Jul 9 2013 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 20

A Memory of Light, Wheel of Time, Brandon SandersonWho runs the world? Wheel of Time Reread! Okay, not really. But now I bet that song is stuck in your head, so ha!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 20 of A Memory of Light, in which I am dismayed and confused and pleased and a little wistfully choked up all at once. Because I am vast and contain multitudes—OF EMOTION. So there.

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!

Before we start: Thanks, by the way, to everyone who wished me and my family well in the comments to the last entry. The issue is… ongoing, but hopefully will be resolved well in the near future. Cross your fingers for me if you would.



Chapter 20: Into Thakan’dar

What Happens
Egwene—along with Gawyn, Romanda, Lelaine, Leane, Silviana, Raemassa and a handful of Warders and soldiers—executes a maneuver which turns the Trollocs’ formerly advantageous battle position into a trap, clearing the hilltops behind the bulk of the enemy with Fire, and then pinning the Trollocs against the rest of their forces. It works well, though Egwene et al are obliged to retreat when the Trollocs are forced by the Fades to retake the hill despite massive losses. Back at camp, Egwene thinks on the fake seals she still carries, and tells herself she cannot worry about whether the real ones have already been broken.

Egwene felt a dread she could not abandon. And yet, the war continued, and she had no recourse but to keep fighting it. They would think of a way to recover the seals, if they could. Rand swore to try. She wasn’t certain what he could do.

Gawyn wonders why the Fades are forcing the Trollocs to fight so hard for this position even after it’s proved to be such a disaster for them. Lelaine is dismissive, but Egwene gets a bad feeling, and orders the army to be pulled back. Just then, however, a giant gateway opens to the rear of their position, showing a massive army unlike any Egwene has seen before. She sees hundreds of channeling women among them, glowing with the Power, and shouts for the Aes Sedai to release the Source and hide themselves immediately. Romanda doesn’t listen, trying to weave a gateway to escape, and is killed instantly. Egwene runs for the command tent as the camp falls into chaos, and meets Gawyn and Lelaine there.

“Sharans.” Lelaine, breathless, huddled down beside them.

“Are you certain?” Egwene whispered.

Lelaine nodded. “The reports from the Cairhienin before the Aiel War are plentiful, if not very informative. They weren’t allowed to see much, but what they did see looked a lot like that army.”

Egwene says they must retreat, but Gawyn points out they are trapped between the Sharans and the Trollocs. Then someone channels inside the command tent, and Egwene and Gawyn barely get away before it is destroyed. Egwene is aghast; Siuan, Bryne, Yukiri and many of the command staff had been in there, and Lelaine is nowhere to be found either. They hide, keeping still, while the Sharans kill anything that moves in the camp. After the channelers stop, the army comes through, killing or capturing anyone they find. Egwene and Gawyn escape detection only because they are hiding under his Warder cloak. Egwene longs to do something, but knows she will be killed the moment she tries to channel. Gawyn indicates they must wait until nightfall, and even though she is in an agony of worry over the fate of her forces, Egwene reluctantly agrees. She cannot stop thinking of her people being slaughtered.

I am the Amyrlin Seat, she told herself firmly. I will be strong. I will survive. So long as I live, the White Tower stands.

She still let Gawyn hold her.

Aviendha, Rhuarc, Amys, and a Stone Dog named Shaen crawl to the ridge overlooking Thakan’dar; Aviendha doesn’t know what to think about the fact that Rhuarc has donned the red headband of the siswai’aman. They are horrified by their first sight of the “town” at the foot of Shayol Ghul. Ituralde joins them, to Rhuarc’s irritation, insisting he needs to see the terrain for himself. Aviendha prays that their strange army will be enough to get Rand where he needs to go.

Seeing the end of her people had nauseated and horrified her, but also awakened her. If the end of the Aiel was the sacrifice required for Rand to win, she would make it. She would scream and curse the Creator’s own name, but she would pay that price. Any warrior would. Better that one people should end than the world fall completely under Shadow.

Rhuarc suggests freeing the prisoners waiting at the forges to provide a distraction, but Ituralde points out they don’t know how long that distraction needs to be for Rand to finish his task. Amys says he cleansed the taint in a day, so perhaps this will be similar, but Ituralde would rather plan for the worst: a long siege. He wants to seize the valley and hold it at the bottleneck pass, since most of the Trollocs stationed here are already outside it. Rhuarc agrees. They return to Rand, who seems very troubled about something, but Aviendha also senses through the bond that he is looking forward to his forthcoming battle, to seeing what he is capable of, which Aviendha understands completely. She goes to him, and Rand comments privately to her that many think his plan to kill Sightblinder a foolish one. Aviendha hesitates.

“What is it?” Rand asked.

“Well, the greatest victory would be to take your enemy gai’shain.”

“I doubt he would submit to that,” Rand said.

“Don’t make jest,” she said, elbowing him in the side, earning a grunt. “This must be considered, Rand al’Thor. Which is the better way of ji’e’toh? Is imprisoning the Dark One like taking him gai’shain? If so, that would be the proper path.”

“I’m not certain I care what is ‘proper’ this time, Aviendha.”

“A warrior must always consider ji’e’toh,” she said sternly. “Have I taught you nothing?”

Rand says he’d hoped the lecturing would end now that they are closer, and Aviendha is baffled by that assumption, which amuses Rand. They travel back to camp, whose forces include several dozen Aes Sedai and Asha’man, the Domani (with King Alsalam), the Tairen Defenders (with King Darlin), and the Dragonsworn, who include any and all nationalities, and even some Aes Sedai. Aviendha is uncomfortable with the idea that they are essentially oathbreakers.

Rand’s coming was said to remove all bonds from men. Oaths shattered when he drew near, and any loyalty or alliance was secondary to the need to serve him in this last fight for humankind. Part of her wanted to name that wetlander foolishness, but perhaps she used that term too easily. A Wise One had to see with better eyes than that.

Rand is amazed that the dagger ter’angreal Elayne had given him worked; he says they’d tried to make them back in the Age of Legends, but never succeeded. Aviendha asks if he can be sure Sightblinder won’t see him, but Rand is positive that he won’t be seen or sensed until he is at the Bore itself. He tells her about the seals, but adds that he is sure they have not broken them yet, opining that they will wait until the worst possible moment to do so. He brings up another concern, that once it becomes obvious Rand is here and not at the other battlefields, the Forsaken will come to Thakan’dar, and he needs her to help hold them off.

“I need you, Aviendha. I need all three of you to watch, to be my hands—my heart—during this fight. I am going to send Min to Egwene. Something is going to happen there, I’m certain. Elayne will fight in the south, and you… I need you in the valley of Thakan’dar, watching my back.”

He says she will be in command of the channelers here, and must keep the Forsaken from entering Shayol Ghul, where he will be helpless, caught up in the larger fight. Aviendha jests that he is always helpless, and Rand laughs. They go to his tent, where Min, Moiraine, Nynaeve, and Thom wait. He asks Nynaeve about Callandor, and she confirms there is no way around the flaw, and that he must not use it. Rand makes no reply, but turns to Min, asking her to go to Egwene’s front and watch her and the Seanchan Empress, who will be joining her there. Aviendha knows Min had been hoping he would take her with him into the cavern, but she accepts the task. Nynaeve returns to Callandor:

“Its weakness… so long as you are channeling into that… thing, anyone can seize control of you. They can use you, and can draw the One Power through Callandor into you until it burns you out—leaving you powerless, and leaving them with the strength to level mountains, destroy cities.”

“I will take it,” Rand said.

“But it’s a trap!” Nynaeve said.

“Yes,” Rand said, sounding tired. “A trap I must stride into and allow to spring shut upon me.” He laughed, suddenly, throwing his head back. “As always! Why should I be surprised? Spread the word, Nynaeve. Tell Ituralde, Rhuarc, King Darlin. Tomorrow, we invade Shayol Ghul and claim it as our own! If we must put our head into the lion’s mouth, let us make certain that he chokes upon our flesh!”


Why don’t I have one of these cloaks? [Egwene] thought with annoyance. Why should they only be for Warders?

This is an excellent question, Egwene. Too bad nobody thought of that before the fit hit the shan.

Because, leave us make no mistake, peoples: the excrement has most definitely just hit the revolving cooling apparatus. Or, at least, this is most definitely a fresh, new, and excitingly drippy load of it.

(I are so classy.)

So, enter: THE SHARANS, avec dramatic musical sting and everything. This… was absolutely not something I saw coming, and I won’t deny that my heart dropped into my stomach when I first read it. It also rather raised my eyebrows when I read it, too, especially once we learn just who is leading them. However, that is a discussion best saved for when we do learn that information, so I will leave it alone for now.

And like it or not, you certainly can’t fault the tactics here, from the Sharans’ point of view. It helps, of course, that they had a guy on the inside, even if that guy (i.e. Bryne) doesn’t know he’s their inside guy. Grr.

(There’s probably a discussion to be had here of how much more coordination this implies between the Forsaken—or at least between Graendal/Hessalam and the other Forsaken individually—than has ever been seen before in the series, and how rather surprising that is. Though I guess if they were ever going to get their act at least partially together, this would be the time to do it. Dammit.)

I can’t remember if Lelaine or Yukiri survives at this point, though I know Bryne and Siuan got out (for now). But, well, bye, Romanda. That was—not a shock, exactly, but it kind of sucks that she didn’t even get an exit line. Of course, that’s something I’d best get used to. Fast. Blah.

In another edition of Timing Be Wonky in the latter fifth-ish of WOT, I’m sort of confusedly assuming that the second half of this chapter takes place chronologically before the first half, since neither Min nor the Seanchan are in evidence at Egwene’s camp when the Sharans not-so-metaphorically curb-stomp them. Which I guess is nice for Min and the Seanchan, but leaves me wondering, therefore, why the chapter is structured that way? *shrug*

The Callandor thing is… puzzling. Maybe I missed a memo, but the “flaw” in The Sword That Ain’t as Nynaeve defines it here, is definitely not the flaw we’ve been previously told about. Before this we were told that Callandor induces “wildness”—a belief that you can do anything and have no bounds to accomplish it—not that someone else can seize that power from you and use it to their own ends.

Seriously, when did we learn this? Am I forgetting something? I recognize that this is all leading up to what happens with Moridin, but as the whole point of the one-man-two-women circle was to prevent the “wildness” thing from happening, why isn’t the circle solution also a preventative for this sudden new flaw? And if it isn’t, how does Nynaeve know this? It’s not like the damn thing’s been field-tested, after all. I dunno, that seems a little… not-thought-out, in my opinion.

Eh, well.

My continuity complaints aside, the most significant (and awesome) part of this chapter, from an over-arching thematic point of view, is Aviendha’s conversation with Rand. In which, I note, she sort of off-handedly offers the solution to his entire central conflict as a character in this novel (that the highest honor is to defeat your enemy, not kill him), and even why it’s the right choice:

“Someone must keep you humble,” Aviendha said. “It would not do for you to think yourself something grand, simply because you save the world.”

Because, well, yeah, pretty much. Rand takes Aviendha’s comment as a joke, but it really isn’t one, in the grand scheme of things. I’ve spoken at length before about how pride is/could have been/still kinda is Rand’s besetting sin, and this absolutely hearkens back to that issue, and will continue to do so. So we’ll definitely be revisiting this issue, but for now I just want to point out that as far as Rand has come in overcoming his pride, he obviously still has a ways to go.

This is not to say that he hasn’t come a long way, though, as is wonderfully demonstrated in this chapter as well. I can’t even tell you how much I appreciated his speech to Aviendha here, asking her (and, by extension, Elayne and Min) to defend and protect him, instead of (just) the other way around.

Chivalry, as I have defined it before on this blog, is merely a subset of the larger sin of pride—in the sense of what arrogance it is to decide that X category of people must be “saved,” the way you think they should be saved, regardless of their wishes on the matter. Regardless, in other words, of their right to participate in their own salvation.

It’s a bit tangled, perhaps, the way I’m putting this, but my point here is that I am applauding Rand’s resolution to save his loved ones (and the world) while also acknowledging their right to be active and vital agents in that process. He’s trusting Aviendha (and Elayne, and Min, and Egwene, and pretty much everyone else) to hold the line for him. To have his six, in military parlance. He’s saying here that he knows he can’t do it all himself, and that he needs the support of Aviendha et al. in order to succeed. And, most importantly, that he trusts her and the others to reliably provide that support for him.

And as someone who has so depressingly frequently in her life run into the assumption (implied or explicitly stated) that being a woman automatically means I am less capable/reliable/able/smart/strong enough to do X thing than a man, to hear Rand put such unquestioning trust in the women in his life to have his back… well, I ain’t gonna lie, it actually made me choke up a little. Maybe even right now as I’m writing about it.

To have such trust in real life—to have the default assumption be that I am capable/reliable/able/smart/strong enough to do whatever is needed… well, I can barely even picture it, sometimes.

And isn’t that sad.

This also (for me) links in to Aviendha’s understanding of Rand’s wish to test himself to the limit re: the fight against the Dark One, and her desire to do the same. Another of the crimes of chivalry, I think, and of sexism in general, is the cultural taboo it inherently supports against letting women see just how strong they really can be, if only allowed to try their strength against the world.

Rand isn’t done making this mistake on a larger scale, of course, as we will learn, but, ironically perhaps, I am still so super proud of him for learning that lesson on this smaller scale. And I’m convinced that this was a vital stepping stone for him to learn that larger lesson, to boot. So, ergo, yay.

And “ergo, yay” is always a nice place to stop a thing, n’est-ce pas? I think so! So have a week, my beauties, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

1. DougL
I am a bit of dimwit, but isn't the flaw that someone can link and take control? Women especially in this case? I forget all the rules for linking but it seems to me that Callandor puts the man on the bottom rung, no choice in the matter. Now, that's obvious with hindsight, but I guess with retrospect we learned that back at the Cleansing maybe?
2. mrivers
The Sharans coming in at this point shocked me. All this time and this is the first we've seen them. I knew things were going to get a lot more interesting from here on out.
Deana Whitney
3. Braid_Tug
Wow, almost noting on Eqwene?
But, yes, the real start of "all things going bad."
4. SamP
My understanding was that Callandor had a further flaw that was under research for a few books now and this scene was sort of okay we researched it and talked about it, (off camera) and this is definitely what we learned
Dustin Freshly
5. Fresh0130

That's when I recall starting to hear about the "flaw" outside of "No Crazy Filter" Rand encountered. If I recall correctly it's hinted about in TGS and ToM as well. I definitely also recall some line like "The three become one" or some such that hinted that Callandor is also a True Power sa'angreal as well.
6. Megaduck
This is the chapter when MoL and WoT issues really began to damage the story for me.

Because I wanted to be suprised here and have the arrival of the Sharans be all big and scary. But when they destroyed the command tent with Bryne and Suain in it all I could think was 'Right, they survived somehow.'

It sucked all the tension of the battles when I never belived anyone would get hurt.
Adam S.
I think the flaw in Callandor was alluded to before this, when Min was reading about how "all that he is can be seized" in the last book (TOM). That's where Rand got the clues about it using the True Power, and how if it was used by Morishy it could be taken from him in turn.
I was actually not that shocked by Demandred showing up with hundreds of Sharan channelers and thousands of troops. That whole "events in the South" thing never panned out, and he never turned up anywhere, but as the last remaining unknown Forsaken, and one who's known for liking armies, it makes sense. And I always thought that Rand never visiting Shara was a big ommission, because the Seanchan seemed irrelevant until they showed up invading Randland, and one of the Forsaken turned out to be leading them. So why not Shara, a huge land with millions of people and likely thousands of troops and channelers. I wasn't sure Demandred would be there, but I thought it at least very possible.
Nadine L.
8. travyl
I don't remeber the story all to well, but as far as I remeber Min was not present when the Sharans hit, so I don't see a reason why Rands scene has to be before the other, I think they happen at the same time? - And I certainly didn't see it coming either.

Megaduck @6. - Only shortly later Siuan and Bryne really die and the scene is quite the same - I disagree that the second-main characters were safe, and for me it didn't lessen any tension even if it had been so.
9. aland
I loved the Zelazny shout-out, thank you.
10. gadget
The 'flaw' in Calandor that we know about was that it lacks the buffer most Sa'angreal have to prevent one from drawing too much of the One power and burning oneself out/killing oneself. Back during the days of the Taint, this made it so that it magnified the Taint as well, thereby inducing the 'wildness of mind'. The way around the Taint problem was to link with two women and have them control the weaves, thereby preventing Mr. Crazypants that is holding Calandor from doing anything...rash. Strangly enough, we later find out that Egwene's Sa'angreal has the same problem (without the crazypants option, due to the lack of a taint on the female half of the source).

With the Taint gone, there is less of a need to use the two woment in a circle option, though I too would think it would prevent this new flaw from being exploited; it seems that the women in a circle (is a man necessary?) can size control of the wielder if he is not already in a circle.

I'm not sure I see Rand's main problem as pride, at least in the classical sense, though that's arguable I guess. He does not strike me as a very prideful person to start out with at least, any other normal person would have long since caved in to madness or meglomania under the pressures that he has been under these many books. We might be conflating cultural additudes towards gender roles with pride, but that is somewhat different.

Edit: As for the timeline, I assumed Rand knew through an unseen conversation with Mat/Empress that the Seanchan would join up with Egwene's forces, so he is just anticipating that event. If not, and the decision is made 'on the fly' later, this is indeed an awkward narrative framing.
11. Narvi
Your memory is off, Cadsuane identifies the flow as 'amplifying the taint' and 'a women being able to seize control unless it's in a circle of two women, with a woman melding the flows'.
12. AndrewB
By the end of this series, Egwene became my favorite character. That said, I do raise an objection over her military tactical knowledge. In AMoL, Egwene seems well versed in military tactics. I do not understand how she became so knowledgable. I did not think she would have received such training during her time with the Aiel. I know that she absorbed some of Moiraine's lessons to Rand re politics. I do not recall Moiraine providing tactical lessons to Rand which Egwene heard. Nor do I recall Suian teaching Egwene military tactics as part of her education.

I suppose in the time between when Egwene orchastrated the issuance of the Law of War and when she was captured, she may have learned something from Bryne. However, I thought that period was a month or two at best.

Thanks for reading my musings,
13. Stromgard
IMHO the battle in Thakan'dar was more horrifying than all the other battlefields combined. Not only are all the Trollocs in the Blight rushing in, with a huge number of Myrdraal and (if I'm correct) Dragkhar to boot, but there is also a super-buffed Forsaken, maybe thousands of fallen Aiel, a good number of which can channel, and assorted Dreadlords of both genders. And then SOMETHING arrives and things takes an extreme turn for the worse, especially since balefire can't be used. And then SOMETHING ELSE arrives, again when balefire can't be used and things get about 1000 times worse for Team Light. (And for Team Shadow, but that is no comfort.)

Frankly, I'm surprised that there were actual survivors from Thakan'dar at all. It's the stuff of feverish nightmares.
15. gadget
Narvi @11

I remember Caudsuane talking about amplifying the taint and two woman being necessary, but I don't remember her warning about a woman being able to seize control. Where is that at?
Ron Garrison
16. Man-0-Manetheran
Welcome back Leigh! Glad things are better. FYI , you are capable/reliable/able/smart/strong enough to do whatever is needed.

Enter the Sharans:
The giant portal. OMG-OMG-OMG-WTF? Blew me away. I think I read it three times. Twice to confirm what I just read and once again to savor the image.

Avienda: right again, tho I missed the significance at the time.

Note to Forkroot:
"At first I was Egwene and I was petrified..."
Thomas Keith
17. insectoid
Leigh: fingers crossed. :)
Great post as always.

I actually didn't have a lot about this chapter in my notes, as I was evidently flying through trying to figure out What Was Up with the Sharans. So I'll just make it up as I go along...

DUN! (dun DUN!) Totally didn't see that coming... and evidently, neither did the Bryne.

Poor Romanda. Who will be in charge of the Yellows now? I was hopeful that at least Siuan and Bryne were able to escape (which they did). I believe Lelaine and Yukiri and Leane also got away (though the latter was captured briefly).

I was puzzled by Aviendha being mistrusting of Alsalam. Why?

The "invisibility" knife is intriguing.

Her conversation with Rand is nice foreshadowing.
Because, leave us make no mistake, peoples: the excrement has most definitely just hit the revolving cooling apparatus. Or, at least, this is most definitely a fresh, new, and excitingly drippy load of it.
(I are so classy.)
Heh. That you are, Leigh.

Callandor's flaw:
Wasn't it revealed in TGS, or ToM? I'm not remembering either... I know that in ACoS we learn that it's flawed, induces "wildness", and is only safe to use in a circle with two women, with one woman to "guide the flows". But I think the part about control being taken from the man, Min deduced on her own in her studies in TGS and ToM.

Stefan Mitev
18. Bergmaniac
I liked this chapter quite a bit. Egwene's part is good and surprising, Rand's good too. One thing which bugged me is that rand gave command of the channellers to Aviendha. Avi is smart, extremely brave and a total badass, but she has exactly zero commanding experience.

Still, good to see Rand finally coming to his senses and being OK with women making their own choices and risking their lives in the process.
19. Gentleman Farmer
My initial issue with the arrival of the Sharans was the discussion between Graendal and Sammael (ACoS?) where she attempts to distract him by pointing him towards Shara. She indicates that she has kidnapped their rulers, disrupted their line of succession and instigated a collapse into civil war. So having them organized and led by Demandred seemed inconsistent, both in terms of Demandred allowing Graendal to mess with his claimed territory, and the unification under Demandred within a relatively short time period.

Leigh's insight above, about how this demonstrates that Graendal and Demandred are clearly working together helps to bridge this gap (Demandred could have given her the former rulers as he was disrupting the ruling hierarchy), and perhaps the two elements validate each other (i.e. clearly Demandred and Graendal have been working together for some time, since she had the rulers of Shara in her circus).

When the Sharans first arrived however, before I knew Demandred was there, my first thought was that it must have been like the planet Krikket from Douglas Adams, emphasizing the power of taveren unintended consequences. Aviendha and Rand show up in a snowstorm, people come to investigate, realize for the first time there is another culture out there, with use of the one power, and decide the whole thing must be destroyed, so have been working for the last x months building up their army to find and destroy it. I was almost hoping the Sharans would have turned out to be a third party, intent on destroying everyone, not just the Light side troops (and, incidentally, that remains one of the aspects I found hard to swallow, despite the disclosure with Demandred at the end. I'm not sure even the Seanchan would have fought alongside the trollocs, although they may have had a common enemy in Randland. Similarly with the Sharans, I'm not sure I'm satisfied as to why they were fighting alongside of and in coordination with the DO and its troops, instead of doing their own attacks on a separate field of battle in a manner that happened to help the DO.)
Stefan Mitev
20. Bergmaniac
@19 - back in LoC, when she was showing the Sharan leaders off to Sammael, Graendal had no idea where Demandred is - her PoV shows it.
Don Barkauskas
21. bad_platypus
Re: Callandor

The only revelation in ToM is the following:
“There’s a phrase,” Min said, “in the Jendai Prophecy. I wish we knew more of them. Anyway, it says ‘and the Blade will bind him by twain.’”

“Two women,” Rand said. “I need to be in a circle with two women to control it.”

She grimaced.

“What?” Rand said. “You might as well be out with it, Min. I need to know.”

“There’s another phrase, from The Karaethon Cycle. Anyway, I think that Callandor might be flawed beyond that. I think it might…Rand, I think it might make you weak, open you to attack, if you use it.”
As far as I can tell, we only learn the specifics here in AMoL.
Glen V
22. Ways
Welcome back, Leigh! I have my fingers crossed for you (not sure how long I can keep that up, though) for a speedy resolution to the issues in the way you want.

So, enter the Sharans. Is it a coincidence that Unfettered arrived in my mailbox yesterday and I read River of Souls last night? Yeah, probably. And yeah, it's too short--just a tease--as several have pointed out over on the FB re-readers page. OK, I get that it was never intended to be a short story, it's just a cut scene or several that really didn't belong in AMOL, and I'm thrilled that it/they actually got published somewhere. Even so, it leaves one looking drooling for more answers. So what else is new?

Annnnd...I'm wondering if Leigh has any plans to do a re-read segment on River of Souls at some point??

Suppose I'd better read the post and comments now. Later...
William Carter
23. wcarter
I had missed the foreshadowing of Rand and Aviendha's conversation the first time around it does help make the eventual resolution seem more logical.
Tricia Irish
24. Tektonica
Sorry to hear there's a problem in Leigh-land. I hope everything resolves itself successfully.

I was shocked when the Sharans appeared. I really didn't think they would, as we'd only had "hints" about their culture, and but a few mentions of their existence. Their arrival certainly upped the "crazy ante" in the war, while it still felt like a distraction to me....from the characters and players we already knew and loved. Just me, I guess. While very dramatic, I just didnt' care about them?

Perhaps, they served as a focal point for the Randlanders and the Seanchan, and thus, Mat finally got involved in the actual fighting. And we did finally, for sures, find out where Dem was ;-)
Terry McNamee
25. macster
While I never really liked her very much, I was shocked and appalled when Romanda died. In many ways Lelaine was worse to me, and near the end of the Tower split (KoD, TGS) Romanda showed a lot more intelligence, strength, and trustworthiness, I thought. Probably helped by us getting POVs from her. So even though she annoyed me back in ACos and TPoD, and even though she died because of her own stupidity...may the Creator's hand shelter you, Romanda Cassin.

I was one of those who theorized that Demandred was in Shara. (Difference being, I also thought he was Roedran, and in a number of other places gathering armies and plotting.) Once it was proven he wasn't Roedran, it seemed almost inevitable he was in Shara, but even if not, I was pretty sure the Sharans were going to appear regardless becuase of the fact they kept appearing in the glossaries even though nothing happened with them in the books (aside from Graendal kidnapping their leaders). That said, the manner and timing of their arrival, and what they did then, did indeed shock and rather panic me. I have to say the scenes where Egwene had to hide for hours and hours with Gawyn under his cloak were some of the most suspenseful and upsetting for me in WOT in some time--I actually felt like Egwene was in danger as she had not been for a long time, for one, but I also thought the scene was written quite tensely so that I felt the immediacy of it all. Well done.

(BTW yes Lelaine does survive, and so does Yukiri; it's revealed later, somewhat humorously, that the latter managed to open one of her new horizontal gateways when the tent was attacked, and then after they all fell through the sky she managed to catch them with some new "pillow of Air" weave. Siuan is rather annoyed with her about it, though not, sadly, enough to use her well-loved fish metaphors.)

Whether and how much coordination there is going on between the Forsaken is something to speculate and cogitate on. As has been pointed out below, Graendal did not know where Demandred was or what he was doing when the two of them first appeared in TFoH and LoC, and as of TGS and ToM she still didn't know, so we can only assume that after her resurrection, Hessalam was apprised of what she didn't know before--not as a reward, but so that she could better serve the Shadow's general. The fact she was able to coordinate the Great Captains' Compelled plans speaks to her own political and strategic acumen (I am pretty sure the Guide said she was a good general as well as a leader), and also what she was told by Demandred and Moridin, but beyond that I'm not sure how much actual coordinating was going on. Moghedien is told to work with Demandred while spying on and influencing the Seanchan, and apparently she learns enough about him and his plans to imitate him later, but Hessalam seems to be busy alone, subverting not only the Captains but various Aiel and other Lightsiders she encounters.

And then we get to the Thakan'dar scene, which has so many awesome things about it that it almost, almost, makes up for the awful developments of the Egwene scene. (And I actually think they happen quite close together--it's precisely because Rand calls Min there that she got saved from the Sharan attack. Why the order they were written in? So we could end the chapter with Rand's badass challenge rather than Egwene cowering with Gawyn.) There are small things, like the mention of the siswai'aman this time in the person of Rhuarc; Amys actually being unsettled by Thakan'dar, and showing it; Rand calling Aviendha "shade of my heart", which if I recall correctly he hasn't done before this; Aviendha being willing to sacrifice the Aiel if it will save the world. There's Ituralde's plan, which seems the least flawed of any of the Great Captain's--I'm guessing he's already showing his badassery by resisting the Compulsion. All of the humor between Aviendha and Rand was wonderful--I laughed out loud at her being incredulous he would think the lectures would end now that they're together, and I laughed even harder when she said his being helpless was no different than usual. Who says Aiel humor is always hard to understand?

At the time I was sure Aviendha's talk of taking the Dark One gai'shain was going to be important, since I was pretty sure Rand either wouldn't have the ability to kill him or would be kept from doing so for some reason. But re-reading it now makes the foreshadowing clear, and just how important this conversation was. Also of clear importance is her realization about the breaking of oaths not necessarily being just wetlander foolishness; a change in thinking like that may very well be needed to prevent the Bad Future for the Aiel, since breaking their mindset re: honor and what violates it will keep them from pursuing futile and self-destructive wars.

I too loved seeing Rand not only give Aviendha command, but support Elayne and Egwene in their commands and depend on Min to help guide and support them as well. What's odd is that despite how so much of the series was spent with him (and others, but mostly him) refusing to let women protect themselves or fight for him, this moment here didn't register with me as resonantly as it did Leigh. Perhaps it's because my mind was going "Well finally he's acting and thinking properly!" and so because things were as they should be, I didn't see a need to remark on it. Or maybe it's because we already saw him changing and breaking out of it thanks to his moment on Dragonmount and then his actions in ToM. But indeed, even if he hasn't fully given them leave to fight, to die for him (or more importantly for themselves and to fight the Shadow), or to be heroes as he will later, this is a major step in the right direction and well worth cheering for...and tearing up over.

I don't really see what's so puzzling about Callandor and its revelations. The writing was a bit clunky, and clearly a good bit of discussion and planning happened off-screen, but so far as the actual information goes, we were told or had it hinted to us before now, particularly in TGS and ToM. Maybe it's just me, but I thought it perfectly logical to go from "two women and one man in a circle allows the women to control the flows/stop the man doing crazy things with the taint" to "said women can actually take control of the man with their circle". Particularly in light of the prophecies Min found about "all that he is can be seized" and "binding him in twain".

As for how specifically this might have been put together by Nynaeve, it says right in the text, albeit indirectly: when Rand comes up to her and asks if she's had any luck, she says she "tried and tried but can't find a way around the flaw". In other words, she was in fact field-testing it--I am guessing with the assistance of one of the Asha'Warders with Cadsuane's Aes Sedai crew--and that is how she found the flaw could not be undone, that no matter how the male channeler tried, he couldn't stop her and the other woman from taking control of his Power. (This also explains, by the way, where Nynaeve has been and why she wasn't helping with the Healing or going to Lan or Ebou Dar.)

And so the reason the circle can't help is because it is actually the cause of the flaw's danger. The only reason they can later help save the day is the link between Rand and Moridin which lets them take control of the latter; otherwise they couldn't have done anything since he was using the True Power.

Now that is what I call a badass challenge at the end there. Even if he shouldn't get a big head about it, Rand is the savior of the world...and here, he's showing it. Where his pride needs to be reined in now is not in thinking he's so awesome and worthy of obedience because he's Lews Therin, but in thinking he has to be everywhere, do everything, and personally save the day. He does get it, somewhat, especially after Moiraine set him right on not being in charge of the Light's forces--although he goes to each of the battlefronts to mislead the Dark One (and, it turns out, Demandred), he still leaves them to fight in his place, and of course here he puts his women in charge in his absence too.

At the same time, as Cadsuane pointed out he believes he cannot avoid his death and therefore believes he must, like Jesus, take on all the sins of the world, dying so that others don't have to...not realizing, yet, that this is about all of humanity and the Light rising up against death and chaos and Shadow...and so everyone has the right to fight, and die, and be heroes. At least, after Dragonmount and all that came after, Rand is in the right headspace to see and accept this. He just has to be shown the way by an innkeeper's daughter...

@12 AndrewB: Don't forget that aside from Bryne, Egwene was also learning from the White Tower itself. We didn't see the planning happening (which was one of many objections people raised re: her and the Aes Sedai in ToM, since they seemed to be doing nothing except politic and try to gather opposition to Rand) but this book makes it quite clear that the Aes Sedai had in fact come up with numerous military plans for the defense of the Blight/facing off against the Shadowspawn which are now being put into practice, most of course coming from the Greens. So we can only assume that during the time Egwene was off-screen in ToM, she was shoring up what she'd learned from Bryne, Siuan, and her lessons in the Tower (both as a novice/Accepted and while imprisoned by Elaida) with tactics from the Greens.

@17 insectoid: Well Nynaeve herself comes to mind! Aside from her there are plenty of other high-level Yellows: Suana (currently First Weaver), Samitsu, Corele, Salita, and Rosil (though since the latter is Mistress of Novices I'm not sure if she's eligible). As for the Alsalam suspicion, clearly that was a red herring. Though in Aviendha's defense, she wasn't the only one to feel that way: many readers thought Alsalam's return was odd, and suspected him of being a plant, still under Graendal or someone else's Compulsion. So maybe she's just an in-story example of a character finding his return suspicious just as some readers did.

@18 Bergmaniac: I see where you're coming from, but recall that one of Aviendha's big lessons she had to learn to become a Wise One was being able to stand up for herself, to tell the other Wise Ones she would not do as they say and instead demand equality, obedience, or at least consideration. That sort of strength of character, determination, and wisdom would be useful in a leader or commander. Of course Rand probably doesn't know of this unless Aviendha told him, but he does know how determined and stubborn she is, not to mention how close she had gotten to Elayne. So he may have thought that her becoming a Wise One would garner her support among the Aiel while her closeness to Elayne would grant her respect among the wetlanders--so that even if she couldn't come up with the defenders' strategies, she could direct and guide them by force of will, personality, and respect after they came up with the plans.

@19 Gentleman Farmer: Without knowing what all happened behind the scenes in Shara, we really can't say whether Demandred taking over as he did makes sense or not. But we do know this from the hints we were given: that somehow or other Demandred fulfilled some sort of Sharan prophecies to become the Anti(christ)Rand. This would explain both how he was able to take over despite the shambles caused by Graendal kidnapping the Sh'boan and Sh'botay--appearing as a charismatic leader to save them and fulfill their prophecies would put an end to the chaos and fighting, uniting them behind him as happened with Rand and his followers--and also why the Sharans would fight for the Shadow at all, that Demandred was able to twist and manipulate them through his fulfillment of prophecy. (Perhaps he convinced them that he/the Shadow would cleanse the world, that the Dark One remaking it in his image would be a good thing, and thus they followed him because they believed themselves to be the chosen people who would save and change the world.) Some of these questions may be answered in River of Shadows, though it seems (typically) not all of them.

Also, maybe I am misunderstanding you, but when Aviendha and Rand ended up on the other side of the world in a snowstorm, that was Seanchan, not Shara. Nor did the Sharans need to "discover" the Westlands had a culture with One Power users, they'd known of that ever since the Cairhienin traded with them across the Waste.
Birgit F
26. birgit
Why does Eg need military knowledge? The Hall is in charge of the battle planning while Eg deals with the rulers.
Christopher Kennard
27. Wani
Doesn't Demandred ask later on why the Sharans are willing to fight alongside Trollocs, when surely they realise who and what he is? I recall coming across that during my re-read. If I remember rightly, the answer was basically "You're the Wyld. We listen to you."

Also, I really need to pick up a copy of Unfettered.
Michael Catapano
28. hoping
23 and 25
re rand and avi's conversation

For me, it didn't ring true for avi to suggest that rand take the DO gaishan. It is not the aiel way and avi is totally about teaching rand the correct aiel way. You can't take someone gaishan if they don't follow ji e toh. Only shaido, for example, take wetlanders gaishan.

It did foreshadow the ultimate resolution with the DO, which I felt was lame and unfulfilling.
Captain Hammer
29. Randalator
re: Sharans

Yep. Not surprised. That for me was the only real option left once the whole Taimandred business was sorted out and Seanchan was revealed to be Semirhage territory. The Roedran theory I never really bought at all. Demandred hiding in the most insignificant Randland nation as a king who hardly has control over his own capital? Who even in full secret nation control mode would be crushed by every other nation except maybe Altara pre-Seanchan? Come on.

No, there really was only one powerful piece left unclaimed on the board and that was Shara. And I'm not saying that I came up with that insight all by my sexy lonesome because I didn't. There's far more clever people out there than me who came up with far more detailed Shara theories long before me. I just tagged along. But still, totally saw it coming. Neener neener!

@27 Wani
Wasn't that asked by Moghedien posing as Demandred after Lan had killed him? And I seem to remember an earlier chapter where Demandred says something along the lines of "Oh yeah, as you know I totally got control of some Trollocs and that we're fighting alsongside them is totes not suspicious, y'all!".

Anyone with the book handy who can check?
Karen Fox
30. thepupxpert
Hi everyone, still following along, on the sixth book in my latest re-read, and still shocked at the path of travel these characters have all taken to get to this last book and the contrast between their personalities then and now. Things really are getting interesting!
31. weatherman
@27 @29 conversations is between the Wyld and Shendla the Ayyad leader during the last battle p 695 English version
32. srEDIT
I too was not really surprised by "Enter, the Sharans" Da-DUN! As for Demandred, I hadn't settled where I thought he was, but this reveal was perfect, if a bit abrupt and underdeveloped.
Christopher Kennard
33. Wani
The Sharans surprised me :( But then again, I'm fairly sure I wasn't nearly as big on the series as most people here. Granted, I loved the series, but I'd only ever read it twice and I'd kinda forgotten most of what happened.

But yeah, it's a kinda interesting conversation. Demandred is like "Hey, surely you guys realise that you're fighting for the shadow and alongside Trollocs and stuff now. You cool with that?"
Shendla basically says "No, we're fighting for you, because if the shadow wins, you'll protect us from the Dark One and preserve us."
Demandred says "You know I'd throw you guys away for a chance to kill Lews Therin right?" and Shendla basically just says "Yeah, but you're still trying to protect us, so it's all good."
Then Demandred gets all emotional thinking they're just tools for him to use, and that's all he's ever thought of being a leader as, but perhaps he can actually feel something for them. Which is kinda nice for him. We don't often see Forsaken actually caring about other people, much less people beneath them.

Making me want to read River of Souls more now. >_
34. Ellanora
''I am the Amyrlin Seat, she told herself firmly. I will be strong. I will survive. So long as I live, the White Tower stands.''

Interesting that there is comment on Rands's pride, but nothing on Egwene's pride, whose internal dialogue in AMoL undid a lot of the excellent character growth from CoT-tGS, imo. Her thought that her life is equated with the WT is pretty self-centered, and completely dismissive of everyone else who makes the WT. Every Amyrlin that ever has been has died, and the death of an Amyrlin does not equal the demise of the White Tower.
Maiane Bakroeva
35. Isilel
I have always argued that Sharans would play a role in TG and that they would be on the side of the Shadow and that specific person would be in charge, so that was a moment of most pleasant vindication for me, heh. Watch me gloat!

OTOH, their tactic makes so much sense that one has to wonder why it wasn't used again, or, for that matter, previously, by the good guys. As I have said ad nauseam, cleaning of Caemlyn should have been a snap with a maximum circle + *angreal.
But that way lies madness, of course - very few of AMoL strategies and tactics actually take proper account of Travelling or some other advanced weaves, so they only get used extremely sporadically.

And yes, why don't AS have fancloth cloaks for wartime/dangerous situations? Might as well ask a lot of other pertinent questions. Like, why they aren't trained to fight physically for situations, where they couldn't use OP. Or why didn't Egwene order cuendillar armor being made for TG. Or, or, or. Madness again.

Anyway, on to Rand.
And... how on earth did Nynaeve know this stuff about Callandor? She has no special Talent with *angreal, no specific insight into the prophecies, nada.
Wouldn't it have made much more sense if Moiraine, who studied the Prophecies and could have had some special info from the Finn, or Cadsuane, who ditto and actually studied Callandor with the help of male channelers made this revelation?
We are back to criminal underuse of Nynaeve (and Moiraine) in AMoL, so the former gets allocated stuff that doesn't fit her character at all and/or makes very little sense, just to give her a little screen time. Eh.

Re: 2 women one man bond, actually in all previous volumes and appendices it was established as a combination where one of the women _had_ to lead the circle. Just to get suddenly reversed in AMoL, probably for the sake of meaningless sequence with Alanna - i.e. the same syndrom of trying to give Nyn something to do.

Nor was it mentioned anywhere that a woman could forcibly take control of Callandor-wielder, IIRC. The only possible hint that something like that could be feasible was Moridin's reference to "involuntary rings" in ACoS.
And since they were discovered by the BA, that was probably something never tried on men. And given RJ's record, likely would have been revealed as yet another coersion technique that men are immune to.

Speaking of Rand's women - on the one hand, I was glad that Rand was finally prepared to let them pull their own weight.

I always found RJ's version of chivalry troubling, since it too often boiled down to women not having enough common sense to be allowed to make decisions that might put them in danger.

And yet... the situation with Rand's 3 women is different, since for all we know, one of them getting killed might have spelled Rand's defeat. Frankly, the whole Alanna deal was a huge wasted opportunity to explore this, IMHO. Could Rand beat a broken bond syndrom, at least long enough to triumph over DO ? We'll never know.

So, I really don't know what to think, because on one level, it really is an unacceptable risk for Rand's threesome to put themselves in danger. On the other, if not for that aspect, it would have been something I have been yearning to see for decades in WoT - men and women trusting each other and working together, with each pulling their own weight, without the stupid gender BS.

And speaking of BS - I was disappointed to see that Rand, apparently didn't tell his plan to Nyn? I found this deeply disappointing - here they were, practically at the moment of decision, and Rand was keeping secrets from the people going with him into DO's lair?!!

Also, how useful would the "cloaking" dagger be, with Rand telling the troops that they were going to attack the next day? Surely, the DO's forces would have known about the attack, too.
Deana Whitney
36. Braid_Tug
@ Isile,
Nynaeve may not have any special bound with *angreal, but she’s more willing to experiment and try new weaves (or hell, create them) than anyone else we’ve seen center stage. Hello, Healing stilling, Healing the taint madness, Removing compulsion. So she’s a natural to experiment with weaves.

No, she did not discover the problem, but once she knew what it was, she could experiment to try and fix it. Like she tries to fix / heal any type of “wound.” She probably approached it as a type of compulsion removal. Or any other way she thought might work. Hence why she was pissed at herself for not being successful. Lady does not take failure well.

Re: Rand's Plan.
I think Rand was telling lots of people he was going to try to kill the Dark One. And everyone was telling him “you crazy.” IMO, Nyn & Moriane knew his plans, we just didn’t get to see that moment “on screen.” (Pouting at how often we have to say that with this book.)
Dixon Davis
37. KadesSwordElanor
Braid Tug @ 36

I agree. At this point, IMHO, I have trouble believing that Rand did not lay all his cards on the table for those who accompanied him to the bore, even if it happened “off page”. I understand that through most of the series hiding secrets was a central theme, but Rand et al. have grown. I would not (nor do I feel these very intelligent women with such strong personalities would) accompany him to the apocalypse without knowing everything. As always, I certainly leave room for those who feel contrary. I also think I would agree with anyone who believes such a major conversation should have taken place “on page,” (even if wasn’t given major screen time) and not assumed.
Maiane Bakroeva
38. Isilel
Well, but Nyn clearly doesn't know the plan in this scene, folks. She tries to dissuade Rand from using Callandor, after all, because it's a trap. And Rand just cryptically says that he has to walk into the trap and spring it. That's what bothers me so strongly about it - Nynaeve is clearly ignorant of Rand's battle plan, and she one of the people going with him into what should have been a suicide mission, not to mention critically important for the world's survival.
Did Rand share his plan before they went? One would hope so, but it seems very much like his previous MO, to deprive them of any input on the matter until it is too late to change anything.

Re: Nyn suddenly becoming a Callandor expert, her talents never lay in the sphere of *angreal, nor was there any indication of her working with a male channeler to investigate Callandor. Because, after all, that's the only way for her to study a _male_ sa'angreal.
It was just very contrived, IMHO, particularly since there are other characters, who would have been much more logical candidates for obtaining this information.

Removal of Compulsion and Healing of taint madness had much more to do with Nyn's core competences, as it were.
39. Ellanora
R.e. Nynaeve discovering Callandor's flaw (or at least being the one who seemed to have been studying it), I thought this was ridiculous as well. It seemed so last minute, and surely it should have been Cadsuane or Min to reveal it. Moiraine, Elayne, and Aviendha would all also have been better options as they have either studied the prophecies extensively or have major talents with ter'angreal.

I think Nynaeve does have a minor talent at reading ter'angreal. We see her being able to sense emotions associated with ter'angreal several times, so this is possibly a weaker version of Aviendha's talent. But I don't think that is sufficient justification for her to have been the one studying it. She has never shown any interest in Callandor since she began spending time with Rand in WH.
Birgit F
40. birgit
I thought Ny was just telling Rand what Cads and Min found out about Callandor. Ny and Min have been spending time with Cads' group and Ny knows about their research. Rand might have asked Ny because she is the AS he trusts most and Min cannot channel.

Here Ny doesn't know the plan with Callandor, but later she and Moiraine seem to have known about it. This would have been the perfect time for Rand to tell her, but it probably was offscreen so the surprise wouldn't be spoiled for the readers by revealing the plan before it happened.
41. JimF
@35. Isilel "...I always found RJ's version of chivalry troubling, since it too often boiled down to women not having enough common sense to be allowed to make decisions that might put them in danger...." I never once saw it that way. To me it was foolishness not to kill women who deserved killing, or to grieve far too much over the deaths of women who - like a number of men - gave their lives for him. And I don't have any patience for Leigh's bleating about her own personal situation. I doubt Rand's (or maybe Jordan's) viewpoint on this issue is in any way related to her travails.
John Massey
42. subwoofer
Hmmmm... I just pop in now from time to time to see if Gawyn is dead. I'm saving a huge happy dance for that moment.

About what Avi says to Rand- this is a very interesting point to me. For many fantasy series, the idea of good being a simple person from humble beginnings and the baddie being a god or having near god-like powers has me scratching my head- "how does a mortal, no matter how leveled up they get, defeat a god?" The bridge to this becomes very important because even though this is a work of fiction, the mechanisms set up by the author cannot be violated just to give us that happy ending we want.

Let's be honest here, since about book 2 or so, Rand has been having a bird over how he can defeat the DO. I think he has been pillaging several libraries trying to find "The Idiot's Guide for Killing the Dark One". Unfortunately, this edition is out of print and has not been seen since the Breaking.


Avi brings up one of the few solutions, also mirroring other series about not necessarily opening a can of whoop a$$ on the DO but rather, holding out from him. Rand has been doing that all along. The many dream sequences we have see throughout the series point at how the Flaming Toilet wants Rand to join up, offering decoder rings and such for enticement, but Rand, because of his traditional, stubborn, Two Rivers upbringing, throws it back at the DO.

Truth be told, and this may reflect my own belief system, but I've always scratched my head at DarkFriends and all the baddies in general. From all accounts, unless you are at the very top, it sucks being a bad guy. Horrible pay, lousy benefits, no vacation time, long hours, and a poopy schedule all make me wonder how anybody would sign up(Edit- I forgot the big one, crappy management too, bad guy middle managers really suck). I figure the DO must have a heck of a loss leader to entice folks in, then slaps them with an iron clad contract with steep cancelation fees that makes most person's balk and just grudgingly accept the grind. I think the DO may be a CEO of one of the big telecom companies in our world.

Anyways, Rand. Big Baddie. And Avi's advice. After thousands of pages, it seems like a plan is finally starting to form.

Oh yeah, those new bad dudes, with numb nuts shouting "Stella", at the top of his lungs. I could do without them.

Ron Garrison
43. Man-0-Manetheran
Great to see your comments as always. I have only to add:
"I figure the DO must have a heck of a loss leader to entice folks in, then slaps them with an iron clad contract with steep cancelation fees that makes most person's balk and just grudgingly accept the grind" to Xfinity and beyond!
44. Freelancer
Finally got more than a few moments at a time free, to peruse the latest few posts. Late to comment on this one, but one thing which could not be ignored:
In which, I note, she sort of off-handedly offers the solution to his entire central conflict as a character in this novel (that the highest honor is to defeat your enemy, not kill him), and even why it’s the right choice:
“Someone must keep you humble,” Aviendha said. “It would not do for you to think yourself something grand, simply because you save the world.” Because, well, yeah, pretty much. Rand takes Aviendha’s comment as a joke, but it really isn’t one, in the grand scheme of things. I’ve spoken at length before about how pride is/could have been/still kinda is Rand’s besetting sin, and this absolutely hearkens back to that issue, and will continue to do so.
Leigh, unless I'm misreading badly, you are claiming that avoiding pride is the reason to not destroy the dark one. I cannot possibly disagree more. Accepting the overarching premise that the dark one is in some way essential to the balanced function of life, the universe, and everything, then deciding to re-seal him rather than end him has NOTHING to do with Rand's self-image.

As to the not-quite-subtextual presumption about Rand's lack of humility, I'm not in the same camp there either (yeah, shocker). Rand is utterly surrounded with people who have taken it as a personal duty to "keep him humble", and Aviendha isn't even in the top five of that list. His balance in this regard is quite secure.

But remember what we have here. A sheepfarmer from the backside of nowhere has been given the ability and the duty to defend all of existence. He didn't want those things. He didn't ask for those things. Thanks to well-placed people to look after him, he accepts the mountain and begins to do what is necessary to understand and succeed at the task. It is completely unkind that each step along that path as the most significant person alive is then considered arrogant and prideful.

As a relevant (if not entirely parallel) analogy, let us consider one Brandon Sanderson. Given the opportunity to undertake an exceptionally large task, he agreed. Shall we all castigate him for the pride of believing himself able and worthy of the duty he accepted? Anyone who has had the chance to interact with him, and to know of the circumstances surrounding the decisions made by him and Harriet, will know that upon his own careful analysis, he permitted himself to conclude that he was the best choice to complete this opus. Not arrogance. Honesty, even if self-serving.

There is a distinct, if not always apparent, difference between pride and awareness of ability. Up to the crucial moment, Rand has every reason to believe that extinguishing the dark one is the most desirable outcome of this confrontation. Aviendha's ji'e'toh reference is not truly suitable. In a temporal conflict between two disagreeable parties, fine, but in an eternal struggle for the freedom of all existence, not so much.

That Rand found a reason to choose that path after all, had nothing to do with pride, it had nothing to do with ji'e'toh, it had nothing to do with who he was at all, or whether he had misunderstood the power given him. It had to do with seeing firsthand that the dark one's existence, while outside of the Pattern, provided an input to the Pattern which made things most right. He realized that what he was planning to do would be wrong on its own merit, not wrong because of a prideful or arrogant motive on his part.
45. L13
The end of the Lelaine/Romanda rivalry was not addressed at all in the book, which is a shame, considering that it was a significant sub-sub-plot of the series. Although Romanda was the better person (as seen from POVs and Nynaeve's testing), she was not the more capable one. Lelaine sort of actually showed her capabilities here by identifying the Sharans, being smart enough to turn off the saidar switch so she didn't get fried, and then (we find out later although it is never addressed) escaping the Sharans.
Alice Arneson
46. Wetlandernw
I'm baaa-aack...

(Just getting this in my conversations so I can find it again. Will comment when I've read the comments.)
47. pcslaurifer
Hmmmm Leigh...... so was thinking about your take on chivalry and was trying to remember it's origins or at least what little I know of them. I may be utterly wrong but I think chivalry was born of a greater desire for civility and possibly greater protection of women in what was essentially a barbaric time period when war was incessant within kingdoms as much as between them. Essentially created and pushed by court poets and troubadours it would have been therefore also creation of the noble WOMEN of the time. For, I believe, it was noble women like Eleanor of Aquitane who much more often than there husbands sponsored these men. Of course, I could be wrong.

But if I am not then it is certainly wrong to lay the whole women only exist to be saved thing at men's feet, at least as it pertains to chivalry and further might provide an interesting insight into women of the times mindset and what they felt about being protected verse grabbing a broadswords and donning armor and protecting themselves. For though you and others seem to maintain that because there are examples of women in combat throughout history women are equally capable in combat this is just physically and evolutionarily untrue. Men as a whole are bigger and stronger... finish, kaput, end of argument. Can women be capable in combat roles? Certainly. Can they be as capable as men all skills being equal but evolutionary differences in size and strength? Absolutely not. Sorry, blame Darwin not me.

Frankly, I am not adverse to women in combat in modern times where guns are great equalizer but I would suggest there own unit. It would serve to cut down on the distractions inherent whenever men and women work together, distractions that are not a huge problem outside of combat but could be there.

I guess my point on the women in combat thing is this: Would they in anyway cut down on the effectiveness of the fighting force? If the answer is no, so be it, more power to you, you go girl. But if the answer is yes, then we really need to think seriously before doing something just because it's pc and it salves are conscience about the crappy way women have been treated throughout history.

Though I frikking would love it if an all female army from the good old US of A handed it to the women hating backward cultures of some of our enemies. Girl power, indeed.

On a final note, it's crap what you have had to put up with just because you are a women Leigh but, hey, things are looking up, I think women graduate both high school and college at a greater rate than men now. And that should be a game changer if nothing else is.
Roger Powell
48. forkroot
Late to this party, but this is the proper post to address a rather unpleasant discovery ... Many of you will recall that I had several "Top Ten things that won't happen in" lists. Much to my chagrin, when looking back I discovered that one of my items in the first list (the one before TGS) included the Sharans showing up for the Last Battle (based on some fan fic by Samadai).

Oh crap! That means I didn't have a perfect batting average.
Alice Arneson
49. Wetlandernw
Oh, that's sad! And you were so good at coming up with things that won't happen, too! Still, 29 out of 30...
Howard Covey
50. Howdy
Sharans... Sharans... I KNEW IT!!! lol
Really I did - all of Noal's/ Jain's stories for Olver when they were traveling with Matt - the only major part of "the map" not involved... the whole where the fuck is "you know who".... had to be - not surprised at all... but was still ultra cool - and of course just added to the overall sense of Doom here... great great move!

@7 - yep - Rand confirms at the end that Min figured it all out about the big C sword and they set their trap accordingly

@47 - exactly - to a degree - I always figured Chivalry developed from the fact that men were the bigger "meat shields". Eons of human development and history refined it somewhat... and those refinements are what make it unpallatable today. But let's face truth - when the sabertooth charges you want to give him the biggest - strongest - target to get the tusks stuck in so mom and the kids can run... survival.

And while Rand's (and Matt's) version of that drove me just as batshit as it did everyone else - I could understand it - and not "judge" too harshly....

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