Friday, October 23, 2009

The Storm is Coming! #18: What the Storm Means, scene 3

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

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We continue our read-through of the prologue, with the third POV, Tylee Khirgan's.

Dominic: Another pleasant surprise for me, I didn't expect a return of Tylee so early in the book.

I must confess I used not to be a big fan of the Seanchan story line until Tuon's arrival in the story changed all this for me. She arose, in one scene, as a fully-fleshed out and nuanced character. From that point on in the series, Jordan's Seachan culture worldbuilding exploded, becoming more and more fascinating. By Knife of Dreams, not only Tuon has joined the list of characters I enjoy the most reading about, but the Seanchan story line as a whole is now one of those I look the most forward to.

Linda: Tuon is marvellously drawn, with a host of motifs and parallels. She has enormous potential as a character and a person: very much a worthy partner of Mat. I really must publish my essay on her early next year.

Dominic: Tylee and Mishima are two other Seanchan I warmed up to immediately. Though there are similarities in Tylee's story arc and Egeanin's, I found Tylee a lot more sympathetic.

Linda: Well Egeanin had the misfortune to buck the system and pay for it early on; we will ultimately learn if Tylee has the same fate.

Dominic: So a first Tylee scene in The Gathering Storm, and one that leaves her fate open. Hopefully it wasn't her last, it's bad enough she's already lost her sidekick Mishima.

Linda: Yes, they were perhaps more interesting because they were a duo. I was quite dismayed when he was killed.

Tylee respects and is fond of Perrin.

Dominic: Perrin's plan for Malden was impressive. For sure, a lot of ta'veren twisting of chance made it possible, but Perrin did really well with the difficult hand he was dealt. With Perrin and Mat, it's very different from Rand. Rand frightens people for who and what he is. Perrin and Mat are the sort of ta'veren who rather inspire, gain a far more solid and loyal following. People follow where Perrin and Mat lead, are willing to make sacrifices and take risks for them and their causes. Perrin especially has managed to turn around a very difficult group. I'm not really surprised Tylee was impressed with Perrin.

Linda: Perrin and Mat have nothing like Rand's psychological damage! But it's true that they are leaders in the style that Rand too should have adopted. Cadsuane is trying to get him to do so, but I fear that she will not succeed. He is way too tainted now.

It is two weeks since Malden and Tylee is one day’s march out of Ebou Dar. She knows she has been made one of the blood as Galgan commanded. She doesn’t know what is going on in the world but knows that Perrin does: the dead appearing, the Dark One’s warping of reality.

Dominic: It's interesting that Tylee's scouts have seen so many of the dead walking. Coincidence or design? It makes me wonder if the dead are not Shai'tan's eyes on the world now.

Linda: Maybe they are very frequent now, Dom.

Dominic: Mishima seems to have put Wise Ones, Asha'man and Aes Sedai in the same bag, and remarks on "everyone bowing and scraping to" marath'damane. Tylee doesn't share his revulsion, but we see with Mishima the same motif introduced in the previous scene with Falendre: the channellers' behaviour have stood out to the Seanchan with Mat, Perrin or Rand, many have given the impression of being in charge, or trying to be in charge. That should do nothing to sway the Seanchan's leaders opinion of Aes Sedai, an opinion many Westlanders do share.

Linda: That has been the custom on the mainland since the Breaking, thanks to the White Tower. And since it's the opposite of how Seanchan regard free channellers, whom they fervently believe should be chained as beasts, it's not surprising they're prepared to see the worst side of this.

Mishima was almost certainly killed by the Trolloc.

Dominic: Indeed, there's little doubt there. Still, Mishima's views are more likely to be shared by most of the survivors in Tylee's group, and soldiers talk. Tuon has witnessed for herself, and there's Falendre.

Linda: Tylee however realises Trollocs are worse than Aes Sedai, Aiel, etc, and are as horrible as Perrin said. What a price to pay to find out though! The Seanchan are fiddling around with the Return, when the real enemy is the Shadow.

Dominic: She realises to an extent, I think. I felt her POV is still a bit ambiguous, she says "she is certain what to make" of Perrin, his Aes Sedai and Asha'man. This reminds me of Tuon in the last two books, to an extent. But as you say, Tylee is beginning to surmount some prejudices, or perhaps rather just realising that the world is at a crossroads, where adhering too much to your beliefs, prejudices and traditions could mean letting the Shadow win.

It's one things I like a lot about the Seanchan from after the mid-series. Their antagonism was fairly outlandish and rabid earlier on, but with the likes of Tylee and Tuon (Egeanin had been given a very twisted view of what Aes Sedai are like, with Nynaeve and Elayne who actually weren't), with the back story elements introduced in the series and about Hawkwing's times in the Guide it has gained a lot of depth. It's no longer black and white. The Seanchan are harsh, and their way of dealing with channellers is radical, and put them all too much in the same bag. On the other hand, some of the White Tower's goals are ethical and aimed at the greater good, but in the New Era they have become less and less effectual at making them progress. When one look at Elaida in particular, it's difficult to wholly condemn the Seanchan's vision of Aes Sedai, even if the means they take are abhorrent, but what other means have the non-channellers to fight back, unless the channellers themselves agree again to put more limits and safeguards to what they do, and prove they can abide by these rules? There is a balance to reach somewhere, one I suspect it's Egwene's mission to discover. Damane can fight in the Last Battle just as well as free Aes Sedai…

Linda: Well they have forkroot now! And that is only the first great leveller. There is also gunpowder weaponry on the way. It's interesting; Perrin is the first to use forkroot on a mass scale in battle, and Mat will be the first to use artillery...

Dominic: As for "fiddling around with the Return", that's something that could equally be said about Rand. Rand doesn't realise, no more than the Seanchan do, that both sides are getting ready for the Last Battle, and fiddling around a great deal about it. The Return is the necessary prelude to the Last Battle for the Seanchan, and I suspect they won't give it up easily. It's apparent that the Seanchan KC (or its interpretation ) has them accomplish with the Return much of what the White Tower also think (half-think by now, for some) they must accomplish in Rand's place, and I'm sure Rand himself isn't without his share of delusions concerning what he must do. They all have the same ultimate goal of defeating the Shadow, but widely different beliefs of how this must be accomplished.

Linda: The Shadow have made sure that both sides miss the point of what they really should be doing! And of derailing any decent moves they might make as soon, and as much, as possible.

Where did the hundreds of Trollocs near Ebou Dar come from? They are far too late to be after Rand or to rescue Semirhage; he’s been moving around a lot in these two weeks. Tuon? She might have just arrived back in Ebou Dar.

Dominic: Would Moridin send Trollocs against Tuon or Rand at this point? I doubt it, and I doubt one of the Chosen would risk it at this juncture, knowing Moridin is looking for a traitor among them who sent the Trollocs to Tear. Trollocs are hardly a match for Rand's group anymore, and as for Tuon, there are far more obvious ways to get rid of her if that's Moridin's goal: Grey Men, Slayer, Cyndane or Moghedien, darkfriends with her, etc.

I don't know. I guess the rest of the book will solve this out. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised this is an example of Moridin's "butterfly" (chaos theory). I guess it's not impossible these Trollocs could be strays, that should have gone to the Algarin Manor in Tear, put on Tylee's path by the Wheel now to reinforce her doubts about the Return and her feeling that the Seanchan should rather seek an alliance with the other side.

Another possibility, I guess, is that those Trollocs were sent on purpose to deal with her army and only managed to catch up with her near Ebou Dar, which I doubt would have been the Shadow's intention. A mile from Ebou Dar, they will be spotted by the Seanchan without a doubt.

Linda: Of course she may not even survive the attack.

Dominic: I fear this could be the case. We tend to read volumes of foreshadowing in scenes like this. We could have here a scene on the model of Pedron Niall's death. Minutes before it happened, he had in his hand an extremely important report about the Seanchan, crucial information that died with him. I guess we might have seen in this scene the death of one of the rays of hope that could have planted the seeds of doubts about what the Seanchan must do now. Tylee respected Perrin and didn't share Mishima's revulsion about his "marath'damane". Who knows what potential soldiers who survive (if any does) could report to the leaders in Ebou Dar?

I somehow doubt this is the case. I would imagine the scene would have had more impact had Tylee died "on screen" if the intention was to offer a ray of hope and then nip it in the bud. But perhaps Jordan wanted to prolong suspense before someone reports Tylee's death later in the book.

Linda: I think she survives because she has an important role in this book.

Mishima’s first name of Bakayar means ‘fool!’ in Japanese. He was a fool not to believe Trollocs a danger. Tylee may be a ‘fool’ to rebel against Seanchan policy.

Dominic: I'm not quite convinced that Bakayar incorporating the Japanese word for fool isn't purely coincidental. I suspect the source of inspiration behind the name isn't Japanese at all. It seems the name Mishima was one of the joke-names Jordan was fond of. Mishima Yukio's ideals about the corruption of modern Japan and a return to earlier imperial purity had us speculate a great deal he could be involved in what it appears Tylee could be involved now. So that leaves perhaps the second, more incidental and amusing well-known trait of Mishima, his conviction that his meaning was "lost in translation", forcing everyone abroad to translate his books not from the Japanese but from the English translation he could read and approve, linked to the series's Mishima quote in Knife of Dreams of a verse from the "corrupted" Seanchan Karaethon Cycle which I think has extremely high chance of corresponding exactly to a verse in the Westlands' one in this case, thus the joke-name.

Linda: What will Tylee tell Tuon or her superiors? Her recommendations/opinions that they should ally with Rand’s forces against the Shadow and put the Return aside will be badly received. The disorder engendered by the Shadow will be ‘proof’ in other Seanchan’s eyes that the land is weak and needs better rulers. The monsters will be considered something Perrin or the Aes Sedai sent.

Dominic: She seemed to think that she couldn't tell any such thing to her superiors. Would the attack have changed her mind? Possibly. Assuming she has survived, I expect further developments will have to come before Tylee risks speaking of her doubts about the Return. It could well be doubts she harbours for a long time. It's not impossible this doesn't come into play in full before the possible attack on the White Tower, for instance, after Tylee, now that she is of the Blood and might learn more, or hear more, from different and higher people, to turn her doubts of today into convictions.

Linda: Ah, but her views will inevitably colour her report to her superiors in small ways even if she manages to hold back most of her opinions. And their inevitable misinterpretation of events will only fuel her frustration.

Dominic: It's hard to see for now how Tylee could turn out to be Egwene's Seanchan woman with a sword unless this episode is purely coincidental – not saving Egwene because she's Egwene but because of what she is to the Tower. The fact in the dream the woman's face wavered in an interesting little detail – it could be interpreted as a sign the woman is actually representative of many, an army, or it could mean the Pattern showed Egwene a bit of the weaving that wasn't set in stone, what the wheel wove toward to, but without yet a certainty about the woman's final identity).

On the other hand, nothing says Tylee couldn't get involved again with Perrin or on Rand's side. She would make an excellent choice for an emissary to the other side, having gained Perrin's trust.

In a general way, scenes from the prologue often tended to play out much later in a book only. It has happened that Jordan returned to these elements soon after, but it's more frequent it played out only much later.

Linda: Everything's later, later! Even in the Last Days.


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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