Jan 21 2014 2:00pm
The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 45

The Wheel of Time reread on Tor.com: A Memory of LightAll war is deception, my WOTlings, but the Wheel of Time Reread is TRUE.

Today’s entry covers Part 10 of Chapter 37 of A Memory of Light, in which Egwene briefly regroups, Androl is in a different story from the rest of us, and Mat makes ancient Chinese philosophers rotate gently in their graves.

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

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

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

And now, the post!

Before we get started, once again, a shameless reminder: please go read this, and spread the word if you agree.

Thanks, and onward!


Chapter 37: The Last Battle [Part 10]

What Happens
Egwene awakes in Mayene with the agony of knowing that Gawyn is gone. She hears Silviana speaking with a Yellow, Rosil, in the next room, seething that Warders are nothing but a liability and Gawyn was a fool. Egwene reminds Silviana that Gawyn saved her life from Seanchan assassins, and without him she would not be here to mourn. Silviana is chastened, and bids Egwene to rest, but Egwene refuses.

“Egwene al’Vere can grieve,” Egwene said, standing up. “Egwene al’Vere lost a man she loved, and she felt him die through a bond. The Amyrlin has sympathy for Egwene al’Vere, as she would have sympathy for any Aes Sedai dealing with such loss. And then, in the face of the Last Battle, the Amyrlin would expect that woman to pick herself up and return to the fight.”

Rosil warns her that either summoning saidar or controlling it will be dangerously difficult under her crushing grief, and her only choice is to overwhelm it with even stronger emotions. Egwene tells her that will not be a problem, and lets herself be filled with her fury at the Shadow for taking Gawyn from her. Egwene says she will need another Warder.

…every person with a Warder bond was a better fighter than those without. To go without a Warder was to deny the Light another soldier.

There was a person here who had saved her life. No, a piece of her said, her eyes falling on Leilwin. Not a Seanchan.

Another piece of her, the Amyrlin, laughed at that. Stop being such a child. She would have a Warder. “Leilwin Shipless,” Egwene said loudly, “will you take this duty?”

Leilwin is stunned, but agrees. Egwene bonds her with no further ado, and then opens a gateway back to the battlefield.

Galad ignores Demandred’s taunts, dueling him with cold precision. He deliberately draws out the fight, knowing every moment Demandred’s attention is on him is a moment he is not raining destruction down on Elayne or her armies. Demandred draws first blood, but Galad does not let it affect him, and returns the favor. Demandred remarks that it has been a long time since someone was able to do that. He makes the ground heave under Galad, and Galad closes with him, forcing him to stop or topple himself. They grapple a moment, then the muscle in Galad’s wounded arm tears and he drops his sword. Demandred severs Galad’s arm at the elbow.

Demandred stepped back, panting. He had been worried. Good. Galad held to his bleeding stump, then spat at Demandred’s feet.

Demandred snorted, then swung his blade once more.

All went black.

Still wearing Nensen’s face, Androl searches for Taim on the Heights, keeping in contact with Pevara mentally, as the four had split up to avoid attracting attention. He sees Trollocs guarding something, and comes closer to find Mishraile and Taim there. Taim is holding a disc of black and white. Thinking Androl is Nensen, Taim demands a report. Androl thinks fast, and approaches, saying he saw Androl and followed him, but Taim only cares about what Demandred is doing. Androl says truthfully that Demandred had sent him away and threatened to kill him if he didn’t go.

Androl…Pevara sent, worried. He couldn’t spare the concentration to reply. It took all he had to keep from shaking as he stepped up close to Taim.

Taim punishes him with a weave that causes agony, but eventually lets him up. Androl warns Pevara to stay away, and Taim places another weave on him. “Nensen” asks what he is doing, and Taim tells him he is putting a Mask of Mirrors on him to make him look like Androl.

“I want you to pretend to be the pageboy, find Logain, then kill him. Use a knife or a weave, I don’t care which.”

“You’re… making me look like Androl,” Androl said.

Taim warns him to succeed or die, and dismisses him. Androl scrambles away and finds Pevara, Emarin and Jonneth. Appalled, Pevara asks what happened to his disguise. Androl tells her she’s not going to believe it, and pulls out the pouch he had filched off Taim’s belt.

Downriver, where Perrin’s forces are helping keep Elayne’s army from being flanked, Arganda and Alliandre meet with Tam al’Thor and Abell Cauthon. Arganda tells them that Mat Cauthon is miraculously alive, though in hiding, and has sent them orders. Abell is very pleased. Tam tells Arganda they have a fresh supply of arrows, and Arganda says Mat wants them to move back upriver and attack the Heights from the northeast side. Tam is confused, but supposes Mat knows what he is doing.

Together, their forces moved upriver in the night, leaving behind the fighting Andorans, Cairhienin and Aiel. Creator shelter you, friends, Arganda thought.

They reach the Heights, and Tam comments this will be difficult. Arganda tells him Mat said they would have help. Sure enough, Lan and his Borderlanders join them soon after. Lan tells them of a large Sharan force moving across the top of the Heights, and if they come down around the armies at the river, they will have the Light surrounded. With no further ado, Lan and his riders charge, and Tam’s archers begin firing into the fray until they make contact.

Where did Tam get his battle experience? Arganda thought, thinking of the times he’d seen Tam fight. Arganda had known seasoned generals with far less sense of a battlefield than this sheepherder.

Tam orders Arganda’s foot forward. As they fight, suddenly there is a flash of light from above, and Demandred’s voice booms over the battlefield, calling to Lews Therin that he has defeated and mortally wounded his brother, and demanding to know if he cares for “this man in white” who named him kin. Arganda fights a Trolloc desperately as Demandred rants on calling Lews Therin a coward and threatening to finish the job unless he comes to face him. Then the Trolloc backhands Arganda and he blacks out. He comes to to find that Lan has rescued him, and Lan tells him about the other army of Dragonsworn that had come to their aid against the Sharans and routed them for now. Then Ogier approach, and Lan greets them, asking where Cauthon is.

One of the Ogier let out a rumbling laugh. “You are not the only one, Dai Shan! Cauthon moves about like a squirrel hunting nuts in the underbrush. One moment here, another moment gone. I am to tell you that we must hold back this Sharan advance, at all cost.”

Arganda realizes Cauthon must be trying to box the Shadow’s forces in, but sees their numbers, plus the havoc Demandred alone is wreaking on their forces. He opines that they are finished, and Lan does not contradict him.

“If so,” Lan said, “we stand atop the high ground, and we fight until we die, Ghealdanin. You surrender when you’re dead. Many a man has been given less.”

Does it make me a terrible person that I wanted to tell Egwene to stop referring to herself in the third person? I think it probably does. Oh well.

As for Egwene bonding Leilwin… okay, I know this complaint is getting old, but nevertheless it continues to apply and thus I am forced to reiterate it: Wow, the book spent like five lines on that entire thing. Really? The fulfillment of one of Egwene’s most troubling (to her) prophetic dreams, and, not coincidentally, what could be viewed as her most emphatic rejection of her own long-held prejudices against the Seanchan (since I think we can view “magical soul bond” as a pretty strong endorsement of a person’s personhood), and… that’s all the screen time we give it? Enh.

Speaking of Egwene’s Dreams, I also find it disappointing in retrospect that Egwene never even thinks about them here either. She’d just had two of her worst Dreams come true, bang bang, one right after the other, and… nothing. For those of you who have forgotten what I’m talking about, I’ll quote ya:

...a man riding on a black stallion. Gawyn. Then she was standing in the road in front of him, and he reined in. Not because he saw her... but the road that had been straight now forked right where she stood, running over tall hills so no one could see what lay beyond. She knew, though. Down one fork was his violent death, down the other, a long life and a death in bed. On one path, he would marry her, on the other, not. She knew what lay ahead, but not which way led to which. Suddenly he did see her, or seemed to, and smiled, and turned his horse along one of the forks... [ACOS, Chapter 10]


Suddenly a woman appeared, clambering down the sheer side of the cliff out of the clouds, making her way as deftly as if she were walking down stairs. There was a sword strapped to her back. Her face wavered, never settling clearly, but the sword seemed as solid as the stone. The woman reached Egwene's level and held out one hand. “We can reach the top together,” she said in a familiar drawling accent. [COT, Chapter 20]

I’m just saying, if I were her I’d be cursing the shit out of that “either/or” Dream bullshit re: Gawyn right about now. Like, way to get my hopes up, Pattern, and also, screw you. I just find the total lack of mention of either Dream in Egwene’s thoughts a little strange.

My brevity-related concerns aside, though, the actual fact of her bonding Leilwin was pretty cool, and really not at all the way I had thought that Dream would be fulfilled, so bravo for non-predictability, there.

I also think it was the best thing Egwene could have done under the circumstances. While I sort of see Silviana’s point about the liability of Warders in general and Gawyn-like Warders in particular (and how very Red of her, eh), I still absolutely think that the benefits of having Warders far outweigh the disadvantages of same. And not just in the way that Egwene justifies it to herself here, either.

What she said was valid, as far as it goes, and certainly so in this specific situation of OMG The Apocalypse All Aboard, but I think that the existence of the Warder bond has far more valuable social impact than it does tactical, in the long term. The problem with any ivory tower (heh), deliberately segregated society, such as the Aes Sedai, is that continuously only associating with one small demographic of humanity (in this case, the very specific subset of “women who channel”) cannot help but warp your perspective no matter how you might try to maintain objectivity.

People who only interact with people who are just like them, all the time, are people who are primed to fall prey to bias, prejudice, and bigotry, whether they will it so or not. The Warders may not have been the most representative bunch of Male Non-Channeling Humanity ever, but I speculate that their continuous association with the Aes Sedai is in large part what helped keep the White Tower from going off the deep end and writing off men as entirely useless altogether. Pity that some real-world analogous organizations have never seen the need to do something even slightly comparable for the reverse situation. *cough*TheVatican*cough*

So, you know. Warders good, diversification good, survival of apocalypse good. It’s ALL GOOD.


And Galad Goes Down! I was genuinely shocked, for some reason, that Demandred chopped off his arm. I’m not sure why, except possibly (now that I’m thinking about it) for the contracts-with-actors-based tendency of movies and TV to avoid truly mutilating-but-non-fatal injuries to characters. Usually they either get superficial (or unseeable) injuries that are healed soon thereafter, or they are D-E-D dead and that’s the end of it. Saves on makeup and SFX costs, dontcha know.

And, well, sigh. At least Galad gave Demandred an actual fight? Yay?

I’m trying to remember how I felt about this on first reading, and other than recalling a very shallow reaction of “AH NO MAIM HIM HE TOO PRETTY,” I really can’t recall how I reacted to this before knowing what was going to follow. Other than that I think I assumed Galad was dead at this point (probably because I wasn’t reading carefully enough), and was therefore surprised to discover later that he had not, in fact, bitten it.

So, yeah. There is my very deep reaction, there. You’re welcome.

As for Androl, it was so very… something, what happened here—formulaic? Hollywood-ish?—but I LOL’d anyway. You kind of have to love that Androl is having a rom-commy Ocean’s Eleven-ish caper story in the midst of, well, WOT. Or maybe you don’t love it, because the disjoint between his storyline style versus everyone else’s is kind of obvious and I can certainly see how that would not thrill purists, but I perversely enjoyed it even while acknowledging the disconnect. Make of that what you will.

Arganda’s horse is (well, was) named “Mighty.” I’m just… putting that out there.


Like I said earlier, I’m sort of not really fussing myself over keeping track of the actual nitty-gritty of who’s fighting who where with what in a coherent tactical sense, but even so I can’t help but notice that this entire campaign at Merrilor seems awfully concentrated on basically two areas: the river, and the Heights. I mean, I guess it’s a matter of where you’ve got your enemy pinned down/committed to fighting, but aren’t both sides supposed to be comprised of hundreds of thousands of troops? (Or, well, they were; presumably by now they have quite a bit fewer.) Wouldn’t that encompass a sort of larger area?

I dunno; I can’t tell if the scale seems wonky to me because I just haven’t been paying close enough attention (or I just Don’t Get It), or if there is genuinely an issue here.

So instead, I will leave tactical issues to more militarily-minded folk, and instead concentrate on what I am good at (or so I flatter myself), which is identifying the weird way time flowed narratively in Arganda’s POV. It’s probably not obvious from the summary, but in the original text there are some very abrupt jumps between “people standing around having a conversation” to “oh look we just moved hundreds of people a significant distance,” or even worse, “Oh, I guess we’re starting to fight now even though there wasn’t any interim between the commanders making a plan and going CHAAAAAARGE!”

Because, look, I’m not asking for ten pages of loving detail on how Tam et al formed up the troops or distributed arrows or organized where they were going to dig the latrines or whatever, but a sentence or so acknowledging that it takes more than zero time to form up X-thousand-ish number of people before you can either (a) travel or (b) attack an enemy would not have been amiss.

Also, I know I just said I would leave tactics out of this, but if I’m reading this right, Lan and Tam and Arganda are attacking the Sharans uphill. Which… yeah, I’m no military genius, but even I know that’s a spectacularly bad position to go on the offensive from. Which isn’t to say that they shouldn’t have done it if they had no choice, but they… sort of did? Have a choice, I mean? I don’t know, that seemed really insane to me, especially considering that from what I can tell they are also severely outnumbered. It also (assuming I’m even right about their position) makes Lan’s otherwise badass quote that closes the summary sort of nonsensical, because they don’t have the high ground, and that’s the problem.

Of course, that’s probably among the reasons why Arganda opined to Lan that they were doomed, so at least they tacitly recognized that the whole plan was bananas, but still. Sheesh.

And that is what I think of that, y’all! Tell me what you think, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

Sam Mickel
2. Samadai
on my first read, I totally missed that Androl had snagged the seals
Rich Bennett
3. Neuralnet
I remember being surprised that Galad actually survived, guess it was a good thing he found out Rand was his brother. Have to wonder what would have happened if that arm muscle hadnt gone out on Galad. I think he had a chance.

I know team jordan probably spent a lot of time on the tactics of the last battle, but I find myself sort of trying not to think about it too much. If you really start to try and pin down the position of troops, timing of attacks etc... it just makes your head spin and I am not sure it makes as much sense as it should.

The scene with Androl, made me think of the mission impossible movies where they keep pulling masks off their faces to reveal a new person underneath... or maybe a scooby doo episode LOL
Brandi Carrier
4. Brandi
I think I also missed that Androl had the seals on my first read.

Re: Galad's arm, I think Galad pretty much had to suffer some sort of serious long term injury if he wasn't going to A) Kill Demandred himself or B) Die. Also, I'm sure I'm reaching but I immediately started looking for parallels between Rand losing his hand and Galad losing part of his arm. I didn't really find any but am wondering if this is another pathway for Galad to grow as a character following the end of the book. I'd like to think so.
5. neverspeakawordagain
Leigh, I'm in total agreement with you on the scale of the battle thing. That was my second-biggest problem with the book (after the whole Min / Mat being bosom buddies thing, when they'd only seen each other before for like a total of an hour).

One thing to keep in mind about the river and the Heights are that both places are HUGE. In the Field of Merillor map in the book, the Heights appear to be about 50% again as big as Manhattan. So even saying "the northeast portion of the Heights" is a battle line stretching for miles.

Also, this segment here with Arganda noting how outnumber and how screwed they all are makes me kind of pissy that Brandon never did any showing-the-work on why Mat is a brilliant general. Like, Jordan did a lot of work to show you specific tactical maneuvers that Mat and (especially) Rodel Ituralde engaged in where you were like "wow, that's an impressive maneuver," and there's really nothing whatsoever like that from Mat here. It's just "oh, Mat's a brilliant general, and to prove it let's have one time where he tells somebody to retreat right before they get attacked." There's no real sense that he's doing anything particularly impressive that any run-of-the-mill general couldn't do.

I mean, remember in Knife of Dreams when Mat had the whole half-a-battlement thing going with the Deathwatch Guards? Or how Rodel Ituralde did that thing where he hid his entire army in civilian clothes to escape the Raken scouts? You never get any idea from Mat in this chapter where you're like "whoa, that was a great idea!"

Not nitpicking Brandon -- I'm grateful to him for seeing the series through to his completion -- but his battlefield writing was one area I found really lacking, which was a problem since, you know, this book is basically one big long battle sequence.
6. Guest77
Leigh, I am so pleased you were feeling well enough to post today!
7. Guest77
This is not the first time we have seen a fine swordsman lose an arm. This happened to Rand earlier and happened also in another story I know you are reading. It would be interesting to see who/what Galad may grow to be once he no longer defines himself as a Sword. Most TV/movies do not have time to give a character that metamorphic arc in a satisfying manner.
chris reiser
8. halibulu
Gawyn's fight with Demandred seemed self-serving to me, even if he did delude himself that he was expendable, and was doing something that had to be done. Because the fact is that as the Amyrlin's Warder, he's not expendable.

Galad on the otherhand, is expendable. He's leading his men sure, but they are one small cog in the Light Army machine, and ultimately he's taking orders from Tam and Mat, so his death would be no great blow to the Lightside. Also, he does have the skill to pit himself against Demandred, but seems to recognize that while he probably can't win that battle, he can give his army a reprieve from devastating balefire attacks. I don't know how the time plays out, but it seems to me that his battle with Demandred is what allowed for Tam, Lan, and Arganda to move their troops into place on the farside of the heights.

As for the battle's scale, there's so many men that's it's impossible to keep track of without them having put in military diagrams of troop movements like you see when you look at Alexander the Great's battles (how cool would it be if they did that in the Encyclopedia? Can someone bring this up please!). As someone pointed out, the terrain is MUCH larger than just a hill and river, and the battlefronts are as confined as they are because Mat specificially chose that battleground due to the fact that you can only attack from a few directions.
9. Ragnarredbeard
About the fighting uphill thing, while its true that its a military axiom to avoid doing it, sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do.

The Light forces are in a bad state at this point and buying time is just about the only option they have, at least until Mat's grand plan kicks in.

So yeah, its gonna suck to take the hill, but its important.
10. Freelancer
Egwene ~ If you are in the midst of explaining to somebody else (and yourself, frankly) why you must compartmentalize your personal from positional responses to a devastating event, it isn't at all "royal", and therefore arrogant, to employ the third person. She is naming herself Egwene al'Vere, as the girl from Emond's Field, to distinguish that emotionally traumatized wife from Egwene Aes Sedai, the Amyrlin Seat of the reunited White Tower. With that being the intent and goal of her statement, I don't see a more efficient method of doing so.

Do we have a precedent for Rosil's lecture that channeling will be impacted by the loss of her Warder, and that fueling her rage can counter that problem? Without being able to do a comprehensive search, I know of two major cases where we witness an Aes Sedai as her Warder has died: Siuan Sanche and Cabriana Mecandes.

Unfortunately, both are shielded and prisoners at the time, Siuan of Elaida the usurper, Cabriana of Semirhage.

So it seems as if this info-dump from Rosil is meant to dramatize Egwene's pain, and to solidify the basis for her upcoming actions.

Leilwin ~ I remember, when we first encountered Tylee, it was commonly predicted that she would be the Seanchan to aid Egwene. As soon as Leilwin arrived at Merrilor, it was clear she was the answer to that Dream.

Galad v Demandred ~ As soon as he recognizes that he's in a fight he could possibly lose, Demandred drops any pretense of fighting with only the sword, and channels a local eruption under Galad. Strangely, Galad seems content that he accomplished no more than making Demandred worry.

Androl ~ Much less Ocean's Eleven, and much more Mission Impossible. (The original Peter Graves TV series, not the horrendously gratuitous Michael Bay movies) I find the Androl/Pevara plotline among the finest of the final three books. Numerous previously debated "possibilities" of the WoT cosmos are dealt with employing these two characters, and not in the least outside of the scope of the rest of the story. I cannot credit the criticism that the storyline style is that disjointed. Consider the relationship between Mat and Olver, Mat and Jain/Noal, Mat and Talmanes . . . Okay, Mat and just about everyone else. But those aren't the only mashups of personalities that are more humorous than stoic. And what happens with Androl and Pevara fits who they are. Pevara is between 150 and 200 years old, Androl has lived a uniquely wide-ranging life. Both are people of wisdom, action, great skill, and adept channelers. Between them, there aren't many situations to which they cannot contrive a response. It seems more a case of "Brandon got to have the fun that RJ could have had with some of this stuff", and it's just not fair. Well, life is what it is, and fair is never in it.

As for the Light's army attacking the Heights, the phrase to describe desperate futility isn't "fighting an uphill battle" for nothing. However, if you have sufficient heavy cavalry ambushing from a flank as your infantry forces press from below, it can easily remove the natural advantage. Aside from that, the shadow's top commander in the area is stupidly occupying himself with individuals and dreams of personal glory instead of directing the battle, so folks like Lan, Tam, Arganda, etc. have the tactical upper hand, if not the positional.

And here's where I go off the rails and take on this line:
People who only interact with people who are just like them, all the time, are people who are primed to fall prey to bias, prejudice, and bigotry, whether they will it so or not.
The far more salient and obvious example than the Vatican is the current White House and most of Congress (of both houses and both parties), who operate in their elitist echo chamber, aided by a media who has forgotten its fundamental purpose. Where existing legislation coincides with their agenda, "IT'S THE SETTLED LAW OF THE LAND, YOU ARE UN-AMERICAN IF YOU DISAGREE". But where the current state of the law impedes their purely political desires, said laws go unenforced. This hypocrisy is a drastically unconstitutional situation, and unprecedented in scope.

As for the Vatican, treat it like a club. If you don't like their rules, don't be a member.

And, back to WoT.

On the topic of whether Warders make an Aes Sedai better in a fight, on the surface it seems obvious that the shared physical benefits affirm that supposition. But in an all-out war like this, do you send your Warder into the fray, or keep him behind you? If he's fully engaged in the fight, then those benefits are going to be heavily tested the more strenuously he is battling. If you hold him back as your saidar steroids (a gender-incorrect analogy, but you get the picture), then he is of no value to the fight for anybody else. Everything has its trade-offs.
11. blademaster81
Welp, thanks for that utterly unneccessary and untrue shot at the Vatican! Other than that, thanks for another readthrough.
12. Brian_E
I really don't want to turn this into a religious war, but when the pope says things like this:

"In one of his most important speeches delivered in Rio, Francis described the church in feminine terms, saying it would be “sterile” without women. Asked what role he foresaw, he said the church must develop a more profound role for women in the church, though he said “the door is closed” to ordaining women to the priesthood."

it's difficult to then claim that Leigh's statement is entirely untrue.
13. Brian Gibbons
The last chapter aside (which landed the book in "hurl with great force" territory for me), the difficulty I had in trying to grasp the big picture of what was going on in this conflict was really my primary issue with the book.

(This issue is slightly ahead the issues of it feeling like Androl is the main character of the book that Sanderson wishes he was writing, and every Demandred POV screaming "No, really, Demandred is a really important Forsaken, really. You should totally go read this other story where we put in all the backstory that would make you realize what an important character he is.")

I never got any real sense of the overall conflict, of what each of the battles was supposed to be accomplishing beyond providing an opportunity to tick off a list of individual scenes from the checklist.

Perhaps this was reader error, but most of the book read to me like "Well, we've been building up to the Last Battle for umpteen books now, I guess we need to have a battle. Let's throw everybody in the series into one big fight and have them whale on each other until Rand finishes up the actual quest that matters."
14. littlebit_liz
See, Egwene right here is one of the big problems I have with the argument that Gawyn acted selfishly in going after Demandred. I know there are other reasons why it was a bad idea, and I think I may agree with some of them to a degree. But to say it was a bad idea because of how it could cripple Egwene is, I feel, selling Egwene short. She can and does overcome her grief at his death because she is a BAMF. Obviuosly Gawyn couldn't know for sure that she would be able to continue on without him, though I believe he does think that, at one point, as he's going to confront Demandred. he has faith in her. So this really gets to me, especially because I'm pretty sure I saw people arguing that Lan fighting Demandred was more okay than Gawyn because he probably thought Nynaeve could handle it if he died! What, and Egwene can't? She can, and does, as we see.
15. Ellanora
I disliked the 'Egwene referring to herself in the third person'. I am one of the readers who miss Egwene the person (instead of Egwene the Amyrlin). I was really hoping that at this point in the series we would see a bit of her humanity, but instead she is pushed even further along the spectrum from a character you can identify with to an institution. Very sad, as for me, this really lessened the emotional impact of her death.
16. Galorian
Pressed for time so I'll just drop off a quick tactical summery:

As far as I can tell Mat has been "playing" this battle 2-3 steps ahead of time with his troop movements and keeping everything on a "you don't need to know" basis, leading the characters who's POVs we're reading to see it as always getting their orders "right on time" and relief forces right when they need them. Due to Demandred's military accuman Mat had to give pretext to every move to conceal future ones, so every order he sends is either completely inexplicable until the reason becomes bloody obvious in retrospect (pun) or looks to be a response to an immediate threat.

The situation above was as follows:
- Sizable Sharan holding force securing the Heights.
- Massive Trolloc horde badly pressing the defensive pike formations holding the river.
- Huge Sharan army advancing towards the heights with the intention of crossing them and joining the offense against the riverbank below.
- The Andoran Pikes and Aiel support are barely holding and cannot handle the Sharans joining the fray.

Mat had already prepared the field however:
- A fair long while ago he had Lan cross the river on the pretext of wiping out the Sharan cavalry, a perfectly reasonable move that incidentally left his force right where it will be needed.
- Tam's forces have been helping the holding action at the river but were not heavily engaged and from their position flanking the pike formations had a clear run at the heights. Again, seemingly incidental opportune force disposition who's benifit is only realized when the Heights have to be taken in a hurry.
- Mat himself had been running around, gathered unengaged forces and either sent them on a way that would lead them to link up with Tam or piled them up next to Teslyn (if I remember the name right).

Now Mat has everything in place to assault the Heights before the larger Sharan army gets there, when Lan and Tam's forces converge he has them charge the heights. From their POV this was an uphill battle that abruptly turned into an enemy rout when the dragonsworn showed up. What they didn't know was that when they were charging uphill against the entrenched Sharans the troops Mat gathered with Teslyn Traveled directly to the top of the Heights and hit the Sharans with a classic pincer move, smashing them between the two forces in short order.

In control of the Heights, all the aforementioned forces now have to hold them against the main Sharan push at all costs, otherwise they'll push through and fall on the Pike formations like a hammer.

Just my 0.02$
Rich Bennett
17. Neuralnet
@ Galorian - Thank you! I think because the chapter is so long and you shift POV around so much , it was hard to grasp the tactics, easy to get lost as to what is going on. Your overview is great.
Tane Aikman
18. Greyshade
Thanks Leigh!

8) Um, doesn't Egwene picking herself, getting another Warder and getting back into battle show that Gawyn was expendable? I think littlebit_Liz at 14) sums it up well.

Re: Androl - I did find this 'caper' stuff a bit jarring as a shift in tone, but overall I think it's fine, as we can do with a touch of light relief at this point.

Re: the battle. I suspect a lot of people would agree, when thinking about it, that the ginormous scale of the battle doesn't quite come through, but the sheer length of the chapter and the number of points of view does still make it epic. I felt able to follow what was going on with the battles reasonably well, though I wasn't bothered to analyze the tactics terribly closely.

I think the battles are well done in this book. My issue with them is that there's too much carnage and not enough reflection on the impact of the battle, like the deaths of major characters.

One quibble about the Gawyn and Galad duels with Demandred. Was anyone else surprised that Galad turned out to be a better swordsman that his brother? I know they're presented that way back in TGH when they're in training, but since then Gawyn became good enough to kill their trainer and other Warders, and defeat three Seanchan magic ninja assassins. Add on the Warder bond and the Seanchan rings and it felt a bit unrealistic to me that Galad would still be the better blademaster.
Ron Garrison
19. Man-0-Manetheran
Leigh: “Does it make me a terrible person that I wanted to tell Egwene to stop referring to herself in the third person?”

Only if you had written it: “Does it make Leigh a terrible person that she wanted to tell Egwene to stop referring to herself in the third person?”
20. Jonellin Stonebreaker
@ 18 Greyshade - Regarding Galad & Gawyn 's relative Blademastery,
I don't think that you can make that argument.
Both are superbly skilled and exceptionally well trained, but at this level of combat, the difference between the two is a mental one with Galad gaining the edge (this also IMHO at least partially explains the difference in effectiveness between Galad and Lan).
Gawyn fights with skill, with the advantages of the Warder bond, and with the effects of Night's Shade, but he still "wields his sword" as Demandred put it, relying on these external factors, and his point of view shows this separation of himself from his actions and attributes.

Galad, on the other hand becomes one with the blade and with the Light, and might have even defeated Demandred if his arm hadn't failed him at the crucial moment.
21. alreadymadwithbrothers
Greyshade @18
People were always surprised at Gawyn's skill. Now that I look on it, Gawyn's way of life revolved around giving his emotions free rein. It's one of the reasons I dislike him. Hate Al'thor on circumstantial evidence, check. Join Elaida's faction because Siuan was less than honest to him, check. Target Demandred because somebody had to and he was good enough, check. He rarely ever thinks things through. But it gives him an edge in desperate battles where he only has to act on instinct instead of plan several steps ahead.
Galad on the other hand, was always well reasoned. His swordsmanship has always been depicted, in not so many words, as poetry in motion. Here in this chapter, it's described as with cold precision. Unlike Gawyn whose plan entirely revolved around a desperate confrontation with Demandred because only he had the buffs to stop him, Galad's plan was simply to draw the battle out. Unlike Gawyn, Galad knew he was likely to lose, but as long as Demandred was fighting him, he wasn't attacking the rest of their armies.
It's a very subtle difference, but one that echoes their decisions in life.

Re: Androl's Shenanigans
I actually missed the part where he filched the Seals from Taim when I read the book. But it was funny how Androl was disguised to look like Androl.
22. Freelancer
Heh, put the wrong thing in this post at first. I just wanted to answer Jonellin Stonebreaker @20.

The thing about any contest and wondering "if" something hadn't happened, it never satisfies. As they say in sports "Scoreboard, Baby". Demandred won, can't change that with a million ifs.
chris reiser
23. halibulu
@18. Greyshade

The problem with that line of thinking in regards to Gawyn proving himself expendable by how Egwene bonded a new warder and recovered, is that there was NO precedent for anyone being able to so quickly overcome that. Therefore there was no reason for anyone, Egwene, Gawyn, and even the readers to possibly expect that she would be able to bury the crushing grief and lead/fight effectively. It's only with hindsight that it proved otherwise, and I'll argue that the loss of not just her Warder, but essentially the love of her life pushed her to be reckless since her life likely didn't mean as much to her. Simply put: if Gawyn lives, Egwene finds a way to defeat Taim without killing herself. No facts to back that up (obviously), but that is my opinion.

Also, on the Gawyn not being better than Galad as a blademaster thing: others were more eloquent in their reasoning, but for me I never forgot reading one of the blogs on Dragonmount.com where during some Q&A RJ stated that while a blademaster, Gawyn has been a lot luckier than he realizes.
Jesse Nyhan
24. Evermore
So Damodred vs Demandred. That had to have been deliberate right?

It seems like Galad may have actually been the better swordsman here. The only hits Demandred scored came directly off of him channeling. If Galad had been a warder or had the rings he probably would have got it done.

Random thought but does Gawyn ever use the void? It doesn't seem like he does against Demandred. Maybe that's what separated him from the Galads and Lans of the world.
25. Crusader75
@12 Leigh makes her statement about the Vatican pretty much an absolute by writing the Church "not doing anything slightly comparable" to Warders. The Catholic Church has Holy Orders for women, i.e. nuns. While nuns are not the equivalent of priests, neither are Warders the equivalent of Aes Sedai. So what she wote cannot be considered partly true without a truly generous interpretation of her words.
Andrew Berenson
26. AndrewHB
Leigh, in your comments you expressed the tendancy of movies not to have character's not loose their arms/hands.

Um, I take it you have not watched Empire Strikes Back lately. Or True Grit.

Kind of ironic that like his half brother, Galad looses a hand/arm. (Brandi @4 beat me to this point)

Samadai @2 -- me too

Freelancer @10 - Adelorna in TGS (during the Seanchan raid). She channeled after her Warder died.

Had Galad killed Demandred, I am sure there would have been a faction of fans who would have screamed bloody murder (pun intended). Those people would have claimed that had he lived, RJ would never had written such a scenario. For that reason, I am glad it played out as it did.

Re Galad's swordsmanship. Do not forget that Galad killed Valda who himself was a blademaster.

Thanks for reading my musings,
27. Crusader75
@14 Gawyn was selfish in going after Demandred. His priority should be defending his Aes Sedai and carrying out her strategies. If he had a bright idea about going after Demandred, he should have shared his intention with her and gotten her approval and coordination for it. What he did was too big for him to decide on his own given the situation did not require him to take such action in the moment. He did not consult her because he knew Egwene would not approve of the plan or his use of the Seanchan stealth rings. He never entirely accepted that being her Warder made Egwene his boss.
28. Faculty Guy
Crusader75: Yes, I rarely criticize Leigh but I think the RC Church/White Tower comparison/contrast is poorly drawn. There are a few similarities, but many differences, the major one IMHO being that the AS have no "laity." Insofar as decision-making, I don't think the AS listen to warder advice, so in that regard they are NOT more admirable than the Vatican, where decisions are made top-down by an exclusive club of unmarried males. (Nuns may be honored but they have no formal voice in important decisions, which thereby have zero feminine input.)

Another matter entirely (though related): do we get to know what happens to Leilwin when Egwene dies? My apologies, but I don't remember, having read AMOL only once and not currently having access to the book.
Cheryl Sanders
29. RestlessSpirit
@28, Faculty Guy: Right before Egwene goes Old Testament on Taim's arse, she breaks the bond with Leilwin and then shoves her through a gateway back to the Tower grounds. Or, something along those lines.
chris reiser
30. halibulu
@AndrewB 26,

Adelorna channels, but she also was a mess who managed to get captured. However that's probably due to superior damane getting her. But more importantly, she still has living Warders to draw strength from, and I believe she even mentions one is wounded somewhere, and so I can't see her abandoning them.
Glen V
31. Ways
Demandred swung again. "All went black." Yep, Galad is dead. No question. Beheaded, no doubt. What? He's not dead? Oh. You sure?

Faculty Guy @28
In the context you are asking the question, yes. I'm not going to spoil it for you, though. ;-)

ETA - But I see someone else did just that while I was reading all the comments.
Terry McNamee
32. macster
An interesting bit of foreshadowing in Egwene's thoughts early on: later, when the Dark One offers Rand the chance to have oblivion instead of continuing to live, suffer, and die throughout the Ages, he resists, thinking that the others would be ashamed of him for wanting to give up to escape the pain of life. But right here, Egwene thinks not just that she wishes she was dead, but that "nothingness would be better...than this agony." Implying she would at least have been tempted too by the Dark One's offer. So maybe Rand had less to worry about concerning rejection from his friends and loved ones than he thought. (In fact at various points throughout the Last Battle, some shown in today's segment, plenty of characters show fear, horror, despair, and a wish to die and/or escape it all.)

I can see why Egwene speaking of herself in the third person would be annoying to some, but I got what she was getting at, separating herself (and her regular Aes Sedai position) from the Amyrlin Seat. And I thought it was poignant and effective. I also was not surprised in the least that she used rage to overcome the pain of grief--it's in character for her, and it seems like one of the few emotions that would work, particularly mid-battle. (That this probably contributes to her heroic sacrifice later is something I didn't foresee, probably because I didn't realize that the dream foretelling Gawyn's death could also lead to her own; nothing in the dream suggested he wasn't the only one to die.)

Speaking of Dreams...yeah I have to agree it seems really strange Egwene didn't think of either of her Dreams at this point. Yes it's mid-battle, she's trying to bury her grief and focus on fighting, there isn't much time for anything else--but surely there could have been at least a line or two devoted to each without bogging down the story too much. However I will say that, no mention of the Dream aside, I can see why no more was devoted to Egwene's actual bonding of Leilwin--what I just said, the need to rush back into battle, so that Egwene didn't have much time to devote to it and could only stiffen her spine, make the bond, and get back to combat. Not dwelling on that much makes sense to me compared to the absence of rage, grief, or any other negative emotion connecting Gawyn's death and the Dream about his choices and life paths.

Even so though, I still think there could have been more devoted to the difficulty and monumental importance of Egwene's decision. What was here was good, particularly how her Amyrlin self (which I see as Egwene's maturity) chided her childish self for hanging on to her prejudice like that. But there should have been more. At the very least her recognizing this was what the Dream meant, and perhaps reflecting that the meaning wasn't as bad as she thought it would be, but that it was still fiendishly difficult for her.

I suppose it could have been justified by the fact Sanderson knew she was going to die, but just because she wasn't going to live long with Leilwin as her Warder doesn't mean the characterization should be skimped--particularly when this Seanchan problem has been with Egwene since book two and greatly informs her character and actions up until now. And even if her reaction was deemed unimportant, the other Aes Sedai seeing her bond a Seanchan would certainly have repercussions for any future dealings between the two sides post-Tarmon Gai'don, so it should be dwelled on for that reason.

All in all I think this is one of the few places I will agree Sanderson screwed up. And whether this makes it better or not, it's not a case of "he did nothing about it/never brought it up" (except the lack of mention of the Dreams) and more "he didn't do enough with it". He did address how Gawyn's death affected Egwene, and he did address her reaction to bonding a Seanchan...but he didn't go far enough or deep enough with either. That said, I did love that she bonded Leilwin, and wish we could have seen more of them fighting together. And I agree with your interesting commentary about what having Warders did for the Aes Sedai, Leigh.

Galad's fight with Demandred: short, but sweet and badass. (Loved the Spiteful Spit at the end!) And I'll go on record to say when it ended, I did not in fact believe he was dead, for the simple reason that that would have been too cliche and obvious based on the way the section ended. As I said before, I did regret Galad didn't get to kill him, but I feel vindicated in that, at least in my opinion, the fight they had was pretty awesome, better than the one with Gawyn.

It was also a good point for Galad to realize that even if he failed, the longer he drew out the fight the more it protected the Light's forces from Demandred. As for the arm severing I remember being rather shocked--not so much because of his prettiness or the tendency not to damage main characters, but because it just seemed so unexpected and brutal for WOT. Then after that reaction faded, I had to smirk a little at the parallel to Rand--it was even the opposite arm.

I can see why Androl's sections are standing out more, style and plot-wise, to a lot of readers, but I still enjoyed them. Partly because of how likable he remains as a character, partly because they generally provide some humor which is a much-needed break from and counterpoint to the relentless death and gloom and despair of the rest of the battle, and partly because as usual, I never know what to expect from them. Having Androl get disguised as himself though had to take the cake for utter hilarity. And how clever of him to use the agony Taim's weave caused to fall on his legs and get the pouch with the seals. (Side note: Mishraile suggesting Taim's disguise for him wasn't ugly enough was so petty and catty, but snort-worthy.)

The last section I found interesting for a number of reasons. Setting aside the issue of tactics, proper military planning and procedures, and the way Sanderson did or didn't describe the action, I was rather pleased to see it from Arganda's POV--correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think we ever saw into his head before now, certainly not during the PLOD. We saw him carrying around Gallenne's helmet earlier in the book, but now we hear his thoughts actually mourning for his comrade, which I found quite poignant (if also funny--he wants an arguing partner!), particularly because prior to Perrin's quest, Ghealdanin and Mayeners had no reason to like each other or even interact, so this is quite the change.

A change I think that is also reflected in the bit Leigh quoted, where as they depart Arganda wistfully wishes the rest of the army well and calls the Andorans, Cairhienin, and Aiel "friends". Stop a moment to think about this: while the Ghealdanin never had feuds and rivalries with Andor or Cairhien that we know of, everyone in Randland pretty much hated and feared the Aiel ever since the Blood Snow. Clearly Arganda has changed his tune due to spending time with the Aiel who went with Perrin, and probably his queen's alliance with Andor and Cairhien through Perrin and Elayne helped his views there as well. But overall this still stands as a sign that maybe there is hope for the Fourth Age, that maybe the Dragon's Peace really can hold and become more than just words on a document, if people can begin seeing each other as friends and have true unity like this on the battlefield.

As Arganda himself noted, "Tam's troops were Whitecloaks, Ghealdanin, Perrin's Wolf Guard and the Mayener Winged Guard, but they viewed themselves as one army. Not six months ago, Arganda would have sworn on his father's grave that men such as these would never fight together--let alone come to one another's aid, as the Wolf Guard did when the Whitecloak forces were being overrun."

Some points worth noting: Abell's reaction to the news about Mat's survival, a great character moment; Arganda wondering where Tam got his battle experience, an amusing nod to the fandom's constant clamoring for the story of Tam among the Illianer Companions that we'll now never get to learn about unless it's in the encyclopedia; Arganda being left alive under the corpse of the Trolloc he killed, a classic battlefield trope; the Ogier showing up and revealing they'd been in the relief army.

As for that ending, I think Lan was being metaphorical, speaking of the moral high ground they'd possess through their honor and bravery. Also, grammatically I read the sentence as having an unspoken future tense: if we are doomed, then we will stand upon the high ground and fight until we die. Meaning, after they get up on the Heights. From what I can tell from the troop deployments, the Shadow's armies were arrayed such that going up the Heights really was their only choice, especially if they wanted to cut Demandred off before he fell upon Elayne's army. Lan just hoped they might make it up there and get a chance to swoop down on the Shadow, and save the rest of the Light's forces even if they themselves died in the process.

@4 Brandi No, you weren't the only one to wonder that. And I think I did show there was a parallel, with it being the opposite arm from Rand's.

@5 neverspeakword: I see what you mean to a degree. I still enjoyed the writing, because I love battle scenes in general and I don't have enough knowledge of tactics to understand what works and what doesn't, and why, but I agree Mat didn't do anything particularly clever here. (Later on though he does, like with the people of Hinderstap, or shooting the dragons through gateways.) I think it may have been the scale of the battle that undermind Sanderson, since IMO he did a pretty good job with the Seanchan attack on the Tower, the Battle of Maradon, and Perrin coming to the Whitecloaks' rescue.

@13 Brian Gibbons: While your point that Androl came to be very important to Sanderson, since he got to fully flesh out and use his character, is valid, I'd take issue with the idea that he was trying to build up Demandred as more important than he was, particularly via the backstory that got cut--it was originally included simply to shed more light on what had been a mysterious character, then cut so as to preserve the reveal of where he was hiding and keep the focus on the heroes, not because Sanderson wanted to share it in the anthology and make Demandred look good. If Demandred was being built up as really important beyond his actual importance, this would only be because Jordan himself always intended him to be key in the Last Battle, and any failure to make this importance seem genuine falls on his decision to keep Demandred so hidden and mysterious.

@14 littlebit_liz: Good point. It could be argued (and I did to some degree above) that his death and her using rage to overcome her grief is what led to her heroic sacrifice, in which case even if she was able to handle it it still did cost the Light dearly. On the other hand, what she did was unquestionably key to the Light's victory since she managed to take out all the Sharans, and Taim, and repair the damage to the Pattern caused by balefire, and figure out when the seals should be broken. So even if his death did cause the bad result of her death, there's plenty of good that came of it too. (And that doesn't even touch on the chain of events he started which eventually culminated in Lan killing Demandred.)

@18 Greyshade: I agree, there really should have been more reflection on the deaths. Not too much, what with the war constantly going on around them, but some. As for Galad, unlike Gawyn who was depending solely on the shadow-masking speed of the rings, Galad had the assurance he was protected from channeling (save indirect effects, and notice how quickly he was able to turn that back on Demandred and neutralize it). Also, thanks to the rings and how they were slowly killing Gawyn, I think it's safe to say his reaction times and ability to strategize and battle were rather curtailed.

@21 alreadymad: Very nice analysis of the brothers.

@25 Crusader: No, but nuns aren't the equivalents of Warders, either. Whatever arguments can be made about the effectiveness and role of nuns in the Church, I don't think you can say they matter as much to most laypeople as the priests do, or as the Warders do to the Aes Sedai.

@26 AndrewHB: And we can still be so deliriously happy that he did take out that Whitecloak tool.

@28 Faculty Guy: As RestlessSpirit said, Egwene shoves her through a gate, right after severing their bond and before she goes Crystalvere. We also later see her approaching Logain to give him Egwene's last message about when to break the seals.
33. MRCHalifax
I love Galad's spit at the end, because it's probably the only time in his life thatt he's ever done it or will do it. He doesn't tell any malicious jokes, he's always polite, he's calm, he never insults anyone, he's diplomatic... And he spits at Demandred. I would say that it's wildly out of character, except that it's an absolute perfect character moment.
34. Faculty Guy
Thanks RestlessSpirit and others.

In my own personal case, "Spoiling" is just not a problem. Any book I like gets read multiple times, and my enjoyment is almost always greater the second (or third) time through, when I "know" the characters and what's in store for them. Then, I'm not rushing through to "see what happens" and can savor the scenery, look for foreshadowings, and anticipate (with either dread or eagerness) their fate. If a book is so simple that none of this works, I'm probably sorry I read it even once!

I'm not speaking for anyone else. My attitude is probably a function of my ADD (even though I'm almost 70) so that I am not capable of going slowly in a first read. In any case, I am not the least irritated by "spoilers" in a work that I know I am going to read and like and re-read. In the case of AMOL, I rushed through last January and look forward to a leisurely re-read (at least one) when I get time. Meanwhile, I'm letting Leigh's review remind me of various aspects, clarify some things that went by in a blur, and fill in items that I missed entirely due to my pace.
Deana Whitney
35. Braid_Tug
For those not keeping track:
We are 122 pages into this chapter.
And 43 viewpoints in (if you count Loial's book as one.)

So we have 62 pages and 30 POV changes ahead.

Thanks for all the work Leigh! Sorry you had the flu eariler.
Nadine L.
36. travyl
I very much liked Androl's section here and am still a bit regretful, that it is so short.
Re Egwene speaking in third person: I though it apt, because it shows, that she has to distance herself from her feelings. And this might be the only way to go on despite the effects of the Warder Bond.
AND Man-O @19: you’re the man ;)

Re Wh0's the best Swordsman, two comments
- Well said, Jonellin Stonebreaker @20.
- I don't think you can take one fight to determine such (except if one is multiple levels better than the other.) Take sports for example: they wouldn't need to "duel" more than once if one game determined wh0's better...
Max Lybbert
37. maxlybbert
@Galorian (16, way back there): thank you. Since Sanderson doesn't have the background that Jordan did, I didn't expect any of the battle orders described in the book to be anywhere near as realistic as those Jordan wrote. As such, I completely ignored them when reading the book. However, your description of what happened really clarifies that part of the story.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
38. Lisamarie
Yuck to the flu, I hope you are feeling better! I have to admit, my eyes started glazing at this post - no offense to you Leigh, it's not the re-read. But I'm the same way, battle tactics and stuff just do not interest me. I'm reading War and Peace right now (not bragging, it's taking me a long time!) and I find myself skipping through the 'War' parts. Napoleon, yawn! Just give me all the intrigue and love triangles, haha.

I find Androl a breath of fresh air, actually :)

Sorry, I just haaaave to comment - especially being a Catholic woman - I also found the comment about the Vatican a little bit condescending/rude, but I'm also of two minds about it, as you will see. It depends what is meant by Vatican.

If by Vatican you are just taking a pot shot a the CC in general, I find it offensive and untrue - but, it in fact represents a very common misconception about how the Vatican/RCC even functions. In fact, Pope Francis's statement quoted above as a reason that her statement is true, is, to me a statement that shows it is NOT true. The priesthood (or even the Vatican, Magisterium, etc) does not comprise the entire Catholic Church. Nor is every single decision made by the Magisterium and in fact the Church as a whole, worldwide, is not as micromanaged as people seem to think. Even things like doctrine or philosophy have been influenced by the writings of many female saints and theologians (Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Therese of Liseux - all Doctors of the Church, btw - Edith Stein, etc).

So, yes, the ministerial priesthood is an office for men. It is certainly an important role. It is not the only important role, and I can definitely tell you from my own experience, that every parish I have been a part of has had lots of feminine influence.

Now, I am certainly not going to disagree wtih you that a)women have not been as reprseented as they could have been, or that b)there have not been grave abuses and misrepresentations of the type of authority and power those parts of the Church have. I get it, which is why I understand where the criticisms come from. But to say that the Church has taken no steps to be inclusive or seek other perspectives (specifically the feminine perspective) or have written off women as useless is just ludicrous to me and completely alien to my perspective as a practicing Catholic woman.

Or maybe I'm making the same mistake and assuming that by Vatican you must mean the RCC in general ;) I would still disagree to a point but I do think there is definitely more of a struggle in that department specifically since Vatican City is basically a city state governed by the Pope and a Pontificial Commission (cardinals) and most of the population is clergy. But Vatican City as a political entity is kind of unique...or do you mean the Holy See/Curia, the spiritual governing body? I am not sure what all the requirements are to serve on the various councils (if it must be clergy, etc) - but I did click on a few of the councils that consisted of lay people and there were a few women serving - but not many. So I certainly think that is an area where there could be improvement, as is the case for many other institutions. But I am confident we'll get to the right place, even if it's a bit slowly an cautiously.
39. eep
@16 Galorian - Bravo! Great analysis and very illuminating. I would add that it seems to me that the battle for the Heights against the Sharan holding force is won at the end of this segment, and the lightsiders are in fact on the high ground, as Lan says. The dragonsworn army and Ogier have already arrived and routed the Sharan holding force when Lan helps Arganda. The doom and gloom at that point is concerning the larger Sharan force which is now going to approach and try to cross the Heights.
Alice Arneson
40. Wetlandernw
Just a quick note to point out that the claim, "Sanderson screwed up" (with regards to something that seems to have been given short shrift) is not entirely an accurate analysis. It may well be that he wrote more about it, but it was left on the cutting room floor. A great many editorial decisions were made by Team Jordan with regard to what could/should or couldn't/shouldn't be cut. We will never know about most of them.
vo mabulay
41. alreadymad
Brandi @4
There's been a long series of parallels and contrasts between Rand and Galad stretching back since way back when.

macster @32
I'd say Gawyn was never much for long term strategy. It's one of the reasons he's one of the most hated ones. It's all acting rashly for him.

On Rand and Galad's parallels and contrasts:
Both were abandoned by their mother, in one way or another, of course.
Both were adopted by surrogates who were as good as mothers to them.
Both gathered much the same fan club, with only a few minor differences. (Berelain, Min, Egwene, etc)
I've always envisioned them having mostly the same facial structure, but with Rand having that light Aiel coloring and Galad having dark hair and eyes.
Both have, at least once, been described as simply too beautiful.
Both became blademasters.
One would found an order whose uniform was black, while the other would join an order whose uniform was white.
The one with the lighter coloring founded the order dressed in black, while the one with darker coloring joined the order dressed in white.
The latest being both of them are now missing an arm.

Now where the heck did that captcha go....
Leigh Butler
43. leighdb
Lisamarie @ 38:

To me it's pretty simple: until the RCC allows women to become priests, bishops, and cardinals, and (therefore) to be eligible for the position of Pope (i.e. to have a decisive and authoritative voice in policy-making within the highest heirarchy of the Church), there is not parity for men and women within the Catholic Church, and any claim otherwise smacks of hypocrisy.
44. Ryamano
The Warders may not have been the most representative bunch of Male Non-Channeling Humanity ever, but I speculate that their continuous association with the Aes Sedai is in large part what helped keep the White Tower from going off the deep end and writing off men as entirely useless altogether. Pity that some real-world analogous organizations have never seen the need to do something even slightly comparable for the reverse situation. *cough*TheVatican*cough*

Lots of Catholic priests/bishops/etc were married and had children before they joined the church along its history. Clerical continence (Abstinence from sex) didn't mean strict clerical celibacy (not marrying) until the 11th century (or 16th century). The priests had families and lots of nepotism happened (with some popes even trying to put their infants as their sucessors). That didn't stop the Vatican from being an ivory tower that distanced itself from the population and felt better than most of it. I think the situation has even become better nowadays, when most priests have not been married or had any sexual relations during their entire lives, than at the times of the Borgias, for example.

Greek Church (Byzantine) allowed its bishops to marry (actually it was encouraged by law), but that didn't stop the mysoginy from appearing in their discourse over time.

Basically, I think the problem is with a religion dealing with the base text (the Bible) and having to stay with it, rather than how the director's board is formed. The base text (the Bible) says a lot of things about women having to submit to their husband's will (unless it contradicts being christian). Even some silly things, like women having to cover their heads in church, because otherwise God might confuse one with another and get angry, are written in the Bible.
45. eep
@44 That base text (the Bible) can support the Spanish Inquisition, and it can support a modern liberal church that approves of gay marriage and female ministers and birth control. It's not the Book, it's the people.
vo mabulay
46. alreadymad
Freelancer @42
Are you implying that I resorted to some form of underhandedness?
47. Bill D5
The problem with the Vatican potshot is as lisamarie points out, that the clergy is not the entirety of the Church, anymore than the government is the entirety of a nation. The White Tower is not analogous to the Church because it has no congregation, which is the sine qua non of the Church. Leigh's reply to lisamarie is mind-boggling in her ignorance and attempt to impose her own definition on it. It's like saying that a vegetarian restaurant is a hypocritcal failure because they don't serve your favorite desert.

By the Church's own teaching and doctrine, the priests & bishops and whatnot lack exactly the same agency that women do. The Church does not make up laws or doctrine, it reveals Divine Will, and women have had their share in those revelations as well. The reason why women are not members of the clergy (nuns and monks don't technically count - their vows are not the sacrament of Holy Orders) is the same reason why the White Tower does not have any men in the Hall of the Tower. Channeling has nothing to do with the skills most important to the duties of Sitter, so why not have men serve? Because being an Aes Sedai is a prerequisite, and channeling is a prerequisite for that. Whatever Leigh or anyone else thinks, the clergy of the Catholic church are not administrators or officials. Their defining function is first, and foremost, the performance of the rituals and administration of the sacraments of the Church, which women simply cannot do anymore than men can channel saidar.

The one is as much a real fact as the other. Either you accept the Church's word that the sacraments, and their character and the graces imparted by them are real, or you do not, but if you do accept their reality, you have to accept the rules the Church says exist on them. A woman can no more transubstantiate the bread and wine on the altar into the Body and Blood of Jesus than a man can be a surrogate mother or a wet nurse. Because the Church said so. Or is someone really going to claim "No, I believe in these rituals and supernatural characteristics that we only have the Church's word that they exist, but I also believe that the Church is wrong about how they work!" It's like saying "Robert Jordan is wrong about how saidar works! Men can too channel it. He's only saying otherwise because Harriet has him whipped!"

The graces and such that come through the sacraments do so by the will of God, and not from any inherent power in saying the words and performing the rites. One appropriate precedent would be Moses striking the rock when God commanded to provide the Israelites with something to drink. One time nothing flowed out, so Moses hit the rock again, as if it was his own action that caused the miracle, or as if his hitting the rock could make God wake up and perform on cue. To presume to ordain someone designated as ineligible for the sacrament, and then expect that God will alter material into His Own Substance because that preson performs a ritual and says some words, would be a comparable presumption to that of Moses for which he was forbidden to enter the Promised Land.

Now you can reject all that stuff as wrong or untrue or unfair, but those are the rules the Church has established as being in accordance with the Will of God. Rejecting part of their teachings while claiming to accept the rest of what they have to say is absurd as contending that Joss Whedon is wrong about how Vampire Slayers are created. You can point to contradictory things an author has said about his creation, but you can't arbitrarily label one aspect of his work as incorrect because it doesn't fit with your world view. Either the Church IS revealing the truth about God, or they are making this stuff up and pulling their relevations out of their asses. If the former, you can't gainsay their version of the Divine truth. If the latter, why would you want to be a priest?

And Leigh's response @43 is completely different than her original gratuitous potshot, which was that the Church writes off women as useless. In her response :
To me it's pretty simple: until the RCC allows women to become priests, bishops, and cardinals, and (therefore) to be eligible for the position of Pope (i.e. to have a decisive and authoritative voice in policy-making within the highest heirarchy of the Church), there is not parity for men and women within the Catholic Church, and any claim otherwise smacks of hypocrisy.she completely changes the context of her original accusation, and reveals her ignorance of the Church. She is picking on a minor & incidental aspect of the priesthood (eligibility for higher office) as a reason to alter its conditions in defiance of the actual purpose of that office. It's like demanding someone be made President so he can live in the White House, and never mind his capability for exercising the duties of the office. Or like demanding that men be made Aes Sedai so that they can be eligible to have a more equitable voice in setting policies for the Tower. The only basis for either claim is the notion that one must be part of a group or having something in common with that group in order to set policy for said group, which is merely an opinion, not supported by an objective evidence.

As far as Liegh's accusation of hypocrisy, it is empty and baseless, but to be expected as the only non-hypocritcal accusation a moral relativist can make against those who hold a set code. How is it hypocritical to claim, correctly or not, that the Church DOES respect women, or that Leigh is wrong in her implication that they write off women as useless altogether? That claim would only be hypocritical if, in some way, the claimant had accused the Church of the same thing, and then turned around and criticized Leigh for doing just that. Just because hypocrisy is the only criticism you are able to make because of your oft-asserted stance on moral relativism (or more precisely, your constant criticism of people who make definitive moral claims or absolute statements), does not mean you can twist the definition of hypocrisy until it screams to fit your critics.

If the Church is sexist and claims to not be sexist, it is merely wrong. That does not make it, or its defenders, hypocrites. And the church is really not hypocritcal, nor are its defenders, by and large. They are operating in a manner consistent with their expressed or stated beliefs, however much others might dislike those beliefs. Logically speaking, the only way the Church could be hypocritcal would be to reverse centuries of teaching to fit in with contemporary mores. The Church's claim to authority rests in its revelations of Divine Will and protection from God from committing errors in the teaching of faith and morality. What, exactly, about an omnipotent, omniscient, immortal, eternal Being suggests that His wishes change at all, let alone to match whatever position is currently in vogue in a particular portion of mortal human society that fancies itself to be the most advanced?
Christopher Your
48. Cayour
Huh. I'm.... caught up. I started reading this at work MONTHS ago, and while I acknowledge that most of you have been reading this FAR longer than me, I never actually expected to be "Live" with the posting. (I like run on sentences too!) It feels exceptionally weird to suddenly realize that everthing I'm reading is no longer re-cap history. I've always believed that I would finish this a day late and a dollar short .

Kudos to all who have read from the beginning and huge thanks to Leigh for dedicating so much of her life to this. I appreciate this analysis more than I can articulate. I've been in love with WOT for 15 years and felt I knew the stories after reading through 3 ish times. But the detail provided here by both Leigh and other fans is mind boggling. And while I can't say that I always AGREE with Leigh's personal views and tangent rants, I do appreciate being able to see the WOT world through another set of eyes.

Truly, thank you.

Onward! Exciting stuff! And what not!
49. eep
@47 I think a problem with your analysis is that most religious believers consider their religion a bit more important than Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or any other work of fiction. Joss can define his characters any way he wants, but religious people believe that there is something beyond the priest talking to you; there is an actual real God out there and the priest could be wrong about something here and there because this actual real God is not just a character the priest made up.

You seem to basically be saying "take it or leave it." Either the CC is completely correct about everything, or why are you even interested in being a part of it? If everyone had that attitude, things might actually work out better; the CC membership in America would dwindle to about 2% of it's current size, since about 98% of Catholics have used birth control. Perhaps all those ex Catholics would form a new protestant religions or join existing ones, and buy up the newly empty Catholic churches and charities and hospitals, and everything could continue on with a few modernizations.

But, like Martin Luther, most people would rather reform than abandon, and would choose to abandon only when reformation is impossible and the status quo is intolerable.
50. Freelancer
Here we go...
The base text (the Bible) says a lot of things about women having to submit to their husband's will (unless it contradicts being christian).
Not in the way you are purporting it to seem. But let's take a look...
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself."
~ Eph 5:22-28
The claim of chauvinism aimed at these verses is nonsense. In a marriage, both the wife and the husband are to sacrifice their selves for the other. There is one way for a marriage to work flawlessly, and that is when both husband and wife focus their interest in the joy and contentment of the other above their own. That is the formula presented here. It is not about the woman being belittled, it is not about the man being raised up. There is no inequality in a real marriage, and any man who uses the Bible to create such an inequality should be horsewhipped for a fiend.

For any organization to function, there must be a heirarchy of accountability, and this includes a family. To pretend that authority can be perfectly split between two people is absurd. So a pattern is offered. The man bears the accountability which comes with authority. This does not confer upon him power to lord over his family as a miniature god, it demands of him the responsibility to care for and love his family, and to make the decisions which will prosper the household.

Find any Christian family that is unhappy (sadly not a very difficult task), and you will find that they have ignored some or all of this pattern. Find a Christian family that lives by this pattern, and you will find contentment and peace.
Even some silly things, like women having to cover their heads in church, because otherwise God might confuse one with another and get angry, are written in the Bible.
Ok, please provide the verse reference and text which supports this ridiculous claim. I'll even help you out, the only place where the general topic is mentioned is I Corinthians 11. But confusion or anger on the part of the Almighty over it is found nowhere.

AM @46

Not in the least.
51. LansDaughter
First time poster, very late to the party / Last Battle. Have been sporadically reading through the Re-read posts over the past year, and finally all caught up! So. . now I have to be patient and wait for each instalment.
Well, at least there are still a lot of trollocs yet to slaughter. Haven't missed out on ALL the fun
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
52. Lisamarie
To address leigh (and thank you for the response, I always get a little thrill when the author of a series I follow responds to me!):

"To me it's pretty simple: until the RCC allows women to become priests, bishops, and cardinals, and (therefore) to be eligible for the position of Pope (i.e. to have a decisive and authoritative voice in policy-making within the highest heirarchy of the Church), there is not parity for men and women within the Catholic Church, and any claim otherwise smacks of hypocrisy."

I think this is just a matter of defining our terms and how we both view the Church. First off, there is apparently some precedence, and even current discussion, on the idea of female cardinals, since it is a matter of canon law that currently requires a cardinal to be an ordained priest. Canon law is something that theoretically could be changed (doesn't mean it will be or always should be, but it could) - not that I think it's going to happen right this second!

Second of all - because of my own spiritual presuppositions, to me it is literally impossible that a woman could be a priest, because to me a priest is not some position of power or a position to be attained, but something that has inherent attributes. I just don't believe that a woman is capable of being in persona Chrsti - not because of any deficiencies of womankind or superiorities of mankind, but because it's the same way a man can't bear a child. They just can't, and I don't lose sleep over it or think my ability to bear children makes me 'better' and my lack of ability to be in persona Christi makes me 'worse'. I am being extremely oversimplified in my explanation here, but that's the gist, and this is not a theology forum :)

As for things like decision making, etc - I think - and this is certainly a real problem and tempation - it is important to avoid the trap of viewing priests as somehow 'above' or masters of everybody else, and certainly somebody should not be come a priest because they think it's a path to power and authority. I am absolutely sure that happens, and also that there are priests and clergy who abuse this station, though. In fact recently there have been a lot of writings on the importance of the laity, their holiness, their vocation, etc. There are many great paths to follow!

And as for the Pope, again, it may be a bit of a mistake to view him as something like a President or CEO who makes a bunch of top down decisions to 'control' how the Church behaves or thinks or what have you - which is I think, where the desire to see a woman have that opportunity comes in. From a faithful Catholic point of view, at any rate, he's just the custodian of an existing truth, NOT the one making decisions/"policy" or defining it. Again, there certainly are Popes who have abused that! I completely understand why people have the point of view you have, even if I don't agree with it. The only gaurantee we get from the Holy Spirt as far as infallibility is concerned is that the Pope won't completely muck things up irreparably ;)

That said, I am in agreement there ARE certainly more opportunities that women (or non-clergy in general) could to provide input and perspective and interpretation and exegesis and even make decisions on things - I just don't think it requires redefining the nature of the priesthood/Papacy (something I don't even think we have the ability to do) to do so. I don't believe equality/parity necessarily means sameness and that everybody will do every role. And it definitely does not mean the Church considers women 'useless' (which is probably the part I took the most offense to).

Ironically, fwiw, I had always kind of disdained feminism and figured people that prattled on about things like 'rape culture'
(before we had a word for it) and misogyny and figured they were all exaggerating UNTIL I became a more faithful Catholic and started really studying what had been written on these topics. There were a lot of secular/media promoted assumptions about men and women and their relationships I had pretty much taken for granted until then. I don't necessarily agree with every feminist (as not everybody agrees what that means anyway) everywhere on every topic, but there is quite a bit of overlap!
Maiane Bakroeva
53. Isilel
Late to the party, but here are my 2 cents:

Yes, Galad's confrontation with Demandred is not foolish at all, as he is consciously buying time for his side and since he is somebody who truly is relatively expendable.

Re: Gawyn, no I don't buy his "belief in Egwene" as an excuse. If he had truly believed in her, he would have told the plan to her, so that she could improve on it and/or be braced for his likely death. Egwene was not only in command of a big chunk of the army of Light, she was also personally handling the big artillery, so to speak, where one moment of inattention due to Gawyn's surprise shenangians could cause her death and those of countless others.
How many lives did Egwene's irrational charge on the heights to try to save Gawyn cost?

As a corollary, though, it makes zero sense that a warder's death would normally disable an AS like this. Not only would it make value of warders extremely questionable in battle, but we also saw situations where Moiraine, for instance, was fully expecting that Lan might die in their race to the Eye of the World and was prepared to go on without him. Or other cases of warders sacrificing themselves so that their AS could escape a mortal danger, which they couldn't have done if they got shell-shocked like that.
Anyway, I tell myself that Egwene being in love with Gawyn made her parcticularly vulnerable.
Of course, this highlights yet again the madness of Lan and the harem all being on the frontlines (Min technically behind the lines, but hardly safe, as we have seen), given how their deaths should have competely devastated Rand and Nynaeve respectively.
Oh, well.

I never understood, the praise for RJ's "realistic" writing of military engagements.
Sorry, but they were nonsense from the start. People without armor being superior to those wearing it, in inverse proportion, logisticless Aiel, Borderlanders having militaries consisting of only _one_ type of soldier/arms, crossbows being used as if they were rifles and machine guns, etc., etc. And that's even before we get into all the massive inconsistencies with channeling.
So, yea, I have my quibbles with AMoL, as everybody here knows, heh, but really, it is not notably worse in that respect. IMHO, YMMV.
Eric Hughes
54. CireNaes
Wow. Things are heating up!

First off, welcome to those who've caught up and kudos for wading through not only the Reread, but the comments as well.

I think we are close as a group to being moderated, which is a bummer. These past few rereads haven't elicited much commentary. I attribute that mostly to the nature of this chapter, but the personality of the various moderators we've had over the course of our time together shouldn't be disregarded either.

Gender issues in the various offices and functionaries of ministry and by extension life in general? Get out of town! Now we're having some fun. I've always found it helpful to have a solid historical grasp to any prescriptive Scriptural writings I come accross so that I can best explain the cultural execution of the guidelines. The Apostle Paul was so Type A and wasn't shy about how certain practices are viewed culturally and were by extension going to reflect poorly on the church. Headcoverings and hair-length guidelines while praying and prophesying (interesting piece that bit) were important as a means of distancing the early church from gnostic androginous practices meant to excise oneself from the flesh in general. There were difficulties surrounding exclusivism with the latest fashions as well as hair length and temple prostitution practices among men and women. I could go on, but that about covers things. As eep@45 implied, any writing can be used to support any ideology with enough fandangling.

On a side note, the WoT always supported the idea of gender differences between men and women being combined for the greater benefit of both. Like Freelancer makes note of in Ephesians 5: this is the core teaching of circular servanthood. There will always be those who missue and missappropriate gender based strengths for their personal gain. In an effort to reduce this as an individualistic Western culture, we have sought to deemphasize those practical differences rather than take more direct collectivisitc interventions that require more time and effort on the part of a society. Not that there aren't advantages to individualistic relational paradigms, it's just that the more lazy aspects aren't to anyone's benefit let alone gender based practicalities.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this exactly, just shooting the breeze in an effort to spark up some more conversation. We haven't hit 100 comments in a while now and we used to be the most robust community on this site. I'm enjoying Leigh and Lisamarie's conversation. I'll be honest Bill D5. You're coming on a little strong, although I respect your convictional zeal you're probably going to get the conversation shutdown. Try to take a more conversational approach.

Time to head home. TTY'ALL

edit: for bad phone typing.
Roger Powell
55. forkroot
One thing I have wondered about is: Was Taim's Mirror of Mists weave laid on top of the inverted weave that Androl was using? (I'm assuming both weaves were inverted and tied off.)

Should we presume that Androl undid both Taim's weave and his own weave once he was back among friends?

Re the CC and comments above: Perhaps Leigh thought it was time to stir the pot here a little :-) I do think that Leigh is consistent in her critiques, whether or not I agree with them. Then again, I don't look at things with the same gender-equity focused lens ... I have my own, different biases and ways of judging things.

I'd prefer to stir the pot by restating my usual rant about the misuse of "loose" when the writer meant "lose". We all have our hot buttons.

PS - A backhanded compliment ... did anyone else notice that Freelancer had a misspelled word? He'll go a 100 posts with everything grammatically correct. Quick, go find it before he edits it away!
Cheryl Sanders
56. RestlessSpirit
@ fork: I had always assumed just that (re: Mirror of Mists) and was terrified that Taim would discover Androl's infiltration here. But as I understand, the Mask is just an illusion laid on top of a person (thing?) and doesn't actually "touch" them. This is my reasoning for believing as you in this circumstance.
Eric Hughes
57. CireNaes
I know right? He's totally loost all credibility.
58. srEDIT
@fork: I hope you do not refer to Free's careful choice of "their selves"?
59. Freelancer
Well, I've taken a look, and it's quite possible that I'm simply overlooking it, but I don't see a misspelling in any of my comments on this thread. Sr'EDIT has the right of it, my use of "their selves" was exactly as intended, given the "each to the other" context of the sentence. (NOT making a claim to be flawless in this regard, I know I make mistakes as easily and often as anyone)

But while we're at it, it is grammatically incorrect to type "a 100". Either spell out "one hundred", "a hundred", or simply "100". ::wink::
Roger Powell
60. forkroot
Freelancer - The correct spelling is "hierarchy" and FWIW others missed on that one too.

After all these years and posts, if I had a nickel for every time you make a spelling or grammatical mistake, I still couldn't afford a Starbucks tall coffee.
61. Faculty Guy
"Hierarchy" is one of those words for which spelling is pretty much irrelevant: it can't be mistaken for any other word I know, so effective communication does not depend on its spelling (unless, I suppose, it is mangled beyond recognition).

I know that any criticism of a religion is itself subject to criticism. I have RC friends and even a few who are Protestant "fundamentalist" but I consider the divine mystery to be beyond human conceptualization. Thus, while I certainly believe that some religious faiths are truer than others, none can legitimately claim perfection. For ANY human to claim to know absolute truth is, IMO, ridiculous.

There is some symmetry here with science. The universe does seem to exist and be governed by rational principles (though no one knows why this must be so). Scientists observe, construct models (theories) and test these. As time and technology progress, the models evolve toward an closer and closer understanding of reality, in the sense that they yield accurate predictions of future events (given a knowledge of current conditions). But no scientist worthy of respect will claim that science produces absolute knowledge: as our technology advances our models meet new, previously unknown conditions, and will almost surely fail eventually.

How many church doctrines and "correct" beliefs of the past have met their doom? Jews and heretics were tortured in the Inquisition in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, but that would be unthinkable today for any legitimate Christian sect. Understanding changes over time, even in theology, and one should NEVER claim absolute knowledge of divine will. One church denomination has the motto "the reformed church: always reforming." That, I can accept.
Tricia Irish
62. Tektonica
Galorian@16: Thank you. That really helped me visualize the battle. That said, I would've loved being in Mat's head more, while he was thinking some of these plans through. After all, he is THE general, THE architect of this battle. (And I love Mat.)

Galad, while maddening at various times in the series, has his head screwed on right, here. Distracting Dem, and buying time is indeed a worthy endeavor. And he seems to be embracing his brother! I find the arm parallels kind of odd, actually.

While the battle was epic, and confusing, as battles are, my one wish for this book would've been more "thoughts and reflection", however brief, from some of major long term players...Egwene and her dreams, Mat and his battle thoughts, etc. Maybe in the heat of the moment, reflection isn't possible, but as a reader, it would have provided more of a completion of the story for me.

Glad that nasty flu is bugging off, Leigh!
63. srEDIT
@fork: ouch! I was snagged, but didn't take the time to look it up...the downfall of every editor. Good catch!
Jeff Schweer
64. JeffS.
Hi every one,
This is for the discussion on being able to describe the scale of battle.
Galorian did what I think was a very nice job of the planning seen and unseen. I hope this link posts.

This link is from a stage of The Battle of the Bulge, WWII. Which had what we would call pretty good communication even by todays standards. No viewing gates, more's the pity.
I have a question for you. You're in Elsenborn. How do you know what's really going on in Bastogne?
Orders come from the top to move your troops in a certain way and you have no idea why or what's happening elsewhere. You do it anyway cause while you don't know what the grand plan is, you hope that someone gets it.

To me, this shows two things. First, describing all of the troop movements and action across square miles of territory is next to impossible. Two, with that said, Mat can see it. OMG. I am more impressed with the Lord of Battles than ever before.

Jeff S.
I am only an egg
65. Freelancer
@ forkroot

Fair enough, I muffed that one. I suppose it's what I get for composing in Notepad++ instead of a real word processor. And given the nature of your challenge, I chose not to paste my comments into one to go hunting, because then I would have had to wade through all of the flagged words/phrases mistakenly marked as wrong or questionable. That's why I rarely use anything with a spelling- or grammar -checker. (None of which would have flagged your "a 100")
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
66. Lisamarie
A few quick thoughts to dash off, nothing profound, while both my kids are actually occupied ;)

In response to CireNaes@54:
1. "Gender issues in the various offices and functionaries of ministry and by extension life in general? Get out of town! Now we're having some fun" - hah, yeah! This is a topic I enjoy talking about, so I hope nobody is taking offense or viewing it as an 'argument'.

2. "As a side note, the WoT always supported the idea of gender differences between men and women being combined for the greater benefit of both." - that was one of the things I always enjoyed, and one of the themes I definitely enjoy regarding Androl/Pevara.

3. In response to FacultyGuy @61 - every year I do a retrospective of the past year in the form of a survey that makes it rounds in the journalling community I'm part of. I also go through all the books I've read. Some of the questions involve things like lessons you've learned, a quote that strikes you, things like that. One of the things I read this year was Pope Francis's encyclical, Lumen Fidei, and this quote struck me quite a bit and I've taken it as my personal motto.:

"Clearly, then, faith is not intransigent, but grows in respectful coexistance with others. One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us. Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialouge with all."

And that's pretty much how I feel about it - I believe there is an objective truth out there. I may not necessarily have all the pieces of it, but I'm seeking it humbly (I hope) and putting it tgether as best I can, while acknowledging there may be changes along the way. Not in the truth itself, but in how much I grasp. So, I enjoy the dialouge because even if I don't agree with them in totality, they may still have a point of view or perspective which is needed for me to remedy somse blind spot I have, and I'm not afraid of opposing views. This actually is what the RCC believes; the Catechism and other writings discuss how all religions have some kernel of truth and the benefit of dialougue and unity. Naturally, we think we've got the biggest kernel (or we we wouldn't believe what we believe), or the most clear grasp, or what have you - but of course we're all still human and learning too. I deally, as Pope JPII said in one of his encyclicals (Redemptoris Missio), the Church does not impose, but proposes. Sadly, that is not always the case.

Coincidentally, in Church today, our priest joked that this little girl who got up to give an announcement about Catholic Schools Week could 'replace him' and do his job as well as he could, and it really set my teeth on edge! Obviously he just meant that she was a good speaker, but I was just kind of all, "blaaaargh that's not a priest's job!" - if being a priest just meant giving an entertaining/enlightening homily and teaching about/discussing the faith, I could be a great priest and there would be no reason women couldn't do it - and there certainly is room for more women to be involved in that kind of thing and that is a valid criticism. But it's not the primary function of a priest, and I feel like his comment - from a priest himself - shows that there are huge misunderstandings about the whole thing. To me it was like saying my husband (who stays home with them) could 100% replace me as my sons' mother because he takes such good care of them. He does many important things, but not all of them, and as amazing as a father as he is (and he really is a better parent than I am, he has loads more patience and flexibility), he's not their mother, he didn't bear them, he doesn't nurse them, and we're not interchangeable, and there are some things he just can't do (and vice versa).

Anyway, I just kind of laughed because it reminded me of the Wheel of Time thread :)
67. Galorian
@people who liked my post

Happy to have helped! ^_^

I might have gone into greater detail but unfortunately it was the night before a major test so I literally could not afford more than 10-15 minutes to write it.

Aaaaand seeing as how I've got another test looming over this Wendensday I'll be dropping off once more.

Physics is a cruel mistress... :P
Robert Crawley
68. Alphaleonis
Really enjoyed most of the comments above. As a Mormon who taught Sunday School for many years, I started each year by asking my students if they had any theological questions that we could try to answer during the year. I had them write their questions down and turn them in to me. I believe that every year the question "Why can't women hold the Priesthood?" came up. I wish that I had had some of the insights posted by some of my Catholic sisters above to aid in the answering of that question.

Another vote of appreciation for your post Galorian.

In the discussion of Aes Sedai who had channelled after her warder was killed, my favorite example is Aemon's wife. I think she basically won the war that was already lost by drawing more of the power than she could safely handle. A very good comparison to what Egwene did.

I have always like Gawyn. Other than his hatred of Rand and choosing Elaida's side. Really liked him in TEOTW. He made some bad decisions, but would the last battle have even been won without the chain of events that he set in motion?
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
69. Lisamarie
Oooh yeah, I think I totally missed the Eldrene/Egwene connection! Probably very intentional as they are both of Manetheren :)

I have to admit, I just can't stand Gawyn (although he was fine at the beginning of the series), despite whatever good things he may have set in motion. Similar to how Tolkien has written about Gollum not being redeemed just because he happened to aid in the destruction of the Ring - he still had bad motives. Not that Gawyn is EVIL, but he still makes horrible decisions and had a huge chip on his shoulder.

That said, if you want to talk about unpopular characters, I've always had a soft spot for Galad, so there you go ;) I enjoyed watching his character develop, especially in the last few books.
Valentin M
70. ValMar

I don't get the impression that Galad is unpopular, at least not in this forum.
I don't recall Wetlander making any major attempts at defending him, which is basically repeating my assertion from the first sentence ;) *

* Obviously this is applying only for confirmed Light-siders.
Rob Munnelly
71. RobMRobM
Re Galad - we had some debates in the early books about whether he is bad at all, with some blaming Elayne for being hypersensitive/unreasonable in her dislike. I came down on the "Yes, Elayne has reason to have problems with Galad" camp relative to the early books, where all was black and white and he would act irrespective of possible harm to others. Comments in that direction from Min helped solidify my views on that.

Galad grew more flexible and rounded in the later books, causing whatever dislike there was to dissipate.
Roger Powell
72. forkroot
RobMRobM: Agreed about Galad's growth.

I've posted on this topic before: One of the many compelling virtues of the WOT series is how RJ handled the character growth of his main characters. Obviously the yougest and most important characters had the most growth (think Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Elayne, Nynaeve) and the next tier included some nice growth arcs such as Galad's. Faile grew a lot. Gawyn even grew up some, but not enough as it turned out.

The older characters obviously had less of this, but we still saw some key personal growth, much of it through surrender:

1) Lan giving up his "one man" war and accepting the shared sacrifice of the Borderlanders.

2) Moiraine giving up a need to control Rand and learning to counsel instead.

3) Thom giving up his mistrust of Aes Sedai enough to allow himself to admit his love for Moiraine.

4) Morgase giving up "being queen" and finally finding happiness with a man that loves her for being her.
Tricia Irish
73. Tektonica

I might add Siuan, who after being deposed, had to develop respect for those with lesser abilities, and had tosurrender to her emotions, and then found love.

Galad's growth was excellent. He ended up being a real prince among men.

Edit for odd verb tenses.
74. eep
@Lisamarie - Why do you believe that only a man can do what a priest does? Is this based on something in the Bible, or RC doctrine not directly from the Bible? If the latter, what is it based on?

You used the term in persona Christi. If it is a matter of having to be the same gender as Christ, is gender the only thing that has to be the same? Can someone of a different ethnicity than Christ be in persona Christi? Can someone missing or born without an arm or a leg do it? Does eye color matter? If not, why gender, but not these things?

You compared it to child bearing, but there are obvious biological reasons for that. There is nothing so obvious or clear-cut with this priesthood business, and I would like to understand where you draw the lines and what the reasoning is.
75. Faculty Guy
About Galad: Agree that his development was one of the things handled really well. I thought one of the most moving exchanges in the entire series was his with Morgase in ToM (ch 29 or about) when he is confronted directly with the problems of black/white ethical thinking.

And I only wish we could have had a similar scene with Gawyn being forced to admit the stupidity of his hatred for Rand, based on rumor and maintained against testimony to the contrary by people he loved and respected!

Lots of the growth of both Galad and Gawyn took place in the last three books, so I can't help wonder how much (if any) detail RJ left and how much was BWS's creation.
77. Faculty Guy
To eep and Lisamarie: I share eep's curiosity about exactly "why" Lisamarie (and, of course, millions of others) believe that "only a man can do what a priest does." I want to propose an answer, but invite Lisamarie to correct me if I'm wrong.

Lisamarie and I share much. If I understand her correctly, we are both Critical Relativists: we do believe in the existence of the Absolute (Truth, Right vs Wrong, etc.) but believe that humans do not have access to knowledge of it. Thus, we all try to understand as best we can what is, in the end, beyond our understanding.

So why do we believe that certain things are "given" beyond questioning? The answer invariably, I believe, is that we were told these "truths" as children, or suddenly grasped them in a moment of great psychological stress, and the "fact" becomes a part of our underlying subconscious view of reality. To question such a "truth" is to risk having to change our entire world-view, which is always a stressful experience. (Joseph Campbell has said that joining an organized religion is often a way of innoculating oneself against having a religious "experience." And that most people don't really WANT an "experience" because that usually necessitates changing one's life!)

Again: I invite correction. And, in accord with my own deeply held view that All Things are related: this discussion really does relate closely to the Galad/Gawyn growth (or lack of it). I grew up in rural Georgia among fundamentalists. It was sold to us that, unless one believed exactly what was "True," then we were, in fact, faithless. Many people have accepted this, whether Christian, Muslim, or other. It took me a long time to realize that this claim is false: there are many shades of gray.

An adult student related to me once that, as a 16-year-old, he had had a great liberating experience: a priest had held up an eucharist wafer and told him that if he couldn't believe that the wafer turned into the Body of Christ as he swallowed it, he was damned to hell forever! He said that it greatly freed him, because he realized that, in that case, he WAS damned to hell, since he was NEVER going to believe it. And, he reported, he had not entered a church since. I believe that priest was a great sinner himself, and not at all characteristic of most priests, but many people have had a similar-but-less-dramatic experience with religion before deciding that their only option is atheism.

I am interested in any response.
Valentin M
78. ValMar
RobM @ 71

Thanks for the reminder. I never got influenced by Elayne's "propaganda" against Galad because I simply couldn't quite work out or empathise with the pragmatic implications of it. I found his joining of the WC appaling but from practical POV only good kept coming out of this, 'till and including the very end.
Gawyn, OTOH, backed up his bad choices with deeds too.
Galad started out for me neutral but suspicious and slowly improved.

forkroot @ 72

Good summary.

Faculty Guy @ 75

Gawyn had such a scene, with Elayne in Caemlyn. If you remember it and don't think it counts, i.e. it wasn't as good, maybe this was the best Gawyn could manage.

@ 77

Interesting thoughts.

As for why currently only men are allowed to be priests in most Christian movements, I have always instinctively assumed it was due to Christianity's origins and continual development during patriarchal (to put it politely) times.
Christianity was very heterogeneous in practice and beliefs in it's early days. The direct reasons it became fairly homogenous up until the 17th century haven't got to do as much with theology and piety as many would like.
Nadine L.
79. travyl
@77: Burned my finger in the "evolution discussion", so I won't comment on this topic.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
80. Lisamarie
@77 - I think maybe you have me pegged mostly right. I wouldn't say that we have NO access to the knowledge of the truth, as I do believe in both faith/revelation and reason - that there are things that are eminently knowable - working together. That said, I would not be so presumptuous as to say that I truly understand it in its entirety.

As for priests and gender - I'll only elaborate briefly since I don't want to hijack the discussion, but the childbirth was analogy - but we believe that gender is an important thing, not just biologically but spiritually - that male and femaleness mean something (although I would hesitate to try and come up with narrow boxes for what male and femaleness comprise - St. Edith Stein has some marvellous writings on this topic, as does JPII but I will leave that to others if interested). So, in general, we believe Jesus incarnated as a male for a reason, partily to embody the marriage metaphor present - the Church is the Bride, Jesus the Bridegroom.

There are a LOT of writings unpacking these topics, but that's the gist. It is something more than just physical (which is why some of the other more physical differences you mention don't matter. And, actually, there did used to be a dispensation required for priests that were missing fingers/parts of their hands - a priest I new was a missionary in Africa and at some point was captured by rebels there. They would threaten to cut off his hands to keep him in line.). Anyway, hope that at leasts starts to explain.

As for Galad - I always go the impression most people found him kind of an unyielding jerk. But I always had sympathy since I also try to do the right thing and sometimes get too hung up on rules or things being black and white. So, I enjoyed that his character did in fact develop but without losing his ardor. I think in other works, characters like that either end up completely cynical and jaded, OR just remain jerks or end up corrupt.

Although, come to think of it, I think Elantris had a character that was quite similar...It's been awhile since I've read it!
Thomas Keith
81. insectoid
Time to catch up again. This will be short, I hope.
Great post as usual, Leigh.

Nice speech by Egwene here.

HA, another woman Warder. I wondered what Domon would think about that, but the bond doesn't wind up lasting long enough to make any difference.

My first reaction was "NO!" followed by "Well, that's it, he's doomed."

Oh, NICE pick! Also: HAHAHAhahaha, Taim made you look like yourself! XD

Off to comment on this week's post.


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