Friday, February 17, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #26: Chapter 23—At the Edge of Time


By Linda

Gawyn POV

Gawyn doesn’t recognise Demandred’s original name. Who and what the Forsaken were before their fall has been completely dwarfed by what they became. Their demonization was well-earned—and they gloried in the fame and power it gave them.

Egwene’s Warder relies on the bloodknife rings to keep himself from being seen. He knows this may kill him—or that is how he interpreted what Egeanin said. The rings endow power similar to that of Myrddraal—to be not easily seen, especially in shadows, and to have increased speed. However, they don't give the ability to move from one shadow to another as Myrddraal can. Gawyn realises their power makes him overconfident, but does nothing to correct this.

He rationalises that he is only using the ter’angreal to protect Egwene and therefore it is justified. What he ignores, or doesn’t understand, is that when, not if, this kills him, she will suffer horribly. Egeanin’s actions show that Gawyn’s risk was probably unnecessary to save Egwene.


Egwene POV

Sharans speak in an emotionally flat way. This may be the result of being trapped by the Pattern, and their lack of choice, or, more properly, that they allowed—felt their duty was—to be trapped by it. The Sharan system of demotion or lower status is forever, because tattoos can’t be removed. Hence people are trapped in their social position.

Egwene acknowledges that Demandred is worse than one of the Seanchan. Until now it is as though the Seanchan were the worst thing she had met—and she has encountered Shadowspawn, a couple of Forsaken—if she but knew it—and Black sisters:

The Seanchan captured and used Aes Sedai, but they didn't slaughter the common people with such recklessness.

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

She needs to escape if only to tell the Tower that Demandred has a large nation behind him. She is puzzled that Demandred doesn’t know where Rand is. He appears to be so busy demanding (that word) Rand come and challenge him that he didn’t sense where he is. And by the end of the chapter it’s too late: Demandred has missed his chance at a duel and Rand has gone to challenge the Forsaken’s boss. The Wyld’s further, increasingly strident, challenges are futile.

To Egwene’s horror, she realises that she has no power at the moment because she can’t use it without being discovered. This is comparable to Siuan’s situation and, like Siuan, Egwene won’t let it break her.

The Sharan channeller is not impressed with Demandred:

She walked around Egwene, looking curious. "You watched the Wyld's little show all the way through, did you? Brave. Or stupid."

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

The woman is quite strong, since she was able to shield Egwene and use two weaves of Air at the same time and also make a light without difficulty. The average Aes Sedai has trouble splitting her weaves more than two ways.

Sharan channellers are not particularly peaceable, judging by what she says:

” Few of the Ayyad would reach for a dagger so quickly, rather than for the Source. You have been trained well."

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

Egwene lets herself panic by comparing her situation with that of when she was a damane. Cue a Seanchan to the rescue rather than Egwene’s knight out of King Arthur’s tales—much to her surprise. Egwene always thinks the worst of the Seanchan, and Egeanin’s role is to change this perception. Egeanin’s skill and bravery rival Egwene’s and cast Gawyn into the shade.

The omens Egeanin speaks of would be Demandred and the Sharan invasion. This is her only reminder of what she braved to go back into the camp to find and save Egwene. Gawyn assumes Egwene found someone rather than was rescued by her. He did not recognise Egwene’s alarm through the bond at all, which may be an effect of the ter’angreal, but could just be that he is a very self-centred, emotionally obtuse person.


Aviendha POV

Shadowforgers are like Trolls in their size, strength, and ferocity, and the way they turn to stone and dirt when killed. Killing them all will stop construction of the Myrddraal’s swords.

The eclipse occurs. Those who witness it think it literally is the end of the world. Certainly, it symbolises the potential end of world and the fight of light and darkness, but also the conjunction of saidin and saidar fighting together for good or ill. It has potent alchemical symbolism, as we shall see later in the book.

Aviendha realises the disadvantages of leadership—responsibility and problem-solving. I love the way she and Rand salute each other.

The passage where Aviendha

thrust her hands forward, letting loose a raw weave, only half-formed. This was almost too much power for her to shape.

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

does not make sense, because Aviendha is a particularly skilful weaver. Caire was able to craft intricate weaves in the Bowl of Winds with her powerful circle (that included angreal). Aviendha’s is a larger circle, though far from full. Perhaps it was that Aviendha’s uses saidin as well, which she is not experienced with.

Sarene thinks that there is a difference between Dreadlords and Black Ajah. Maria of Team Jordan verified that there is not, really. It may be that Sarene sees a difference in Black sisters if they are openly fighting in battle.

Graendal uses the True Power to Travel away and leave her minions to bite the dust.


Rand POV

The Eclipse shows the danger to Rand, who is Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun (see Rand essay), as he meets the Dark One. The conjunction is wearing off as Rand goes up the path to enter Shayol Ghul.

Thom stays outside to guard the entrance. His smile is infectious and keeps their spirits up—as he has done in inns throughout the lands.

Moiraine enters Shayol Ghul armoured in her shawl, Nynaeve in her best yellow gown. Rand thinks that Nynaeve looks older without her braid, which puzzles him because it is the traditional sign of womanhood in the Two Rivers. Perhaps Nynaeve looks more timeless when not bound by one culture. Or perhaps Rand has also changed, so to him, the braid doesn’t mean what it once did. Maybe Rand is reacting to Nynaeve’s weight of responsibility and not her outward appearance. Another possibility is that what Rand sees is genuine, and the three oaths may be starting to take effect. For all his memories, Rand is still making clueless remarks about women’s clothing. Nynaeve could not have afforded such an expensive gown in the Two Rivers. No Two Rivers woman could.

Rand wears an outer layer of royalty, but underneath his shirt is in the Two Rivers style, a symbol that he and the series have come full circle. Then and now. The Two Rivers is closest to Rand’s heart, and being raised so well there has been his saving grace. As he enters his wound opens and he drips blood on rocks of Shayol Ghul, fulfilling prophecy.

Rand asks the women politely to make a circle, unlike Aviendha in this chapter commanding the formation of hers. The women are concerned that Rand keeps the lead of their circle. He intends to be seized by Moridin, as portended by the eclipse.

Rand is no longer worried about survival; he is worried about doing it right. This is probably the optimal frame of mind to approach the contest. He is reassured by the Creator that it is the right time, which confirms that the Creator spoke at the end of The Eye of the World, where Rand fought and defeated Ishamael. As the next chapter shows, the Dark One can’t sense Rand on the threshold of Shayol Ghul because of the Artham blunt dagger, so it wasn’t he who spoke.


Friday, January 27, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #25: Chapter 22—The Wyld


By Linda

Egwene POV

The higher the status of the Sharans, the fewer tattoos they have (see Costume article). Their male channellers are feral, and take pride in how dangerous they are. They have been dehumanised in their upbringing, and glory in that, because the fear they now arouse in others is a type of power. As former breeding stock, they have never had power. The male channellers wear rampant, aggressive vine tattoos from an early age, while the female channellers have a tree tattoo on their back with its branches bearing leaves onto their face. The Sharans appear to be starving their former rulers. Or have they withered away under the contempt of their ex-subjects at how they are puppets bound to the Pattern?

Egwene wonders why the Sharans have invaded now. We will find out that they are the antagonists of the mainland armies, fighting on the side of the Shadow in the hope of liberation from the Pattern that has held them in thrall until this moment. As unforseen and deadly invaders, they represent a combination of the Mongol Horde invading the West and also the Carthaginians invading the Ancient Roman Empire with Demandred as the Great Khan (a mirror and rival to Rand, the Car’a’carn) and the great general Hannibal, respectively.

Demandred uses the True Power to Travel to the site. His superior abilities are shown in how he finds Leane hidden among the tents and carries her to him with weaves. Yet he overlooks Egwene, a stronger channeller, on the perimeter. Leane is brave and controlled. Demandred uses her as a messenger to Rand to deliver his challenge and threat:

”If he does not, I will slaughter and destroy. I will seize his people. I will enslave his children, I will take his women for my own. One by one, I will break, destroy, or dominate everything he has loved."

A Memory of Light, The Wyld

Demandred’s excuse that he killed the newly captured slaves because the Sharans had no time for them and they would suffer without training, and presumably, being provided for properly, has a parallel in the Mongols enslaving who they wanted in the areas they invaded and killing the rest. Demandred and Rand both share parallels with Genghis Khan: Rand in a positive way with his union of the war-like and feuding Aiel clans (see Rand essay) whom he took back to the Westlands, and Demandred in a very negative way with his invasion of the Westlands committing atrocities. Demandred emphasised this very similarity to both Leane and Gawyn (A Memory of Light, The Wyld and The Last Battle).

Demandred also misused religion to demoralise and terrorise, as Genghis Khan did at Bukhara:

“I am the flail of god. Had you not created great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”
.
The Forsaken was an agent of Shaitan claiming to be an equivalent of the Dragon, the Creator’s champion who is as much a scourge as a saviour, and whom he threatened.

Demandred’s claim that he fulfilled Sharan prophecy is true:

"Just as the people here awaited him with prophecy, just as they showered him with glory, the people of my land awaited me. I have fulfilled their prophecies. He is false, and I am true."

A Memory of Light, The Wyld

although he didn’t believe it. His mistake is in thinking that the promised one of the Sharan prophecy was the Dragon—it wasn’t. Their prophecy was separate to the Karaethon Cycle and the antithesis of it. Both men are prophesied ones.

Demandred’s title of “He Who Is Owned Only By the Land” is a claim that is also true, and in a way that Demandred did not intend. Rand is one with the Land and the Land one with him. Demandred is owned by his hatred of, and obsession with, Rand. Demandred sees himself as an equal and rival to Rand, and wants to steal everything that Rand has. He never imagined that Rand would ignore him, and not consider him at all. It is the ultimate insult to the Forsaken.


Perrin POV

Perrin wonders why Lanfear gave him knowledge of the Dreamspike. It was to buy his trust and regard; to keep Rand safe for her to kill, and thereby earn the Dark One’s obligation; and to keep Perrin busy in the Dream until she needed him.

Perrin must call the Last Hunt for the wolves; they can’t hunt the Darkhounds on their own, just as the Heroes of the Horn need the Dragon’s banner at the least to fight. The Wolf King follows up on the wolves’ advice that Graendal is in the Dream. She was in Ituralde’s tent reading reports, which would give her intelligence of the Light’s military plans, and then went to Bashere’s dream.

In her ugly new body, Graendal is all the more determined to be the Naeblis. She now looks like Grendel the man-eating monster. It is as though her beautiful parallels, the ancient Greek Aphrodite and Circe, have been robbed of their beauty, but are still capable of destroying men. Graendal was in Tel’aran’rhiod in the flesh, which allowed her to channel at her full strength. She thinks that actual pitched battles against the Light are far less useful than destroying the generals of the Light’s armies, but as we see, a general can be replaced. Perrin is more than a match for Graendal in Tel’aran’rhiod, although he balked at killing her. By Aiel thinking, the greater honour would be taking her captive, as Aviendha did.

Lanfear criticises Perrin for not killing Graendal, but she has an obvious self-interest there, in reducing her competition. While she would not be allowed to kill a colleague at this time, Perrin could. She tells him that not killing women is a weakness. Ironically, he will kill one—and only one—woman, and it is her.

Lanfear tries to manipulate Perrin, but he rejects her charms. She plies him with knowledge instead; this time about Slayer being able to physically enter and leave Tel’aran’rhiod at will. Just knowing that it can be done inspires him to ask the right questions, which leads to him killing Slayer and Lanfear and protecting Rand.

Moridin is too occupied to keep a watch on Lanfear. Nevertheless, Lanfear declines to help Perrin with an action because she will be further punished if found out. She wants Perrin to become powerful in his own right, and tempts him with power and the good he could do with it. He rejects her temptations, while acknowledging her beauty. Again she dispenses knowledge as a lure and tells him whose dream Graendal just invaded: Bashere’s. Did she recognise it and if so was it because she has looked herself?

What is Moridin up to? Moghedien implied that he no longer cared to inflict for cruelty. Is this due to ennui or just being too busy? Rand hasn’t gone to Shayol Ghul yet, but perhaps Moridin has, or he is giving final orders prior to doing so. While he is despairing of his existence, and only wishes to be free of the cycle of rebirth, he assumes it will only happen with the Dark One’s victory, so he can’t sit around in a depressed state, but must continue prosecuting the Shadow’s plans.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Robert Jordan's Channeller Strength Ranking — A Christmas Present from the 13th Depository


By Linda


This article details Robert Jordan’s channeller strength ranking collated from individual character entries in the Wheel of Time Companion. At a booksigning, Jordan said he had a 21 level strength list for women (here is my version of that, consistent with the books), but obviously his strength ranking has far more levels, even just for Aes Sedai.

For women, the numbers in parentheses refer to Aes Sedai level ranks only. Plus numbers are “above” regular Aes Sedai ranks. The double plus numbers are the six levels above the women's levels for the strongest men.

++1 (top level for men) Ishamael/Moridin, Lews Therin, Rand, Rahvin

++2 Aginor/Osan’gar, Demandred, Logain, Sammael

++3 Asmodean, Balthamel/Aran’gar

++4 Be’lal

++5

++6

1 (+12) (top level for women) Alivia, Lanfear, Semirhage

2 (+11) Cyndane, Mesaana, Sharina Melloy, Talaan din Gelyn

3 (+10) Caraighan Maconar, Graendal, Nynaeve ti al’Maera Mandragoran

4 (+9) Moghedien, Someryn

5 (+8) Cadsuane Melaidhrin, Tamela

6 (+7)

7 (+6)

8 (+5) Egwene al’Vere, Elayne Trakand

9 (+4) Mabriam en Shereed, Metarra din Junalle, Nicola Treehill

10 (+3) Meilyn Arganya, Viendre

11 (+2) Aviendha, Kerene Nagashi

12 (+1) Edarra, Therava

13 (1) Colinda, Elaida a’Roihan, Lelaine Akashi, Moiraine Damodred (old), Rainyn din Burun, Romanda Cassin, Siuan Sanche (old), Garenia Rosoinde/Zarya Alkaese

14 (2) Aisha Raveneos, Bera Harkin, Cetalia Delarme, Cosain, Galina Casban, Ibrella, Kirstian Chalwin, Kiruna Nachiman, Larelle Tarsi, Leane Sharif (old), Liandrin Guirale, Martine Janata, Merean Redhill, Merise Haindehl, Pevara Tazanovni, Reanne Corly, Saerin Asnobar, Sashalle Anderly, Sheriam Byanar, Valera Gorovni, Yukiri Haruna

15 (3) Anaiya Carel, Carlinya Sorevin, Desandre Alraed, Dorailla, Katerine Alruddin, Lemai Ambani, Maigan, Marillin Gemalphin, Morvrin Thakanos, Myrelle Berengari, Nesune Bihara, Shemerin, Silviana Brehon, Talene Minly, Theodrin Dabei

---Level above which can make a larger gateway---

16 (4) Adelorna Bastine, Aisling Noon, Beldeine Nyram, Beonin Marinye, Bernaille Gelbarn, Brendas, Doesine Alwain, Eldrith Jhondar, Ester Stepashin, Faeldrin Harella, Haesel Lusara, Julanya Fote, Kwamesa Taramasu, Masuri Sokawa, Naime din Malzar, Nisao Dachen, Rafela Cindal, Rysael din Yulan

17 (5) Alanna Mosvani, Aloisia Nemosni (max), Alviarin Freidhen, Annharid Matoun, Caire din Gelyn, Cathal Devore, Dailin, Danelle, Delora, Erian Boroleos, Falion Bhoda, Faolain Orande, Felaana Bevaine, Ispan Shefar, Janya Frende, Joline Maza, Meidani Eschede, Melaine, Merana Ambrey, Seaine Herimon, Seonid Traighan, Tebreille din Gelyn, Temaille Kinderode, Teslyn Baradon, Verin Mathwin

18 (6) Asne Zeramene, Ayako Norsoni, Azzara din Karak, Belinde, Carelle, Chesmal Emry, Coiren Saeldain, Corele Hovian, Delana Mosalaine, Demira Eriff, Jeaine Caide, Jennet Cobb, Kairen Stang, Kurin din Calis, Marith Riven, Mikio Vadere, Narenwin Barda (may be 19/7), Renaile din Calon Blue Star, Sarene Nemdahl, Shevan Gadarin, Sierin Vayu, Sumeko Karistovan, Tialin

19 (7) Berenicia Morsad, Celestin Eguilera, Chaelin, Chanelle din Seran, Dagdara Finchey, Dorile din Eiran, Elaiva Walfor, Faeral din Rao, Gabrelle Brawley, Gitara Moroso, Nadere, Rhiale, Rubinde Acedone, Sedore Dajenna, Senine din Ryal, Tamra Ospenya, Tarna Feir, Tiana Noselle, Toveine Gazal, Zanica Ghodar, Zerah Dacan

20 (8) Evanellein Lorn, Faiselle Darone, Magla Daronos (max, given as 29 (8), so may be 29 (17)), Samitsu Tamagowa, Vandene Namelle (but limited herself to be equal to her sister)

21 (9) Covarla Baldene, Ferane Neheran, Jesse Bilal, Juilaine Madome, Mayam Colona, Rhianna Andomeran, Sereille Bagand, Tsutama Rath, Valene Sural

22 (10) Ashmanaille (can make gateway), Cairlyn Nesolle, Carniele Emares, Emerys, Losaine (max, given as 22 (15), so may be 27 (15)), Merilille Ceandevwin (can’t make gateway), Rina Hafden, Ronelle, Samalin Naerodan, Sibella (can’t make gateway), Suana Dragand

---Level above which can make a useful gateway---

23 (11) Adeleas Namelle (can’t make gateway), Duhara Basaheen, Escaralde Hamdey, Janina, Nevarin, Serafelle Tanisloe, Shielyn din Sabura, Takima Deraghdin

24 (12) Akoure Vayet, Aledrin Malenry, Andaya Forae, Edesina Azzedin, Kumira Dhoran, Lirene Doirellin, Lyrelle Arienwin, Meira, Saroiya Farseen

25 (13) Beldemaine, Elza Penfell, Javindhra Doraille, Jenare Balmaen, Keatlin, Malind Nachenin, Modarra, Moria Karentanis, Velina Behar, Zemaille Amassa

26 (14) Lanita, Mirlene Cornwell, Sareitha Tomares, Turanna Norill, Varilin Zanaire

27 (15) Aeldene Stonebridge, Amico Nagoyin, Amira Moselle, Berylla Naron, Careane Fransi, Janine Pavlara, Losaine (min, given as 22 (15), so may be 22 (10)), Micara, Niande Moorwyn, Ronaille Vevianos, Salita Toranes, Tabiya

28 (16) Berana Shermon, Joiya Byir, Larissa Lyndel, Marline, Nelavaire Demasiellin, Razina Hazzan

29 (17) Lucilde, Magla Daronos (min, given as 29 (8), so may be 20 (8)), Pura/Ryma Galfrey

30 (18) Daviena, Emara

---Level below which cannot make any gateway at all---

31 (19) Calindin, Cavandra, Ieine

32 (20) Rosara Medrano, Shanelle, Teire Alentaine

33 (21) Annoura Larisen, Bharatine, Fera Sormen, Silvane Redfor, Valinde Nathenos

34 (22) Adine Canford, Afara, Akarrin Comeris, Cabriana Mecandes, Memara, Shahal Comanli, Shimoku, Therva Maresis, Vayelle Kamsa

35 (23) Cariandre Temalien, Guisin, Phaedrine, Shana Goridien, Siuan Sanche (new)

36 (24) Leane Sharif (new), Nacelle Kayama

37 (25) Bennae Nalsad, Caren Endelle, Chilares Arman, Nisain a’Cowel

38 (26) Famelle Juarde, Reiko Kerevon

39 (27) Ivara

40 (28) Solain Morgeillin

41 (29) Derys Nermala, Eldase Takashi

42 (30) Berowin Doraisin

44 (32) Marris Thornhill

45 (33) Daigian Moseneillin, Monaelle

---Level below which was not allowed to test for Aes Sedai---

46 (34) Alise Tenjile, Dimana Corrand, Janira (max), Melore (max), Sarainya Vostovan

47 (35) Sorilea (max, given as 57 (35), so may be 57 (45)), Tamarla

49 (37) Keraille Surtovni

---Level below which was not allowed to test for Accepted---

54 (42) Asra Zigane, Setsuko (max)

57 (45) Sorilea (min, given as 57 (35); Egwene thought her too weak to be tested for Accepted (Lord of Chaos, A Taste of Solitude), so this is her likely level)

66 (54) Moiraine (new)


Notes

As stated, there are six strength levels for men above the women’s ranks. However, as Jordan repeatedly explained, women have superior dexterity than men to the degree that they make up for the less amounts of the One Power that they draw:

Men can be much stronger than women in the pure quantity of the Power that they can channel, but on a practical level, women are much more deft in their weaving and that means the strongest possible woman can do just about anything that the strongest possible man could, and to the same degree.

Robert Jordan on his blog

Very strong male channellers would fill these six levels, with strong male channellers on the same levels as the very strong women, and so on down through the medium and weak channellers.

It is interesting that not all strength levels were “filled out” with characters appearing in the series—notably levels 6 (+7) and 7 (+6), and the ++5 and ++6 men's levels. A few characters have double entries because they were given inconsistent number rankings.

In this ranking, I have included those channellers whose actual ranking was stated in the Companion plus those where it was stated that they could or could not qualify for a test or gateway ability. I have not included rankings based on further inferences and will not on this list. Such channellers are included on my saidar strength ranking list. Conversely, I have not added channellers with a ranking number in the Companion to my own strength ranking who do not have references in the book as to their relative strength because the two rankings are approximately compatible. For actual book quotes regarding the female channellers’ strengths, please see the saidar strength article linked above.

Some notable changes of mind that Jordan made in the series are the strengths of Aviendha—repeatedly stated as equal to Elayne and Egwene in the books but not in Jordan’s strength ranking, where Aviendha is three levels below them—and Cadsuane, who is not as strong as Elayne and Egwene in the books but is placed a level above them in Jordan’s strength ranking. Likewise, Talaan is said to be equal to Nynaeve in the books but is placed a level higher in Jordan’s ranking notes.

Morgase would be lower than Moiraine (new) but she was not given a ranking in the Companion.

Channellers in levels 23 (11) to 30 (18) are able to make very small gateways that are barely, or even not, useful. Note that even level 22 contains channellers who are known to be unable to make a gateway that is useable—Merilille, for instance, relied on Reanne Corly to make a gateway for her to visit the Borderlander army. I have marked where this is known. Androl is a noted exception; he is a weak channeller who can make very large gateways.

Comparison with my 21 level saidar strength list:

I will give the 21 level list number first and then Jordan’s ranking level/s. On the whole, the lists are broadly similar.

Level 21 — 1 (+12)
Level 20 — 2 (+11)
Levels 19 and 18 — 3 (+10)
Level 17 — 4 (+9)
Level 16 — 5 (+8)
Level 15 — 8 (+5)
Level 14 and some of 13 and 15 — 9 (+4)
Level 13 — 10 (+3), 11 (+2) and 12 (+1)
Level 12 — 13/1
Level 11 — 14/2
Level 10 — 15/3
Level 9 — 16/4
Level 8 — 17/5
Level 7 — 18/6 to 22/10 inclusive
Level 6 — 23/11 to 33/21 inclusive
Level 5 — 34/22 and parts of 35/23
Level 4 — part of 35/23 and 36/24 to 45/33 inclusive
Level 3 — part of 46/34
Level 2 — part of 46/34 and 47/35 to at least 57/45
Level 1 — below 57/45, for negligible channellers such as Morgase, who was not given a ranking number on Jordan’s list


Best wishes to all for the Festive Season and for 2017.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #24: Chapter 21—Not a Mistake to Ignore


By Linda

Siuan POV

Yukiri used a cushion of Air to break their fall through her open gateway. Fortunately it offered a fine escape route. It strikes me that tents are not very strategic, and later we see that the Seanchan are ambushed and trapped within their command tent. Yukiri is probably thinking that using Air to prop up a channeller would enable him/her to fly.

Siuan broke ranks in complaining to Yukiri about her weave, apart from being ungrateful. She is still not following traditional Aes Sedai ranking. True, times are different, and hard, but Siuan also has accepted her new position rather grudgingly. The grumbling is to mask her pain at the losses from this one attack, which are immense—almost 50% of the soldiers and about 32% of the Aes Sedai. While Siuan pretends that the Aes Sedai that died treated her badly:

"Bah," Siuan said, "most of them treated me like fish guts anyway. They resented me as Amyrlin, laughed when I was cast down; and then made a servant of me when I returned."

A Memory of Light, Not a Mistake to Ignore

her off-hand summary of her situation is true in outline. Many sisters have acted in this manner to her, for example, the Blue Sitter Maigan—just not necessarily those that died.

Siuan believes that Egwene is still alive. Like Moiraine, she trusts the Pattern as well as Egwene’s resourcefulness.

Bryne realises that he is making mistakes, but doesn’t know why. The chapter title refers to his mistakes being too large, too obvious, to ignore. Even by him. He has lost confidence and this makes him look old.

Lyrelle POV

As we see from her ‘so-called Black Tower’ description, Lyrelle does not accept the Black Tower as a legitimate entity. This is bolstered by her receipt of a warning from the Amyrlin that the Black Tower has joined the Shadow. Egwene and/or Lyrelle imply that they believe most, or all, Asha’man are Darkfriends. If they truly did believe this, then why Bond them? Just because Aes Sedai were Bonded? This is nonsensical reasoning and a justification for feelings of superiority.

Even though Lyrelle is a Sitter, the thirty reinforcing Aes Sedai accept her leadership reluctantly. In a way, I’m not surprised since I’m not impressed with her attitudes and thoughts.

The Blue Sitter is appalled that she has to accept that the Black Ajah is public knowledge, and that therefore Aes Sedai are not superior to Asha’man—and, in fact, are more like them than is acceptable. Both groups had to cleanse their ranks of Darkfriends.

Lyrelle plans to bind the strongest Asha’man, although she knows—but took a while to accept—that she won’t be able to Compel him. Wait until she finds out that even one of medium strength will probably be stronger than her when he reaches his potential. (Of course, she would be more dextrous in her weaving, which will compensate.) She thinks she can intimidate him in short order into telling her which of the others are the most talented, so her cohorts can Bond them. On the other hand, she doesn’t believe the taint is cleansed, or that the Asha’man could outfight them. We’ve hear this all before… Lyrelle is like a Blue version of Elaida or Toveine. However, unlike Elaida, Lyrelle is observant and good at reading people. I notice that she doesn’t return Androl’s greeting, and I’m sure so does Androl!

Her comment that:

It said something about these Black Tower men that they chose to finish the walls around their grounds before actually building their tower.

A Memory of Light, Not a Mistake to Ignore

shows that she doesn’t understand why the wall was finished and not the Tower, even though her group was kept out, and many men kept in, for weeks. Also, the most important parts, as far as Taim is concerned, are already built.

Pevara says that Bonding Asha’man is a misguided mission. She advises not to Bond randomly by coercion, but to take the willing. Rand’s order for the Asha’man to be men first and weapons second arrived in time to prevent the men from tamely accepting Aes Sedai demands to Bond them. This is definitely for the good of the Asha’man, but does stretch the bargain he made with Egwene, who in turn thinks they may be Darkfriends.

Pevara emphasises that Logain leads the Asha’man now. Like Elaida, Lyrelle wishes he had not survived. For one thing, Lyrelle was going to take over the Black Tower to have more influence than Lelaine, her Ajah Head.

Ironically, not having control through the Bond will mean that she has to treat her Warder as an equal, a partner, and not a servant. It will be a painful shock for one so power hungry that she wants own Asha’man troops forced to her will.

Androl says that his trick is “worthy of an Aes Sedai”, who have the reputation of being tricky by meeting the words of a bargain but not the spirit of it. And yet Androl more than meets this bargain in spirit, since he has gathered men who agree to be Bonded. Lyrelle was going to take whoever she wished. She still can, but it has to be from this select group. It is indeed not the time to whine, but the time for pragmatic politics—what with half Egwene’s army wiped out and Rand in Shayol Ghul.

Bonding goes two ways and negotiating will soften attitudes out of necessity. The Asha’man and Aes Sedai will each live long lives—again, equality. If some non-Green Sitters with Lyrelle are bonding two men, this will doubly break Ajah custom (since it is not customary to bond other channellers).

Pevara POV

Pevara is on the side of the Asha’man against Lyrelle’s cold and calculating intentions. Like Seaine, Lyrelle thinks Pevara chose the wrong Ajah. She has effectively abandoned her position as a Sitter, although for a very good reason.

Androl makes light of Pevara’s warnings about the Aes Sedai, saying that the men will weather the dangers of being seen as a threat or a tool. He points out that Pevara changed—but she was positively disposed towards them compared to some of Lyrelle’s Aes Sedai. Myrelle will also be won over easily to see their points of view.

Pevara and Androl can see the psychological damage that the Turning processes has left on Logain and Emarin. Once complete, the Turning results in irreversible moral as well as psychological destruction.

The Asha’man don’t know what to think about the fact that Rand knew something was wrong at the Black Tower and did nothing. Jonneth, a loyal Emond’s Field man, believes Rand must have had good reason. Emarin thinks the worst of him. Androl points out that Rand’s attitude is all of a piece—he has never had much to do with the Black Tower. Of course, Taim manipulated Rand to ensure that, and Rand fell for it. Emarin is right that Rand became harsh and even callous—but that stopped with his epiphany, which these Asha’man don’t know about. It occurred too late for Rand to do much for the Black Tower except fall into the trap while trying to save them (which Rand was tempted to do).

Logain is their true leader, not Rand, and Androl second. Pevara sees that Rand cannot remain their leader anyway since he is the world’s sacrifice. The Asha’man must be independent and not reliant on any one man. Their own men. Not weapons. They have a positive outlook and a future now beyond the Last Battle.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #23: Chapter 20—Into Thakan’dar


By Linda

Egwene POV

Romanda uses traditional Aes Sedai Healing as battlefield emergency medical aid, which is how this type of Healing was actually used in the Age of Legends.

Gawyn makes a good observation about the senselessness of the Trollocs trying to hold the area against all odds and with huge losses.

"It's like . . . like the Fades think that even after a rout like this one, they're in a good position.”

A Memory of Light, Into Thakan’dar

Egwene listens to him and orders the army to pull back. Too late; the Sharans arrive. The coin armour of the soldiers is very typical of ancient Chinese soldiers, and the dresses of the channellers are also Asian in style—Korean and Mongolian, mainly (see Sharan fashions). The Ayyad’s black dresses symbolise their link to the Shadow, and also parallels Chinese history. In the Qin dynasty, the most popular clothing colour was black, since the Qin Emperor believed that the Qin dynasty should eclipse the Zhou dynasty like water extinguishes fire, and black is the colour of yin and water.

Egwene realises that Aes Sedai should be in Warders’ cloaks—the ultimate camouflage—in battle so they can hide, if necessary. They can’t always drive off attacks with channelling and are as helpless as anybody when outnumbered by hostile channellers.


Aviendha POV

Forgers are perhaps more like androids than Shadow constructs, since the Aiel are adamant that they are not alive and Demandred said that they can’t live outside Thakan’dar, but turn to dust if take away from the area (Lord of Chaos, Prologue). They use the blood of people to temper the blades—one person for each.

Rhuarc is now a siswai’aman and perhaps the highest ranked of them. It does not appear to mean that he has abdicated his position as clan chief.

Aviendha owns more than one necklace: the snowflake one from Egwene, plus, judging by what Cadsuane said, one from Rand as a remembrance/regard gift. She is prepared for her own people to pay the ultimate price for the Light’s victory:

Seeing the end of her people had nauseated and horrified her, but also awakened her. If the end of the Aiel was the sacrifice required for Rand to win, she would make it. She would scream and curse the Creator's own name, but she would pay that price. Any warrior would. Better that one people should end than the world fall completely under Shadow.

A Memory of Light, Into Thakan’dar

Like Rand, Aviendha has prepared herself for the enormity of sacrifice to come, and understands Rand wanting to get on with that fight. She feels that they are very alike, and that this comes out in the way they treat each other:

She stepped up to him, and he moved so that he stood just beside her, his shoulder touching hers. He did not drape an arm around her, and she did not take his hand. He did not own her, and she did not own him. The act of his movement so that they faced the same direction meant far more to her than any other gesture could.

A Memory of Light, Into Thakan’dar

Rand also uses an Aiel expression of love to her for the first time.

Aviendha realises that Rand intends to kill the Dark One. Unlike everyone else, she thinks this idea reasonable, but says that the greatest victory would be making the Dark One gai’shain. Rand is dismissive, but Aviendha is correct, as she also is in wondering if sealing the Dark One up is equivalent to taking him gai’shain. She lectures Rand about ji’e’toh, which amuses him—but she thinks the subject too serious for amusement.

The new crossbow crank first mentioned by Mat and Talmanes in Knife of Dreams, As If All the World Were Fog, has arrived among troops outside the Band and it may even hve been improved upon (See Inventions article for further details).

Some gai’shain have temporarily put aside white to fight with the Dragonsworn in the Last Battle—following the prophecy of the Dragon breaking oaths and ties:

"It is said," the one-eyed man said carefully, "that when the Dragon is Reborn, he will break all oaths, shatter all ties."

-The Great Hunt, What Was Meant To Be

Aviendha is inclined to dismiss their abandonment of custom, even honour, as foolishness but then thinks she should reserve judgement. In a way, the prophecy is self-fulfilling when it is being used to justify breaking their oaths. Other people, including Uno, have done this with the prophecy in mind and some were compelled by events without any consideration of the Karaethon Cycle. We also see people—gai’shain and Tinkers—refusing to break their oaths even though they have the bitter realisation of why it is not wrong for others to have done so.

Since Rand declared himself, many people have broken their oaths or ties: soldiers and channellers that were pledged to others have pledged themselves to Rand, some against their rulers’ wishes: Shienarans, Saldaeans, Tairens, Illianers, Cairhienin, Asha’man, Aes Sedai. Gawyn’s choice to put aside his Warder’s oath led to the bond between him and Egwene being broken.

Others are revealed as Darkfriends and so shown to be faithless to whatever ties they were thought to have. People also left their homes, marriages and jobs to wander aimlessly. The breaking of oaths is encouraged (if not caused) by the Shadow as part of the chaos.

With prophecy so prominent, it is easy to see only the workings of destiny in the characters’ lives as though they have little free will and are wholly beholden to follow the Pattern. However, fate is not more powerful than free will; as with the other complementary forces in the series, there is a balance between the two. Some characters have one attitude to this, some another. Rand uses prophecy as a guide to recognising patterns of events and what may arise from them. Aviendha does the same for what she saw in the three rings and is trying to prevent the future she saw in the glass columns. Earlier, in The Gathering Storm, The Ways of Honour, she had expressed dislike of being fated to marry Rand. She wanted to ensure choice, and therefore uncertainty and free will, in her life. Mat uses prophecy as an instruction manual because when he tried to deny fate, he failed; he went from one extreme to the other. But it’s not simple—there is an interplay of choice and the Pattern in people’s lives. Min knew that Gawyn would make a hugely fateful choice between two futures, with no indication which way he would decide. In Jordan’s world history and fate are broadly determined but each individual has the choice to work towards fulfilling their role in the Pattern or to reject this.

Rand proved that the dull dagger worked, preventing the Dark One from sensing him—see ter’angreal article for more information—and feels the touch of the Pattern in the way events have led to it being in his hand at the crucial time. Aviendha wants Rand to stay serious, but he tries to laugh. When she realises something is bothering him, she openly asks what the problem is, instead of telling him off or abusing him as so many others seem to do. Not surprisingly, the theft of the Seals has him concerned that they will not be broken at the right time. Breaking the Seals allows Rand to reforge the prison—clearing rubble so he can build, as Herid Fel said. This is why someone (Logain) will have the role of Sealbreaker once they are stolen back.

Despite earlier criticising Rand for levity, Aviendha makes jokes. He gives her command of the channellers at Thakan’dar to fight Dreadlords and Forsaken. Both Min and Aviendha each wanted to go into Shayol Ghul with Rand, but this would be unwise, since neither would have an actual role there, whereas they certainly would (and will do) elsewhere. As each sees the unsuitability of the other’s wishes, it quietens their own objections.

Nynaeve doesn’t want Rand to use Callandor because it is a trap. But that is the point of it. It’s a trap actually aimed at Moridin, but it has to appear as though Rand is the vulnerable one to lure him into it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #22: Chapter 19—The Choice of a Patch


By Linda

On the surface, the chapter title refers to Mat choosing a patch for his eye, but Elayne has to choose which ground to fight on, and Egwene has to choose whether to avoid Tel’aran’rhiod.


Elayne POV

The chapter also shows the danger of not looking below the surface. Years ago, Bryne advised Gawyn and Elayne against being over-confident or lulled by appearances.

Be careful of currents, he'd said. River currents are one of the most dangerous things under the Light, but only because men underestimate them. The surface looks still because nothing is fighting it. Nothing wants to. The fish go along with it and men stay out of it, all except the fools who think to prove themselves.

A Memory of Light, The Choice of a Patch

Elayne remembers his lesson, but Gawyn did turn out to be a fool that had to prove himself.

Bashere looks well, but isn’t, and that is the case for Bryne, too. The Saldean’s oversight in not thinking of the river is pretty damning, even if he isn’t used to large rivers, since maps have been emphasised all along. To his surprise, Elayne talks of trust:

"You show surprising faith in me for someone you have known a very short time." "Rand trusts you," Elayne said. "Even during the dark times, Bashere—when he would look at every second person around him with darkness in his eyes—he trusted you."

A Memory of Light, The Choice of a Patch

Unfortunately Bashere is no longer able to be trusted.


Egwene POV

Tel’aran’rhiod shows the wearing down of the Land. It has a time-worn look, and is in dire need of renewal; the Age has gone on too long. Such renewal was initiated by sacrifice in ancient times and it seems that the Land now desperately needs Rand’s sacrifice. Remarkably, the Stone still stands as it was, perhaps because it was wrought by the One Power.

Bair confirms Aviendha’s vision in the glass columns. Wise Ones will now need to make three visits to Rhuidean: one for the rings ter’angreal and two for the glass columns. I expect that many qualified Wise Ones will want to see for themselves what the columns show of the future. In the Wheel of Time world, anything done three times has added potency, or “trueness”. Melaine worries at the change, but the glass column ter’angreal shows that the Aiel must change. Or, looking at it another way, they must stick to the spirit of their old ways by educating and training their leaders thoroughly, even if they adapt to life outside the Threefold Land. This way they know which of their traditions are worthwhile and why. The women don’t make decisions for the men, but presumably prospective clan chiefs should also make two trips through the columns.

The vision shows that Aviendha’s children were not well-trained; they were given power too early and not by merit, but because of who their father was. An earlier wannabe Aiel aristocrat, Sevanna, planned for her children to inherit her power and ruined the Shaido before she was stopped.

The first cracks in reality are appearing in Andor, the Borderlands and the Blight, and the cause is correctly deduced to be the Shadow’s use of balefire. The Dreamers decide to not use it, although they acknowledge that some crucial people are alive because this rule was disobeyed. Nevertheless, they are not going to fight balefire with balefire. As upholders of the Pattern, Aes Sedai are already forbidden it. Egwene thinks about how Perrin said that balefire is only another weave. This hints that this most powerful of weaves could be countered, as any other weave can and gets Egwene thinking about solving this.

The Wise Ones decide that Tel’aran’rhiod is now too dangerous to visit unless there is great need. Egwene farewells the World of Dreams “until she Dreams again”. This turns out to be quite an Aiel-like farewell, since according to Aiel belief she awoke from the Dream without visiting it again and won’t be back until she is reborn. Unless she was made a Hero of the Horn. However, after she died, her spirit spoke to Rand before the Horn was blown, but did not appear elsewhere and she was not heard from or seen after the Horn was sounded.

Egwene has realised that Rand deliberately angered her at their last two meetings to manipulate her quite successfully. To her surprise, Rand wants to give her a remembrance gift. It is a ribbon, a simple gift for one of the most powerful women in the world. She feels it is an unnecessary distraction at a time of war; although when she understands that Rand seeks a reconciliation with her, she comes around. She says that he’s been difficult—but so has she. And why wouldn’t they, since they both have been through a great deal.

Lews Therin knew that the Seals would fail. The seals that Egwene hands to Rand are cuendillar, but not genuine. They were probably switched during the robbery, which was made to appear as though the thieves were successfully driven off without taking anything.

When Gawyn learns Rand is Galad’s brother, he feels that Rand and Elayne are connected too closely. As this family tree shows, they are not related by blood, sharing no parents.


Mat POV

In the past, Mat the trickster disliked being watched—because it was usually due to distrust or envy. Now he dislikes the way lower ranked Seanchan won’t look at him. They still watch him—just not his face. While Mat’s egalitarian values are offended, there are practical repercussions too. Mat can’t tell when he is being watched or not and will just have to assume that he is, which makes sneaking around more difficult.

The freckled woman helping the Seanchan tailor clothe Mat is Moghedien, as we find out later. She is disguised as a So’jhin.

Mat refuses to let his old clothes be destroyed, despite being distracted by the valuable jewellery. Nor will he accept any fancy clothes yet—just military wear. Of course, military clothing can be quite fancy enough.

The Prince still picks out rubies in preference to other jewels. Apart from being very valuable, their red colour links them to Mars, god of war. The servants take his lead and drape him in them. Mat is being outfitted in a style is similar to Chinese military clothing in the Western Zhou, or in the much later Qing dynasty, (see Costume in the Wheel of Time article), and also to costume worn by Samurai warriors and courtiers of the Edo period in Japan. The Seanchan have strong links to both China and Japan. Paltron cloths are a reference to the pauldron of armour. The Qing and Samurai robes have pronounced shoulder padding to imitate armour. The dark green colour of his clothes is for the Two Rivers—but also links him with the Deathwatch Guards.

Mat realises he doesn’t need to gamble to get money now. It’s his luck to have married someone so rich that such challenges are meaningless. He always wanted riches and now he has them; but his new position offers a lot of responsibility and no fun. Like a bargain with the Eelfinn, he got what he wanted but it isn’t turning out as expected. Mat fears that his gambling and trickery days are over, but, considering Seanchan politics, they are certainly not. It’s just that the stakes have permanently changed from money to lives.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #21: Chapter 18—To Feel Wasted


By Linda

Gawyn POV

Last POV, Gawyn made much of how he had learned and accepted his supporting role, but here he is being restless and discontented again. Instead of killing Trollocs with a long polearm, he wants to duel with the Trollocs with a sword, control the fight and beat them. He is thinking of himself and not protecting the Amyrlin, even if only by staying whole. Her attitude that she didn’t need protecting rubbed off on him, who wants a bigger, more important part on the world stage. It’s not that no Trollocs break through the lines of Aes Sedai—they do; but the killing power of the channellers makes Gawyn feel feeble in comparison. The prince envies the soldiers fighting—who are just doing what is necessary—and would not make a good general due to his hunger for glory.

On the other hand, Gawyn’s tactics for protecting the Amyrlin are sound. However, he is somewhat complacent that the Aes Sedai are winning their war. It’s noticeable that Gawyn gives all other Aes Sedai the honorific except Keeper Silviana, who does not like him, or he her.

Egwene’s group now know that some Asha’man are Dreadlords and immediately fear that all those in the Black Tower may be. Yet the Aes Sedai have direct experience of some of their own being Dreadlords, but not all. Likewise, Egwene still distrusts Leilwin because she is Seanchan.

Gawyn is in the throes of deciding to take risks with the bloodknives’ rings. (For more information on these ter’angreal see here.) Leilwin sees the rings and tells him more about them. Gawyn warns Leilwin and Domon off mentioning assassins and rings to Egwene, because he is tempted to use the rings to fight on the battlefield and Egwene would undoubtedly make him hand them over if she knew he had them. This is the early warning of Gawyn wandering off to win glory. Aes Sedai claim all ter’angreal as their property on the grounds that such objects are either useless or dangerous to others, and Gawyn’s case is a vindication of this attitude.


Rand POV

Rand debates whether killing the Dark One will remove Trollocs from the Land—in other words, whether they are linked to him. Events show that they have to be killed individually or along with their Myrddraal and will not be undone if the Dark One is cut off from the world.

Aginor made monsters because he could, not because he was cruel or mad. It appals Rand to think that the souls of people may be reborn as Trollocs. However, once they are twisted, it appears that these souls are reborn as Shadowspawn thereafter:

A Trolloc, however, bears a twisted, or corrupted soul, and would be reborn as a Trolloc. Though frankly, a Trolloc's soul is such a pitiful thing, it hardly seems worth calling a soul.

- Robert Jordan Q&A

To lift the soldiers’ spirits, Rand makes it obvious at the end of his stint fighting, that he had fought with, and for, them. It also convinces Demandred that Rand is staying in the battlefields. The Forsaken never imagines that Rand went to Shayol Ghul quite early in the war and completely overlooks even the possibility that Rand bypassed him. This highlights the extent of his obsession, since Demandred otherwise is a master tactician.

After showing himself at the three active battle fronts, it is nearly time for Rand to go to Shayol Ghul. Rand acknowledges to himself how much of his sanity he owes to Min, who concentrated on helping him do what he wants rather than instructing him or controlling him.

Speaking of instructors, Cadsuane shows Rand that she knows what Rand is doing—giving people remembrance gifts—which is of concern to her, because it shows that Rand expects to die, and means he may not even seek to live. Rand’s feelings on his sacrifice are understandably very private and he doesn’t let on to anyone his hopes but quietly asks Alivia offscreen to prepare for his departure. Cadsuane probably always intended to use Alivia in the defense of Shayol Ghul, as Rand suggests.

Cadsuane says that she has never cared so much for Rand that she would not trade his life for the world. I think that those who love Rand would at least agonise over the choice. The Green keeps testing Rand by being annoying and pressing on his vulnerabilities—so that he keeps control of them. Rand realises this is valuable practice, though unpleasant, and indeed it does help him in his battle with the Dark One. He lets Cadsuane know indirectly that she will never get a regard gift, but it would be more of a surprise to her if she did. She knows the price for using rough techniques.

Cadsuane’s intelligence gathering is very good: she knows the Black Tower men have finally escaped. Rand realises that Perrin might have helped with that. He feels guilty about staying away from the Black Tower, and has trouble resisting going there, which irritates Cadsuane that he could risk everything trying to free the men himself. It has been a real danger since Rand’s epiphany; before it, he was too dark to make a rescue attempt. I guess Rand was going to feel bad either way, since he was responsible for creating the Black Tower, but falling into the Shadow’s trap there would have made the situation much worse. Another, even greater, danger was if Rand had not ignored Demandred.


Lan POV

Lan recognises that he, like Deepe, would take an opportunity to kill an important henchman if given it. This is foreshadowing of his fight with Demandred, just as Gawyn’s discontented fiddling with the ter’angreal rings is his.

The POVs of the three men in this chapter are linked, with Lan being somewhere between Gawyn and Rand. He is well beyond being a fallen Prince like Gawyn, but is a hidden monarch like Rand, expected to die fighting the Shadow; yet he has played a properly supporting role to more than one powerful woman ungrudgingly and unstintingly for twenty years. The sort of supporting role Gawyn was brought up to do.

Mandarb fought his way back to camp despite being wounded, and Lan promises his horse a peaceful retirement. For the first time, he thinks about life after the battle and the possibility of living with Nynaeve happily ever after—something he has never even allowed himself to imagine before. Like Rand, Lan is starting to hope. Lan is conscious of his similarities to Rand: both were born to fight the Shadow, and die doing so, since the Shadow is endless. Cadsuane and Elayne both encouraged Rand to hope for life after defeating the Dark One. Lan thinks his mentoring and then friendship with Rand broke through his hard shell even before Nynaeve (who also played a large part). In Rand’s case, it was Min—as he acknowledges above—and also Moiraine, with the latter also keeping Lan alive. Both men are weighted with duty and aspire to impossibly high standards.

The chapter ends on a seemingly innocuous note about being human—and therefore fallible. Baldhere has misgivings of Agelmar’s tactics, because he is making mistakes. Lan reminds him that Agelmar is human, but Baldhere still feels that there is something wrong. Unfortunately he is right.

When Lan meets with him, Agelmar faces up to these concerns calmly and admits he is making mistakes. The Great Captain says he will listen to advice, but won’t be undermined or have his command watered down. While it could be argued that Lan made a mistake in trusting Agelmar on this, it would indeed have undermined their military effort if every move was argued over by a committee. Besides, as real world experiences show, a committee is no less difficult to derail.

This is the first sign that the Great Captains are being corrupted. Aes Sedai ward their dreams against invasion and the warder bond protects their warders to a lesser degree, but it never occurred to them that anyone else would need such protection. This is another result of the Aes Sedai holding themselves apart—and above.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #20: Chapter 17—Older, More Weathered


By Linda

Mat and Rand have not been in the same place since Lord of Chaos. They won’t be again until the last moments at Shayol Ghul, and then only approximately. There is also the period after Rand has “died”, until he sneaks away, but by this time Rand, at least, may have ceased being ta’veren.

Rand is wearing red, black and white. Mat notes that he is regal, older and more weathered—like Lews Therin, but in Moridin’s colours. These are also the colours of the Aes Sedai banner.

Tuon and her entourage panic when Rand is brought in. Even Mat starts to, because he thinks Rand is mad. In Mat’s opinion, proof of this is that Rand is not afraid of being taken captive. Mat has done all he could to avoid Rand—including avoiding thinking about him. The first thing Rand says is that Mat led him to Tuon. This makes Tuon furious because she feels betrayed by Mat.

It doesn’t last; Mat indignantly discovers that Tuon has his medallion. While she is embarrassed a little at the theft, she is ruthless enough that her feelings of shame are brief. Yet in Knife of Dreams Tuon was outraged at being disguised as a thieving servant in the menagerie.

Rand says that it is futile for Mat to try and keep away from him because the Pattern will never allow it. That’s true, but they have been apart more often than not. The two have a funny bragging contest, typical of Celtic culture.

Mat tells Rand in an offhand way that he cares about him–despite expecting him to go mad—and that he is looking a lot better, even like a winner. And Tricksters have an eye for winners. Mat tries to pass off his poor treatment of Rand during The Great Hunt as teasing, but it rings hollow.

Convinced that Rand is in over his head, Mat offers to talk to Tuon, but the Dragon addresses her formally himself. Tuon claims Rand as a captive ruler who has resisted her, and says he should have remembered his oaths to Hawkwing. To her surprise, he turns her own arguments against her. One of Tuon’s major roles is as a Nemesis figure, including to herself.

It is obvious from her words that if Hawkwing’s heir were still ruling on the mainland that the Seanchan would not have submitted to the heir’s rule but contended with them. After all, the Seanchan are Hawkwing’s heirs also, and contend continually among themselves for the opportunity to rule. Tuon dismisses Rand’s scenario as a non-issue.

Then Rand overturns her claim as the only legitimate heir of the only man to unite and rule the empire. Rand says that he, as Lews Therin, has an older and more complete claim and scares all of them with his powers. There are timely threatening rumblings of thunder that are unexplained. More explicable is how Rand restores the land while shielded; he uses Singing, as Mat observes.

Like his “cleansing of the temple” at Maradon, it has a mundane explanation and yet also shows great skill. There is a show of force and power with nothing to attack. It also demonstrates Rand’s fitness to rule—just as Tuon is fit to rule due to her establishment of social order, so Rand is fit to rule because he restores health and fertility—natural order—to the Land. Rand says he could have easily killed her, but she has done well for nations under her, and so he has stayed his hand.

Mat and Rand both point out to the Empress that her rule is not strong and she has nothing to spare to fight on more fronts. Tuon insists on keeping damane she has—the unspoken reason being that her rule is too dependent on them. It’s not surprising that Mat and Tuon want to get away from Rand; he is someone they can’t control or outwit.

Rand bows to Tuon on one knee as he offers her peace and alliance in exchange for her help in fighting Last Battle and fulfils a Seanchan prophecy that he would bow or kneel—the paraphrasing varies—to the Crystal Throne:

"I must find a way to make contact with the Dragon Reborn as soon as possible. He must kneel before the Crystal Throne before Tarmon Gai'don, or all is lost.” The Prophecies of the Dragon said so, clearly.

Winter’s Heart, What a Veil Hides

He must bow before the Crystal Throne before the Last Battle can begin.

The Gathering Storm, Gambits

Bowing among the Seanchan bowing is formal, either signifying an oath made, as when Egeanin bowed to Elayne, Nynaeve and co in Tanchico after making a vow to them ( The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace); or obeisance of one lower to one higher. Naturally, the Empress would see bowing and kneeling as the same, since everyone makes obeisance to her, and she would not conceive of anyone merely making a courtesy to one who sat the Crystal Throne. The Prophecy indicates that the Dragon Reborn and the Empress as a personification of the Throne must make a courteous agreement before the Last Battle begins. The more Dragon-centric mainland prophecies foretold that he would “bind the Nine Moons”—the name of the Seanchan Court—"to serve him”, which seemed to be in conflict with the Seanchan prophecy and pointed to the latter as an impostor. As it happened, both were true.

By her stated reckoning, the Empress and the Dragon are of equal rank, although his display of restoring the Land shows him as more powerful and holy than her, and therefore Rand’s extra courtesy actually puts her at a disadvantage because she is obligated to him. His prestige is such that his excessive courtesy makes her look inferior or arrogant, and his argument over their respective lineages makes her look like a Johnny-come-lately and lower than he, especially after he exercises his powers. This is not how Tuon expected the prophecy to be fulfilled. Rand undermined her but also offered her help. Balance.

The prophecy was certainly useful: it was the belief that Rand needed to kneel to her which brought Tuon to parley with Rand; otherwise she would never have gone near him.