Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ways and Means

By Linda

When I met Brandon in Sydney in April, I asked him if the continents connected in the northern polar region and he said “possibly” in a disinterested fashion. However when I asked if there were many Waygates in Seanchan he tensed and said that was a big RAFO.

The reason for these questions is that I have a theory that forces from Seanchan will be brought unexpectedly to the mainland via the Ways. Unlike Portal Stones and gateways, the Ways don’t require channelling (handy in a land that kills or leashes channellers), and any creature, even Shadowspawn, can be moved along them. If the army left at night, the dark of the Ways would not seem so unnatural.

The secondary part to the theory is: who would bring them? Demandred for one. As a brilliant general he has parallels with Hannibal (247-182 BC) (see here for the Age of Legends part of this parallel), who marched elephants across the Alps and so to war with the Roman Republic. One could compare the heights and depths of the paths and islands in the Ways with the steep passes of a mountain range. The Seanchan literally have elephants (s’redit) of course, but there are other formidable creatures – those from the If worlds – trained for war that could also be brought to terrify mainland forces. It certainly would cause chaos. The If world animals were able to eradicate all the Shadowspawn on the Seanchan continent (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time) so they’d be a very useful addition to any army wanting to fight or defend itself the Shadowspawn attacking the Westlands, whatever side that army is on… Damane may well be part of this army. There were plenty of them left behind in Seanchan. From what we saw in Chapter 1 of Towers of Midnight, the Seanchan are geared for fighting. A Seanchan army with a very different agenda to that already on the mainland suddenly appearing on th mainland should add nicely to the war.


Anonymous said...


Ye Gods! Is this series really, going to get more complicated? This book will have to be 1000+ pages to bring everything to a conclusion!

Originally I planned to use this reply to refute your assertion of Demandreds' being in control of armies in Seanchan and the case can still be made for this position but it does beg the question of just WHY would Demandred & Mesaana ask for a meeting with Moridin to plead for Semirages' rescue. After all, if in fact Demandred is in Seanchan and Semirage took it upon herself to obliterate the Royal family w/out his complicity, he'd likely stomp a mud-hole in her and then walk it dry. Now for the next important question. Would this huge army be brought to The Blight, or into Ebou Dar to crush Fortuona and her plots?

Militarily, striking at Ebou Dar makes a ton of sense. Fortuona's armies would be taken entirely by surprise and decimation would likely be swift and final. Then Demandred is assured that his subsequent strike at Rand & Co. won't have to protect it's rear from 'The Ever Victorious Army'. Which brings up the question of, who IS attacking Andor/Caemlyn? It is Verin who reveals this plot point so I'm dis-inclined to believe this army is Demandred's, since none of her other information touches as directly on Forsaken doings. Her info was focused like a laser beam on the Black Ajah.

One more thing that Demandred striking at Ebou Dar would/could do is, scenario; Demandred is crushing 'The Ever Victorious Army' like a grape in a vise and Selucia, Karede, Musenge and Hartha all demand that the Empress take her Deathwatch guards and flee through a gateway to her husband, The Prince Of The Ravens. It neatly places her BACK in the middle of things but in a much diminished capacity, though still with the potential to retake her position if/when Demandred is dealt with. Of course Mat's condition for aiding her would logically be, the banning of collars.

Once again, you raise salient questions that pique my curiosity and send me back to the books to dig through for nuggets of information.

Thank you for your scholarship


Linda said...

Dressageboy: I am not assuming when Demandred gained control of forces. Once Semirhage left Seanchan with Tuon, she had to limit her channelling carefully. She would be watched by the Seanchan since she is important. So Demandred could have some licence once Semirhage was with the Return. No Forsaken would let another have open slather over an entire continent. Especially one with well-trained and powerful forces.

However I think it's fairly recent that someone has gained a strong power-base due to the scene from Chapter 1 of Towers of Midnight.

My aim is to show that we can't just look at the struggles in front of us on the Mainland, we need to think about what is going on behind our backs on the other lands.

This week my son and I were talking about what things might be like on the Island of Madman now that the taint has been cleansed.

I agree with you about the army attacking Caemlyn. Since the Black Ajah were commanded to arrange it, it's more likely to be a Forsaken that has regular contact with them such as Mesaana or Moridin (I favour the latter for real world parallel reasons) who has ordered it.

I agree that Seanchan fighting Seanchan is one aim of the commanding general, but I also think that a large part will be kept for fighting Shadowspawn since that is what the If world animals are good at.

I am convinced that the Empress is going to be forced to channel in the last book - early enough that the knowledge causes huge social disruption among the Seanchan.

Asha'man Sage said...

Very interesting on both comments. I was thinking since we've seen/heard so little from Demandred, that he was likely the reason the Seanchen mainland was in civil war. If Semirhage had been responsible for it, I think she would have stuck around to capitalize on the disorder.

I think it's also possible Demandred is nestled somewhere in Shara. Can't remember if the Ayyad are in Shara or not, but I'm guessing there are powerful channelers there. Would be a great recruiting point for new dreadlords.

Anonymous said...


I'm a bit puzzled. You mention Semi having to take care in her channeling for fear of discovery presumably by the watchers, seekers and sul dam. But I think she clearly returns -via traveling- to Seanchan to murder the Empress & family, else how would she know they are dead and isn't she the one who dispatches the ship which brings news of civil war in Seanchan to Ebou Dar?

And that whole thing of players off stage just annoys me. I mean HOW do we look at what isn't there? It's like a murder mystery in which the killer isn't one of the characters we've been introduced to throughout but instead is some cipher we've only seen in passing, from an upper story window. It smacks of deus ex machina, NOT my preferred way for a 14 novel epic to resolve.

Oh, a question; in your post you wrote, "...have open slather over an entire continent." Open slather? What is that?


Linda said...

She did return that time, yes, but she also thinks how difficult her working conditions with the Seanchn are (Lord of Chaos, Threads Woven of Shadow). She can't channel often, or be 'missing' often.

I agree that too much with the Forsaken happens off screen. Most of Demandreds's plot line, Moghedien's and Lanfear's plot lines since WH, etc.

Well I just discovered that open slather is unique to Australia and New Zealand. It means unrestricted. Demandred, Mesaana and Semirhage, despite being aligned, were known to undercut each other, so they are not going to let one of their alliance have sole exploitation rights to a whole continent.

Asha'man Sage said...

Just thought to myself...4 clans crossed Dragonwall for Laman and had their way for 2 years. Mainlanders banded together to 'drive them back' but we know they actually left because they had successfully killed Laman. Rand, of course, has many more than 4 clans. Maybe the Aiel bring peace to Seanchen too...or at least try.

Maybe Tuon uses the Ways to 'travel' back to Seanchen and reclaim the throne. Could play into the prophecy of Rand kneeling to the Crystal Throne. Either option would be a big RAFO without complicating the plot much.

Timmay said...

Unless Demandred got his hands on a talisman of growing to make new ways I don't see how this would work.

The Ogier in the Westlands seem to have no knowledge of Seanchan, which they would if they had been in contact with them before the fall of the ways into darkness.

Linda said...

Just because the Ways aren't used by the Ogier Gardeners doesn't mean that they can't be used. We saw Liandrin use some written instructions on how to navigate the Ways from Tar Valon to Toman Head - presumably not written down by Ogier. How did she get these? And Isam used the Manetheren Waygate, surely a Waygate that had not been used in a long time. Who worked out this route?

The Shadow has access to someone's instructions for using the Ways - even to obscure Waygates. Where is this info from? do they have someone exploring? This would be a good tactic and has surely been done, since Shadowspawn can't be moved by gateway, and we are frequently seeing them suddenly turning up a long way from the Blight.

Why should the Ways over to Seanchan not also be explored?

Timmay said...

There can't be ways in Seanchan unless the Forsaken have grown them because Ways need to be grown with the Talisman. Ogier from the Westlands would have had to sail to Seanchan and then walk to the stedding their with the talisman to make a new waygate.

Linda said...

The Ways were made during the Breaking when the continents were changed. It's possible that Ways were grown to what are now other continents and that knowledge lost. Lost knowledge is a big theme in the series, and the Ogier show that even long-lived creatures who prize memory and information can lose both.

Since there are a lot of stedding in Seanchan (more than on the mainland) there is a higher probability that the male channellers asked for asylum in the Seanchan stedding, rather than those on the mainland. Which means they may well have received a talisman of growing, or at least had ways grown to their stedding. We don't know how mnay talismans of growing there were, or now are.

We don't know much about the history of those times or that of the Ogier. That's why I asked.

Anonymous said...

The idea of Demandred (or any Forsaken) going to a Mirror World drives me nuts.

If that is the case, why does Demandred not travel to several Mirror Worlds, gather a billion Trollocs, and then release them on Rand?

Obviously there has to be some sort of limit or pattern rule against bringing people, creatures, or objects from Mirror Worlds.

Linda said...

Anon: so far no one has mentioned collectin Shadowspawn from Mirror worlds. The trouble would be the risk of one of them meeting their real world double at some point.

But the Seanchan did take some lopar, corlm, etc from those worlds early in the Third Age and bred them.