Nov 12 2013 2:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 37

This are the Wheel of Time Reread! It are yum!

Today’s entry covers Part 2 of Chapter 37 of A Memory of Light, in which I contemplate the different forms of LURB, badassery, and headdeskery, because grammar? HAHAHA WHAT GRAMMAR.

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

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

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

And now, the post!


Chapter 37: The Last Battle [Part 2]

What Happens
Despite resting, Gawyn stills feels tired as he, Bryne, Siuan, Silviana, Doesine, and Egwene look through one of Yukiri’s aerial gateways over the battlefield. Bryne comments softly that they are getting slaughtered out there, and Gawyn agrees; no one had expected the amount of Power Demandred had brought to bear. Egwene wonders what Mat is planning, and Bryne replies that he is “baiting the trap.” She asks what kind.

“It is a guess,” Bryne said, “and Light knows, my own assessment cannot be trusted as it once was. It looks like Cauthon is planning to heap everything into one battle, no delaying, no trying to wear the Trollocs down. The way this is going, it will be decided in days. Maybe hours.”

“That sounds exactly like something Mat would do,” Egwene said, resigned.

Egwene says Demandred is not only in a full circle, but is wielding a sa’angreal. As they watch him slaughter their troops, suddenly his voice booms over the field, demanding that Lews Therin come and fight him. Gawyn thinks that he is an army unto himself with the amount of destruction he’s causing. Silviana comments that they are going to have to deal with him soon, but Egwene replies that he’s trying to draw them out. Lelaine replies that he is killing them by the thousands. Gawyn slips out of the tent without attracting notice, telling the guards outside that he is going to rest.

You promised, he thought to himself. You said you were willing to stand in her shadow.

That didn’t mean he had to stop doing important work, did it? He fished in his pouch and took out a ring of the Bloodknives. He put it on, and immediately his strength returned, his exhaustion fleeing.

He hesitated, then took out the other rings and slipped them on as well.

Secure in the void, Tam al’Thor shoots five Trollocs with five arrows as the enemy tries to ford the river Mora. He is with Abell and the other Two Rivers archers, flanked by crossbowmen, holding the Trollocs on the other side of the river. Tam shoots a Fade right between the eyes, causing the mercenary leader nearby, Bayrd, to whistle in appreciation and comment that he needs to get him one of those bows.

“I think,” Galad Damodred said from horse back nearby, “that you’d likely do more harm to yourself than to the enemy, should you try to use one of those. Al’Thor, how long?”

Tam released another arrow. “Five more,” he said, reaching for the next arrow in his side quiver.

After five more, Tam shouts for the archers to halt; he is still technically in charge of all Perrin’s forces, but he is mostly in charge of the archers. He hopes Perrin heals quickly in Mayene. They are positioned near the Dragonsworn, who are led by a woman named Tinna, and Alliandre is also approaching their position. Dannil arrives with a message from Mat that says they are to hold their position no matter what, and that infantry from the Legion of the Dragon is on their way. Tam wonders aloud what that boy is up to.

“I don’t know, Tam,” Dannil said. “Mat… he’s changed. I hardly think I know him any longer. He was always a bit of a scoundrel, but now… Light, Tam. He’s like someone from one of the stories.”

Tam grunted. “We’ve all changed. Mat would probably say similar things about you.”

Dannil laughed. “Oh, I doubt that, Tam. Though I do wonder, sometimes, what would have happened if I’d gone with the three of them. I mean, Moiraine Sedai was looking for boys the right age, and I guess I was just a little too old…”

He seemed wistful. Dannil could say, and think, what he wanted—but Tam doubted he would have liked to endure the things that had forced Mat, Perrin and Rand to become the people they now were.

Tam tells Dannil to take charge of the reserves while he goes to consult with Galad and Arganda.

On the Heights, Pevara desperately defends against Trolloc arrow volleys as they retreat down the slope. Androl finds her through their bond and gates to her location with Emarin. Pevara is incensed to realize they were escaping from the Sharan army, and tells Androl mentally that he is insufferable. He just compliments her defense weaves.

“Thank you.” She glanced at the sword.

“I’m a Warder now.” He shrugged. “Might as well look like one, eh?”

He could cut a Trolloc in half with a gateway at three hundred paces, and summon fire from inside Dragonmount itself, and he still wanted to carry a sword. It was, she decided, a male thing.

I heard that, Androl sent her.

They head southwest, and Pevara reflects that Androl’s confidence in himself had grown greatly since they’d left the Black Tower. She feels his anguish when he can’t help all the fleeing soldiers escape via gateway, and reminds him to stay focused. They find Jonneth, Canler and Theodrin fighting off Trollocs. All but Theodrin duck through two gateways in quick succession, ending up on the opposite side of the Sharan army. Androl dumps an avalanche of snow on the Sharans while Pevara and the others kill Fades and Trollocs. Emarin points out that they are drawing attention, but Androl replies that maybe they will draw out the Dreadlords then. Pevara is amused at his declarations, and offers to link with him. He accepts.

As always, linking with him was an overwhelming experience. She felt her own emotions bounce back against him and to her again, and that made her blush. Did he sense how she was starting to regard him?

Foolish as a girl in knee-length skirts, she thought at herself—careful to shield her thoughts from him—barely old enough to know the difference between boys and girls. And in the middle of a war, too.

Androl uses gateways in creatively lethal ways until Pevara warns him of powerful channeling on the Heights above, someone in a circle. Androl immediately concludes it is Taim, but Pevara warns him that they can’t be sure of that. The channeler sends an enormous column of Fire at them, and Androl just barely manages to get up a gateway in time to redirect the flame back at their attacker. But then his gateway collapses and lightning strikes almost on top of them. Androl and Pevara go down.

In that moment, she let go of herself.

She did it by accident because of the shock of impact. In most cases, the link would have slipped away, but Androl had a powerful grip. The dam holding back Pevara’s self from his own broke, and they mixed. It was like stepping through a mirror, then looking back on herself.

Pevara weaves a complex gateway, and only realizes afterwards that she shouldn’t have been able to do that while Androl controls their circle. Androl points this out, stunned, but Pevara shoves him through the gateway before they can discuss it further.

So this is something I may have talked about before, but whatever: I love Androl and Pevara and their whole romance storyline, but I do have to note that it is not very like a typical WOT romance at all, and is in fact a lot less… hm, idiosyncratic than most of the romantic storylines in this series have been.

This is not, actually, a bad thing, at least not in my book, but as Androl’s entire storyline (indeed, if I’m not mistaken, his entire existence as a character) is the strongest mark on the collaborative latter three novels in the series of Brandon Sanderson’s personal influence on the story, then this is a thing, as a critic of the story, it is necessary for me to acknowledge and examine.

So I’m gonna. Thbbt!

(I am so mature.)

Yeah, so. The definition of “idiosyncratic” is “a structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group,” and though the more common connotation of the term tends toward a peculiarity or oddness of that individual or group, it can also be interpreted as being merely traits consistent with a theme or style of that individual or group. In other words, a particular thing, but not necessarily a bad thing.

(Like my tendency to overuse italics, for example. Feh.)

I have often spoken of how much I appreciated Jordan’s portrayal of women in WOT, and I stand by that, but it cannot be denied that most of his female characters do tend to lean toward a particular set of characteristics (insert your “sniffing” joke here). As do, actually, many or most of his male characters, for that matter. Which, for better or worse, did tend to lend a kind of contentious sameness to how many of the romantic plotlines in WOT progressed. If you were to compare, for instance, the ins and outs of the love stories of Faile and Perrin, Rand and Aviendha, and Siuan and Bryne, there is no denying you would probably find more similarities between them than you would find differences, at a baseline level. And that is, I think, at least a little bit true for all of the love stories we’ve seen so far in WOT. I don’t think I am the only one to find WOT romance in general to be, not bad or unrealistic, but definitely… idiosyncratic.

Androl and Pevara’s romance is, on the other hand… different from those, in ways which are difficult for me to articulate coherently, but evident nonetheless. If I had to define it, I would say that their romance seems to lean far more toward a “typical” portrayal of a romance storyline than anyone else’s in WOT. “Typical”? “Mainstream”? Something like that.

Which sounds like a condemnation of it, and I guess it could be, depending on how committed you are to maintaining the overall style of WOT. But it also is, I suspect, the reason why so many of the readers (including me) responded to it so strongly. I don’t care who you are, everyone likes a good classic love story, and while I actually do enjoy the Slap Slap Kiss dynamic of other WOT romances (don’t click that), it’s refreshing to see at least one lovematch in the series progress less… contentiously. At least in comparison to the others. Make of that what you will.

Aside from that (but definitely contributing to it), the whole mind-meld/telepathy thing Androl and Pevara have going on (which got an inadvertent level-up in this chapter), is also atypical of WOT. Again, in ways which it is a little difficult for me to define. The closest I can come is to say it’s something I would expect to find in an urban fantasy, or in a story which has a generally much more esoteric and less rigidly defined magic system in place than WOT does. Which is amusing when you consider that Brandon Sanderson is the past master of sharply defined magic systems, but there you are.

Saying it was urban-fantasy-like (which I am not even sure is a term that makes any sense, but I bet you guys get what I mean), is not an insult either, because I love that kind of thing. Soul bonds gone out of control and super-deep and full of feelings? Sign me up, yo. If Brandon had to put his own mark on WOT (and I totally support the idea that he should have been able to), then what’s going on between Androl and Pevara is an awesome way to do it, as far as I am concerned.

Oh, and also, there is a war going on! Maybe I should talk about that!

…Nah. I’ll get to it next time.

Tam al’Thor: is badass. To the shock of precisely no one, except possibly Tam himself. Which I can only infer from the way he doesn’t even seem to realize how significant it is that people like Galad and Arganda and Alliandre still listen to him even though he is (to their eyes) a common farmer. Do not fuck with Tam al’Thor, y’all. He is METAL.

And of course we have to mention the sly meta reference in Tam’s POV re: Dannil, and his comment that he could have been one of the ones going with Moiraine et al when they left Emond’s Field waaaay back in TEOTW. Which is, of course, a reference to the mysterious ninth person in the cover art for the first novel. Team Jordan tells us (in various interviews I’m not going to track down at the moment) that originally there was a fourth boy character (who was probably Dannil) that was supposed to go with Rand, Mat, Perrin, Lan, Moiraine, Egwene, Nynaeve, and Thom on their journey in TEOTW, but that Harriet convinced Jordan to cut him, for the very good reason that he had nothing to do.

However, the decision was made too late to change the cover art, and so there he is, the mysterious extra rider forevermore. I’m not entirely certain I caught this reference on the first go-round, but I definitely did this time, and it made me grin.

And then there’s Gawyn.



I am reliably informed that I have headdesk-ed over Gawyn more than I have over anything else in the series, which seems wrong in an overarching sense, but OH MY GOD HE DRIVES ME NUTS.

It’s not even that I can’t see where he’s coming from here, but—but—AGGGH. Nooooo! Don’t do the thing!

…But of course he’s going to do the thing. I was upset about it even before I knew how the thing was going to turn out, and now that I do know how the thing is going to turn out… AAGGGHH.

You moron. You brave, stupid, noble MORON.


*stomps feet*

Don’t mind me, just having a minor temper tantrum over here, carry on.


Minor continuity error: It’s stated in Gawyn’s POV that the only people in the tent besides himself and Egwene are Bryne, Siuan, Yukiri, Silviana, and Doesine, but a few paragraphs later Lelaine is suddenly there too. It’s not really a big deal, but I noticed it, so I comment on it. Hopefully it was fixed in later editions.

As for Mat’s plan, I… see the merit in it. Certainly it is a giant gamble, to risk everything on one massive battle, but from his point of view there’s certainly no percentage in trying for a long war of attrition, so. Plus, from an apocalyptical narrative point of view, it’s the only way to go. Heh.

And that’s the story, mornin’ glories! Have a week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
I like Androl and I like Pevara but they are just too darned magical in these scenes. It took me out of the story a bit, I must confess.

Yes, we need to update the headdesk database. Gawyn no doubt retains a big lead even though he's been pretty darned ok for a book or so.

I really enjoy Tam and I still really wish that he had a galpal to hang with when the series is over. *grumbles*
Alex Johns
2. almuric
In Gawyn's defense, (and this is certainly the first time I've ever said that, considering how much I loathe him) if I was a bad-ass with a sword, which he admittedly is, and if I had some rings that turned me into a super-duper bad-ass with a sword, and I had the chance to tangle with the main bad guy mano-a-mano and end the whole thing and save thousands of lives and make myself a hero in front of the whole world and especially the woman I love, then I would do the exact same thing.

I'm not sure if it's a guy thing, but having those rings? OMG, the temptation to use them would be irresistible. Sneaking past all the Sharans and killing a Forsaken? Come on. You've gotta look at it from his point of view. He's almost useless as a warder. Egwene and the other channelers are killing Trollocs by the thousands and he gets the occasional one. Even if he didn't have an ego problem, that's still gotta gnaw on you.

Think about the dinner conversation a year later:
Eg: "Remember that time when I killed all those Trollocs with that one weave? That was cool, wasn't it?"
Ga: "Yeah, pretty cool. I don't remember, but were you close enough to see me 'Parting the Reeds' and chopping off Demandred's leg? You know, he was one of the Forsaken. You probably remember. That was cool too, wasn't it?"

I mean, what kind of dinner conversations do you want to be having? Without his foolishness, he's relegated to having been the bodyguard for head female Trolloc killer. Not exactly the most formidable title for an (ex-?)Prince.
Lee VanDyke
3. Cloric
I think one of the words Leigh was looking for in how to describe Androl and Pevara's romantic progression was "organic." It felt like a much more natural growth to me, keeping in mind that their circumstances were anything but natural and normal.
Kerwin Miller
4. tamyrlink
The Pevandrol (Andrava? Pevarol? Pevrol?) scenes kind of confused me. when she says the link would have slipped away...wouldnt it not have? she cant leave the link by will or accident unless he lets her go right?

the other thing i noticed is how does everyone seem to know Demandred is in a full circle? no one has ever gone up against one. it could be a half circle for all they know. (or an oval or something.) idk. just noticed.

and where are all the (thousands) of channeling wise ones? (or has that been answered and i keep missing it?)
Jonas Schmiddunser
5. Jineapple
I personally disagree about Jordan's female characters, especially when it comes to romance, so Pevara/Androl was a very welcome change.

I have to say that this decision by Gawyn is by far not the worst he's made and actually kind of understandable for me...and tbh, I had moderate hopes of him succeeding, and in a way would've liked that better than Lan killing him because Lan is just that awesome. Yeah Lan used sheathing the sword and the others didn't, yada yada, but I would've hoped that THREE blood rings would have more of an impact.
It's still selfish, and not a really good idea because of the Warder Bond, but it wouldn't be worth a headdesk to me :P
William Carter
6. wcarter
@ tamrylink 4

There have been a lot of confusing passages about link mechanics where men and women are involved over the entire series, including a few seeming contradictions created by Jordan himself.

My only guess is either it was a minor error, or it could be one of many examples of characters "knowing" something that is actually wrong.
Aes Sedi haven't made a habit of linking with men for nearly 3000 years, and male-female circles are likely to have differences with all female ones afterall.

There's also the fact that Team Jordan mentioned at JordanCon back in April that there are a number of things that don't work the way everyone thinks they do in Randland even if the outcome is similar enough.
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
@5. But, if he dies, Egwene goes kaplooie in the middle of a world altering battle. At least tell her that you're doing it. (Yes, I know that the bond will tell her he's left the camp but she might want the chance to talk him out of it or even temporarily release the bond.)
Adam S.
Thanks for another great read Leigh. I just want to chime in that Gawyn has been annoying for the bulk of the series and his taking the multiple bloodknives rings fit right in with his prior idiocy.
Pevara-Androl continue to be awesome together. Yes, their dynamic is unlike the other romances we've seen in WOT, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as I never felt that romance was RJ's strong point (not that it is BWS' strong point either).
Kerwin Miller
9. tamyrlink

oh yea thats true. it just kinda made me raise a brow but not in a serious way.
Adam Fischmann
10. afisch
Anyone else wondering how one shoots a Fade between the eyes?
Clara M
11. ErnestTRocks
Pevara and Androl make me smile, when there is very little to smile about. Their actions and relationship give a much needed catharsis from death and destruction, and loss. Wise move from the author, I feel. I can just hear Androl's "I heard that" in my mind. They are so damn cute!

Rand was right. He was raised better, this time around. Tam is magnificent. I am tearing up as I type this, knowing he didn't get to know Rand's final outcome.

More later... work, RL getting in my way.

Thanks, Leigh! Thanks, Tor!
12. DougL
It's a good thing Mat didn't voice in advance his plan to go all out in one battle because when Rand expressed that they had to do that earlier in the books everyone jumped all over him except Nynaeve.
13. Westmarch
I always pictured the Androl/Pevara storyline as pulled from Sci-Fi. Captain Picard and Doctor Crusher have the mind share bond in the season 7 episode "Attached", though that idea was probably stolen from elsewhere.
Karen Fox
14. thepupxpert
I think Gawyn was aware that the rings would shorten his life; he was definitely told about the bloodknives and assassins and not to let any of his blood get onto the rings by the former damane when he went off to Camelyn to sulk after Egwene told him she didn't need him. I'm assuming that he did exactly that, put his blood on the rings, so he could have his enhanced abilities. I'm also assuming that he figured Egs could heal him and he'd be no worse for wear.

That's classic Gawyn style: Once again he is thinking about only himself and attempting to seize yet another opportunity to do what he thinks is the right thing. The problem is, he is rarely right about what the right thing is.

For me, Gawyn has always been the shoulda, coulda, woulda character. But hey, someone had to be that character, might as well be him... I think multiple *headdesks* are appropriate in this instance.
Jesse Nyhan
15. Evermore
I can't really fault Gawyn here. He realises very early that they won't win if Demandred is alive and carrying a bunch of assassin rings kind of makes him the obvious choice to take a crack at him. Even in death he does manage to kick start off the chain of events that leads to Demandreds death. I do think it's a little weird that a general as good as Mat never comes up with a plan for taking out Demandred.
Eric Hughes
16. CireNaes

Well, I presume not every single Fade man-scapes as they should being the strange byproduct of hairy Trollocs. This one likely had a unibrow. Just aim a little lower and blamo!
Andrew Berenson
17. AndrewHB
Leigh - you opined that Androl's entire storyline is Brandon's strongest personal influence/mark on the series. I disagree. I think Androl's entire storyline is 1b.

IMO, Perrin and Slayer's Matrix style fighting in the World of Dreams. The fighting style includes Perrin's bending of the balefire weave in ToM. Perrin's comment that balefire is just a weave led Egwene to conclude that balefire must have an opposite. The opposite weave was The Flame of Tar Valon.

Was Tinna (the leader of the Dragonsworn at the Field of Merrilor) mentioned in a previous novel? Is she somebody that the reader should know?

I wonder if Theodrin will bond Jonneth after the Last Battle? Also, was Jonneth ever on screen in the Two Rivers scenes in TSR?

Thanks for reading my musings.
(Sent from my smartphone; please excuse any typos)
Jeff Schweer
18. JeffS.
afisch and CirNaes
I believe what the passage actually says is "between where the eyes would be"
The exact quote from page 634: (Yes I had to go look to be sure)

"Tam's arrow hit a fade right where its eyes should have been"

Gawyn is worth the multitude of headdesks he has caused. A fool, a brave fool but a fool none the less. He makes me crazy. Each individual thought or action makes sense but when you add them up, it slides right into Batshit crazy.

As far as Androl and Pevara, I have to say that the growth of their relationship makes perfect sense to me. When you drop your barriers and invite a much higher level of intimacy with a partner, especially when you feel safe enough to do so, you will find a higher level of affection. They have the advantage of literally having most of the basic barriers that men and women, or anyone really, use to protect themselves from the world at large, drilled through by the double bonding. Kinda tough to hold up a false front when your partner has already drilled through it. If they weren't both such good people with strong character, it would have been a disaster. They have attributes the other person values and are HONEST with each other. Very, very rare that. Androl has always been a class act and Pevara is probably the only other Red besides Silviana that I have cared 2 cents about.

I've been very quiet over the last few months but I may be able to hang around a bit more these days. I do have something to share that is funny once you think about it.
I decided that to prepare for todays reread post, I would start reading from where we left off and read to what I thought would be the next logical stopping point. Good idea right?
Could not stop. I got so wrapped up that over a 6 or 7 hour span, I read right to the end. I have a feeling that if I try to pace with the reread this next week, I'll do it again.
By the time we get to the epilogue, I'll be a word for word expert or have fried my brain...
Jeff Schweer
19. JeffS.

Now that you mention it, I got the same feeling. That little itch inside your brain that says "Do I know this person from before?" I can't quite get a handle on it at the moment but she feels familiar for some reason.
Maybe one of the other rereaders can shed some light?
Alice Arneson
20. Wetlandernw
No, there's no reason you should remember Tinna. That's one of the names drawn from the fan list, and she doesn't show up until this book.

And Jonneth wasn't "on-screen" in TSR, but his grandfather Buel was.

Hi, Jeff! ::waves::
Randall Trussell
21. Randalthor1966
Androl/Pevara: Cutness to the Nth degree!

Gawyn: I can see both sides of the problem here; I just think he wouldh have been better served to sneak back through the gate to where Demondred's circle is and go on a killing spree there. He probably could have kept killing them, and keeping the circle broken, for quite a while before being stopped.

Matt & The Last Battle: In fact, this tactic is not very sound. Historically, smaller, weaker forces have not forced one big battle for the very reason they are much more likely to get wiped out. What smaller/weaker forces do is hit & run. Guerilla tactics. With Androl's mastery of gateways, they could have seriously messed with the Armies of Darkness, causing all sorts of damage (using more conventional means, and the Dragons) then literally dissappearing. I have a hard time thinking that this one massive battle was what RJ had in mind, though it could be: the reason Matt has his Big Brain Full of Generals, was so they could still win after being forced into such a situation.
22. Greyshade
@2: absolutely agree. Gawyn does a lot of dumb things, but this is not one of them. Demandred badly needs killing and Gawyn might be able to do it. There's no way Egwene would let him go, so he has to sneak off. Though you know he's at least partly driven by ego, it's not a headdesk moment for me.

Excellent analysis of Androl/Pevara Leigh - thanks, as always. This romance is one of the few (maybe the only) areas where I think Sanderson is superior to Jordan, whose romances have their moments (e.g. Perrin and Faile during the Trolloc invasion of the Two Rivers) but are generally unconvincing. However, I don't like the telepathy. I know it's this new super amazing thing that's never happened before - but it doesn't feel right for the Wheel of Time.
23. Ltw
It hasn't come up quite yet, but having the Dragons hide in a closed chamber, but with gateways opening in front of them for where to fire, is exactly guerilla tactics writ large. This is just sucking them in.
24. Ellanora
I hate Gawyn as much as the next reader, but I don't think its fair to have a a go at him for trying to take down Demandred while bonded to Egwene (i.e. risking the leader of the White Tower have an emotional/mental melt down in the middle of the Last Battle) without having a go at Lan, Elayne, and Aviendha (and to a lesser extent Min).

Aviendha was literally on the front lines of perhaps the worst battlefield of the lot while bonded to Rand. Elayne was relatively safe initially while running things from command posts, but obviously things got pretty nasty (and could have been catastrophic if Birgitte hadn't shown up) later on. Their deaths would have potentially caused Rand to lose the Last Battle there and then. Lan is not much better because he could have had a similar effect on Nynaeve, and Callandor wouldn't have been any good to Rand without two women to use it with him.
25. Indravan
Do not fuck with Tam al’Thor, y’all. He is METAL.
- Metal vs mental- cant decide if typo or not. Tam does kick ass.
William Carter
26. wcarter
@25 Oh I'm sure Leigh absolutely meant Metal describing Tam.

Then again, there has to be some part of man or woman's brain that's absolutely coo coo for coco puffs if they can stand on battlefield most accurately described as the seventh circle of hell killling monsters left and right with a long bow like it ain't no thang and not be able to figure out why they're getting mad respect from everyone around them.
Sean Dowell
27. qbe_64
Ask and ye shall receive:
For the original listing see TOM part 27.
Other than a reflective Leigh on the level of brain damage Gawyn has cause her in Part 29, there were no additional *headdesks* in parts 28 and 29 of TOM.
As the count stood (reasons and summaries for each headdesk included in the previous post, I won't repost here):
94 - Total
29 - Gawyn
19 - Spanking
12 - Perailain
8 – Damane
6 - Rand
4 – Galad
1 – Mat
15 - other
Sean Dowell
28. qbe_64
As for AMoL:
Total (to date) - 8 and two halves
Gender Inequality - 3
Gawyn - 2 and 2 halves
Seachan, Slavery and DAMANE! - 2 (including the 100th headdesk*)
Ebou Dar - 1

*even without the two halves, they current have #100 and 101.
1 – Ebou Dar, for being an even bigger black hole of a city than Malden for plot progression
3 – Gender inequality, guys in the army taking chivalry to douche levels and not allowing women to fight for their own survival.
.5 – Gawyn, (doesn’t get a full headdesk due to his past contribution to Leigh ongoing brain damage,) for keeping his impending death from his wife and his continued never-ending bitching about being underused. And despite being Leigh special, special snowflake, feeling underappreciated by everyone else.
.5 – Gawyn, we’ll round out his partial headdesks to an even number for using his death rings, I’m sure there will be many more coming once he actually faces Demandred.
1 – Seanchan/slavery/DAMANE!, old hat.
1 - Seanchan/slavery/DAMANE!, but they get points for gender equality and indifference to sexual orientation in the same sentence, which makes it all the more frustrating that other innate characteristics at birth *cough-ability to channel-cough*, are actively persecuted, like SO HARD.
2 – Gawyn, poor sweet concussion inducing Gawyn (see Leigh current reason above) the multitude of expected Demandred related headdesks begins!

The count continues......
Glen V
29. Ways
Re: Gawyn-sad, miguided fool or noble warrior doing what is necessary?

I'm still coming down on the *headdesk* side b/c he knows
1) Using the rings will ultimately prove fatal for him.
2) His death, from whatever cause, will have serious negative consequences for Egwene, perhaps at a crucial moment in the battle.

Yeah, maybe he believes the first point doesn't matter since he can (hopefully) find an AS to (hopefully) heal him. But he is ignoring the possibility that Demandred or his minions might actually get the better of him, so the second point is still in play.

As Ellanora @24 mentions, Gawyn's decision is not the only example of risk-taking that could have serious negative consequences in the last battle. It's just that Gawyn has a history of making poor decisions coupled with ego issues, so he's an easy target.

These character flaws, if I can term them such, just serve to make WoT all the more believable for me. Just like RL.

Re: Pevaradrol
Agree with ErnestTRocks @11 - their story arc is a welcome juxtaposition to all the depression-inducing bad stuff going on.
30. Freelancer

That sounded like the Englebert Humperdink version, but I've always preferred Nat King Cole's cut, with Andy Williams a close second.
31. Sir Gil
I have to say from my point of view the whole Androl plot line was a betrayal of the WOT vision. AMOL was a splintered incoherent novel, that seemed more interested in wrapping up all the vast open plot lines and playing a game of “Where is Waldo” with past characters than telling a good story..

I thought Sanderson’s first two novels were excellent; but he totally lost the feel and vision of the series in the final. It is in the person/character of Androl the overpowered miracle worker and over perfect character that most clearly undercut the story Jordan was telling. It was a character that belonged in Elantris not WOT. It gutted a story meant for Logan and was simply unsatisfying.
32. Lord Foul's Bane
@29 – “Re: Gawyn-sad, misguided fool or noble warrior doing what is necessary?”

IMO, this will always be a split decision in the readership base. Myself… I’m down for the noble warrior side for Gawyn IN THIS INSTANCE. (See Ellanora @24.) This is the Last Battle; if you possibly have the means and you see an opportunity to either shorten the war or even up your odds, or Light send, win the war by cutting off the Enemy’s head, you’re kinda obligated to take the shot. This isn’t “Go BIG or Go HOME”, this is “Go BIG or Die” and Gawyn doesn’t have time to discuss this in committee. Lan pulls the same stunt but gets kudos for it by actually pulling it off (while Nynaeve is watching Rand’s back!); this being the same warrior who was insisting on throwing his life away in the Blight by HIMSELF. (*headdesk x3*) So, yeah, I’m willing to give Gawyn props for trying. How many of us would if faced with the same situation?
33. Freelancer
It is heartening to see that Gawyn is getting nearly as much positive as negative coverage this time. Before anything else, I'll respond to thepupxpert @14. Brandon and Maria have both confirmed that Gawyn was always designed to be the tragically failing noble character, the guy who wants desperately to do right and do it well, but never gets there.

I'm in agreement with some who don't believe that his gambit is foolish. He's in the top 5 of known living swordsmen (and who would figure that a channeler, a Forsaken, would retain the skill of a Blademaster?), he has the advantage of multiple ninja-rings, and he has first-hand understanding of exactly what that advantage means. Now stack that knowledge on the burning bitterness of the last year-plus of either being in the wrong place, or having your successes (saving Egwene, for example) treated as failures. If you're a guy who expected to live his life as First Prince of the Sword to your sister, then you are going after Demandred. You say he should have given Egwene the chance to release the bond. But he knew that she'd forbid him from going, and he was going, and besides, he had no expectation of losing. I don't find this foolish at all. Tragic, yes. But as others have noted, not substantively different from what Lan did, and Lan had no magical powerups, just a different form of resolve.

Tam. From day one, ranked just above Lan in my list. Lan is more prominent to the story, but Tam's importance supercedes with one statement, "This time, I was raised better." That is the foundation of the Light's victory; how one foundling orphan was raised. Society lives and dies by how well its children are raised, on every scale.

Pevara and Androl (Pevandararol). The reasons why their relationship's progression is believable for being so different than the others are Numerous...

Both are extremely mature and comfortable about themselves. That is, in comparison to the young folk who make up the rest of the love stories in WoT. Androl is the consummate worldly pilgrim, having engaged in a broader range of activities than even his friends find creditable. Pevara is an introspective and thoughtful Red. Each is a rarity, and combined they are incomparably unique. Both have a mixture of self-confidence and humility which allows them to simultaneously stand firm on conviction, and consider another viewpoint. Once they realize that they are communicating, through the double-bond, on a stream-of-consciousness level, they know that they must get a grip on it or become completely useless to each other or anyone else. Both bring to bear a self-control that younger people would not have available. Also, both of them are very curious and thoughtful. While it takes time before Pevara accepts Androl's thoughts as honest, she eventually considers the merit of his ideas objectively, setting aside the biases of the Tower, and more specifically, the Red. Once she relents and admits that she is impressed with his channeling skill, his many learned avocations, and his humility, she herself becomes rather endearing. With the positive-feedback loop created by their bond, the sudden mutual admiration had no choice but to spiral upwards.

And all of that is just focusing on the basis of the romantic aspect. Both are tactically smart about sorting out what needs doing. Many people jump too soon to trying to determine 'how' to do it, before being sure of what 'it' is, and that often delivers disastrous returns. Lastly, both are driven, determined to succeed at the task at hand. Fortuna favet fortibus. The icing on the cake is Androl's unique ability as a channeling wildcard. Traveling requires high-strength access to the One Power, except he is terribly weak. You can't form a gateway within the barrier of an active DreamSpike, except that he did. After that, anything else he conjured to do with a gateway is not so surprising.
Jeff Schweer
34. JeffS.
Hi Wetlander,
A day later and all.

OK, let's go back into the Gawyn thing. I can appreciate those of the readership that are defending him for this decision and you're right.
As Lord Foul's Bane puts it, "GO BIG or DIE" Maybe I'm just a little hung up on why he made this decision at this time.
During his POV he says to himself how he promised and was willing to stand in her shadow and then he rationalizes that that didn't mean he had to stop doing important work. To me that POV puts it straight from something needed for the good of all to something important for Gawyn alone. His most important work is to keep Egwene alive. That's it. Nothing else is sufficient for him to break away. Hellfire, in my mind he should have come clean about the rings, see if it was curable and if not, ask to go Kamikazi on Demandred or the Sharans.
I like Randalthor1966's take on this. Attack the circle instead of Demandred and get more bang for the buck. And, this scenario would give Egwene a chance to cry, give him a kiss, release the bond and send him on his way to go out in a blaze of glory. What we got was a suicide with no benefit.
Do any of you remember the scene in the beginning of Dances With Wolves when Kevin Costner rides out in the middle of the field, hoping to be killed? IMO, that's what Gawyn did with worse results.
As many of you know, I'm ex military. Glory hounds get their ass killed and unfortunately take a bunch of the rest of the troops with them. This does not impress me. There was a 100 other ways he could of handled this whole thing and come out with a better result that what we got. But as always, he did the Gawyn way.
Sorry all, Rant ends now.
Brandon told me during the signing that Gawyn was a tragic figure, harking back to the Greek definition in plays of the time. I have to agree.
And I see Freelancer has covered some of this and I would like to use something he just said about Androl and Pevara.

"Many people jump too soon to trying to determine 'how' to do it, before being sure of what 'it' is, and that often delivers disastrous returns."
That's Gawyn right there!
Captain Hammer
35. Randalator
PRO Gawyn:

He had a legitimate reason for using the suicide rings. I don't think he would have been able to get Egwene safely away from the Sharans without them. It also makes sense to keep using them afterwards because Apocalypse, slow death, etc.


He completely overestimates both his own capabilities and those of the rings. Dude, you took out THREE bloodknives AT THE SAME TIME with no special powers and they are actually trained to be sneaky assassin guys/gals. Now you plan to get all ringy, non-sneaky and sword-wieldy on Demandred who is ONE OF THE GREATEST SWORDMASTERS OF ALL TIME, IN A FULL CIRCLE WITH BIG-ASS SA'ANGREALS AND EXPECTING A SWORDFIGHT WITH THE DRAGON REBORN AT ANY MOMENT.

What the hell, dude? What mental arithmetic makes you think you'll come out on top there?
36. s'rEDIT
RE: Gawyn

I never did like tragic characters. I'm always rooting for them to overcome and then devastated when they don't. I don't find them cathartic at all, just disappointing and depressing.
Rob Munnelly
37. RobMRobM
qbe - wow, thanks for the HD update. *bows*
Rob Munnelly
38. RobMRobM
Free - the only thing I'd say in response to your thoughtful post is that in the last book Gawyn reached an epiphany by realizing Egwene needed help and the best way for him to help was to do what she wanted, not what he wanted. This seems contra to that.
nir first
39. Galorian
My biggest issues with AMoL is that Brandon seems to have failed to grasp (or was unwilling to tackle) the sheer scale of the WoT setting in the last battle and his seeming lack of understanding of the workings of the One Power.

First on the matter of scale:
1) The Band as of KoD had some 6000 horsemen and thousands of mounted crossbowmen. Estimates of its total size range anywhere from 28,000 to 50,000 strong, yet reading the battle of Caemlyn you'd think the Band numbered in the hundreds at best...
2) There were supposedly over 4,000 channeling Wise Ones by their own "400 per clan" estimate, where the hell are they during the Last Battle? Same goes to the Damane- the Seanchan gained near enough 400 Damane from the Shaido alone, had 300 in the army they sent after Ituralde and the bulk of their forces were gathered around Ebu Dar at the time. Reading the book you'd be forgiven for thinking that hardly a few dozen wise ones could channel at all and of the Damane little better.
3) Where have all the armies disappeared to? Conservative estimates would place the armies of light at well over two million strong. Mat clearly stated that they has recruited back to full strength just prior to the battle of Merrilor and the Trollocs alone outnumbered them over 4 to 1. Discounting the forces that were sent to the Blight that still leaves around 10 million combatants on that field that day.
Where the hell were they?
Hell, the battlefield as shown on the map shouldn't even be able to hold a battle involving so many people unless we assume they were all aligned in unusually tight formations (which would still leave precious little room to maneuver).

Now on to the One Power:
1) Channeler combat has always been fast and intense with channelers sometimes shooting weaves faster than you can blink and often displaying superhuman reaction times when submerged in the void. That flat out vanished in AMoL, to be replaced by sillyness such as Egwene having an Asha'man call out Taim's weaves to her.
2) Weaves aren't a game of elemental rock-paper-scizors, one does not counter weaves of fire with weaves of water or anything of that sort. Weaves have always been countered by cutting weaves, shields or just plain leaping out of the way.
3) Weaves of the One Power are invisible intangible magical constructs that overlap reality but aren't part of it- a weave of "water" isn't actual water and it makes zero sense for one to turn into steam upon touching a weave of fire since there isn't any actual water in the weave.
4) Where have all the effective combat weaves gone?? It's as if the Asha'man and Damane had a sudden case of selective amnesia and forgot they rarely if ever use actual fire for a reason (it's damn inefficient). It seems as though almost every single non Aes Sedai channeler in the setting just up and forgot their signature combat weaves- Where's the exploding earth weave? The meatgrinder weave? Where are all the weaves Rand taught his Asha'man in Knife of Dreams like Deathgates, arrows of fire and blossoms of fire? Why isn't anyone using solid air shields?
These are the most effective combat weaves in the setting and I haven't seen them used in battle at all in this book. Did everyone somehow forget about Dumai's Wells for some reason?

I loved the book but these breaks in continuity are cringeworthy and really hurt my enjoyment of it.
40. alreadymadwithgawyn
Yes, Gawyn. Listen to the voice. It is the voice of your past stupid self talking to you.
Valentin M
41. ValMar
s'rEDIT @ 36

Same here. I get enough Tragedy watching my team play away at the weekend, thank you very much.
42. Freelancer
RobMRobM @38

Agreed. But consider Gawyn's record over the previous year or so. Taking orders from Sisters whom he is certain wish to see him and his Younglings destroyed; Planning raiding sortees against the man who taught him military tactics; Refusing to believe the words of his romantic interest, and even his sister, in favor of rumor.

Then, after finally aligning with the correct people, and getting close to Egwene, being continually berated for doing what he thought was best, while not realizing that she actually does have authority over him, which he had ceded her.

Failure after failure after misjudgement after deception, but wait! A success! And a huge one! He saves Egwene's life, outduels three trained, dedicated, and magically enhanced assassins, and learns the secret to their powerups. And icing on top, gains a concession of thanks from Egwene.

How can he possibly not attempt to parlay that into an even greater victory, using this "gift" of near invisibility, speed and strength, and to blazes with the cost? How can he be expected to ignore this boon, especially while watching that insane creature destroy everyone around him just to taunt al'Thor into a personal duel?
43. alreadymadwithgawyn
Freelancer @42
Yes, and then proceeded to challenge that ancient blademaster on said blademaster's own terms. Meh.
So what if he has all those trinkets? He had no exit strategy. He must have understood that his death will mean extreme consequences for the White Tower, to which he swore allegiance.
Looks more like a relapse of stupidity to me...
44. Freelancer
Galad goes in with no exit strategy. Lan goes in with no exit strategy. Heck, every first- and second-tier character in this saga runs headlong into danger without an exit strategy, even if they don't believe they can win.

I'm not defending Gawyn's choice, can't prove that I've ever said that. I'm recognizing the "realistic" progression of events leading to the decision, and given his nature, the truth that there wasn't a chance he wouldn't go there.
45. alreadymadwithgawyn
Yes, but Galad or Lan's death wouldn't have disastrous consequences for the leadership of the Light. Gawyn's death did.
Furthermore the two
46. alwaysmadatgawyn
Besides, Lan was a field commander, and Galad had been tasked as a head hunter. Both were intended to confront enemy commanders.
Gawyn? His job was to stick to Egwene's back. But no. He rationalized it all he could. But in the end he wanted his piece of the glory pie. And the White Tower nearly paid the price.
Sam Mickel
47. Samadai
One thing that can be inferred from Gawyns death is that if he wouldn't have died Egwene wouldn't have been able to pull the emotional weight in order to sacrifice herself to kill Taim and the Sharan channelers. so, therefore Gawyn is the reason for the first victory in the last battle........
Glen V
48. Ways
Galorian @39
You bring up some great questions that I have also pondered. However, regarding the matter of scale, don't neglect that the forces of light (excepting the Seanchan), as well as the shadow spawn, suffered extremely heavy casualties in 3 separate battles immediately before regrouping at the Fields of Merrilor for the LB. I expect any statement Mat made about the armies being at full strength refers to the time frame before they deployed to those pre-LB battles. I'm not going on a quest for numbers right now, but I'd guesstimate the total number of combatants-light and dark-on the FoM for the LB was more like 2 million tops. I don't recall the number of Sharans that Demandred brought along, so that's a wild card in the estimate. A separate battle was still raging around Shayol Ghul also, which reduces the number at Merrilor. The 2 million tops estimate seems much more plausible for Merrilor. Anybody have the actual numbers handy?

Sam ferets out the silver lining!
Nadine L.
49. travyl
Re Gawyn:
let's not forget, that if a Warder dies, the Aes Sedai doesn't. Siuan survived, as well as Alanna (It's far worse for the Warder to lose his Aes Sedai, which means Avi and Elanye's risk-taking is far more dangerous).
Gawyn's death does not mean Egwene's certain death. Yes by risking himself he compromises Egwene's effectiveness to act level-headed, but as others pointed out Lan, Elayne, Aviendha (and every other bonded character) did likewise.
As others have explained he had reason to hope to defeat Demandred, more reasons than others had, and something needed to be done.
nir first
50. Galorian
Ways @48

Even if the forces of light on the field in Merrilor totaled in no more than a million (extremely unlikely given the fact that the Seanchan army was basically nigh-unscathed until that point) that's still 4 million trollocs to outnumber them 4 to 1, making the total number of combatants in the battle 5 million not counting the Sharans.
Stefan Mitev
51. Bergmaniac
Gawyn did the same thing every main character in this series has done time and time again, only he didn't have their extreme luck. How many times did Rand, Mat and Perrin risked literally the fate of the world in a similar way? So I am not really blaming him here, someone had to stop Demandred.

At first I wondered why he didn't consider asking Elayne for a foxhead copy, but then I realised he probably didn't know about that.
Roger Powell
52. forkroot
Matt & The Last Battle: In fact, this tactic is not very sound. Historically, smaller, weaker forces have not forced one big battle for the very reason they are much more likely to get wiped out. What smaller/weaker forces do is hit & run. Guerilla tactics.
There's two issues in play: The relative size of the offensive forces and the logistical backups. The guerilla war you mention works well when disparate forces have access to enough supplies to drag out the conflict.

Team Light has no such luxury. The land is dying and people are starving. They cannot win a protacted battle, so even though they are an underdog in a winner-take-all scenario, Mat's strategy gives them what is referred to as a "puncher's chance". Mat, of all people, has learned to trust to "luck" (only what he thinks of as "luck" is just the pattern working through an uber-ta'veren.)
Terry McNamee
53. macster
I've been very busy--having a new job finally, even a temp one, takes its toll, not to mention classes I'm taking--so I'll just hit the high points.

Gawyn: I already knew how it would end--he was going to die. Even if he killed Demandred, he would likely die from his wounds, or from the rings (I never believed their effects could be Healed--the only one who might have been able to find a way would have been Wonder Woman Nynaeve, and by the time she got out of Shayol Ghul he would have been long dead). Plus I am familiar with the story of his antecedent, Sir Gawain of the Round Table, who died after a similar foolishly heroic attack mid-battle, so even without Gawyn's attitude and manner of thinking, I wasn't surprised and was sure that's how things would go.

What shocked me was how it led to Egwene's death (Aes Sedai survive losing their Warders all the time, and even though she loved him which is not true of most Aes Sedai and their Warders, if anyone was strong enough to make it through it was her) and that he didn't get to take Demandred with him. In Egwene's case I was sure it would galvanize her to do something amazing--and it did, but it also cost her life which I did not see coming. And while I certainly don't begrudge Lan his kill, I was very much hoping Gawyn would get to kill Demandred and then die afterward a tragic hero instead of just a pointless tragedy.

In the end, I was always frustrated by him, and I headdesked too over his choices and actions, but I knew he was a good man and had hopes he would do the right thing and be a hero in the end. He almost did, but as is the case with a true classic tragic hero, his flaws tripped him up and ruined him. That doesn't change the fact that here, he absolutely was right in doing what he did--someone had to stop Demandred, and while attacking the circle would have been more effective in the long run, so long as he believed he could kill the Forsaken, attacking him would be a shortcut. As Graendal said, cut off the head first. We do in fact see what happens when Lan kills him, the Sharans fall apart, so going after Demandred would eliminate the circle too since he's the one leading it and losing him would demoralize the enemy.

The only thing I can think, aside from ego, is that he believed having the power of all three rings would let him defeat a great swordsman because, instead of it being three separate people using rings to fight a blademaster (as happened with him and the Bloodknives), it was one person making use of all three together, one who was a blademaster himself. That and as someone else mentioned, he may not have known Demandred was a blademaster, or believed a channeler would (still) be.

He was wrong, and his error cost him his life, but it did indeed lead to several chains of events, both relating to Egwene and to Demandred, which otherwise might not have occurred. It made sense he would choose as he did, both in terms of his character and the situation. And even though he failed, I actually did read their fight as a noble, brave, but foolish one that made my heart sink...and yes, I cried when he died precisely because of the what-could-have-beens. So as upsetting and stupid as he could be, he was realistic, and I think his character arc is believable and Jordan included it wisely to make a point.

*waves to Bayrd* Well now we know where he and his fellow Andormen ended up. That's nice at least. And yes, Tam is badass, in other news Cairhienin play the Game of Houses in their sleep, Mat will do anything to keep from doing hard work, and Aes Sedai don't speak the truth you think you hear.

The bit with Dannil was great--I remember when I read it the first time I did not recall the fourth Two Rivers boy who was originally supposed to have gone on the journey to the Eye too, but at the same time something about it tickled at the back of my mind as seeming familiar. So I did a little research, and laughed at the clever meta nod there once I did find about Dannil.

As for Androl and Pevara, nothing more to say that hasn't already been said, especially by Leigh. I love them, I love how they play off each other and work together to shore up each other's weaknesses and magnify their strengths, I love how their love grows organically, and I love how funny they are. I wouldn't say they aren't contentious or confrontational--it's just that unlike the other WOT couples, they don't do so with vitriol, distrust, and suspicion, but just with teasing and comradely joshing. So, Slap Slap Kiss downplayed into Snark Snark Kiss. Their confrontations, instead of being annoying, eye-roll-worthy, or frustrating are simply amusing and entertaining. That's a lot more fun to read, and even if the other WOT relationships still have value, having this kind as a contrast makes things more interesting. As to what new things they still keep discovering they can do, it definitely seems to me a cross between information lost since the Age of Legends (so until now they didn't know these things were possible), things even the Age of Legends Aes Sedai didn't know about because they had never discovered it let alone tried it (they didn't have Warder bonds then, let alone a double bond), and Aes Sedai (or any characters) thinking they know everything when in fact they're wrong.

@2 almuric: LOL! I love the way you phrased all that.

@4 tamyrlink, @39 Galorian: Way back when everyone was planning out the battlefronts, Amys spoke of the Aiel fighting at Thakan'dar, defending Rand's back. Elayne vetoed them acting independently and all going to just one battlefront, and we do see Aiel fighting in all the other fronts, but we also see Amys, Sorilea, Bair, and Melaine with Cadsuane, Aviendha, and the others. So I think we are supposed to assume that while the spears of the clans fight everywhere, the Wise Ones are all at Shayol Ghul. Not so sure about the damane, though.

@15 Evermore: I didn't fully contemplate that and follow the logic through, but you're absolutely right--aside from Logain's attack (which he plans independently and has everything to do with his almost being Turned and now having a taint psychosis of always wanting Power), everything which happens to Demandred is due to Gawyn's attack. Him dying in Galad's arms is what galvanizes Galad to attack, and he could do so thanks to already being given a medallion by Mat, and then when he falls it's him passing the medallion to Berelain that allows Lan to end up with it and finish the Forsaken off. So it was tragic and painful, but it did accomplish some good, so maybe it did have to happen.

@17 AndrewHB While you are right that that was incredibly significant in terms of the Last Battle, AMOL, and the series as a whole, I don't think that Sanderson making Perrin able to fight Matrix-style with Slayer is what led to Egwene's sacrificial victory. First, we don't know yet whether Egwene was always slated by Jordan to die facing Taim, but unless Sanderson planned that part, anything she learned that led to what she did could be ascribed just as much to Jordan. And as a second corollory to that, even though the Matrix shenanigans were clearly Sanderson's doing, there's nothing to say that Jordan still didn't intend Perrin to fight Slayer, or to end up in a position to disbelieve balefire and thus inspire the Flame of Tar Valon. So even though the crazy TAR battles were all Sanderson's doing, him telling Egwene "it's only a weave" and what that ultimately leads to may have been in the notes, something Jordan intended all along.

@24 Ellanora: Not to mention that Nynaeve losing Lan could have incapacitated her enough that she couldn't have saved Alanna, thus dooming Rand to Warder rage.

@31 Sir Gil: Huh. I guess this really does prove what someone (Freelancer? forkroot?) said once, that among the WOT readership you can always find someone who hates a particular character, event, or plotline, even ones it seems no one could because they appear to be universally liked. *shrugs* Oh well.

@39 Galorian: Silliness? Female channelers can't see saidin weaves; barring ter'angreal like Cadsuane's, the only way to detect them quickly enough to escape or sever them is to have a male channeler to point them out to you. Very quick and skillful channelers can simply dodge and evade but that's a lot easier to do in a one-on-one fight than on a huge chaotic battlfield, and even if Egwene could do it by herself for herself, having an Asha'man help her makes it more likely she can stop the incoming weaves in enough time to protect her Aes Sedai and soldiers.

Also it was pointed out at the time those effective combat weaves were first introduced that they all had various reasons why they wouldn't be widespread: blowing up the ground requires being strong in Earth; Deathgates, like Traveling, requires a certain level of Power; and the arrows of fire and blossoms of fire were weaves that only Lews Therin knew, and Rand for whatever reason didn't bother teaching them to anyone. The only ones who managed to duplicate them were Logain and the Asha'man with him in KoD. Why they didn't teach the other Asha'man can probably be chalked up to, again, certain Talents, skills, or Power levels being required; Logain is nearly as strong as Rand, and the Asha'man with them were also among the strongest. The rest may not have been strong enough to learn them. (As for the meatgrinder weave, that was one Taim came up with; I somehow doubt many outside his cadre learned it, or would want to once Taim's allegiance came out.)

@45 alreadymad: See above regarding the consequences if Lan had died--Nynaeve was not only supplying Rand with Power against Moridin and the Dark One, she was the one who saved Alanna.

@47 Samadai: Very good point. Which also explains why Egwene's Dream about them makes sense--it was because they loved each other enough to marry that he went to face Demandred so she wouldn't have to (or get killed by him) and why she was so galvanized by his death, which in turn led to her sacrifice against Taim. So marrying did in fact lead to their deaths.
nir first
54. Galorian
Macster @53

The Wise Ones certainly were supposed to go Thakan'dar, but where the hell were they in that battle?? You'd think some mention could've been made to the fact there were more Light side channelers in that one battlefield than there were channelers on both sides combined at Merrilor.

On the matter of the sillyness, it IS silly because by the time the Weave would be called out to Egwene it will already have hit. Think about it- if you went into a fistfight and waited patiently for someone to call out the enemy's moves each time before doing anything you'd get your head caved in in short order, and weaving is a hell of a lot faster than punching in many of the Jordan era books.

As for the weaves, the Meatgrinder weave and Earth exloding weave were always the signature weaves of the Asha'man- we saw 200 of them using these weaves in Domai's Wells and later on all the Asha'man in Rand's campaign against the Seanchan used them as well. The Damane used the Earth exploding weaves almost exlusively in combat throughout the series as far back as Falme.

You'd have a point about the Taim thing if it wasn't for the fact these weaves' absence wasn't already keenly felt at Maradon back in ToM and the fact that Dark side Asha'man stopped using them as well. These weaves were the first weaves taught to new recruits in the Black Tower and practiced extensively by every Asha'man, and with good reason- they're damn effective.

The sudden absence of solid air shields is even worse in a way since Beandon actually had Pevara use some kind of crappy thickened air weave in their stead...
Shane Carter
55. BankstownBoy
Help me please understand what happened with Pevara and Androl.
Pevara forms a gateway when linked in a circle someone else is leading. There are two aspects to this:
1. She should not be able to weave anything when linked.
2. She formed a gateway, Androl's "talent", when she did weave, almost automatically.
Does this mean by their selves mingling she at least, has acquired some of Androl's talent and that now can either initiate a weave when they are linked together? Your thoughts please.
nir first
56. Galorian
BankstownBoy @55

I figure that at that point their link became so strong they were basically "one mind" with a split focus of attention, allowing each "line of thought" full access to the full range of abilities possessed by the shared consciousness.

In essence Pevara's line of thought directed some of the shared consciousness' power towards its need, and the shared consciousness, possessing Androl's talent with Gateways, wove the weave with his skill.
Chris Chaplain
57. chaplainchris1
As macster said, I've also been very busy, so I'll just hit the high points. I won't obsess again over channeler numbers (though they still bother me, and I agree, if other Aiel clans had even half the channelers the Shaido had, which is a bad assumption, but still...ok, don't obsess Chris) or the disappearance of some powerful weaves.

Gawyn. I agree with most everything Macster says @53 (you seem to have retained more actual sympathy/empathy for him than I've been able to - I *really* liked him in TEOTW and he's been squandering my residual goodwill quite a lot ever since) about why Gawyn's death is sad and tragic (as well as headdesk-y). I also agree with Bergmaniac that he's not really stupider than many other first tier characters, and with Travyl and others that his death alone shouldn't necessarily have meant death for Egwene. (I think Team Jordan does a good job in this book with highlighting how I'd sort of downplayed the consequence of losing a Warder, actually. I retroactively have more respect for Adelorna holding it together during The Gathering Storm.)

But for me, the main point about Gawyn's decision has been overlooked by just about everyone other than Randalator @35 (and apologies if I missed someone else commenting on this).

Gawyn didn't decide to use the rings in this chapter. HE'D ALREADY USED THE RINGS to help him sneak around the Sharan camp after he and Egwene got stranded there alone. (And the question is, did he accomplish anything? Maybe. Egeanin may have saved Egwene when she was captured, but there's no telling if Gawyn wouldn't have saved her moments later. And he did take out a number of guards, and by giving Egwene his Warder cloak and using the rings, he helped keep Egwene from being spotted by more Sharan channelers.)

So arguably, he helped Egwene escape Demandred and the Sharans, even as he saved Egwene's life earlier vs. the Bloodknives. For those two things alone, I'm inclined to cut him some slack. Yes, his action contributed to Egwene's death, but she'd already have been dead without him.

Moreover, once Gawyn used the blood rings, HE WAS ALREADY DEAD. And he knew that. Don't you catch the references in this chapter to how he looked and felt so tired and weak until he put the rings back on? He was fading fast. It's entirely possible that he wouldn't survive the Last Battle anyway, and in any case wouldn't be around to keep guarding Egwene.

And then, there's the conversation he's listening to. Egwene and the AS leaders are talking about how Demandred's attacks are so devastating, and *something* must be done. They're discussing building a full circle of 72 to confront him - and how dangerous that would be. I guess if they really built a full circle of 72, Logain or one of the men would have to lead - but Egwene would certainly be part of it, as the most powerful lightside female at Merrilor, holding their most powerful sa'angreal. And I doubt Gawyn knows circle mechanics, so he'd probably expect Egwene to lead the circle and confront Demandred personally. Which, from the tone of the AS conversation, would probably end really, really badly.

And in that case, Gawyn would be totally ineffective at guarding her back. On the other hand, if he can go assassinate Demandred - he can stop the guy who's slaughtering the armies of the Light while saving Egwene and the hypothetical circle with her. He can make his death, already inevitable, count for something and still hope to save Egwene.

He fails, but it was more than a reasonable hope. And he does set off the chain of events that kills Demandred, sort of, accidentally. And...well, by temporarily incapacitating Egwene, he forestalls the disatrous formation of a large circle to fight Demandred directly, thus preserving her to take down Taim.

Let's face it....I don't think anybody short of Rand could've taken down Demandred, and it would've been very chancy. And he wasn't around. Facing Demandred in a direct OP duel? I understand why the AS were discussing it, and why they were leery of it, and why Gawyn (knowing he was already doomed) wanted to keep Egwene out of it.

Here's what I think Gawyn's fatal flaw really is. He does all this and makes these decisions behind Egwene's back. Of course, Egwene wouldn't have let him go...which is kind of Egwene's fatal flaw, too, isn't it? One of our key themes in WoT has been that lack of communication is ubiquitous and disastrous, and that few things of worth are achieved without cooperation and communication.

So Androl and Pevara, who have magical super-communication as well as mutual respect, are heart-rendingly cute.

And Gawyn and Egwene, who don't communicate well and make unilateral decisions that affect the other, are doomed. *sniffle* Imagine - I said Gawyn was already doomed, but suppose he'd fessed up to Egwene about the rings after they escaped the Sharans. There was, what, a couple weeks until Merrilor? *Maybe* someone could've found a cure. I too doubt that Healing would work, but they could've at least tried. More importantly, Egwene would've had time to prepare herself for Gawyn's loss, and not been shocked in the midst of battle.

Still, given who they were and their relationship, Gawyn's decision to be nobly and stupidly silent isn't surprising. Everything else about his decision to confront Demandred, though, isn't really headdesky to me. Something had to be done to stop Demandred, and he had a better chance than most, likely a better chance than an opposing circle, and a chance to make his death count.

Tragic that he failed.
Alice Arneson
58. Wetlandernw
Oh, it just warms my heart to see so many people considering Gawyn's actions from his point of view. So many thoughtful, well-considered comments on this! From the literary perspective, he was always the tragic figure, the guy who tried so hard to make all the right decisions and was always, tragically, off just far enough to end in failure. But as a character, he's not really stupid or horrible; he's just flawed like any other human being. It's only from our big-picture perspective that most of his decisions are so clearly the wrong ones.

A huge THANK YOU to those who remembered that Gawyn had already activated the rings, and had used them extremely well in extricating Egwene from the Sharan camp. The fact that he didn't do it alone doesn't, IMO, detract from the fact that he did it, and that he used the rings very cleverly in that situation.

Count me in with those (more than I thought! Yay!) who believe that the choice to go after Demandred was perfectly reasonable from Gawyn's perspective. It wasn't really a stupid decision; even the fact that he failed doesn't make it so.

And I honestly don't think it's fair to blame him for Egwene's death. Of course it hurt her, but it didn't incapacitate her. It may have made her less concerned with her own survival, but I don't think so. I think she would have sacrificed herself to take down Taim and the Sharans anyway, given the scenario. The fact that he was dead may have made it easier, but she'd have done it if that's what (she thought) was needed. This girl was never one to take the easy way out; if she'd known her actions would kill Gawyn as well, she might have hesitated, but she'd have done it.
Chris Chaplain
59. chaplainchris1
On the matter of scale (@39 Gallorian): issues of scale and numbers of channelers bother me, too, as I've stated before. I don't find that Team Jordan 'failed' on matters of scale with AMoL - but I do find it frustrating to lack hard numbers on some things. More on that below.

But before I get to my number frustrations, I have to point out a couple of mistakes in your numbers. For instance:

1. Most of the Band of the Red Hand wasn't in Caemlyn for the battle there. They'd gone with Elayne to Cairhien to be her troops there, so she wouldn't have it seem like Andoran troops were occupying Cairhien.

2. I don't believe the Wise Ones ever estimate "400 channelers per clan". The Shaido had 400+ Wise Ones, plus some channeling apprentices. That doesn't mean other clans had similar numbers. Note that the Shaido were apparently the largest clan. In the battle in Cairhien, the Shaido had 160,000 spears; the 7 clans with Rand had double that, not 7x that. The four undecided clans together apparently equaled the Shaido's numbers.

There's no way to be sure that channeling ratios would be equal to warrior ratios, but the Shaido were the most numerous clan by a fair margin.

I'd still estimate well in excess of 2000 WOs, and yes, that ought to make a huge impact, but it's not as big as you're suggesting. (Of course, the Seanchan captured 400 Shaido WOs to add to the damane they already had...*why* were the Ayyad such a problem, again?)

3. Where have all the armies gone? Lots and lots of attrition. And as others said, I think it's a grave misunderstanding to think that the Armies of Light were 'back to full strength' by the time the battle started at Merrilor. The Borderlanders, for instance, were rather more than decimated; they'd lost 2/3 of their initial 200,000. The AS army also got pounded pretty good, and so did Elayne's Andorans/Cairhienin/Red Handers.

That said, you're right that there would've been huge numbers of fighters. Clearly, even huger numbers of Trollocs, not to mention the Sharans.

That actually makes me feel a little better about the impact of channelers, since channeling does take energy, and you could kill a thousand soldiers (if you're Elayne, for example), be exhausted, and hardly have made a drop in the bucket. That's apart from the fact that enemy channelers are opposing you and Demandred has the world's single most powerful remaining sa'angreal in his possession.

(And the hundreds or thousands of SF Windfinders are busy opposing the DO's Superstorm.)

(And I guess the only reason Elayne's army didn't get wiped out at Cairhien is because all the Shadow's channelers were elsewhere.)

Still, one of the things I hope the Encyclopedia might deliver would be some numbers. For instance:

A) what were the Sharan numbers? Demandred had 400 Ayyad at one point during this chapter - how many had he lost? How does Shara compare with Seanchan, both in #s of channelers and in #s of troops? (Demandred couldn't have had *that* many male Ayyad, for instance - iirc the normal custom in Shara had been to use the men for breeding stock and then execute them. But the fact that the Sharans were deliberately breeding channelers might mean that Shara could expect to have more, and more powerful, channelers than Randland.) That 400 number is, imo, lower than expected.

B) Just what were the numbers of Trollocs and other Shadowspawn? I know it's pointless information, and it was probably smart of Team Jordan to avoid specific numbers, but it'd make me feel better and be able to imagine the action better.

C) Just what were the number of Ashaman total, and how many were recruited (forcibly or otherwise) as Dreadlords?

D) We know that after the Sharan ambush earlier in this book, 300 or so Aes Sedai remained with Egwene's army. And - going off memory - I think Siuan mentions something like 120 sisters had been lost, so that 400+ started off with that army. How many were with Lan and the Borderlanders? How many were at Shayol Ghul? How many Yellows were in Mayene? How many AS were still alive at the beginning of AMoL, and how many at the end?

And so on.

Thomas Keith
60. insectoid
Okay, here I am... chaplainchris said something about a luau...? No? Well, it's about time I dropped my 2 cents in the bucket, anyway.

Great post as usual, Leigh.

What more can I say? (At first read, I said, "You Light-cursed idiot... put those away!") Little did I know just what level of stupid Gawyn was going to descend to... By the way, I applaud at those of you (nods at CChris, Wetlander, Travyl) who have taken the time to defend Gawyn, despite all the bashing the rest of us give him. ;)

Is awesome. 'Nuff said.
And of course we have to mention the sly meta reference in Tam’s POV re: Dannil, and his comment that he could have been one of the ones going with Moiraine et al when they left Emond’s Field waaaay back in TEOTW. Which is, of course, a reference to the mysterious ninth person in the cover art for the first novel.
Oh yeah... I'd forgotten that bit. Nice!

I wonder how Pevara did that. A two-way bond allows for some sort of two-way circle? Curiouser and curiouser!

Off to read comments.

Thomas Keith
61. insectoid
RobM² @1:
Yes, we need to update the headdesk database. Gawyn no doubt retains a big lead even though he's been pretty darned ok for a book or so.
Probably thought he was going to fall behind in the polls... XD

almuric @2:
Well said!!

Cloric @3:
Yes, organic, that's exactly it.

tamyrlink @4:
"Pevarol" sounds like a kind of engine oil...

afisch @10:
Well, I guess you'd have to aim above the nose (assuming they have one)...

thepupxpert, Evermore, Ways, Free, Randalator, many others:
Good points re: Gawyn, both for and against.

CireNaes @16:
Well, I presume not every single Fade man-scapes as they should being the strange byproduct of hairy Trollocs. This one likely had a unibrow. Just aim a little lower and blamo!

qbe_64 @27/28:
"Perailain"... nice. Haven't heard that one before... Or maybe I have, and just glossed over it because it's about the PLOD?

Free @33:
Pevandararol... nah, too hard to pronounce...

Alreadymad @40:
Yes, Gawyn. Listen to the voice. It is the voice of your past stupid self talking to you.

62. Jeff S.
OK, OK, good points everyone. I'll give Gawyn a little more slack only because a number of you mentioned the "lack of communication" trope which has been almost a continuous head desk cause in its own right.
Maybe he and Egwene would have learned better communication if they had more time with their relationship. From personal experience, I can say that it doesn't happen overnight. That's why Androl and Pevara get past the barriers so quickly and are so cute doing it.
Valentin M
63. ValMar
I was pleased when Gawyn went for Demandred and fairly surprised when he failed and got killed (as opposed to succeeded and then dying). In other words, from my own perspective I thought Gawyn had the right idea to eliminate Dem (for obvious reasons) and he had a good chance given his own ability and the rings.
The guy's past actions has left most readers, me included, with little patience to give him the benefit of the doubt. This may explain the reactions of some critics.

Demandred was by far my biggest worry during the LB- actually IMO he was too overpowered, with his assets he should've achieved more. It seems to me that without either his circle or Power gizmo he could've done what he did.
Thus, having been surprised after Gawyn's failure I was positively dismayed when Galad failed too.
Glen V
64. Ways
Jeff S@62
I have to agree that there are some excellent pro-Gawyn's-decision arguments upthread, especially when you look at the situation from his POV. I am somewhat swayed.
Chris Chaplain
65. chaplainchris1
ValMar @63 - agreed on all counts, I think. I don't know that I expected Gawyn to beat Demandred - I can't really remember right now what my reaction was the first time to that. Oh...wait!
I just remembered that I don't have to remember what my reaction was. I was posting stream-of-consciousness non-spoiler stuff on FB at the time because I couldn't contain myself otherwise (because of having ALL the FEELS). I collected those posts and saved them, and this is what I wrote about Gawyn vs. Demandred:

“I have to admit, despite everything, I always had a soft spot for him. Man. This is gonna get brutal, isn't it?”

I think I was so in the story at that point that I wasn't trying to figure out what would happen, so I didn't predict whether Gawyn would be successful or not...just felt lousy when he wasn't.

At this point I still had no fears for Egwene, though. I'm sure of that. In fact, a little piece of me thought that after grief Egwene might be better off without Gawyn. I have to admit, too, that on my first read, by the time we got here I'd forgotten about Gawyn using the rings to help Egwene escape the Sharans, so I was very full of headdesky outrage the first time. It wasn't until my second time through (using the audiobook on a long drive) that I remembered he'd already used the rings, and softened my attitude toward him.

@62 JeffS, re: communication - yes, exactly.

@60 Bug - sorry about the luau. The weather's good, but the Bunker really needs to be restocked. All I found was this cheescake. I mean, I found nothing. Nothing, I say! (mmm, cheesecake)

The meta-bit with Dannil was something I'd never heard about until Brandon explained it a JordanCon. Just one of many reasons people should come to JCon!

Oh, and qbe_64 - thanks much for chronicling the headdesks! Too awesome.
Valentin M
66. ValMar
chaplainchris @ 65

"I think I was so in the story at that point that I wasn't trying to
figure out what would happen, so I didn't predict whether Gawyn would be successful or not...just felt lousy when he wasn't."
Virtually the same for me except for adding "surprised and" before lousy. This was my gut reaction, just as it was my gut reaction to be pleased when Gawyn decided to go after Demandred. Remembering these gut reactions informs me of my opinion at the time, and makes me look positively on this action of Gawyn in particular.
Sure, he could've executed it better. Informed Egwene and others, form a proper plan to maximize the chances of success. But, in practice I am not sure what more could've been achieved. After all, Gawyn got to fight Demandred one-on-one.
Sculduggery- this would've been the answer. Pretend to fight Dem honourably- Dem allows it, and then kill him in some underhand manner.
Chris Chaplain
67. chaplainchris1
Valmar - re: skulduggery, heh. Remember, Gawyn accuses Dem of *cheating* when he starts channeling at him. To which Dem remarks that a) Gawyn tried to assassinate him w/o a word while a super-fast shadow, and b) duh, they're fighting to win.
nir first
68. Galorian
chaplainchris1 @59

1) IIRC half of the Band was stated to go to Cairhien, there should still have been many thousands of them around Caemlyn.
2) Back in the battle of Cairhien the Shaido's numbers were greatly bolstered by deserters from other clans (to the point where later on their support will have meant a great boost political power in the Shaido camp) and even more threw away their spears than joined the Shaido (the clan Chiefs were even stated to be struggling to keep their clans together at one point). The one segment of Aiel society not so afflicted were the Wise Ones.
3) I ran the numbers at one point (I'll see if I can find my estimates when I get back home). The light side armies that eventually fought in Merrilor lost less than half their numbers (the heavy Borderlander casualties are more than compensated for via the fact the Seanchan army barely suffered any at all up to that point), and via character statement (Mat's I think) we're told that roughly half the men who were to fight in Merrilor were green recruits who haven't ever seen battle, meaning they basically recruited back to full strength over the course of the war up until that point.

A) I believe it has been stated by team Jordan at one point that Demandred did not control the whole of Shara, which explains the lower than you'd expect number of Sharan channelers.
B) The Trollocs alone were stated to outnumber the armies of light on the field at least 4 to 1.
C) Based on various quotes, the timeline and under the low end assumption of linear recruitment (rates should've gone up over time since more Asha'man were available for recruitment parties) I calculated some 800 Asha'man by the time Taim sealed the Black Tower IIRC, I'll look at my notes later.
D) Don't know about post battle (aside from the fact the Yellow Ajah is now probably more numerous than the rest combined), but I do have some pre-Merrilor figures laying around- I'll look it up later.
nir first
69. Galorian
Found my notes, here's the rough estimates I worked out at the time (figures are severe underestimates due to lack of data in later books):

Shienaran front
Borderlander army: 200,000
Malkiery army: 12,000
2/3 lost

~30 channelers

Total: 212,000 (two thirds lost)

Andoran front
Legion of the Dragon: Unknown (tens of thousands)
Two River’s men: 4,000 + recruitment
Aiel: Unknown (tens of thousands, possibly as many as a hundred thousand but probably not more)
The Band: Unknown (over 10,000 but likely less than 30,000) + 100 Dragons
Mercenaries: 10,000
Andoran army: 120,000 + recruitment (unknown)
The Wolf Guard: 70,000+ recruitment (unknown, stated to be the largest single army in merrilor during the summit)
Gheldan: Unknown (probably a few tens of thousands)
Mayne: Unknown (probably thousands)
Murandy: Unknown (tens of thousands)
Cairhien: 10,000 + recruitment
1/2 lost

Hundreds of kin’s women
2 Asha’man
5 Wise Ones
2 Aes Sedai

Total: Minimum around 300,000

Kandoran front
White Tower forces: 70,000 + recruitment (probably was around 100,000 at the time of the reunification, then came 30 days of drafting to prepare for the Merrilor summit)
Dragonsworn: Unknown (tens of thousands)
Illianer Companions: thousands
Aiel: Unknown
Over 1/2 lost

~400 Aes Sedai

Total: Minimum of well over 100,000

Total of the Above forces: minimum 612,000 (~341,300 lost)

Along with Seanchan forces (unknown casualties, comparatively small) losses are 1/3 of the combined armies => Seanchan army is around 411,900 strong

Thakan’dar front
Aiel: Over 300,000
Tairens: Unknown (well over 100,000, I think it was said it was the single most powerful national army at the Merrilor summit so probably larger than Andor’s)
Illianers: 60,000 + recruitment (unknown)

Wise Ones: Unknown (thousands)
~30 Aes Sedai and Asha’man

Total: Minimum around 500,000

Bare minimum total combined armies of light circa Merrilor summit: 1,523,900 strong

Bare minimum under estimate of light side forces in the Battle of Merrilor is 682,600 strong. Actual figure could easily be double or triple that.

As for the Black Tower:

As late as chapter 46 of ToM the black tower was still recruiting non-stop.
Men who could channel did not frighten her. Once she had given in to panic for a moment, true, but that was beside the point. Five hundred men who could channel, however, were a scrap of bone wedged between two of her teeth where she could not free it. Five hundred!
-Winter's Heart
Now to establish a timeline for the Black Tower (based on http://www.stevenac.net/wot/tl1000.htm):
day 584 - Mazrim Taim arrives in Caemlyn.Rand takes Taim to a farmyard outside of Caemlyn on which young men with the possible ability to channel are being gathered. Rand orders Taim to immediately begin testing the men, who number only twenty-seven, and to teach those with the ability in the ways of Power-based warfare. Taim is surprised when Rand tells him that he intends to cleanse saidin of the taint.
Rand Travels to the farm where Taim is teaching male channelers. Rand, seeing how few men had been assembled in the seven days since Taimfs arrival, agrees to allow Taim to journey forth and find more men for training.
day 614 - Rand visits the school for male channelers and learns that Taim's students, whose numbers continue to increase, now refer to the school as the Black Tower. A system of three ranks is established for the students: soldier, Dedicated and Asha'man.
day 638 - last day of the year
day 649 - 200 trained Asha'man arrive at the battle of dumai wells
day 669- Rand receives a message from Mazrim Taim, who reports that the Black Tower numbers 448 men among its ranks, and whose growth he quickly expects to exceed the number of Aes Sedai in the White Tower. From an Asha'man comes news of Seanchan movement towards Illian, and of strange disturbances in saidin in and around Ebou Dar.
day 685 -Members of Toveine Gazal's expedition are captured by Logain's men. Gabrelle is bonded by Logain.
day 690 - Mazrim Taim agrees to allow limited daily inspections of the Black Tower.
day 691 - Elayne and a small entourage visit the Black Tower. (this is the chapter the quote about the barracks is from)
day 703 - Having completed their month-long stop, and their novice ranks swelled to almost one-thousand women, Egwene and the rebel Aes Sedai prepare to march on Tar Valon. A large gateway is created by thirteen sisters, and through this Egwene and her forces move onto a plain next to Dragonmount.
day 724 - Logain reports to Rand, lodged in the manor house of Lord Algarin in Tear, that more than half of the Black Tower, including all Asha'man bonded to Aes Sedai, have been moved to locations in Illian and Arad Doman.
day 769 - Pevara and a party of Red Ajah Travel to the Black Tower. Taim gives permission for them to bond Asha'man as Warders.
**relevant book quote**
The chamber the Tairen led them to was a throne room, where a ring of spiral-cut black columns supported what must have been the palace's largest dome, its interior layered with gilt and half filled with gilded lamps hanging on gilded chains. Tall mirrored standlamps stood along the curved walls, too. Perhaps a hundred men in black coats were standing to either side of the room. Every man she could see wore the sword and the dragon, men with hard faces, leering faces, cruel faces. Their eyes focused on her and the other sisters.
- Knife of Dreams
we know over half the Asha'man have been deployed, and yet there are a hundred full Asha'man in Taim's assembly.
day 802 - End of TGS.
***The following is the only Chronology I could find that includes ToM***
day 775 - ToM Chapter 46
day 824 - Pevara learns that Traveling no longer works at the Black Tower
No traveling means no recruiting past this point.
Letfs recap-
day 584 - 27 potential recruits (only some can channel), first teacher arrives.
day 591 - Taim starts recruiting via gateways
day 649 - at least 200 trained and battle ready Asha'man (65 days after the founding).
day 669 - 448 Asha'man in the Black Tower (85 days after the founding).
day 691 - 5 100 men barracks built but not yet filled, 2 more under construction, near a dozen 10 men houses for higher ranking Asha'man with another under construction and about 200 homes for married Asha'man (107 days after founding).
day 724 - over half the Asha'man moved to postings along the Seanchan border.
day 769 - at least a hundred full Asha'man in Taim's palace(might be a good time to mention that most full Asha'man live in Taim's palace, and so do most of the recruits loyal to his faction).
day 775 - training and recruiting still taking place at full swing (191 days after founding).
day 824 - No more traveling (therefore no recruiting past this point, 240 days after the founding).

Even assuming a constant rate of recruitment that's ~450 per 85 days, or nearly 1,300 Asha'man by the time Traveling is cut off.
nir first
70. Galorian
The text files I saved this data on were somewhat corrupted and some of the punctuations marks were screwed up as a result ( ' turned into f, so every instance of Asha'man turned into Ashafman for example). I did my best to clean it up but I probably missed quite a few.
Valentin M
71. ValMar
Quite an effort, in the last books it is very difficult to guess the sizes of the various forces. Earlier was much better. E.g. IIRC, Elayne mused at one point that the total strenght of Andor is about 200 000 including levies.
72. Jonellin Stonebreaker
Regarding Gawyn:

Count me as one of those who found myself in rare agreement with the actions of Andor's former First Prince of the Sword.
He is one of the top four swordsmen alive(Lan,Galad,Tam being the others);
one who, relying only on his inherent skill, is capable of easily defeating bonded Warders;
who ,unassisted, defeated simultaneously three assassins enhanced by ter'angreal that increased their speed to superhuman levels and made them almost impossible to see;
Enhanced by not one, but three copies of this ter'angreal, now bonded to an Aes Sedai and therefore benefiting from the enhanced physical attributes that such bonding imparts;
It was not at all reckless for him to believe that his attack had a high chance of succeeding, and indeed, has it been any other Forsaken, it would have.
Valentin M
73. ValMar
There's an outbreak of Gawyn lovin'- there must be something in the water. Or is it airbourne? A quarantine is in order :D
Alice Arneson
74. Wetlandernw
I heard a rumor that the bunker has been recently restocked. If this is true, I'm good with a quarantine... ;)
Richard Hunt
75. WOTman
While Gawyn has done stupid in the past, this time I don't think he did. He saw what was happening, he knew the situation, he realized something needed to be done, he thought with his rings and speed, he had a legit chance to succeed. I knew the minute he got those rings, he was doomed, and when he walked off, I suddenly realized that Egwene was doomed too. I think if he would have suggested his plan in front of Egwene, Bryne and the others, he might have had some support with a bit of covering action while he went for it with a chance to be healed later.

Androl and Prevara, they (relationship) were born in a fight for their lives and pehaps that is the underscore for these types of heroic struggles, it is as romantic as it gets when body parts are raining down on you.

Tam is no ordinary farmer and the generals were well aware after the campaign they were involved with the Aiel and the Prophet. They gained a healthy respect for him and that is why they listened, along with the fact he was in charge and they were highly trained military veterans.
Tricia Irish
76. Tektonica
He's very consistant. There is that. I think his decision to attack Dem was actually pretty cool, good, important even....but not communicating his strategic thinking to Egwene (as per usual non-communication in Randland), and his donning of the Blood Knives in the first place, were both totally *headdesk* worthy.....and in keeping with his other cockamamie decisions throughout the series.

So yay! And nay.

And....I'm off to the Bunker....haven't been there in awhile, and I have some provisions....
77. königr
I definitely caught the Dannil thing and was super proud of myself for it! I have been looking forward to what turned out to be this reread for months!

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