When Rand killed those people in the middle of the 3rd book
Why did Rand suddenly attack that woman and her guards? Later books indicate that he thought they were Darkfriends, but there was nothing in the chapter to suggest that they were, let alone any way for Rand to pick up on their Darkfriendliness. The lady just seemed like a random passerby so I thought it was the start of his saidin-induced insanity, but one book later he seems to be mostly right in the head. So, wtf??
PS for reference, Rand kills them in chapter 36, Daughter of the Night.
Ishamael was using some fashion of dreamshard to send horrors at him during his journey to the Stone. He was remarkably paranoid during that time, nearly blew Egwene's head off at one point.
I wonder if RJ didn't research this area. The "mark", in both silver and gold, is a frequently mentioned coin. As it turns out, a mark is an actual unit of mass, equal to eight troy ounces (8.7 avoirdupois ounces, or 249 grams). Useful as a unit of account, but a coin weighing that much would be huge. If they were as thick as modern American penny, a mark of pure silver would make a coin almost five inches in diameter. The gold mark would be smaller, but still more than three and a half inches across.
Or it's a historical unit of currency... Deutschmark, for example.
Or maybe he just figures that the coins are much thicker, since they probably don't have a particularly good minting process. If you assume that the pure silver coin is, say, twice the diameter of an American half-dollar, then you're talking about a coin of roughly 9 mm in thickness, which seems reasonable given that the books describe cutting the coins to make up fractions.
Or he just chose a word that sounded good. A 'gold piece' in many games is not a smaller part of something else. And Tar Valon may be amused by putting their 'mark' on people by paying them in money that may not be trusted away from TV.
Only the very wealthy use marks, to say nothing of crowns. Everyday business is conducted in coppers or silver pennies. However, there's no reason to assume that a mark, even if used in terms of mass or weight, is equivalent to ours, since almost all weights and measures in the setting have different values, from feet to weeks.
Read just one book and you'd understand.
They're all based on his wife. I recall an interview where this collaborating guy said that (s)he understood the resemblance after actually meeting said wife, in a tongue-in-cheek way. Presumably the author was very much in love.
Some of them can be explained. Mat and Rand are not exactly the most mature or sane bunch of the group either, the best example is Rand's handling of the Sea Folk, in which his egotistical, demanding, and getting away with it due to being Ta'Veren. The Grey Aes Sedai calling him out on it in a later book is actually satisfying. Also the Aes Sedai acting like jerks show that they need to be reformed, same as the White Cloaks.
And what about the rest? Regardless, trying to tack on justifications for every female doesn't change the fact that every female is like that in the first place.
I've had trouble finding any female characters worthy of empathy in the entire series. Min and Setalle Anan (and Morgase once she gave up the throne) are the only ones who never had me wondering if they were secretly villains or raised by villains. That being said Elayne and Nynaeve, among others, do mellow and stop acting like caricatures as the series goes on. I don't have much hope that the rest of the Aes Sedai will change, though. I'm sure treating people like dirt is the one tradition that most of them will never budge on.
I guess most of the initiates of the White and Black Towers count as well, but their training may purge the humanity that makes them empathetic characters by the time they graduate channeler school and join the Aes Sedai/Asha'man fold.
I've always had a theory that at some point we'd find out that use of the power twists/corrupts you the same way it makes channelers ageless over time and would be reviled to turns you into a stereotype of that gender... but it never ended up happening in the books. The more power the Two Rivers girls weave the more and more they became manipulative catty hypocritical man hating bitches. And for a while as the books go on Rand was behaving more and more like how the women think of him.
The men don't help. Whenever a woman acts like this (you know... all the time), their standard response is to simply cry "Ohh, women are so mysterious! However could we understand their feminine ways?" Just how the hell anyone could put up with a colossal bitch like Nynaeve for more than 5 seconds without giving her a good boot up the arse is beyond me (of course, that would just make her mad and give her access to her nigh-unlimited powers, so perhaps not the best idea).
Bitches be crazy isn't a valid response to literally every female in the WOT universe?
It makes any time a man stands up to a bullying, manipulative, arrogant female a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
And that really tells you everything you need to know about the... issues... of this series.
Yes, it tells you that people don't like bullying, manipulative, arrogant people, and that any time we see someone standing up to them, this is cheerworthy and has nothing to do with the gender of the people in question. The only reason this bothers so many people is because we have been trained in modern times to look at anything which makes women look bad as sexist and wrong, without taking into account that the actions of the characters are rotten and should be decried regardless of their gender. If it were men acting like this, would people be up in arms at Jordan? Most likely not, and if they were, it would prove the problem was the characters' actions, not their gender. No one gets mad at him for making Semirhage so horrifying and hate-worthy when she is the only black Forsaken, they can tell that the traits he gave her as a villain have nothing to do with her race and are not reasons to attack Jordan for making a black person a villain, so why can't they give him the same benefit of the doubt when it comes to female characters? Political Correctness Gone Mad.
Indeed. Fortunately they are not debilitating to the point of the series not being excellent. Irritating, sure. Even by the standards of the series Cadsuane is egregious though. I swear to god if she criticizes someone for being rude (or hits someone for it, as if that is somehow less rude) one more time I will scream and throw whichever book it is in against the wall - she is one of the rudest, most insufferable characters ever devised in fiction. Partly intentional as her chosen strategy, but her hypocrisy grates.
As the strongest Aes Sedai in tower memory, and the tower protocol that you must defer to anyone stronger than you in the power, she's probably just been allowed to treat everyone around her like something you scraped off a hobo for so long that it turned her psycho. Does anyone know her backstory as to how long she's been like this? I.e. was she a snob forever, or did she grow into it?
I would disagree, slightly - I'm only halfway through the series, but I found myself reading chapters involving Nynaeve in any shape or form really quickly just to get past it. In fact, any scene involving a group of women gets on my nerves pretty quickly. I still quite like the series, and will see it through, but when the reader is doing their best to skip over the chapters of some of your main, key characters, that's quite a bit of... debilitation... going on there.
I also disagree. Cadsuane can indeed be very grating and annoying; however, Rand's arrogance and constant belief that he needs to be hard in order to be strong are just as annoying, and I fully believe he did need to be smacked upside the head at a number of points in the series. Granted, he had a right to be angry and suspicious after what the Tower Aes Sedai nearly did to him, but that doesn't justify him being so clueless and irrational as to continually try and insulate himself from his emotions and other people. What's the point of saving the world if in the processyou become just as badas the evil threatening it? That was summed up best, I think, in Tam's question to him in book 12: "Why do you fight?" The fact Rand's answer, finally, was that he was fighting for love and hope, proves that he did need to learn this lesson and Cadsuane was absolutely right to bust his balls until he learned it. Does that mean I approve of her methods all the time? No. Or that it wasn't still satisfying to see him tell her off? Hell yes it was. But that doesn't change the fact she was right (though not about the rudeness) and he was wrong.
I think that's close to this troper's reasoning, but not quite. Rand unquestionably went too far and was a dick a lot of the time - he was on the road to cracking for a long time and he responded badly after several tragedies, his own ingrained reactions and reaction against the abuse and manipulations he was on the receiving end of. He needed to make a change, sure, but Cadsuane had little to do with that directly. Lots of people told Rand the same things she did, if not so often, but all she accomplished was to push him so far in the other direction by embodying all he hated about Aes Sedai that it aided his mental snapping after his rage and paranoia finally boiled over. That's what pissed me off about Cadsuane, that she couldn't seem to realize she wasn't helping at all, even if what she wanted was something that was needed. It seems more like luck and destiny her enraging him to the point of increasing his terrible decisions and worldview until a breakdown than anything she intended to happen. As the above says, it makes it satisfying to see her told off, and her heart was in the right place I guess, but she can thank the creator Tam knew what to do and that even with the paranoid fear and insane anger Rand had that she at least contributed to with her poor strategy at last found something even he could not accept himself doing. I suppose I'll give her a pass; practically every one of these characters, male and female, seems incapable of doing things the best way anyway. Its only her apparent belief that she is polite and not an overbearing bully (like Rand) because she forces courtesy on people that grates really. Luckily Tam voiced that truth to her at last.
I disagree, Rand needed a change, but not in the way Cadsuane and the wise ones thought. I have an alternate theory: that Rand needed to be even harder, harder than he knows how to be. Cadsuane taught him this by not posting a good enough guard on the collar and the access key, and the lesson that the Asha' man learned was the forbidden weave, balefire (taught by Rand, to be used on forsaken). If you look at it that way, Cadsuane did teach Rand and the Asha' man something they needed and didn't like, just as Min foretold. Afterall, the old Rand likely wouldn't have survived another battle with another female forsaken or be able to outwit Graendal. Just look at how it turned out with Lanfear! There may be better explanations, but I find it a nice twist to think the wise ones and Cadsuane could be completely wrong on something they've been trying to do for half the series.
An interesting theory, but it doesn't completely hold water since it is quite clear that becoming too hard was wrong for Rand—in the long run it led him to almost kill his father and destroy the world. If your point is correct it would seem to be only a temporary thing; Rand needed to be hard enough to kill women when necessary, to face down Semirhage and Graendal, and he and the Asha'man all had to know balefire to stop the Forsaken. But beyond that, he couldn't hold on to such a mindset lest he join the Shadow/destroy the world.
What about the nation of Altara, where women carry a special knife used to slash up/kill their own husbands if they displease them? It's considered perfectly acceptable to do so, apparently, so one wonders who the hell would choose to live there, and where such an insane custom came from.
The same kind of people who "choose" to live in countries where they will be subjected to female circumcision?
As if mutilation of the penis is ok? If 2/3 of the powerful western religions didn't obsess over it it'd be banned long ago (look up potential complications and laughable minimum qualifications for those preforming it). That's also the problem with the female one right? Big cultural base in Africa or something so hard to stop? 1 infant in 500,000 dying from hacking at their genitals (typically done without anesthesia) for no better reason than their parent's culture prefering that aesthetic look is too many. It's too many dead babies and painful mutilated genitals for any reason but that one is idiotic.
The men in Altara are supposedly independent and are expected to captain ships. The women in those situations have very few opportunities to leave that kind of life behind.
They also have a pretty intense Knife Nut culture (at least, Ebou Dar does; Altara is a collection of city-states, so the others could be entirely different) and are generally willing to slit each other in the street at any provocation. It doesn't seem much more to say "a woman killing a man is justified unless proven otherwise" when men and women are perfectly willing to kill each other without much real justification anyway. Even the marriage knife custom is more reminiscent of Blood Knight devil-may-care fatalism than sexism.
The real kicker is, despite the number of female characters, and the blah-blah hype about blah-blah goes-against-fantasy-convention blah blah strong females, the only really important ones are a Power Trio of three dudes.
So... the woman who's well on her way to taking over and reforming the (currently) largest and most powerful political organization/collection of channelers isn't that important? I mean, Elayne's only mildly important in the scheme of things, but Egwene is at least on the level of, say, Perrin.
Elayne only managed to secure two thrones and reinvent a Lost Talent or two. No, not important in the least. And Nynaeve Heals things that they couldn't even Heal during the Age of Legends.
Yeah, it seems like Perrin got more of the short end of the stick than his friends there. I mean Mat is a better general than Rand and has been able to raise a large and powerful army which is loyal only to him, whereas Perrin's force was mostly assigned to him because he is a buddy of the Dragon Reborn. If Mat survives as a future Great Captain he'll be able to name his price really, whereas Perrin will find his options more limited to the Two Rivers region methinks, though that would be what he would prefer of course.
To be fair, it's been strongly implied that Perrin will be one of the major players after Tar'mon Gaidon. Think about it: he has strong personal ties to the rulers of half the planet (or to their spouses). He's getting an education in the Game of Houses, and even though he'll never play it himself he has an idea of what the players are thinking, and Faile will pick up on everything he does and what he doesn't as well as do the things he simply won't; bye bye, Masema!.
Not to mention Rand's apparently going to kneel to Egwene at one point, and she's gonna really ream him. Either that, or that prophecy is referring to Elaida, which doesn't seem likely. He's certainly been doing enough to deserve it, by this point, although he can plead insanity (specifically, that induced by putting up with Cadsuane).
Definitely going to be Egwene, since as of The Gathering Storm, Elaida has been made into a captive damane for the Seanchan. A fitting end for the power-crazed madwoman. Of course, since Rand has also synched with all of his past lives and presumably gained all the attendant memories and knowledge from the Age of Legends and possibly even before that, it could well be amusing to have "half-trained girls" as Ao L channelers call them attempting to berate him as he "stands" before the Amyrlin Seat... a position that he actually held as Lews Therin Telamon, back when it was much, much more impressive.
What *really* bugs me about the female characters is the fact that most of them, especially the Aes Sedai, become more incompetent and immature with every book. When a woman's gone through 10-20 years of character-building training and two dangerous tests of her intelligence and courage, and then spent dozens of years capturing male channelers/fighting evil/negotiating peace between warring countries, you'd think she could act her age.
It strikes me that the Aes Sedai's Training is what makes them childish. They always have to defer to someone absolutely and rarely get to make their own decisions. When they get in a position of power they tend to get childish. Though the way many people act, including childish women, bugs me, even when mildly justified.
Those women who we see become Aes Sedai, however, do not seem to change dramatically after their Aes Sedai training, to this troper's knowledge.
Pure speculation, but this could be some sort of "this is your brain on magic" effect. Or, more specifically, "this is your brain on the Aes Sedai Oaths."
Yeah, take Egwene. She was pretty reasonable and more of a person in Two Rivers. But as she goes on in training and the tower she gets more and more... well like most other women in Randland. But most of the ones we get to see can channel so it very well could be an influence of channeling on their minds.
For that mater it seems to have happened a bit to Rand too. Saidar conditions you to be manipulative and passive aggressive to "submit to control" Saidin makes you seize and fight, Rand's idea that he had to keep being harder and stronger and hard to be strong seemed to increase as time went on, another way to say that is the more he channeled, just like Egwene. Even Nynaeve keeps getting more and more so some of that could be flanderization but...
Also, the world is going to hell and nothing can be taken for granted. The Aes Sedai are intelligent and at least mildly courageous (depending on Ajah and individual tendency), but the character that most Aes Sedai seem to build up is unfathomably colossal arrogance. It takes an uncommon mind to deal with what channelers do in training, an uncommon talent to be able to channel, and uncommon sense to be able to deal with the unknown and rapidly changing. Whatever the Aes Sedai have accomplished in the past, they've spent the last couple of millennia becoming more and more full of themselves... and in a very, very short time, that's stopped working for them.
That arrogance is one of the biggest reasons for several events in later books. Heck, the White Tower split apart in the first place because one Aes Sedai wanted to let the Dragon Reborn run free to do what he had to do, and all the others deposed her for it because they thought he needed to be controlled. Then the colossal megalomaniac they put in her place tried to capture him and break him to become little more than a puppet, shielded and not allowed out of the Tower until the Last Battle. Before he had completed the prophecies that would let him win the Last Battle in the first place. Even Egwene, who heard the only one who did succeed in guiding the Dragon Reborn (Moiraine) specify the exact way she realised she could do it, agrees that he needed to be controlled and guided in his steps. Even though the entire point of Moiraine's method was based on the concept of saidar - to get it to do what you want it to do, you have to surrender to it. Fight it, and it will destroy you. And Egwene entirely ignores the idea as soon as she gets back to Elayne and Nynaeve despite the fact that she has seen it work firsthand and knows that attempting to control the Dragon Reborn will fail, which she has also seen firsthand. Of all the women who have attempted to "help" the Dragon Reborn, the only ones who actually managed to really help were Moiraine and Min. Neither of whom attempted to control him. You'd think others could learn from their example, but one of the requirements for being an Aes Sedai seems to be a colossal ignorance of what went before you and refusal to ever listen to anybody. At all. Ever.
This ties into the comment below: the Aes Sedai (and to a lesser extent every other woman in the world) has had to spend the last few millenia putting up with the fact that men occasionally get magic powers that drive them mad. They've got a long institutional history of scouring the world for male magic-users and suppressing their abilities. Suddenly, the world depends on the success (and sanity) of a male magic-user. But the Aes Sedai have been dealing with renegade saidin-users too long; they can't force themselves to wake up and realize they actually need to work with this guy rather than trying to lock him up and let him out on a leash.
Go and read some of the Medieval Catholic Church's writings on the nature of women—stuff written by men who by and large had been cloistered since boyhood and had little to no meaningful contact with women since—and the Aes Sedai's attitudes will make sense. As a gender-specific society, they're out of balance, which is likely Jordan's point in making many of the Aes Sedai so unpleasant. You'll note that even Egwene, as of Towers of Midnight, hasn't even considered the idea of allowing male channellers to become Aes Sedai, as they did in the Age of Legends. None of the Aes Sedai seem to view the Asha'man as equals or potential equals, but as a threat to be contained and controlled.
Very good point. It's just another example of Jordan turning real-world views on their head to show us how awful they are no matter who they are applied to.
The point of the setting is that due to the taint on saidin and various other reasons, women have become as sexist as men were at times in our history. Jordan isn't making some misogynist statement about how women in real life are know-it-all jerks, he's just exploring what it would be like in a culture where the relationships between the sexes are in contention.
Except see above, that he based his depiction of women on his wife, and she was not offended by this. It may be YMMV whether you would like or love such a woman, just as it is whether you like the female characters in Wheel of Time. But just because you think they're obnoxious and he didn't, that doesn't mean Jordan could not still have been trying to make a point about gender relationships by flipping them on their head. The fact you find the women obnoxious may mean he was unsuccessful in making this point to you because of how he executed it, but it doesn't mean he wasn't trying to make it. Even if he saw them as strong and not obnoxious, he still shows them being proven wrong, failing, having to change their ways and rethink how they treat men, which implies both that we aren't supposed to approve of their attitude (just their strength) and that this attitude stems from the misandry which he created as a mirror to the misogyny of our world.
This, so much. The entire world is considered screwed up, gone from an age of legends where everyone was pretty happy, to a world where men with the power to destroy cities (and some could off a nation if they wanted) routinely go mad and have to be put down by people specially trained to do so. This after hundreds of men with the same power rearranged continents in their insanity a few thousand years ago, and all because one guy and a hundred of his male friends decided to go off and save the world but screwed up. The attitude of almost every woman in the series is a justified trope, as an aspect of their culture. What I really don't get though is why the men just universally take it.
Also, as a correlant of this, women have been objectively superior to men for three thousand years, since women could channel and men couldn't. It makes a certain degree of sense that gender roles would have gone out of wack. Do we seen anything like this in the Age Of Legends?
When I say 'strong', I mean he finds no problem with the women acting as jerk asses to everyone else, because it somehow shows they don't take crap from anyone. I've seen too many instances where the word 'strong' was used in conjuction with treating a person who has done no wrong to you personally like crap, because you feel entitled to due to past or present injustices.
The male and female interactions in general just piss me off. The women generally view the men as stupid and arrogant, and the men generally view the women as mysterious and bitchy. These viewpoints are justified with some characters, but the majority shoudn't be like that!
The treatment Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene give the normal men who are supposed to be protecting them. Despite the fact that these three constantly get themselves kidnapped and rescued by those men (sometimes in the same book), at the start of each new journey they protest at the thought of needing men to help them. Also, Nynaeve's decision in aCOS to not tell Mat that Moghedien was in the city and had killed two of his men. That's about the equivalent of not telling the highest ranking military officer that there is a nuke in the city and that two of his men were murdered by the bomb's owners. Even if we accept that Nynaeve doesn't think well of him it's still just plain stupid. If anything, he's one of the few people who would have a decent chance against Moghedien.
This troper was bugged by the continent-wide appearance of women in control of everything, until she figured out a bit of Fridge Brilliance in it. If, in our world, male dominance in history came from the greater strength in men on average versus women (For example, a weak man would still be dominant to a strong woman because the average says so), then wouldn't it make sense that women would have a much stronger position and attitude based on the fact that women are the only sane channelers in the Third Age? If the average rule holds true, then even non-channelers would have strengthened positions in society.
There are societies with male leaders such as Tear or Illian. Of course those leaders aren't shown as being very good leaders. That also leaves the question of how few female military leaders there are.
I suppose 'dominance' might have been too strong a word. Both genders in Wheel of time 'dominate' each other in different areas. Men definitely still have the market cornered on fighting and military tactics. (Makes sense, thanks to the No-One-Power-As-A-Weapon clause of becoming an Aes Sedai). And this certainly does not mean that "only" women can be rulers, or that "only" men can be generals. (Banner-General Tylee of the Ever Victorious Army would like to see you!) It just means that women are less likely in the Wo T-verse to back down and be submissive, and that their society is less likely to find this strange.
An interesting mind-game: Whenever you get a "What the hell!?"-reaction to what someone does in this series, go back, invert gender roles and re-read. For example, consider the role of men in Altara. Women treated the way Altaran men are in a fantasy setting wouldn't have recieved nearly as much flak. Also, consider when Mat and Juilin break Elayne and Nynaeve out of the Stone of Tear to rescue them from Be'lal? Would Elayne's and Nynaeve's reaction have been similarly unreasonable if they had been two powerful male magic users who were being busted out of the dark wizard's castle by two women without magical abilities? Considering that the debate has been pretty heated, I would like to point out that this is not a catch-all explanation, but it IS an interesting comment on perfunctory, unaware sexism in our society.
That doesn't really work at all, since regardless of gender any rational person would expect a thank you for a rescue, even if the victim was more powerful than the one giving aid. Realistically, in the world of double standards we live in now (both male and female oriented) a woman rescuing a man and getting treated poorly for her efforts would be a massive affront, and men being able to be as abusive to their wives as custom allows many women to be in Wo T would see these books as villainized, and the men as monsters.
Considering that the Supergirls were called out on their bad behavior by two other woman, I think the whole thing with Mat in the Stone of Tear was not intended to be an example of women being strong but of young and egotistical women being rude and inconsiderate. It also doesn't help that Mat was being pretty rude and condescending himself.
They do that mind game for you at one point, and manage to screw it up, in one of the earlier books (7 or 8 I think) Tylin rapes Mat at knife-point. That scene is played for humor. That's right, a guy getting raped is funny now. Then in book 10 Falie is almost (almost not quite) raped by an male Aiel. The scene is supposed to be heartbreaking and make you angry (How dare a man try to touch her! He should be stoned!) so why is it funny when Mat is raped, but when the same thing almost happens to Falie (almost because, you know, a girl getting raped is too bad to actually happen) it is seen as a crime! Explain that to me.
That Mat was raped isn't really the funny part. The funny part has to do with it being Mat's comeuppance for his womanising and, more generally, his treatment of women. Note that Mat ends up with a lot more respect for Tylin afterwards, and mourns her death. Also note that Mat's treatment of women changes quite significantly after this event. What's more, the symmetry is important - Mat selects women who are "toys" to him, in that they're cute, etc... and Tylin does the same right back. Note that the scenes in Two and a Half Men that come after Rose actually (technically) rapes Charlie are also presented as funny, for the same reason. Beyond that, I'll note that the series of scenes between Mat and Tylin aren't presented as "comedy", they're just presented. It is the reader who takes it as being funny.
Ok, this troper has heard this rational for this before, and wants to ask something of the Troper community at large. Mat is portrayed as being a womanizer, yes. He gets around. He also acts brusquely with the women from his home village and Elayne, mainly from an air of familiarity than any real disrespect, or so it seems to me. He is always concerned about them, just acts the ass sometimes. I knew a lot of men like him when I was in the military. So, he sleeps with numerous WILLING women, seems to treat them well, and acts rude to childhood friends and one noble woman who is tagging along with the group. Keep in mind, I'm talking about most of his actions, it's a long series and I can't recall every interaction he has with women before Tylin. Also, the books never show him forcing himself on women, or insulting or mistreating the women he sleeps with. Keeping all that in mind, HOW IS HIM GETTING RAPED A COMEUPANCE? We never see him do to a woman what Tylin does to him, not even close, so HOW is that happening to him "getting his due"? Try the role reversal exercise suggested earlier on this situation. A female character who seduces multiple men, enjoys their company, and treats several childhood friends rudely but cares about them. This character is then raped, at knifepoint, by a king. She sure got what was coming to her, huh?
That's why that rationale fails. It's the same rationale initially used by Elayne, who (like basically everyone who knew the truth) finds the situation disturbing but privately felt Mat of all people deserved it. But what people don't tend to remember (hell, I only noticed after a few readthroughs) is that Elayne comes to the realization later in the book that she's wrong, and was completely misjudging him. In fact, Mat realizes near the end of the book that either Elayne or Nynaeve or both went to Tylin offscreen and told her to cut the shit and leave Mat alone. Most unfortunately for Mat, he then gets trapped in Ebou Dar without them, and it doesn't take.
Why does Elayne love Rand, and for that matter why does Rand love her? They barely spent anytime together early on, I don't think they had a scene together except for in the first book which was shared with other people. There is a complete lack of chemistry that is simply annoying since Elayne talks about marrying him in the 3rd or 4th book without talking to him except for off scene. Granted it can be argued we don't see all of their relationship because it wouldn't add much to the story, but their love seems to be a prime example of telling, not showing. The only reason why the two seem to 'love' each other is because they are supposed to and they say that they do.
This is a problem I find with most of the romances. Min and Aviendha are arguably more realistic in an odd way because they find out previously that they'll fall for Rand and then eventually do. Similar with Mat/Tuon. But Elayne/Rand makes very little sense because they barely spend much time with each other, and it seems their interaction in Tear was mostly smooching in corners. It rather bugs me that when trying to empathise with Birgitte's situation, she looks at it as 'how would I feel if it was Rand?' despite the fact that their relationship is pathetically shallow by comparison at that point. Lan and Nynaeve's romantic build up went completely past me in the first book. From a few chapters of 'Lan thinks he's so smart but I can track better than him' to being madly in love. Egwene spends ages obsessed with Galad before suddenly switching to Gawyn, Perrin and Faile have build up but their relationship moves from 'crush' to 'srs bsns' in the blink of an eye, Bryne chases Siuan all over the countryside 'for a pair of blue eyes' and Moiraine/Thom is best left unmentioned. YMMV, but it seems rather like Pair the Spares roulette to me.
No matter what corner of the continent women and men live in, no matter the culture, social class, or anything else, they all seem to have identical views about the opposite gender. It makes no sense, seeing as their isn't that much mobility in Randland. Also, women have a universal language of sniffing. Makes you wonder why the Maidens bother with handtalk.
Well, why else do you think nations separated by geographic barriers for three millenia still speak the same language with the only difference being the accent? It's female telepathy!
I could be misremembering this, because it's been a long time since I read the books, but I seem to recall that the first time Rand and Min had sex (which I think was the first time for both of them, period), Rand mistakenly believed that he was raping Min, and felt tremendous guilt over it, and avoided her for some time afterwards as a result. When she finally confronted him about it, she laughed it off, saying that of course it was consensual. Is this really possible? Is it really possible for a man to think that he is forcibly raping a woman, while she is in fact consenting (and having a wonderful time)? And why was Min so accepting when she found out that Rand sincerely believed he had raped her? After all, even if she wanted to have sex with him, he's admitting that he intended to rape her, and was entirely willing to do so, and would have raped her had she not consented. Morally speaking, he's still kind of a rapist, isn't he? Why does that not seem to bother her?
It was Rand's second time, actually (his first was with Aviendha). In any case, the situation was Rand phenomenally misinterpreting what happened. It wasn't that Rand mistakenly believed he was raping Min, but that he believed he raped her, past tense deliberate and necessary. Neither of them were thinking about much during the incident, which was spurred by learning that a friend of theirs was killed and the two desperately needing to finally spit it out and reassure themselves that they had each other. Rand mainly didn't have the emotional maturity or experience needed to recognize that, and assumed after that fact that the mindlessness and desperation he felt meant he forced the issue. Bear in mind, he comes from a fairly conservative culture when it comes to sex (he proposed to Aviendha after his first time), he has psychological issues with putting women on pedestals even beyond that, and he genuinely loves Min, so he's even more hypersensitive about her opinion. Min probably didn't have much call to laugh, but it was a good thing that she reminded him that she was acting in exactly the same way ("Rand, you don't remember how I started ripping your shirt off because you weren't stripping fast enough for me?").
So, maybe my reading comprehension needs work, but it took me forever to pick up on the fact that forkroot tea only poisons channelers. I didn't see any evidence that it wasn't just a general-purpose knockout herb, and then characters are blabbing about how it's a poison for channelers, like it's obvious. How did Nynaeve pick that fact up after she got drugged? Did she test it on the non-channeling women?
The woman who discovered the effects of Forkroot also went on to exaplain that it had no effect on non-channelers. She discovered it completely by accident by serving a normal herbal remedy to some Aes Sedai and knocking them out by accident. Its all there in the book, blatantly spelled out, I'm surprised you missed.
Come on, it's like 20000 pages long and a lot of it's filler. Something's bound to slip by.
Rand's angsting over the women
Goddamn! He memorizes every woman who died in his name (and more than a few who died trying to kill him, or died in unrelated actions). But considering that 10 times as many men died for him, and fighting against him, and saving his life at times without a goddamn word... I kinda get tired of it.
When Fridge Logic kicked in, that becomes a pretty impressive skill though. I mean, a lot of women have died because of him. He must have a good memory.
Nah, he's just insane.
Rand has TWO memories, remember? And Lews Therin is even crazier than he is.
It's probably closer to 100 times as many men died (possibly many hundreds of times) in or against his service, but I always figured that possibly he overly focuses on the women dying for him not only because of his own stubborn and slightly irrational values in that respect, but because the sheer range of depressing concerns facing him: the enormous array of problems and his deeply held belief that he will cause terrible suffering and then die saving the world (or simply fail to win and thus be responsible for everyone dying or worse), leading him to angst over that one issue to avoid facing that realization head on and losing all ability to function.
And, of course, his previous incarnation murdered his entire family, including the woman he loved, so some degree of angst and refusal is to be expected. Idiocy, but not entirely illogical.
Both Lews Therin and Rand obsess only over women though, and LT only ever seems to go on about his wife. Barely a mention of his kids, and Rand doesn't seem to have particularly strong hang-ups about dead children (beyond what most people have). Fair play, they don't fight for him, but they are still casualities in wars, including his wars (such as with the Shaido).
What really got to me was the way Rand just stood by and let Lanfear torture his girlfriends and kill Moiraine. Um, so evil psycho woman's life is more important that his girlfriends and his mentor? I do not understand...
No one does. It isn't that it makes sense, even to him, but as Perrin put it, Rand would sprout wings and fly before he could kill a woman. At least Rand himself seems to acknowledge it is stupid at times. It doesn't absolve him for such idiocy of course, but at least he doesn't think everyone should feel the same as he does about it.
To be honest, I find it morally objectionable that he finds avoiding killing women to be more important than protecting his friends and loved ones. He's more than stupid; he shares responsibility for Moiraine's death.
That's one of the reasons why her name is foremost on the list. Of course, she's still alive, so that's going to be a really interesting meeting once Mat breaks her free from the Tower of Ghenjei.
At least he acknowledges that. He knows it was his fault, and believes that was the moment things really started going downhill for him.
At that point, it was pretty much all he could do to just barely manage to defend himself against a Lanfear that seemed to be able to read his threads (I think it was due to a ter'angreal bracelet that Moiraine deliberately left out as per her visions in the ring). He did, however, choke when he thought that he had a chance to kill her during the Shadowspawn attack on Tear, but she immediately showed him that she could get out of his weaves pretty easily at that point.
But the thing is he still seems to think he did the right thing. Or at least, if I recall correctly, he never thinks 'gee whiz, maybe this avoiding killing women at all costs no matter the repercussions is a bad idea'. Never even considers the possibility. Instead, he essentially seems to think 'well, that's another woman's death to angst over'.
NOT ANY MORE HE DOESN'T
Anyway, it's fair to say that this isn't a rational or logical hang-up for Rand to have; but it's understandable that he's got it. Sort of an Honor Before Reason thing.
As stated above this troper thinks that it STARTED as him just trying to hold onto SOMETHING decent in Rand's life, and then as he just got more and more insane as the series went on it became more important to him; it's pretty clear that memorizing a list of every woman who has died for you is a sign of insanity, the task of gathering names itself is a monumental task, let alone actually remembering them.
Always saw it as a manifestation of his insanity - the way he's raised says not to hit women, which is then twisted all out of proportion by taint madness. It also seems to get worse as time goes on.
Actually, it seemed more like a moral issue. As time goes on, he finds himself having to do more things he once found objectionable like killing, leading people to their deaths, using his friends for the good of the world, etc. The whole women thing was just an attempt to hold onto his conscience so he wouldn't slip over the edge.
To close out this little thread: The later books, especially TGS, make fairly clear that the thing with Rand and women was a sort of irrational, self-imposed Moral Event Horizon and defense mechanism against taint madness.
I know that the real reason is because the plot requires the characters to act the way they do,but if Moridin really wanted to do die, or to unmake reality,why not just randomly loose balefire all around him at every opportunity? The Cracks in reality anyone? For that matter,why avoid balefire himself at all,he could have leaped into its path in Shadar Logoth.I know it's easy to say insanity(that's my only explanation for why he fought farmer Rand with a STICK in TGH).But when he's ressurected,he's saner than before as punishment.So why the effort?For that matter,when he tells Rand he doesn't know what would happen if they kill each other in TGS,why does he care?
The Wheel of Time follows cyclical reincarnation; if Moridin just dies, he's "doomed" to return, again and again. He wants to break the cycle of reincarnation and shatter the Wheel, and he can't do that if he dies. As for the cracks in reality, those didn't show up until the Last Battle broke out and balefire was being used on a mass scale; Moridin is nowhere near powerful enough to use that aspect of balefire to destroy reality, nor strong enough to deal with the inevitable response it would draw if he tried; that much of the Power would draw every lightside channeler on the continent to squash him, and there's no way he could use that much of the True Power without killing himself.
Is it even possible to balefire yourself? With the way it turns back time, I can't see how it could, since your suicide would be undone by the very weave you comitted it with. Also, Word of God is that balefire doesn't destroy your soul- it prevents the Dark One from resurrecting you, since it twists time so he can't grab hold of your soul, but won't stop you from reincarnating normally- so it wouldn't give Moridin what he wanted anyway (it's unclear if anyone in-universe knows this, but I'd bet that if anyone would, it would be Moridin, the guy who studies this stuff and has a personal interest in knowing what happens to souls post-mortem). Basically, if Moridin wants to be destroyed totally, beyond all hope of recall (which he does) and also wants the same treatment for the rest of the universe (which there's every indication he also does), then the only being that can actually do that for him is the Dark One (well, or maybe the Creator, but that seems unfeasable for numerous reasons). And that's why Moridin is more dedicated to the Dark One than anybody else. Ba'alzamon's behavior I don't take much into account for understanding Elan's/Ishy's/Moridin's motivations, seeing as he was neck deep in the mother of all god-complexes at that point and seemed to be basing everything he did on the delusion that he was the Dark One.
Everyone's inability to talk things through
As has been mentioned before, so damn much of the issues in the tale would be solved if the characters sat down and talked things out. I can understand mistaken-enemies not wanting to have a cuppa and a few timtams together, but when you have people allegedly on the same side flat out refusing to pass on vital information or clear the air about the multitude of misunderstandings, I just want to scream. A lot of this is related to the "women" topic above, naturally, but the men get in on the action too.
This is this troper's main beef with the series. I can understand that some things may slip minds because of all the complexity in the series and all the plot points, etc. But seriously. They're working to save the world here, you'd think the good main characters would eventually go "Y'know, maybe I ought to tell my bestest buddies about this... it might help in some way." The only averted instance I can think of seems to be Min's viewings because she tells Rand what she knows.
Off the top of my head... 1) Virtually nobody knows about Lews Therin in Rand's head - well, I guess Cadsuane and a few others do since book 11, but still. 2) No main characters except Egwene have a clue about Perrin and the wolves. 3) Perrin doesn't know about Mat's memories or medallion (partially justified in that they haven't seen each other since, what, book 4?). 4) Almost nobody knows where the Horn of Valere is. Heck, you'd think Mat would want to have it back, considering he's now on board the destiny train and will need to use it eventually, but he hasn't even mentioned it AT ALL since he blew the damn thing 9 books ago. 5) Almost nobody knows Egwene is a Dreamer, nor does she TELL anybody what the hell she dreams, even when she can interpret it and can contact said people. 6) Cadsuane never tells Rand what the heck she's after, nor does Rand really tell her much of anything. That's some good grounds for advising, right there.
Some of this is arguably justified by the fact that it would be hard to admit to. For example, consider (1). Imagine that Rand tells people that the voice of Lews Therin Kinslayer, a sorcerer 3000 years dead who is most famous for going completely mad and murdering his whole family, is in his head telling him what to do. Is that going to make them more likely to trust him, listen to him, help him? A lot of the characters have secrets they do not want to share with other people, even people they normally think they can count on.
Sure, this kind of secrecy isn't doing people a lot of good in the long run. But it's understandable when you give people lots of magical abilities that would make you question their sanity and then force them to spend all their time handling politics and intrigue. There is no better recipe for guaranteeing that they will become obsessive-compulsive secret keepers.
Alright, but this doesn't explain why when Rand goes to cleanse saidin he makes no effort to give anyone else advance warning, not contacting the Black Tower or even going so far as to ask the Wise Ones to give Egwene or Perrin a heads up. He couldn't have been worried about spies, with the amount of saidar and saidin we're talking about anyone who could channel was fully aware that something was happening.
No one knowing what's happening means lesser channelers (even those who can Travel) are going to be too scared shitless to even think about checking out an apparent source of apocalyptic power, and the Forsaken can only react to what's happening rather than plan a counterassault, and only by themselves.
This troper hasn't gotten this far yet in the latest re-read, but if I remember correctly, Rand was so obsessed about keeping one step ahead of his enemies (who may or may not be EVERYONE, considering how paranoid he gets), that he was planning on just him and Nynaeve sitting there, channeling so much of the One Power that Sharan channelers are wondering what's up, without even thinking he might need a bodyguard. It took Nynaeve and Min to realize it, and to convince Rand.
As to #4, this troper has a vague memory (without yet finding the source) of Mat thinking to himself that he's going to have to go to the Tower to claim what's his—he doesn't want to, mind, but he knows he needs to. But what book that's in, I really can't say...
It was when the Aes Sedai he rescued in Ebou Dar FINALLY left to go back to the tower, he tells them to let Egwene know that he's coming to "Get what's his".
This troper hasn't read that far into book 13, but I'm assuming Mat's talking about the Horn of Valere. Seems prudent to be vague about it to the Aes Sedai, since the Horn's a very big deal and all. "Oh, tell Egwene I'm coming for the Horn of Valere" would lead to a lot of trouble for Mat.
Personally annoyed that no one thought to pass along to Elayne and Egwene what the two Aes Sedai embassies did/attempted to do to him. Not even the box thing, and Min had a clear chance to tell Elayne in book 10. She and Egwene are sat there hoping he doesn't do anything foolish with the embassy, or upset an Aes Sedai, all the while having no idea what happened, or the detrimental effect it had on Rand's sanity.
And add to that, Aviendha/Elayne not thinking to pass on Rand's message about Asha'man attacking him/being untrustworthy, and the only ones to trust possibly being Flinn, Narishma and Hopwil. Considering Egwene's Aes Sedai decided to send an embassy to the Black Tower in the book where nothing happens, you'd think that might be useful information to pass along, at least more useful than the generic 'male chanellers are dangerous, especially Mazrim Taim'. Everybody and their dog already knows that one.
Can anyone offer an explanation as to why this major city is not located on any major waterway? I know that this seems nitpicky but how could such an important city get its influence if its not located on a major transportation hub. While I do know that several major roads lead to it, rivers are usually the only way that a medieval civilization is capable of transporting large amounts of goods. Considering that in the real world ALL centers of civilization are located on some waterway, how did Caemlyn gain its influence without them?
Quite a bit of overland trade comes through Caemlyn. There is one waterway that brings things from Western Andor to the rest of the world, and Caemlyn happens to control those places and the roads leading to them. Two Rivers tabac is famous, and is known all over Randland. I'd imagine the metals from the Mountains fetch a decent price too.
It appears that Caemlyn is one of the Ogier-built cities, since there is a Waygate located there. While it's hard to say why exactly the city was built there in the first place, before the Ways began to decay it would have been possible to transport goods via that route. It also means that Caemlyn is old enough to have become important during the most advanced period in the world's history, during the Covenant of the Ten Nations, when transportation may have been easier. Afterwards, it must have been preserved by its importance as a capital city.
No basis in fact at all here, but this isn't exactly the most stable of worlds. It's possible that Caemlyn's predecessor had been on a waterway in the past, but the Breaking and time conspired to move the city away from the water. If enough people stayed with the city, instead of following the water, Caemlyn could have been built up from that core.
But people can't live without water; for Caemlyn to remain an important city it needs a reliable water supply. Where are they getting it from?
Underground cisterns fed by two underground rivers.
It's been a while since I checked, but I believe the Guide said that after the death of Artur Hawkwing, one of his governors seized control of Caemlyn and kept a tight grip on it while everyone else tried and failed to take the entire empire. The governor and her descedents then gradually expanded Caemlyn's sphere of influece until it had formed Andor by the end of the War of the Hundred Years. Hence, it's not so much that Caemlyn was chosen as the capital as Caemlyn was a city-state that expanded into one, although it does stretch credibility that Whitebridge doesn't seem to be very important.
A comparison to our world may help. The one major pre-industrial capital in Europe not near major waterways of some kind is Madrid. Madrid was built smack in the middle of Spain essentially just because the Spanish monarchs could afford build it there. As far as I know, the area around another major city in world affairs, Jerusalem, is fairly inhospitable. Before the Israelite invasion, it's pretty clear that the power centers were Jericho (on the Jordan River, dinky as it may be) and the trading cities on the Mediterranean coast. Basically, if you get either enough arrogance or enough symbolism (real or invented comes to the same thing if you maintain it long enough) behind something, eventually prestige is enough to sustain the materially unjustifiable. Of course in Randland the Cairhienen are the ones with that sort of attitude now, but I guess things must have changed.
Apparently, half the world hate Aes Sedai, and the other half fears them. Aes Sedai can't make anything they would sell (they can't create stuff, and manufacturing it would require being strong in Earth, which, most of the time, they are not), but nevertheless spend a lot of gold for bribes, objects related to the Power, ect... Also, Tar Valon is ridiculously easy to take by siege, since it lies in the middle of nowhere and you can BUILD a block in the river so you don't have to sink boats in the harbour.
Nevertheless, Tar Valon is the richest state in Randland and has not been taken for 3000 years. What the fuck?
I suppose if you put your mind to it you could make a decent fist of besieging the place even without Channellers on your side, like Artur Hawkwing did, but I think the city containing hundreds of sorcerers who, if memory serves, can wield their power in the defence of their lives, is probably enough to dissuade most from attempting it. Sure, enough mundane soldiers could probably do the job, but it would be over the bodies of 90% of their fellows, and they would likely break before that. As such, Tar Valon has usually been a safe haven from all the strife that seems to have been going on intermittenly for 3000 years, so people have flocked to it. It is therefore large, with control over villages serving it for some distance I would guess, and a good place to trade safely because of the security of the Aes Sedai. The city becames rich by default and the Aes Sedai take a piece of that (we're told there are no footpads in the city, or were not until Elaida messed everything up, and that kind of protection is worth a moderate tax).
Some of this is due to the Aes Sedai tampering with the history books. For example, at some point it comes up that the tower itself was breached during the Trolloc Wars, but only the very few with access to the secret histories can know that. As for income, perhaps having a near-monopoly on Foretelling makes the Tower a powerhouse in the stock market?
See the discussion of Caemlyn and its lack of a river and how important waterways are for preindustrial civilization? Well, Tar Valon is in the middle of the biggest river in the Westlands. They could fund the government by charging a 1 percent toll on the harbor. Also, it's not the case that "half the world hate Aes Sedai, and the other half fears them". Most Borderlanders regard Aes Sedai with every bit of the reverence they believe they deserve, and Andorians and Cairheinin generally have cautious respect for them. So at least half the Westlands would be glad to do business with them.
And, remember what they say so often about the Amyrlin Seat: Pedron Niall himself might spend the entire journey to Tar Varlon planning ways to assassinate the Amyrlin Seat (and get away with it), but he would come if summoned.
Also, fear is a really good motivator for doing what Aes Sedai want—and those that hate Aes Sedai are usually the ones that fear them most.
Also, a number of Aes Sedai own considerable amounts of land back in their home countries, which would provide a reasonable income. Furthermore, those who travel the world often get gifts from wealthy acquaintances for whom they perform useful services.
Land is wortless in Randland. The nastions are shrinking, the distribution of the human race is shrinking, but the big cities and armies show that there are enough people. The only eplanation for people not using the land is that it's worthless for some resaon.
The Tower runs an incredibly safe bank, which is a lot more meaningful in a world without the FDIC. It also receives money from various grateful nobles, both to individual sisters and to the tower as a whole. This is presumably in addition to the aformentioned strategic location. Also, blocking a mile wide river is beyond the capacity of anyone except possibly the Seachan. Even if it were possible it would be an act of war against literally half the continent because of stoppage of trade, drought, and flooding.
Also, this is mentioned when the Rebel Aes Sedai go asking rulers for the tribute that the Tower apparently collects—it's not a major source of income, but it's enough to help the Rebels along until the Tower figures out what's happening and cuts them off (by requiring the tributes go through the Red Ajah).
One question remains, though: how such a large city can subsist with almost no agricultural hinterland? In the pre-industrial era living on imported foodstuff is not an option, even for a major trade hub.
There are farming villages surrounding Tar Valon.
Also, they can make whatever food they have last considerably longer than others because they can weave impenetrable keepings (preservation/canning).
Notice that Rome did this for a MILLION people for hundreds of years. It is well within the possibility of Tar Valon to live from imported food.
The White Towner was formed while there was still lots and lots of insane channellers ripping the world to shreds and even after that ended the lack of any concrete nations left the world in chaos for some time. Being around the White Tower was probably one of the safest places to be on the entire planet. Tar Valon probably grew around the tower by virtue of that alone. Once it was the biggest (perhaps only) city in the world it would attract the most commerce making it easier to stay the biggest city in the world.
Perrin's Subplot of Doom
How did Perrin manage to spend so long rescuing his wife when he had Traveling Asha'man and Aes Sedai? At any time they could have gotten her free via gateway, or barring that, Travel to the Black Tower, figure out where Rand is, get him to lend a few hundred thousand soldiers and a few hundred Asha'man for a day or two, and curbstomp the Shaido. Sure, Rand was MIA at the time, but Perrin didn't know that, or even try to use Traveling effectively.
Maybe he was not so eager to be reunited with his dear wife as even he believed. I cannot think why.
Perrin was supposed to be in disgrace, with Rand threatening to kill him if he ever showed his face again (not to mention Perrin's sneaking suspicion that Rand might not have been acting). Finding Faile herself by Traveling would be a little difficult, considering she was one of maybe two hundred thousand people gathered in one spot (not to mention that she wasn't the only prisoner).
Bullshit. With Traveling, you can do pretty much anything, go anywhere. And with male channelers using it, there wouldn't be a fear that the Shaido could detect the gateways and learn it. Perrin couldn't Travel to wherever Davram Bashere was and ask his father-in-law to borrow some soldiers to rescue his daughter? He couldn't create random horizontal gateways in the Shaido camp, cutting people in half without warning and sucking them into the ocean, until the Shaido surrender in terror? He couldn't locate the exact spot where Faile was being held using the Wolf Dream so the Asha'man could pinpoint it and Travel there, blasting any Shaido before they could kill the hostages? Offering the Shaido any ransom they wanted, then Travel to the royal treasury of his choice and steal it to give to them? And considering how obsessed Perrin had become with saving Faile, it strains credibility that he wouldn't risk talking to Rand again; there a dozen ways Rand could have solved it while preventing the Shaido from killing the prisoners.
Not bullshit. This is a long one so I'm breaking it into multiple parts.
Traveling isn't nearly as unstoppable as you make it out to be. I don't claim to know just how specific one's image of the exit point needs to be, but I'm fairly sure that "Faile's Side" isn't nearly specific enough. Which then leaves the problem that was already pointed out; they'd have to search an entire city with hundreds of thousands of people in it. Teleporting straight in, they'd blow the element of surprise long before they found their target.
They might have gone to get Bashere's help, and he just might have spared troops for the occasion. But even the entirety of Bashere's army wouldn't even the odds against almost the entirety of the Shaido clan gathered in a single spot. Not that Bashere could have spared all his troops anyway. He has obligations to Rand, and Rand never struck me as the type to drop everything for the sake of helping rescue his friend's wife.
There's nothing at all in the ten previous books to indicate that creating a horizontal gateway is even possible. If it was possible, there's no reason to expect anyone knows how to do it. And even if they did know, it's just another weapon, another way to kill a man or three. A single weapon doesn't turn the tide of a battle, especially not against several hundred enemy channelers. And most especially not when you only have two people who can use it.
The Wolf Dream is essentially the same as Tel'aran'rhiod, and people in the real world are too ephemeral to locate from there. Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve may be capable of finding something through "need", but it's unreasonable to expect Perrin would know anything about that or even be capable of doing it.
I seem to remember that ransom was already proposed and discarded as a potential way of getting Faile back. The Shaido aren't the types to bargain with wetlanders, not if they can capture and enslave them instead. Making that offer would not only fail, it would put the Shaido on their guard.
Regardless of whether or not Rand would lend assistance for the sake of breaking the Shaido, he had quite conveniently disappeared off the face of the earth (from Perrin's perspective, if not ours) during books 9 and 10. By book 11, Perrin was already well underway in setting up his strategy with the Seanchan.
In considering all the above points, the single most important thing to Perrin in rescuing his wife was not manpower, or the One Power. It was strategy. You need strategy to win a battle. When horribly outnumbered, you need a lot of strategy. Charging straight in would have gotten him massacred. Even if he had gotten Rand, Bashere, and the rest of the world to help him out, Perrin needed a way to neutralize the several hundred Wise Ones, to prevent the battle from becoming a complete slaughterhouse. For that he needed forkroot. So he turned to the only organization that both hoarded it and would conceivably be willing to lend assistance. And, as the text itself proved, the Seanchan's resources and assistance were enough to tip the battle in Perrin's favor.
Sideways Gateways are, according to Jordan himself, not possible in the current Age.
... why not? Do they have to be paralle to gravity or something?
Excellent point. Aviendiha creates a gateway that's vertical at both ends even though it's to the weird side of the world. Evidently gateways tend to be parallel to gravity.
And don't the Asha'man use something that's essentially horizontal gateways during the Dumai's Wells battle?
Yes they do, but Word of God (and possibly the text itself, I don't recall) states that not only is it a different weave from a normal gateway, but that it's impossible to control where the gateway comes out (I'm assuming that you're talking about the deathgates that were used when the manor was attacked. The only gateways used at Dumai's Wells were the normal variety.)
I don't know where you heard that sideways gateways aren't possible, but they are. However see the above point about them being just another weapon. Perrin has two channellers, the Shiado have hundreds. It wouldn't help.
That link seems to support what was said above: "not possible in the current Age". RJ says "some of the people who can make gateways don't know how to [make horizontal gateways]", and since gateways in this age came from one of three sources (Rand (possibly with some help from Asmodean), Egwene (without help from Moghedian), and Mesaana), two of whom are Randlanders, my guess is: they don't know how. Sure, there are a lot of people figuring stuff out for the first time in 3000 years, but it still strains credibility that Grady and Neald would be the ones to figure it out.
Stating the obvious. Around book seven the books probably could have been reduced to about two hundred pages of riveting plot-driven excitement. Instead we get loving descriptions of uniforms, Nynaeve tugging her braid, and other random filler. If this is 'Jordan's artistic style', as some fans have claimed, I'm not quite sure why the books have progressively less plot-points and more and more filler.
Only crazy people claim that three quarters of the last six books weren't filler. You don't need to spend entire chapters on characters being bored because they haven't done anything for ages. You can sum that up in a paragraph, for god's sake.
I'll give you that is true for 7-10 at the very least, but 11 and 12 by comparison are breathlessly paced and plotted (I stress, by comparison with those books, not books in fiction in general). Granted there still remains plenty of filler, that is his style after all, but such no longer occupies the bulk of the books and a hundred pages of nothing interesting occuring no longer occurs. Personally I think he started and managed to address his own tendency in that direction by the time of Knife of Dreams.
Book 12 has MUCH LESS filler. I think Jordan may have been having trouble with the writing for the last several books— understandable, considering his health problems— and used the florid descriptions just to get text down on the page. Sanderson has no such trouble, and TGS is far more tightly plotted.
Any author should know how to cut. Writing heaps of random filler is fine. Publishing it is not.
There is an intentional lull in the books with the change in the Dark One's strategy; recall the Cleansing and how much it cost the Forsaken trying to stop it. I read it as more of a period of uneasy stability, the long summer, the Bubbles of Evil; it's three books of foreboding. Whether this works as a plot device, of course, depends on the reader.
Stories are driven by conflict, and writing three books about a lull in conflict makes absolutely no sense. Seems basically the definition of filler, intentional or not.
Book eight was basically the prologue chapter in every other fantasy sequel that explains the events of the previous books in the series. That's why it's so much shorter than the rest of them.
Not all conflict is of the order of clashing armies and magic battles. Book seven was based on political conflict—Nynaeve and Elayne trying to negotiate with Tylin, find the Bowl of the Winds, and deal with the Sea Folk to use it, while also balancing Mat, the Forsaken/Darkfriends/Whitecloaks, and eventually the gholam; Egwene trying to consolidate her power in Salidar and spearhead the rebellion against Elaida; and Rand trying to balance Caemlyn and Cairhien, get the Aes Sedai under his control, deal with the Sea Folk and the rebels in Cairhien and Tear, and take care of Sammael. Book eight continues to carry these threads onward, as well as introducing Rand's campaign against the Seanchan, Perrin meeting Alliandre and trying to take care of Masema, and Elayne's succession plot. Book nine has the fallout with the renegade Asha'man who tried to kill Rand, Perrin trying to rescue Faile, Mat's whole plot with Tuon, and the lead-up to the cleansing, which then has fallout in book ten. So there's plenty of things happening, and conflict too—it just doesn't all explode into riveting action sequences. Also, Jordan was clearly devoting a lot of time to describing things because he a) enjoyed the world he created and b) wanted to immerse the reader in details of it. If you don't care for that sort of immersion, or if you want conflict to be direct and riveting, that's one thing, but it doesn't make the series and his writing 'bad', nor does it mean filler is bad either. In fact filler has an unfairly negative connotation—the implication is that nothing which happens in between main conflicts/plot points is important, even though it is within those long, detailed digressions and infodumps that characterization happens and the reality of a world is explored. Again, whether that is something you appreciate or like is another matter, but clearly many people do like it. So, YMMV.
I thought those books could be cut down, but not by that much and for the most part enjoyed them even though the middles of them were slow. I think the people who really really disliked those books might have been expecting action/adventure books and been jarred by the switch to a focus on political intrigue and military strategy.
Rhuidean vision or no Rhuidean vision, why did Moiraine feel that she had to hurl herself bodily at Lanfear when she knew how to weave balefire?
Rhuidean vision. Moiraine has seen how every version of that event went. She probably knew it wouldn't work out.
She saw thousands of her possible lives. She's just going to sum up the two most likely possibilities. Lanfear probably would have sensed her weaving balefire, and killed her before she could complete the weave.
Exactly. Lanfear is a ridiculously powerful channeler, but has (as many channelers do) a weak point of only expecting channeling to pose a threat to her. She never expected this little tiny half-trained "child" to physically attack her.
Another simpler reason: Balefire is really, really dangerous, and there was a crowd nearby. Also, would there be some sort of chain reaction if it hits the gate? Probably best not to mess with it if she already had another workable option.
Not to mention that using Balefire could have major consequences to the timeline, and could interact with one of any number of other things, not least of which is the heap of ter'angreals in the area. And it should be noted that the other two possible outcomes she noted are only the ones that don't involve her own death, and thus she probably knew that attempting to Balefire Lanfear would cause her own death, without any knowledge of whether or not Lanfear would survive.
Another issue relating to Moiraine's judgement, and is much more disconcerting than something that she did in the heat of battle, why did she think that Rand's next best move after taking Tear would be to launch an invasion of Illian? The explanation she offered in book 4 was ludicrously stupid when you actually consider what she was advising Rand to do. At this point, Rand knew nothing at all about channelling the One Power, whereas Sammael's skill and power was fully intact from the Age of Legends, and Moiraine thought it would be a brilliant idea for Rand to mount an invasion and try to fight him on his home ground. Her idiocy is astonishing. Until Rand learnt more about channelling, he shouldn't have been risking himself at all.
Remember, it worked out pretty well in the end - Moiraine lived, and Lanfear has not been combat-effective at any point since. It's believable that no other option would have done both those things.
She thought it because Sammael was there and he needed to be dealt with, and because Rand was the only person who could do anything about him (also, it fit at least some interpretation of the prophecy). At that point, no one knew any way that Rand could learn more about channeling (the idea of imprisoning a Forsaken only occurred to Rand later), and it's a bit incongruous to say he knew nothing about channeling; he'd handled himself pretty well against Ishamael in the previous book, and he'd just eradicated a massive attack of shadowspawn in the Stone. Most importantly, though, he had the third-most powerful sa'angreal in existence. He couldn't match Sammael in experience (and there was no reasonable way for him to ever do so), but in terms of sheer power...
Also, in fairness to Moiraine, in her farewell letter to Rand she more or less admitted her folly in trying to steer him like a horse...
The Old Tongue
Why are there two different words for "spear", and what's the difference between darei and siswai? Was this ever explained anywhere?
Some languages have more than one word for the same thing. In Icelandic, I can think of two words for a spear, "spjót" and "geir". Pretty much the only difference I can see is that "spjót" is neutral and "geir" is masculine (and is also used as a name).
I dunno. Why are there two words for "pike"? Or "halberd"? These things happen. (In the case of The Old Tongue, it's because it's not a Con Lang, but rather gibberish Jordan made up according to Rule Of Sounds Cool. As a result, spelling, grammar, conjugation, word order, and everything else is completely irregular.)
Because Pikes are a type of long spear which cannot be thrown and is primarily an anti-cavalry weapon while a Halberd is a combination of a shorter spear and an axe used to combine the cutting power of an axe with the reach of a polearm.
Regarding the claim that it's just gibberish, I must disagree. There's quite a bit of it that is clearly intended to form well-known terms, such as sa'angreal, which refers to the Sangraal of myth. As for the question of why both words translate as "spear", I'd put forward that it's because we're trying to translate one language into another when they're not quite as clean in terms of relation. Remember, war wasn't even known in the Second Age, so words had to be created or adapted. Perhaps, for instance, darei means literally "needle", while siswai means "pole" (or the other way around). In terms of real origins, I'd bet that darei comes from the type of spear called a "dory", while siswai may come from "Xyston", which appears to be similar to a lance. Where the former is a short spear, the latter is a much longer one.
Maybe masculine and feminine nouns?
The above statement is explicitly incorrect; Jordan said he had a constructed grammar and a large vocabulary for the Old Tongue, it's just intended to be a highly complex language. I'm not convinced it has more irregularities than Latin.
"darei" seems to refer to physical spears (pointed sticks and such), where siswai refers to more metaphorical spears as an aggressive attack. i.e. spearhead an initiative
I think it's mentioned somewhere that the Maidens' spears are shorter than those used by other Aiel; a shorter spear necessitates a different fighting style. Since spears are such a big part of Aiel culture, it's not unreasonable to think they have different names for different types (much like there are longswords and broadswords have different names in real life).
I know that's in the Glass Columns of Rhuidean History Vision, but the sense I got from that was that shortening a spear for a woman to use revolutionized the Aiel way of fighting, and now all Aiel use the shortened spear. This troper votes for the physical/metaphorical, or perhaps some other distinction.
On an unrelated note, IJBM that the whole Old Tongue seems to be based on apostrophes.
One language for the whole world?
This just doesn't make any sense, especially with communication so sparse.
Exactly! Especially when it comes to the Aiel (cca 3000 years of very little contact with the Randland proper), the Seanchan (cca 1000 years without any contact with the Randland), and, to a lesser extent, the Sea Folk (again cca 3000 years of rather limited contact with the 'Shorebound'). By the time of the events, they all should have developed languages of their own, although there should have been many fluent Common Tongue speakers among the Sea Folk. Instead, we have them speaking the same Common Tongue, but with some exotisms and, in the case of the Seanchan, with funny accent.
Admittedly language could have been unified in Randland in Artur Hawking's time, but the Aiel would still have their own language.
And the Seanchan too. Their separation was shorter (1000 vs 3000 years) but more complete - the Aiel did come to Steddings and let come the peddlers, traders and gleemen from beyond the Dragonwall.
Also, at what point did people switch from the Old Tongue to the new one? It is stated that "Al'" means "son of" in old Two Rivers dialect, explaining why so many family names have this prefix. Where the hell did this dialect go?
The Breaking. Post-Breaking examples are from Artur Hawkwing's and Manetheren's revival. Pre-Breaking society is MORE connected and unified than our present-day society, with wonders and future tech all over the place. The language began to fragment and die during the time when Travel, communication and civilisation were brought crashing down by the chaos of the Breaking - regions such as Andor, with its good relationships with the Ogier and presumably the Aes Sedai, as well as its distance from the heart of the War of the Power and the subsequent troubles, preserved the Old Tongue for longer because of their relatively low rates of upheaval. I remember this being at least alluded to somewhere in the books.
Well then how comes they're all speeking the same language again, which is NOT the old tongue?
First, the divergence of the post-Breaking dialects (whose emergence was imminent due to extreme fragmentation of the society) was slowed by the lack of substrate and superstrate languages. Second, the art of printing was never lost (and the printing press helps greatly to preserve the language unity where there is/was one, as it's the case). Of course, dialects should have been emerging and slowly evolving towards mutual incomprehensibility, but then came Artur and his empire. This one being more sophisticated than, say, the empire of Charlemagne, has been relaying heavily on the written word, and it's more than probable that the dialect spoken in Artur's native country was imposed as the language of the court, military, imperial bureaucracy and justice. Thus, the development of the separate languages was forcefully stopped. The following millenium was not enough for the re-emerging dialects (their existense is reflected in the series) to cross the line of mutual incomprehensibility.
That's still over a millennium of literally no contact with each other. Not to mention the fact that the armies of Hawkwing met a completely different civilization in those lands which should have had some kind influence on the language. The most this troper ever remembers to suggest linguistic differences is a mention by Tuon that Randlanders speak too quickly. And I don't remember much suggesting that literacy was that much higher in the time of Artur.
To put it another way, if language was as Randland depicts it, then we could assume that an American in 1900 and an American in 2000 could communicate with each other. They might be able to, but there would be considerable difficulty.
Only if the American insisted in speaking in nothing but slang and jargan. The basic language really hasn't changed much, which is why we have no real problems reading most 19th century works.
I've always assumed the places almost did have their own languages but switched back for ease. The Aiel had to be able to communicate with wetlanders and know who was allowed when the Cairhienin were still allowed in the Waste, since they don't leave the waste except for important reasons and therefore couldn't teach Cairhien their own language, and also to trade with the peddlers who came to visit. The Wise Ones and Clan Leaders then decided to only teach their children one language for ease and used the Dream Walkers to learn the dialect of the wetlanders. As for the Seanchan, they knew that one day they would return to where their former empire was and so sent sentries to spy on the people and make sure they kept the same language so that when they reclaimed the lands, the people could give their oaths and not be afraid of foreigners who couldn't understand them. Or, possibly, everyone who was to be a part of the Return had to learn the language as second nature before they could get on the ships and the Seanchan have their own language they use in the empire. And the Old Tongue changing to the current one, I always assumed it was the natural language.
Alternately, there are different languages and we don't see it. As the main page points out, a Translation Convention is why the Old Tongue looks nothing like how characters speak. So maybe different languages exist in-story as well. Why aren't they much of a problem, then? Because of who the stories are about. The Two Rivers protagonists would speak the language of Andor. Andor and Cairhein are both in or very near the center of Artur Hawkwing's empire, so their native language would be Hawkwingese or very close to it, so the Two Rivers folk would have been speaking lingua franca of the Westlands from the start. 99 percent of the named non-Aiel characters in the series are either from Andor or Cairhein, well-educated (Aes Sedai, and lords and ladies) or well-traveled (Thom, Bayle Domon, Sea Folk). So the main characters would already speak Hawkwingese. As for the Aiel, true, it's implausible that they would know Hawkwing's language, but Rand had a few months among friends to learn a Cliff's Notes version of their language, and some of them would need it for trade. Presumably every single Maiden who knows Hawkwingese has been favored for Rand's guard, and the few clan chiefs who don't speak it have to keep on elbowing the guy next to them to ask what's going on. Sure, it would be bizarre that translation problems, of all things, are the only details left out by the Law of Conservation of Detail, but not much more bizarre than the other explanations in this section.
Another explanation is that the Aes Sedai, who are rather obsessive about maintaining control all over the place, prevented the evolution of language by interfering in just about every culture. Note that the Seanchan have a similar obsession, thus explaining why the same language applies in Seanchan. For those pointing to Artur Hawkwing himself, I'll point out that Mordeth seemed to also speak the same language, which, although possibly a case of him really speaking telepathically, is just as likely to indicate that the same language was in use that far back.
Having said this, it's also noteworthy that Rand doesn't observe any difference in language while travelling through the Rhuidean ter'angreal. This suggests that either the language was already in use near the end of the Second Age, or that the ter'angreal translated for him.
It translated for him. He was experiencing from the perspective of other people all the way to the Age of Legends, and they certainly understood the languages they themselves thought and spoke.
It's not that unbelievable if you think of the Old tongue as similar to classical latin in the real world and the New tongue similar to medieval latin. Latin worked as a lingua franca for pretty much over two millenia - and it kept on changing. Cicero and a scholar of the 16th century would be able to converse in Latin albeit with some difficulties. Furthermore, RJ has each country speak with a certain "choice of phrases" which I always took as "dialects/ new languages but toned down" for convenience's sake.
the existence of the ways may have had a large influence on the lack of language variety. since they were developed during the breaking by the male channelers, copies of the talisman of growing could have wound up in every corner of the globe.
The Black Ajah Hunters subplot ending up rather shaggy
The Black Ajah Hunters subplot was one of my favorites. A cool secret organization working for the good side, slowly making progress, spreading like The Virus and obtaining the BA's knowledge/secrets, the tension of whether Alviarin would find them first... And then comes The Gathering Storm, with Verin's reveal (awesome, but still) rendering all their efforts completely pointless (and with Egwene moving too soon and letting half the sisters escape on top of that—word leaking out was a given you idiot). Alviarin was never seen again. All the Hunters managed to do was indirectly kill Verin by moving the Oath Rod (and why couldn't she have waited a little bit and looked around, anyway?).
Those hunters wound up being instrumental in the White Tower reunification plot, and gave Egwene the method of seeking and confirming Black Ajah (not to mention a few extra trustworthy hands in the Tower, with the Sitters and the rebel moles). Alviarin finding them was pretty darned unlikely, considering her fall from grace (she was more focused on finding Messana, really). It's almost entirely certain that they wouldn't have found any Black Ajah in the rebel camp, least of all Sheriam. And Egwene moved at about the right time, really, and still managed to take out 2/3 of the Black Ajah. Having any escape the rebel camp meant the Tower ones would be warned... but having them out of the way of the reunification was ultimately the more reliable course. As for Verin... might be a good point, that, though considering Talene's inability to reveal Black Ajah plots, it really might not have worked.
Maidens of the Spear
The scene where Rand goes to block up the Waygate in Shadar Logoth, famed freaky death city, and plans to take only a small party, him and a few Ogiers. The Maidens (his Aiel female bodyguards) spot him before he leaves, and he explains he is going to a place where their spear can't protect him. She says this is all the more reason for them to come, and has to bring fifty, resulting in one falling into a bottomless pit and another lost in the city becoming a major source of Rand's angst. Two questions: 1) How the hell did the Aiel survive in a desert with such a stupid Honor Before Reason policy 2) After this why doesn't Rand talk with them and tell them, he wants them to guard him against ordinary foes, not kill themselves uselessly in situations where only he can do things.
To answer point 2: 1) It would do no good, 2) Rand is not strong enough to stand up to them. Much as it pains to say it, the Aiel could really benefit from the D'Haran ethos in the Sword of Truth seroes about Richard being the magic against magic and they the steel against steel. The Aiel in general come off as more than a little intractable and unsympathetic to people who hold a divergent view of how to live, hence their usual dismissal of and lack of sympathy to the idea that anyone else might have a tie on Rand and just as much at stake, and so bitch when Rand does not regard them as his only concern. To be fair they want to protect their people and are Rand's core weapons, but still, they are dangerously close to Aes Sedai and Seanchan in how unbendingly they think others should always conform to their opinions, even when it makes no objective sense. In this case, that means any argument Rand could make would be fruitless as he has already explained they can do no good and still insisted on coming.
They survived in a desert because of that policy; that's the same one that requires absolute protection of the tribe's vital resources, even in the middle of war. The way the Aiel are portrayed, there's precious few situations in the Wastes they can't deal with using this code. Especially given they have a philosophy of war where preserving life is given exceptional status. You foolishly in the name of honour fling yourself alone at a hundred members of an enemy tribe? They'll suffer much shame and mockery if they fail to take you alive, keep you for a year and a day and send you back to not make the same mistake again. They also have an extreme collectivism from their past roots and display a general attitude towards death of an individual that is basically incompatible with the completely sensible caution Rand advocates in that instance.
I'm still trying to figure out how they survive 3000 years in the desert when they're apparently very pale skinned underneath their dark clothes which they wear while running dozens of miles per day in the desert sun and only using their animals to carry luggage. Also, the fact that they arm themselves with multiple weapons that are mostly made of wood in a place where wood is explicitly a rare commodity.
Low melanin could be sheer chance; they started out with pale skin, and the only way that would change would be if darker-skinned by chance Aiel survived in far greater numbers to reproduce. The clothes they wear are rarely dark, especially the warriors' (cadin'sor are browns and tans), and they're full-body covering as sensible sun protection. Most Aiel are fairly sedentary, living in Holds where shade and water are located (enough that they can farm), while some are nomadic herders and move around at the pace of goats. They also probably could run for dozens of miles a day, but only the warriors do so routinely; otherwise, they walk for miles, something humans as a whole are really good at. That they've done this for a couple millenia is because they're just that damned tough (the Threefold Land killed the weaklings). As for wood...huh. There's probably scrubland on the outskirts of the Waste (Gaul brings up that that was what he thought a "forest" was like, before seeing the Two Rivers), but for the rest, who knows? Maybe the peddlers and the Sharans who deal with the Aiel do their most brisk business in lumber. Might be the same with metal, for that matter, unless the Aiel engage in offpage mining.
Til shade is gone, til water is gone, into the shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit in Sightblinder's eye on the last Day!
Still, by your logic, if say, a clan chief turned out to be channeler, his guards would be honour bound to go into the blight with him and kill themselves. How does the loss of productive members benefit the tribe?
No they wouldn't. The rule applies for everybody. Even clan chiefs leave alone.
Still though you'd have thought that the Wise One's would act to change the rules or something when situations like this come up. Instead they just ignore Rand's conflict with the Maidens.
A few Maidens would have been a good idea, to make sure no non-channeler sneaked up and shot him in the back. Fifty, however, is way too much to sneak around in unfamiliar terrain or maneuver easily in such dangerous settings. A few Wise One channelers would have been even more useful, considering they have the same training, Power-enhanced senses, better range attacks and the ability to actually do something against Mashadar or — with tons of luck — a Forsaken.
If you read through the series, the general view of the commanders of all the bodyguards is that a head of state should have fifty bodyguards if they are outdoors, no matter how individually powerful they might be or what the situation they are going into is. Given how assassination attempts tend to involve some method of stunning the channelers or simply involve crossbows to the head, this would seem to be a wise policy. Certainly no almost-successful assassination attempts have occured when this rule was in effect.
Mat was awesome in book 3. But ever since he's just taken a completely passive attitude to everything. He even acknowledges it himself that he always tries to stay away and not do anything. It's gone to the point where the only reason anything actually happens to him is ONLY because the Wheel of Time makes things happens to him. He has a few moments of brilliance, here and there, but overall, it's only because he's a ta'veren that anything actually occurs in his story, anymore. Okay sure, we're going to see Mat rescue Moraine from the Aelfinn and Eelfinn but doesn't it strike anyone as a little irritating that the only way for Jordan to make Mat do something is to have him save a Damsel in Distress?
Mat was clearly stated in Book 1 to be an irresponsible, immature person who never grew up. We expect this to change completly in the course of two to three years? Also, Mat must be doing a heck of a lot of off-screen stuff just to keep the Band running.
This Troper is bugged by Mat for a different reason, namely his interactions with Tylin. Tylin rapes Mat. There's no way around this; it was clearly not consensual. There are a number of problems with this plot wise as well:
Tylin is the Queen of a pissant kingdom that nobody really cares about, her writ barely runs outside the walls of Ebou Dar and, according to characters within the story, any noble who wanted to could depose her with little effort.
On the other hand we have Mat, a certified Bad Ass who is basically Rand's greatest general, a personal friend of the Dragon Reborn and ta'veren to boot.
Mat clearly knows how to defend himself, yet allows Tylin to do whatever she wants to him. He pisses and moans about it yet never once considers reminding Tylin that he's a close friend of someone who could easily destroy Ebou Dar by himself if he felt the need. This is made even more shocking by the fact that Mat had been building up his Bad Ass credentials over the past few books and yet Tylin manages to reduce him to a snivelling wreck. One can only assume that Robert Jordan subscribed to the Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male philosophy.
You need to take this one step farther. The fact of the matter is that if Mat really wanted to not have sex with Tylin, he could have kicked her behind on the spot, even if she had a knife and he was naked and unarmed. It isn't the sex that Mat is finding objectionable. It is the fact that a woman wants to have sex and is actively pressuring a man into having sex that offends his very provincial and sexist notion that men should be the ones initiating a sexual relationship and not the other way around.
So if a woman says no to a man, but it's because she dislikes his approach and not because she objects to the sex, is it still the okay kind of rape?
Actually no, he couldn't. It has been repeated time and time again that the men of the Two Rivers have one of the greatest collective respects for women in the Westlands. He could not have 'kicked her behind' as it were, since we can clearly see from his point of view that he believes violence against women is inherently wrong; just look at his reaction to killing Melindhra and the escaping Sul'Dam. Mat has no problems with assertive women; his brief relationship with Melindhra shows this clearly. The problem he has is that Tylin takes it to a disturbing extreme. Mat was bullied, demoralised and generally hounded by Tylin. She denies him food, has his clothes thrown out and pretty much makes his life a misery in order to turn him into a compliant bed toy. Note that when the opposite happens and Morgase is raped by Valda it's played for the horrifict act that it is. Wonderful Double Standard, eh?
Aside, from that, she is a queen, and even if Mat was willing to ask Elayne and Nynaeve to weave a mask of mirrors for him (and his relutance is understandable) and go stay at an inn, he'd have to tell his men, lose face with them, and they hang around with Beslin anyway, so it's likely to get back to Tylin sooner or later, and she can have her guardsmen drag him back to the palace. She already has household staff drag him into a bedchamber. And him manhandling a queen to avoid her advances probably wouldn't go down well, especially in Ebou Dar. And rape aside, the relationship smacks of domestic abuse - threatening him with knives, smacking him around, denying him food, controlling what he wears and taking his belongings.
Well... bad, but not quite that bad. Valda was a classic rapist demonstrating his absolute power over a woman out of pure sadism. Tylin was certainly on a power trip, but not so much for sadism as for some badly warped principles (even by her own society's standards, as her son's opinion demonstrated), and she had a lot of genuine affection for Mat, even to the point of risking herself to aid his escape from the Seanchan (and by extension, her). Her conduct was horrific, but perhaps not actively evil.
One thing I think people are forgetting is the massive quantities of Unreliable Narrator most of the viewpoint characters get. In the eyes of Nynaeve and Egwene, who grew up with him, Mat is an incorigable lech constantly forcing his attentions on women. In his own narration, he's a perfect gentleman who wouldn't ever think to take advantage of a woman. And Jordan loved putting little clues that the situation is not exactly as the viewpoint character describes throughout his books. Such as Tylin telling Mat that she knows he did enjoy himself with her even if he pretends not to (which he doesn't contradict, but actually confirms, even in his own thoughts). Mat is an incredibly proud man who has a worldview that dictates men are supposed to pursue women, not the other way around. The way he describes it Tylin is a lecherous woman forcing him into her bedchamber, but he never actually right out says 'no'. Mat even goes so far as to tell Tylin he'll miss her and that next time, he'll be the one chasing her, when he's about to leave towards the end of a Crown of Swords.
I find it interesting to what lengths even people on this site go with mental gymnastics to justify Female on Male rape. Tells pretty much all you need to know about our current culture.
What bothers this troper about the Tylin situation is not whether or not Tylin raped Mat (I didn't think it was Played for Laughs—I didn't think it was funny), but instead Elayne and Nyneave's reactions to the truth of the situation. What bitches! Elayne thinks it's funny, and thinks Mat's getting a "taste of his own medicine" when Mat is a freaking gentleman with the ladies. That pisses me off.
I actually missed until my most recent reread where she recanted that. Granted, she was lying on the floor bleeding (Mat had just saved her life from the gholam), but I interpreted it as more "holy crap, I completely misjudged you, I apologize for everything." I'd also missed that, after the gholam incident in Ebou Dar, Elayne or Nynaeve or both went to Tylin and told her to cut it out and leave Mat alone (it's offscreen, but Mat realizes it happened from theirs and Tylin's behavior afterward).
The Old Blood
One of the things that makes the people of the Two Rivers special is that the Old Blood is strong within them, which leads to things like Mat having a subconscious tendency to understand/spout the Old Tongue and even Perrin having a vague sense of the same. However, one has to wonder what other blood is possible, since EVERYONE in Randland is descended from the same general stock. Its not as though the rest of the continent ever crossbred with any other species, and Manetheran's bloodline was unlikely to be anything special despite the stuff they pulled off during the Trolloc Wars. Heck, excepting arguably the final stage of the chief/Wise One initiation, even the Aiel don't seem to have any emphasis on the Old Blood despite being almost entirely insulated amongst the descendants of the most loyal servants of the original Aes Sedai from before the Breaking. OTOH, I guess the Aiel do tend to have a greater propensity towards naming things in the Old Tongue, even though they don't really seem to speak in it in normal conversation.
Yeah, that makes no sense at all. Lan basically tells Mat that having the Old Blood means that his family goes back a long ways, but ALL families go back a long ways, to a common ancestor for all humans. It isn't as if some people were spontaneously created a few generations ago.
This Troper thought the saying "Old Blood" referred to a family lineage that could be traced back to nobles or even kings. This is partially supported by the "Al" prefix which, in everywhere but the two rivers, denotes a royal family. Going with the Unreliable Narrator theme, I figured the claim that it just meant "son of" in the Two Rivers was a case of them forgetting what it meant years and years after Manetheren fell and it no longer mattered. Furthermore, in real life, the nobility and ruling classes had everyone thinking their blood was just superior, much like how racism has some people in the present time thinking some skin colors are just superior. Just a few hundred years ago, racism was almost non-existent, but who's blood you had was serious business.
Tam has the 'al' prefix but hasn't shown any links to the past. Mat on the other hand doesn't have any clear links to noble or royal ancestors and can barely go a chapter without saying something in an ancient language. It might make some sense (with unfortunate implications) if it was shown that the world's nobles had a special link to the past that commoners don't but the only ones who show it are from around Two Rivers and that's just a mention a deja vu in an alternate universe. Besides that, go back far enough and probably a large portion of the population are descended from some king. The Trolloc Wars that destroyed Manetheren clearly happened many centuries ago so their chances shouldn't be better than anyone else's. The entire Old Blood thing seems intended to give Mat some importance early on and a red herring to suggest that he might be the main target.
Not entirely. Emond's Field is named for being the site where King Aemon died, suggesting a degree of language shift over time. It struck this troper on the last re-read that the formal name given for King Aemon (I don't have the book to hand so I can't copy it exactly) in the books included the names of his father and grandfather Caar and Thorin. A little linguistic shift and you have the direct decendents of the kings of Manetheren living in the Two Rivers, and at least two of those lines has retained a corrupted form of the name of the last king - Cauthon, and al'Caar. Which doesn't entirely explain why some people randomly speak in the Old Tongue while their close family don't, but could be why there are so many channelers and terminally stubborn people born there.
The thing about the Old Blood, is that in Randland there appears to be a great advantage in maintaining a relatively small genetic pool in a community. From what we've seen of places like the Two Rivers, in which the 'Old Blood still runs strong', tend to have a larger number of inborn channellers and people with Talents. Its the same with the Aiel. Unfortunate Implications aside, it does therefore make a sort of poetic sense, in that the Old Blood is considered more pure, much like the reasoning behind strict intermarriage between noble families.
Perhaps "The Old Blood" is really just a kind way of putting something else. Maybe what they really means is "highly inbred" (at the scale of the Two Rivers, which seems to have only a relative handful of families in it), and it is the genetic mutations that have occurred along the way that have resulted in a large number of them having abnormal abilities, including ability to channel, to pick up information from past lives, to be part-Wolf, etc. Of course, the part that isn't given attention is the high rate of deformities resulting in a lot of early deaths, etc. But then, this may explain why the Two Rivers never became a bustling, thriving kingdom, instead remaining as just a few isolated towns after over 2000 years.
Channeling isn't a product of inbreeding. The implication seems to be that Aes Sedai don't have children...but the Two Rivers are never tested for Aes Sedai, so all the channeling-capable women lead ordinary lives and have ordinary numbers of children. It's not that the Two Rivers is high by Ao L standards, it's that everywhere else has been breeding the talent out for millennia much more aggressively.
I'm guessing that this is just an example of fantasy tropes not passing scientific muster. I "blame" Tolkien and his curious (bizarre? absurd?) distinction between Boromir and Faramir with regard to the purity of their Númenórean blood for putting it in people's heads. Not to get into the part where the Gondorians marrying into the "Middle" men's blood was supposed to dilute their heritage, when according to Wordof God the free men remaining in Middle Earth (such as the Rohirrim) were themselves descended from the same Three Houses of the Edain... the point is this is a common fantasy problem. Which either excuses Jordan or doesn't, depending on your mileage.
IIRC, Tolkien's Numenoreans were actually altered slightly from the Edain stock by a combination of conscious gifts of power from the Valar, living physically closer to heaven for a very long time, and in the case of the royalty and nobility traces of elven and divine blood.
This troper took it to mean that the bloodlines of channelers (which in Two Rivers is one of very few places left where it hasn't been thinned) is somehow special in ways aside from channeling in the families that have it. Perrin is a Wolfbrother and has the old blood, Mat has random spouting of the old tongue and has especially strong Old Blood. So because the Two Rivers is one of the only places in the world where channeling HASN'T been culled, it has done things to people aside from just giving them channeling (although there ARE an inordinate amount of channelers there, for the same reason).
Well, the Two Rivers aren't supposed to have had much interaction with the rest of Randland, so presumably the bloodlines didn't mix as much as they might do in the major towns and cities we see throughout the series.
It could also be that when they say that "the Old Blood runs strong" in, say, Mat, they are referring to this ancestral-memory effect. In other words, two people might have the exact same heritage, but in one case it runs strong and shows on the surface while in another it runs weak and remains buried.
The Flame and the Fang
Should we Ouija up Robert Jordan and tell him that the Black half of the yin yang symbol is supposed to represent Femininity and the white half Masculinity?
In this Tropers mind it was allways kind of clear that this was intentional to show that the genders are kind of twisted in the Wo T-universe, still doesn't explain why it was so in the Age of Legends, but still...
I am fairly certain this is another example of Jordan playing with the idea of the passage of time causing stories, beliefs, myths, and legends to change and completely twist what actually happened centuries before. It is very clear that our world is meant to be a future Age of the Wheel of Time where there is no One Power (or no knowledge of it at least). That being the case, Jordan would be implying that the people of our Age discovered the old Aes Sedai symbol but didn't know what it meant, so gave it their own meaning, or misunderstood (possibly willfully so) which half aligned with which gender. This would have been helped along by old memories and stories of how awful the women were in the Third Age, and how men (once the taint was cleansed) helped save the day, so that the men would be associated with the light half and women the dark. So it's not an indication that Jordan didn't do the research, it's that he deliberately changed the meaning both to make his world different and to suggest how the meanings of things change over time.
Actually, is there any indication that the white meant Saidar and the black meant Saidin in the Age of Legends? Maybe they were originally the other way round, but the Aes Sedai deliberately switched the colour associations to reinforce the "male channelers = bad" thing to the general population.
That's a very good point. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case.
It should also be noted that the colors of the Yin-Yang Taoism symbol are irrelevant. The representation is purely related to the 'two halves of a whole' and 'everything has an opposite'. As according to traditional Chinese beliefs, Jordan did get it wrong, but why does it matter? For that matter, considering the symbolism of Saidin and Saidar (the former being associated with madness and chaos and the latter being associated with stability and apparently wisdom/mysticism) we can simply chalk this up to a case of Color-Coded for Your Convenience - since western readers associate Black with evil and White with good, the author is simply following the Rule of Symbolism.
Agreed, 100%. Though I would still contend Jordan didn't 'get it wrong' (the amount of research the man did and his attention to detail means there is no way he could have screwed it up, now when it's so easy to find out what the two halves of the taijitu mean in Chinese beliefs) but that he deliberately switched it, either to make his world different, to underscore the symbolism you mention, or to suggest the way meanings and beliefs change over time. Or all of the above.
Andor not giving a crap about the Two Rivers
Two Rivers tabac is world famous. It's even known in the Aiel Waste. It fetches a premium price everywhere except the Two Rivers. I can understand why the peddlers and merchants that visit don't like to mention it, as it keeps their costs down, and they can make a pretty nice profit. I'd even bet that they buy the wool and other stuff just to keep the Two Rivers folk from finding out. Probably dump it in a heap in Baerlon. You never hear anything about Two Rivers wool being famous, just the tabac. This explains the peddlers and merchants, but what about the queen of Andor? I get that Morgase was busy solidifying her control for a few years after she took the throne. That makes sense. Before her, I've got no idea, as RJ hasn't really given us much to work with there. Maybe they were all busy, too. But with Andor experiencing a nice decade or so of stability under Morgase, and this region producing a famous and valuable resource, why didn't she appoint a lord to the area, send some guards, and start collecting taxes? Hell, she could have sent someone she trusted to go to the region and raise a lord locally.
In general it was actually rather difficult for monarchs to enforce their rule on places they ruled on paper. In the later books Elayne mentions the difficulty of getting soldiers, Morgase was probably struggling with the Whitecloaks and the merchants involved in the trade wouldn't eagerly support ventures that might cost them their business. It's strange to a 21st century Westerner but historically monarchs actually had a lot of troubling enforcing their rule.
The thing is actually mentioned in one of the earlier books, the Queen of Andor had to decide between the Iron (and Steel?) of the Mountains of Mist and Two Rivers tabac, and it seems the decision was pretty easy since giving up a big source of Iron wasn't exactly the best Idea.
Especially given the only viable trade route out of the Two Rivers is right through Andor (impassible, allegedly haunted mountains to the west, a trackless forest bound by an unnavigable river to the south, a swamp to the east which only emerges into Andor). The Queens could have held onto the Two Rivers with its tabac and wool, or held onto the mines, built up their military and farming economy, and then just taxed the tabac as it moves through.
Assuming that the merchant groups had any way to sway the decision (which would make a certain degree of sense if they did), they'd probably also quietly work to help ensure the status quo remained. The taxes on Two Rivers tabac are probably a lot smaller, and thus allow the traders to cut a bigger profit margin, than if there was also a local lord in the region bleeding his own tax money from the farmers.
The Rebel Aes Sedai army not even fighting
The Aes Sedai raise the army to take back Tar Valon and Egwene makes the gateway so that once they were well rested, they could attack freshly. And then they spend four books sitting in Tar Valon. Egwene insists on a siege without even blocking the harbour until the end of book ten and refuses to launch an attack because 'people could die' which gives Tar Valon plenty of time to prepare and even learn how to Travel, the one advantage the rebels had. Sure, once she was captured it kind of makes sense that she wants to try and manipulate the tower from the inside out, but before? The headaches could not have affected her judgement that badly.
It's not just "people could die." It's that "people will die, by the thousands, including an unacceptable number of channelers, on the eve of the Apocalypse." Losing that many people would not only undermine any possible political reconciliation in the Tower, it wouldn't even be a guaranteed win...and whoever did win would be completely screwed.
An actual assault was probably the single worst possible choice and would have meant the Tower was permanently, irrevocably broken. It's understandable she'd flinch from making that choice; her real goal seemed to be to use the siege to ratchet up the tension in Tar Valon and hope that it either forced genuine negotiations or a coup against Elaida. She had no way of knowing that the Tower loyalists themselves were so broken into Ajah factions by Elaida's actions that Elaida was able to function as, effectively, an uncontested tyrant with no power bloc strong enough to overrule or challenge her, or that the Black Ajah was egging that on.
Can't believe I'm saying this but... why aren't there any priests in Randland? I can accept the fact that the presence of the Dark One removes a great deal of the concept of Faith (as in, there's some concrete evidence for the existence of a God), but I still don't see how you can have a worldwide religion that everyone believes, especially considering the fact that the Aes Sedai and the Whitecloaks (probably the two closest equivalents to the position of priesthood) are largely distrusted, if not outright feared, by the majority of commoners. It just doesn't add up!
There's lots of spirituality in the series, but there's no organized religion as we understand it. There are certain concepts that resemble religions, like the Way of the Leaf, the Whitecloaks, and the Aiel ji'e'toh, and if you think about it, the Darkfriends. Plus, Word of God:
This is a world where what might be called the proofs of religion are self-evident all the time. It seemed to me there was no necessity for the trappings of religion which by and large are to reinforce us in our faith... and to convince others... if your beliefs are made concrete and manifest around you at any given time there is not the need for that.
There are certainly aspects of what I'd consider religion in Randland- the Whitecloaks in particular stand out, as I can't think of a better way to describe them than as a militant religious order- same for Masema's Dragonsworn (albeit far less well organized). The Darkfriends are definitely a covert Religion of Evil. The Aiel, Sea Folk, Seanchan, and even the Westlanders also have religious elements to their culture. Thing is, as the above quote from Robert Jordan indicates, you've got definite proof of certain religious aspects which exist in universe- so everyone believes in the same basic figures and concepts (Creator, Dark One, Dragon, Forsaken, the Wheel itself, etc.) but interpret them quite differently.
It seems like I'm just about the only person thinking this, but the above Word of God just doesn't match up to what I understand of human nature. If channelling exists for example, that itself is not a supernatural phenomenon, it becomes natural; a scientific force that can be studied and quantified, which is what they apparently did in the Age of Legends and even the present (though to a much lesser extent, we can safely assume). If speaking the Dark One's name causes ominous events to occur, that can certainly be taken as a piece of evidence for the Dark One's existence, though in a society where only those who have studied at the White Tower or interacted with their students to the point of familiarity know anything about magic, that's not really an ironclad conclusion for most people. For all they know, the Dark One could just be an extraordinarily powerful channeller. But regardless, there is still nothing at all in any point of the series that hints as to the existence of the Creator. Nothing. There is nothing that says that those who dwell in the dark can return to the light and nor is there anything that suggests the light exists save for the presence of a powerful channeller, prophesied by other channellers, who opposes the Dark One. There does seem to be enough tangible evidence for reincarnation that you would expect it to feature in every society's beliefs, but there is no justifiable reason why they should be the same in every country in the Westlands point for point. Particularly if there is no religious organisations attempting to teach and guide the people across the world, apart from some mad group of fanatics who spend most of their time banging on doors and pointing and shrieking "Darkfriend!"
The wise ones probably have a role close to that of a priest in villages and towns, being spiritual advisers as well as healers.
Tuon continuing the invasion
In The Gathering Storm, Rand comes to Tuon and offers a truce in the face of the Last Battle, saying that they can resume The Return once the war ends. Despite admitting in her head that she cannot see any reason for them not to have a temporary alliance and can only see the opportunities it would bring (Which was obviously Ta'veren work, but still) she declines the offer and demands that the Randlands surrender to the Seanchan empire or else the war will continue until the empire has a hold of all the lands. She even spends most of the meeting trying to find out more about Mat rather than entering negotiations. Am I the only one who worries for the empire's future with a leader like her?
The whole issue is that the Dragon Reborn is not the Empire's equal, which is why Tuon couldn't name herself Empress until after meeting Rand. Seanchan culture is pretty rigid, so Tuon doesn't take being ordered around very well. Add to that the false prophecy that the Dragon Reborn will serve the Crystal Throne, which she's grown up hearing for her whole life, and she's not going to give in to him. She doesn't believe the Last Battle will happen until he serves her, so his warning doesn't carry weight. Plus, Rand's negotiation tactics weren't very good, he just ordered her to make peace and hoped ta'veren would do the rest. She's winning the war, so why should she make peace with this maniac and his hordes of abominations?
Actually you could argue that it isn't, in fact, a 'false prophecy' - Rand will be serving the Crystal Throne by winning the Last Battle; because if the Dark One breaks free and ends the Wheel of Time, then the Crystal Throne will be destroyed along with everything else. The Seanchan have misinterpreted their prophecy, partly through its ambiguous wording and partly through their own egocentric sense of self-importance.
Hard to misinterpret "he will bow before the Crystal Throne," but considering it's not in any Randland prophecy, ambiguity or straightforwardness might not matter. I'm more confused about how they missed "he will bind the nine moons to serve him."
Considering the above, the Seanchan cannot have all of the same Prophecies that the Westlands have. And since the damane can have the Foretelling just the same as Aes Sedai, I don't see any reason why the Seanchan's prophecies wouldn't be exactly as prophetic as the Aes Sedai's.
This prophecy was like the others. A declaration of what might happen...
I'm pretty sure that somebody at some point, probably multiple somebodies at multiple points, altered the Seanchan's version of the Prophesies Of The Dragon to favour the Seanchan better. Damane Foretellings may be perfectly valid when they happen, but that doesn't mean a false prophesy will get corrected once it's changed.
What worries this troper about the Crystal Throne is that it is a ter'angreal that creates a sense of reverence ... in case the Seanchan manage to make Rand kneel in front it ... <shiver>
AMOL finally resolved the Seanchan Prophecy thing Rand kneels before Tuon, who is empress, while asking for her help. So by metonomy he is kneeling before the Crystal Throne even though it's not actually present
I actually found Tuon's reaction to the meeting quite believable. It doesn't make her a [particularly] bad leader, it makes her someone who has been listening to Seanchan propaganda all her life just like the rest of her people. Also, the ineffectiveness of Rand's attempts at "negotiation" with her underlines the fact that the state he was in at the time wasn't getting him anywhere; this would have been undermined if such tactics had been remotely effective. The meeting makes sense, but what I do find kind of odd is how she hasn't given any thought to the Last Battle since then, and is in fact currently planning another assault on the White Tower. That could be explained though by the point that the Last Battle supposedly can't start until the Dragon Reborn kneels before the Crystal Throne, though I don't remember reading that myself (the kneeling yes, the "until" part no).
Two points. First, and I apologize but I can't make citations on this point at the moment, there've been suggestions that Ishamael probably monkeyed with the Seanchan version of the Prophecies to add things like the Dragon Reborn kneeling. Second, I did also find Tuon's reaction to be entirely believable: after being faced with pre-revelation Rand, taking steps to solidify her position makes perfect sense. She's a tough little firecracker, one of the only people we've ever seen stare down the barrel of full-power Ta'veren warping and not bend and one of the only people ever to stare down Darth Rand; sending her army to collect a handy stockpile of new damane right when you might be needing a bunch of them to take down the monster who just left your presence isn't a bad plan.
Okay, so Rand has his epiphany, turns back to the Light, everything's fine and dandy. Except...wasn't Moridin right? The Dark One does only have to win once, and people do keep on making the same mistakes over and over again. The Light doesn't seem all that comforting when the Dark One is destined to break free and wreak havok every time the Wheel turns. Rand's assertion that the Pattern allows people a second chance to correct past errors makes no sense because nobody except him has any memory of their past lives. We, the readers, are clearly supposed to agree with Rand, and his words are rather heartwarming and optimistic, but everyone is ultimately still a slave to the Pattern and the Wheel.
Yeah, this bugged me too. Unless something really interesting happens, then the end of the series is going to be a bit of a Downer Ending.
His revelation was actually that, although all the painful things are destined to happen and cannot be avoided, the same applies to good things.
Thank you! And as for the point that most people don't have memories of their past lives, that doesn't change the fact that due to the Wheel turning, people still get the chance to live again, experience good things, and live their lives better and happier; just because they don't remember other turnings or can learn from them doesn't mean the chance to do it again and maybe have it be better isn't comforting. And anyway no one ever the Light was comforting; it's still a damned sight better than the Shadow's alternative. Plus we don't know for sure the Dark One ever will break free...and as you say, the fact he may get to do so with every turning is balanced by the fact the Light has its Champion every turning too, and people get the chance with every turning to pick a side, to fail or win, to suffer or be happy, to learn and grow or not, to experience the good as well as the bad. Accepting all these things as being equally possible and something which just has to be experienced is part of life and reality; rejecting one rejects the other and, in fact, all of existence. Only nihilists and existentialists would prefer absolutely nothing to losing all the good things of life just to escape the bad—talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Even if the world is doomed to end in nihilistic non-existence, you might as well make the best of the time in between, and extend it as long as you can. The ultimate fate of the world doesn't actually change that in any way.
It is a very Camus like sentiment. Logically Moridin is right and looking at it that way, this entire ordeal is absurd, but that's kind of the point. Sisyphus has to keep pushing the rock up the hill every time, but he does it anyway because humans are at their best when they are rebelling. It is a sickeningly idealistic sentiment. That being said, I find the entire subplot to go from Darth Rand to Jesus Rand unnecessary. He was fine as Darth Rand, far more realistic to.
Actually it was quite necessary, since Darth Rand was ready to kill his father, destroy the Seanchan, and ummake reality; Rand had to change and see the worth in living, the value in getting to rebel, to try again, to redeem oneself or to change the outcome by altering one's choices, or he could not even lead the fight against the Shadow—Darth Rand may be more realistic, but as you yourself point out, realism and logic dictate just ending things, so what's the point in fighting? For Rand to continue at all, let alone stand up to the Dark One, he has to be idealistic. Only by changing his mindset can he even want to fight and do it for the right reasons, let alone gain access to the ta'veren/Dragon/Fisher King powers he needs to even stand a chance. As for finding idealism "sickening"...all I can say is to appeal to the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism (even as I find it sad such a thing is even necessary, or that they have to be so opposed) and leave it at that.
You think it's "realistic" that someone who wants to destroy the would would kill himself to save it? Also, the sheer zen superiority of To M-Rand I found a really interesting change - talking to Cadsuane like she was Mat, because he's actually got the perspective to be able to do so, was a really nifty scene.
Well, if The Dark One destroys the Wheel of Time at any future point, then he unmakes that Age and every Age before and since, which means that nothing in these stories happened because all the stuff with Rand, and Lews, and everyone before them was erased. But that hasn't happened, the story is still going on. Whether you accept that logic or not, it is perfectly possible that Moridin was wrong- logically, given infinite trials, whatever can happen will happen...but Ishamael claimed that the Dragon has bowed to him before, and that the Dark One has won in the past, and he still hasn't won even there is supposed to be something "different" about this Age, which could be bunk. Of course, all that could be bunk and either or both of those statements could be a lie. Point is, forgetting all that, what if The Dark One could never win? What if the game is rigged against him, and both the Pattern and the Creator have failsafes in check to make sure that even if The Dragon fails, evil never wins? Whatever can happen will happen, but thatcannot happen. There was never a chance, only the illusion of chance.
Also, on that note, the idea that infinite trials guarantees that any event that can occur will occur....is not necessarily true. It is a theory, and it is sound...but everything is unique, and on a case-by-case basis you will likely run into something that never happens, even though it could. That, in fact, is the counterpoint to that- if X will occur so long as it can occur given infinite trials, what happens when X is "there will be an exception". And, of course, since this requires infinite trials either theory is impossible to prove, since it requires an eternity to do so. Essentially even if Moridin is logically right...then there logically might be exceptions, since that is a possibility. And the Dark One failing, every time, even though its possible for him to succeed, might be one such exception.8
A Memory of Light makes it pretty clear that the Dark One will always lose because the Dark One's own nature is self-defeating and it is unable to keep itself from making the same mistakes over and over again. In this case, it would seem Moridin's downfall was letting his despair and nihilism blind him to this truth.
Put more simply, Rand is The Anti-Nihilist. An Anti-nihilist messiah! That's pretty Zen. Remember when Nynaeve tries to heal his madness and finds the black spikes around his mind surrounded and contained by the white? That's actually a pretty good metaphor for a certain Samuel Vimes' brain...
Saidin rot and the Eye of the World
One of the major points of the taint on Saidin was that the channeler would deteriorate in mind *and* body. However, the latter part seems to have been all but forgotten about by the end of book 2, although I do believe it's mentioned in the encyclopaedia. Still, it bugs me that it's seemingly been ret-conned out. Maybe the author wanted to avoid a red herring here? I dunno.
I believe Rand suffers from his body "rotting" as he starts to lose his eye sight and feels physically sick as he embraces the source more and more. If I'm not mistaken Taim references it happening to Asha'man recruits at some point as well.
His eyesight seems to have recovered by Towers of Midnight. It was probably just a temporary aftereffect from having a fireball explode in his face. (It will probably cause problems with his sight once he reaches middle age, though). I do not believe the channeling nausea has been brought up since the end of The Gathering Storm, either - but then, he's mostly off-screen during ToM. Semirhage was surprised to discover that he had developed an intolerance to saidin, although whether it is part of the madness or the rot is difficult to say. At what point does Taim mention rotting Asha'man?
At least in the RPG, the rotting disease only shows up in the final stages of Saidin-sickness. If that mechanic is intended to reflect the series, then Rand (and Taim) probably just haven't progressed that far.
The rotting only shows up near the end, as shown in the second book where Rand lives multiple lives. He channeled in some of them, and after several decades his fingers fell off and he had horrible sores. There simply wasn't enough time for it to happen before the taint was removed.
Remember that legend we met? Me neither
Am I the only one bothered by the fact that the entire episode in the Blight is barely ever mentioned again after the first book? One would think the Green Man had left some kind of impression on the party, but no, apparently not; neither did the Eye leave any kind of lasting impression on the main characters, despite being one of the most famous legends of its time. It's almost as if the trip into the Blight never happened; mostly it feels as if the group headed in there to get some experience with the place, stumbled onto the Horn of Valere while digging a latrine pit and watched Rand accidentally kill a Forsaken and wipe out a Trolloc army. (The other Forsaken tripped and broke his neck or something).
Not much to say in response to this, except to note that with the Blight becoming important again in the last couple books, and the confrontation with the Dark One/Moridin/Shaidar Haran sure to happen at Shayol Ghul, don't be so sure the Blight and what happened in the first book will stay irrelevant. Even if they aren't mentioned explicitly in A Memory of Light, they will likely have their effects on what Rand and the others think and do in the Last Battle. For all we know, there may even be actual references, the Song may be involved, another Nym could be created, the Creator stepping in could be referenced, who knows. Until we see the last book, we can't be certain what relevance and importance book one's climax will have.
A Mo L spoilers: So far into my read, we've seen the Song (Rand seems to have picked it out of his Lews Therin memories and uses it from time to time to enhance the life effect around him; may also explain the miraculous plant growth at the very end of TGS), and we seem to have seen another line from the same figure that spoke in Eot W.
Verin's letter to Mat
Why the hell did Verin take the approach she did with her letter to Mat? All it did was risk him not finding out the information until it was to late if she'd misjudged his character (which is basically what happened). Why not just say "in exchange for the portal I want you to wait in Camelyn for 5 days and then read this letter before deciding on your next course of action" that would have given her time to talk to Egewene and get back before Mat opened the letter in the event she was able to find the Oath Rod and ensured that if she had to go to her Plan B (as actually happened) Elayne would get the information in time. This would only rely on the fact that Mat will, generally, do the right thing but instead she chose to hope that his curiosity would outweigh his mistrust of the Aes Sedai.
The way I see it, she considered her reading on him to be entirely accurate; she wasn't so much hoping he'd open it as she was positive he'd open it.
Verin is bound by Unbreakable Oaths to the Dark One. It is likely that those oaths would only permit her to give Mat that letter if she were absolutely sure that she would die or get the letter back before he could read it.
Neither of those change the fundamental problem with her plan though. The core failure was that she'd made him promise to do what the letter and was relying on his curiosity to make him actually read it. Simply getting him to make a promise to "wait X days then read this letter before leaving" would have guaranteed that he would read the letter in time while also providing the same Loophole Abuse in her oaths. Essentially she made him swear to do what the note said and relied on him being curious enough to actually read it, a better plan would have been to make him swear to read it and then rely on his Chaotic Good nature to make him follow through on the information.
What's your point? Verin made a mistake in her reading of Mat and believing that his curiosity and good nature would overwhelm his distrust of Aes Sedai and the One Power. She was wrong, and it looks like it will cost the Light dearly, but how is that different from anything else that has happened in the series when a good character made a bad decision? It seems that you love Verin so much you want her to never screw up, or that you are complaining that something went wrong for the heroes in the last lap before the ultimate showdown with evil. This in a series that has been continually criticized for heroes never dying (or staying dead), deus ex machinas, and generally unbelievable developments in the name of cool fights and good guys winning...and now, when something goes wrong and could finally result in characters dying, heightening the tension and suspense (despite the fact very few people think Jordan would have had the Dark One win), you cry foul because Verin failed? You can't have your cake and eat it too.
Besides, it seems clear to me that Verin did it as she did because she knew Mat would have outright refused—that because of his feelings about Aes Sedai and the Power (and women), if she'd tried to make him promise to read the letter instead of leaving the reading optional, he never would have accepted the letter at all. At least the way she did it, there was a chance he would open it, which was better than if he'd never taken it from her at all. Simply saying "read it before you decide your next course" would have raised his suspicions even more, made him distrust why she'd give him something without seeming to care if he followed it or not.
Also, as the previous poster pointed out, her Dark Oaths would have prevented her from betraying the Shadow unless it was the hour of her death—if she had said "I'll only take you to Caemlyn if you read this, and then you can decide what to do after that", his reading the letter would immediately constitute betrayal whether he did anything about it or not (and we know he would have) which would have then meant she had to die in an hour's time (not enough time to get to Egwene) or be punished by the Dark One.
Lastly, there is the fact the Pattern needed it to happen this way, perhaps in order for Rand's Camlaan parallel, fight with Mor(deman)dred, and "three women on the boat to T(a)r (Valon)" dream to take place. Recall Egwene's dream about Mat putting two Aes Sedai on a balance scale with "something vast, the world perhaps" on the line. It is very possible this was referring to him choosing to go rescue Moiraine instead of following Verin's instructions—and with us being told Rand has to have Moiraine in order to win, it may be this had to happen, and Caemlyn had to be sacrificed, for the Light's ultimate victory.
The OP again. The problem I have isn't that I didn't want Verin to fail it's that the whole setup seems unrealistic to me given what Verin knows. Yes, most of the main characters do stupid things with some regularity but, for the most part, their actions make sense within the context of their character and the knowledge they have at the time. Verin, on the other hand, seems to have a pretty solid read of Mat's character (i.e. she knows he will keep his word) and actually seems to be a pretty logical person with more common sense than a lot of Browns. Given all that it strikes me as unrealistic that she would fail to think things through in the way that she did.
Verin's read on his character would not be taking his cannon R&D into account. She assumed he would keep his word but be unwilling to stay in Caemlyn for such a long period of time, especially given that he was a priority assassination target for darkfriends. She also felt it was fairly likely she'd get the Oath Rod, unswear the dark oaths, and come back within the day, and as a backup Mat and the Band would be in position to intervene when the invasion was scheduled to commence if she died and Mat didn't open the letter. However, she couldn't get the Oath Rod and had to go with a suicidal plan and the invasion was apparently delayed (possibly because the Black Ajah got killed and the bodyguard was forced to flee), so it didn't work out as planned.
I can't seem to get this woman completely out of my mind. I just can't. Nevermind that there are/were others in her situation, but for some odd reason, she stands out. Maybe it's the "completely broken" part? However, others are like that too. I guess there's something special about her? I guess it's the idea of being willing to say/do anything to "stop the pain" along with the despair of never being able to escape that bugs me. Fate worse than death indeed. Still, why just her?
What just bugs me about Ryma is her appearance in the Path of Daggers chapter 24. Apparently she was dressed as da'covale despite being damane but this isn't mentioned again and no explanation for it is given.
The two letters
What was in the two letters Elayne gave Rand? The ones that are apparently completely contradictory, but never explained anywhere I can find. She sits down to write him a letter and ten pages later he has two confusing ones but never tells us what the contents of them are.
"Oh, Rand! I love you! No, I hate you and everything you stand for!"
Well, yeah, I figured that out from context, but there are several places that they're talked about as if the reader should know what precisely is in them, but reading back two books I couldn't figure it out.
We're never told exactly what was in the letters in the book they're written in, just that from Rand's reaction the second one was very ill-advised. A few books later we see mentions that Elayne apparently told Rand she couldn't stand him. Which is pretty much par for the course when it comes to male/female interactions in Randland.
In retrospect, it probably seems more likely that one letter was a sappy romantic one and the other letter called him a raging dumbass.
So, I know a lot of things are suddenly (or not so suddenly) happening at the same time over the course of the last few books—which makes Tam al'Thor being with Perrin in Ghealdan and hanging around the Stone of Tear in "Towers of Midnight" that much more grating.
Mmmm... the chapters aren't in chronological order. What's your problem? Explain clearly with dates.
(not the OP) It's got a pretty severe case of Achronic Order with Perrin. Roughly half of his chapters are temporally concurrent with other people's chapters in The Gathering Storm, with an indeterminate Time Skip bringing it into sync after Rand freaks out on Dragonmount.
This threw me for a loop the first time I read it. I thought one Tam was some kind of evil doppelganger or something.
It was originally one book that had to be split into three. TGS was effectively the complete Rand/Egwene character arc conclusions, To M was Mat/Perrin character arc conclusions. It would have been nice if this had been explained more clearly, since it's jarring as of the only other times the timelines interact, and made worse by the fact that there are scenes with Super-Rand in To M that obviously follow the TGS conclusion. Best to just read each storyline separately, assuming completely separate timelines that meet whenever they need to, and all concluding together at the Fields of Merrilor in To M.
How is Perrin able to deflect balefire in the World of Dreams
Okay, so reality is really mutable there and so channeling isn't as effective, but Rand's fight with Rahven has bizarre and unprecedented effects caused by balefire, eventually ending with apparently permanent damage to the dream version of the palace. It's pretty clear balefire tears up the world of dreams as easily as it tears space-time.
Balefire is just a bunch of weaves. Presumably the weaves need to touch him for the Balefire to work, and to Perrin, they just weren't touching him.
The thing is, though, in order to block balefire he'd need to manipulate it or the space it is traveling through, and evidence suggests that balefire shreds anything that touches the weaves, hence why it can't be blocked normally. Also, in the previous fight, balefire clearly didn't work like other weaves. There's no other known situation that causes damage to dream structures to reverse and then reoccur without active intervention. Admittedly, in that scene it doesn't actually damage anything, so it's possible it plays by the rules when the channeler using it isn't present in the flesh.
Perrin is a Reality Warper in the dream world. It has been established that "thought" can beat even Channeling in the dream world. Perrin's will was just strong enough to resist the balefire.'
It's interesting to see someone like Perrin exhibit powers in the world of dreams that can shock Egwene. Previous poster pretty much has it right; the Rahvin battle took place between people without a whole lot of World of Dreams experience, so balefire acting as expected is not a surprise. Rand didn't even know what the place was, and we've had indications that even the Forsaken aren't as good as they thought they were; most of the male Forsaken didn't even seem to have much interest in the world of dreams. Perrin has nightmare-based Training from Hell behind him, backed by a mind that is already stubborn as hell, with no existing preconceptions about balefire. To most of the Aes Sedai, balefire is unstoppable, and in the world of dreams, things are what you expect them to be. When Perrin said "it's just a weave," he had things more accurately than just about anyone. Balefire in the world of dreams is just as unstoppable as you expect it to be. One also wonders if watching Perrin do this, and thus demonstrate what really matters in the World of Dreams, had any influence on Egwene's later Moment Of Awesome versus Mesaana...
I think it may also be an important distinction that Rahvin and Rand's balefire that caused all the shenanigans were cast by people in T'A'R in the flesh whereas the balefire Perrin deflected was cast by a T'A'R newbie using a ter'angreal.
Nope: Perrin had the right of it. Belief, imagination, visualisation... and sheer stubbornness trump even gravity or the speed of light in the T'A'R. To Perrin, "it's just a weave" is up there with "fly, now" or "nah: nightmare not happening... unless useful lava is useful". He basically weaponised his vast ability to dig his heels in when he really wants to. The channelers are all too used to weaves always working as they expect them to work. So, like any newbie to dreams, they make the mistake of buying it whether it's them or somebody else doing the weaving: like any poor sod who could have just soared away from drops the Forsaken killed them with while in T'A'R. Gravity? It's just a notion. Don't have to if I don't want to. You're also unlikely expend willpower on maintaining something you take for granted... without taking the opposition's stubbornness not to accept your "rules" into account.
Elayne's treatment of Andor post-Morgase pre-Bowl of Winds
Elayne, who is duty-bound to rule and protect her homeland, has the most bizarre reaction to the news that her mother is dead and now Elayne is queen. Elayne decides to....DO NOTHING.
She doesn't go home, she doesn't Travel temporarily to check on events, she doesn't correspond with Norry or any of the nobles allied with her by pigeon or by Ajah Eyes-and-Ears, she doesn't issue a proclamation of her intention for the throne...she does nothing.
Arguably, this begins with the "troubling rumors" of Gaebriel, and it's baffling even then. Elayne lets Rand step in and fight Rhavin for Andor, lifting not a finger to help, and then lets Rand sit and govern Andor, working hard to prevent Andor from succumbing to the civil war that is wracking everywhere else. Elayne (along with Moiraine and Thom) was helping Rand rule in Tear, so she knows his limitations quite well.
Nevertheless, it isn't until after she's completed her various duties in Menagerie/Tel'aran'rhiod/Salidar/Ebou Dar and it isn't until she has to FLEE Ebout Dar in a hurry that she finally chooses Andor as a destination.
And upon arriving in Andor, far from thanking Rand for killing Gaebriel and keeping the peace, she takes all his banners down and declares Andor independent (but future ally) of the Dragon Reborn, stating that Andor is "not a conquest", despite the fact it's only Rand's love for her that keeps Aiel/Asha'man/Combined armies of Tear, Illian, and Caihrien out of Andor, all of which could crush Elayne's tenuous rule like a bug.
You could practically call the nation rAndor for how gently Rand treats it compared to the others.
Even though he arguably did a better job than most it still rankled Elayne's supporters that he talked of 'giving' it to her rather than it being Elayne's by right. It also gave her detractors the argument that she was his puppet. As for why she was never sent in earlier to handle the situation...no idea.
Gratitude? From a woman to a man? In this series? Unthinkable! In all seriousness, women giving men no respect whatsoever was one of Robert Jordan's fetishes. Combined with Elayne's natural arrogance such a conclusion was inevitable.
In the interests of keeping this from being just Elayne-bashing, let's cover this step by step.
When she first heard the rumors of Gaebril (which I think was during Fires of Heaven, when they were on their way from Tanchico to Salidar), she couldn't Travel there to find out what was going on—by then she, Nynaeve, and the others were already in Ghealdan and trying to hide from Moghedien and Liandrin's coven. (Also at that point they didn't know Traveling yet—that happens after they get to Salidar and Amyrlin Egwene, who figured it out from her TAR journey, shows them the weave.) The only thing she could do was check in the World of Dreams—during which Egwene had no real information about Andor, she only knew what Rand told her and he was keeping his knowledge of Rahvin's location a secret, both to keep from revealing he was interacting with Forsaken (Lanfear and Asmodean) instead of killing them and because he was concentrating on Sammael. This is in fact a mistake on his part he bemoaned when rumors of Morgase's death reached Cairhien. Meanwhile, it was imperative that she and Nynaeve meet up with the rebels in Salidar, to give them the seal and the ter'angreals as well as resume their Aes Sedai training.
By Lord of Chaos, Egwene is out of commission thanks to Lanfear, leaving Elayne meeting with the Wise Ones who neither knew much about Andor nor cared about it. And again, she was stuck in Salidar, under the control of the Aes Sedai, who would not allow her to leave—they wanted an Aes Sedai queen again, but that meant she had to become Aes Sedai first. She wasn't able to leave to even confirm the truth about Morgase, let alone try and claim the throne, until Egwene was made the Amyrlin Seat, allowing her to declare Elayne Aes Sedai and able to go off on missions. And by that point, the need to fix the weather outweighed anything else, which was why Elayne went to Ebou Dar instead of Caemlyn—she was the one who had found the Bowl in Tel'aran'rhiod, and more importantly she was the only one who knew enough about ter'angreal to use it.
As for why Egwene didn't allow her to Travel to Caemlyn to check before going to Ebou Dar, several reasons: she had been told by the Wise Ones in the World of Dreams that Rand had Caemlyn under control, so the situation there was as stable as it could be and could wait until after the Bowl was found and used; Salidar had sent a delegation to Rand, and they were in their usual infinite Aes Sedai wisdom determined to control Rand rather than guide him—if Elayne suddenly popped in to check on things and made clear her support of Rand (because she loved him) that would have completely undercut any bargaining power they had with him; and finally, at this point everyone still believed Egwene to be a puppet Amyrlin—if she had tried anything without the Hall's say-so, it would have given away her true intentions before she had established her power.
Finally, after the escape from Ebou Dar Elayne makes it clear their are certain protocols and formalities to be followed. She couldn't just "send out a proclamation", she had to approach Caemlyn as something of a humble penitent, make certain ritual statements, then climb the road to the Palace on foot. She also wanted to travel the countryside and get a feel for the people and their support or lack thereof for her. All of this would take time, time she wouldn't have had if she needed to go to Ebou Dar right afterward. In fact even if she'd foregone all the rituals and just gone to Caemlyn and published her claim, that right there would have jumpstarted the whole succession plot, complete with besieging armies, something that would have prevented her from going to Ebou Dar where she was needed. Better to wait until all of that was out of the way—and Rand was no longer there due to his hanging out in Cairhien all the time and taking Illian.
As to when she finally does come to Caemlyn, it's as was said above—she tore down the Dragon banners to prove she was not a puppet of Rand's. And yes, because she was annoyed at him thinking he could 'give' her what was rightfully hers, but mostly she wanted to prove her independence from him, and that she could earn the throne in her own right.
It's safe guess that Tear, Cairhien, Arad Doman, etc had protocols too for taking the throne. They aren't mentioned probably because everyone in those places are so tired of anarchy and civil war. The very things Rand tried so hard to prevent in Andor. The very things that happened when his soldiers left (though mild compared to what other nations got). Had Rand left for a while he probably would've received a warmer welcome from a people too grateful/cowed to care for protocols (or a rival of Elayne on the throne).
A minor one of the What Happened to the Mouse? variety. For the first three (I think) books almost everyone refers to the Dark One as Baal'zamon. Then the main characters find out it's actually the trolloc nickname for Ishamael. The thing is, after that nobody ever uses the word again, including Joe Average Peasant. Did Rand send out a newsletter or something?
Ba'alzamon was never a widely-used name for the Dark One; it was either the trolloc name for Ishamael, or a trolloc name for the Dark One that Ishamael used (presumably with permission, since he stayed in the DO's good graces). Everybody calls the guy in Rand's dreams Ba'alzamon because that's what he calls himself; they're just mistaken as to who he really is. Joe Average Peasant probably never even heard the name Ba'alzamon, unless he was surprisingly well-educated or was unlucky enough to have regular contact with trollocs and myrddraal (Moiraine has to explain the name to the Emond's Fielders, as I recall). Darkfriends seemed to know it, but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.
Hmm, thought I remembered it being used by minor characters. Maybe not.
Going back through the first three books again, nobility/Aes Sedai/other educated people recognize the name if it's brought up, but don't seem to use it themselves. Darkfriends call the guy they work for "Ba'alzamon" because that's how he introduces himself to them (Rand, Mat, and Perrin use this name for much the same reason, and Moiraine just seems to think it's safer than saying "Shai'tan"), but they're unaware that he's the Dark One's proxy rather than the Dark One himself. "Average peasants" outside of the main cast never use the name at all. Other Forsaken seem fully aware of who the name refers to- Lanfear openly mocks Ba'alzamon and his "pathetic followers" at one point, and even she probably wouldn't do that lightly if she believed it to be one of her boss's names, rather than her colleague/rival's name. Even darkfriends, though, would probably be less likely to use Ba'alzamon's name after he dies, simply because the man they knew as Ba'alzamon is no longer the one handing out their instructions. Ultimately, though, the use of the name was just never as widespread as the OP thought.
So there's a country on the other side of the Aiel Waste that's nearly as big as Seanchan, yet the only interest any of the Foresaken take in it is Graendal abducting the monarchs as her pets? What gives?
Presumably, the fact that Shara is incredibly isolationist to the point that it's not really an issue for the rest of the world; the Forsaken (and the Shadow in general) are preferring to concentrate on areas that might actually pose a challenge to them. Besides, who says Graendal's the only Forsaken who's interested in it, rather than the only one we know about? I've seen more than one WMG that Demandred's been spending at least part of his time there.
AMoL spoilers: Demandred went to Shara, where he was apparently a major figure in their prophecies, and set himself up as a Dark Messiah and general there, presumably after Graendal did her thing.
A careful reading of the prophecies suggests that they might have referred to Rand, after the Last Battle. Of course, who says Demandred usurped him? There's no rule against prophecies being fulfilled twice.
The test for Accepted
I just can't imagine how that tradition got started, especially in light of the Tower's "Unknown ter'angreal— DO NOT TOUCH" philosophy. "You know, I've got a great idea! We've found this strange ter'angreal that lets you enter a version of reality where your worst fears are real and can kill you. We've no idea what this thing was intended for, much less how it works, but it has already stilled two Aes Sedai who tried to study it. Let's make all our half-trained students enter it!"
I wondered about that, too... But keep in mind that that particular ter'angreal has probably been used since the founding of the White Tower, and the Aes Sedai back then probably knew more than the current ones: I'm not sure it's implied strongly anywhere in the books, but my feeling is that the White Tower has been losing power and knowledge over the last 3000 years, brining to the many failures of the current Aes Sedai
Training from Hell. After all the protecting and sheltering the students from mistakes, at some point they have to expose them to danger to see they're ready to handle it. If they screw up in a really dangerous way ("Oops, probably shouldn't have used balefire there..."), they won't be causing damage in the "real" world.
Also, it could be black ajah machinations. "Hey, don't worry apprentice, just swear to the dark lord and we'll pull the strings to keep you out of that nasty silver arch you're concerned about, no problem. Yeah, you still get to be promoted, we got connections."
The Graphic Novels
Are the graphic novels considered canonical depictions of events? I glanced through one and it's art gallery showed Lews Therin wielding Callandor, something which has never been mentioned or even hinted at in any other Wo T sources. It also showed the War of Power as being fought with bows and arrows and other primitive weapons, when canonically soldiers who weren't Aes Sedai wielded shocklances.
Nope. They try to be, but the first few pages of the Eye of the World comic series has Moiraine's eyes changing from blue to brown, her height jumping around from high to low, and Rand's eyes starting off brown to match his hair, then later more accurate. Think of it this way: Does the Wo T cover art accurately portray any scene in the book? One can only assume they tried, but no. Artistic license and all that.
The ebook cover arts were pretty damn good in that respect; the Towers of Midnight ebook cover was one of my favorite pieces of artwork ever to come out of the Wo T series... That said, was it the art gallery or the actual telling of the Prologue? A lot of the art galleries are just non-canonized sketches done by the artists to practice the characters.
Lack of naval forces
One thing that bugs me is how only the Seanchan have a navy. The various countries of the Westlands haven't always had good relations, and there have been wars between them in the past. So why not attack their enemies' ports to cut off trade? Even if they want to preserve port trade, the coastal regions would very much benefit from a navy to quickly transport their soldiers to the enemy.
It's likely some of the non-landlocked countries like Tear and Illian do have navies, if only for things like troop transport, and they've simply never been important enough to mention, though most water travel seems to be for trade. The current countries who generally war against each other (Andor/Carhien, Tear/Illian, Amadicia/Altara, and Tarabon/Arad Domon) all tend to be right next to each other, making land-based transport trivial compared to sea-based. It's also worth noting that there is another navy besides the Seanchan: the Atha'an Miere. Sea Folk ships all seem to do double-duty as trade and warships, they're basically global in scope, and they know and prepare for naval combat (including with the One Power, though few outside know that at first). Which in turn probably implies that they've fought naval battles against Randland countries, though it might also imply that those countries don't take to sea warfare all that often for fearing of pissing the Sea Folk off.
What happened at the end? At first I thought Rand was dead and in the World of Dreams, enjoying a pleasant dream while he waited to be spun out again, a sad heroic sacrifice, et cetera. Saving Moridin was just his last gesture of mercy, being the good guy. I was convinced of this interpretation by the part where he lights a pipe without channeling, like how people in the World of Dreams can dream things into being. But I checked a summary online and it talked about him switching bodies with Moridin. And on a reread of the last couple paragraphs I noticed the part where Min, Elayne and Aviendha talked feeling him growing stronger through the bond, which is hard to square with him being dead. (Weirder things have happened, though!) So what did other people think happened? To put it another, much simpler way: if he is alive and not in the World of Dreams, how did he light that pipe?
Unlike Mat and Perrin, he's still got power over space-time. He rewrote reality so his pipe was lit, like how he purifies tea earlier.
So he still knows how to manipulate the Pattern like he was doing while outside it fighting the Dark One? He can't channel, but he became a Reality Warper instead? Good thing the series is over anyways, because that's one hell of a Story Breaker Power...
I was confused, I thought maybe Rand had a Mirror of Mists on him to look like Moridin, but re-reading it would appear that he switched bodies with Moridin. This is what bugs me, it isn't explained how that happened (a toss off line, an idle thought by Rand would have been enough for me... maybe.) The reality warping powers were just an interesting twist. Being able to weave the pattern gave him some understanding of how to change the pattern.
Moridin and Rand have been synchronized by an inadvertent True Power/One Power balefire collision since book six. It's why Moridin was so pissed off about Rand losing his hand; Moridin didn't lose the hand as well, but he lost all feeling in it. It's also why Rand can access the True Power through Moridin.
Sanderson has commented that the link between Rand and Moridin might be caused by something other than the balefire crossing... As for Rand, we do know that he's alive and did switch bodies with Moridin, which was predicted and foreshadowed by several vague prophecies. (And by Avi's visions of the future; remember, she mentions her children, Rand's children, having dark hair from their "wetlander side" when Rand's got red hair from both sides of his bloodline...) And as for the pipe-lighting... Well, that's one of the questions Sanderson literally can't answer. From what we know, Jordan specified this to go in (and probably wrote this scene himself) but didn't, by all accounts we've been given, leave any explanation. Quite honestly, my impression of Jordan is that he really liked driving fans nuts with speculation and theorycrafting, and intended to leave a few things like this as unresolved questions.
Padan Fain getting smacked down. I liked Mat being immune to the mist, but considering Perrin's epic fight with Slayer and the build up of Padan Mat really got the shaft.
It really couldn't have gone any other way; Mat is a Badass Normal even not counting his uncanny luck, while Fain without his powers is just a scrawny middle-aged guy. In any case, in hindsight Fain as a whole seems to have been a giant Red Herring to distract fans' attention away from how things were actually going to go between Rand and the Dark One and while I didn't predict that Mat would be the one to beat him, in hindsight it makes perfect sense (though when the Encyclopedia comes out, one of the things I desperately hope in it is an explanation of where exactly Mordeth/Fain's powers came from).
As for Mat having something to do, I thought leading all the armies was plenty impressive. The only thing that bugged me about Padan Fain was that I had predicted Rand would kill the Dark One, only to have Fain become another one after enough time passes. Like the previous person said, a Red Herring.
How can the Aes Sedai even call themselves Aes Sedai? Seriously, they vow to "speak no word that is not true," yet they routinely call themselves "servants of all" when they know full well they only serve themselves and (sometimes) each other.
It's a title. A proper noun. That's the name of the individuals of their organization. It's true that is what they are. Not to mention that all Aes Sedai are technically, at least, supposed to better humanity with their works.
Is it forbidden for Ajahs to do things outside of the norm regarding Warders, or just regarded as strange? For instance, would a Red sister be punished or forbidden from bonding a Warder? (For that matter, why have they never considered finding women to train to be Warders?). What about Ajahs outside of the Green bonding more than one? Elayne only seems to choose the Green Ajah because she wanted to bond Rand and already had a Warder. Nynaeve chose Yellow, but married her Warder, and nobody treated it as anything other than uncommon, so perhaps it depends on how strict each Ajah is about Warders?
I always imagined it as tradition, but tradition that's so strong and been around so long it might as well be considered The Rules. The Reds in particular would probably ostracize any member of their Ajah who bonded a Warder, considering how uptight and humorless they are even when not being outright antagonistic. The Greens I imagine started bonding multiple warriors because as the Battle Ajah, the more people you have watching your back the better, and that gradually became "Greens have multiple Warders, no-one else does". As for Warders being men, I imagine something similar- in the Westlands, at least, physical Action Girls (as opposed to Badass female channelers) seem to be very much the exception rather than the rule (this, of course, doesn't go for the Aiel, Seanchan, or Sea Folk), so the Warders started out as being drawn from men, until it was just taken as a given that "a Warder is a man". At least, that's my take.
The Warder Bond does funny things when used by a woman on a woman; that may be what gave rise to the "all Warders are men" custom. Aes Sedai are the kind of society that's entirely capable of not doing something (female Warders) for so long that they remember to do the thing but not why. As the above poster points out, Aes Sedai are pretty well programmed to knee-jerk accept tradition as correct. In a society like that the peer pressure must be simply enormous so I'd imagine that extremely rare departures (multiple Warders outside the Green, any warders at all inside the Red) probably stay rare on that alone. Also bear in mind that at least part of the reason Nynaeve got away with it without a fuss is because she's a bit of a special case. She's close friends with the new Amrylin, for starters, and in her own right, she's the single most powerful channeler in a hierarchy that is preprogrammed for high deference towards stronger channelers. (IIRC, pre-doorway Lanfear is one of the only stronger at all...)
Why is there such a high proportion of Black Ajah among the Red compared to the other Ajahs? You'd think that their whole reason for being would make them less likely to foster so many Blacks. After all, they hunt down men who can channel specifically because they are tainted by the Dark One and thus go mad, so you'd think the Red's hatred of him as the cause would go beyond most other people's - especially considering he's identified as male and many Reds seem to be misandrists.
The Reds just seem to attract an unusually high ratio of unpleasant people to begin with, which probably doesn't hurt. There's also the fact that Red is, IIRC, the largest Ajah, so there are a lot of darkfriend Reds running around because there are just a lot of Reds period. Also, do keep in mind that in Real Life classical Athens was quite patriarchal even by the standards of Greece in general despite their patron deity being a goddess, so there's definitely real-world precedent (albeit gender-flipped precedent) to support darkfriend Reds having a double standard for mortal men and a male deity.
That makes sense. But it still seems odd that they would choose to follow the fellow responsible for causing madness in male channelers in the first place, like Greens becoming Black when their whole thing is about fighting the Shadow in the last battle. I suppose some of them just lose their drive for their Ajah's goals over time?
I think most Black Ajah members are knowingly betraying both their stated Ajah's mission and that of the Aes Sedai as a whole (who are, after all, supposed to be "Servants of All" even if that's gotten rather muddled over the years with "all" becoming synonymous with "the White Tower as my ajah thinks it should be"). There might be some exceptions, like Semirhage-esque yellows who specialize in perverting healings or Whites whose logic lead them down the same nihilistic path trod by Ishamael, but most Blacks are definitely traitors to the entire Tower and their original Ajahs.
They're likely deliberately targeted. Their Ajah is the one with the best odds of being able to gentle/kill the Dragon Reborn early, which they tried during the "unpleasantness" after the Blood Snow.
Another more practical reason: Reds don't have warders. Robert Jordan mentioned on his blog that a warder presents an extra security risk when recruiting for the Black Ajah, because the bond lets him know something is up with his Aes Sedai, though not exactly what. If he's not interested in Team Evil they have to be extra careful or arrange his death.
Reds are tasked with fighting the worst abominations that most people in that world could expect to see in their lives -male channelers- and this likely leaves them susceptible to She Who Fights Monsters. That's the sort of hook that the Dark One might find useful. Note that he also converts many Blues, an ajah dedicated to the ideology-driven.
Is there a particular reason the Dark One doesn't decide to reincarnate Asmodean? All the other Forsaken who aren't balefired get reincarnated, even if it's just seemingly to be punished, like Cyndane. The Dark One named Asmodean a traitor while talking to one of the others, so you'd think he'd want to make that punishment as varied as possible, and what was done to Cyndane/Moghedien does not look fun at all. Now, Word of God says that he did turn back to the Light before he died, or started to, so I'm wondering if that means the Dark One can't touch him? And I wonder if that apply to Verin too, since she was never really a true Black? Or are the pair of them suffering in some 'hell' somewhere?
How's he going to grab him? He doesn't have a connection to the Dark One anymore.
The connection to the Dark One that Rand severed, from what we understand, doesn't actually do anything except shield Asmodean from the Taint. Female Forsaken don't appear to have these. Nabbing a soul seems to be a very tricky thing for even the Dark One to pull off, and seems to require him to have a suitable body in place at that exact moment; he may not have wanted to waste the time on someone who was more or less openly traitorous. Cyndane seems to be a special case in that regard; there's a big difference between Asmodean, who was a moderately successful bureaucrat, the weakest male Forsaken, and probably the least dangerous Forsaken of all, and Lanfear, who was one of the most powerful Forsaken and who was also one of the most cunning and brutally effective of them all. It makes a lot of sense that the Shadow would just write off Asmodean and be done with him after his failure and capture. In A Memory of Light, we do find out that Moridin was actually sent personally to the land of the 'Finns to execute Lanfear so she could be reincarnated...
From Asmodean's reaction, as well as the fact that none of the tricks the Shadow uses against people sworn to it are used on him, it seems to have severed all links as well. It's probable this was simply a vulnerability caused by protection from the taint that does not apply to female Forsaken.
The implication in the wording of his death is that he was killed by balefire. Leaving aside that the Dark One wouldn't want to resurrect a traitor, Word of God has it that resurrection is only possible for "very small amounts" of balefire.
This is more a fandom thing than something in the books, but it still bugs and confuses me- why do so many people talk about Fain as if he was a Gollum-Expy? The two characters have a number of superficial similarities, but in the long run are nothing alike, even before the last book confirmed that Fain had nothing to do with defeating the Dark One. To give a brief rundown: both are Ax-CrazyWild Cards, but Gollum is a tragic, even sympathetic figure while Fain is much more deeply malevolent. Both have split personalities, but Gollum's is much more emphasized, is simply the result of insanity, and one personality is good-natured but weak-willed while the other is evil; Fain's basically amounts to switching between names and mannerisms, is the result of two souls combining together imperfectly, and both personalities are evil, though Mordeth is worse. Both obsess over an Artifact of Doom, but the One Ring is much more plot-centric than Fain's dagger. Both hate the main hero, but Gollum mostly hates Frodo because Frodo is between him and the Ring and under the right circumstances can be made to work for him; Fain just plain wants Rand dead and would never guide him anywhere. Both have been corrupted by dark forces, but Gollum has no powers beyond good night-vision and being much stronger than he looks, while Fain is more powerful than all but the top-tier channelers. And of course, Gollum is ultimately a figure of pity; Fain is a figure of horror. So seriously, where are people getting Fain=Gollum from?
In addition to obsession over an Artifact of Doom (regardless of the importance of that artifact), another similarity between them is the particular style of obsessiveness. It would have been in character for Fain to literally caress the dagger while crooning, "My precious..." That's very similar. Also, he might not have led Rand on a physical journey, but he led plenty of other people into dark places metaphorically. Also, the fact of being Wild Cards in this story is worth emphasis. Both The Wheel of Time and The Lord of the Rings had such strong Black and White Morality, and yet in both there's this one guy, a normal person until touched by the Dark Side and later rebelling against it, a Wild Card that could have tipped the scales of the whole fight either way. Basically, no, they aren't exactly the same, but there are big similarities, especially before Fain actually appears in AMoL.
My point about the obsession isn't that the obsession is different, but that the artifact is- Gollum is fixated on the One Ring, the unique artifact that the entire story turns on; Fain obsesses over a dagger that really isn't important to anyone but him and Mat and has no powers that anything else from Shadar Logoth wouldn't have. Also, their nature as Wild Cards is quite different- Gollum is a tortured soul caught between good and evil, while Fain is an evil that is outside of the Dark One's control (if Gollum is the grey to Sauron's black, then Fain is black that happens to oppose the Dark One's black).
What on earth happened to Dobraine in the last book?
According to Brandon Sanderson the only thing left in the notes about Dobraine was that he was at the meeting at Merrilor. His arc was played out anyway, I suppose.
They make references to the Dragon, name their canons dragons when they invent them, and draw a dragon on a flag, without ever seeing a dragon in real life (the closest creatures to one being Shadowspawn like the dragkhar and Seanchan animals like the raken). This troper was rather disappointed by the fact that Rand, despite being called the Dragon Reborn, never turns into a Dragon like a shape-shifter nor does he have any connection to a real dragon.
Word of God is that "real" dragons don't exist in Randland or anywhere else in the Wo T-verse. In-universe, "Dragon" is just a term for Lews Therin Telamon, his reincarnation (aka Rand), and the symbolic creature that represents him/them. The draghkar aren't really dragon-like, either- they're Winged Humanoids.
Why are the Forsaken such good swordfighters? Mind-meltingly awesome fight though it was, this was the one thing that bugged me about Lan vs. Demandred, with Lan realizing before and during the fight that the latter was the better fighter. How?? The Age of Legends up to the War of Shadow were fairly peaceful all around, and it's explicitly stated that swordfighting as a martial art was lost until rediscovered and essentially rebuilt from the ground up by Lews Therin and one of the eventual-Forsaken (Be'lal?). Granted, the forsaken with weapon training have probably had a couple of centuries of life, but no implication beyond casual practice even then (why would they need it, when they have guns and magic, both far more deadly and efficient?). The Third Age, meanwhile, shows a lowering of technology to medieval levels, and a resurgence of low-tech melee for crafting and fighting. And Lan in particular is practically born with a sword in his hands, is universally-reputed and to be Death on legs and demonstrates it, and belongs to cultures shaped by 3000 years of continuous martial arts development in cultures where they're necessary. And he's not as good as a someone who didn't need swords in their previous life at all, and has only been around a couple of years in Randland? That's about the equivalent of a modern ARMA instructor being a better fighter than a Renaissance-era knight.
"Do you remember when we took that tame sport called swords and learned to kill with it, as the old volumes said men once had?" Also, while the actual war only lasted ten years, it was preceded by a century of strife as civilization collapsed due to the Dark One's influence, where blood sports such as where the osan'gar and aran'gar were used became common. Also, the exact mechanics of Age of Legends warfare was never revealed, but there's a reason why swords became useful again in an age of shocklances and Arrows of Fire. I can buy that an ARMA instructor could match a Ranaissance-era knight if the ARMA instructor already had two centuries of even-casual sword play that was then hardened by ten years of actual combat. Besides which, the Age of Legends is not the modern age; a society with ter'angreal to ward off damage and do other things, as well as access to Tel'aran'rhiod is going to have a very different meaning of "tame" swordplay.
Don't forget that Demandred had an unfair advantage, too. Just because Lan had a foxhead knockoff and was immune to the One Power didn't mean Demandred wasn't holding it, and just holding the One Power is described as giving one's mental acuity and perception a big boost, too (just reference how many times characters describe how alive they feel/how vivid the world seems with the Power, and how everything seems dead and gray when it's gone). Another thing to consider is that of the two, Lan never really had an opponent to challenge him; it's hard to get better when you're already the best, and Word of God acknowledges that Lan is the greatest swordsman of the Third Age. Hard to find a decent sparring partner. Demandred had at least one person who was better than him in the Age of Legends, the same person he spent a good chunk of his adult life measuring himself against and the original (for this setting) The Ace, Lews Therin himself.
Demandred also notes (to Gawyn, I believe) that he's improved his skills beyond where they were in the Age of Legends during his time awake in the Third Age. Killing the Dragon (a man known in his previous incarnation as an extremely skilled swordsman, and has carried over much of that skill into his present life) is his obsession, and he's presumably been training like mad for that encounter. Also, note that Lan has been fighting the Last Battle nonstop, while Demandred was mostly hanging back apart from his handful of individual duels so he could fling channeling firepower around; the narration explicitly points out that Demandred is much fresher than Lan, and the fight might have gone differently had Lan been on top form.
The only Forsaken who were noted for their sword skills were Be'lal (who helped turn the sport of "swords" into a viable combat form with Lews Therin), Sammael (who had been a renowned athlete prior to the war and thus was likely already quite skilled in the sport of "swords" as well as the bloodsports that cropped up during the Collapse), and Demandred (who spent his whole life chasing after Lews Therin and was known to have "studied war" which was considered unusual in his day and age). I think it's entirely likely that all three of them + Lews Therin (and likely others not mentioned who didn't survive/get reincarnated) were basically the ones that invented the "modern" swordfighting of the Third Age. Plus, in Demandred's specific case, he was noted as being just a hair behind Lews Therin in all-around awesomeness. Rand went from a sheepherder to a blademaster in basically less than a year (and according to Word of God only one step below Lan himself) while still doing all the other things he had to do, so I think it's reasonable to accept that Demandred could have brushed up his already-impressive skills to their absolute apex in the roughly two years he was free.
We can infer that a couple of other Forsaken were skilled swordsmen- Demandred seems to have thought that Lan might be a disguised Asmodean at first, which implies that he was also really good (though he seems to realize quickly that Lan is too good to be him)- presumably, Asmo's sword skills never made it into the legends because honestly, he's not the type to get into the thick of it that often. Moridin was able to hold his own against Rand, which implies his skills weren't bad, though it's clear Rand is quite a bit better. Still, all evidence points to Demandred being the best of the lot, and he was a hair behind Lews Therin at everything... except war, where he was a hair ahead. Considering that Lews Therin was one of the best ever- and assuming that this applies to physical combat as well as strategy, which Demandred's overall performance at the Last Battle implies is accurate- then this was essentially a duel of two of the greatest prodigies of all time.