Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Winter's Heart Read-through Post #8: Cleansing the Taint

By Linda

When Rand asked the Aelfinn how to cleanse saidin he received a riddle for an answer; a riddle that, according to Herid Fel, stated "sound principles, in both high philosophy and natural philosophy" (The Path of Daggers, Message From the M’Hael). Rand solved it and used saidin’s opposing power, saidar, as a filter and the taint and its opposing power in Shadar Logoth to annihilate each other (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal).

Jordan explains how this was done:

Emma: Can you give some more details on how the taint was cleansed? I was sort of confused reading the book.
RJ: You don't think it's obvious? Err, let's see. You have… You're using both repulsion and attraction of opposites here. Repulsion of things that are opposite and repulsion of things that are the same. The taint upon [saidin] as versus the conduit, which is made of saidar through which the saidin passes. The saidin and saidar, as men and women, are in many ways opposite. It repels one another. It is safe to make this conduit of saidar between saidin and Shadar Logoth, because there can be no mixing. As the eh.. as [saidin] passes through, as the taint passes through, the saidar actually repels it, pushes it away from [saidin]..., alright? Now, you have a taint on... the eh Source, the male half of the Source, you have the taint on Shadar Logoth. They're not the same, yet they are. The taint on Shadar Logoth did not come from the Dark One. The taint was created by humans, who believed that they must do whatever was necessary, anything that was necessary to defeat the Shadow. And because they would accept no limits to what they would do, to what could be done, to what needed to be done, they created their own destruction. Their evil is, or was, as great as that of the Dark One, but diametrically opposite. It is an evil created for the best of intentions, created for good intentions. So it is the opposite. So, this attraction created the conduit begins to pull the taint from [saidin] to siphon it off. Remember, it's always been described it's not at mixed all through [saidin], it is like a thin skin of rancidness, think of a thin skin of rancid oil floating on a pond, and if you get through it, you've got clean water, but you can't get through it without putting your hand in that oil. You're getting it on your hand... To attract one another because they are opposites, but because even being opposite, they have gone far enough around the circle, they act to destroy one another. You see, it's not opposites along a straight line. We're actually talking opposites along a circle. Continuing the motif of the Wheel of Time, if you will. So you've got two things that are both opposites and the same. That will both attract one another and negate one another.
Do you understand better now?
Emma: Yes, thank you.

- Netherlands tour April 2001, Leiden

I think you’ll find this covered elsewhere, but here goes. The evil of Shadar Logoth and the evil of the Shadow might be considered positive and negative poles. They attract, as do the positive and negative poles of two magnets, but if they make contact, the result is more like making contact between the positive and negative poles of your car battery. Big sparks. Really big sparks.

- RJ on his blog

Rather like matter and antimatter annihilating each other.

Rand chose a hill a few miles north of Shadar Logoth so he could easily pool the taint there and yet be far enough away to escape the effects of any explosion or implosion.

While Rand concentrated on the actual taint removal, Cadsuane organised the defences. Most of the Warders were sent out into the forest to scout. Three rings of channellers plus an augmented Alivia were stationed in different directions around the hill.

Alivia went to the north where she fought Cyndane.

Demandred gated into Shadar Logoth south of the hill. Not a good idea. He moved a short distance (since he Travelled without learning the area), so he was still south of the hill, and encountered the ring of Sarene, Flinn (leading) and Corele.

I presume the other two rings (Verin (leading), Kumira and Shalon, and Daigian (leading), Eben, Nesune and Beldeine) went west and east. We don’t know which went where.

The innermost defence was Cadsuane herself with her paralis-net and a ring of Narishma with Callandor, Merise and Elza (leading) on the hill-top. Cadsuane wove a large inverted shield over the hill.

Apparently Erian mucked up and was relegated to guarding the onlookers on the hill. Jordan forgot to mention her:

Q: Was Erian Boroleos meant to disappear during the battle at Shadar Logoth or was that a mistake?
RJ: Erian Boroleos was not meant to disappear. In my notes, she is placed guarding those with Cadsuane who cannot channel and not too pleased about it (there are reasons why she was chosen out for this, which I won't go into here), and there is even a note (under CHECKS AND CORRECTIONS, a category I use to make sure that I haven't blinked at the wrong time) to make sure of mentioning her in passing. It didn't happen, for which, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I was so certain that I had done it, that I didn't find out I hadn't until the paperback came out, but a correction will be made.

- Wotmania/Dragonmount interview 2002

It was a humiliating posting for a Green, but with two Warders recently killed she might have been considered too emotionally unstable for a ring.

The circles were in the main supposed to be led by Cadsuane’s trusted Aes Sedai (Merise, Daigian, Verin). Damer Flinn led his ring because he is respected and trusted – as he should be – and moreover had both army as well as Asha’man combat experience. Or maybe Corele wanted him to lead.

Merise was supposed to lead her circle but she found the taint revolting and surrendered the lead to Elza when she asked. Elza was prepared to kill Forsaken and get into trouble with the Dark One (though she hoped not too much) to ensure that Rand reaches the Last Battle.

Each Forsaken aimed directly for the beacon from wherever they were when they felt the channelling begin. Therefore where they landed relative to the hill indicates the direction from whence they came.

Cyndane killed a bearded Darkfriend – probably a Borderlander – and Travelled south. Saldaea is where she most likely was when she felt the channelling start. It's north of Shadar Logoth and beards are popular there. Cyndane recognised that Alivia is not an Aes Sedai, but at 100 paces was not close enough to sense whether Alivia could channel.

Her comments:

Just as it reached the woman, almost close enough to singe her garments, the web of Fire unraveled. The woman did not do anything; the net simply came apart! Cyndane had never heard of a ter'angreal that would break a web, but it must be that.
Then the woman struck back at her, and she suffered her second shock. She was stronger than Cyndane had been before the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn held her! That was impossible; no woman could be stronger. She must have an angreal, too.

- Winter’s Heart, With the Chodean Kal

are ambiguous. They could be taken to mean that Alivia has an angreal as well as the weave-breaking ter’angreal (true) or that Alivia has an angreal just as Cyndane did before the Finns got hold of her. (This angreal is not the ivory bracelet that Moiraine clawed away from Cyndane when they went through the ter’angreal doorway.) The latter interpretation supports this conversation between Matt Hatch and Brandon Sanderson:

Matt: …so Lanfear, the theory goes, that maybe she was accentuated from a beauty and/or Power perspective by going to the 'Finnland previously.
Brandon: Okay.
Matt: Would the 'Finns have the ability to accentuate someone’s beauty and/or quantity or access to the One Power through their own capabilities and talents?
Brandon: Yes, but it might involve third party ter’angreal, angreal, this sort of thing.
Matt: So, they don’t have power to affect the soul’s capability of increasing its total channelling?
Brandon: Certainly not permanently; as far I understand, that is outside the realm of their ability.
Matt: From a beauty perspective can they affect the outer body of some individual?
Brandon: I would say that, yes they can, but they may have to be using some type of ter’angreal or…
Matt: …some item of Power?
Brandon: Some item of Power, something like that…of which they have great stores…

- The Gathering Storm, book tour

If Lanfear did receive such an item, it gave her an increase modest enough to be believeable as a natural strength for a woman. Perhaps it was a very weak angreal. She no longer has her item/s (and they were very likely the stars and moons jewellery and the woven silver belt that she always wore); the ‘Finns took them back because a) she violated the agreement and went through the doorway again and b) she had joined the Shadow.

Cyndane is not shielded and doesn’t have any item of the Power:

Cyndane is not under any shenanigans. What you see is what you get.

- The Gathering Storm, book tour

Alivia was able to channel more saidar than Cyndane and was very good at battling with the Power, but Cyndane knew far more about channelling, including how to reverse weaves, which is why Alivia ended up with a badly injured arm as Jordan explained:

When Alivia faced Cyndane, Alivia was by far the stronger because of her angreal, and had various tools [ter'angreal] to work with besides which she had only just been given, but Cyndane was much, much more knowledgeable about channelling. Alivia, after all, knew relatively little except how to be a weapon. That was very useful in the situation, but in this case, knowledge versus strength made it an even match.

- RJ on his blog

Demandred encountered the ring of Flinn, Sarene and Corele near Shadar Logoth. He correctly deduced that someone on the hill had a ter’angreal that could detect saidin being channelled and was using it to locate him and attack him. At this stage he cannot have spent much time around Aes Sedai or Asha’man since he did not recognise Flinn as an Asha’man, when he is one of the most noted, or know there were old Asha’man, and he did not recognise Aes Sedai as such. (This also puts paid to the theory that he disguises himself as Taim.)

Graendal was most likely to the west of the hill since she probably came from Arad Doman. She hid her ability to channel and reversed her weaves when she attacked the ring of Verin (leading), Kumira and Shalon. With her weak angreal, Graendal was stronger than the ring and Kumira was killed. Shalon expected to lead the circle since she was strongest and had worked out that the Aes Sedai ranking is by strength in saidar.

Aran’gar fought the ring of Eben, Daigian (leading), Beldeine and Nesune. Daigian might have been the most trusted Aes Sedai of the ring, but she was the weakest and least experienced in combat. Eben made the crucial discovery that Aran’gar can channel saidin and bravely attacked her physically even though it would be his death. He held onto life long enough that Daigian could drive Aran’gar away. Without him Aran’gar would not have been exposed among the rebels.

Osan’gar worked out more than most. He was an amusing mixture of fearfulness and megalomania. Interestingly Osan’gar expected Callandor to survive his balefire; therefore he thought it was made of cuendillar. Elza incinerated him and half the hill he was on with Callandor and her circle.

Moghedien did nothing but watch at a distance. Her hill was not in the south since she could see Shadar Logoth beyond the hill that Rand and co were on. She was probably further north than where Cyndane landed.

Mesaana did not attend and was punished by Shaidar Haran.

Jordan said Semirhage was there – but he also said that he didn’t show Graendal at the cleansing:

Week 15 Question:At the risk of being RAFO'd: Mesaana was punished for ignoring her orders to go to stop Rand from cleansing Saidin. Was Semirhage also punished for ignoring orders, or did she have special exemption? (If you're going to RAFO us, consider giving us some other little tidbit instead?)

Robert Jordan Answers: Semirhage was present at Shadar Logoth, though not seen. You didn't see Graendal, either, though admittedly Moghedien thought of her, thinking it would be good if she or Cyndane died. If I always tried to show everyone who was present at a battle or the like, the books would be a LOT longer than they are now. And those battles would get rather boring, a list of names. Go down the checklist and make sure everyone gets mentioned. Boring. Anyway, Mesaana was the only one who tried to sit it out. By the way, Moridin also was not present, for reasons that will become self-evident as you read on.

By the by, Rand and his companions very likely would have been killed or captured if the Forsaken were not who they are, if they had been willing to form links and coordinate their attacks. But they suffer from a combination of arrogance toward the "ignorant peasants" of the current Age and distrust of one another. Forming a link is all very well, but who leads? Which of them would be willing to give up control over their own ability and put it completely under the control of another of them? Who are you willing to let get behind your back in a fight? Moghedien? Semirhage? I didn't think so.

- TOR Question of the Week

Even Mesaana attending the Cleansing and/or Moghedien participating would have increased the chances of one of the Forsaken getting through to attack Rand.

Moridin was not there because he gets nauseous when Rand seizes saidin just as Rand gets nauseous when Moridin channels due to their link (Knife of Dreams, Within the Stone). He would not have been feeling too well with Rand channelling so much saidin for such a length of time and may have used the True Power to duck outside the Pattern for a while, as he did after watching Sammael disperse the Shaido in A Crown of Swords, Patterns Within Patterns.

Moridin ordered all the Forsaken to attend the Cleansing and even intimidated Cyndane and Moghedien through their mindtraps, but he surely knew they would never cooperate with each other. I guess he didn’t want the Dark One to think that he let saidin be cleansed without doing anything. Or he was passing along the Dark One’s orders even though he knew the others wouldn’t carry them out in the best possible way. Maybe he thought that one or more of the Forsaken would be thinned out and that this would make the rest more malleable.


Rand performed two tasks on this day that were considered impossible. He removed the taint from saidin and he destroyed the evil of Shadar Logoth (apart from the contained wound in his side and Fain and the dagger).

Rand and Nynaeve were unconscious for some time. Rand’s unchanged wound shows that what damage already done by the taint stays. Eben and Kumira were killed and Sarene, Alivia and Beldeine were badly injured. The Warders all survived but Lan’s horse was limping, so they did encounter danger. Osan’gar was killed, but we do not know if any Forsaken was injured.

The female access key crumbled and the female Choedan Kal sa’angreal melted – where it was is now a hollow hill (Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep). The female Choedan Kal and its access key disintegrated either from sieving the entire taint, or because they broke under the strain of being used by a male channeller inexperienced in channelling saidar.

Callandor is now safer to use. It still has no buffer to prevent over-drawing of the Power but at least it no longer magnifies the taint (The Path of Daggers, The Bargain). The male a’dam is less risky to use than it was because the taint no longer seeps through to the women wearing the bracelets. There is still the slowly increasing struggle for dominance between the women enslavers and the collared man though, according to Moghedien (The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace).

The tomb of Shadar Logoth is open to give the world hope. Shadar Logoth may be one of those collections of rubble that must be cleared before Rand can build which Fel referred to in his message (Lord of Chaos, Thorns).

The Time of Illusions (ordinary existence) ended for the Amayar and they committed mass suicide and murder. The illusions of the Third Age that the Forsaken were still Sealed away and that there were places of safety also ended.


t ball said...

Any thoughts on whether or not the destroying of Shadar Logoth affected Fain's abilites, or Fain himself?

TheWheelWeaves... said...

"Osan’gar worked out more than most. He was an amusing mixture of fearfulness and megalomania. Interestingly Osan’gar expected Callandor to survive his balefire; therefore he thought it was made of cuendillar. Elza incinerated him and half the hill he was on with Callandor and her circle."

Linda, actually Callandor has previously survived balefire, I believe, in the Stone of Tear. Not sure during which fight with which of the Forsaken this took place, but I definitely remember white fire being shot at Rand. The sword was raised up and subsequently the fire parted on its edge.

Also, I absolutely loved what you wrote about Cyndane. Great stuff there. Thank you very much.

Frank said...

I know she doesn't deserve it, but I've always felt sorry for Moghedien, and found her moment at the end where she gets caught up in the fall-out of Shadar Logoth imploding, vowing "Never to feel fear again." sort of a "Moment of Awesome. I wonder if we'll get to see her, and see whether that actually happened.

Linda said...

tball: We haven't seen him onscreen since the Cleansing so it's only a guess but since anything the taint had done wasn't changed, I guess anything its equal and opposite evil had done was also unchanged.

I'm sure that Fain has a part to play yet. RJ said that Fain couldn't get any madder and still function.

TWW: Thanks, I'm glad you like it.

I agree about Callandor and have said so previously but in vain. Many readers dispute that and say that it was the weave Rand made through Callandor that parted the balefire and not Callandor itself.

Frank: We see her At the Gardens in KOD and she appears none the worse for wear. A POV from her would be interesting though.

Anonymous said...

this was very interesting. it is great to hear what was happening where, and why. i have a question about semirhage. i thought i read somewhere that she was given "leave" to be absent from the cleansing becuase of the diffuculties that would arise from her abscence from the seanchan. since a female channeler is alwasys in danger of discovery in the midst of sul'dam, i thought she was purposely left out so she wouldn't risk blowing her cover. she couldn't just weave a gateway and leave at any time like the other forsaken.

Linda said...

Semirhage had leave not to attend the meeting in Winter's Heart, Wonderful News where they were all commanded by Moridin to prevent Rand removing the taint. She was supposed to turn up for the actual attack on Rand at the cleansing though and RJ said she did.

Jonas said...

Aaah, so that's how the cleansing worked, I didn't really go in depth thinking about it, but it was cool getting a detailed explanation on it nontheless ;)

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