Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lord of Chaos Read-through #2 : Opening Gambit

Opening Gambit

by Linda

Lord of Chaos introduces us to more lost knowledge from the Age of Legends. A board game this time. It seems trivial, but we’ll see that games are metaphors for battles and the Great Game (of Houses), and skill at board games is a reliable indicator for generalship, politicking and problem-solving abilities. More board games will be referred to in later books and in The Path of Daggers the gamemaster Moridin will reveal that he develops his schemes not on the drawing board, but the game board.

But back to Lord of Chaos, and the Age-old game of tcheran. Semirhage doesn’t tell us much, but then she says she’s an indifferent player. From her description, tcheran has similarities with another great game of strategy and war, chess. The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time confirms that Semirhage is no great strategist, and was no great shakes as a general in the War of Power either. She is too caught up in her perversions and lusts for complex planning, too one-track minded to consider the need for alternatives. Her interrogation of Cabriana was almost aborted when she accidentally killed Cabriana’s Warder while unnecessarily torturing him to satisfy her lust for cruelty. She did not stick to her assigned task, even though it was urgent, and then let her mind wander while performing her unnecessary ‘experiment’. Some of her important parallels are with Nazi doctors and SS leaders, notorious sadists and death goddesses and these are detailed in the Semirhage essay now re-published here in the Reference Library. No wonder she ended up a captive in Knife of Dreams.

In contrast, Mat Cauthon keeps a variety of possible strategies in mind, and is not only prepared to change them at a moment’s notice; he expects to and is on the lookout for any changes in circumstances which will require this:

“Everything always changes. The best plan lasts until the first arrow leaves the bow.”

- The Fires of Heaven, Before the Arrow

So is Ituralde:

If they saw the trap, then he had another plan already laid, and another behind that. He always looked ahead, and always planned for every eventuality he could imagine…

- Knife of Dreams, Prologue

Mat is a killer at Stones, and no doubt he would be at other strategy board games if he knew them. What is known of tcheran and its similarities to chess are described in the Tcheran article now released on the Thirteenth Depository.

No comments: