Hey, so, if you don’t want a Wheel of Time Reread Redux post today, you are a turkey. A TURKEY. GEDDIT
All original posts are listed in The Wheel of Time Reread Index here, and all Redux posts will also be archived there as well. (The Wheel of Time Master Index, as always, is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general on Tor.com.)
The Wheel of Time Reread is also available as an e-book series! Yay!
All Reread Redux posts will contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, read at your own risk.
And now, the post!
[Bornhald:] “Be sure [Niall] understands that we can no longer count on the Tar Valon witches being content with manipulating events from the shadows. If they fight openly for the Seanchan, we will surely face them elsewhere.”
[Byar:] “Do you believe it was the man Perrin, my Lord Captain?”
“Whoever it was, he is not accounted for, no? And he may carry word of us to the Seanchan.”
“A Darkfriend would surely do so, my Lord Captain.”
It’s so bizarre, on the surface, how Bornhald (and Byar) so blithely assumes that the Seanchan, Perrin, and the Aes Sedai must obviously all be working together, when of course nothing could be further from the truth. But then, to a mind so fundamentally bigoted, I guess it’s the only way to resolve the situation into something that fits with his warped worldview. People who are his enemies must be Darkfriends, and people who are Darkfriends must all be in cahoots with each other, The End.
I often suspect that a great deal of the root of things like bigotry and xenophobia and jingoism are owed to nothing more than some people’s desperate need for things—and people—to make sense. After all, if you can take whole swaths of people, based on certain traits which may or may not be arbitrarily chosen, and slot them all neatly into a box, and then affix a label to that box that clearly defines what all of those people are and therefore how they must be treated… well. That’s definitely a whole hell of a lot less confusing and aggravating than considering the idea that all people are individuals who may be nothing at all like other people with whom they share certain traits, arbitrarily chosen or not.
I mean, that’s just so messy, and uncertain. That might mean that effecting unilateral action against any given box-swathe of people could be, you know, wrong. In both senses of that word.
Because besides being prejudiced as all hell, I don’t think anyone would argue that Bornhald’s need to box people (literally and figuratively, whee!) into airtight categories has also led him into making crucial tactical errors. And that’s the crux of the matter, really: bigotry is morally reprehensible and it’s stupid for purely practical reasons.
Because if you can’t, or won’t, keep yourself from assuming monoliths where there are none—if you keep idiotically believing that every member of a box-swathe you assigned must behave exactly the same as every other member—then you will fuck up the most effective way to respond to threats from elements within that box-swathe, perceived or actual. This is a mistake I see being made over and over again in history. This is a mistake I see being made right now.
In the book, of course. Yes.
Anyway! Speaking of oblique commentary, I sure did talk in circles around my issues with prophecy in the original comments to this chapter, didn’t I? I’m not even sure what the hell I was trying to say there. “Prophecy is mean,” Past Leigh? What is that even. I suspect this may have been one of my more sleep-deprived posts.
My point about Verin kind of bulldozing the “five ride forth” prophecy into actuality still stands, though. Even if all the objections she raised to anyone else going were valid ones, mostly.
For some reason I was sort of surprised to realize that at this point Rand doesn’t actually know about the “five ride forth” prophecy. Vandene told it to Moiraine in Chapter 22, but Moiraine won’t rejoin the Superboys until the end of the book, so there was really no opportunity for Rand to have learned of it. And that’s assuming Moiraine would have told them about it even if she had been there, which is hardly a guarantee. Verin certainly didn’t, after all, I’m assuming out of a rather ruthless sort of kindness. And probably also practicality, seeing as they might well have refused to go if they knew it would mean the death of one of them.
Well, except Ingtar. He would have gone regardless. Which is kind of ironic, ultimately.
“We have somebody to be our Leashed One.” Nynaeve tugged at the leash that held Seta, and the sul’dam gasped.
“No! No, please! If anyone sees me—” She cut off at Nynaeve’s cold stare.
“As far as I am concerned, you are worse than a murderer, worse than a Darkfriend. I can’t think of anything worse than you. The fact that I have to wear this thing on my wrist, to be the same as you for even an hour, sickens me. So if you think there is anything I’ll balk at doing to you, think again.”
Again, HOW I did not already adore Nynaeve by this point is beyond me. Because jeez, woman, get out of my brain. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Also, I laughed out loud at Elayne’s cheerleading the damane who face-punched Seta. Because I totally agree with the sentiment, obviously, but for some reason Elayne yelling it out like that was hilarious. Foolish, as Nynaeve points out, but still: hilarious.
Of course, the whole scheme was pretty foolhardy. If they had gotten a thoroughly brainwashed damane, one who would have fought back, instead of lucking out and getting one who wasn’t completely broken yet, the whole thing could have ended very badly. But still, I can’t see what else they could have done given the time constraints they were under.
Plus, you know, it was extremely viscerally satisfying, seeing Seta get a taste of her own medicine. And will get more so, in the Supergirls’ storyline—at least until it all goes to hell, anyway. But that’s later.
Meanwhile, the Supergirls’ foolhardiness has got nothing on Ingtar’s steadily increasing crazypants factor. But, again, it led to Rand being a badass and defeating a Vulcan blademaster, so it’s all good, ultimately.
Rand desperately wanted to seek the void. It was plain he would need every shred of ability he could muster […] But saidin waited in the void. The thought made his heart leap with eagerness at the same time that it turned his stomach. But just as close as Egwene were those other women. Damane. If he touched saidin, and if he could not stop himself channeling, they would know, Verin had told him.
So, obviously now we know Verin can lie with impunity because she really was Black Ajah (even if only technically), but I’m still not sure whether this was a lie or not. Because, as I pointed out in the original commentary, Verin is from Far Madding, and therefore knows that it is possible to be in possession of ter’angreal that allow women to sense men channeling, even if they can’t do it on their own. So it’s possible she was just being cautious in not assuming the Seanchan wouldn’t have anything similar.
But even so, it seems like a dangerously misleading impression to give to Rand, that any female channeler can detect the use of saidin. For one thing, quite aside from dealing with Aes Sedai or damane, it came awful close to costing him his fight with Turak. Not that Verin could have known that, I suppose, but still.
Probably what it actually was was sort of a lie, sort of not. Verin is more than sneaky enough to both want to cover all the bases and instill Rand with some extra caution re: Aes Sedai, even under semi-false pretenses. And also, probably, keep him from outing himself as a male channeler in front of all of Falme and the Seanchan to boot.
The amusing thing, though, is that Verin would have to assume that Rand was going to ignore the warning anyway at some point. Because I don’t quite see how he’s supposed to “proclaim himself, bannered cross the sky in fire,” as the prophecy says, without coming out of the male channeler closet, so to speak. And doing so quite spectacularly, in fact.
In conclusion, Verin is a cat, because who knows why she does a lot of the things she does. Maybe there’s a reason, and maybe she’s just pushing things off coffee tables because shattering noises are awesome. Either way, she’s probably laughing at you about it behind your back.
As to my original commentary’s question about whether Mat would die if scratched by the dagger… well, we never really found that out for certain, it turns out. In the Last Battle Mat gets skewered by Mashadar and lives, before stabbing Fain/Mordeth/Shaisam/whatever with the dagger and killing him with it, but Mat never gets cut with the dagger himself. Presumably if it could kill the Fain conglomerate it could also kill Mat, but then I’m not sure how that squares with Mat’s declaration in AMOL that “Once you catch a disease and survive, you can’t get it again.” Because, wouldn’t that have applied to Fain, too? But it didn’t…
So, in conclusion, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And lastly and very randomly:
Turak’s eyes widened as Rand glided forward. So far he had only defended; now he attacked, all out. The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain.
This is so silly, and I probably mentioned this at some point in the original Reread, but one of my favorite jokes anyone ever made about WOT was courtesy of, I believe, Alistair Young, who once included in a list of imaginary sword forms the following:
The Boar Rushes Down the Mountain
The Boar Rushes Back Up the Mountain, Having Left the Gas On
I don’t know why, but that image absolutely never fails to crack me up. It’s possible that I am too easily amused sometimes.
Possible, but I prefer to believe that makes me CHARMING. Shut up.
Annnd on that note, we out! I wish a happy Thanksgiving to the Americans in the audience, and a lovely random November Thursday to everyone else, and I’ll see alla y’all next Tuesday with the next installment of the Reread Redux of TGH! Huzzah!