Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Storm is Coming! #13: Mired in Altara, part 1

After Arad Doman and the Borderlands, it is now time to turn our eyes to the South and to Perrin's, Mat's and the Seanchan's story lines.

The first article of this Altaran mini-series with focus on the Wolf King's crew, recapitulating elements from the 'Faile's rescue' story line that spanned from the the Path of Daggers to the end of Knife of Dreams, accompanied by a first map of the area of Altara and the surrounding nations, focussing on the north-west area.

A Who's Who of the "Wolf Pack" will follow this first article, before I give the same treatment to The Fox and the Red Hand, and conclude with the Ravens.

Prologue, chapter one and chapter two spoilers are as usual indicated and hidden. The map itself doesn't use information beyond Knife of Dreams.

The Wheel of Time Zoo mired in Altara part 1:
The Wolf King and the wolfpack
(and the odd hawk and falcon)

by Dominic

1. Basic information and a few geographical features:

Altara: Altara, a bit like Murandy, used to be more a cultural aggregate than a proper nation like Andor or the Borderlands. The territory is vast, but in effect the influence and authority of the ruler in Ebou Dar didn't extend beyond a hundred miles out of the capital. It is now, in effect a Seanchan province ruled by King Beslan Mitsobar (following his mother's murder, likely by a gholam), in the name of the new Empress Tuon Paendrag. The Seanchan are well on their way to bring the whole territory under the control of Ebou Dar, where the leaders of the Return under Tuon Athaem Kore Paendrag are temporarily based (Tuon intends to have Tar Valon as her capital one day).

The Forest of Shadow: Also known as the Great Darkwood, it stretches for an hundred miles or more south of the Manetherendrelle, east of the Mountains of Mist, without any road or village. It appears to be technically part of Ghealdan, though as it's non-inhabited, in practice it marks the real northern border. The Great Darkwood is said to be difficult to travel, making it impossible for an army not using Gateways, the Ways or to'raken to enter the Two Rivers. It is not featured on the map, but would be above the northwest corner.

Garen's Wall: the impassable massive cliff (of course, it is not so for to'raken or Travellers), no doubt originated in the Breaking, marking the north-east border of Ghealdan. In a Q&A, Robert Jordan revealed that the cliff is named after King Garen who in the days of Dhowlan (Free Years Era) fought many wars against Farashelle and used the cliff itself as a major asset in the defense of Dhowlan. Queen Alliandre has, for now secretly, resurrected the tradition of calling the army of Ghealdan the Legion of the Wall.

The Damona Mountains: the range in north-eastern Altara, cut by the Lugard Road in the Malvide Narrows. Beyond it is the Molvaine Gap. The Damonas are referred to as marking the effective north-east border of Altara, though it appears that villages in the Molvaine Gap like Remen (a town on the Manetherendrelle we visited with Perrin in The Dragon Reborn) are part of Altara as well. Given that the authority of the Throne of the Winds doesn't in effect extends farther than 100 miles from Ebou Dar, northern Altara is more a cultural and geographical denomination than a political one - in these regions, the local lords are for all effect sovereign on their domains like the Murandian lords and ladies, though the Seanchan conquest is beginning to change this and bring the territory under the rule of King Beslan in truth, now owing allegiance to Tuon.

The Malvide Narrows: a stretch five miles wide cutting the Damona Mountains chain in north-eastern Altara. The road from Ebou Dar to Lugard passes there. Beyond the mountains is the region known as the Molvaine Gap. A smaller pass used by smugglers used to exist south of the Narrows but it has been blocked by a landslide as the half of the Band of the Red Hand with Lord Talmanes passed it, leaving only the Narrows open to reach the Manetherendrelle and cross it into Murandy, the ridge county west of the the Damonas from which the Jehannah Road can be reached and the dangerous area south of the mountains, where many Seanchan armies are massed in prevision of an invasion of Illian as ways out of Northern and Central Altara.

The Molvaine Gap: the Gap is the area out of the Narrows and down the north-east side of the Damona Mountains. It leads to the Manetherendrelle (the town of Remen stands there, on the Altaran side) and further to the passes into Murandy. At the time of the year the timeline of The Gathering Storm begins, the trade ships from Illian would be travelling north again, to Whitebridge and Maradon in Saldaea.

2. Rescuing Faile, the condensed (well, the somewhat shorter than the real deal) version:

On the 16th of Taisham 1000 NE (this corresponds to early January of the current year, for the WOT-calendar impaired ;), Rand and Perrin staged a quarrel (which nearly caused Perrin's death for real as a more and more insane Rand lost control) that resulted in Perrin's apparent banishment. Perrin, in truth, was embarking on a secret mission for Rand that would prove far more difficult than expected.

Two goals rolled into one: Bringing Masema secretly to Rand (he was presumably to return to his Dragonsworn, put an end to excesses and give them orders from Rand without the Shadow knowing, thus the whole secrecy) and reaching Queen Alliandre and get her to follow up on her letter to Rand by declaring herself openly for him, once she was no more under the thumb of the Prophet of the Lord Dragon (may his name be blessed by the Light).

Perrin set out the same day for Ghealdan using a Gateway, with a large party comprising two Asha'man from Rand's inner circle, his wife Faile and her group of young Aiel wannabes from Cairhien and Tear who all swore fealty to her and who grandly if secretly named themselves Cha Faile (The Falcon's Talon), six Aiel Wise Ones apprenticing two of Rand's sworn Aes Sedai - Masuri Sedai (Arafellin Brown) and Seonid Sedai (Cairhienin Green), Maidens of the Spear including Bain and Chiad, the WO's retinue of gai'shain, Perrin's Aiel friend Gaul - in total less than fifty Aiel; longbowmen from the Two Rivers who had accompanied Perrin to Caemlyn and who are all Dumai's Wells veterans, Cairhienin servants and craftsmen (smiths, wheelwrights, farriers and so on) loaned from the estates of Lord Dobraine Taborwyn (soon to be Steward of Cairhien by then), The First of Mayene Berelain Paeron sur Paendrag and her entourage of servants, thiefcatchers, her Aes Sedai advisor Annoura (Taraboner Gray) and 900 Winged Guards lead by the hot-headed Lord Gallene.

Nine days later, on the 25th of Taisham, Perrin located Alliandre touring southern Ghealdan and currently residing at a Lord's palace in the city of Bethal. Perrin's ta'veren pull worked overtime the next day.

Elyas Machera who had tracked down Perrin thanks to the wolves felt his need and joined his side, so far serving mostly as part-time scout and part-time marital advisor. Perrin rescued a group of stranded travellers who turned out to be Morgase Trakand (still known to him under the false identity of Maighdin Dorlan, lady's maid) with Lini Eltring, Tallanvor, Basel Gill, Dobraine's kin fallen on hard times Breane Taborwyn and Gill's strongman Lamgwyn and finally the late Pedron Niall's spy master Sebban Balwer. They all swore fealty to Faile and Perrin and joined their household as servants.

Berelain and Annoura then brought Alliandre out of Bethal and Perrin became her liege lord, continuing the trend started with Gaul (who has been spotted as the future Shaarad Clan Chief by the Wise One Bair), Faile and Berelain – and though he doesn't know it, Morgase - that Perrin attracts to him leaders, ex-rulers and heirs to thrones and positions, the same way Mat attracts all sort of heroes and heroes-to-be. With Alliandre came her own entourage of servants and about a thousand Lancers from the Legion of the Wall under First Captain Gerard Arganda – and the information of the location of the Prophet.

All in a day's work!

The party travelled by country roads forty leagues south of Bethal to the Amadician city Abila to meet Masema. They reached it 30 days later (establishing a sedate pace of 5.3 miles/day on average for Perrin's group at that point, but they had to contend with snow and scouting to avoid bad encounters).

And Abila turned out to be another grand ta'veren festival: Masema agreed to follow Perrin but dithered and finally brought not the honour guard Perrin had allowed him but up to 20,000 rabid fanatics who thus took the path of their necessary destruction. Faile, Alliandre, Maighdin Bain, Chiad and 2 women from Cha Faile got captured by Sevanna's Shaido - forcing Perrin's group to hold together to rescue them, eventually leading to the capture of most of the Shaido's channellers and the destruction of the evil and corrupted leader of the Shaido. The information also filtered to Perrin that Masema has met with Seanchan officials.

Faile has been captured while hawking 10 miles south-east of Perrin's camp near Abila. From that point, Perrin started sending fast and experienced scouts (usually Maidens, Elyas, the Warders and his best woodsman from the Two Rivers) ahead trailing the Shaido, leaving at dawn and returning at sunset. Perrin's group would then Travel to the farthest point the scouts had reached.

Rushing too much at first, Perrin went too far south for days, looking for signs of the Shaido's trail they had lost. He finally had to retrace his steps north to find the trail, losing many days and finally returning at the location he was at two days beyond the first Travelling jump, where the Shaido trail was picked up again, heading east toward the Eldar but zigzagging in many directions as they found more of the scattered Shaido septs. Soon, the Shaido crossed the Eldar river into Altara to head north and east, and Perrin finally started catching up and reducing the distance between his group and his prey.

On the 22th day of Sabban, yet another great ta'veren pull day, as Rand set out to cleansed saidin at Shadar Logoth Perrin's camp was circled by darkhounds, Berelain brought him Perrin a writ from Suroth given to Masema that her thiefcatchers stole and that would prove the key to complete the "Blacksmith Puzzle", and Elyas and the scouts returned, having found the city of Malden and around it the Shaido encampment. Upon further inspection, it turned out the Shaido were now far more numerous than even in their worst nightmares, and had over 400 Wise One channellers, the whole clan's.

Perrin began his war preparations, first seeing to resupply in So Habor, where the Dead already walked - a prophesized sign of the imminence of Tarmon Gai'don. Balwer caught up there with Tallanvor, who had fled the party to follow the Shaido trail alone and from whom came the beginning of the solution: a large Seanchan army was coming from the south to deal with the Shaido. That evening, another prophecy marking the imminence of Tarmon Gai'don came true as Perrin Aybara, soon to be revealed by the Seanchan to be featured as the Wolf King in the Karaethon Cycle, abandoned for good his war axe in revulsion over the fact he had not hated torturing Shaido warriors. And thus the Wolf King finally carried his blacksmith hammer.

Perrin's people captured Galina Casban, the black sister who had lead Rand's kidnapping and got captured by the Shaido and made gai'shain. Using the alias "Alyse" she made a deal with Perrin to help rescue (which couldn't be further from the truth; Galina had been forced to openly lie to Faile and had decided Faile and her friends had to die not to leave behind people who could eventually expose her as Black Ajah).

On the 19th of Aine, nearly a month after he located the Shaido at Malden, Perrin and the Seanchan Banner-General Tylee Khirgan met and concluded a surprising alliance to destroy the Shaido together. Preparation began for the Battle of Malden. Three days later, Perrin and Tylee Travelled to southwest Amadicia to a Seanchan supply outpost and, using Masema's writ from Suroth were able to secure a map, a few rakens and fliers to scout and most importantly virtually all the reserves of prepared forkroot the Seanchan had in stock. Perrin faced a failed assassination attempt, very likely from Darkfriends sent by a Forsaken who tracked him down, somehow, following Moridin's recent orders to have both Perrin and Mat killed.

On Aine the 25th, Perrin tainted the aqueduct of Malden with great quantities of forkroot to neutralize the Wise Ones.

On the morning of the 26th, Perrin had the ridges on both sides of Malden surrounded in fog to hide the troops and the wolves to howl by day (a signal meant for Faile who was supposed to escape with the group of rescuers sent by Perrin through the aqueduct, a plan that came to nothing because of Galina's betrayal of Faile) and several thousands longbowmen came with Tam al'Thor to lead them via Gateway; Tam that Perrin now names officially his First Captain. Tylee and Perrin launched their attacks on the Shaido, capturing about half (200 hundred) of the Shaido Wise Ones who could channel, destroying or forcing into surrender most of the Shaido Spears (who were disarmed) but a few hundreds who escaped with Therava, carrying many of the Wise Ones incapacitated by forkroot.

The losses were few, Tylee estimated them as no more than 100 men on the Seanchan's or Perrin's sides, altogether. They included Aram, long time a danger in the making to Perrin (as Dreamed by Egwene)

whom Masema convinced to murder Perrin during the battle. TGS (prologue) spoiler - click to expand

With What the Storm Means, we now know Masema made this attempt after a very dubious vision of Rand in shimmering white ordering him to kill Perrin. While Masema is beyond a doubt insane and delusional, combined with the previous failed attempt in Amadicia that suggests a traitor near Perrin this points out to a Forsaken who has tracked Perrin down, a Forsaken who might not give up even after two failed attempts...

The other benefit of Malden was that Masema's fanatical male rabble and his even more demonic and bloodthirsty harridans all died, leaving him with fewer than a hundred of his bodyguard men, half of those having died too. Having escaped to the west as Perrin camped, sometimes after the Battle, Masema and his last men were tracked down and put down secretly by Faile and Cha Faile.

Let us now hope that so many corrupted and dangerous people, Shaido dead warriors and Masema's rabid followers recalling more and more the attitude of Aridhollins that lead to Shadar Logoth, won't be raised from the dead to terrorize northern Altara or haunt Malden, making the terror at So Habor look as pleasant as an evening with a gleeman at an inn.

3. Locating Malden, Altara:

Robet Jordan left us several clues to approximate the location of Malden.

  • The first important clue is the map Tylee Khirgan requested from Captain Faloun in Almizar. To plan the battle, she asked for a detailed map of the north-western quarter of Altara.

  • The second important clue came from the Shaido Wise One Therava, who spoke of the mountains to the east, less than two weeks (as the Shaido with gai'shain travel) distant from Malden. At the speed the Shaido travel, she had to be speaking of the Damona Mountains. The northernmost portion is somewhat closer, but we need to keep in mind that Therava had in her mind to head east, toward the Drangonwall, without letting Sevanna understand her true intentions too early. This helps us a lot, because even accounting for some zigzagging the Shaido did before crossing over the Eldar, and knowing that it took them about two weeks to reach Malden, this places the town roughly midway between the Eldar and the Mountains.

  • A third clue came from Perrin. He sent Basel Gill, and a few hours later the rescued gai'shain from Malden to the north, telling them to head for the mountains then to follow them until they reached the Jehannah road, then to head east on it toward the passes into Murandy. This means Malden is eastward enough to be below a part of the mountains, yet westward enough to remain in the north-western quarter, while accounting for the fact Therava in Malden spoke of them as being to the east / northeast. While on the surface it would seem to make more sense for Perrin to have sent the people toward the Lugard Road to the east, Perrin seeks to remain hidden, and Malden is in ridge country, the ridges oriented north-south and some of them densely forested; travelling to the east from this location would make for a very arduous trip going up and down each ridge, impossible for carts and sometimes probably for horses. It meant a lot of zigzagging to find gaps, tracks and passes in the ridges.

    TGS (prologue) spoiler - click to expand

    Masema, who escaped over such a ridge on foot, judged that Perrin's army could not follow him in that direction (himself was turning north now that he had climbed the ridge).

    Finally, Perrin was aware that the south, the west and the east were unsafe, with two large Shaido groups to reach Malden from the south-east and south-west within hours.

  • Another pointer is the fact Perrin's group made around 40 miles on their better days, sending out his scouts at sunrise who returned at sunset, when the group would then travel to the farthest point on the Shaido trail the scouts had reached. Perrin had been in Altara for a few days when his scouts located Malden. After the village of Brytan, the trail was still going north-east. This gives us a very rough idea of how far east Perrin could have gone. We also have to account for the fact Tylee had her camp a few leagues to the west from Perrin, who was at Brytan (up to 80 miles south-west from Malden). Finally, we have to account for the fact Tylee's rakens spotted Galad fifty miles from her camp. The direction relative to the camp is not given, but Tylee could tell already that the Whitecloaks were heading north and not for her camp, which tells us they were significantly enough to the west that she could tell with certainty they were not coming east, in her direction. Galad seeks to escape the Seanchan, so following the Eldar to the Jehannah Road up north is logical, and safer than risking to cross Altara, not knowing where the Seanchan outposts might be. Trying to reach the Murandian passes would be logical, though it's possible the area between the east of Garen's Wall and the mountains west of Murandy may also be a viable way into Andor.

  • We may also have a more ambiguous clue with the fact that Mat's most advanced scouts (Talmanes had many out long before he even reunited with Mat, and they have excellent optics) may actually have spotted Tylee's camp. Mat is aware that the biggest Seanchan army in the area was well West of him. He avoided it, as his plan was to draw the army from the Molvaine Gap to the south, to free the passage into Murandy. Some of Mat's scouts have even spotted a raken heading west, shortly before the Battle of Malden. We know that Tylee's rakens were a rarity in Altara at that point: Suroth had ordered most of them to Tarabon and the campaign against Ituralde. This order won't be rescinded by General Galgan until over a week later. It sounds likely that the Band has spotted one of Tylee's flying scouts, perhaps the one sent east who eventually spotted the Shaido group many days south-east of Malden, notably.

  • Perrin has passed into Altara using a Gateway to cross the Eldar, but he did so at the latitude of two villages (an Amadician and an Altaran one) connected by a ferry the Shaido seemingly used (the ferry was nowhere to be seen when Perrin arrived). Does this help? Not really. What we know of this area is that the closest village in any direction from Salidar was 20 miles up north - which only excludes the possibility that Perrin crossed the Eldar closer than 20 miles from Salidar. There has to be a village with a ferry in that area, however, as back in the early days of Salidar Thom and Juilin used one to go spy in Amadicia. It's probable Perrin crossed some leagues south of Salidar, as it seems the Shaido have been mostly heading north-east in Altara, their goal possibly the mountains before Sevanna decided to settle in Malden, to Therava's annoyance.

  • The location of Abila doesn't help either. First, we have far less conclusive clues to locate it than we have for Malden. Secondly, from his camp near Abila, ten miles from which Faile was captured, Perrin pursued the Shaido "more south than east" and then made several jumps too many south until he reached inhabited zones and realized they had lost the trail. He then retraced his way north without Travelling, until they found out the trail had gone east two days south of the point he first Travelled to. To complicate matters, the Shaido started to zigzag to meet other septs, which in effect made us the readers lose their trail (and their chronology) for a while. So Abila is of little help.

  • TGS (prologue) spoiler - click to expand

  • The prologue of The Gathering Storm give us an additional clue, from the fact that 20 days after Malden, Tylee was just a day north of Ebou Dar.

  • In conclusion, the location I have picked for Malden is very approximate. Drawing a perimeter of 10 leagues, perhaps 15 or 20 even around my chosen location would be safer. We will no doubt get a few more clues from events and chronology in TGS or ToM to further narrow it down. There is a road oriented South-North just West of Malden, below the next western ridge (this is a country road, and not knowing its path or extent further South and North, I decided not to show it on the map). There is no doubt a network of country roads in this area, a few leading east either to the Lugard road or to the Molvide Narrows, and west toward the Eldar and the villages or towns with ferries. Evidence of this comes notably from Mat, who talks of how the Seanchan armies use such country roads to come north from Ebou Dar, rejoining the Lugard Road to reach the Narrows only once in central Altara (the Seanchan move their troops through mountains and forest to disguise their movements, a practice of relative help when the enemy has Asha'man as scouts, but no doubt a force of habit in Seanchan Generals used to face foes scouting with raken). Most roads would go North or South in the northwest, again because of the ridges.

    4. Locating So Habor, Perrin's and Tylee's camps:

    Locating So Harbor and the camps in relation to Malden is easier. For the absolute locations, the problems are the same as with Malden itself.

    Perrin's group Travelled one day farther north-east from the small village of Brytan (around 40 miles/10 leagues NE) and it's from that location that his scouts returned at sunset with the news the Shaido were settled at Malden. This places Brytan perhaps up to 80 miles south-west of Malden, perhaps less depending on the success of the scouts the previous day.

    From that Travelling spot 40 miles NE of Brytan, Masema told Perrin that the town of So Habor was "about a day south and west" (without Travelling, but with carts etc.). That's the only clue we have, as Perrin chose to Travel to So Habor. This places So Habor not far from Brytan, and in the same general direction. It is indeed well located to sell its grain to Ghealdan and Amadicia, apparently no longer in the area with ridges. There is a river west of it, but as we don't know its course or extent it's not represented on the map.

    Perrin's "permanent camp", from where he planned the Battle of Malden, was just outside Brytan (the small village's few hovels were all so full of vermin they were unusable by Perrin). Perrin completely abandoned this camp on the day of the Battle. The non-combatants (essentially everyone's servants) Travelled with him to his position on the ridge west of Malden.

    Banner-General Tylee's camp was "a few leagues west" of Perrin's. As we know.

    5. Locating Lord Captain-Commander Damodred:

    About 20 days before the Battle of Malden, Galad Damodred killed Eamon Valda in a duel under the Light, became the new Lord Captain-Commander of the 7000 remaining Children of the Light (the Questioners escaped toward Nassad and the Seanchan in the aftermath). The events took place as the Children were about to meet up with the Seanchan they had concluded an alliance with in Nassad. Galad made clear to his men his intention to escape the Seanchan-conquered lands to find allies to fight back, and to fight Tarmon Gai'don. Where did this take place?

    It took place at a manor of Ailron's given to the Children by the Seanchan, located very close to the southern border of Amadica, with the mountains below it just a few miles south. It may not be altogether distant from Almizar, where Tylee and Perrin went for forkroot and raken. Galad also made an historical reference that helps a lot: he stood on the ruins of a paved road that predated Amadica and Tarabon, a great trade route before trade moved much further north (a reference to the Amador/Elmora road). This internal evidence, plus the name of the city, confirms that Nassad, just the other side of the border, is in Tarabon and not in Altara as some had concluded.

    Galad was in a great hurry. With Asunawa escaping toward Nassad, he would soon have had the Seanchan on his trail as the Whitecloaks became deserters to hunt down. He has to have made as much speed to the east as he could manage. The Children are fast riders, and often have remounts (and in Amadicia, could easily bully people for more... well, perhaps not anymore with Mr. Do-Right in charge...). They are not burdened by any camp followers either. Galad would have had to turn north at some point, not to come too close to Ebou Dar, but probably trying to avoid the zones to the north-east controlled by the Prophet. He would have had to be careful in Altara as well, not knowing where the Seanchan outposts could be located, which made heading for the Malvide Narrows very risky. Galad seems to have crossed the Eldar at a village with a ferry, and followed the Eldar north, with the intent to reach the Jehannah road. This is interesting, because Tylee's scouts reported his exact direction: north, not north-east. This means he had most likely not reached yet the longitude of the south-east border of Altara and Ghealdan. It doesn't make sense for Galad to enter Ghealdan, under the control of Masema as far as he knows, and that is the opposite direction he intends to take. This is an additonal clue that confirms the longitude range Malden can be situated at, and it works well with the other clues. Galad's army was seen three days before Malden. This put him not far too far south of Malden three days later, but unless he found a road or gaps in the ridges to make his way north-east (he will have to, eventually), he's probably a day or two west of Perrin, and in theory should move much faster. The meeting of the two groups, or at least the Children taking notice that Perrin's group is nearby, is probably not that far off in the timeline. It may even have happened as The Gathering Storm begins, and depending what Galad makes of this huge group afoot, it might explain him slowing down to investigate. He may mistake them for refugees from the Seanchan he should help, or for Masema's mob if rumours have reached him that he has vanished from Amadicia and Ghealdan.

    6. After Malden:

    In the aftermath of Malden, Perrin and Banner-General Tylee went their own ways. From the fact Perrin and Tylee said their goodbyes, it's implied that Perrin and his army didn't remain to deal with the two large groups of Shaido that were about to reach Malden. However, Tylee herself spoke of having enough time left before the Shaido arrived to "make our deployements", which likely indicates her army dealt with the two Shaido groups, as would be logical. Having dealt with the Wise Ones who could channel and having damane, her own army was more than enough for this task

    The two Asha'man with Perrin were very tired before the Battle - not only from the last days' preparations and the battle itself but from accumulated fatigue (they took to sleeping whenever they could), so Perrin could not Travel afterward - he pointed this out himself. Pursuing the Shaido, making those large gateways for so many people day in day out has taken its toll on the Asha'man, and they needed to rest, especially now that Perrin's group is a really big town on the move, passing from several thousands (Masema alone had 20 thousands) to 100,000 refuges and an army nearly matching Galad's 7000, now that Tam came with thousands of longbowmen (Perrin has three to four thousands Two Rivers people with him now).

    Hours before the Battle of Malden ended, Perrin had sent his servants to the north. Not knowing if he would succeed or fail at Malden, prepared to rescue Faile or die there, he ordered his shambayan Basil Gill to lead the servants north all the way to the mountains, to follow them until they reached the Jehannah road. This means they were asked to go north until they were out of the ridge country (where it's more difficult to travel east or west), then follow the mountains west to the Jehannah Road. Perrin hoped everything went well and he could catch up to them before they reached the Mountains. If not, they were to send Alliandre's servants west toward Jehannah, and themselves to take the road eastward, reaching the passes and entering Murandy (it might be useful to point out here that Perrin had a good Seanchan map of the area, and he's travelled this stretch of the Jehannah road before, in The Dragon Reborn.)

    This may very well tell us less than we think about Perrin's intentions, though. It sounds like Perrin's instructions concerning the Jehannah Road were a plan B for the non-combatants, in case Malden turned to disaster and he could not catch up to them. After the battle, Perrin and Faile began to send the refugees north as well, to be gone before the Shaido groups arrived. Right after Malden, Perrin's group was scattered, the vanguard of servants on horses and carts already hours (many miles) to the north, the refugees hours behind them, and finally Perrin's army in the rear guard. The Asha'man were exhausted and could not have been used to Travel and start regrouping everyone. Anxious to know if Morgase had been rescued, the servants lead by Basel Gill are not likely to have made too much speed, however. In a matter of days at most, Perrin's group was probably regrouped.

    From this point on, I'm using material from What the Storm Means, so I'll put the whole section under the spoiler tag.

    TGS (prologue) spoiler - click to expand

    7. The timeline

    Following Steven Cooper's chronology, the Battle of Malden took place on the 26th day of Aine.

    Before we return to Perrin and his intentions, we'll look at Tylee. Her location and the exact timeline as TGS begins are established firmly in her POV in the prologue: Tylee's army is a day of march north of Ebou Dar, and it's Adar 18, the twentieth day since the Battle. This is a further clue that while Malden is in the north-west quarter of Altara it's probably not as far North as many have believed (Karede, much further north and east than that - four days distant from the Malvide Narrows, even called that region 'central eastern Altara'). By then Tylee had received news of her promotion to the Blood by raken (she meant to send one south after Malden, to send a report and ask for to'raken to bring the Shaido prisoners back to Ebou Dar). In the epilogue scene in Knife of Dreams High Lord Galgan tells Suroth he's arranged Tylee's promotion to the Blood for putting an end to Sevanna since she herself had overlooked it, a scene that Steven Cooper guessed, calculating distances and possible speed for Tuon to have reached Ebou Dar, to have happened around Aidar 15. This is likely not far from reality, it appears - a few days off at most, if that.

    The scene with Masema is the last of the prologue, coming after Tylee's. There is no solid indication for the timeline of this one. Normally, Jordan avoided putting scenes out of order in synchronized storylines (it would rapidly get very confusing to follow) - and the last Tylee and Perrin scenes in Knife of Dreams were forcibly synchronized. This suggests strongly that the scene of Masema's escape and death took place around the same time or after Tylee's scene. But this is a guess. We are on shakier grounds timeline wise, dealing with a new writer. Jordan's prologue had to be split, some scenes moved to Towers of Midnight. Brandon may have decided to move the Masema scene to the end then, as it ended the prologue with more of a bang. But I'll work from the assumption he's done as Jordan most likely would have done, and that Masema's scene follows the timeline of Tylee's:

    Let's look at the clues from the POV:

  • Masema appears to still be in ridge country, but something about his surroundings, the geography etc. begins to feel familiar. He speaks of going north where Perrin won't find him then reaching the highlands and crossing to Almoth Plain to join the Dragonsworn. He makes a point to note that what's familiar has nothing to do with his Borderman experience - which suggests in turn that he's getting very close to Southern Ghealdan which he knows all too well - the highlands he's referring to are of course northern Ghealdan and the Mountains of Mists. This is consistent with what Therava said about the mountains being 'less than two weeks' distant from Malden.

  • Faile sarcastically thanked Masema "for his help at Malden" when she kills him. At first, this suggests the scene must happen much earlier than 20 days after the Battle, but it's not conclusive. It's safe to say Faile at that point has learned the full truth about Aram - which may have taken some time to get in full from Perrin (who would definitely have feared that Faile do something dangerous), and secondly, Perrin's opinion of Masema and what should be done with him had altered greatly since the time he refused to listen to the Wise Ones and Aes Sedai who wanted to have him killed. At Malden, Perrin had placed Masema and his people where he hoped they would die, and was disappointed that Masema and his bodyguard had come to the western side where they would survive. How has Perrin gone from setting this trap to get Masema killed and back to his original position that Masema should not be murdered, to the point Faile needs to keep it secret from him forever? This suggests some time has passed and things have developed a bit in Perrin's group. In the first days, Faile would probably have had other ideas, and other duties, on her mind than Masema.

  • There's the geography, and Masema's hopes to lose Perrin by going north. This suggests that Perrin's group has indeed progressed northward since KOD. Two weeks later, he could be well on his way to the mountains. Escaping north then turning west, Masema would enter Ghealdan. This would mean that Perrin and Galad could be approaching the bottleneck near the moutnains where Perrin needs to turn west to reach the Jehannah Road while Galad turns east to reach the same.

  • Such a timeline would make it far less likely that Mat and Perrin meet up soon, unless something happens to slow down or block Mat at the Molvaine Gap or Perrin suddenly Travels there (but why would he do this, he has no reason anymore to make small jumps). A week after Malden, Mat was about to enter the Malvide Narrows with the Band and head for Murandy. Unless some developments happenned, like Mat deciding to wait for a ship for instance, he and the Band should be weeks ahead of Perrin.

    This calls to question why would Perrin choose not to Travel, when he is low on food and money (Faile has to find towns with people rich enough to buy Sevana's treasure first) and he has 100,000 people on foot to take care of and protect? As he sent the Asha'man away to find Rand, at the time Rand is making efforts not to be located and found? To all the world but Rand, Perrin is a banished pariah…

    If Perrin has sent the Asha'man away, he could remain mired in Altara longer than expected, with Galad nearby and the army of General Chisen no doubt soon to return to the Molvaine Gap, to block his passage, and Galad's.


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    Jens said...

    Where is Altara's northern border really? On all my maps in the books it is along the Manetherendrelle in the north but on your map it's along the Jehannah Road.

    Dominic said...

    Thanks Jens.

    It looks like when I add the finishing touches to the map I mixed up my reference marker for the road from my sketch with the marker for the border and put both at the same place.

    It's supposed to be on the Manetherendrelle.

    It doesn't change the rest, except the location of Deirdru's manor has to be moved north. For the rest of the characters, nothing changes.