Sep 10 2013 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 28

A Memory of Light Wheel of Time Brandon SandersonWheel of Time Reread is GO!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 28 of A Memory of Light, in which songs are sung, clothes are removed, and there are charming cases of miscommunication and showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and yet somehow none of it is a quirky romantic comedy. Not even a little bit.

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

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

This reread 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 28: Too Many Men

What Happens
Andere and Kaisel watch as Lan questions the commander of the second reserve force sent to his position without knowing about the first. Kaisel points out that it is an understandable mistake, but Lan is not so sure. He rides to Queen Ethenielle’s position and asks to speak to her Swordbearer Lord Baldhere. They compare Agelmar’s orders, and then Lan asks Baldhere what he would do to undermine the entire army. Baldhere realizes that they are potentially in a position to get pinned against the river, and Kaisel protests where Lan’s insinuations are leading.

“Everything Lord Agelmar has been doing lately is a good enough plan,” Baldhere said intensely. “Good enough to avoid suspicion, but not good enough to win. Lan… something is wrong with him. I’ve known him for years. Please. I still believe that he’s merely tired, but he is making mistakes. I’m right, I know I am.”

Lan nods and heads toward the command tent with dread in his heart. He intercepts a messenger on the way, whose orders seem to confirm Lan’s suspicion, though he hopes it is only suspicion. He changes the orders; the messenger is confused, but obeys. Lan continues on.

Lan would consider the ramifications of what was happening only after he knew all of the facts.

Only then.

Loial knows that though Elayne’s army have defeated the northern Trolloc army, they are losing badly against the southern one, and the Ogier sing a dirge as they fight:

“All rivers run dry,
All songs must end,
Every root will die,
Every branch must bend…”

He mourns the dying humans around him, and reprimands himself not to see them as children despite how young and small they seem to him, but in his anger at their suffering, he begins to sing a new song, a song of growing and defiance, and leaves and green begin appearing everywhere, even on the Trollocs’ weapons.

Loial fought on. This song was not a song of victory. It was a song of life. Loial did not intend to die here on this hillside.

By the Light, he had a book to finish before he went!

Mat decides that the maps he has are not showing him an accurate enough picture of the battlefield, and declares that he is going to look at the battle himself. He pulls off his Seanchan robes, which leaves him bare-chested, but he refuses to be embarrassed at the eyebrow Min raises at him. He thinks Min looks quite fetching in her new Seanchan finery, “not that he was looking,” but she wishes she could pull off her clothes too. Mat dares her to do it, which earns him a glare, and he reminds himself that he doesn’t need more knives stuck in him, from her or Tuon. He pulls out his old clothes and puts them on.

“How did you retain those?” Captain-General Galgan asked. “I was under the impression that your clothing had been burned, Raven Prince.”

[…] “These?” Mat said, gesturing to his coat and shirt. “I really have no idea. They were just down there. I’m completely baffled.” He had been very pleased to learn that Seanchan guards—for all their stoic expressions and too-straight backs—responded to bribes like other people.

Taking his ashanderei, Mat leaves the command tent, but Tuon approaches before Pip is ready. Mat asks Min in an undertone whether she’s still thinking of running (she is), and tells her that Rand would probably want her to stay. She glares, but he points out how relieved Rand would be to have someone he trusted by the Seanchan empress’s side, encouraging her to build trust and respect between the empire and the other nations.

Min stood silently for a moment. “I hate you, bloody Mat Cauthon.”

“That’s the spirit,” Mat said, raising a hand to greet Tuon. “Now, let’s see which of my limbs she cuts off for throwing away her fancy clothing.”

Tuon only looks at his outfit silently, though. Courtani tattles on Mat’s plan to go to the field himself, and is shocked when Tuon sees no problem with this.

Mat grinned at Tuon, and she favored him with a smile. Light, but he liked those smiles.

“So, you’re coming along, then?” he asked Tuon.

“Of course. You see a reason why I should not?”

“Not a one,” Mat said, groaning inside. “Not a single bloody one.”

So, it probably says something terrible about me that the very first thing I thought of when I saw the title of this chapter was this. (Don’t click on that if you’re at work.) I probably need help. But c’mon, that’s hilarious—and also not an inaccurate assessment of the situation, oooooohhhh.

…Although, joke or not, that last statement is actually unfair of me, because WOT is one of the few fantasy series (or fictional works in Western culture, period) where that statement is actually not true. In fact, I dare everyone reading this to come up with another fictional battle situation in which more than half of the fronts therein are being commanded by women, either technically or overtly, as they are here. (Not least because if there are other stories this inclusive, I want to read them, where are they? Tell me!)

It’s really quite awesome, when you think about it. It makes me happy.

…Even if the most pivotal positions for Team Light end up being taken by men, in the end. Namely, Mat—and Lan and Perrin and Androl, depending on how you look at it. Yeah, well. Still, Elayne and Tuon and Egwene all make incontestably significant contributions to the leadership of Team Light, and that is a fuckload more than most situations like this one generally give to the female characters, and so I am Pleased.

Loial’s snippet in this chapter was, I must say, pretty awesome, mostly for being one of those scenes I would desperately like to see on screen, because there’s nothing like a good dirge to bring home the resonance of a scene. It put me in mind of Pippin’s song in Return of the King, in the sense that it would at least have the potential to be that powerful if staged correctly. Though coming up with a believable and (hopefully) equally powerful “growing song” would be quite the challenge for a production’s music composer.

Also, it may be a tad obvious but I have a certain sympathetic appreciation for Loial’s determination to not die before he finishes his book. I feel you, bro. I may not, like you, be currently fighting a losing battle against eldritch abominations upon which the fate of the world hangs, but nevertheless, I feel you.

Mat’s point to Min about the usefulness of her position vis-à-vis Tuon is, I reluctantly admit, pretty legit, actually. It doesn’t make me any happier about the way she was shanghaied into the position, but, well. Her response to his logic was just about perfect, as well. I’m pretty sure I snickered out loud when I first read it.

As for Mat himself, well, anyone who didn’t see that move (putting on his old clothes) coming from a million miles off was just not paying attention as far as I am concerned. I’m a giant fan of it, personally. Mat’s become an iconic—and distinctive—enough figure to me that picturing him not wearing his trademark outfit—you know the one I mean—is actively disconcerting to me. It didn’t help that every description of his Seanchan “finery” made me cringe in contact embarrassment. So learning that he was finally giving Seanchan fashion the finger and wearing his own clothes was definitely a moment of Yay! for me.

Though it does highlight the frankly astonishing degree to which Tuon lets Mat get away with shit. I mean, y’all know I’ve had my issues with this relationship and its development, and I still do, but what I’m thinking right now is that whatever she claims, she must be ridiculously in love with this guy to let him get away with basically stomping all over every tradition of her people ever, and then giving him fond looks as he does it! I seriously can’t think of any other explanation for why Mat hasn’t been strung up by his heels long since.

Of Lan’s portion of this chapter I have little to say, since it’s basically the buildup to the very unpleasant Scene he is about to have with Agelmar, so there’s not much to discuss there except maybe to mention all the mental yelling I did at Lan on first reading to figure it out already before it was too late.

Although, one comment of Lan’s that I did find intriguing (and yet, for some reason, failed to include in the summary) was this one:

Agelmar was commanding general of this army, but Lan— as Dai Shan— had final word on all orders, and the only authority greater than his in this battle was that of Elayne.

On first reading, I sort of was like “wow, Lan, way to aggrandize yourself there,” until I realized that Lan was saying his authority was second only to Elayne’s on this particular battlefield, not across the entire war. Which made much more sense, and as a bonus didn’t make Lan sound like a self-important douche, i.e., way out of character. So yay for re-reading and better comprehension, yes?

And that’s about what I got for this one, gals and guys. Have a lovely week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

William Carter
1. wcarter
Tuon may love Mat though I personally think the jury is still out on that one. But I have another theory: classic rebellious fairytell princess syndrome.

Think about it. She's been brought up in this hyper-strict and in several ways psychotic environment her whole life. No matter how much a symbol of that culture she is, no matter how responsible she may feel for uholding that way of life --disgusting to us and the westlanders it may be--there almost has to be aspects of it she quite frankly despises.

Finally seeing someone who isn't afraid to piss on all their vaunted traditions and tell people what he really thinks probably just gives her a perverse kind of thrill.
Captain Hammer
2. Randalator
Aaaaawwwwww, Loial, you lovable cuddly Determinator, you...
Sam Mickel
3. Samadai
I too would love to see Loial scene in a movie, though like you said, coming up with a great song to be singing would be tough. I really like Mat and Min together in this book, it seems very natural to both of their characters
4. Autochef
Was anyone else left with the impression that Loial's new song was the song? I mean, the one that the Tinkers have been seeking for the whole age?
5. R0bert
#1 -- I agree with that assessment of Tuon/Mat with the addendum of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The entire part where she was traveling in Mat's custody turned into this "whoa, dude has real substance" when she realized that he really was not only a general, but one who was extremely skilled with the undying loyalty of his men. So, I think this situation is a combination of three things:

1. Love causing her to be lax in enforcing rules to him.
2. A bit of "rebellious princess" streak coming out after seeing how the "other side" lives.
3. Intelligently wanting to keep her ace general husband in his comfort zone as much as possible, even if that goes against her traditions.
Captain Hammer
6. Randalator
@1 wcarter

re: Mat

Also, in his position Mat is a walking target anyway. By complying to everything he'd only come across as Tuon's pet with no authority of his own and being the weak spot to attack. By being his endearingly annoying self he asserts himself as a strong, fearless leader who is not to be "intercoursed" with. And for Tuon he is the only one who acts as her equal, while everyone else grovels before her and plots her assassination behind her back.

For all the tradition stomping he does, Tuon needs his portrayal of strength (most of it anyway) both from a political and from an emotional point of view.
Jordan Hibbits
7. rhandric
@4 Autochef
The Song does not exist. It is only an idea, a fantasy; I suspect the song Loial sings is the basis of The Song, but that's it.

I would also agree that Tuon, despite her protests ("Methinks the lady doth protest too much"), does love Mat. At the very least, she greatly respects him, but to let him get away with as much as he does, well, call it what you like, but I'd say she loves him.
Jennifer B
8. JennB
The song is the growing song sung by the Aiel and the Ogier back in the Age of Legends. It has been forgotten and idealized to mean more, but it did exist.
Tricia Irish
9. Tektonica
Mat:...."and tells her that Rand would probably want her to stay. She glares, but he points out how relieved Rand would be to have someone he trusted by the Seanchan empress’s side, encouraging her to build trust and respect between the empire and the other nations."
Min stood silently for a moment. “I hate you, bloody Mat Cauthon.”

I forgot this little snippet in the glee I felt at Mat in his own duds, going to Battle. Very nice, and insightful of him. And I think he's right. Min, of course, is her usual pithy self.

Hope you're feeling better, Leigh!
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
Much better Tuon-Mat scene. See, it's not all hopeless!
Nadine L.
11. travyl
Jenn @8: thinking back to Rand's scene in Tuon's garden, it probably doesn't matter what (words) you sing, nor is the melody as important as the one who does the singing and his intention? - I doubt the things would have grown of "just somebody" had sung the song. So in respect to the Tinkers, there isn't "THE song" to find, they looking for a legend grown out of the deeds that were done in the Age of Legends.

Mat & Tuon: agree with everything above (Tuon needing a strong leader as Randalator said) ... but yes IMO she does really love him, even if she doesn't admit it to herself.
12. av willis
I hadn't really noticed it but loial's song really does have a lot in common with a typical aiel battle hymn. I can't decide whether the aiel got the idea from the ogier or whether they simply have a common source.
Adam S.
13. MDNY
Loial's few appearances in AMoL always make me happy (well, his appearances in the whole WOT series do, but especially in the last books, where he was severely missed after going MIA with Karldin for so long). It also makes me happy to know that he will in fact get to finish his book (as evidenced by the quote we've seen from "The Dragon Reborn" by Loial son of Arent son of Halan).
Lan is badass as usual, and at least is starting to suspect the truth and correct Agelmar's mistakes. Mat's return to The Hat was inevitable, like Indiana Jones reaching through the closing door in Temple of Doom to grab his hat out of that room with spikes. I'm not usually a fashionista, but in this case the hat really does make the man, and it couldn't match his ridiculous Seanchan outfit.
14. Teddroe
Hooray, Tuon (briefly) lets Mat wear what he wants to without disciplining him. And this is cause for celebration. What a strong foundation their relationship has. (End sarcasm mode).

I will say one of the (very, very) few things I appreciate about the situation with Tuon is that it works interesting gender flip of relationship power discrepancies. Mat has more power than most historical queens/empresses/wives of male authority figures, of course, but this scene made me think of if, like, Henry VIII let Anne Bolyn wear her favorite dress for a day. What a guy.

It actually seems like something of a pattern, considering that the most significant other relationship Mat has in the series is with Tylin, who also demonstrated her power over him by restricting his wardrobe. It's all an undeniably interesting intellectual exercise...but still makes me just as mad as it would if Mat were a woman subserviant to the man to whom she was married. (Okay, I'll admit "subserviant" is a little strong, but any situation in which one partner in a relationship is having to actively fight for freedom and independance from the other is one that's going to bother me.)

On a related note, after a little more thought I think I know why Min's whole Doomseer thing bothers me as much as it does, even beyond just general Tuon-ickiness. Unless I am badly misremembering, of all the surviving major light-side characters, Min is the only one whose fate post-last battle is clearly one she didn't choose and doesn't want. Is it important, and is she in a position to potentially do a lot of good? Yes and yes. But she is (to quote Leigh) shanghai'd into it, and is pretty clearly miserable.

Contrast that to Rand (finally free to do what he wants), Elayne (queen), Aviendha (wise one), Perrin/Faile (can go back to the Two Rivers and/or Saldeae), Nynaeve/Lan (can go refound Malkier), and even Mat, who (semi-inexplicably) seems to be happy being Prince of Ravens. Everyone is doing a) they chose, and b) is something that they want to do. The only other reasonably important character I can think of who is clearly on the path to doing something against her will is Cadsuane becoming Amyrlin, and even then at least she's being forced into a position of near absolute power, and she could probably refuse it if she really, really wanted to. Neither of those things are true of Min, which...sucks.

Could you reasonably posit that Min at some point in the future is able to do Doomseering part-time and do something else that she actually wants to do? Sure, especially if her boyfriend's reality-warping abilities extend further than pipe-lighting. But, just like any suggestion that the damane situation will be solved, it's speculative at best and not really supported by what is actually said in the books. I wish that, at a minimum, there was a scene where Min flat-out told Tuon that she'd be with her for, like, six months a year or something (a Persephone situation, basically). Unfortunately, unless I'm badly misremembering, nothing like that happens.

Loial section = yay, no matter how grim it is. I wish we could have gotten a little more with the Ogier in this book (and the whole series, actually), but I'll take what I can get.
Ron Garrison
15. Man-0-Manetheran
"leaves and green begin appearing everywhere, even on the Trollocs’ weapons"
Picturing this made me seriously laugh out loud: Big beasty ogre lifts his club to bash our good guy; it sprouts leaves; he looks at the club in cross-eyed wonder; good guy bashes him over the head. OK, every tense battle scene could use a little slap stick humor occasionally. Comic relief, I think it's called.
Phil Schmidt
16. Erphil
"By the Light, he had a book to finish before he went!"

When I read this line, I imagined RJ writing it before he died, and it made me sad. But his book was finished, and it is awesome.
Kent Aron Vabø
17. sotgnomen
1- Leigh, you have been told this before I am sure, but anyway. Malazan Book of the Fallen is THE most gender neutral fantasy I have ever read. Also the best one, but that is another thing entirely:).

2- I had a very strong image here of the ogier as the Russians. Just picture the giant creatures pounding on the black horde while singing the soundtrack from Red October and tell me you don't get chills all over. If you don't know what I mean, watch the fight with the Russian jaeger from Pacific Rim, and you will also have watched the only reason for seeing that movie.
Alice Arneson
18. Wetlandernw
Teddroe @14 - I'd have to strongly disagree that Min is "pretty clearly miserable." She's annoyed at having someone else tell her what to do, and about not having much appearance of choice, but she's not miserable. She knows perfectly well she's in a place to not merely do "a lot of good" but to affect both present and future relationships between major political powers, as well as a lot of smaller-scale details. Okay, so she's stuck with a stupid dress and a weird new name, but that hardly qualifies as "misery."

It's very, very clear at the end of the book that she is not tied to Tuon's side all the time. She is at "Rand's funeral" without much appearance of a Seanchan escort, for one thing. And the previous well-known holder of the title of Truthspeaker to Tuon (previous to Selucia, I mean) was certainly not tied to her side either. "Anath" was often gone for significant periods, and no one seemed upset by it. In fact, if there's one person in the whole bloody Empire who is pretty nearly free to both speak and do as she will, it would be the Empress's Truthspeaker.

Get it out of your head that Min is now Tuon's slave. She's not. She is in a position of great power - probably higher than anything she could ever have imagined, since she's neither a channeler nor a royal. She can tell the Empress of the Seanchan Empire what to do. The only thing that limits her is her own honesty about her viewings - and for the first time in her life, she will be free to say as much as she wants about those, without people wigging out.
Deana Whitney
19. Braid_Tug
"By the Light, he had a book to finish before he went!"

I got chills when I first read this line. Still get chills every time I re-read it. Never saw it as sad thing, but as a show of determined strength. And a small shout out to all the fans that waited for the books to be finished.
Must remember to ask BSW about it at some future event, if he'll answer that.

Min’s line – perfect.

Rest, covered by others better than I could say.
20. Aviendha
First-time commenter here. I read books 1-13 for the first time two years ago and started reading these rereads this summer to refresh my memory before reading AMoL. I have finally caught up with the posts, and I really want to add to the praises I have seen of the rereads, they are awesome and helped me out a ton. Thank you for doing them, and thank you also for all the commenting and discussion. It's been really fascinating to see everyone else's thoughts and ideas.

I have a thought from a previous chapter which I have really been wondering about. In Chapter 14, when Lanfear tells Perrin that if someone doesn't want to be Turned then they can choose to be gentled, when I read that, I took her to be saying that once someone is gentled, they can no longer be Turned, so if a channeler doesn't want to risk being Turned in the future, their other option is to get someone to gentle them. When she said that, I also thought that was the reason they couldn't Turn Logain. Kind of like how when Siuan and Leane were stilled, they lost their ageless faces and were released from the Oath Rod, and how those things were never restored after Nynaeve Healed them. Maybe the weakness that allows a channeler to be Turned will never come back after they are Healed from gentling/stilling. Otherwise, Logain was clearly a strong character, but, I wouldn't have guessed him to be able to resist Turning for days and days, especially after Taim got some Black sisters to help. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
j p
21. sps49
Aviendha @20-


I think that is an intriguing idea, and would think it more likely if Logain had been restored by a male channeler, but I read the sequence as being about willpower and tired Darksiders.
Robert Crawley
22. Alphaleonis
With Loial singing his song in a movie - his voice being a cross between a giant bumblebee humming and a slow avalanche - and with the special effects of giant limbs sprouting off of every piece of wood in the picture - I don't think the tune is that hard to conjure up. Methinks anything would work - like maybe a slight modification of the score of "Mary Had A Little Lamb". Just slightly kidding. Make the movie already. I've been waiting long enough.
23. tgoostree
The whole time Tuon was letting Mat seemingly do what he want, I was just waiting for her to drop the other shoe.

Tuon: Hey Mat, remember that time when you discarded those nice battle robes and I didn't say a thing? Well now it's payback time...
24. Freelancer
wcarter @1

I believe that you couldn't be more wrong. Tuon is absolutely not the rebelious teen you are suggesting. She has completely bought in to her Empire's traditions, methods and other idiosyncracies. She approves of, and believes in, the hyper-strict format of government over which she presides.

No, her reason for giving Mat the room to do as he wishes, is mostly based upon how twitterpated she is with him. But not completely. He has already proven himself to be an entirely unique, if completely cryptic, strategist. But part of his genius is connected to his sense of personal liberty. Tie him to anything definable, whether a title or an outfit, and he will refuse to perform as expected. (Being tied to the bedposts by Tylin as an amusing exception changes nothing) Tuon has learned by experience that he will simply go his own way about things, and those things succeed when he is free to do so. She knows that it only hurts her purpose to force him to conform. I'm certain that's a foundational ingredient in how the outrigger story would have gone.
Alice Arneson
25. Wetlandernw
Aviendha @20 - Welcome!

@several re: "He had a book to finish!" From the Seattle signing:

MK: Was the line about Loial having a book to finish an homage to Robert Jordan?
BWS: Not intentionally. But that is very sweet, and I wish I’d done that intentionally.
William Carter
26. wcarter
@ Freelancer

I think you're reading a little too much into my statement. And I never said she didn't have feelings for Mat, I just don't think her opinion of him personally is why she lets him get away with some of the things he does or why she does some of the things she does.

The fact is I agree that Tuon absolutely buys into the Seanchan culture. If anything she's too tightly wound. But that is exactly why I believe there is part of her--probably subconscious--that tries to buck that. A sort of pressure valve if you will.

I'm not saying it's what defines her, just that it's demonstratably there. Otherwise several things that RJ himself wrote never would have happened:

1. She would have never personally tried to stop Mat from leaving Ebou Dar in the first place. Possibly she might have had Deathwatch guards or some other force sent after him when he was trying to leave (if she really thought it necessary), but a good princess of a society that views lesser people as mere things would never have deigned to lift her own hand to stop him.
2. She would never have insisted on going to a "hell" or informed the woman in charge not to stop any fights on her account. It would have been beneath her.
3.She would not have uncollared any Aes Sedi she caught regardless of whether or not Mat asked her. In love or not she views marath damane as superpowered serial killers.

The fact is it's the zealots and hardcore unbending types that typically break their own beliefs the hardest when the pressure builds or they just fail to live up to their own unrealistic expectations for too long. It is for that very reason that Tuon would have any chance of being an agent for positive change in the Seanchan Empire had RJ lived to write those outrigger novels.
Thomas Keith
27. insectoid
Still on the sidelines; been horribly distracted by baseball, football, real life things, Doctor Who, you name it. Also studying, though not as fast as my parents want me to.

Anyway, I don't have a whole lot on this chapter, aside from the usual things:

Still hadn't twigged to the fact that ALL the Captains had been tampered with, not just him and Bashere.

LOIAL SMASH! The dirge was a nice touch. (Fitting that you compared it to Pippin's song from RotK.)

I thouroughly enjoyed it when he ditched his fancy clothes.
...but what I’m thinking right now is that whatever she claims, she must be ridiculously in love with this guy to let him get away with basically stomping all over every tradition of her people ever, and then giving him fond looks as he does it!
Makes sense to me!

ValMar and macster last post re: "ominous":
It was the best word I could think of at the time. And as macster pointed out, it works very nicely ('omen' > 'ominous'). So I suppose I could claim I used that word on purpose, but actually I didn't realize the connection until you brought it up. Nice job!

wcarter @1:
That sounds good—but see Free @24...

Man-0 @15:

Aviendha @20:
Welcome to the group, we've got fun and games.

Free @24:
Well said.

Wetlander @25:
Nice! Thanks for the quote.

Karen Oaks
28. Keleric
Hi everyone! I’ve been following the re-read since Day 1 and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Thanks Leigh for doing this for us! And thanks to everyone for giving me lots of ideas to ponder each time I re-read the series. I’ve thought about joining the conversation many, many times but never really felt that I would add much content and I’m not the type to comment just for the sake of commenting (or to get “likes” or “followers”). But for some reason, when I read last weeks post and saw CireNaes’ call for more of us to stop lurking it inspired me.

Aviendha @20: Welcome from another first time commenter! That’s a really great point you made and it got me thinking about how Logain might have viewed the attempts to Turn him. I can’t say that I think something was changed physically when he was gentled and then Healed by Nynaeve. However I do think that the whole experience may have strengthened his will and made him better able to resist. He was helpless to stop the Aes Sedai. I can’t imagine how hopeless and weak he must have felt during that time. I believe this made him more determined not to let anyone take control of him again.

“By the Light, he had a book to finish before he went!”

I heart Loial! I immediately thought of RJ the first time I read it, and it still gives me chills. So bittersweet!
Sean Dowell
29. qbe_64
@22 - Just don't let Peter Jackson direct it.
Our children's children will be dead by the time the last movie comes out.
Robert Crawley
30. Alphaleonis
@29 I think Peter Jackson would be OK as long as the movies were made while Harriet is still alive. I don't think she would let him slaughter the story like he did with LOTR and especially The Hobbit.
Sean Dowell
31. qbe_64
@30 - I can't wait for hobbit triplepack to come out on DVD/bluray (In like three years).

I think I'll be able to read the entireity of the book during actual running time of the combined movies. It's going to be the next cinnamon challenge. Challenge Accepted!
Eric Hughes
32. CireNaes

Awesome. Please keep posting. We need to mix it up a little more in here. I think one of the reasons discussions have been trailing off is that potential posters who've been lurking feel like it's all been said or someone else said it more eloquently. Just having a new voice come down on one side or another or even offer a new idea is refreshing and makes me want to post again.


I like your theory. A question worth asking BWS. I think there were a number of factors that elongated the turning process of which yours could very well play a part. Logan's natural OP strength in conjunction with his stubborn personality refined by past sufferings are one. Although the OP strength was why the Shadow kept at it. Logain was on par with Taim in my albeit personal estimation on strength. Both of them strike me as being in the Rahvin or Sammael territory of competitor. A lack of opposite gender channelers also were a big factor. Even still, when BA did show up, he still held the line in his weakened state. Something to ponder.
33. adaptr
whatever she claims, she must be ridiculously in love with this guy to let him get away with basically stomping all over every tradition of her people ever, and then giving him fond looks as he does it!
Not necessarily; I think it may be culture shock.
Consider the fact that she HAD to marry him (the omens and prophecies all said so), and that she is wise enough (empire-ruling-wise) to understand that she has him to do it with for the foreseeable future (so they'd better get along, mmkay, factual attraction notwithstanding), which may explain why she thinks "oh, here we go again - well, better act as if I at least partially support my husband's morality and customs, for my empire's sake" and smiling beatifically, while inwardly rolling her eyes and keeping - very precise - count.
34. ORLY
@30 The Hobbit I'll grant was significantly altered, though much if not all of the extra material came from other Tolkien sources. But you speak as if you believe LOTR could have been translated to film much better. Explain yourself.
35. srEDIT
ORLY @34: To butt in on your query to Alphaleonis, I would say . . .

I would have much preferred less creature violence and more plot development. The relegation of the character of Treebeard to a garrulous old windbag who had to be goaded into action by Pippin particularly offended me. But only slightly less than what was done to the character of Faramir.
Julayne Redwine
36. autumnmoon1959
I would love to see WOT as a movie(s)...but just don't see it happening. Too many things would be done wrong, then we'd all just complain about it!

I think Min has freewill to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants.
And she does believe she is helping Rand by becoming Tuon's Truthspeaker.
I wonder if Min is ever going to have children with Rand? It's funny how Elayne sleeps with him once, and is pregnant. Aviendha twice and she gets pregnant. And how long and many times have Min and Rand been sleeping togather? I wonder if she ever saw anything around Rand that showed them having children, and it was just never mentioned.

I too wish we had more Loial and the Ogier, and a bit more of Loial's book!
Dixon Davis
37. KadesSwordElanor
qbe_64, Aphaleonis, ORLY & srEdit

I consider myself a Tolkien purist right down to the arguments about Balrog wings and Glorfindel #2. I was very upset about Faramir’s portrayal. But, IMHO, Jackson could not have done much better. I get chills when Boromir takes those arrows and keeps on fighting.
Judy Carmona
38. Farstrider
@36, Min did recommend the heartleaf tea to Elayne and Aviendha, they just didn't listen :) Also it appears that unions between channelers are a little more fertile than average. Or the multiple pregnancies could just be ta'veren, but that wouldn't explain Min.
39. srEDIT
O/T: KSE @ 37 . . .

Hey! I don't deny that there were many things Jackson (and Boyens and Taylor, etc.) got right, some sublime, even. In many cases, his version was simply a grand retelling of an epic tale, with his own perspective. But other changes just resulted in marring rather than polishing the original . . . unnecessarily, IMO.
Robert Crawley
40. Alphaleonis
@34 nd 37 First let me preface this by saying that of the thousands of movies I have seen in the past 6 decades, TLOTR is my favorite. Some of my married kids and I plus a few other friends do a once a year marathon every December on an 80 inch big screen in the basement of a friends home. A marathon of the extended versions. Perhaps my favorite scene in all of moviedom is when the ring sinks into the lava followed by the collapse of Sauron's towers. Before the grandkids broke my subwoofer, I would turn up the volume just right so that it didn't break everyone's eardrums, but just seemed on the verge of breaking the nails holding the house together. Love, love, love it. Same goes for the charge of the Rohirrim. Gave me goosebumps when I read it in the book for the first time. Gave me goosebumps when I saw it on the screen for the first time. Must admit too, that I had tears in my eyes continuously for the last 20 to 30 minutes when I saw ROTK for the first time debut week in Dec. (200?) Saw it 3 times in the same theater that week. I attended the first time with my two youngest sons, who had read the book with me a couple of years earlier on an 8500 mile, 28 day roadtrip across the US. As we were walking out of the theater, one of my sons asked me "Dad, were you crying?" I replied, "Did seeing that movie make you want to be a better person?" He said "Yes" I said "Yes, I was crying."

With all that said, here are some of the things that really, really bothered me about some of the departures from the book: 1)Faramir's character. In the book, Faramir was a majestic soul. A man on a pedestal. A man of all time. In the movie, Faramir was an OK guy. 2) The king of the Nazgul basically defeating Gandalf (breaking his staff) before hearing the horns of the Rohirrim. That didn't happen in the book, and it really detracted from the movie for me. 3) Aragorn beheading the emissary of the Black Tower at the black gates. Aragorn has more honor than to kill under a white flag of truce.

There were others, but some of the departures I liked even more than the book, and some (such as the eliminating of the cleansing of the shire) were obviously necessary to keep the movie as short as it was. But those three were bad for me. As I said, movie still my all time favorite.

The Hobbit - now that's another story. Saw it in 3D the first day or two of release. Every 1 to 2 minutes, I would lean over to my wife and say "That's not in the book." Too many "That's not in the book's" for me to enjoy it at all. At all. Too sensationalist. It seems that someone was teetering on the edge of a cliff throughout. And a mountain giant is a giant who lives in the mountains, not a giant made out of mountains.
41. Freelancer
To sneak into the O/T thoughts (and I find them marginally topical since, eventually, there HAS to be at least a movie of The Eye of the World)...

I have had many complain to me about The Hobbit movie being a major hatchet job of the book, and while it has been nearly 25 years since I've read the book (or The Silmarillion), I can say this. As I watched the movie, every transition of location was instantly identifiable. I knew when they were in the Lone Lands, Trollshaws, Misty Mountains, etc. When they fell into Goblin Town, the place looked so "familiar" it was almost creepy. The scenery was so very much as Tolkein's prose painted it in my mind as a young reader, it was remarkable. And the same thing goes for Radagast. I knew who he was in the movie long before his name was mentioned. True, he is only an oblique character in The Hobbit, but is fleshed out more in The Silmarillion. When he visited Dol Guldur, I knew where he was and why. When he came to Rivendell, I didn't need to wait for him to unwrap the Morgul blade to know that's what it would be. How can that be if those scenes were, as some suggested, pure fabrications?

Anyway, all of that to say that, while there were liberties taken, and perhaps not all of them were unavoidable from an adaptation standpoint, I knew very well the story I was seeing, and was very pleased. Other than the meeting in Bilbo's home. I couldn't understand why that didn't go much more as written, since there would be no logistical difficulties in having done so. It seemed as if they just wanted Richard Armitage to have that grand solo entrance moment.
Walter Jones
42. wjones42
Aviendha, your theory about Logain is interesting. Here comes the But. In one of the previous books - I forget which one, it was pointed out that healing severing was unknown in the Age of Legends, yet Nyn and Dalmer Flinn both worked out how to do it, which was shocking to Lews Therin and the Foresaken. I think that when Lanfear made her statement, she was just saying being gentled was the only way to keep from being turned.
Robert Crawley
43. Alphaleonis
@41 Free. I believe that there are 50 - 100 differences between the Hobbit movie and the book. I reread the book immediately after seeing the movie to confirm that I was truthfully telling my wife all those differences as we watched. Just little things, like Bilbo falling off a hundred foot cliff into Gollums lair instead of wandering through a maze of tunnels, lost. And the mountain giants as I mentioned above, and the Giant White Orc, and the pine trees which were not on the edge of a cliff in the book, and 50-100 others. And the movie would have been just as good if the book had been followed in those cases.
44. JimF
I have to say, the vignettes Leigh posted in sequence conspired to bring tears to my eyes. This was a powerful, moving chapter. Lots of good comments follow. I agree with 18. Wetlandernw vis a vis 14. Teddroe.

In respect to Mat-Tuon, I'm sure a combination of love, respect, and need work to motivate Tuon's acceding to Mat's behavior, generally. But, I have to remember, Mat is one of the three most powerfully t'averan people on the planet, and when it strikes him that he has to do something, everybody finds a way to agree, accept or assist in his action. I think some of that has to be in the mix here; Tuon sometimes is caught in a t'averan rip-tide and she can only paddle trying to stay afloat as Mat's force carries her wherever it will.
45. jimF
OT: Liking the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit comments. LotR - the movies - could hardly have been done better (yes, we missed Tom Bombadil and the mountain giants and some other things). But when I - who made it a mission for many years to read the Hobbit through the LotR through The Silmarillion every winter (and I'm going to resume that this year, I vow) - saw the LotR movies, I quit the books and watched the movies. They are that good.

The Hobbit is NOT that good. Radagast is ridiculous. Some other things are like cartoons. But the story runs true, and the book itself is termed a "children's story" (about as silly as claiming Led Zeppelin is "heavy metal"). It's fun watching, and there are yet two episodes to be seen, where perhaps the passing of Thorin Oakenshield - one of the most tear-jerking moments in my knowledge of fiction - can attain its Tolkienesque grandeur. (The end of The Return of the King, when Frodo et al. depart is another thing that makes me cry like a baby, for a sense of loss that I cannot quite define).
Dixon Davis
46. KadesSwordElanor
jimF @ 45

We can certainly agree to disagree. But the potentially LOTR alluding Immigrant song, IMHO, has to be one of the earliest examples of heavy metal.
Sean Dowell
47. qbe_64
@37 Kade
I wasn't complaining about the quality of the movies (I haven't seen the Hobbit yet, and probably won't until they're all out), but I very much enjoyed the LOTR trilogy.

I was saying that he managed to take a 400 page book and turn it into three movies. The Last Battle alone would be a Trilogy for him. The first 11 books would be around 30 movies, and the last three would probably be 20 more.
48. JGrouchy
Soooo...it's finally happened.
I started the WoT series back in '92, the summer between high school and college. I was instantly hooked and devoured them quickly...until I caught up to Jordan. I waited patiently the next few years, reading each new book when it came out, sometimes rereading the series to orient myself to the story again.
But I lost steam. I lost patience...and I forgot about it all, giving up by the end of my college years.

Then in the past few years I started listening to audiobooks. It helped with my commute and I found it the perfect thing for me while I went running. I knew eventually I would get around to listening to the Wheel of Time on audio, but it took a few years to get around to it. I started the first one back in December of 2012, listening on my commute to and from work, while out running, occasionally on vacation. I listened to them back-to-back...not once straying from the series. It's taken me close to ten months to get here...but now I've gone and done it. I've caught up to Leigh's reread blog...and passed her. I'm in the mid-30s (chapters) now and I just can't wait around for her! I've put my time in and I'm in the home stretch! I will most definitely come back to read her comments...but this time it will be as someone who's been through it already, which is a weird perspective now.

I can't remember which book I quit the series on way back in college...I think perhaps 'Crown of Swords'. It's been a blast and it will be tough to adjust to listening to anyone but Micheal Kramer and Kate Reading! Thanks, Leigh, for this awesome blog. I only discovered it somewhere around ACoS, so maybe I'll have to go back and read and reread all your rereads!
Jim Crumley
49. crumley
(Reader from the beginning, very infrequent poster.)

In some ways this comment may go better with the last post, but here goes anyway.

Does anyone else think the Min attachment to Tuon would have worked better story-wise if Rand had just asked Min to act as a as a contact point between for the Aes Sedai and the Seanchan to begin with? Rand knew there was going to be friction between Egwene and Tuon, so why couldn't have dealt with it directly? Instead we get the oddness of Min being a clerk, etc.

Do you see any plot/story reasons why Team Jordan, couldn't have gone that route?
50. ORLY
Happy to hear the specifics of everyone's views on the LOTR films! I agree about some of the problems but to me they are minor compared to the overall quality of the movies.

Now how about casting for WoT?

Min - Nora Zehetner? Or perhaps Natalie Portman in a pixie cut.
Galad - Michael Fassbender? He's got the paladin look and I think of Galad as an overly zealous lawful-good type.
Lan - Ron Plearlman? He should be in there somewhere!
Like to see Alan Rickman and Gary Oldman and Malcom McDowell as well, maybe as Forsaken.
51. JimF
46. KadesSwordElanor They were geniuses, and yes, some of their stuff is definitely "heavy metal". They were catholic though, with ballads and folk and blues and outright mysticism in their music and lyrics. "Unique" is probably a better way to define them. Sort of like, you know, the Beatles, Stones, Who, Doors - the great ones.
Dixon Davis
52. KadesSwordElanor

Unique & geniuses is right on. I thought about it after the fact. You probably meant strictly heavy metal. I agree. Anyone who would say they are strictly heavy metal is ludicrous.

BTW, the Silmarillion audio book makes it 10X more enjoyable.


My bad.
53. srEDIT
ORLY @50: Just so you know . . . it's possible you won't get much response, because casting (at least of the main characters) was more than thoroughly discussed on one of the (much earlier) rereads.

Perhaps one of the original reread readers could say which one(s) to go back to/?
Robert Crawley
54. Alphaleonis
For numerous casting suggestions for The Eye of The World - go to IMDB.com. Type: The Eye of The World into the search bar and read the comments section. Many people have posted suggested casting ideas, some with links to pictures of the actors. Some good - some not so good. One of the suggestions for Rand was an actor who is about 5'9". Although with today's cinema magic I suppose they could make that work somehow.
Stefan Mitev
55. Bergmaniac
I remember discussing WoT casting once and someone suggested Tom Cruise for Rand. True, this was 10 years ago, but still it was major headdesk moment...
Adam S.
56. MDNY
@55 Rand is supposed to be tall, Tom Cruise is really short. And sucks. Definitely headdesk-worthy. Might as well cast Brad Pitt as Perin, Ryan Reynolds as Mat, and Natalie Portman as Egwene. And The Rock as Loial. Please. Actually, Ryan Reynolds probably could pull off Mat...
Alas, I don't think the movie's ever gonna happen. I think a miniseries is the best way to go, otherwise the story would get severely shortchanged, but I'm not holding my breath.
Alice Arneson
57. Wetlandernw
I know the age is wrong, but I'd love Nathan Fillion as Mat. He's got the 'tude.
Bill Reamy
58. BillinHI
KadesSwordEleanor @ 52: I was going to ask where you found the Silmarillion audio book but I tracked it down to here: http://archive.org/details/J.r.r.Tolkien-TheSilmarillion

There are 13 files, each around an hour long, and the quality sounds pretty good from the little bit I have listened to so far. I have no doubt that some of the names will not be pronounced as I pronounce them in my head, but that's to be expected. :)
Dixon Davis
59. KadesSwordElanor
BillinHI et al.

Were you able to download that to you I-POD or MP3. I have the CDs and have been looking for a way to get them on my I-POD. When I transferred them from the CDs to my I-POD, the chapters were all out of order. Could not figure a way to reorganize. I tried to just deal with it but when you talking about something as big as the Silmarillion, forget it. Advice anyone?
60. srEDIT
@59: erase and start over? Rearrange the order electronically on your computer and then re-upload?
Dixon Davis
61. KadesSwordElanor

The order was correct when downloaded to computer into I-Tunes. When synced to I-POD it rearranged everything??:(

P.S. I completely leave room for me being more stupid than the thing I am working with.
62. ORLY

So you ripped from cd into iTunes and got 1 or more albums with track numbers correct?

If track numbers are filled in, the should play correctly in the iPod unless shuffle is on. I recommend making sure track numbers are in. Beyond that, perhaps edit track names to include a number at the beginning, so if it's sorting by name, those will be in order as well. Use leading zeros, like 01, 02, 03, otherwise it may sort like this: 1, 10, 11, 12, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Also make sure all tracks have the same album name, and I assume there is more than one disc, so fill in disc numbers as well.

Resync everything, maybe remove files from iPod and then resync, hopefully that will take care of it...
Deana Whitney
63. Braid_Tug
I remember one of our discussions on casting, but not where in the blog.

I still maintain that if they ever do make the WoT into a cable show / movie series – it should be animated. Therefore, we only need voice actors so height of real guy doesn’t matter. Or shortness of girl. :-)

And I see books 6-9 being boiled down into 1 maybe 1.5 season / movie. He just got so bogged down in the details.

@48, JGrouchy: Congrats for finishing. And welcome to the comments. A friend just called me with the same news. He’d given up, but with the release of the final book, he was determined to re-read everything and finish it in one go. Just Monday he finished. And is happy, but like many of us, thinks some of the choices were odd / lame.
And was not nearly as irritated with the books upon re-reading as he first was. Guess because expectations were set. Says he’ll even re-read it in the future, but more a once a decade thing rather than once a year.
64. ORLY
Oh, and if there are different artists in the artist field, like maybe different voice actors in different tracks, that could screw things up. Either edit all tracks to have the same artist, or leave that field alone but fill in the Album Artist field with something consistent across all tracks.

If that still doesn't work, you might need to highlight all the tracks and go to properties (right click, file info or something like that), in one of the tabs is a checkbox to treat the tracks as a compilation. Check it. I would recommend doing this only if the other stuff doesn't work.
65. Randalthor66
This series will not make it as a movie series, in fact, I don't think it can be done as a live action anything. It would take way too long to do, and the actors would age way more than the characters do as it would take way more than 2-3 years to shoot. Like 15 - 20, or as a TV series one season per book, minimum.

I say do it as an animation and have all the actors read all the lines prior to the full completion. That way they have audio even if that actor dies - which is entirely possible over such a long time shooting. I am sorry if that sounds morbid, but it has happened, and I would rather there be continuity and not some weird switch of actors part the way through. As they get to the specific books, they can redo the audio with full crew like normal.

About the chapter: More Loial!!!!! Always.

As for LOTR, I am very, very, very happy that Tom Bombadil and all the songs are not in the movies; those were the worst parts in my opinion. (Except for the orc marching song from the animated versions, Where there is a whip there's a way, That was one fun song. I also think that much of what they added to The Hobbit was not truly needed and they could/should have cut it down to 2 movies, not three.
Judy Carmona
66. Farstrider
I've always pictured James Franco in my head when I read Mat; it's the grin, I think. I agree that an animated series is probably our best bet because of aging/ actor continuity. That being said, I'd love to see anything, any version at all. I'd probably enjoy a stick figure flip book at this point. I would gladly pay for a puppet show version, a ballet production, an opera, or a stage musical. In other words, I will be happy with more WOT, even if they don't "get it right." Even a farcical attempt at adapting the books would mean further extending the time we get to spend in this world with these characters. As for the LOTR films, sometimes the movie version is what prompts new fans to finally read the books. (I still haven't gotten around to reading The Hobbit, but thanks for the Thorin spoiler above)
67. Freelancer
Wetlandernw @57

Folks used to name Nathan Fillion for Rand all the time, and that was just as wrong as considering him for Mat, when it's blatantly obvious that he's Talmanes.

I never showed it to anyone, but I had a fun little cast list using the main cast members of Star Wars, Serenity, Doll House, Alias and Heroes. I wonder where I put that...
Maiane Bakroeva
68. Isilel
WoT animated series done by the same folks that are currently making Korra (and did The Last Airbender, but it had more cartoonish graphics, so not quite fitting for WoT) would be godly, IMHO. Have Azula's voice actress play Lanfear...
Dixon Davis
69. KadesSwordElanor
I vote Alan Rickman for Ishmael/Moridin, Ian McKellen as Thom, Tiny Lister (aka D-Bo from Friday) as Super Fade.
Bill Reamy
70. BillinHI
KadesSwordEleanor and others: I have also had trouble ripping CDs onto the computer for all the reasons others have noted. The files from the web site I found were MP3s so there shouldn't be any problems with keeping them in order. The site also has OGG/Vorbis versions if that works better on a MAC for those who have them.
Adam S.
71. MDNY
@69 D-Bo as Super Fade is truly an inspired choice. Nice call with Alan Rickman as Moridin, but he is a little old. I'm not sure Ian McKellen has the voice for Thom, though, I think Thom needs to have a great voice and I've never heard McKellen sing. Maybe Tim Curry as Thom? (or David Hasselhoff lol).
Howard Covey
72. Howdy
The Hobbit was a fantastic movie - and Tolkien geek as I am - the "differences" between book and movie didn't bother me a bit. Different mediums - different STORIES! Two different but fantastic interpretations of the tale. All Good. (I also loved Episodes 1 & 3 of the Star Wars movies... sue me - I sat in a packed theater for Episode 4 in 1977 and was as shocked, awed and amazed as any - but - come on - they're all great!)

The only way this could be filmed is as a TV series - and not a major network of course - HBO, Showtime, AMC... a season per book - and the way they do two seasons a year - and film straight through - could be possible - if you could get the commitment - lol

@4 Autochef - my view is that Loial's song is part of the "song" the Tinkers seek. As #8 JennB correctly points out - (IMO) "the Song" is the Aiel song of peace, life, and growing from the AoL that Rand witnessed at Rhuridan (sp?) - likewise Rand's song while meeting Tuon was also a part. "The" song can never be recovered now - because the Green Man was damaged and then killed - his kind may have been the keepers of the Song.

@ 20 Aviendha - Welcome - and I think you nailed it!! Great pick up. It bugged me to no end that Logain withstood for WEEKS - what only took minutes to achieve with Aes Sedai - who were 3 and 4 times his age and experience. The other Ashamen I could kind of understand - they were new to the game - but the Aes Sedai?? Yes makes perfect sense to me - and I can't think of another reason to have Lanfear bring it up. Kudos!

and @ 18 Wetlandernw - as usual great points on Min's new status. Exactly the way I see it... she and Matt - as the least likely pair to bow and scrape and place themselves into servitude are now in extremely powerful postions - to set examples (that's what we're seeing here isn't it??)!!!

wow - this two week in between stuff causes the mind to wander... lol - Happy Reading All!!
Glen V
73. Ways
Aviendha @20 (and others on that topic):
Welcome (and to Keleric also)! Love your (looney) theory. But somewhere it is mentioned that Logain resisted turning by willpower alone. Freelancer probably remembers where.

Wetlander @57 and Free @67:
Nathan Fillion as Mat. That's worth a *giggle-snort* (sorry, Lannis). Don't take me wrong: Nathan is da bomb. No doubt! He's getting a bit old for those roles, though, me thinks. Sean Connery wouldn't make a believable, 40-year old Bond these days either (*sigh*). Now, Nathan as Mat back in the Joey Buchanan or even Mal Reynolds days could have worked. I never imagined Mat as having such a square jaw, but I'll go with it. My mental image of Talmanes is not so clearly defined. I can pretty well picture (ETA: young) Nathan playing either of them. Rand, not so much. I am completely stuck on Rand looking like Paul Bielaczyc (albeit with lighter hair) after JordanCon.
Alice Arneson
74. Wetlandernw
Ways @73 - I know. That's why I started out with "I know the age is wrong." Because Fillion is much too old to play Mat - but otherwise he fits so well. Not Rand, though. IMO.
Glen V
75. Ways
Wet @74
Perhaps I should digest the entire comment before responding in the future. Guess I was too busy giggle-snorting and trying to catch up. And yeah, great fit.
Jim Crumley
76. crumley
Another post of mine which is more in response to last week.

I am surprised by how attached Leigh and most posters here get to the Randland side when comparing the Randland versus Seanchan cultural perspective. For me, the Seanchan actas a lens that makes me re-examine the Randland cultures.

Early in the series Rand and the other Two Rivers kids fill this role. They are the innocents, unaware of how things work outside their small communities. Later in the series, the Two Rivers folks are two powerful and experienced to call as much of the way Randland works into question. So for me, when the Seanchan enter the narrative, their societybecomes a model to compare and contrast to the cultures of Randland. The Seanchan society does not always come out inferior, and even when it does, it helps to point of spots where both societies areweak. Of course, the variations in cultures between Randland culturesplay a similar role, but their differences are not as stark as those of the Seanchan.

Obviously, the problem of damanes and rigid social structure make the Seanchan more alien than Randland cultures to modern Western fantasy readers, but Randland itself is not flawless.

The fact that Randland and Seanchan cultures all have strengths and weaknesses leads me to a more detached view of superstitions, prophesies, etc. from both. Both the Seanchan and Randland natives have been shown in the text to be wrong about the meanings of their prophesies, so I don't think that we should get too attached to the Randland way of viewing things.
77. ORLY
I agree with the basic point of this, but I think you're glossing over the main problem that a lot of people have with Seanchan, which is slavery. They're not opposed to a society that goes against the accepted views of Randland, they're opposed to a society that goes against the accepted morality of our real world culture.

That said, I do think that the anti-Seanchan views expressed by some, most noticeably by Leigh, are overly heated. I think someone else said something similar to this in a recent entry -- I doubt that she would be as vehemently worked up about ancient Rome, or America before 1850, or really almost every real-world culture on Earth before the 1700's or so. If I'm wrong about this, then I'm guessing her history teachers had to tell her to stop disrupting class quite a bit. I suspect it's attachment to the story's main characters who have been personally affected by the Seanchan slavery practices that motivates a lot of people's very personal and intense anti-Seanchan attitudes.
Deana Whitney
78. Braid_Tug
@77: Quick history note & possible "why we hate the Seanchans":

Roman Slavery (and most forms of slavery of early European cultures):
90% of them were battle won or born of the battle won. And the theory prevailed that a slave could, at some point, buy / earn their way or their kids way out of slavery. Treatment varied based on skills and owner.

American Slavery:
The Africans started at as imports. Some were sold after being won in battle. But I don’t believe there was a cultural belief (that the slaves held) where they thought this was “just and deserved.” The owners might have thought it, but the slaves didn’t. And some slaves were granted freedom at the death of their owners. But yes, most were “deeded over” to the next guy. Yet there were rare avenues where they could obtain freedom.

Seanchan Damane Slavery:
Raised all your life by a loving family, then suddenly at 12 you are tested and find out you are different and can control a power that is considered “dangerous.”

BOOM!!! You are no longer part of a family, you are not a person – you are now a pet animal, you have a new name. Your training to develop this dangerous power is full of mental and physical abuse.
You will never be a person again. You will never have the ability to be free again. You will be conditioned to think you do not deserve to be free or to be a be a person. That is the true horror of Seanchan damane slavery, in my mind.

And adding insult to injury – they encounter other groups and assimilate all the people into their “superior” culture. Therefor any person who can control that “dangerous power” must be collared too! Heaven’s forbid there is another way.

Much of their other slavery falls under the Roman model, so more “normal.”

Slavery as a whole – sucks, I'm glad it is no longer a legal and socially acceptable practice. Modern slavers need to all be shot dead.

But to have an epic fantasy where all cultures are slavery free? A wonderful and rare thing. It makes since that RJ included in the Seanchan culture, but if he had left all of it in the Roman model, I don’t think fandom would be screaming it nearly as much.

Yes, this is a rant full of generalities. Sorry. But that's the trend I’ve seen in the conversation.
79. ORLY
The damane do suffer a particularly dehumanizing and horrific fate. But I think we do a disservice to the victimes of real world slavery if we say, oh, their slavery is not as bad as what the damane go through. After all, we do not see damane whipped til their ribs are exposed, or castrated (admittedly a difficult thing to do to female damane), or any number of other terrible physical things that have been done to slaves. Their a'dam torture is painful but does not leave injuries or disfigurations or lead to months of suffering as wounds heal. Some would say that's worse, because there is no natural limit to how much they can be tortured. I say tell that to the guy who's had the skin stripped off of his leg or arm and see if he prefers his situation.

I think the thing with the Seanchan is that they are presented in the story as the slave holding society; that is their defining characteristic, the big thing that distinguishes them from the other societies. In real world cases, it's usually simply a background fact of the society, and you're learning about it in history or reading a story about it, and slavery is just one of many things about it. But if you're reading something about slavery specifically, like Uncle Tom's Cabin, where slaves are main characters and you empathize with their individual hardships, then yes we do tend to get more worked up about it. And that's what's happened here with the Seanchan and Eqwene as well. So it makes sense to be angry about the Seanchan in the heat of the moment when you're reading about what they are doing to their damane. But then it makes sense to calm down and realize that they are similar to the majority of human societies through history - maybe a little worse in some ways, maybe not quite as bad in others, but overall, similar. In the slavery aspect, I mean. Of course they are unique in many other ways.
Terry McNamee
80. macster
Not much to say about this chapter. I just heart the scene with Loial though, as it's both heartbreaking to see him and the Ogier forced to be so violent, but it's also badass, and there's that wonderful last line which manages to be heartwarming, funny, and awesome all at once. (Though his line in the book that's the best still has to be "he'd always secretly wanted to be hasty".) And the song very much put me in mind of Lord of the Rings, if more "The Last March of the Ents". Luckily it didn't actually come to that.

As for the Mat scene, the only thing funnier than him pretending he didn't know how his clothes got there, and him wanting Min to also take off her clothes, was her rejoinder when he pointed out how important Rand would see her being at Tuon's side.

I also think Leigh is right about Tuon; she may claim it's because of the omens, but I don't think she'd allow Mat to do what he does, let alone smile at him and be fond of him because of it, if she didn't really love him. She's just trying to be stoic and save face as the great Empress may she live forever, because anything less would seem to be implying weakness. The very fact she acknowledged that her mother grew to love her father shows she not only knows love isn't a burden and weakness to be avoided, but she must be feeling it, or why bother trying to justify it to herself by thinking of her mother's example? (Yes, it was in the context of Mat having asked her if she loved him, but if she didn't she would have just dismissed the whole thing instead of considering her mother's case as something to model her relationship after, or at least a precedent that would make her and Mat seem less outlandish.)

Oh, and I got what Lan's comment meant right away: he was never one to put himself higher or above anyone, so it was very clearly referring to the fact he had specifically been placed in charge of that battle front over Agelmar and under Elayne; he wasn't being arrogant, but clarifying the chain of command. Which is very important, considering he's contemplating what amounts to treason if he's wrong about Agelmar.
Richard Hunt
81. WOTman
I think people are forgetting something when they are talking about Mat and Tuon. I think Tuon; while she is totally in love with him, she also recognizes that Mat is kind of lost and needs to find his place. The Generals look at him as the Empress's toy, and only Tuon and the Deathwatch Guards have actually seen him in action. Now if she punishes him, not only does he look like a fool, but so does she. By letting him get away with it, she is showing that he is strong and powerful. She also knows, as someone has mentioned, that if she gives him room, good things will happen. He in turn' is still chafing at his new role, and as indicated in the text he still doesn't know a lot about Seanchan Culture or history (Bad on Tuon) .

Min, on the other hand, already knew that she would end up as liason to Tuon because Rand had mentioned that she needed to get over and help out Mat and doing so, she could do a lot of help on her end, and that was reiterated by Mat. she was just frustrated because now she was stuck there. While some have said she wasn't a slave, she was definitely not free, she might have had a bit longer chain than some, but she was given an offer she could not refuse.

I just heart Loil, I think he is one of the most under rated characters in the series, I think he is funny and very serious at the same time and while he doesn't think of himself as a fighter, there aren't many who would be willing to face him when he get fired up.

I think we can save the movie talk til after the final chapter, it is all moot anyway. I think throughout the series there has always been talk of who should play who, and as pointed out, it would be decades in the making and this occurs over a relatively short time. So, we are getting closer to the finale and I can see things here winding down as well.
William McDaniel
84. willmcd
While lots of obligations in life have slowed my pace through the WoT re-read considerably in the last couple of months, another contributing factor is highlighted by this chapter: A Memory of Light, I'm forced to realize, will not ever be one of my favorite Wheel of Time books. It's tough for me to compare it against the other books I and many readers struggle with (Vols 8-10 come quickly to mind), because the reasons I don't particularly care for it are so different.

This chapter, and especially the Lan PoV, highlight the principal reason I struggle with AMoL: It is oftentimes fundamentally a "war novel".

And we all knew that was coming. Everyone who'd spent any amount of time reading the series knew that a book-long (at least!) battle was what was coming at the end of it. I guess what I didn't bank on was how little I'd like reading it.

WoT as a series has been about character relationships, world-building, narratology and the structure of myth, and the struggle of people to communicate (especially between genders). Punctuating it have been scores of examples of heroic deeds told in magnificent prose. And there is some of that in AMoL.

But so much of the space gets taken up by battlefield descriptions and (even more difficult for me) tactics. I'm a pretty visual person. Despite being an engineer, if someone tries to describe to me how a machine works, I've usually got nothing. If I can see it, I will understand quickly. As Lan, Baldhere, and whoever else stand around talking about moving this unit here and that unit there, my mind goes to mush. If I had a map and miniatures in front of me, the whole thing might be fascinating, but without it, I may as well be reading transcriptions of Charlie Brown's teacher talking.

Most of the other battles in the series have been told from a distance; there is a chapter or two dedicated to familiar characters, briefly detailing their part in the battle, and then we find out what happens. We didn't get to see Mat's encounter with Couladin's forces at all, and the entirety of Dumai's Wells was told in a chapter. Yet here it seems we get every blow and feint, and it goes on for hundreds of pages.

I've never read "military fiction" (and don't intend to start), so for so many pages of the last book of WoT (a series which has meant so much to me over the years) to fall into that category was a difficult way for the series to end for me personally.

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