Monday, October 26, 2009

The Storm is Coming! #22: What the Storm Means, scene 5 Commentary

This is part five of our mini What the Storm Means read-through. The Winds are blowing stronger as the storm is hours from hitting Dominic now, catching up first to Linda in the "Land of Madmen", somewhere down under.

This post discusses the fifth POV of the Prologue of The Gathering Storm, available at and selected ebook retailers.
. It also brushes upon topics from chapter one as well..

Click here to expand the rest of this post

Dominic: The now almost classic Rodel Ituralde's prologue scene. I wasn't quite sure we'd get one this time around in the prologue, as by the end of Knife of Dreams things seemed all set in place for Ituralde's entry in the chapters themselves. Most of this post will deal with plot elements, but to begin with I will say I love how Jordan meshed the greater background themes through Ituralde's POVs. KOD was already very concerned with the idea of the "Storms of War" (also of using storms to his advantage, mentionning a Weather-Wise as he has with him - or not - can know when storms are coming and it's a major asset to a general). In this new one, I really love the opening paragraph offering a new counterpoint to the "dead walking" motif, with the talk of Ituralde's mother and what she would tell him if she wasn't dead thirty years. Jordan was really clever in his build up - it's a really rich tapestry of motifs, even in secondary scenes like this (we know by the end of KOD that RJ was already at work planning the storyline that is now TGS with Ituralde by WH, and long before he had kept the evolution on the situation in the "Mad, mad Land" of Arad Doman fresh to memory - the man knew where this was all going). In a previous point of view, Jordan had Ituralde mention that his wife would turn into the first example of the living haunting the dead if he got himself killed. It's very nicely done. His wife haunting him, his dead mother speaking thirty years after her death, Ituralde might want to be more cautious about stray thoughts like this these days!

Linda:Ituralde would love to have raken for aerial surveillance.

Dominic: All in good time Rodel! The Forces of the Light should be getting there eventually, but the non-Seanchan will have to make do without rakens for a while yet, I'd bet!

Linda: The Seanchan marching into Darluna in Arad Doman.

I have seen readers claim that one of the forces trapping the Seanchan are Rand's forces: that they can't both be Ituralde's Domani and Taraboner forces. Yet Ituralde's POV seems to indicate they are both his.

Dominic: Yes, this idea that some are Rand's forces is obviously wrong. They are not the Taraboners either. What those agreed to was to fight in Tarabon itself - to free their own nation, not for Ituralde and the Domani, and by Ituralde's reckoning in the last book, they seemed set to be wiped out fairly fast, and that's what Ituralde expected, the beauty, the genius even of Ituralde's wheels within wheels plan: he striked at three targets at once: first, he got the Taraboner Dragonsworn out of Almoth plain – undermining the Dragonsworn troubles as well as ending what was left of the war with Tarabon (the way he used Taraboners, he had all but won Almoth for Arad Doman the moment they agreed to his plan...), secondly he united all the Domani again behind him which would have made it far more difficult for Alsalam to interfere again by giving conflicting and chaotic orders tof actions all over the place in the country (this won't be so true, alas, because it's actually Graendal who was behind this all and she must have a plethora of pawns among Ituralde's men. She must have let him accomplish what he did because it served her purposes. These people could start acting completely irrationally at any time now she's changing her plans to obey Moridin's wishes – and that's one of the things Ituralde wouldn't and couldn't have planned for.) and finally, the plan dealt with the Seanchan by bringing the war on them at the time and place of Ituralde's choosing rather then letting them proceed with a fully planned and ordered invasion campaign of their own (it was coming, this was General Turan's upcoming task, as per General Galgan's comments in KOD). The Wolf has chosen his battlefield and grabbed the tiller.

So Ituralde's two armies are definitely Domani – he refers to them as such: "his Domani", and he implies he's had the Lords muster everyone they could get in the nation, men way too old and untrained younglings equally. If they have to be divided along lines of allegiance (which they may or may not be), one of them is probably the Dragonsworn's and the other the loyal lords's. But I suspect Ituralde arranged things so these lines got blurred again, and disappeared by the end of the campaign (which I think Ituralde meant to last awhile, notably for this very purpose). I think there are perhaps Lords from both "camps" in both the armies. We'll know soon enough.

So…Ituralde's plan wasn't to drive the Seanchan to the Stedding in the East, near the Paerish Swar. I'm not terribly surprised this theory turned out wrong. I never much favoured it, and the episode in Knife of Dreams when both armies came out of the mountains on the west coast had undermined this idea a lot, in my opinion. I failed to see the wisdom of having his armies tire themselves through the whole distance before forcing the face-off. Hiding them, he had kept them fresh, while the Seanchan had rushed all through Almoth. His intended battlefield had to be much closer than the Paerish Swar, and it's not surprising it's turned out he's used the second army, the one who came out of hiding behind the Seanchan, to leave no choice but to enter Arad Doman as far as he wanted before forcing them to divide, setting various traps at many locations.

It's an extremely clever plan – or would be without Graendal, and it shows how much the Light needs this man.

I think Graendal's initial plan was to let Ituralde a free rein until he was in Arad Doman with the Seanchan, after which she would have resumed her games of conflicting orders to Domani so his campaign collapsed and the Seanchan won. I pretty sure Graendal intended to begin collecting pawns among the Seanchan conquerors, rapidly extending through them her reach and influence over events well outside of Arad Doman. It was brilliant if so, she would have ended up with the whole south in one blow, on the eve of the Last Battle, and extremly well positionned to deal severed blows to Semirhage and Mesaana when their pawns started following her Compulsion and not their orders. As Sammael once put it, Graendal conquers too, but not with armies.

Now she's gonna adapt to the fact her best chance is with Moridin until she finds a way to use him and get rid of him.

I don't think Rand's plans to stop the war in Arad Doman are going to go smoothly at all, or rather if they do, it should be wary, very, very wary – as it would mean Graendal intends to fool him into believing he's won, and it's not
the Seanchan she will infiltrate, it's Rand's own forces. Before long, he could be surrounded by Graendal's compelled pawns.

I'm most eager to see how Aran'gar will play into all of this. On the one hand, Graendal was never one to put all her eggs in the same basket, on the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if Graendal made the calculation that she's better deliver Aran'gar into Moridin's hands at the first sign that Aran'gar is not following his orders.

I would not be surprised Graendal does this and Moridin rewards her this way: "Graendal, you cannot do better than a Chosen for your standards of power and position, do you agree Aran'gar also meet your standard of beauty for a pet?"


As always you're welcome to leave us your comments (in the forums only as we temporarily disabled the Blog's Comment feature to avoid spoilers), or to come join us in the ongoing discussion of What the Storm Means on our forums.

All unattributed quotes in this article are from What the Storm Means, Prologue of The Gathering Storm, by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson, to be released by Tor Books on October 27th. Chapter One (in written form) and Chapter 2 (from the audio version of the book) are currently available for free on, upon free registration to the site. The prologue, What The Storm Means, is currently on sale as an ebook from many online retailers (visit for details).

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