of waving deeply established issues away is even worse. To summarize, it's far less the world-detail discontinuities that trouble me, but the overall operation feels, well, fake. Add to that the overall feel of the story being rushed up (while still, apparently, being able to support 300000+ variations of "and then he stabbed the trolloc").

 

@92 Wetlandernw and others. While I'm not privy to any inside information, I'll take your word for the fact that most of this material was written beforehand, unlikely as it may seem. It seems to me that Sanderson did not expect this project to be this long and demanding, and increasingly just wanted to be done with it. This shows in the snappiness of the last volume more than most, and the overall degradation in quality in all 3 novels. And yes, I would have expected that as a basic condition for anyone to finish the WOT series would be to put his own writing "on hold" (and not his career, as you intimated, unless you think the WOT is a step down from Sanderson's writing) - I think Jordan's world deserved the undivided attention of an author for its final volume. If they had to wait a while longer to find an author more serious about the job there's nothing wrong with that. As for Harriet and Tom, I'll say again that I don't pretend to know what went/goes through their minds (nor I implied to, as some have suggested), and again express the opinion that it doesn't really matter to the criticism at hand. Harriet could be a saint and genuinely like Sanderson's work or indifferent and professional- so? How is that relevant to any argument?

 

In closing, I find it hard to believe anyone who followed the series from the get-go not feel the JARRINGLY different tone (for the worse) of Sanderson's (haphazard and action-focused) work, but apparently it seems to be the popular opinion in this comment thread at the very least. So seeing as I’m not out to convert anyone, and the overall reaction to criticism of Sanderson, I'll take my business elsewhere. Back to lurking it is.
neverspeakawordagain
116. Pagan
For the life of me, I can not begin to imagine how Leigh drew the following conclusion:
"Besides, anyone who paid attention would know that Baldhere clearly preferred men to women.
*beams*
I don’t care what anyone says, this put warm sparkly rainbow feelings in my anti-heteronormative heart. AMOL may not have given me absolutely every last thing I wanted out of it (and realistically, all complaints aside, there was no way it ever could have), but this wish, at least, got granted, and granted unambiguously, and that makes me a happy Leigh. Happy enough that I am choosing to ignore the voice that whispers about bread and circuses, because LA LA LA happy. Right? Right!"

Clearly?????? I do NOT think so especially in light of the following:

"He thinks Rand will never know how similar they are. Lord Baldhere, Queen Ethenielle’s Swordbearer, approaches, and confesses to Lan that he is worried about Lord Agelmar. He says that he is confused by some of Agelmar’s strategy choices, that they are too aggressive. He brings up the recent loss of two entire cavalry squadrons; Lan points out that everyone makes mistakes, but Baldhere counters that he does not think that that was one Agelmar would have made. Lan asks if perhaps Baldhere is expecting too much of Agelmar just because he is one of the Great Captains, and Baldhere concedes this.
“I guess it comes down to an instinct, Lan. An itch. Agelmar seems tired a lot, and I worry it’s affecting his ability to plan. Please, just watch him.”"

WHERE in all the world of reasoning can someone draw the conclusion that Lord Baldhere is a homosexual from the quoted statement???????

I know Leigh is super hypersensitive toward homosexuality and lesbianism, but really??? No one in the normal world could draw the conclusion she did.
Alice Arneson
117. Wetlandernw
Pagan @116 -
"Besides, anyone who paid attention would know that Baldhere clearly preferred men to women."
Leigh was quoting the text, word for word, from Lan's thoughts. Page 358, about an inch from the bottom of the page.
T C
118. Freelancer
The conclusion does not come from there. Leigh quoted the relevant POV statement:
Besides, anyone who paid attention would know that Baldhere clearly preferred men to women.
This line isn't part of Leigh's commentary, it's text from the book. It is a character thinking this.
T C
119. Freelancer
::sigh:: Some things never change, do they? Beaten to the punch yet again.
neverspeakawordagain
120. Merksberger
@Pagan: Leigh is quoting the book with the sentence, "Besides, anyone who paid attention would know that Baldhere clearly preferred men to women." Lan thinks it to himself idly; the thought was triggered by him musing about Ethenielle's marriage prospects after her earlier husband's death. People thought she'd marry Baldhere, but that's not gonna happen because he "preferred men to women".

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