Friday, October 23, 2009

The Storm is Coming! #17: What the Storm Means, scene 2

This post discusses the second POV of the Prologue of The Gathering Storm, available at and selected ebook retailers

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We resume our dialogue/commentary of the scenes from The Gathering Storm's prologue, this time with the POV of the sul'dam Falendre:

Dominic: Scene two. This one surprised me. I certainly didn't expect to return to almost the direct aftermath of Semirhage's capture, though it's an elegant way to tie this up with the KOD epilogue scene when Tuon returns to Ebou Dar and punishes Suroth, and where nothing transpires about "Anath"'s disappearance. The Seanchan obviously didn't know yet.

Linda: But Rand's POV in Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box was necessarily vague after he was injured. I remember readers at the time remarking that we should have had another viewpoint. This compensates for that. And as you say, it looks forward to Tuon arriving in Ebou Dar in the Knife of Dreams Epilogue as well.

Cadsuane sent Nynaeve to urge Rand to leave soon. Merise refuses to be commanded by Rand.

Dominic: We see a counterpoint there to the theme of obedience returning in the first Egwene chapter. Both Rand and Egwene, getting used to being obeyed by people who swore to obey them under pressure in most cases, are facing people they cannot force into obedience and must learn to deal with it. The whole matter of free will/freedom is emerging as a potential strong theme for the finale. Neither Rand nor Elaida can force everyone behind them.

Here, Rand manages to remain courteous, though you can feel the sarcastic tone and the strain a bit.

Linda: Nynaeve talks to him as though he had no rank. No wonder Falendre fears a plot.

Dominic: Indeed. It's so far from what a Seanchan woman would expect to see. This is one important little detail, and two others are the fact Cadsuane asks Rand to leave and Nyaneve brings the request to him, and Rand's exchange with Merise.

Falendre may not be used to scheming and plotting enough to fully see it, but Tuon is another matter. When Tuon questions her and drains every little detail out of her, the picture it paints is that of a White Tower set up, with Rand as their creature. Falendre has doubts about Semirhage really being Semirhage. I would imagine Tuon will have even more.

Linda: Well Tuon would not want to believe it! Her loss of face would be unimaginable!

Falendre intends to deliver Rand’s message to Tuon that he still desires a meeting, that there must be peace between him and the Seanchan, that he will be in Arad Doman to quell the fighting as a sign of good faith and that Anath was Semirhage – eventually. She thinks it will be difficult to report to Tuon anyway. For a start, Tuon isn’t there: presumably she knows this?

Dominic: No, she shouldn't know this. Only the Seekers and a few of the High Blood have been told about Tuon's disappearance - and Karede and his group. It was hidden from anyone else.

It will be interesting to see if Falendre tried to reach Tuon before her return, which is still over a week in the future yet.

An attempt to seek an audience with Tuon, and a refusal to explain anything to anyone except Tuon could have gotten Falendre into deep troubles before her return, I guess. There's a slight possibility the message never reaches Tuon, though I'd be surprised if it went that way. It could greatly delay the message if Falendre mustered up her courage to ask for an audience but was curtly told the High Lady refused to see her by people who didn't want her to discover what she shouldn't know, namely that Tuon had disappeared. Would she dare try again? I don't know.

If that is so, the audience might have to wait until Tuon is told that a sul'dam sought to talk to her and was turned down, leaving her the initiative to summons Falendre herself. When Tuon is told of it might depend on how much interest/curiosity this arose in, I suppose it will be Yuril - the person who is outwardly Tuon's secretary but in truth her Hand. Tuon will have a lot of pressing matters to see to.

Linda: There are Darkfriends among the high up Seekers, too, but we have no idea know who they are.

Falendre fears losing the right to wear the a’dam, or even that she will be made da’covale. She intended to report to Suroth first and she had plenty of time to do so. Like so many people she is more worried about her own position than following orders, or reporting what happened.

Dominic: Hopefully for her, she did not tell too much to Suroth. I seriously doubt she did, because she reflects earlier that she will have to tell only Tuon. She has no choice to report something to Suroth though. She lost sul'dam and damane both. The Der'sul'dam will ask pointed questions.

What she did is a bit of a puzzle... Suroth very obviously did not know about Anath being Semirhage and the fact she's been captured by Rand in the epilogue. Very obviously.

Have they gone into hiding? Presumably, their mission was known, if not the nature of it. If Falendre and her group have decided not to return to the palace just yet, it might take a long while before the der'sul'dam starts wondering what happened to the Lady Anath and the sul'dam and damane she requisitioned.

Another unknown is the fact Tuon's status has changed: will Falendre even dare request an audience of The Empress? Very few people are even allow to speak in the presence of the Empress.

I guess my feeling is that this is gonna take some time to be solved out. It would make sense, the very fact this scene is in the prologue speak of the possibility it won't resurface in the early chapters of the book, as if RJ was aware the readers would wonder why Tuon doesn't know about Semirhage and Rand's offer.

Linda: Well Falendre wanted it to take quite a bit of time! She'd be happy to be turned away or delayed at every turn. A great excuse to do nothing, and maybe things will resolve themselves without Falendre putting herself at risk of punishment.

Falendre keeps looking Rand in the eye, which is out of character for a Seanchan, I would have thought. She recognises his rank, is dismayed he was insulted by the marath’damane, but she meets his eyes. Curious.

Dominic: We are entering uncharted territory here. Robert Jordan was extremely clever with the matter of the Seanchan and Rand. We know about the fact he's supposed to kneel to the Throne and serve the Empress. We know barely nothing else about the Seanchan's vision of the Dragon Reborn. They probably see it a special kind of damane - the marath'damane that is absolutely essential to leash to defeat the Shadow. But the Seanchan's perception of the Dragon is a big unknown.

We can tell Falendre is obviously terrified by Rand, his frightening hardness and just the simply fact of who he is. What he is. I don't think Rand should expect too much "My Lord Dragon" from the Seanchan - speaking those words "dried Falendre's tongue" - she gave him an honorific in terror, and was terrified it wouldn't be enough. She didn't give one bit the impression she was in awe of him, just plain terror.

Rand is heading for big troubles, for a big cultural clash.

Jordan set a few things up earlier, in KOD notably. I always saw the episode in which Tuon flatly refused to even entertain the idea of negotiating with marath'damane, even allowing them to speak to her as revolting. They ended up making her lose her self-control. She exploded and leashed them.

I seriously doubt Tuon intends to negotiate anything with Rand - she'd as soon negotiate with Aes Sedai. He is marath'damane, little better than animal. A dangerous animal, and a vitally important animal, but still an animal.

Linda: In her attitude to the Dragon Reborn Tuon is a lot like Elaida.

Dominic: She cannot afford to simply refuse either - she needs to bring Rand to kneel at her feet. She won't like one bit the hints (false, but she won't interpret them that way IMO) from the Falendre scene that the Dragon is indeed in the control of Aes Sedai.

Linda: It will make her all the more eager to destroy the Tower. If the Aes Sedai control Rand, they simply must be destroyed as soon as possible. Then she will move on Rand. It is no use moving on Rand until his controllers are defeated.

Dominic: We have to keep in mind for this story line Semirhage reminding Tuon in Winter's Heart that she mustn't let the Dragon Reborn know how dangerous she (Tuon) is to him.

This is looking to be a possibly intricate story line, and a very frustrating one for him quite possibly, especially that Graendal is under orders to interfere! She also has learned about "Anath" and that the way is clear...

Linda: In this very Prologue Graendal says she had found out that Semirhage was masquerading as a very high up Seanchan. Perhaps she knows specifically which one. There aren't that many very high up Seanchan, and Semirhage's distinctive appearance (height and colouring) limits who she could disguise herself as long-term. My money is on Graendal already knowing that Semirhage was Anath.

Dominic: Of course, there's no telling how Graendal will frustrate Rand's efforts to deliver on his promise to put an end to the war against the Seanchan as a gesture of good will... He sold the bear's skin before killing the bear first there...

Linda: Graendal barely needs to do anything! It seems to be going awry quite nicely already.

Dominic: I must say I'm really excited about this story line. It should be great, and I expect many small surprises and unexpected twists and turns.

Great set up scene.


As always you're welcome to leave us your comments, 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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