Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wheel of Time Music - Songs and Dances

By Linda

Let’s start where the dancing started: on the green in the Two Rivers at Bel Tine.

Maypole dancing

In celebration of winter’s end and the start of the growing season, the Two Rivers people dance and sing around a wooden pole:

On the far side of the bridges, the mounds were already building for the Bel Tine fires, three careful stacks of logs almost as big as houses. They had to be on cleared dirt, of course, not on the Green, even sparse as it was. What of Festival did not take place around the fires would happen on the Green.

Near the Winespring a score of older women sang softly as they erected the Spring Pole. Shorn of its branches, the straight, slender trunk of a fir tree stood ten feet high even in the hole they had dug for it. A knot of girls too young to wear their hair braided sat cross-legged and watched enviously, occasionally singing snatches of the song the women sang.
Tam clucked at Bela as if to make her speed her pace, though she ignored it, and Rand studiously kept his eyes from what the women were doing. In the morning the men would pretend to be surprised to find the Pole, then at noon the unmarried women would dance the Pole, entwining it with long, colored ribbons while the unmarried men sang.

The Eye of the World, An Empty Road

Dancing around a tall wooden pole, a maypole, occurs at various European folk festivals, particularly on May Day (May 1st), or Whitsunday (or Pentecost, 50 days after Easter Sunday so somewhere between May 10th and June 13th) although in some countries it is at erected at Midsummer, around June 21st in the northern hemisphere. The pole may be decorated with painted designs or with garlands. The most traditional maypole dances are circle dances. Ribbon dances, where the pole is wrapped with entwined coloured ribbons, were developed in the 18th century.

Maypoles connect the earth, and the growing things thereupon, with the sky; they are symbols of the world tree and the axis mundi, the axis around which the world turns. Their location represents the cradle of the world, the world’s point of beginning. In the Wheel of Time series, the maypole on the Emond’s Field village green is literally the point of the beginning of the story.

One of the functions of the maypole is as a conduit for blessings to descend from above. The three ta’veren spun out to correct the Pattern are an expression of such blessings; and the strongest of them, the Dragon and Creator’s Champion, is literally the hope and salvation of the world. The three unlit bonfires beyond the village green represent the three young ta’veren. Ishamael more or less confirms this:

Ordinary men may hide in the sweep of the Pattern, but ta'veren stand out like beacon fires on a hill…

The Great Hunt, Kinslayer

They will be used to help burn the Trolloc carcasses after Winternight, just as Rand, Mat and Perrin will soon account for the destruction of masses of Trollocs. They were born to help purge the world of the Shadow.

The Two Rivers also has dances on Sunday (the longest day of the year – summer solstice) and at harvest. These appear to be mainly reels and jigs:

Had they been anybody but who - and what - they were, he would have asked any and all of them to dance a jig or a reel. He had danced with Egwene often enough, back home, and even once with Nynaeve, but that seemed a long time ago.

The Dragon Reborn, A Way Out


The reel is a lively partner-changing dance as well as the dance tune form:

Thom played the opening notes of "Wild Geese on the Wing," then paused for people to take their places for the reel.
"I think I'll try a few steps," Rand said, getting to his feet. Perrin popped up right behind him. Mat was the last to move, and so found himself staying behind to guard the cloaks, along with Rand's sword and Perrin's axe.
"Remember I want a turn, too," Mat called after them. The dancers formed two long lines facing each other, men in one, women in the other. First the drum and then the dulcimer took up the beat, and all the dancers began bending their knees in time. The girl across from Rand, her dark hair in braids that made him think of home, gave him a shy smile, and then a wink that was not shy at all. Thom's flute leaped into the tune, and Rand moved forward to meet the darkhaired girl; she threw back her head and laughed as he spun her around and passed her on to the next man in line…
He caught his next partner as she spun, and whirled her in a circle before passing her on. Three more women danced with him as the music gained speed, then he was back with the first dark haired girl for a fast promenade that changed the lines about completely.

The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters

Reels are in duple time, either 2/2 or 4/4. The beats are even with an accent on first and third beats of the bar. The structure of the tune is in two parts, A and B, with each part usually repeated as AABB, but is sometimes ABAB. Each part is typically eight bars long. An example of a reel is Wild Geese on the Wing.

In Scottish country dancing, the dancers complete a figure 8 pattern on the floor in a reel. They start at different points, but each completes the figure, weaving past each other, and are back in their original positions when the reel is finished.


The music for another dance, a jig, began while he was sitting down… Then the music and the clapping and the singing were too loud for any further talk. Rand and Perrin joined in the clapping as the dancers circled the floor.

The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters

A jig is a lively folk dance in compound time, particularly 12/8 and 6/8; and also a dance tune. It originated in 16th century England and was adopted into Irish and Scottish dance and on the continent in the 17th century. The structure of a jig is two eight-bar parts usually played at a fairly fast tempo. The steps are typically fast hopping steps. The dancers perform two different steps, each once on the right foot and then the left foot. The straight jig is African American. It has a syncopated beat, to which dancers perform slides and shuffles as well as hopping steps. However, the jigs in the series appear to be of traditional type. Old Gray Goose is an example of a jig.

Country dance

When the sun went down, Mat was back in The Golden Stag, dancing with Betse, minus her apron, while the musicians played as loudly as they could. Country dances this time, and tables pushed back to make room for six or eight couples.

Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

In a country dance, two to four, occasionally up to six, couples dance together in a figure or "set”. The sets may be circles, squares, triangles or long lines. The dances originated on village greens in the British Isles. The long line formations tend to have the partners “progress” onto another partner throughout the dance, whereas the circle or square sets are usually non-progressive.

Huff the Feathers is an example of a country dance.

Pattern Dance

In Cairhien, Mat called on his memories to re-introduce a pattern dance:

There should be just enough room between the tables. The musicians began to play louder, if no better.
"Follow me," he told her. "The steps are simple to start." In time to the music he began, dip and a gliding sidestep to the right, left foot sliding after. Dip and a gliding step and slide, with arms outstretched… When they reached the musicians, he smoothly lifted her hands overhead and spun himself and her back to back. Then it was dip and sidestep, twirl face-to-face, dip, sidestep and twirl, again and again, all the way back to where they began…
"A little more complicated now," he murmured, turning so they faced the musicians side by side, wrists crossed and hands linked in front of them. Right knee up, slight kick left, then glide forward and right. Left knee up, slight kick right, then glide forward and left. Betse laughed as they wove their way to the performers once more. The steps became more intricate with each passage, but she needed only one demonstration to match him, light as a feather in his hands with each twist and turn and spin. … The music caught him up, missed notes and all, and the pattern dance…Very nearly he fumbled the complex interweaving of his feet with Betse's as they whirled down the floor, but he caught himself before tripping her, the steps coming instinctively.

Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

The dance illustrates how each Age is more complex each time it comes around again in the Pattern. Mat often felt trapped by the Pattern in earlier scenes, but from this point on he accepts his role increasingly better.

Modern pattern dancing is a combination of contra dancing (from English country dances) and modern Western square dancing. Ice skating also has pattern dancing.

Jig/pattern dance

In Ebou Dar, Mat noticed a different dance not seen elsewhere:

In the common room of The Wandering Woman, the tables had been cleared away except for a few near the walls. The flutists and the drummer made shrill music for four laughing lines of people doing what appeared to be half pattern-dance and half jig.

A Crown of Swords, Swovan Night

Altara has some similarities with Mediterranean nations, and Italy in particular, as its name indicates, and the lively pattern dance may be a reference to the Tarantella family of southern Italian folk dances. These have a rapid tempo usually in 6/8 time. Here is an example.

Court dances

Elayne makes reference to delicate court dances (Crossroads of Twilight, Talk of Debts). Real world examples of these are the basse dance of the 15th century, the pavane of the 16th century and the gavotte or the minuet of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Tairen Line Dance

To celebrate the victory in Cairhien, the Tairen soldiers performed a line dance:

Not far from where he sat, a dozen Defenders of the Stone, stripped to sweaty shirtsleeves, were dancing to the claps of ten times as many watchers. In a line, with arms around each other’s shoulders, they stepped so quickly that it was a wonder none of them tripped or kicked the man next to them.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

The dance is similar to Greek line dances in the real world, especially the rapid ones. Here is the sirtaki or dance of Zorba as an example. These dances were sometimes used to prepare the men for war. They encourage teamwork, fitness and accuracy.

Cairhienin Line Dance

In Cairhien there was a different line dance during the Feast of Lights:

A line-dance snaked past him behind a big-nosed fellow with a flute and no shirt; last in line pranced a round little woman who laughed merrily and took a hand from the waist of the man in front of her to try pulling Perrin in behind.

Lord of Chaos, The Feast of Lights

The dance is a conga line, which traditionally starts with a musician playing as they weave around the dance floor. Dancers join up behind the musician, forming a line that grows longer until the music stops. The dancers shuffle 3 steps and kick the fourth slightly ahead of the beat as they dance along. The musician initiating the conga line is often a drummer, but in Cairhien it was a flautist.

Aiel leaping dance

After the battle in Cairhien, the Aiel warriors performed a leaping dance to the accompaniment of pipes:

For another circle of onlookers, near a ten-foot pole stuck in the ground - Mat hastily averted his eyes - as many Aielmen were doing some kicking of their own. Mat assumed it was a dance; another Aiel was playing the pipes for them. They leaped as high as they could, flung one foot even higher, then landed on that foot and immediately leaped upward again, faster and faster, sometimes spinning like horizontal tops at the height of their leaps, or turning somersaults or backflips.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

Mat avoids looking at the pole because Couladin’s head is atop it. This dance is rather like the Cossack or Hopak dance, which was also danced to celebrate a military victory. The dancers improvised, and performed acrobatic leaps and spins to demonstrate their speed and strength. Here is a mix of modern and historical footage with an un-Aiel usage of swords at one point and another that is a demonstration in a gym.

Shea Dancers

As well as the ballet-like display or exercises performed by certain da’covale in revealing clothing, the Seanchan employ Shea dancers, who wear a veil and little else, according to Egeanin.

Finally, Mat didn’t think much of Halima’s dancing:

She [Halima] was not a very good dancer—she kept trying to lead, for one thing—and he finally begged off.

Lord of Chaos,The Colour of Trust

She tried to lead because she used to be a man, and hadn’t adapted her dancing technique yet. It’s also symbolic of Halima trying to control or even injure Mat. This happens during the very distrustful and disillusioned The Color of Trust song.


The songs serve a few different purposes: they add to the sense of different cultures and to world-building in general, and they also add to the symbolism and set the mood, and are a sly commentary on subtext.

There are songs for war, songs for dancing, songs for mourning and songs for amusement. Many are widely known on the main continent, although often by a different name. It is also common for the same tune to be have different words in other regions. Most people learn music by ear—quite quickly, often—rather than read it. Thom may be one of the few who has seen and read musical manuscripts, judging by his researches into little known and very old tunes.

A list of the songs mentioned in the series follows, in alphabetical order.

Always Choose the Right Horse has the same tune as The Marriage of Cinny Wade but is played much faster (Towers of Midnight, The Seven Striped Lass).

As Long As The Wheel Turns is an old song that Thom found. It has been set to three different tunes over the years. Legend has it that Doreille Torghin, Queen of Aridhol, wrote the original poem:

The Wheel has turned, for better or worse.
And it will keep on turning, as lights die and forests dim, storms call and skies break.
Turn it will.
The Wheel is not hope, and the Wheel does not care, the Wheel simply is.
But so long as it turns, folk may hope, folk may care.
For with light that fades, another will eventually grow, and each storm that rages must eventually die.
As long as the Wheel turns.
As long as it turns. ...

The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

The Pattern and the Wheel are what count. Everything else changes and dies away – the good and the bad. People have to hope and care – help keep the Wheel Turning.

Berin's Retreat is the same tune as Hard Rain Falling and The Wind From the North (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

Blue Sky Dawning is a decorous song that Siuan claimed to know in Lugard (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch).

Cock o' the North was played by Rand in Four Kings (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Colors of the Sun is the same tune as Rhea's Fling and Jolly Jaim (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

The Color of Trust is a very old song written by the owner of one of Mat’s memories—or at least he wrote the original words:

Give me your trust, said the Aes Sedai.
On my shoulders I support the sky.
Trust me to know and to do what is best,
And I will take care of the rest.
But trust is the color of a dark seed growing.
Trust is the color of a heart's blood flowing.
Trust is the color of a soul's last breath.
Trust is the color of death.

Give me your trust, said the queen on her throne,
for I must bear the burden all alone.
Trust me to lead and to judge and to rule,
and no man will think you a fool.
But trust is the sound of the grave-dog's bark.
Trust is the sound of betrayal in the dark.
Trust is the sound of a soul's last breath.
Trust is the sound of death.

Lord of Chaos, The Color of Trust

The verses continue with "the king on high" and "the lady and lord" to "the love of your life", finishing bitterly with “Trust is the taste of death”, and was written in disillusionment after a bad ending to a relationship. With five verses, the song probably incorporates the five senses into its imagery. Three are mentioned: colour for sight, sound for hearing and taste. Five being the number of humanity, the song extrapolates one person’s failings into the mortality and frailty of humanity.

A dead man’s memory, the equating of trust with death implies not only that death results from trust being broken, promises not kept, but that broken trust is as inevitable as death. Mat’s memories are far from random; they fit his character as well as his role. (Most readers have ignored the former while concentrating on the latter.) Even at the beginning of the books Mat was untrusting and this characteristic was exacerbated by the Shadar Logoth dagger. His encounters with Aes Sedai and the ‘Finns further validated this attitude. Mat himself has never been particularly trustworthy unless pressured into making a promise. The untrustworthy are most conscious of how easily and frequently trust can be broken by others.

With its deadly and deathly sentiments and refrain, the song reinforces Mat’s role as King of the Dead and a Fool figure dancing as close to Death as possible. All unconscious, the dancers in Salidar have no idea of the significance of the tune, and are pretending their own situation is not precarious and the Last Battle isn’t imminent. Oblivious to the imminent threat of the Shadow, they dance on.

Coming Home From Tarwin's Gap was played on the road to Caemlyn and sung in the Two Rivers. It is a song of a long-ago battle, possibly in the Trolloc Wars.

My home is waiting there for me,
and the girl I left behind.
Of all the treasure that waits for me,
that's what I want to find.
Her eyes so merry, and her smile so sweet,
her hugs so warm, and her ankle neat,
her kisses hot, now there's a treat.
If there's a treasure greater, it lies not in my mind…
Oh, I have seen stark Tarwin's Gap,
and the Trollocs' raving horde.
I have stood 'fore the Halfman's charge,
and walked on death's cold borde.
But a winsome lass, she waits for me,
for a dance, and a kiss 'neath the apple tree. ...

The Shadow Rising, A Missing Leaf

Dance With Jak O’the Shadows was first sung—by Mat of course!—in the Aiel Waste after he received his memories from the Eelfinn:

We'll drink the wine till the cup is dry,
and kiss the girls so they'll not cry,
and toss the dice until we fly
to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.…

We’ll dance all night while the moon runs free,
and dandle the lasses upon our knee,
and then you'll ride along with me,
to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.

The Fires of Heaven, Pale Shadows

We’ll sing all night, and drink all day,
and on the girls we’ll spend our pay,
and when it’s gone, then we’ll away,
to dance with Jak o’the Shadows.

There’re some delight in ale and wine,
and some in girls with ankles fine,
but my delight, yes, always mine,
is to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

We’ll sing all night, and drink all day,
and on the girls we’ll spend our pay,
and when we’re done, then we’ll away,
to dance with Jak o’the Shadows.

Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

We'll give a yell with a bloody curse,
And hug the maids, it could be worse,
As we ride away with the Dark One's purse,
To dance with Jak o' the Shadows!

A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

And an improvised verse:

Well toss the dice however they fall,
and snuggle the girls be they short or tall,
then follow young Mat whenever he calls,
to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

In a later version sung in Knife of Dreams, it is “follow Lord Mat”.

Dance With Jak O’the Shadows was the Band of the Red Hand’s marching song and was accompanied with drums, trumpets and flutes (Lord of Chaos,A Different Dance). Mat taught the song to the Band. Not everyone approved of singing about dancing with death—but then not everyone approves of Mat, the King of the Dead.

The dance of death, or danse macabre, originated in medieval Europe, perhaps in response to plagues such as the Black Death. (Dance of death photo by Toffel.) Songs and pictures were created of Death as a skeleton leading people of all classes and ages in a processional dance. It was quite popular in the 15th century, which is earlier than the typical 17th to 18th century attitudes and technology of the Wheel of Time world. As King of the Dead, Mat has escaped death twice (revived after being hanged, and restored after being killed by lightning thanks to Rand’s balefire), and leads the living and the dead heroes to battle the Shadow.

The World War II song Ballad of the D-Day Dodgers may have influenced Dance with Jak of the Shadows and also If You Go To Be A Soldier, although it is far more sarcastic than either:

We're the D-Day Dodgers out in Italy -
Always on the vino, always on the spree.
Eighth Army scroungers and their tanks
We live in Rome - among the Yanks.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

We landed at Salerno, a holiday with pay,
Jerry brought the band down to cheer us on our way
Showed us the sights and gave us tea.
We all sang songs, the beer was free.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, way out in Italy.

The Volturno and Cassino were taken in our stride
We didn't have to fight there. We just went for the ride.
Anzio and Sangro were all forlorn.
We did not do a thing from dusk to dawn.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

On our way to Florence we had a lovely time.
We ran a bus to Rimini right through the Gothic Line.
On to Bologna we did go.
Then we went bathing in the Po.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

Once we had a blue light that we were going home
Back to dear old Blighty, never more to roam.
Then somebody said in France you'll fight.
We said never mind, we'll just sit tight,
The windy D-Day Dodgers, out in Sunny Italy.

Now Lady Astor, get a load of this.
Don't stand up on a platform and talk a load of piss.
You're the nation's sweetheart, the nation's pride
We think your mouth's too bloody wide.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in Sunny Italy.

When you look 'round the mountains, through the mud and rain
You'll find the crosses, some which bear no name.
Heartbreak, and toil and suffering gone
The boys beneath them slumber on
They were the D-Day Dodgers, who'll stay in Italy.

So listen all you people, over land and foam
Even though we've parted, our hearts are close to home.
When we return we hope you'll say
"You did your little bit, though far away
All of the D-Day Dodgers, way out there in Italy.

As for the tune, Jordan had a particular one in mind:

I wrote "Jak o'the Shadows" to the tune of "Gary Owen," but I suppose anybody can put the words to what they wish.

Letter to Austin Sirkin May 1995

Garryowen was an Irish drinking song from the late 18th century adopted by the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers. The title refers to an area of the town of Limerick in Ireland. The song has been adopted as a marching tune by other Irish regiments in England and North America as well as in Ireland. Here is the Garryowen regimental march and here is a rendering of Jak o'the Shadows to Garryowen by Argenstock.

The Dancing Lass was performed in Illian in a bawdier version than in the Two Rivers.

A Lugard girl, she came to town, to see what she could see.
With a wink of her eye, and a smile on her lip,
she snagged a boy or three, or three.
With an ankle slim, and skin so pale,
she caught the owner of a ship, a ship.
With a soft little sigh, and a gay little laugh,
she made her way so free.
So free.

The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger

Darling Sara uses the same tune as Ferry O'er the River and was played on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

The Drunken Peddler is another name for Tinker in the Kitchen and was played in Four Kings (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Ferry O'er the River is the same tune as Darling Sara and was played by Rand on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

The First Rose of Summer is a love song Thom played in Tanchico (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine) and may be a reference to the real world song The Last Rose of Summer.

Forward the Lion is Andor’s national song, an early type of anthem.

Forward the Lion,
Forward the Lion,
The White Lion takes the field.
Roar defiance at the Shadow.
Forward the Lion, Forward,
Andor triumphant.

The Eye of the World, Weaving of the Web

Since Andor has strong references to England, I checked if the song’s lyrics fit the British national anthem of God Save the Queen (or King) and they almost do—the second last line could have another syllable to work better.

A Frog on the Ice was hummed by Talmanes in Cairhien to tease Mat (Lord of Chaos,A Different Dance).

Goodman Priket's Pipe was played by Rand in Cairhien and had different words there to those Rand knew.

We rode down to River Iralell just to see the Taren come.
We stood along the riverbank with the rising of the sun.
Their horses blacked the summer plain, their banners blacked the sky.
But we stood our ground on the banks of River Iralell.
Oh, we stood our ground. Yes, we stood our ground.
Stood our ground along the river in the morning.

The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings

Hard Rain Falling has the same tune as Berin's Retreat and The Wind From the North (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

Heron on the Wing was performed in Cairhien by Rand (The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings).

Huff the Feathers is a country dance that Mat liked (Lord of Chaos, The Color of Trust).

If You Go To Be A Soldier is a military marching song:

You 'll feed on beans and on rotten hay,
and a horse's hoof come your naming day.
You'll sweat and bleed till you grow old,
and your only gold will be dreams of gold,
if you go to be a soldier. If you go to be a soldier.
Your girl will marry another man.
A muddy grave will be all your land.
Food for the worms and none to mourn.
You 'II curse the day you were ever born,
if you go to be a soldier. If you go to be a soldier.

Lord of Chaos,A Different Dance

I'm Down at the Bottom of the Well has the same tune as The Last Stand at Mandenhar (Winter’s Heart, Three Women).

Jolly Jaim is the same tune as Rhea's Fling and Colors of the Sun (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Lament for the Long Night is tune from the Age of Legends that Rand was able to play from Lews Therin’s memories (Winter’s Heart, Bonds).

Life is a Dream is an Aiel dirge sung in parts:

Life is a dream—that knows no shade.
Life is a dream—of pain and woe.
A dream from which—we pray to wake.
A dream from which—we wake and go.
Who would sleep—when the new dawn waits?
Who would sleep—when the sweet winds blow?
A dream must end—when the new day comes.
This dream from which—we wake and go.

A Crown of Swords, The Butcher’s Yard

The Last Stand at Mandenhar is an old song of forlorn hope from the Court of Takedo in Darashelle. It has the same tune as I'm Down at the Bottom of the Well (Winter’s Heart, Three Women). As Mat notes, songs and dances around Mat often echo his thoughts and feelings, or vice versa.

Mistress Aynora's Rooster was played by Rand on the way to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper) and performed in Illian.

Midean' s Ford is an old song of a Manetheren wars before the Trolloc Wars:

Soft, the winds, like springtime’s fingers.
Soft, the rains, like heaven's tears.
Soft, the years roll by in gladness,
never hinting storms to come,
never hinting whirlwinds' ravage,
rain of steel and battle thunder,
war to tear the heart asunder…
Back across the blood-red water,
marching back with heads held high.
No surrender, arm or sword,
no surrender, heart or soul.
Honor be theirs, ever after,
honor all the Age shall know.

The Shadow Rising, Imre Stand

But Mat remembers that it didn’t happen this way; that instead of Aedomon leading the Saferi in an attack on Manetheren, overcoming King Buiryn of Manetheren at Midean’s Ford, but letting the remnant of his forces go out of respect for their courage, Aedomon ambushed the Manetheren King at the ford and killed them all. The song has kept events in memory but changed them, illustrating history turning to legend and myth.

The first part of the song sounds a bit like Juanita, the second part like ballads of battles against American Indians.

My Love Is a Wild Rose was played in the Two Rivers (The Shadow Rising, The Price of a Departure).

The Marriage of Cinny Wade is a slow and haunting version of a tune also used for Always Choose the Right Horse (Towers of Midnight, The Seven Striped Lass).

The Ogier sing this mourning song when great trees die or forests are levelled.

All rivers run dry,
All songs must end,
Every root will die,
Every branch must bend.

A Memory of Light, Too Many Men

In the Last Battle they sang it in mourning for the large numbers of humans killed.

A much more cheerful song is this working song the Ogier sang in more peaceful times in Stedding Tsofu:

Clear the field, smooth it low.
Let no weed or stubble stand.
Here we labor, here we toil,
here the towering trees will grow.

The Great Hunt, Stedding Tsofu

Only One Boot is a funny song that Thom played in Tanchico (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine).

Only One Bucket of Water is a cheerful song (The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters). The song could be a reference to an equally cheerful 80’s one-hit wonder, The Bucket of Water song:

This is the song we lovers of water sing,
We can't go wrong we're happy as a King,
We beat the drum as we march along,
We crash the cymbal and bang the gong,
This is the song The Bucket of Water Song.


Stand on one leg and point up at the sun,
Rattle your nose we're sure it must be fun,
But no matter who or what you are,
We know something you'll enjoy by far,
to sing out this song, The Bucket of Water Song!


Though life is hard we do the best we can,
Against evil we guard to help our fellow man,
We put the baddies in their place,
we fight the foes of the human race,
But whatever the case we take it in the face!

To the water pumps, march and get fresh water!

The Old Black Bear was played by Rand on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

The Old Gray Goose is a funny song that Thom played in Tanchico (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine). Old Gray Goose is a traditional Irish jig performed here and also a children’s song:

Go tell Aunt Rhody go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody the old grey goose is dead

Grandpa found her dying grandpa found her dying
Grandpa found her dying in the millpond on her head
The gander won't eat now gander won't eat now
Gander won't eat now because his wife is dead
Somebody go tell Aunt Rhody go tell Aunt Rody
Go tell Aunt Rhody that the old grey goose is dead
[ fiddle - banjo ]
Let's pray for the babies pray for the babies
Pray for the babies because their mama's dead
Somebody go tell Aunt Rhody...
[ fiddle ]
Lord now go tell Aunt Rhody children go tell Aunt Rhody
Want you to go tell Aunt Rhody tell her that the old grey goose is dead
Everybody go tell Aunt Rhody now now go tell Aunt Rhody
Now now go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody tell her that the old grey goose is dead

And a lighter version:

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is dead.
The one she's been saving, the one she's been saving,
the one she's been saving to make a featherbed.
She died in the millpond, she died in the millpond,
she died in the millpond from standing on her head.

She left nine young goslins; she left nine young goslins;
she left nine young goslins to scratch for their own bread.
Her goslins are weeping, crying and peeping,
her goslins are weeping because their mammy's dead.
The old gander's mourning, the old gander's mourning,
the old gander's mourning because his wife is dead.

The barnyard's a-weeping, the barnyard's a-weeping,
the barnyard's a-weeping waiting to be fed.
Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
we took her in the kitchen and cooked her all day long.
And broke all the fork teeth, broke all the fork teeth,
and broke all the fork teeth, they weren’t strong enough.
Broke out Granddad's teeth, broke all Granddad's teeth,
broke old Grandad's teeth. The old grey goose is tough.

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is tough.
Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we hauled her to the mill.
We'll grind her into sausages and make mincemeat,
grind her into sausages if only the miller will.
She broke all the saw teeth, broke all the saw teeth,
broke all the saw teeth, that old grey goose is tough.

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we know this is a shock.
Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we know this is a shock.
But go tell Aunt Rhody, poor old Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we buried her under a rock.
Go run and tell Aunt Rhody, run and tell Aunt Rhody,
run and tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is dead.

Here is a performance of the song.

The Old Two Rivers Leaf and Old Jak's Up a Tree were played in Cairhien (The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings).

Pretty Maids Dancing is the same tune as Three Girls in the Meadow (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

The Queen’s March is a well-known rallying horn tune in Andor (A Memory of Light, By Grace and Banners Fallen).

Rhea's Fling is the same turn as Jolly Jaim and Colors of the Sun (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

The Road to Dun Aren is a popular song in Andor which Rand played perhaps more often than he would hve liked on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper and Four Kings in Shadow).

Rose of the Morning was played by Rand on his trek to Tear (The Dragon Reborn, The First Ship).

The Song of a Hundred Days is an obscure ballad of Villiam Bloodletter’s battle against the Banath people on Almoth Plain. Thom is one of the few who know it (Towers of Midnight, A Teaching Chamber). It’s a song that records history for posterity—and considering how well it apparently tallies with Mat’s memories, perhaps fairly accurately. This may be because it has been largely forgotten and so not been altered by attempted improvements over the years.

The Song of the Three Fishes is a respectable song which Siuan claimed to know in Lugard (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch).

Sweet Whispers of Tomorrow is a beautiful dirge that Thom played in the *Finn’s world:

Oh, how long were the days of a man.
When he strode upon a broken land.
He sailed as far as a man could steer,
And he never wished to lose his fear.
For the fear of man is a thing untold.
It keeps him safe, and it proves him bold!
Don't let fear make you cease to strive,
For that fear it proves you remain alive!
I will walk this broken road,
And I will carry a heavy load!
So come at me with your awful lies,
I'm a man of truth, and I'll meet your eyes!

Towers of Midnight, The One Left Behind

Three Girls in the Meadow is the same tune as Pretty Maids Dancing, and was played by Rand and by Tinkers in Andor (The Eye of the World, Play For Your Supper and Shelter From the Shadow).

Tinker in the Kitchen was played by Rand in Andor and sung by Mat in the Aiel Waste. It has the same tune as The Drunken Peddler.

Tinker in the kitchen; with a job of work to do.
Mistress up above, slipping on a robe of blue.
She dances down the staircase, her fancy all so free,
Crying, “Tinker, oh, dear Tinker, won't you mend a pot for me?”

The Fires of Heaven, Pale Shadows

Here is a rendition by Reflectionsofsound.

It may be a reference to the Jolly Tinker folk song and reel, which have several variants:

As I went down a shady lane, at a door I chanced to knock
"Have you any pots or kettles, with rusty holes to block?"
"Well indeed I have, don't you know I have
To me right fol-ooral-addy, well indeed I have"

The missus came out to the door and she asked me to come in
"You're welcome jolly tinker and I hope you brought your tin"
She took me through the kitchen and she led me through the hall
And the servants cried "The devil, has he come to block us all.”
She took me up the stairs, me lads, to show me what to do
Then she fell on the feather bed and I fell on it too
Well, indeed I did, don't you know I did...

She then took out a frying pan and she began to knock
For to let the servants know, me lads, that I was at my work
Well, indeed I was, don't you know I was...

She put her hand into her pocket and she pulled out twenty pounds
"Take that my jolly tinker and we'll have another round"
"Well, indeed we will, don't you know we will...

She put her hand into her pocket and she pulled out a gold watch
"Take that my jolly tinker, for B'Jesus, you're no botch"
"Well, indeed I'm not, don't you know I'm not...

Well, I've been a jolly tinker for these forty years or more
But such a lovely job as that, I never did before
Well, indeed I didn't, don't you know I didn't...

Here is a performance.

The Tinker Has My Pots uses the same tune as Toss the Feathers and was played by Tinkers in Andor (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

Three Girls in the Meadow was played by Rand on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

Toss the Feathers is the same tune as The Tinker Has My Pots and was played by Tinkers in Andor (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow). Toss the Feathers is an Irish reel traditionally played with tin whistle and fiddle. It has many other names. This performance includes a keyboard.

Two Kings Came Hunting is the same tune as Two Horses Running and was played in Four Kings (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Two Maids at the Water's Edge was sung very softly by Rand to make trees sprout leaves and fruit in Ebou Dar (A Memory of Light, Older, More Weathered).

Wash the Spears is an Aiel battle hymn sung in parts:

Wash the spears - while the sun climbs high.
Wash the spears - while the sun falls low.
Wash the spears - Who fears to die?
Wash the spears - No one I know!
Wash the spears-while life holds true.
Wash the spears-until life ends.
Wash the spears. ...

The Shadow Rising, A Breaking in the Three-fold Land

What He Said to Me is the same tune as Will You Dance With Me and was performed in Tar Valon:

I’ll dance with a girl with eyes of brown,
or a girl with eyes of green,
I’ll dance with a girl with any color eyes,
but yours are the prettiest I’ve seen.
I’ll kiss a girl with hair of black,
or a girl with hair of gold,
I’ll kiss a girl with any color hair,
but it’s you I want to hold.

The Dragon Reborn, The First Toss

In Mat’s case it was the dice he was keen to hold at that time. Will You Dance With Me is an actual song:

I'm a dancer
And I move to the rhythm of the music
Oh, it carries me away

Yes I'm a dancer
I was born to live this life
I did not choose it
And when the song begins to play
Oh please, please
Will you dance with me?

And I'm a dreamer
Oh, my head is in the clouds
I keep believin'
They really do come true

A rainbow chaser
And in the end I know that all the love I needed
I will find it here with you
So please, please
Will you dance with me?

Baby can you hear the melody?
I swear I've never heard a sound so sweet
Makes me wanna take your hand
For when a girl hits the floor
I've never felt like this before

I'm a lover
Of all things everywhere
God set in motion
Like a sun and moon and stars

Our lives together
We'll rise and fall like the waves that pull the ocean
If you take me in your arms
So, please, please
Will you dance with me?
(Will you dance with me)
Oh, please
Will you dance with me? Ooo

The Wind From the North is the same tune as Hard Rain Falling and Berin's Retreat (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

The Wind That Shakes the Willow is a popular song in Andor:

My love is gone, carried away
by the wind that shakes the willow,
and all the land is beaten hard
by the wind that shakes the willow.
But I will hold her close to me
in heart and dearest memory ,
and with her strength to steel my soul,
her love to warm my heart-strings,
I will stand where we once sang,
though cold wind shakes the willow.

The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters

Here is a version by reflectionsofsound.

The song may be a reference to The Wind that Shakes the Barley, an Irish ballad and fast reel dating from the 19th century about leaving true love to fight a doomed rebellion against foreign invasion.

I sat within a valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove to choose between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glade
And shook the golden barley
Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, "The mountain glen
I'll seek at morning early
And join the bold United Men
While soft winds shake the barley.
While sad I kissed away her tears
My fond arms 'round her flinging
The foeman's shot burst on our ears
From out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love's side
In life's young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley
I bore her to some mountain stream
And many's the summer blossom
I placed with branches soft and green
About her gore-stained bosom
I wept and kissed her clay-cold corpse
Then rushed o'er vale and valley
My vengeance on the foe to wreak
While soft winds shook the barley
But blood for blood without remorse
I've taken at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love's clay-cold corpse
Where I full soon may follow
As 'round her grave I wander drear
Noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e'er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley

This is the song version, and this is the reel version which is much faster.

Wild Geese on the Wing is a reel that Thom played (The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters). Wild Geese is a Scottish country dance.

There are also some untitled songs and ballads described – mostly bawdy and comic songs.

A song about a rich merchant who, having just lost his team of horses in an improbable way, had for some reason decided to pull his carriage himself…The merchant lost, in succession, his carriage, his cloak, his boots, his gold, and the rest of his clothes, and was now reduced to wrestling a pig for its dinner - and shook his head.

The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger

There was one about a rich man whose wife and daughters made a fool of him time and again without ever deflating his self-importance; another that concerned a young woman who decided to take a walk without any clothes, and one that told of a blacksmith who managed to shoe himself instead of the horse.

The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger

These are subversive songs, mocking the rich or notable, or pushing against social mores, typical of real world folk songs.

The dark-eyed girl was singing a sad song about a boy leaving his love.

The Dragon Reborn, Shadowbrothers

Temaille forced Amathera to dance “lewd dances” and sing bawdy songs such as:

My breasts are round, and my hips are too.
I can flatten a whole ship's crew…
My thighs are strong, as strong as anchor chain.
My kiss can burst-

The Shadow Rising, into the Palace

It foreshadows Amathera’s enslavement by the Seanchan where she has to dance in revealing clothing (but not sing anything). Also, note that Temaille knows the words to at least a few bawdy songs.

In Maderin, Tuon listened to the inn’s entertainer sing:

”As I walked out one fine spring day, I met young Jac who was pitching hay,
his hair so fair, and his eyes were, too. Well. I gave him a kiss; oh, what could I do?
We snuggled and we tickled while the sun rose high, and I won't say how often he made me sigh.
Now Jac gets an hour when the sky is clear, and Willi gets an hour when my father’s not near.
It's the hayloft with Mori for he shows no fear, and Keilin comes at midday: he's oh so bold!
Lord Brelan gets an evening when the night is cold. Master Andril gets a morning, but he's very old.
Oh what, oh what is a poor girl to do? My loves are so many and the hours so few.”

It seemed that with every other verse, the woman in the song added a new lover to her list.

Knife of Dreams, A Hell in Maderin

There are a couple of mentions of children’s songs – Olver skipping along to a nursery rhyme (Winter’s Heart, An Unexpected Encounter) and Birgitte singing a song about dancing animals to children (The Fires of Heaven, To Boannda).

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What I've Been Doing

By Linda

It's been a while since I made a post here, but I've not been idle.

Following completion of my read through of Towers of Midnight, I've been working on a series of posts about The Wheel of Time Music. The first of these should be posted some time this week.

At the same time, I've also been part of a small group of fans organising Australia's first Wheel of Time Convention. It will take place September 26th, 2015 at Burwood, Sydney, NSW.

We have a website and banner: The Land of Madmen

Do join us!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #65: Epilogue - And After

By Linda

Graendal POV

How surprised Graendal was that the prophecy did not work as she assumed, although Moridin warned her that prophecies can be tricky:

"What is this book?" she finally managed to force out. "Where did these prophecies come from?"
"They have long been known to me," Moridin said softly, still studying the book. "But not to many others, not even the Chosen. The women and men who spoke these were isolated and held alone. The Light must never know of these words. We know of their prophecies, but they will never know all of ours."
"But this . . ." she said, rereading the passage. "This says Aybara will die!"
"There can be many interpretations of any prophecy," Moridin said. "But yes. This Foretelling promises that Aybara will die by our hand."

Towers of Midnight, Writings

Mind you, he said himself that the prophecy indicated that the Shadow would kill Perrin. And then again, earlier in the scene he said that Perrin would escape Graendal. The latter judgment was correct; not the misplaced confidence in their interpretation of the prophecy.

Apart from the death of hundreds of “living dead” (Compelled slaves), Graendal lost a lot when Rand balefired her palace. She is about to lose even more. As a parallel of Aphrodite, who was born in the sea, Graendal has two hideaways near the ocean – her palace at Ebou Dar and her cave on an island in the middle of the Aryth Ocean in Towers of Midnight, Writings.

If Graendal had not stopped to pack, she might have escaped punishment…but she likes her conveniences too much. At this point it is indirectly revealed that Graendal killed Asmodean. For those disinclined to accept this, it was openly stated in the Towers of Midnight glossary.

Graendal was forced to take responsibility for the failed missions, but still argued and persuaded. Shaidar Haran assaulted and killed her, then the Dark One gave her an ugly body. In her former incarnation, her most prominent mythological parallels were alluring Aphrodite and Circe; now she is Grendel of the Anglo Saxon saga, monstrous in appearance as well as character.

The opportunity to wreak havoc while believed dead has gone to Lanfear/Cyndane, as we shall see later in this chapter.

Perrin POV

The Wrongness, the Dark One’s breaking of the Pattern, has now reached the stage where it is in Tel’aran’rhiod. Perrin tries to dispel it and replace it with health/rightness, but it is too large a scale for him to undo. This makes him reflect on how there are always limits and should be limits. Extremes are dangerous or wrong. Perrin went too far trying to bring back Hopper in Tel’aran’rhiod, as well as undo wrongness.

Then Perrin remembers the wolf with the name of Boundless – without limits, in one sense, free, in another. Hopper thought Perrin had found his answer for the man/animal balance or dichotomy but did not understand it. (Because Perrin thought it was a dichotomy, when actually it was a balance.) Boundless flees from Perrin when he asks for information. Perrin has to learn that Noam didn’t lose his humanity. He rejected it.

In the early stages of adjusting to being a Wolfbrother, Perrin unfortunately received misleading information from Moiraine:

“Is that what I can expect?” he asked. “To end like that?”
“Perhaps…Perrin, even in the Age of Legends, they knew little of this. Whoever wrote it seemed uncertain whether it was truth or legend. And I only saw a fragment, remember. She said that some who talked to wolves lost themselves, that what was human was swallowed up by wolf. Some. Whether she meant one in ten, or five, or nine, I do not know.”
“I can shut them out. I don’t know how I do it, but I can refuse to listen to them. I can refuse to hear them. Will that help?” “It may.” She studied him, seeming to choose her words carefully. “Mostly, she wrote of dreams. Dreams can be dangerous for you, Perrin.’

The Dragon Reborn, Wolf Dreams

and made wrong assumptions himself. False or incorrect knowledge is an important theme in The Wheel of Time. Perrin saw Noam in the early days of being a Wolfbrother when Nom hadn’t made his choice or found an equilibrium, a new state of mental health. Noam’s problem is that he saw too truly and too deeply and abandoned the human world for the lupine one. Everyone has their own balance, their own choices to make. What is right for one is not necessarily so for another. Each must take responsibility and understand what they are doing. Noam did. (There is an interesting parallel behind his name). This scene completes Perrin’s growth just in time for the Last Battle.

Olver POV

Olver quotes Mat’s Old Tongue saying: "Dovie'andi se tovya sagain," (It’s time to roll the dice). I guess he’s heard it enough times. In this scene, Olver has Mat’s luck too. He wins the game without cheating. Olver had no idea the game, based on a real world game of unequal forces, “can’t be won”, ie has a very low probability of victory. His game parallels Mat’s visit. The boy had been starting to lose his faith in the game, just as Mat began to doubt he would win against the *Finns.

In his grief, Olver focusses on avenging his father’s death. He has plans of going to the *Finns to get information on the Aiel man who killed his father. Grudgingly he acknowledges that he needs some fighting practise first. This war and the Blight change his mind – show him the reality. Not surprisingly, the boy was sadly traumatised by the Shaido’s predations in Cairhien and has supplied himself with a weapon, so he is not defenceless. Olver is a bit behind in his reading due to lack of education while a refugee.

Mat rightly thinks Olver can’t take care of himself well without help. He lied to the boy so he wouldn’t feel left out, which was futile, since Olver eavesdrops far more than Mat is aware.

Olver does what Mat and his men refused to do: find out what task Verin wanted done. This leads to the unwelcome discovery that the Last Battle has begun and that Shadowspawn are in Caemlyn.

Verin’s reliance on Mat’s curiosity was flawed – she underestimated his fear of the Power and dislike of Aes Sedai. As we saw in the previous chapter, even when in bad pain and with an Aes Sedai he respects, Mat won’t accept Healing. Without Olver’s innocent reading of other people’s correspondence, the cannon would be lost to the Shadow. They made a difference in the war, and will to channeller/non-channeller relations.


Barriga was a merchant seen at the beginning of Towers of Midnight. Then, he was a prosperous merchant, now he is wounded and dazed in the Blight. The dark-eyed Aiel he describes confused readers, since dark eyes are very rare among Aiel. Perhaps he mis-saw because of the mistaken saying “black-eyed” Aiel. They have red veils, not black, and we now know they hide whether their teeth filed or not. Filed teeth mean the “Aiel” was Turned to the Shadow and must therefore be a channeller, yet this one uses a knife. He takes down his veil to kill, as Isam’s POV explains. These are all a reversal of Aiel ways, so Barriga was right that they are not Aiel. They are reverse Aiel.

The scene is a cliffhanger and teaser to A Memory of Light, where many questions are answered in Isam’s POV.

Rand POV

Rand counted on Egwene uniting those opposed to his plants to break the Seals. Like Moridin, he is playing on the reputation for being dangerously irrational to intimidate people into obedience or cooperation, and had no firm plan B if his conditions were refused. He more or less thought they wouldn’t feel able to refuse, because he was scary and the alternative – no sacrifice – was unthinkable. It all hinged on his bluff not being called.

He has learned (via Lews Therin) how to control his own dreams and uses them to meditate. He recreated the valley where he sheltered for a while after he made decision to declare himself, and where he fled those close to him, because of what he was, to go to Tear on his own.

Lanfear is the one that given task of manipulating Rand instead of Graendal, and considering residual feelings he still has for her, more likely to succeed. She breaks through his dreams, showing her skill in Dreamwalkin: as the Wise Ones said, it’s not easy or safe because when you enter another’s dream they control all there. In Rand’s Lanfear influenced him and was not under his control. She relied on his protectiveness and her own womanly wiles to manipulate him. Her hangout is an underworld, a cavern of light-sucking, life-sucking blackness, with walls of bone-white. It reminds him of death.

Rand falls for her act even though he recognises her, or perhaps because of it. Since Rand recognises her in a different body when he had thought her dead, he didn’t create her in his mind. He calls her Mierin – as if she had never joined the Shadow, or he overlooks her apostasy. At this stage, there is still some lingering feeling for her that has to be settled in his mind before he is ready to face the Dark One.

She may be being tortured, but she is also exaggerating. Lanfear is dragged into a pit (of hell), yet she is a hell goddess. Her claims that

”He grinds my bones and snaps them like twigs, then leaves me to die before Healing me just enough to keep me alive.“

Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

are suspect. They imply her bones would be not knitted properly or fully. Yet she moves freely; she is Healed a lot better than that.

Here we have the hell goddess suffering hell. Her comments to Perrin suggest that she is a hell goddess because of her suffering, not for what she does to others:

"I've suffered for my decisions. I've borne pain, agony, excruciating sorrow because of what I've done in my life. My suffering goes beyond what you could conceive."

A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot

Or that’s what she’d like to believe. More misunderstood than bad, apparently. Not her fault she went to the Shadow. She was driven to it.

Lanfear’s act aimed to destroy Rand’s hard-won peace and equilibrium on the day before his publicly announced meeting with the nations. This is hardly a coincidence.

"No!" she screamed. "He comes! The Shadow in every man's mind, the murderer of truth. No!"

Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

is overdone. All Forsaken are liars on this scale, not just one of them. As Jordan said, Lanfear was always a drama queen.

I must admit that I sighed at this act and Rand falling for it. I thought: “here we go again…” But she was artistically dragged away a little too soon and Rand does see the histrionics after a while, as we see in their next encounter.


Kaisel – a prince and heir – prods Lan into declaring himself. Until now, Lan has been a hidden monarch figure. Their charge is a parallel of the charge of the Light Brigade, who bravely carried out their mistaken orders to make a frontal assault on a Russian artillery battery at the Battle of Balaclava, as described in Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade:

Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
  Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
  All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
  Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
  All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
  Noble six hundred!

The poem emphasised their patriotism and dutifulness despite Rand’s long-delayed support. Lan’s forces are at the jaws of the Bight, where is located Hell, and the shadow of Death.

The Borderlander forces feel just as doomed. Lan thinks they are. The charge represents the Land fighting back, attacking rather than defending, even though they have not the numbers for it.

Now that Nynaeve has Lan’s Bond – a recent change - he doesn’t feel “One Man Alone” physically or emotionally. All Malkier rides with him. They have done a lot to help Lan, as have the noble Borderlanders with him, but Nynaeve most of all.

Dark Prophecy

The book closes with an excerpt from Moridin’s book of dark prophecy:

Lo, it shall come upon the world that the prison of the Greatest One shall grow weak, like the limbs of those who crafted it. Once again, His glorious cloak shall smother the Pattern of all things, and the Great Lord shall stretch forth His hand to claim what is His. The rebellious nations shall be laid barren, their children caused to weep.
There shall be none but Him, and those who have turned their eyes to His majesty.
In that day, when the One-Eyed Fool travels the halls of mourning, and the First Among Vermin lifts his hand to bring freedom to Him who will Destroy, the last days of the Fallen Blacksmith's pride shall come. Yea, and the Broken Wolf, the one whom Death has known, shall fall and be consumed by the Midnight Towers. And his destruction shall bring fear and sorrow to the hearts of men, and shall shake their very will itself.
And then, shall the Lord of the Evening come. And He shall take our eyes, for our souls shall bow before Him, and He shall take our skin, for our flesh shall serve Him, and He shall take our lips, for only Him will we praise. And the Lord of the Evening shall face the Broken Champion, and shall spill his blood and bring us the Darkness so beautiful. Let the screams begin, O followers of the Shadow. Beg for your destruction!

Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

perhaps the very one which misled Graendal to believe she would kill Perrin:

"What is this book?" she finally managed to force out. "Where did these prophecies come from?"
"They have long been known to me," Moridin said softly, still studying the book. "But not to many others, not even the Chosen. The women and men who spoke these were isolated and held alone. The Light must never know of these words. We know of their prophecies, but they will never know all of ours."
"But this . . ." she said, rereading the passage. "This says Aybara will die!"
"There can be many interpretations of any prophecy," Moridin said. "But yes. This Foretelling promises that Aybara will die by our hand.”

Towers of Midnight, Writings

Interesting that this is the first prophecy she saw.

The One-Eyed Fool is Mat. He has been a Fool and Joker figure from the beginning. The halls of mourning he walks may be the Tower of Ghenjei where Thom played his dirge and so many have died, including Noal, but it is even more applicable to the battlefields Mat will soon roam.

The First Among Vermin – Rand – frees the Dark One, by opening prison. The Seals weakened on the prison so that the Dark One corrupted and weakened the Pattern. People felt abandoned by the Creator – despaired—so that there was “None but Him”, none but the Dark One in the world.

The Fallen Blacksmith is Perrin, but these are not his last days, just those of his pride. He now accepts his nature and his responsibilities.

The Broken Wolf who has known death is Hopper. The Midnight Towers are a negative reflection of the White Tower riddled as it was with Black sisters controlled by Mesaana—or how it appeared in Tel’aran’rhiod. Hopper was consumed by the Midnight Towers; he died forever there in the dark reflection of Tar Valon in Tel’aran’rhiod. The wolf fell in battle against Isam and the Black Ajah, a battle that shook people, He is now always in the afterlife, and cannot be reborn, which made Perrin grief-stricken and also shaken to lose his mentor.

Ultimately, Darkness was not brought – except for the Dark One, who was locked way, and for the Forsaken and Darkfriends killed. Many who walked in the Light sacrificed themselves to turn back the Darkness.

This prophecy of the Dark One stretching forth his hand to take over the world parallels the prophecy of Rand stretching out his hand to catch Shadow and prevent it choking the land:

The Shadow shall rise across the world, and darken every land, even to the smallest corner, and there shall be neither Light nor safety. And he who shall be born of the Dawn, born of the Maiden, according to Prophecy, he shall stretch forth his hands to catch the Shadow, and the world shall scream in the pain of salvation. All Glory be to the Creator, and to the Light, and to he who shall be born again. May the Light save us from him.

The Shadow Rising, Prologue

Neither prophecy is for the faint-hearted being a warning of misery and terror.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #64: Chapter 57 - A Rabbit for Supper

By Linda

At first I thought it remarkable that the group was returned to their Tower of Ghenjei entry point rather than Tear, since they were in the chamber where the Tairen doorway ter’angreal was in the *Finns’ world, or even a random point. A definite link-point, or tangent, between the two worlds is necessary for entry or exit it seems. The Tower is the nearest active tangent since the other two were broken when the doorway ter’angreal were destroyed. Which leads me to wonder how new tangents are made between the worlds, and by who.

Mat boasts in his exhilaration at escaping– so typical of a trickster. He even forgot the price paid for their escape until Moiraine reminded him by asking after Noal. Neither man told her that Noal was actually Jain Farstrider. Thom deduced his identity before Mat did, but said nothing.

Moiraine seems more human to Mat now, because she is more expressive—the same character, only stronger. He is in awe of her courage and determination, and likens Moiraine to great heroes like Birgitte and Jain—then realises he has spoken with them, too. Mat refuses her offer of Healing for his pain. While he respects Moiraine’s courage in attacking Lanfear even though she knew what the consequences would be, he fears and dislikes the One Power as much as ever and avoids being in her debt.

Emotion is a ‘treat’ for the Finns. Like the elfin or fairy folk, the *Finn folk steal from people. The Eelfinn ‘stole’ Moiraine’s ability to channel—it is now a fraction of what it was. Moiraine is now only novice strength but the ivory bracelet angreal raises her to Cadsuane’s level or even Nynaeve’s strength. She was not drained completely, for some reason; perhaps so that they could keep drinking her intense emotions? If she were stilled, then she would be depressed and lifeless in comparison. The *Finns may not have even been able to drain her completely; but may have had to leave a miniscule ability, since they were not severing someone from the Source, or burning out their ability.

Lanfear’s ability was slightly reduced so she was removed from the *Finns fairly soon. The loss persisted despite her death and transmigration to a new body. Moiraine was correct that the *Finns lied about killing Lanfear and that Lanfear’s departure was associated with Moridin’s visit to the world, looking for a woman:

"They claimed to have killed Lanfear by draining her too quickly, though I think they may have been trying to make me afraid. A man was there once, when they woke me. He said I was not the one he wanted." She hesitated, then shivered.

Towers of Midnight, A Rabbit for Supper

It is telling that she shivers at the thought of him, that this brave woman was somewhat fearful of him. Her belief that Mat and Thom would come for her kept her going and stopped her despairing.

The angreal was one of Moiriane’s three demands – and the trickster *Finns unexpectedly used it against her. They were able to get the batter of someone as clever and far-sighted as Moiraine. As discrete as ever, Moiraine keeps her other two requests to herself. These appear not to have been about obtaining her return – she knew she needed to rely on Mat and Thom for that, from info gained through the Wise Ones’ ter’angreal in Rhuidean. She “used them for the best”, so presumably they were to help the war against the Shadow. She has no object on her, so she may have asked for something intangible, such as knowledge. Another thing to bear in mind is that she was as naked, passive and comparatively helpless as a baby when freed—a symbolic rebirth. Moiraine shows no new ability. Perhaps one of her demands was for staying alive until Mat and Thom reached the chamber and completed their bargaining. (She would anticipate that, after what he went through last time at the hands of the *Finns, Mat would include their escape as part of the bargain.)

As confirmation that we are at the end game, there is some exchange of information between Mat and Moiraine. Moiraine recognises the relevant prophecy for Rand cleansing saidin of the taint:

'By the Dragon came our pain, and by the Dragon was the wound repaired.'

Towers of Midnight, A Rabbit for Supper

Some of the information is flawed: Mat still believes Morgase was killed by Rahvin. He tells Moiraine that Rand killed him, but neither he nor Thom know the fates of the other Forsaken. At this point Mat intends to go to Caemlyn (which has been attacked by the Shadowspawn and lost).

Moiraine proposes marriage to Thom (like an Aiel!) to Mat’s great shock. He has been oblivious to their relationship until this point. Naturally, he assumes that Thom, after all the trouble he has had with Aes Sedai, especially them killing Owyn, fears and dislikes them as much as he, and can’t imagine Thom loving one.

Before they can ask, Mat refuses to marry them, in contrast to Perrin marrying Morgase (whom Mat still believes dead, although she was in Perrin’s camp when Mat dropped by) to Tallanvor. And worse follows: Thom volunteers to be Moiraine’s Warder – and even to live in Tar Valon or Caemlyn. Mat thinks he is nuts. The Warder bond is a trap that Mat would apparently never succumb to, and Tar Valon and Caemlyn are too painful for Thom. Mind you, Mat said the same about marriage: “Only a fool married” (A Crown of Swords, A Note from the Palace). (Tricksters avoid marriage—and responsibility, too—which is why Mat won’t take the responsibility of marrying the happy couple.)

Thom reminds Mat that Tuon could learn to channel. Mat takes comfort that she wouldn’t dishonour herself by doing so. Yet Tuon will channel eventually. One of her roles is Nemesis and she will be her own Nemesis one day. Another is Fortuna with her wheel, showing that what goes around comes around.

Feeling surplus to requirements, Mat wanders off to privately honour Jain and worry about Tuon and his loss of stereoscopic vision. He gains useful items by chance. This ability or luck will wear off to a degree once he is no longer ta’veren, but he will still be a trickster figure, still be innovative and cleverly walking the edge, but probably less invincible.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #63: Chapter 56 - Something Wrong

By Linda

Egwene POV

The scene opens on the Field of Merrilor. An army of common folk has arrived—or more like, accumulated. Rand didn’t send them, he inspired them: they are Dragonsworn.

Egwene informs us that Merrilor was originally a tower fortress. Her clothing far outshines Gawyn’s in status. For the first time, he is wearing Warder’s clothing, not prince’s—a significant change in his attitude to his role.

Gawyn correctly assesses that Perrin will take Rand’s side, but wrongly assumes Perrin’s army will be a—or the—problem:

"This many armies, this many loyalties, all rubbing against one another. Aybara and his force could be a spark that sends us all up like a firework."

Towers of Midnight, Something Wrong

When it comes down to it, Egwene’s party was arguably the most disruptive at the meeting.

Egwene thinks Rand subconsciously wants to be talked out of breaking the Seals – which it is her duty to do. How content she is that Gawyn is not arguing with her:

Ever since that night with the assassins, he had started doing as she asked. Not as a servant. As a partner dedicated to seeing her will done.

Towers of Midnight, Something Wrong

Yet she is not correct in her judgment. Rand didn’t announce his intentions to break the Seals as an appeal for her to talk him out of it: it was a considered tactic to get Egwene to publicly unify opposition to his plan so he only had to overcome it once.

Gawyn should privately argue or discuss alternatives with Egwene – she sees this as one and the same – even if he ultimately carries out her will. (Another Aes Sedai queen, Elayne, was at first dismayed to discover that her Warder insisted on discussion, but now accepts it.) What should be a fine balancing act went too far one way – Gawyn not taking her seriously -- and now too far the other. Egwene thinks the Hall’s disagreement more than enough for her, although she is encouraged that the Hall is no longer working behind her back—and is, in fact, explaining their disagreement to her—and she doesn’t intend to ignore them. She is determined that the Hall will work with her. However this also makes Egwene work with them. A delicate balance as she says. She needs to develop the same balance with Gawyn but it never happens.

Egwene notices the bloodknives’ rings around Gawyn’s neck—they clank like an unmusical death knell—and from her thoughts has previously asked about where he got them. Gawyn didn’t say. She intends to ask again, but events overtake her.

Gawyn finally learns how wrong he was about Rand killing his mother. Like Galad he was tempted to do evil because of a wrong assumption. This scene shows the dangers of such assumptions leading to fatal decisions. Discussion can be positive, not just cause procrastination.

Androl POV

Androl has a deep sense of right and wrong regarding the Land; he attributes this to having worked it over the years. Considering his great weakness with the Power, he has an amazing Talent with Travelling. With the Dreamspike operating, he doesn’t find the weave difficult to make, as do the others who are stronger, but less Talented—it just unravels. Nevertheless he was nearly able to hold it in place. This foreshadows when he does successfully force the weave past the block, shortly before the Dreamspike is deactivated (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot). The men have realised that something is trapping them at the Black Tower. With the gates guarded, they can’t leave. Sensibly they are going to check if there are any blank spots, although the trap is comprehensive. They don’t yet realise that others can’t Travel in. It is possible to do so if one knows the key to the Dreamspike (see Dream Terangreal article).

Norley seems ingenuous, and Androl sets him to spy. He determines that there is something wrong with Mezar. Apart from now following the dark faction, he has the wrong expression, and his gaze appears partly dead. This is our first look at someone Turned to the Shadow.

Mezar returned after supposedly searching for Logain and reassured everyone that Logain is fine and will be back soon. Norley realises that Mezar is now untrustworthy and Logain could be a prisoner of Taim or another Darkfriend. The men are going to segregate themselves from Tain’s faction so they can’t be taken as easily. Again,this doesn’t buy them time, really; it is the lack of Black sisters for Turning the men which does so.

Androl is desperate enough to try an alliance with the Red sisters. He believes the Reds won’t side with Taim, but at least one (Javindhra) is probably a Darkfriend and the others are being Turned one by one. Only Pevara remains allied to the Light now. Because the Reds have been slow to bond Asha’man, Androl thinks they are actually planning something else, such as gentling them all. Actually their reluctance is due to dissension. And fear. There are so many wrong assumptions in this chapter. (Perhaps the most since Elaida expounded so hilariously to Alviarin in A Crown of Swords.) But also some right ones.

Androl can read Pevara quite well, which bodes well for their future relationship. He suggests that they work together as men and women did in the Age of Legends. She agrees to talk with him. This is quite a contrast to Egwene and Gawyn at the beginning of the chapter. Fortunately for Androl, Pevara is one of the few Aes Sedai who would seriously consider cooperation.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

JordanCon 2015 presentation: The Forsaken - Their Place in History and Myth.

By Linda

What if you wanted to create a group of villains serving a Dark Lord? You want the characters to be powerful, but certainly not invincible, a realistic group, but also disparate enough to be far from united. It's a fine line.

Here is a copy of the presentation I gave at JordanCon 2015 on the creation of the Forsaken, a group of just such villains. Like so much of Jordan's work, they had a solid grounding in reality.

For further reading, there is my essay Three Strands Common to the Forsaken which predates this presentation.

I have written detailed analyses on eight of the Forsaken:









These elaborate on the summaries given in the presentation. I'll gradually write up the last 5.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #62: Chapter 55 - The One Left Behind

By Linda

The hellish imagery intensifies in this chapter: the air smells of smoke and sulphur (fire and brimstone), there is steam in the corners of the rooms, smoke from blood and smoke from the fireworks blasts. The steam shies back from the sparks of flame as though it fears the light.

Mat angrily refers to the Aelfinn as a “nest of vipers”. Besides being venomous, vipers were regarded as outcasts from god, treasonous and treacherous.

Thom is despairing that they can’t win the game even if they cheat. This spurs Noal to bravely sacrifice himself. As he says, the place—an Underworld as much as an Otherworld—demands a price. Mat’s eye paid for Moiraine, and Noal’s life buys their escape. Which means that the Eelfinn will have Noal’s memories.

At which point Mat despairs. He curses the Finns (which is pretty powerful, because he is an analogue of the King of the Underworld, or King of the Dead), then becomes defiant as hope dies. In a way, Mat has fully embraced the role, since he now thinks dying with honour is worthwhile. He is more idealistic than he once was, just as Perrin is now ready to use anybody to win the Last Battle. They are both mentally prepared for Tarmon Gaidon.

The men carry Moiraine, who stirs just as they see that the Tairen redstone doorway has been smashed (by Moridin?) and then wakes because she hears Thom’s voice. In keeping with her Sleeping Beauty role in the Tower of Ghenjei, she does not try to channel or give advice in the crisis; she is passive. Which is quite atypical of her. Mind you, channelling could be dangerous in this world since it has different laws:

Robert Jordan: When Moiraine and Lanfear went through the ter'angreal, it burned in part because both were channeling, and the world on the other side of the doorway has a radically different set of natural laws. The odd optical effects witnessed in that other world are not artificially produced artifacts.

In this scene there are many references to the myth of Orpheus in the Underworld, including when Mat hesitated, looking back, at Noal after he admits to being Jain Farstrider.

Moiraine would be Orpheus' beloved Eurydice, one of the daughters of the solar god Apollo, who drove the chariot of the sun. When out walking, she was attacked by a satyr and fell into a nest of vipers, where she received a fatal bite. Orpheus grieved for Eurydice and played such mournful songs that even the gods wept. On their advice, he travelled to the underworld to see if his music would soften the hearts of Hades and Persephone. It did so (the only time they relented) and they allowed her to return to the land of the living with him on condition that he walk in front of her and not look back until they both reached the upper world. But the moment he arrived above ground he did look back and she vanished forever.

Mat refers to the “nest of vipers” that are the Aelfinn. Moiraine was a princess of the Sun Throne who fell through to the underworld of the *Finns—the foxes, though, rather than the snakes, though both are treacherous, and so fit the symbolism--taking Lanfear, another viper, with her. Thom plays as Orpheus did—whispers of tomorrow, of another day of life—a dirge played for Moiraine because the rescue has failed. However, the King of the Dead, Mat, is with them, and was able to effect their escape. After looking back at the doomed Noal, Mat also “looks back” through his memories and realises that the ashandarei was given as a way out--in such a way that he would not know what it was for.

In this scene Mat relied on thought as well as memory. His memories don’t fade--quite the reverse, he’s keeping alive the memories of those long dead. Thought is the arrow of time—crosses times, negates the effect of time.

The hole Mat cuts in the Tower appears to heal up though, after. It is more a portal than a hole. Mat crows defiantly to the *Finns that he won their game and that they gave him the key. Note that the *Finns hadn’t cheated, neither this time nor the previous times.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #61: Chapter 54 - The Light of the World

By Linda

Mat resolves not to get hanged this time when he makes a bargain with the Eelfinn. On his previous visit, he was ignorant, but this time he will be clever enough to avoid their traps and not leave any loopholes—or so he believes. Instead of being sneaky, Mat challenges the Eelfinn openly:

"You knew I'd come back," Mat said loudly. His voice did not echo. Light! How large was the thing? "You knew I'd come marching back to your bloody realm, didn't you? You knew you'd have me eventually." Hesitant, Thom lowered his flute. "Show yourselves!" Mat said. "I can hear you scrambling, hear you breathing."

Towers of Midnight, The Light of the World

He believes that the Eelfinn manipulated him into returning to be killed. When he points out to Thom that they know things, he is implying that they know the future. We know the Aelfinn can read the Pattern of the main world but we don’t know if the Eelfinn can. Furthermore, it’s not that simple: the future is not all foreordained, as Moiraine’s trip through the rings in Rhuidean showed. It is far from certain that the rescue will be successful, although Thom has faith in Moiraine’s vision of their escape.

Mat feels played with—Toy toyed with—but he is good at winning games. The Eelfinn try to get him to make a bargain prior to arriving in the bargaining chamber. However, each visitor may only have one chance to make a bargain, and bargains aren’t binding unless made in the Chamber of Bonds. So Mat refuses and fends off the Eelfinn with their forbidden items. The Foxes claim Mat is purposely antagonising them when they did nothing to deserve it. He has the scar to prove they hanged him last time – when bound by a treaty no less. Since he came so close to death, being resuscitated by Rand, this also indicates they weren’t certain he would be back.

In return, they challenge him, with a senior Eelfinn saying:

"We are the near ancient, the warriors of final regret, the knowers of secrets."

Towers of Midnight, The Light of the World

The Eelfinn hang out in the shadows like bogey men – or Myrddraal. They are meant to seem hellish in their own way. The white steam is a reference to the heat of hell, but also to “smoke and mirrors”. For instance, Mat’s spear blade passes through an Eelfinn “as if it were smoke”. Again, like Myrddraal, they are out of phase with the regular laws of physics. The blade is not iron so it can’t harm them; the iron knife and band hurt them. The Eelfinn’s blood steams and has faces in it –a distraction and a threat:

He shivered as he saw the Eelfinn's blood on the ground begin to steam. White steam, as in the other chambers, but this had shapes in it. They looked like twisted faces, appearing briefly and yelling before vanishing. Burn them! He couldn't get distracted.

Towers of Midnight, The Light of the World

It reminds me of Moridin’s fireplace:

Rand turned back to the flames, watching them twist and flicker. They formed shapes, like the clouds, but these were headless bodies, skeletal, backs arching in pain, writhing for a moment in fire, spasming, before flashing into nothing.

The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

Noal thinks the Eelfinn control the darkness and their yellow light creates illusion. He thinks it’s all illusion, a trick, but the Eelfinn do have genuine abilities. Mat likens the Eelfinn to Aes Sedai because both are liars and cheats that have to be “honest”, are in fact bound to be. They cannot lie, but they can trickBoth groups have parallels in elfin or fairy folk as discussed in the previous read-through article. As Mat warns Thom and Noal, the Eelfinn are tricksters (see Tricksters article), but so are Mat, Thom and Noal for that matter. Mat is chronically “unreliable” unless he makes a promise. He always keeps those.

Light blinds the Foxes – as Mat the fox was a light-blinded fool (see Fool and Joker article) in the early books. While the Eelfinn are dazzled, Mat is enlightened and realises the Eelfinn have been manipulating him to make certain choices – pick a certain card:

Never choose the card a man wants you to. Mat should have realized that. It was one of the oldest cons in creation.

Towers of Midnight, The Light of the World

Moiraine is discovered clothed in mist, a continuation of the mist/fog/steam/smoke motifs, which symbolise the danger of being misled and not seeing clearly. She is a Sleeping Beauty figure, having taken herself out of the main action in response to a warning and to fulfil prophecy. This is more empowered than the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty who was kept protected yet succumbed to her doom anyway, although both women awaited rescue.

Mat hates the way Moiraine disrupted his life, and used him, yet he prefers this life to his former one. She did what needed to be done to save the three ta’veren. Finally he understands her and is grateful for what she did—but still angry that she had to. Mat’s internal reconciliation to Moiraine looks to Rand’s emotional reaction when she arrives at the crucial moment and is restored to him as the only woman of many who died that has returned to him.

The scene fulfils Egwene’s dream of:

Mat throwing dice with blood streaming down his face, the wide brim of his hat pulled down low so she could not see his wound, while Thom Merrilin put his hand into a fire to draw out the small blue stone that now dangled on Moiraine’s forehead.

The Fires Of Heaven, What Can Be Learned in Dreams

The dream shows the dangers: Thom endures pain as he literally puts his hands into hot mist (steam vapour?) to free Moiraine, Mat has a facial wound hidden by his hat, (in fact he pulls his hat down to shade his eye as Egwene saw in dream) but he still rolls his dice to find their way. I.e. He is relying on his luck while bravely playing the game against the Finns. The kesiera is something personal of Moiraine’s and is therefore symbolic of her. Noal does not appear in the dream as though he is already dead.

Mat’s sacrifice of an eye is one of his many links with the Norse god Odin. The dice refer to the game of Foxes and Snakes and that they need to use an understanding of this game, and Mat’s luck, to effect a rescue. It is interesting that Mat rolled dice to determine their “moves” in this scene.

Moiraine was left bound/restrained in the Chamber of Bonds to be bargained for. Hence the Eelfinn say :

"The bargain has been arranged," one of the Eelfinn males said, smiling, showing pointed teeth.
The other Eelfinn leaned in, breathing deeply, as if smelling something. Or ... as if drawing something from Mat and the others. Birgitte had said that they fed off emotion.
"What bargain?" Mat snapped, glancing around at the pedestals. "Burn you, what bargain?"
"A price must be paid," one said.
"The demands must be met," said another.
"A sacrifice must be given."

Towers of Midnight, The Light of the World

The price that must be paid is Mat’s eye, as he was warned beforehand. Yet, what if he had not asked the Aelfinn the question: “What fate?” Would he have accepted their bargain price if he was not forewarned? Was the price effectively set because he asked?

The Eelfinn feed off red and white vapour—more “smoke”—from Mat and become drunk from it. The declaration “I can taste fate itself” suggests they are sensitive to the Pattern, at least, if not as good at reading it as the Aelfinn.

The world depends on the payment of an eye for Moiraine; the trickster is a hero. Mat professes a low opinion of those prepared to be heroic and exclaims: “Burn me for a fool! “, a fool being a more typical role for a trickster. Mat has played the fool figure many times (see Fool and Joker essay).

The demands that must be met were Mat’s list: the way out restored and open until they go through, a direct way, with no attacks by the Foxes. The Eelfinn frown – and Mat thinks it’s because they don’t like the bargain. He gets cocky and thinks he got better of them, but they were concentrating on twisting the bargain. They summon the Aelfinn to attack them.

The sacrifice that must be given is Noal’s life. The Foxes’ intended sacrifice was to be their lives, all four of them, but they get one. Basically, they exchanged Moiraine for Noal. In folk tales, fairies may demand a life for a life. Many myths and legends in underworlds and otherworlds set a condition that if someone is to go, another must be left in their place. In this case, left to die.

Mat realises that Thom is loving toward Moiraine, but not yet the full depth of their relationship. Thom rescued her for love, not duty.

The room with the melted ter’angreal is at the end of the Eelfinn’s realm. Beyond is the Snakes’ realm. The Eelfinn made the way out go through the Aelfinn’s territory so they can attack.