Jul 30 2013 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 23

Hello! This is the Wheel of Time Re-read, this is!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 23 of A Memory of Light, in which we have strangely anticlimactic celestial phenomena, dismayingly dysfunctional cultural infrastructure, and I get all philosophical on your ass.

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general. The index for all things specifically related to the final novel in the series, A Memory of Light, is here.

Also, for maximum coolness, the Wheel of Time reread is also now available as an e-book series, from your preferred e-book retailer!

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

And now, the post!


Chapter 23: At the Edge of Time

What Happens
Bao moves off with Leane in tow, and Gawyn insists on Egwene wearing the Warder cloak as he scouts ahead. He feels her consternation over learning Bao’s real name, and wonders at it. Once apart from Egwene, he slips on one of the Bloodknives’ rings; even though he tells himself it is foolish, he knows from testing it earlier that it will hide him from the Sharan sentries, and he senses it makes him faster as well. He reminds himself that he still has to be careful, no matter how powerful the rings make him feel.

He had told himself he wouldn’t use the rings, but that had been during battle— when he’d been tempted to try to make a name for himself. This was different. This was protecting Egwene. He could allow an exception for this.

Egwene follows Gawyn, mind churning with the implications of what she had learned. She knows her survival is essential now, so that someone can tell the Tower that a Forsaken leads the entire nation of Shara. She wonders why Demandred had sent for Rand when everyone knows where he is. She refuses to let herself feel powerless. She is waiting for some sentries to pass by when someone shields her from the One Power. Egwene attacks with her knife, but her captor seizes her with Air. Fighting her training, Egwene allows her terror to rise, hoping Gawyn will sense it. Her captor muses over whether to turn her over to Bao or keep her for herself; there is sudden strong channeling across the camp, but the woman doesn’t seem concerned. Egwene feels Gawyn approaching, but not fast enough, and woman tells her that “her man” will also be taken.

Egwene squeezed her eyes shut. She’d led the White Tower to its destruction.

Her parents would be slaughtered. The Two Rivers would burn.

She should have been stronger.

She should have been smarter.


She had not been broken by the Seanchan. She would not be broken by this.

Her captor is fascinated by her regained calm, and so does not notice the shadow behind her until it knocks her out. It is Leilwin, to Egwene’s astonishment. They move to find Gawyn, but he finds them first, blindsiding them. Leilwin seems very upset about that, and Egwene rather agrees. Gawyn reveals he was jumped by “half a dozen or so” Sharans, but seems to think nothing of how easily he’d defeated them. They move on until they find Bayle, who is astonished that Leilwin found Egwene. Finally they are far enough away the camp that Egwene can Skim them to the Tower.

Aviendha runs with the rest of the Aiel, Alivia, Wise Ones, Asha’man, and Rand’s sworn Aes Sedai through the gateways into the valley of Thakan’dar. None of them are happy about Aviendha being in charge, but they obey. The Shadowspawn in the valley are caught unaware and are quickly slaughtered; Aviendha leads the channelers to the forges, where they dispatch the Shadow-forgers with Fire and free the prisoners awaiting their sacrifice. Aviendha then sends a signal.

A moment later, a gateway opened at the head of the path up to Shayol Ghul. Four figures stepped through. A woman in blue, small of stature but not of will. An aging man, white- haired and shrouded in a multihued cloak. A woman in yellow, her dark hair cut short, adorned with an assortment of gemstones set in gold.

And a tall man, hair the color of living coals. He wore his coat of red and gold, but under it a simple Two Rivers shirt. What he had become and what he had been, wrapped together in one. He carried two swords, like a Shienaran. One looked as if it were glass; he wore it upon his back. The other was the sword of the Treekiller, King Laman, tied at his waist. He carried that because of her. Fool man.

Aviendha raised her hand to him, and he raised his in return. That would be their only farewell if he failed in his task or she died during hers. With a last look, she turned away from him and toward her duty.

The Aes Sedai are ushering the captives to safety via gateway while the rest search for more forgers; Ituralde leads his forces to secure the rest of the valley. Aviendha worries over her task to guard Rand’s back; what if the Forsaken can Travel directly into the cavern itself? She is distracted from this thought when something more solid than a cloud slips before the surface of the sun, blocking its light. The soldiers and even the Trollocs stare at the phenomenon, but soon it ends, the sun reemerging, and the fighting at the mouth of the valley resumes. Aviendha senses a woman channeling, and yells for a circle. The others form one with her at its head, and Aviendha sends a massive column of Fire toward the enemy channeler. She doesn’t dare use balefire, but her opponent has no such compunction. Aviendha’s people scatter to cover, and Aviendha makes a gateway to a hill overlooking the field. They fight there, and Aviendha incinerates a copper-skinned woman and a dark-haired woman, but the third gets away:

One turned toward her, gasped— seeing the attack weaves that Aviendha was making— then vanished.

There was no gateway. The person just seemed to fold up on herself, and Aviendha sensed no channeling. She did feel something else, a faint… something. A tremble to the air that wasn’t entirely physical.

Sarene identifies the two dead Dreadlords/Black Ajah as Duhara and Falion, but didn’t recognize the third one who escaped. Aviendha thinks she had been powerful enough to be a Forsaken, but she had been too ugly to be Graendal or Moghedien. Aviendha splits the large circle into three smaller ones; Amys smiles to recognize an adaptation of a classic Maiden raiding technique, and Aviendha thinks that the Wise Ones no longer seem annoyed to be following her, though she also recognizes that Amys is also not begrudging her the headaches of leadership either.

Rand turns from Aviendha and the battle below to face Shayol Ghul. Moiraine reminds him that this is not actually the Bore, only where the Dark One’s touch is strongest. Rand nods, and says there will be no channeling until he strikes at the Dark One itself. Thom surmises that he will be needed to guard the entrance, and Rand smiles at his determined good cheer.

Above them, dark clouds spun, the peak of Shayol Ghul their axis. Darkness assaulted the sun until it was nearly gone, entirely covered, in total oblivion.

Rand’s forces stopped, staring in terror at the sky, and even the Trollocs paused, growling and hooting. But as the sun slowly emerged from its captivity, the fierce battle resumed in the valley below. It announced his intentions, but the dagger would shield him from the Dark One’s eyes. The Light willing, the Shadow’s leaders would focus on the battle and assume Rand would wait for its outcome before striking.

It seems to take days to reach the cave entrance, and when they reach it Nynaeve points out that the wound in Rand’s side is bleeding again.

He felt blood inside his boot. It had run down his side, down his leg, and when he moved his foot, he left a bloody footprint behind.

Blood on the rocks…

Rand asks Nynaeve and Moiraine for a circle, but one in which he is in control. Neither of them like it, since that means control could be wrested from him, but accept it. He turns to the cavern entrance, and reflects that he will not walk out of that cave alive, but thinks that he no longer cares. Survival is not his goal, only success.


The voice spoke with the inevitability of an earthquake, the words vibrating through him. More than sound in the air, far more, the words spoke as if from one soul to another. Moiraine gasped, eyes opening wide.

Rand was not surprised. He had heard this voice once before, and he realized that he had been expecting it. Hoping for it, at least.

“Thank you,” Rand whispered, then stepped forward into the Dark One’s realm, leaving footprints of blood behind.

Soooo, that was a major “Whoa” moment, no?

And one that needed to happen, of course. A major and essential aspect of stories like WOT is that sense of closure, of things coming full circle. It is part of the joy of these stories, despite—or rather, because of—how rarely anything in real life has such symmetry. It is just one of the many reasons why fiction, and particularly sci-fi/fantasy fiction, is so much more awesome than reality. I get plenty enough random disjointed meaninglessness in real life, thanks.

So it is only appropriate—and essential—that the VOICE that we’ve only previously “heard” in the very first book of the series should now appear in the very last one. Coming full circle, y’all. Coming full circle.

There used to be some debate among fans as to whether the capitalized voice Rand heard in TEOTW (“I WILL TAKE NO PART”) was actually the Creator or not, but personally I never had any doubt on the matter, and even less now that we have this passage in AMOL. There’s a whole dissertation in here to be had on the subject of God figures versus Satan figures in speculative fiction which I do not have the wherewithal or the time to attempt, but I will observe that the relative noninterference of the God figure, as opposed to the relative meddlingness of the Satan figure, is a recurring and pervasive trope in many more works than this one, for the very good reason that in any remotely objective viewing of the world, this is the only stance of God and the devil (or whatever iteration of good and evil) that makes any sense whatsoever.

And I kind of like that idea at the same time that I hate it. Because whatever my personal thoughts on the existence or nonexistence of God, the only thing that could reconcile me to the unquestionable existence of seemingly unimpeded evil, in the same world that posits an all-loving, omnibenevolent God figure, is the notion that the importance of our own free will and ability to make choices trumps the need to shield us from the consequences of that free will.

Which sucks but is kind of awesome at the same time, because it is the difference between being treated like an immature child, and being treated like an adult; we’ve made our own mess, and it’s up to us to clean it up or not.

With the occasional assistance of your basic Messiah figure, of course.

It would be an interesting question to debate, whether (or how much) the Messiah figure negates our expression of free will (in terms of the problems inherent in the idea of one dude—and it’s always a dude, isn’t it—making decisions that affect an entire species), or whether the Messiah figure merely encapsulates that free will in archetypal fashion, as a stand-in for humanity at large.

As far as Rand al’Thor in particular is concerned, that question gets even more interesting the further into AMOL we go, so this is a thing we will definitely be coming back to.

He had chosen his clothing deliberately. His red coat, embroidered with long- thorned briars on the sleeves and golden herons on the collar, was a twin to one of those Moiraine had arranged for him to receive in Fal Dara. The white shirt, laced across the front, was of Two Rivers make.

Loved the detail that Rand had had made a replica of his first “fancy” coat for the occasion. Symmetry, again.

One thing I didn’t much like in this chapter was the eclipse. Because that was surprisingly… peripheral? I just expected that to be more central in some way that I can’t actually articulate. But instead it showed up for a paragraph or so and then was over, and I was kind of like, “Oh. Okay then.” Enh.

Oddly, in contrast to this, the “blood on the rocks” thing was pretty much just what I expected. That always was an extremely (and deliberately) vague prophecy, after all, and most fans have been assuming since the beginning that it didn’t mean what Rand assumes (even now) it does. It seems appropriate, as well, that the blood came from that never-healing wound in his side. So I liked that.

I… really don’t have much to say about the Aviendha POV. Aviendha is badass, duh. Duhara and Falion are dead, yay. Graendal/Hessalam is apparently taking a break from dicking around in captains’ heads to indulge in some light universe-unraveling. Whoo?

(I didn’t mention it in the summary, but after Graendal/Hessalam uses balefire Aviendha notices more of those nothing-cracks springing up. So good going there, Hessie. Although I’ll allow it just because it inspired the use of the “disintegrating Pattern” icon for the chapter, which is one of my favorites.)

Oh, and Hessalam apparently still has access to the True Power even despite her disgrace, which I’m not sure we knew before.

(As a side note, thanks to the commenters who pointed out in the last entry that Bao/Demandred’s “strange” arrival (from Egwene’s POV) on the battlefield was obviously accomplished via the True Power as well. Duh, Leigh.)

Which provides a nice segue to the Gawyn/Egwene portion of this episode. I’m tempted to *headdesk* at Gawyn again for using those damn rings, but really, he sort of has a point this time. Desperate times calling for desperate measures, and all. Still, there’s also that other cliché about the price of power, plus he just kind of reflexively irritates me at this point, so I guess I’ll settle for sighing heavily at him and leave it at that. FOR NOW.

Meanwhile, Leilwin to the rescue! I love how she is always braining people and rescuing Supergirls like a boss. It is apparently her Thing.

I thought on first reading that this was probably the fulfillment of Egwene’s Dream of the Seanchan woman helping her, but as we will see, this is just the beginning of that fulfillment.

*is sad*

That Sharan accent was oddly monotone, as if the people had no emotions at all. It was as if… the music was gone from their speech. Music that Egwene hadn’t realized was normally there.

This was actually a nice reminder/throwback to the early books, when we saw the effect of a Forsaken ruling over a city/people. Continuity is awesome, for one thing, and for another the reminder had the effect of making me feel a little less skeeved out at the Sharan culture in general, because what we’re seeing of it isn’t really Sharan culture, but the Shadow-tainted version of it.

The system disturbed her. You could always add to a person’s tattoo, but she knew of no way to remove one. Having the tattoos grow more intricate the lower one was in society implied something: people could fall from grace, but they could not rise once fallen— or born— to a lowly position.

…Although, it’s pretty clear that some of the more problematic aspects of the place were around long before Bao was. Seriously, a society where you can only be demoted is just depressing. Not to mention psychologically unsound. Positive reinforcement is a good thing, Sharans!

But, at least this answers my question from the last entry. Yay? And Egwene is no longer hiding under a cart in enemy territory, definitely yay!

Also, the real Last Battle has begun, for, like, real. I… don’t think “yay” is quite the appropriate emotional signifier to tack on to that, but I guess it’s close enough for government work.

And there I shall ambiguously leave it, peeples! Have a broiling hot week, if your weather is anything like mine (srsly, this summer is FIRED), and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

1. Freelancer
Wait, you mean Gawyn having the ring on saved Egwene? Ah well, it was still a fool move, because it must have been, since he's a fool. Right?

Yes, Leigh. This present world being a temporal place, the issue of ultimate importance isn't who wins all the things. It is who you, as an individual, trust with the next, non-temporal, existence. The common question, the Problem of Pain, asks how a loving God can allow suffering. Well, you've given the answer here as plainly as Jordan does in this final volume. While there is evil available, and people are given Free Will (the most loving gift a loving God can give to His creation), then bad choices will be made, and the consequences cannot simply be erased by God, or else He is constantly "sending in a play from the sidelines".

But it must be understood that there is a final purpose to the Free Will, to the options of good/evil, to the experiences people have. That "omnibenevolent" loving God wants but one thing; reciprocation. He could force us to adore him, but everyone here agrees that there is no freedom in Compulsion, nor would there be satisfaction for the Creator, for it would be only Himself loving Himself.

To be loved by another individual, based upon who you are, and determined by a free choice, this is the best thing. The best thing in the universe. And it explains everything God does and does not do, because only a person acting as a free agent can offer Him that love. Apparently, He believes that the cost is worth the reward. What would one do for love?
Jordan DeLange
2. killtacular
1) Isn't the eclipse used in order to get a simultaneous point in all the various plot threads? I.e., doesn't the eclipse show up for other POVs? Maybe I'm misremembering something here.

2) Shouldn't tatoos be capable of being healed?

3) I haven't really seen any good evidence that the Creator in WoT is all that good. More like a morally indifferent movie watcher.
Andrew Berenson
3. AndrewHB
Leigh, you wrote:
"There’s a whole dissertation in here to be had on the subject of God figures versus Satan figures in speculative fiction which I do not have the wherewithal or the time to attempt, but I will observe that the relative noninterference of the God figure, as opposed to the relative meddlingness of the Satan figure, is a recurring and pervasive trope in many more works than this one, for the very good reason that in any remotely objective viewing of the world, this is the only stance of God and the devil (or whatever iteration of good and evil) that makes any sense whatsoever."

I think this might have something to do with how the Devil is (portrayed) as a fallen angel in the Bible. No matter how evil the Devil is (from what I understand, the essence of evil in the Bible), it can never be God's equal.

I think that is the case in WoT. The Creator seems more powerful than the Dark One. For whatever reason, the Creator does not involve him/herself directly in these struggles. Rather, the Creator has a champion who fights with mankind on his behalf (the Dragon). There is something natural to that as the Dragon is "merely" a human. While he has "special powers" that no other human has, the Dragon (be it Rand, LTT or any other prior/future iteration) is first and foremost a human. He is the same as those whom he is supposed to protect.

I also find it interesting that the Creator refers to the Dragon as the Dark One's advisory. The Dark One does not see the Creator as his adversary. In some ways, this elevates the Dragon above everybody else who supports the Dragon. The Creator views Moridin (as Ne'blis - sp?) as nothing more than one of many tools at his disposal.

On another subject, is this the chapter where one of the Aes Sedai says that there is a distinction between a member of the Black Ajah and a Dreadlord? IIRC, the Aes Sedai who made that comment did not expound upon it. I do not see the distinction. Does anybody see that distinction? If so, please tell.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Gary Singer
4. AhoyMatey
Leigh, you gonna get all what on my ass?

I liked how the blood on the rocks thing worked out. It was so mundane after all the loony theories out there.

I didn't get why the Wise Ones would care if Avienhda was in charge. They're meant to all be equal. Unless it's because Rand put her in charge.
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
"Blood on the rocks" - wouldn't it have been funny if Rand had to make a blood cocktail in a highball glass to save the world? That would have been truly loony.
Deana Whitney
6. Braid_Tug
Wonder how long the eclipse really lasted? Here it was a few heartbeats, but there's the whole "Time dilation" thing going...
Then again, that has to be one of the fastest eclipses on record!

God vs. Devil figures: Thus why the “Clockmaker” analogy is so popular for the divinity figure. Set things up, and let them run.

Really wonder how much of Nynaeve & Moiraine was left on the cutting room floor. Sigh…

Chris Long
7. radynski
At first I was really upset that Gawyn put on the bloodknife ring, because I knew it meant he was going to die. And seriously, how stupid are you that you don't think those things have serious consequences.

But then when I realized that his ring would be what hid him from Demandred and thus allowed him to kill the big D, I was totally on board with it. Of course, that's not what happened, so that whole sequence was a huge disappointment, and then Gawyn just dies like the chump he's been for this entire series, never finding any meaningful redemptive good deed.

The narrative of Demandred's defeat is one of my biggest disappointments with this book. It would have been a much more satisfying narrative arc for Gawyn to take him out with the bloodknife rings. It satisfies Gawyn's resolution, and it's one of those little nods to how a "primitive" culture could still think up interesting One Power objects that weren't around in the AOL.

Instead Demandred just kills Gawyn like a punk, and we get the three billy goats gruff of sword fighters stepping up to challenge Demandred. And how irritating was it to essentially have the "Who is the best swordsman?" fan argument answered in such a ham-fisted manner? And why was Galad or Lan involved at all? Neither of their narrative arcs needed to include Demandred at all for them to resolve satifyingly.

And yet instead we just get another moment where Lan proves he's a badass, as if we didn't already know. And why didn't Lan win the fight by allowing Bao to "sheeve the sword" like Rand did with Ishmael in book 2? At least that would have had some nice resonance with the rest of the series, and provided a legitmate reason for why it had to be Lan (since he taught Rand that).

So many disappointments for what might have been.
Stefan Mitev
8. Bergmaniac
We just had to have Egwene captured again, thankfully it was over really quickly. This was what, 7 or 8th time it happened? When I reached this point on my first read, I groaned "Not again...".

All this sneaking around hours after the battle strikes me as contrived. Opening a gateway quickly would've been less of a risk.
Jordan DeLange
9. killtacular
@8. Actually, I was thinking that Egwene's capture would ultimately be way more consequential because some of her previous captures turned out so well. Her first lead to the realization that the sul'dam could be held by a'dam, and her ... fourth? ... lead to the reuniting of the tower without bloodshed.
10. Sabra_ray
@3 in regards the Dreadlord/Black Ajah question, I read it thusly: a woman can be Black Ajah, but not be a Dreadlord (i.e. commander/general), be a Dreadlord but not an Aes Sedai (men, Sea Folk, Sharans, Aiel, Seanchan), or be both.
11. Big Mikey
I gotta say, I hate how WOT distroyed Gawyn's legacy, after the first book with his interactions with Rand, he was amongst my favorite characters. and slowly through the books they made him into a complete douche to the point where Galad is a thousand times more the hero. thats truely F'ed up in my opinion.
Ron Garrison
12. Man-0-Manetheran
Chapter 23, wherein Gawyn demonstrates some thoughtfulness — if only momentarily.


Interesting Leigh that you hear this voice as a dude. Nowhere is any gender attached to this voice. Check again.

It was about here that I first checked the number of pages in the book. “It is time...” is almost exactly half way through the book.

Cluebat! Right after the blood on the rocks reveal: “I will not walk out of this pit alive, he thought.”

Freelancer: That was beautifully said.
13. Crusader75
I'd give Gawyn credit for having a point if it was not apparent that he thinks the rings may kill him instead of will kill him. His ability to only hear what he wants to hear is incredible, and it means that he did not do this with full knowledge of the consequences. He is still a dumbass even when he is being heroic. Actually, especially whe he is being heroic.
Leigh Butler
14. leighdb
Man-O-Manetheran @ 12:
Interesting Leigh that you hear this voice as a dude.
Actually, you should check again yourself. I didn't assign a gender to either the voice or God in this post at all. It's more interesting that the lack of specification led you to assume I heard it as a male voice.
15. Eyeless621
@7 - I agree... Everyone that used those rings failed miserably in what they were trying to accomplish with them.

The handful of Seanchan that came after Egwene all failed to beat an unaided and tired Gawyn... Gawyn with 3 or 4 rings can't beat Demandred, which means that even with those rings he is still not as good as an unaided Lan (seems a bit unlikely as Gawyn is a really good swordsman without the rings, not as good as Lan, but the rings should tip that scale). Yes, Lan is a bad ass and all, but seriously, those rings seem incredibly useless. With the description of the powers the rings grant you, it should make that person almost overpowered, so that bothers me a bit.

I too was waiting for Gawyn to redeem himself with all those rings and take out Demandred, but nope... oh well, he sucks to the end.
16. Jeff S.
In the Red at work.
Bergmaniac @8
You may have forgotten that anyone that channeled close to the Sharans in the last chapter was immediately blown into shreds.
Prudence says it was a time to sneak out and not a time for channeling.
I have to say that this is one time that I agreed with Gawyn in using the bloodring. Keep Egwene safe and scout a way out as unseen as possible.
Drawing any attention to yourselves would be suicidal.

Jeff S.
I am only an egg
Maiane Bakroeva
17. Isilel
Well, I'd say that ta'veren and the Wheel do obfuscate the free will issue somewhat, as they force individuals to act against it...

Anyway, yea, the eclipse was of a "blink and miss it" variety. Also, Rand's group just strolling in without any rsistance and nobody thinking that all of them were going to die seems a bit... disappointing.
And, of course the circle of 2 women and one man was supposed to be only controllable by a woman in all the previous volumes. I really dislike how it robs Moiraine and Nyn of agency and requires less trust from Rand than I would have wished as a catharsis for the constant battle of sexes in the series. Oh, well.

Did Graessi forget how to invert her weaves? But otherwise, I have to say that I am really impressed with her performance. The Great Captains gambit was actually brilliant and one of the most effective shadow plots on-screen, while she is also multi-tasking and kicking some ass here.

Of course, it is not entirely clear to me why the Shadow is even fighting in the Valley of Thrakan'dar, when one can Travel directly to the DO's doorstep. And it isn't like the DO doesn't actually want the Dragon to reach him...

Anyway. Yay Sharans and Dem. Nice to be vindicated. He only has a fraction of them, though, since he'd have had thousands of channelers otherwise, if not more, instead of a few hundred.
How on earth did they track Gawyn with his invisi-ring, but miss Leilwin, BTW?
Ron Garrison
18. Man-0-Manetheran
Sorry Leigh. I must have misinterpreted "—and it’s always a dude, isn’t it—"
19. Juanito
I agree with radynski @7... This whole time Gawyn's only saving grace has been that he's good at murdering people with a sword. He had that Moment of Awesome in Towers of Midnight when he solves the Mystery of the Shadow Assassins AND gets to murder three more people (by sheathing the sword, no less). So really, why not give him this one win.

20. Whitevoodoo
I would like to point out to all the Gawyn haters(or whatever you call yourselves), that there are plenty of people IRL who hold powerful or influential positions and yet are quite douche-tastic and/or block-headed. Would the story really be as interesting or satisfying if every character by the end of the story got the chance to become someone truely heroic who makes good decisions?
I count plenty of those...Perrin, Rand, Matt, Lan, Thom, etc, etc...I find Gawyn to be a refreshing exception to this process and for that reason I enjoy it all the more when he buys the farm from Dem. Also, it probably helps that I never really liked Egwene much for most of the series so I could care less if she made a poor choice of Warder.
Valentin M
21. ValMar
I wonder why the AS in response to the Sharan attack didn't do a modified response to what they did at Dumai Wells. If alone, an AS could quickly make a mini dome over herself and then under its protection make a Gateway. If more than one AS were together, one or more could quickly make a dome or whatever whilst the other one makes the Gateway.

I suppose the multitude of Sharan chanellers could've been on guard for exactly such a thing and immediately stoke when felt someone embracing the Source. I just don't know well enough the technicallities of using the One Power to know if one can quickly enough embrace the OP and make an effective shield before someone else senses them and strikes. The other one would be holding the OP already.
22. gadget
radynski @ 7

This is getting ahead of ourselves, but yes I agree with you 100% about
Demandred's final defeat. It was getting rediculous by the end. The other thing that really sounded off was Taim vs. Egwene (with Sa'Angrel): he holds her off and bearly manages to escape. Taim (with an even more powerful Sa'Angreal) vs Egwene (again w/ Sa'Angrel): Taim gets waxed. huh!? Not that I don't like Egwene & all but it seemed kind of out of wack.
23. HathsinSurvivor
@7. Pretty sure Lan did win via sword-sheathing. I haven't read it in a while though...
Leigh Butler
24. leighdb
Man-O-Manetheran @ 18:

Yeah, that was in reference to the Messiah figure(s), not the Voice/God. :)
25. d-mac
@7 "...And why didn't Lan win the fight by allowing Bao to "sheeve the sword" like Rand did with Ishmael in book 2?"

I think thats exactd what happened, Lan allowed Bao to pierce him so he could get close and do the "off with his head" maneuver.
Captain Hammer
26. Randalator
@7 radynski

And why didn't Lan win the fight by allowing Bao to "sheeve the sword" like Rand did with Ishmael in book 2? At least that would have had some nice resonance with the rest of the series, and provided a legitmate reason for why it had to be Lan (since he taught Rand that).

Uh, you know, he kinda totally did. The text even made a pretty big deal out of it, complete with flashback quote and everything. Lan threw himself into Demandred's sword in order to be able to reach him and by impaling himself on it left Demandred defenseless against his attack.

And that's what gave him the edge over Demandred, as opposed to Gawyn and Galad. Lan was willing to die to kill him just like Rand was when fighting Ishy.

Here's the complete sequence in all its epic glory and glorious epicness.
I've only time for one last lesson...

"I have you," Demandred finally growled, breathing heavily. "Whoever you are, I have you. You cannot win."

"You didn't listen to me," Lan whispered.

One last lesson. The hardest...

Demandred struck, and Lan saw his opening. Lan lunged forward, placing Demandred's sword point against his own side and ramming himself forward onto it.

"I did not come here to win," Lan whispered, smiling. "I came here to kill you. Death is lighter than a feather."

Demandred's eyes opened wide, and he tried to pull back. Too late. Lan's sword took him straight through the throat.

The world grew dark as Lan slipped backward off the sword. He felt Nynaeve's fear and pain as he did, and he sent his love to her.
@17 Isilel

And, of course the circle of 2 women and one man was supposed to be only controllable by a woman in all the previous volumes.

At least that's what Cadsuane tells him. But she gets her Callandor/prophecy research ass handed to her by Min for crying out loud. Which is weird, because she was talking out of it long before that...

I'm sorry, I'll stop abusing metaphors now...
Stefan Mitev
27. Bergmaniac
At least the eclipse lead to Elayne's great speech in the next chapter, but yeah, overall the reaction to it was underwhelming.
Alice Arneson
28. Wetlandernw
Bloodknife rings... a few clarifications.

One, these were probably not an invention of the Third Age; they were certainly not an invention of the Seanchan, who do not know how to make them. They only know how to use them. We were never told exactly where they were obtained, but we know that they are not made by the Seanchan.

Two, Gawyn can rely only on the direct attributes of the rings, not on any training in how to use them. Specifically, in this situation, he's using them for their best purpose: sneaking around in the shadows without being caught, and fighting people who were unprepared for him. The attributes of the ter'angreal, his own strengths, and his purpose all work together in a way that (along with Leilwin's timely intervention) allows him to get Egwene out of the camp to a place where it's safe to channel. Later, against Demandred, the situation is totally reflective of Gawyn's fight against the assassins in the WT: the rings help by giving you enhanced speed and making you harder to see, but they don't really give as much advantage in a straight-up fight as one might think. They were meant for assassinations in the dark, not duels.

Re: the complaints about Lan's and Egwene's ability to defeat Forsaken... Randalator @26, thank you for clarifying that scene, for those who had somehow managed to forget the full circle of the last lesson Lan had to teach Rand. Honestly, I don't understand how anyone can forget this:
"I did not come here to win," Lan whispered, smiling. "I came here to kill you..."
Gawyn, Galad and Logain all went in there to win; Lan went to kill. There's a difference, and I'm a bit flabbergasted that so many seem to have missed or forgotten that.

The same is true for Egwene, and why she was able to kill Taim the second time but not the first: The first time, she was trying to win. The second time, she knew she would die either way, so it wasn't about "winning" any more. She did her own version of "Sheathing the Sword" - she deliberately pulled in more of the One Power than she could safely handle, through an unbuffered sa'angreal, so that when (not if) she died, it would not be in vain.
Andrew Berenson
29. AndrewHB
Killtacular @9: Egwene's capture by the Seanchan at Falme was the second time she was captured. The first was when the Whiteclocks captured her and Perrin in TEotW.

Bergamaniac @8: It never dawned on me that Egwene gets captured a lot in WoT. The following is what I came up with off the top of my head.
1) by the Whitecloaks in TEotW;
2) by the Seanchan in TGH;
3) by the people who would turn her over to the Fades in TDR (she, Egwene & Nynaeve were rescued by Avi, her fellow Maidens and some other Aiel ;
4) by the Black Ajah in Tear;
5) by the Tower Aes Sedai;
6) by Mesaana (however briefly); and
7) by the Sharans

I beleive Egwene is captured more times than Elayne.

Thanks for reading my musings,
Noneo Yourbusiness
30. Longtimefan
@ 29. On Egwene being the most captured.

It is possible to think that the Tower in Exile also captured her in the beginning. They intended to use her as a figurehead and control her actions until the tower was united and then sacrifice her from Amrilyn down to Novice again. (or something along those lines. all the little details were never worked out)

Egwene "escaped" her captivity there not physically but intellectually. However it is possible to see the intent of making her a puppet Amrilyn as a form of capture.
31. Jonellin Stonebreaker
@28 Wetlandernw,

Well said. First seen (chronologically) his combat with Ryne in TNS, this determination is what, even more than his skill, makes Lan Mandragoran the superbly deadly fighter that he is.

Skill is important, speed crucial, and balance indispensable in combat.
But determination to your enemy, even at the cost of your life, is what separates the legendary from the merely skilled.

Once you not only not fear death, but embrace it, the feats that even an "ordinary" soldier can do are astounding.
32. Jineapple
The one thing or rather, the one person that has always bothered me about the world-ripping effects of balefire is Ishamael. His motivation to help the DO is for the world to end, more or less. He's also very powerful.

So...why doesn't he just walk around and balefire a few cities? That is sure to rip the pattern apart - the world has ended - problem solved.

It's been some time since I've read the series, so maybe I'm not remembering everything about Ishy completely, but this is something that's bothered me for a while, and I haven't found an answer to it

(First time posting here btw, been a reader quite a while already)
Stefan Mitev
33. Bergmaniac
I think Elayne and Egwene are about equal in times captured, depends on interpretation of some borderline cases. Jordan really loved to use the "female character gets captured" plotline.
Don Barkauskas
34. bad_platypus
Re: a woman controlling the Callandor link.

This comes up every time this is mentioned, so let's look at the evidence. The short version: it was originally forbidden, but later changed to be allowed.

linking entry in LoC hardcover (Oct 1994) and Kindle version (Mar 2010) and ACoS (May 1996) hardcover glossaries:
...but a man must control in the circle of seventy-two as well as in mixed circles of fewer than thirteen.
linking entry in ACoS Kindle edition (Apr 2010) glossary entry:
...but a man must control in the circle of seventy-two as well as in mixed circles of fewer than thirteen but more than four.
The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time (BBoBA) (Nov 1997):
...but in the case of a circle of seventy-two, a circle of only one man and one woman, or in most circles of up to thirteen which contain more than one man, a man must lead. Excepting the examples given above, and other circles of thirteen or less, a woman must lead when the minimum number of men are present.
So both the ACoS Kindle version and the BBoBA version allow for a woman to control the link. What the exact rules are is not clear, but clearly RJ either changed his mind or was careless with the original LoC glossary entry.
36. NiktheHeratik
>Of course, it is not entirely clear to me why the Shadow is even fighting in the Valley of Thrakan'dar, when one can Travel directly to the DO's doorstep. And it isn't like the DO doesn't actually want the Dragon to reach him...

IIRC, shadowspawn (other than gholem) can't travel through gateways without insta-dying. That's why they had to travel through the Ways so often. That just leaves the Sharans, who didn't sign up for Thakandar and were following Demandred who though Rand wasn't there, and Darkfriends, who did pop up repeatedly. Also (spoilers) the Dreamspike gets put there soon so that they have to at least go through the front door rather than Travel right there.
Jordan DeLange
38. killtacular

Doh! I was sure I was forgetting something. Although, I wouldn't count your 6, and definitely not your 7, given how things worked out.
39. Faculty Guy
Jineapple@32: Good question, but the Ishmael character seems to evolve greatly through his various incarnations. I don't believe that he ORIGINALLY desired oblivion, but rather domination. There are several references (some by other Forsaken) to his being mad, and to his believing himself (as Ba'alzamon) to be the DO. It is really only after his final incarnation as Moridin that he begins to exhibit signs of nihilism. And I assume that the DO at this point simply forbids him to directly unravel the pattern using balefire.

As I think about this, I don't think any of the other Forsaken change much at all. Ishmael/Ba'alzamon/Moridin, however, seems to change radically. I'd be interested in what some of the WOT scholars have to say about this.
Thomas Keith
40. insectoid
Hi Leigh... If by 'broiling hot' you mean mid-80s and humid, then yes, our weather is something like yours. :P (Can't say we have any t-storms, though.)
Great post as always.

My natural reaction to this part of the chapter was, of course: "WHAT the HELL do you think you're doing?!" It's as if those rings are calling to him... I just *knew* he'd do something stupid like this. (But not quite as stupid as later on...)

Finally, something for her to be Awesome for doing! And I suppose this would fulfill Egs' dream of a Seanchan woman saving her—though it's only the first time (I count the Warder bond later as the second).
I love how she is always braining people and rescuing Supergirls like a boss. It is apparently her Thing.

Being awesome. What more can I say?

On first read, I found it puzzling that Rand + co. were already going into Shayol Ghul, even though there's still half the book to go. (Later on I figured out the time dilation thingie.)

I also had a bad feeling that Thom was going to get killed out there all by himself. Obviously I didn't know him very well, did I? ;)

Well, it's about time we heard the Big Voice again. And nothing more cements the certainty of it being the Creator's voice than this passage, in my mind.

Brief eclipse:
Time dilation, Leigh, remember? I can't recall exactly, but at Merrilor the eclipse lasted a LOT longer.

Off to read comments.

Judy Carmona
41. Farstrider
@32 Jineapple: Because that would have significantly shortened the saga!

@ All: Rand and Aviendha's little goodbye wave puts tears in my eyes every time. And they just finally got around to calling each other " shade of my heart." *sniff*

Also, I'm still on the fence about Gawyn and I probably always will be. I'm with Big Mikey @11, I really liked Gawyn in TEOTW, and again when he met up with Egwene in Cairhien- the bad stuff in between and after isn't enough to make me hate him. I headdesk as must as the next re- reader when he pulls some idiotic stunt or when we get inside his head and get to actually see the warped gears turning, but for some reason I've always rooted for the guy (and not just for Egwene's sake). When he went to kill Demandred, I was pretty sure that it would turn out badly but I still felt proud of him in a way for giving it a shot. Somebody had to do it, right? We cheer Lan because he pulled it off, we nod to Galad because he tried and managed to survive, and then we hate Gawyn for even trying? You might argue that he did it for glory (Logain certainly did) but I read it as a selfless act. He knew it needed to be done and he had some tools (bloodknife rings) that he thought would render him the only man capable of the job.
Judy Carmona
42. Farstrider
@39 Faculty Guy: That is a very good point, We did get to witness some evolution on Ishamael's part. Also, Rand/Lews Therin must have influenced Moridin's mood as much as Moridin influenced Rand's through their weird psychic connection post-Shadar Logoth.
Thomas Keith
43. insectoid
Free @1:
Well said!

AndrewHB @2:
Also well put.

RobM² @5:
"Blood on the rocks" - wouldn't it have been funny if Rand had to make a blood cocktail in a highball glass to save the world? That would have been truly loony.
LOL! Glad to see you in good spirits (pun!)... hope you're doing better.

Braid @6:
Really wonder how much of Nynaeve & Moiraine was left on the cutting room floor. Sigh…

radynski @7:
Good points.

Juanito @19:
I can't unsee that picture now...

Wet @28:
Gawyn, Galad and Logain all went in there to win; Lan went to kill. There's a difference, and I'm a bit flabbergasted that so many seem to have missed or forgotten that. (...) The same is true for Egwene...
Well said. Those scenes make more sense now.

AndrewHB @29:
I beleive Egwene is captured more times than Elayne.
That is amazing. Really.

Jonellin Stonebreaker @31:
Nicely put.

Jineapple @32:
Welcome to the zoo group!

bad_platypus @34:
That is incredibly confusing. So... which one do we regard as canon?

Captain Hammer
44. Randalator
@6 Braid_Tug

Really wonder how much of Nynaeve & Moiraine was left on the cutting room floor. Sigh…

I demand an entire book of deleted scenes! Movies get Special Features, why not The Wheel of Time?
45. JimF
Great chapter. Great comments, above.

This: 1. Freelancer: is beautiful and bears repeating:
"...To be loved by another individual, based upon who you are, and determined by a free choice, this is the best thing. The best thing in the universe. And it explains everything God does and does not do, because only a person acting as a free agent can offer Him that love. Apparently, He believes that the cost is worth the reward. What would one do for love?..."

Ask Gawyn.

and @29. AndrewHB: "...4) by the Black Ajah in Tear;..." Good count; but you forgot to mention that Mat and Juilin rescued them (Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne), at least physically, which sets up perhaps the most hilarious scenes in the entire series, when, at Avi's encouragement, Nyn and El go "thank" Mat (tCoS).

Is Mat the only one of the "superkids" to not get captured (unless you count the episode with Tylin which I don't).
Judy Carmona
46. Farstrider
@45 JimF: Mat may not have been "captured" but he was technically held hostage by Tylin, the White Tower, and even Melindhra in a way. That's not to mention his unwanted ties to the Shadar Logoth dagger and the Horn or his prophesied/fated marriage. I guess it depends on your definition of the word captive.
Maiane Bakroeva
47. Isilel
Randalator @26, Bad_platypus @34:

That a woman must lead a 2:1 circle was actually a minor point of FS plot in... TFoH, I think. Where the idea was to bait Rand into attacking Sammael while Lanfear, Graendal and Rahvin were supposed to link and take him "from behind". Rahvin was uncomfortable with the fact that he'd have to trust one of the woman to lead.

Well, my dislike for Jordan's rules of linking, which marginalize women in mixed circles is well known, so whatever. Taking away one of the few configurations where a woman has to be a control seems par for the course.
It is a huge pity how it reduces the agency of Nynaeve and Moiraine and the amount of trust Rand has to put in them, though.

NiktheHeratik @36:
IIRC, shadowspawn (other than gholem) can't travel through gateways without insta-dying
But the Lightsiders can Travel right onto the DO's doorstep, so what's the point of the Shadow Forces defending the Valley of Trakan'dar? It is not like they are an obstacle for anybody human wanting to drop in on the DO, after all.

Farstrider @41:
He knew it needed to be done and he had some tools (bloodknife rings) that he thought would render him the only man capable of the job.
He also knew that him getting hurt/killed might fatally distract Egwene at the worst possible moment. Going without warning her was the height of irresponsibility and stupidity, IMHO.
Also, there could be an argument made for sharing the rings with 2 others...

So, does anybody have any idea how the Sharans were able to detect Gawyn, who was wearing a Bloodknifering, but miss Leilwyn? That seemed really odd - were they able to detect the ring with OP, somehow?
Captain Hammer
48. Randalator
@47 Isilel

Taking away one of the few configurations where a woman has to be a control seems par for the course. It is a huge pity how it reduces the agency of Nynaeve and Moiraine and the amount of trust Rand has to put in them, though.

It doesn't reduce the amount of trust necessary at all. Callandor can be used to force any man using it into a circle with the women in control. So Rand needed two women he could absolutely trust because they could take over at any given moment
49. tearl
Re-read reader from the beginning, infrequent poster.

AndrewHB @29 and Insectoid@43:
With a particularly sensitive threshold on my "captured" meter, I get 7 captures of Elayne.
1. TDR -- Captured by bandits.
2. TDR -- Captured by the Black Ajah.
3. TSR -- Captured(?)/compelled by Moggy.
4. TFoH -- Captured by Ronde Macura.
5. ACoS -- Captured and shielded by Garenia.
6. KoD -- Captured by Lady Shiane and the Black Ajah.
7. ToM -- Captured by Daved Hanlon and the Black Ajah prisoners.
Judy Carmona
50. Farstrider
Re: women controlling a circle of 3- In Winter's Heart, during the cleansing (With the Choedan Kal), Flinn controls a circle with Sarene and Corele (see Demandred's POV). So to create the circle, a man linking with two women must let one of the women control the link. Obviously the woman can then willingly pass that control to the man.
Nadine L.
51. travyl
Farstrider, thanks for the info @50. I'm always confused with linking rules, but it's good to know there was precedence before aMoL.
Captain Hammer
52. Randalator
re: linking

Adding to Farstrider's point, a woman does NOT have to lead a 2f-1m circle. However: A link MUST be initiated by a woman which means that in any circle the very first one to have control is always a woman.

The rules per WoT wiki/BBoBA:

A woman MUST lead:
– in a circle with only the minimum number of men present, i.e. 13f-1m (with the exception of 1f-1m and 2f-1m, and a full circle)
– at the beginning of every circle because linking can only be initiated by a woman

A man MUST lead:
– in a full circle of 72
– in a circle of 13 or fewer with more than one man present
– in a 1f-1m circle
53. AlexF
I think the point of the eclipse (in addition to fulfilling that prophesy) was just to be a beacon in time. If I remember correctly, other viewpoints see the eclipse also and it's just a way to synchronize the timelines. We've seen that kind of thing before, such as the Clensing and once or twice with a warp in space (a balescream?).
Christopher Kennard
54. Wani
Woo! The Blind Guardian chapter! Good album.

@3: I always kinda understood the distinction as being a Dreadlord is really any, openly dark-side channeler, while Black Ajah are specifically the ones infiltrating the Aes Sedai.

Also, both times I've read this book, I completely missed the eclipse. Whoops.
Don Barkauskas
55. bad_platypus
Isilel @47:
That a woman must lead a 2:1 circle was actually a minor point of FS plot in... TFoH, I think.
Good call. That was prior to all of the citations I gave @34, so it illustrates my main point: the rules have clearly changed over time.
insectoid @43:
That is incredibly confusing. So... which one do we regard as canon?
I vote for whatever version comes out in the upcoming Encyclopedia! :-)
Captain Hammer
56. Randalator
@2 killtacular

2) Shouldn't tatoos be capable of being healed?

Um, no? 3rd Age Healing only works on injuries that haven't already healed naturally which is the case for all tattoos except fresh ones. Although, unlike with broken glass or similar larger objects, I doubt that even immediate Healing after a tattoo session would remove all of the ink from wound.

AoL Healing on the other hand was capable to repair damage even after the wound had healed naturally (Sammael could have his scar removed after killing Rand, TFoH, Prologue). However, while that would most likely heal any scar tissue that might have formed, just like the other form of Healing I don't think it would affect the ink in the tissue at all.
Alice Arneson
57. Wetlandernw
I wouldn't place too much reliance on what various characters think about making circles. Unless it's based on research of AOL materials, who's actually had experience with that for the last 3000 years? Most of the characters have to base their "knowledge" on what they remember being told about it, and we can just guess how garbled hearsay can become over a couple millenia. In that regard, I'd place more reliance on what the Forsaken think, or what they say to one another.

There's also a good point raised by Farstrider & Randalator - there's a difference between initiating a link and leading the resulting circle.
William Carter
58. wcarter
All this talk about Rand, Nyneave and Moraine linking just makes me want to link to a Meet The Parents "Circle of Trust" video clip...
Captain Hammer
59. Randalator
@55 bad_platypus

That's chapter 34
"He will concentrate on you," the big man (Rahvin) said in a deep voice. "If need be, one close to him will die, plainly at your order. He will come for you. And while he is fixed on you alone, the three of us, linked, will take him. What has changed to alter any of that?"

"Nothing has changed," the scarred man (Sammael) growled. "Least of all, my trust for you. I will be part of the link, or it ends now."

The golden-haired woman (Graendal) threw back her head and laughed. "Poor man," she said mockingly, waving a beringed hand at him. "Do you think he would not notice that you were linked? He has a teacher, remember. A poor one, but not a complete fool. Next you will ask to include enough of those Black Ajah children to take the circle beyond thirteen, so you or Rahvin must have control."

"If Rahvin trusts us enough to link when he must allow one of us to guide," the melodious voice (Lanfear) said, "you can display an equal trust."
That sure makes it sound as if a woman had to lead in a 2f-1m circle, doesn't it?

Alas, it doesn't. Remember, only a woman can bring additional channelers into a circle. That means that in order to bring Rahvin into their circle of three Grandal and Lanfear would have to link first, as with Rahvin brought in first per 1f-1m rule he would have to take over and that would be the end of that.

So, it doesn't necessarily mean that a woman would always have to lead in a 2f-1m circle. It just means that Lanfear and Graendal would never give up control once they have it and tell Rahvin and Sammael to sod off with their fancy plan. It's either linkage with girl power or STFU & GTFO.

Rahvin has accepted, Sammael hasn't. And the reason he wants in on the circle is that then control would mandatorily shift to one of the guys.

There is a contradiction, however, in that Graendal claims that taking the circle with one man (Rahvin or Sammael) beyond 13 would put a man in charge when it's actually the opposite.
Valentin M
60. ValMar
Wani @ 54

And "Wheel of Time" is the best song of that album!
Anthony Pero
61. anthonypero

I believe that a woman needs to FORM the circle, but can then pass the circle to a man in the circle of three. Rahvin is uncomfortable and thinks that one of them would have to lead, because he knows he's never going to get the circle passed to him.

EDIT: Explained better @52
Judy Carmona
62. Farstrider
Randalator, thank you for the exceptional expedient expounding!

@57Wetlandernw: Of course, we have to take everything the Forsaken say with a grain of salt as well when you consider all the things these 3rd Age "children" have discovered that were thought impossible during the AOL.
Don Barkauskas
63. bad_platypus
Randalator @59:

Remember, in a 1-1 link, the man doesn't automatically get control; it must be transferred. (The scene in WH with Rand and Nynaeve seems to indicate the man can forcibly take control, but I suspect that's because Nynaeve was planning to let him take control and wasn't actively opposing him.) Regardless, as you say, they could start with a 2f-circle and bring the man in.
The key, though, is this sentence:
"If Rahvin trusts us enough to link when he must allow one of us to guide," the melodious voice (Lanfear) said, "you can display an equal trust."
The word "guide" is one of the words used to indicate leadership of a circle (BBoBA, pg. 24 hardcover). Lanfear explicitly says that one of the women would have to lead the circle. She's stating this to people who are as knowledgeable as her about linking, so there is no reason to suppose she's lying or mistaken.

If it were really just that either a male or female could lead the circle but Lanfear or Graendal simply wouldn't give up control, then the sentence doesn't make sense, because that applies to every single circle possible where either gender can lead; a man will never have the lead when he comes into a circle.

At any rate, this is from TFoH, which pre-dates all of the references to linking I gave above. It is entirely possible that when RJ wrote this he had a 2f/1m circle requiring a female lead, then later changed his mind.
Glen V
64. Ways
I missed the tail end of the comments last week. Sincere belated condolences.
Captain Hammer
65. Randalator
@63 bad_platypus

The word "guide" is one of the words used to indicate leadership of a
circle (BBoBA, pg. 24 hardcover). Lanfear explicitly says that one of the women would have to lead the circle. She's stating this to people
who are as knowledgeable as her about linking, so there is no reason to
suppose she's lying or mistaken.

Of course she states that one of the women must lead. I never said anything to the contrary. What Lanfear doesn't state, however, is WHY one of the women must lead. You're reading something into this sentence that just isn't there.

"If Rahvin trusts us enough to link when he must allow one of us to
guide because that's how a 2f-1m circle works," the melodious voice said, "you can display an equal trust."

"If Rahvin trusts us enough to link when he must allow one of us to
guide because if he had insisted on guiding the circle we'd just told him to go kiss a flaming pig," the melodious voice said, "you can display an equal trust."

See? Works either way. It might still be–as you say–a case of RJ changing his mind but the way it is phrased it could just as well be that Lanfear is only hinting at a condition Rahvin agreed to...
Alice Arneson
66. Wetlandernw
Not that we're voting, but I'm voting for Randalator's interpretation. Two main reasons:

1) Neither interpretation is entirely provable.

2) It provides a way to reconcile the apparent differences without requiring a "Retcon!" accusation.

3) It's a lovely, slippery, Aes Sedai-worthy solution. :)
67. s'rEDIT
Free@1: Awsome, simply awsome. I am printing this out to give a coworker with whom I often find myself discussing this point.
Thomas Keith
68. insectoid
Randalator @44:
I demand an entire book of deleted scenes! Movies get Special Features, why not The Wheel of Time?
Heh. I'd buy that!

Farstrider @50/Randalator @52:
Thanks for the helpful info! (Still confusing, though...)

AlexF @53:
Are you referring to the "ripples" in CoT (which occurred in three different chapters)? I was under the impression that those were just another visible indication that the Pattern was unraveling, not necessarily from balefire.

Wani @54/ValMar @60:
*sigh* No, I still haven't bought that album. I'll do it one of these days, for sure.

bad_platypus @55:
I vote for whatever version comes out in the upcoming Encyclopedia! :-)
Sounds good to me!

Randalator @59,65:
Good points.

Wet @66:
It's a lovely, slippery, Aes Sedai-worthy solution. :)
Heh... that it is!

69. sc4n13r
A woman in yellow, her dark hair cut short, adorned with an assortment of gemstones set in gold.
Did I miss something or did Nynaeve get her braid lopped off?
Captain Hammer
70. Randalator
@69 sc4n13r

re: Nynaeve's braid

Her braid was burned off during her testing in the Aes-Sedai-O-Matic in ToM, chapter 27.
71. LandOfMadmenman
I thought Demandred was one of the most memorable aspects of the novel. Not to toot my own horn or anyhting, but I had guessed long ago that he was busy in Shara (as im sure many other people did) and that he and their armies would show up in time for the last battle and never really wavered from that position. part of the reason for that is the fantasy narrative symmetry esp. as it resonates with Tolkien (Shara being the equivalent of the oliphant wielding Haradrim).

Also for some reason I pictured him being a giant the whole time, though I know he was really just a regularly sized tall evil dude.

I somwhat agree with the feeling of Gawyn and esp. Galad's death at his hands being kind of disappointing, but mostly in retrospect. At the time I read it though I was too wrapped up in how brutal the whole narrative was at that point, what with one major character after another being killed/stilled/beheaeded/etc and not a single one-sided victory for the Light to speak of.

Cuz also relatedly in retrospect, I kind of like the overall tone of the final book as such....it isnt a pretty everything-works-out-fine-see? kind of ending, which sort of embodies one of the central themes of the book, in that "it was an ending", and all of it is bittersweet, but with Rand, we are led to accept that bittersweetness because we embrace the duty of enduring a less-than-satisfying redemptive arc to the story.

In other words, I think WOT was able to be more complex and "realistic" (whatever that really means) in the way The End plays out than, for example, Tolkien was, and in part that has to do with the subtlety and mystique of the idea of WOT being "a beginning" and "an ending"....all the meta-ness leading to more flexible narrative possibilities than a neatly wrapped up one could be.

Dunno, just some thoughts at the moment.
Judy Carmona
72. Farstrider
@63 bad_platypus and others: Further clarification on the 1-1 link from Lord of Chaos Ch 6 Sammael asks Graendal to confirm their truce by linking with him:
"The link had to come from her, but with only the two of them she would have to give him control and trust him to choose when to end it."
This sounds as if the link is completely useless to the woman, she can't channel and so must surrender control of the link to the man so that he can make use of their combined strength.
IIRC, we don't ever hear it put so explicitly that a woman must control the flows in a 2f-1m circle, so I don't see any ret-con with the AMOL Rand/Nynaeve/Moiraine circle being controlled by Rand.
Birgit F
73. birgit
But the Lightsiders can Travel right onto the DO's doorstep, so what's the point of the Shadow Forces defending the Valley of Trakan'dar?

Earlier in the series it wasn't possible to Travel to SG. Now it is possible because of the weakening of the Pattern, but maybe the Shadow armies didn't know that. The Light armies have to defend the valley to keep the Trollocs from walking to SG and killing Rand.

I somwhat agree with the feeling of Gawyn and esp. Galad's death at his hands being kind of disappointing

Galad doesn't die.
Dixon Davis
74. KadesSwordElanor
Can someone ask about linking at the next book signing or online chat? I am so confused.

On a side note, I started reading my oldest (7) the first Redwall book and she loves it. Happy Daddy. :)
75. s'rEDIT
Happy birthday to me!

KSE@74: Redwall . . . yes! I sorta gave up after a few books (5-6?), but in the beginning I devoured Mossflower . . . and I was already a middle-aged adult! (In retrospect, I think I was captivated by Jacques' clever ideas for meals for anthropomorphic animal characters.)
Dixon Davis
76. KadesSwordElanor
Happy B-Day s’rEDIT. No one makes being a vegetarian sound better that Jacques.
Alice Arneson
77. Wetlandernw
@74-76 - My husband and I read those as adults as well, and now he's reading them to our kids. Oh, yeah. :)

Like s'rEDIT, we gave up after a few books, because they're very similar after while, but for kids that's part of the fun, right? Unfortunately, my pragmatic husband can't help wondering where they get the dairy products...

Happy birthday, s'rEDIT!
Sam Mickel
78. Samadai
I haven't read the Redwall books, though I have the first one.
Happy Birthday s'rEDIT! I hope it is a great day for you
79. Freelancer
Happy birthday, s'rEDIT. Left a shout to your "black" name.
Ty Myrick
82. tymyrick
@74-77 re: Redwall

The books are fun, but the audiobooks are a blast. Jacques brings in a whole cast to do the voices. They have music and sound effects. The cast sings and chants the songs and poetry and plays period accurate instruments. The audiobooks are excellent. Most libraries have copies on CD you can check out.
Dixon Davis
83. KadesSwordElanor
Thanks tymyrick. I will definitely have to check that out. I am so tired of listening to the Magic Treehouse Novels. Guess I should just be thankful it is not Beiber.
Alice Arneson
84. Wetlandernw
KadesSwordElanor @83 - LOL!! That was the first thing I read on-line this morning. Way to start me with a laugh. :) "Not Beiber" indeed! Truly, be thankful.
Andrew Berenson
85. AndrewHB
KadesSwordElanor @83: or Barney

Thanks for reading my musings,
Anthony Pero
86. anthonypero
Tubbytellies, Dora, Backyardigans, Bananrama... The list goes on.
Don Barkauskas
87. bad_platypus
Isilel @47:
Well, my dislike for Jordan's rules of linking, which marginalize women in mixed circles is well known, so whatever. Taking away one of the few configurations where a woman has to be a control seems par for the course.
While I'm sympathetic to this, the fact remains that when it comes to linking, woman have all of the power. A man cannot lead a circle unless a woman (a) chooses to let him in, and (b) chooses to let him lead. A man could never be sure of leading unless he trusts the woman forming the circle.

Randalator @65, Wetlandernw @66:
There can be no argument that there was a mistake or retcon; the only question is where it occurred. As I quoted form the LoC Glossary:
"(A) man must control...in mixed circles of fewer than thirteen." The dialogue in TFoH makes it clear that in a 2f/1m circle a woman can lead. Those are directly contradictory. So RJ messed up somewhere.

I fully agree with you that the alternate dialogue you provide (basically "because I won't let you have control") is plausible, but as I said above, a man can never have control of a circle unless a woman lets him. The best a man can hope for is to get the circle to a state where the circle is one that must be led by a man, in which case the woman's only choice would be to pass control or let the circle sit there, useless. But since the woman controls who goes into the link, almost certainly she could avoid a configuration where a man must lead, unless the number of men and women present doesn't allow for that (like Sammael and Graendel's discussion).

That said, your alternate dialogue would be a delightfully snarky way of Lanfear reminding Sammael of the rules for linking and how the women have the power, so it does have that going for it.
Dixon Davis
88. KadesSwordElanor
Thanks Wet, Andrew & ant. Extremely hard week at work. It made me smile knowing I made y'all smile.
89. Freelancer
Scanning back through the comments, felt like responding about Egwene's repeated captivities...

AndrewHB @29

Effectively, she was kidnapped through subterfuge by Liandrin, and turned over to the Seanchan. I try to always remember to give Liandrin a full measure of guilt for that captivity.

Longtimefan @30
I understand the sentiment, but she was never a captive of the SAS. Railroaded as a pawn in a game they hoped she didn't know she was playing -- yes, and shame on them for that -- but she was never actually without a measure of free agency, and that makes a significant difference.
Judy Carmona
90. Farstrider
Freelancer @89 Load of Choss Ch 35, Anaiya informs Egwene that refusing the Hall is not an option. Does that qualify a losing free agency? Isn't that the supposed reason Cadsuane would stay away from Tar Valon for years at a time, to avoid a summons by the Hall for the Amyrlin Seat because she knew she would not be able to refuse?
Valentin M
91. ValMar
About what qualifies as "being captured" I am of the opinion of Freelancer. If you are making a list of such occurances then Egwene's collaring into the Puppet Amyrlin job shouldn't be in it. The definition of captivity is being widined beyond practicality for such a discussion IMO. Where do you draw the line? Egwene did have some degree of free agency.
OTOH, if you are making a general philosophical point, then yes- one could argue that Eg's predicament could count as "captivity". So are Rand and the other ta'veren, or Moiraine in NS. So are many if not most of us in RL to one degree or another.

Nevertheless, looking at Egwene's situation form this POV is rather interesting. Political leaders often find themselves chained to their office, puppet ones or not. Factional infighting was in danger of unravelling the regime so Putin had to stay on in Russia. Mugabe in Zimbabwe is a decrepid old man but those underneath him need him to stay on so he does. Bashar al-Assad is obviously a figurehead for his family and regime.
Terry McNamee
92. macster
Not going to comment on anything but the chapter this week, partly because some of the religious and philosophical aspects of it are things which could be inflammatory (though judging from the small number of comments it seems everyone was mature and well-behaved, yes?) but mostly because I have been ridiculously busy and just don't have the time. :(

Gawyn: I actually have to agree with him, both that using the rings to save/protect Egwene is an important task and in fact the big part of his Warder duty and that this isn't an example of him just trying to be useful/gain glory. So it's both needed and permissible for him to use the rings here. Of course the fact he used them even once probably means he was condemned to die even if he never used them later, not to mention making it easier for him to justify using them again, and again...but for now at least I can approve of his choices and badassery...even as I felt upon first reading the sinking feeling that accompanies any ominous development, and upon re-reading can only look ahead and contemplate incipient head-desking and remorse.

Loved the callback to Egwene and her fear and despair re: the Seanchan. Not only has it been her big character thing ever since TGH, it's about to become incredibly relevant what with Egeanin saving her life here, then becoming her Warder later. Not to mention wavering here, then galvanizing herself to be stronger and more determined than ever is part of what bolsters her will when she faces Taim. So I think that justifies any complaints about her having already gone through this when fighting off the Seanchan attack in TGS. That and what happened to her in Falme really was that horrific.

As for the Sharans...I still say that we were told/prepared for them turning out to be such a horrible culture by the hints we'd received in the series proper and what we were outright told in the Guide. People take the Guide with a grain of salt since it was a) written from an in-universe perspective and b) Jordan didn't have a lot to do with it, but I don't think he'd allow anything that was outright wrong to appear in it unless he planned to reveal the real story in the books. And what was shown in the Guide pretty much matches what we've got here, and again underscores the fact they were like this well before Demandred took over. This of course does not make it right to see them summarily dismissed as Chaotic Evil and perfectly fine to wipe out the same as the Shadowspawn, and Demandred clearly did have an influence, but I think what we're shown here proves that while we can't and shouldn't hate an entire people, we can be disgusted with/appalled by their culture, or aspects of it, the same as we hate a lot about Seanchan culture but not the Seanchan themselves.

Which in turn means that not only can we agree that seeing the Sharan culture ruined (which it surely was for any who survive the Last Battle, between that decimation and the loss of all their rulers) is a good thing, but it suggests the Sharans served the role they did because the Pattern decreed they should. Not that the Pattern said "you're evil, you get to be cannon fodder at Tarmon Gai'don" but that it spun them out in such a way that they developed a culture would would make them ripe for such a role. A slight difference, but still an important distinction, since even if they are fulfilling what the Pattern slated for them, they still came to that role by their own choices in developing their culture and government. It sucks indeed, but as we keep being reminded, the Pattern is neutral, not good.

The Aviendha scene, aside from showing how badass she and the other Aiel are, reminded me of something I forgot to mention a few chapters ago, since he's the leading general here: Ituralde was the first Great Captain we saw planning and strategizing after the reveal that Graendal/Hessalam was Compelling them to lose. As a result I was very carefully observing him during that scene, and other than the fact he didn't obey the clan chiefs' directive to stay back and thus caused some tension, I couldn't see anything wrong with his planning at all. I think this underscores what's been mentioned before, that Graendal didn't outright plant inherently flawed plans in their minds but merely urged them to forget details, make wrong choices in the heat of the moment, or otherwise act against their armies' best interests. Which is why I couldn't really observe anything wrong with Ituralde.

It's also important to note that we never do get to see Agelmar's POV, that there are no more Bashere POVs, and that we don't see Bryne's again until later after he's relieved of command. Chapter 24 is when we finally get a window into a Compelled Great Captain's mind, and indeed it becomes clear Ituralde still thinks and plans normally, he's just fighting off urges and emotions that are trying to make him commit battlefield blunders. The same must be true for the others, which is why until they made the mistakes they did, the majority of readers didn't really notice anything wrong with their plans--because there wasn't, until some crucial act was forgotten or left undone, or an extra action was taken that shouldn't have been.

Other notes: the eclipse. I laughed aloud when I read about it. Why? Well, because on the one hand such a huge segment of the fans were convinced the "twice dawns the day" prophecy couldn't possibly mean an eclipse because that would be too obvious and trite of Jordan (like he's never done cliche or genre convention moments before? Exhibit A, any of the Distressed Damsel moments. Exhibit B, Liandrin and her Obviously Evil nature). So they busied themselves coming up with increasingly complex and convoluted explanations for what the prophecy could mean, how a day could dawn twice, without breaking Jordan's rules or being cliche. And on the other hand, just about everyone was convinced that this prophecy, whatever it meant, was going to be critically important, if not because it was one of the first ones given to us and one which kept being repeated throughout the series (especially the first three books) then because as of AMOL it was one of the few prophecies still left unfulfilled, the blood on the rocks being another. This one is a bit more justified, but I bring it up because I think it points to a phenomenon as common in-story as it is in the real world: that of ascribing great meaning to things where there is none, or assuming meanings/significance that are not borne out over time. Basically, just about every character and especially the Aes Sedai are all about predicting the future or trying to guess/enforce/interpret the prophecies already known, with both good guys (Moiraine) and bad guys (Elaida) convinced they know what is right and best, and trying to carry out their will for the Pattern.

But the thing about the Pattern is, sometimes there is no Pattern, or the Pattern isn't what it seems to be. To touch briefly on the religious and philosophical after all, it has often been argued (and convincingly, for those who ascribe to such beliefs) that whatever meaning there is to life, whatever plan God or the deity of your choice has for humanity, it is one that cannot be discerned or understood by mortal minds. To some of course such an argument is a cop-out and flawed, since it seems to be saying "you just don't get it because you're too limited, there is a reason but you'll never see it"--which is not only offensive but something that clearly can't be proven. To others it plays into the same point Leigh made so eloquently yet directly, that what seems incomprehensible to us (God allowing evil to exist and horrible consequences to our actions to occur) is actually part of a plan we can't understand. I bring this up not to take sides on the issue, but to point out how Jordan conceived of prophecy and the Pattern. Just as people in-story thought they knew what prophecies meant, what would be best for the Pattern, but were completely wrong either because of their own flaws and arrogance or because they simply couldn't see the big picture as well as they thought they could, a lot of readers have thought they knew what prophecies meant, how events would play out, etc., or what they thought should happen to be satisfying/well-written/fit their worldview. But just as we can't see God's plan, we couldn't see Jordan's/the Pattern's.

I find it a bit amusing to see people resist the obvious, Occam's Razor explanation either because they find their own more compelling/interesting/better written than the author's, or precisely because they don't like obvious answers. But for those who simply give different weight, meaning, and interpretations I only have the greatest sympathy, because we've all been in their shoes at one time or another, myself included. Case in point, once I read the bit on the WOTFAQ which pointed out the part of the ritual greeting when meeting the Amyrlin ("Against what do we guard? The shadow at noon.") suggests an eclipse, I was on board for that being the "twice dawns the day" prophecy, but I too thought it would be more important than it was. But when I got to this scene here, I remembered several things. Even setting aside the fact that with the time dilation the eclipse would seem to last much longer the farther away you get from Shayol Ghul, recall that one of the most famous prophetic instances of an eclipse, during the Biblical events of Revelation, was only one sign among many of the impending apocalypse. I don't recall it lasting long either, nor was it the most important event or the last. So despite the seeming weight and symbolism of such an event, it didn't necessarily follow that it would be incredibly important in WOT, prophecy notwithstanding. Secondly, one of the reasons people gave for why they thought it couldn't be an eclipse is the very fact they don't last long. So when it happens now, and it actually is realistic in its length...people complained at the realism rather than being glad that it occurred just the way it should, prophecy and magical time dilation aside. You can't win. :P

In the end it comes down to Prophetic Fallacy--because so many prophecies are symbolic or metaphorical in nature, we get fooled when they turn out to be literally true--and the fact the prophecy in question was given to us as part of a set relating to the big event of the setting, Rand going to face the Dark One at Shayol Ghul. What no one seemed to think, I guess, is that the events alluded to in the prophecy didn't have to be momentous, long-lasting, or earth-shaking, but could merely be brief moments or snatches which simply acted as marking off a checklist of things that had to happen for that meeting to come to pass, or by which one could know it was in fact the prophesied meeting. Nothing more, nothing less. And when you look at it in that light, I personally can still find it to be rather cool and intriguing (I mean, short duration or not, there's no reason why the eclipse happens--because prophecy said so? Because the Dark One made it happen? Because an eclipse was simply due to occur and the Dark One made sure to time his actions to it?) even though it was over so quickly. Also the bit Leigh quoted makes me wonder if, had Rand not had the dagger which hid him from the Dark One's sight, the eclipse would have been much more significant, or at least accompanied by more of an Oh Crap moment since the Shadow would have known he was there sooner and thus thrown everything it had at him...

Duhara and Falion: unless I'm mistaken this is the first example of leftover named villains who had gone by the wayside finally appearing and being killed off. Okay Duhara only appeared in KOD and got outed as Black in the very next book, but the point still stands. Falion has in fact been with us since TDR (though she didn't appear on-screen until TSR and TFOH, and didn't really have a role of her own until ACOS), and after everything she went through with Shiaine and Mellar, including being captured and then freed again, it's rather amusing for her to suddenly be taken out like this. But it's oddly appropriate considering she herself was a witness to the similarly abrupt death of long-time Darkfriend Jaichim Carridin. Guess logic really doesn't triumph, hmm? Duhara, of course, was annoying and off-putting as soon we met her, so despite her very late introduction I was pretty glad to see her gone.

I found it odd too at first that Hessalam could still use the True Power. But on the other hand, despite how she screwed up, the Dark One still needed her badly because he had so few tools left to him (hence why she was resurrected). What Shaidar Haran did to her and her subsequent body were all the punishment she could receive, and in the meantime, being able to channel undetected, without having to invert weaves, would be a boon for his and Moridin's plans. (I also wonder if True Power balefire hurts the Pattern more than One Power?)

The last scene...so many great touches here. The bit with Thom, a character who until the end of TOM had been reduced to such a small role, still in character but barely involved in events, let alone doing the awesome things we saw him do early on. Here he's coming back into his own again, guarding the way into the Pit of Doom so none can pass (a Call Back to his Gandalf moment in TEotW, perhaps?)...proving that though he's not a channeler, he's still as badass as ever. Rand's old coat from the TGH. Him reflecting on Nynaeve's dress and how she would never have worn such a thing in the Two Rivers, and the absence of her braid. His amusing thought about being worried that she and Moiraine are getting along now, because they could team up against him. And of course the blood on the rocks...while any wounding by Rand could have fulfilled the prophecy, I always thought it would come from his wounded side because it would just be too symbolic as well as coming full circle. And despite all the anticipation and it happening pretty much the way I expected, it still gave me that little frisson of awe.

As did the reappearance of the VOICE: I admit to falling for the initial idea so many had that it was the Creator, since despite us being told the Creator does not interfere in the Pattern the sentiment that "I will not take part" still seems to suggest such a mindset--we were told He doesn't, not that He can't or never would, and it could be argued He briefly stepped in at that moment just because Rand was begging for help, i.e. to tell him no, you aren't going to get it from me, you have to do it yourself. But anyway, over time it sank in and made more sense to me that it actually was the Dark One, so by the time it's confirmed here I wasn't taken by surprise. It certainly does make re-reading TEotW a different experience now though, like so much else in this book!

"Because whatever my personal thoughts on the existence or nonexistence of God, the only thing that could reconcile me to the unquestionable existence of seemingly unimpeded evil, in the same world that posits an all-loving, omnibenevolent God figure, is the notion that the importance of our own free will and ability to make choices trumps the need to shield us from the consequences of that free will.

Which sucks but is kind of awesome at the same time, because it is the difference between being treated like an immature child, and being treated like an adult; we’ve made our own mess, and it’s up to us to clean it up or not."

That's one of the best ways I've ever seen the position summed up, and I pretty much agree with it 100%. And that's all I'll say about that. As to whether the/a Messiah negates free will, I think I agree with the idea of him encapsulating free will for everyone as a stand-in for humanity. Although as Leigh noted, Rand ends up realizing in the end that even if he does take humanity's place in standing against the Dark One and shedding his blood, he really can't take everyone's place overall--at least not in the sense of removing any agency from them. "He let them be heroes" indeed. Not to mention I rather got the impression that Rand being able to see the Last Battle from afar, and how its progress seems to affect his and vice versa, very much felt like the Rand vs. Ishamael/Heroes of the Horn vs. Seanchan battle at Falme. More full circle, but we'll get to that later.
Anthony Pero
93. anthonypero

I totally got the opposite out of THE VOICE. To me it proved it WAS the creator in tEoTW.

Also, seeing WOTFAQ in print, I always read it as:

Don Barkauskas
94. bad_platypus
@macster: I agree with anthonypero, and that's certainly what I read Leigh's passage as saying.
95. Freelancer
The VOICE, both in The Eye of the World and at the entrance to Shayol Ghul, is not the dark one. The two most compelling points of evidence are:

1. In TEotW, the key statement made, "I WILL TAKE NO PART", is something which the dark one has no reason to say, even as disinformation. This brings two sub-points. a) Were the dark one able to project his thoughts in such a way, so far from Shayol Ghul and so early in the time of final decay of the Seals, then to communicate with his chosen would not have required either them walking into the Pit of Doom, or him sending Shaidar Haran to act as his avatar/envoy. b) If the dark one were speaking for himself, nobody would accept that lie of the statement "I will take no part", and if he were attempting to misrepresent himself as the Creator, why bother issuing the same message which the true Creator would? No value in a non-deceptive deception.

2. The AM0L, Rand is gratified to hear the VOICE, responding with a thank you. His thanks is the same as ours, that this confirms the identity behind of the speaker as the Creator. Do any readers really believe that the Dragon, at this crucial moment of engaging in the final conflict, could so easily be deceived, while he has almost perfectly anticipated the other moves of the Shadow against him? The thought strains credulity.
Captain Hammer
96. Randalator
@95 Freelancer

re: the VOICE

Completely agree with you there. It being the DO just makes no sense whatsoever.

Edit: And, once again, what is said doesn't make a lick of sense assuming it's the DO speaking. Shouldn't he be saying something like "NOW IS NOT THE TIME" to try and fuck up Rand's timing, make him uncertain, get his minions closer to Shayol Ghul? Or shed all pretense and just go "THE TIME HAS COME. PREPARE TO MEET YOUR DOOM, PREPARE TO BE UNMADE. MUAHAHAHA! *EVIL MUSTACHE TWIRLING*"? Anything? Why give Rand a boost and have him enter more or less at peace with himself by being all Creator-y and supporting?
Sam Mickel
97. Samadai
I agree, it is definitely the Creator speaking. Makes no logical sense otherwise.
98. Dixie-fl
Hi all, finally caught up to the reread. Glad to find you're all still here.

Yep, a fine bit of "let's get rid of as many of these prophecies in as little words as possible" indeed. That still doesn't account for a whole bunch of propehcies/dreams/visions/dark_prohpecy^TM we had along the way, but at least we got some of them. And of course, the 2nd cameo by THE CREATOR (whoosh! wham!), who serves no actual purpose in this series whatsoever (not even in the people's practice of their theologies, so WTF) so good riddance to that. The whole Gawyn ring escapade eluded me, as it seemingly served no purpose in their escape or the subsequent demandred-karateka-matchup (which i'll just throw in with everyone else that said how ridiculous that whole thing was). But I've stopped even feigning interest in Gawyn since about book 6 so whatevz.


@28 I don't have a problem with the reasoning on why Lan could do what Gawyn couldn't (despite Gawyn knowing full well he's gonna die no matter what, but OK), and I actually feels it fits better with Egwene rather than Lan. My beef is that the Gawyn duel was the only one that made any sense, seeing as he literally jumped Dem and forced him into dueling him rather than blasting him to low orbit. The other two pretty much announced themselves and were begging to be "indiana jones'd" by the proverbial revolver, but NO. We'll have two more mano-a-mano showdowns and screw suspension of disbelief or character motivations.


@8 I have to agree. After the battle subsided, and the channeler-blast-o-matic (as annoying a plot device as it was) was put into standby, it would have seem much easier and smarter just gtfout-of-dodge via gateway than skulking and sneaking, but then we couldn't well have leilwyn save eg's pale behind as PROPHESIED (or something).


@1 That's a lovely piece post-hoc reasoning at its finest, religion seems to bring that particular quality more often than anything else. But seriously, all disdain for religion aside, it was lovely as a writing piece.


@Big bunch of linking argument: I never quite understood why Jordan had to make linking and circles rules so arbitrary and complex, it seems to serve only as plot device anyway. So retcon'd or not, I always took these rules at face value at the time they're given exactly because of their arbitrary nature. mmph.
Valentin M
99. ValMar
I am embarrassed to say, but I'm pretty sure the Voice was Narg. It's quite obvious he was the Creator's avatar.
Bill Reamy
100. BillinHI
ValMar @ 99: ROTFLMAO!!!

On the eclipse: I guess the timing had a lot to do with the effect it had on people, but they must have seen eclipses before if this is our world in another age, right? Anybody? Bueller?

And YAY for the hunny two posts in a row!! The only ones I've ever gotten.
101. Freelancer
Dixie-fl @98

Well, how about this exercise. Consider yourself an omnipotent being, capable of creating whatever you wish. Anything you choose to make is basically for your own pleasure or entertainment. Are any of those things which are the product of your own will truly satisfying? Could there be something more worth enjoying? What might that be? And how would you go about it?
Captain Hammer
102. Randalator
@101 Freelancer

Well, how about this exercise. Consider yourself an omnipotent being, capable of creating whatever you wish.

Alright, shouldn't be too hard.


There. Onwards.

Anything you choose to make is basically for your own pleasure or
entertainment. Are any of those things which are the product of your own will truly satisfying?


Could there be something more worth enjoying? What might that be?


And how would you go about it?

Anthony Pero
103. anthonypero

You have just described my two y/o son as he plays with his blocks. Something tells me an omnipotent, ageless being may be just a wee bit more advanced than him ;P
Captain Hammer
104. Randalator
@103 anthonypero

I agree. That's why omnipotent ageless dude/dudette sends floods or earthquakes instead of just knocking shit over by hand. :P
Alice Arneson
105. Wetlandernw
Dixie-fl @98 – First, welcome to the looney bin!

Second, I want to share a thought triggered by a statement you made: “despite Gawyn knowing full well he's gonna die no matter what, but OK” – It occurs to me that Gawyn should have known when he activated the rings that he would die. He may even have consciously acknowledge the assumption, but… would he really believe it? Would he have subconsciously assumed that he could still be Healed, because he’s always been Healed before? Combine that with the sort of “I’m just too pretty to die” attitude that seems to be common to teen and 20-something guys afflicted with testosterone poisoning… I don’t think he really went in knowing he was going to die; living was still important to him, so he fought to win. If nothing else, he wanted to live long enough to be sure he’d won.

As far as Gawyn’s choice to use the rings in this chapter, there’s a certain logic to it. He held two ways to be nearly-invisible: his Warder cloak, and the rings. He’d already tested a ring and knew what he could do with it, so it made sense to put it on again, leaving Egwene with the cloak. And though it’s been said several times, it bears repeating: channeling was not an option. Earlier, she’d seen every woman who held saidar get fried on the spot; Romanda had been killed before she could even weave her gateway, and Egwene & Lelaine only survived that moment because they let go of the Power. Sure, maybe the Sharans were a little more relaxed now, but she had just seen Leane taken because Demandred could sense her ability. No matter how long ago the battle had subsided, channeling was not an option.

anthonypero @103 – LOL! And yes, one could guess that just maybe, the omnipotent, ageless being might find value in something a step or three above “Hey, look! I can destroy it all, just because!”
106. Freelancer
I'm ok with all the natural/organic disasters, but mecha-Streisand would prove you to be the devil.
Judy Carmona
107. Farstrider
@100 BillinHI, maybe they just don't see eclipses very often in this geographical part of the world. Maybe most of them are only visible to people in Seanchan or Shara (or whatever is between Seanchan and Shara?)

@105 Wet- I completely agree. I don't think Gawyn gave full credence to the warning he received about the rings and certainly felt confident that he could be healed. IIRC, Even when we're in his head he never really thinks about the true risk to Egwene if he dies fighting Demandred, which makes me think he didn't think he would die at all.
108. Dixie-fl
Freelancer @101

The premise of this exercise is problematic. I don't suppose I can "get inside the head" of such a higher being any more than I can get inside the head of my cat. I can hypothesize on their thoughts, but one can make the argument that at least for the latter , "thinking down" is easier than "thinking up". Any thoughts in the "up" direction is like having a slug doing armchair psychology for a person. It's a futile attempt.

Regardless, the crux of the matter is if you assume such an omnipotent being, you can apply many sorts of post-hoc reasoning to his actions (or inaction, as the case may be) that would sound plausible. This sort of post-hoc reasoning is also prevalent, for example, in freudian psychoanalysis (which has been thoroughly discredited as a scientific practice for years now, despite its immense importance in jump starting psychiatric and psychological treatment).

These are all, of course (by virute of coming out of my mouth), my opininons and I meant no offense to anyone's beliefs.

Wetlandernw @105

Thanks! Nice to finally participate. Always late for the party I am.

I Agree there's a big difference between "knowing" you're gonna die and having that deep conviction of internalizing one's death necessary for the greater good (etc. etc.). I don't quite recall the specifics of the Gawyn fight or which of his thoughts we're privvy to, but that's not the crux of the matter for me. What bothered me most was the "fight demandred for 10 tar valon crowns" booth they apparently laid out near his command post. It made no sense narratively, nor from demandred's point of view and established motivations. The only one of the 4 fights that made sense, in that regard, was Gawyn's due to the surprise factor. I was including in the count logain's half-arsed attempt, though an argument can be made for treating it as its very own case of stupid.

Oh, and yes- there was logic to him putting the rings on there, it just didn't amount to anything useful (classic Gawyn, one might say). I disagree about the danger of channeling in that particular situation. Sure it was presented to the reader as some sort of invisible wall, but the reasoning doesn't hold- other women were channeling around the camp (egwene senses them), and the one who captured egwene surely channeled without getting blasted by her own comrades. I fail to see how these facts coincide gracefully and logically.
Roger Powell
109. forkroot
Gosh - I'm stunned that anyone would think THE VOICE was something other than the Creator. I'm sure that BWS stuck that in for the same reason he introduced "dreamshards" in the Prologue - he wanted to clean up as many loose ends as possible from the early books, especially TEOTW. (OK, there was nothing he could do about Moiraine's staff.)

I, for one, thought he did a damn good job of tying some of that stuff up. I'm a bit skeptical that RJ himself would have done it, only because he didn't seem as predisposed to explain things in the books he wrote. It's a guess of course, we'll never know.

On a personal note - I've been so busy lately with both work and vacations that I've been away from the reread. I'm on one of those vacations right now - tagging along on my wife's trip to Seattle as a top performer for her company. One of the best things about this trip is it provided a perfect opportunity to meet Wetlandernw (and her thoughtful husband) in person. What a treat! We had a really good dinner, although I must admit I was so into the conversation that the food was almost secondary. Pics on the WOT rereaders Facebook page.
Alice Arneson
110. Wetlandernw
(And we didn't talk about WoT all night! As in, we didn't talk and talk and talk about WoT; we did a little, but we talked about a lot of other things, too. I knew my husband was going to enjoy meeting my WoT friends! :) It was a blast. I was just sorry we had to cut it off after only 2.5 hours - we had to go rescue the grandparents from the small hooligans.)
Bill Reamy
111. BillinHI
Forkroot @ 109: re: Moiraine's staff: I started a re-read a couple of weeks ago and although it's not stated specifically, it seems to me that she left the staff outside the Waygate near Fal Dara after burning it badly escaping from Machin Shin.

“It could not pass,” Moiraine said. “I thought it could not; I hoped it could not. Faugh!” She tossed her staff on the ground and scrubbed her hand on her cloak. Char, thick and black, marked the staff for over half its length. “The taint corrupts everything in that place.”

Jordan, Robert (2009-10-24). The Eye of the World: Book One of 'The Wheel of Time' (p. 576). Tor Books. Kindle Edition.

And then:

The Aes Sedai climbed into her saddle wearily and settled there with a grateful sigh. “This is dangerous,” she said, looking at the broken gates. Her charred staff received only a glance. “The thing cannot get out, but anyone could wander in. Agelmar must send men to wall it up, once we reach Fal Dara.”

Jordan, Robert (2009-10-24). The Eye of the World: Book One of 'The Wheel of Time' (p. 578). Tor Books. Kindle Edition.

Since the Avendesora leaf was missing from the inside of the gateway she used the staff to focus whatwever she used to burn through the waygate. I do wonder if that was balefire that was corrupted by the ways that she used on the Black Wind itself.

On another note, I'm reading Leigh's commentary on the chapters as I go through the re-read. Really quite a contrast to the current commentary and I almost wish she could go back and elaborate on those earlier commentaries.
Valentin M
112. ValMar

I also wish Leigh goes back and goes over the early re-read in the same detail she does now. More or less, perhaps 3 chapters in one go.
Roger Powell
113. forkroot
I was actually thinking more about the fact that Moiraine is seen using the staff as an adjunct to weaving and then we never see any issue when she doesn't have it, nor do we see any other Aes Sedai needing a staff.

With that said, I'm glad you pointed out that the staff didn't just disappear. I had either forgotten that or never properly noted it.

BTW, I agree with you and ValMar .. I wish Leigh's early commentaries had the detail that she eventually got to for the bulk of the reread.
114. DarthEbriate
@29, @30, @49 (and everyone else who worked on the tally of captures)

The other capture of Egwene's that I remember is in Gawyn's dream-light.

I love Egwene, but the girl likes to test her odds, and clearly isn't learning from past mistakes by taking precautions against becoming defenseless. I thought I felt more of progression with her; perhaps in retrospect (or at least tallying up similiar events) I was wrong. Maybe too in the moment while reading each book.
Howard Covey
115. Howdy
As we are waxing philosophical for this segment - would just like to toss this into the mix....

Creator CAP voice = Eye of the World. First time Rand heard it was just after he'd siezed the Power from/ and then killed Aginor - then traveled himself to Tarwin's Gap for the Shadow's fient of the Last Battle. Then he hears it here - at the time of the "Double Dawning" - and the for real Tarmon Gaidon. That big pool of Power had many purposes I believe.

I think that one of the reasons this series resonated for me as much as it did was the whole "wheel" symbolism of creation. That everything is constantly in motion - that patterns are woven by the passage of time - that history does repeat itself - but that no matter how much we may want to believe that fate/ or pre-destination shapes our lives - we each weave our own patches on the overall pattern. There are guides - left for us by those who came before - but free will trumps hand of god - every time.
Terry McNamee
116. macster
*looks embarrassed* Okay...so apparently because Leigh didn't spell out what she meant (probably because she thought she didn't have to), I assumed she did mean the VOICE was the Dark One and I got fooled again. In my defense though, I remember someone questioning Jordan about the VOICE in TEotW, assuming it to be the Creator, and he told the person something like "don't be too sure". In retrospect this was probably him trying to throw us off the scent since anyone who thought like that person was actually correct, but to me it suggested that we were wrong and it was the Dark One. Saying "I will take no part" in that sense would seem neither like a lie nor an unnecessary thing to say, but the Dark One saying "This is not the Last Battle, therefore I will not confront you yet". Similarly, I took the moment now at Shayol Ghul to be the Dark One because, duh, we see him speaking in all-caps once Rand goes inside and ends up facing him in the darkness--I was under the impression that most people thought the Dark One could not be the Creator's equal and opposite (if he were, how could the Creator have sealed him up?)...so then why would he speak in exactly the same way, and with the same strength and power level? As for why Rand would be grateful, because by acknowledging now was the time, the Dark One was letting him know all was in readiness and he could finally face his destiny and then die.

But I can see now not only how specious some of this logic is, but the other objections raised which can't be refuted (particularly how the Dark One's voice could be heard outside the Pit of Doom). So mea culpa, I retract my statement.

At least this does prove one thing: if the Creator has been stepping in occasionally to make such pronouncements, it certainly suggests He could be doing something a little more proactive...namely through a certain mysterious Aiel woman...

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