Monday, May 31, 2010

Crossroads of Twilight Read-through #6: Faraway Travels

By Linda

In Mat’s sub-thread in Crossroads of Twilight the motif of weird and wonderful journeys to far off lands arises, a motif Foreshadowed to climax with the third journey to the *elfin folk, and we get various peoples’ reactions to travellers’ tales. Noal tells Olver some in Tuon’s presence:

“Noal has been telling us about Co’dansin, Mat,” he [Olver] exclaimed. “That’s another name for Shara. Did you know the Ayyad tattoo their faces? That’s what they call women who can channel, in Shara.”
“No, I didn’t,” Mat said, settling a grim eye on Noal. It was bad enough that Vanin and the Redarms were teaching the boy bad habits, not to mention what he was picking up from Juilin and Thom, without Noal filling his head with made-up nonsense.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Cluster of Rosebuds

Mat disbelieves Noal’s stories, even though he has seen and experienced stranger himself.

Noal is Jain Farstrider in disguise – he reluctantly conceded that they are related in Knife of Dreams, A Stave and A Razor - and has been relating tales of Shara, the sort he published in The Travels of Jain Farstrider. When amazed at fellow yarn-spinner and aspiring writer Mat’s tale of his adventures with the Aelfinn, Noal makes a bit of a slip and exclaims:

“It's just, that tops anything I ever did. Anything Jain ever did, too. Would you mind if I made the third?

Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota

While Noal’s veracity is not as suspect as Mat believes, there is something unreliable about Noal:

Suddenly he realized he was touching his head again. He did not have a headache, but his head felt... peculiar... sometimes. Most often when he thought of what he could not remember… Once again he pulled his hand down from his head. Sooner or later, he would remember. He did not have much time left, but it was all he did have. He remembered that much.

- A Crown of Swords, The Triumph of Logic

He appears to be under a form of Compulsion, so Mat’s instincts are correct, even if Mat hit on the wrong aspect of his unreliability. As Mat noticed, Noal has mental lapses, has gone off unexpectedly or taken longer on errands than expected and returned breathless as though he has run:

Abruptly, Noal darted around from the rear of the tent, breathing hard as if he had been running. Juilin glanced up in surprise at the old man, and Mat frowned. He had told Noal to come straight here. Where had he gone instead?

- Crossroads of Twilight, Two Captains

Perhaps he is sending reports to someone. He is an effective information gatherer – as Mat noticed himself and made use of.

Who could have tampered with Noal? The Forsaken who uses Compulsion the most frequently and skilfully is Graendal. Rahvin, no slouch at Compulsion himself, possibly saw Noal at Graendal’s lair:

Rahvin had not even noticed the opening of a third gateway, showing a large room full of pools and fluted columns, nearly nude acrobats and attendants wearing less. Oddly, a lean old man in a wrinkled coat sat disconsolately among the performers.

- The Fires of Heaven, Prologue

This old man matches Noal’s description.

Jain has been used by Forsaken previously. In The Eye of the World, Against the Shadow, Ishamael boasted that he had painted Jain Fastrider like a fool and sent him to the Ogier thinking he was free of Ishamael. Loial related how a man came to Stedding Shangtai after the Aiel War:

"He was at the point of death, though there was no wound or mark on him. The Elders thought it might be something Aes Sedai had done" - Loial gave Moiraine an apologetic look - "since as soon as he was within the stedding he quickly got well. A few months. One night he left without a word to anyone, simply sneaked away when the moon was down." He looked at Moiraine's face and cleared his throat again. "Yes. Brief. Before he left, he told a curious tale which he said he meant to carry to Tar Valon. He said the Dark One intended to blind the Eye of the World, and slay the Great Serpent, kill time itself.”

- The Eye of the World, Remembrance of Dreams

which makes it sound as though Ishamael was putting his best face on the situation and Jain unexpectedly escaped or at least survived Ishamael’s attentions. And once in the Stedding the effects of Ishamael’s weaves wore off.

When Noal leaves the main world altogether for the Otherworld of the Finns, maybe his Compulsion wears off, or is negated by the Finns.

Noal’s ‘tall tales’ make him seem harmless to Mat and prevent Mat from asking why Noal disappears sometimes, or considering that Noal’s ability to work out what is going on might be a danger. Of course if Mat ever takes Noal and his tales seriously, Noal’s very experience in strange and dangerous journeys and the knowledge he has amassed over the years will be an asset in the Tower of Ghenjei.

Noal himself considers his career chequered:

"He [Jain] fought Trollocs and Myrddraal, and he had more adventures than anyone else in the whole world! Even Mat! He captured Cowin Gemallan after Gemallan betrayed Malkier to the Shadow!"
Noal came to himself with a start and patted Olver's shoulder. "He did that, boy. That much is to his credit. But what adventure is worth leaving your wife to die alone?"

- Knife of Dreams A Stave and a Razor

This seems to Foreshadow that Noal will sacrifice himself so that Mat, who is now married, escapes the *Finns and doesn’t leave his wife Fortuona to die alone.

To complement this post an essay I wrote for Wotmania on Writings For Armchair Travellers comparing famous early European travellers’ tales with Jain Farstrider’s books is now republished here on the blog.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Crossroads of Twilight Read-through #5: Visions of Others

By Linda

In A Crown of Swords, Rand was linked with Moridin when their balefires of opposing Powers touched. Ever since then Rand has felt increasingly nauseous and dizzy when he touches saidin or lets go of it, and can see Moridin’s face. It is increasingly incapacitating.

The Dark One’s taint on the male half of the Source was nauseating to anyone who sensed it:

”It will be wonderful, channelling without the taint, my Lord Dragon, he [Eben] said excitedly…:That always makes me want to empty my belly, if I think on it.”

- Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal

But not as badly as Rand ends up feeling.

Dizziness too can come from the Dark One – from attracting his attention:

”Shai'tan is dead," he [Rand] said harshly, and abruptly the room seemed to lurch. He grabbed his head as waves of dizziness sloshed through him.
"You fool! You pure, blind, idiotic fool! Naming the Dark One, bringing his attention down on you! Don't you have enough trouble?"
"He's dead," Rand muttered, rubbing his head. He swallowed. The dizziness was already fading.

- The Great Hunt, Dark Prophecy

at least when the Dragon, the Creator’s champion born to fight the Dark One, does so. The touch of the Dark One being antithetical to Creation revolts the body and deranges the mind.

Some of the Dark One’s taint was inserted into Rand’s body in Falme, yet he had no symptoms of dizziness or nausea associated with channelling until Lord of Chaos when he went to attend to the Shadar Logoth Waygate:

From the first flow he channeled, the taint seemed to pulse inside him, a slowly building vibration. It must have been the evil in Shadar Logoth itself, a resonance of evil to evil. Even in the Void he felt dizzy from those reverberations, as though the world swung beneath his feet in time to them; they made him want to vomit up everything he had ever eaten.

- Lord of Chaos, To Shadar Logoth

These symptoms, while as extreme as those he later felt, did not continue after leaving Shadar Logoth though. They were due to the Dark One’s taint in his side and the evil in Shadar Logoth reacting to each other. Rand was not wounded by Fain until late in A Crown of Swords and Flinn sealed away the two wounds fairly promptly. I think Flinn’s treatment was effective because Rand had no problem channelling during the attack on Sammael and because the wounds, contrary to Flinn’s expectations, did not change after the cleansing of saidin.

When Rand seized saidin prior to linking with Nynaeve he expected to feel nauseous, but did not, instead he saw Moridin’s face:

He placed his hands on the ground beside him against the sickness that would strike when he took hold of the Source again, but a different dizziness suddenly spun his head. For a heartbeat, a vague face filled his eyes, blotting out Nynaeve, a man’s face, almost recognisable.

- Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal

Moridin’s link to Rand was formed at Shadar Logoth at the end of A Crown of Swords. By The Path of Daggers, Floating Like Snow, nine days later, Rand is feeling increasingly dizzy and nauseous when he seizes saidin; a “new sickness” and a “recent problem”:

Reluctantly he let go of the Power, forced himself not to hang on like a man clutching salvation with his fingernails as life and filth drained from him together. For an instant, he saw double; the world seemed to tilt dizzily. That was a recent problem, and he worried it might be part of the sickness that killed men who
channeled, but the dizziness never lasted more than moments.

- The Path of Daggers, Floating Like Snow

He has to be careful when channelling not to be distracted by the nausea or dizziness. When Rand dreams, he sometimes looks like Moridin in the dream, rather than himself, or Lews Therin (The Path of Daggers, Answering the Summons.) In The Path of Daggers, A Time For Iron, he even feels ill when he releases saidin and in Winter’s Heart Prologue he starts to see Moridin’s face and the symptoms appear when he is not touching saidin at all. The latter probably occurs Moridin is channelling.

Since the second side wound attacking the first and the link with Moridin occurred fairly close together it is not certain which is responsible for the extreme nausea and dizziness but the fact that the illness is accompanied by visions of Moridin’s face indicates the link is the more likely culprit, as is the fact that Rand feels ill when Moridin channels and Rand is not touching the Source. Even more indicative is that Moridin is affected in a similar way to Rand:

Yet with saidin came the inevitable violent nausea, the almost overwhelming desire to double over and empty himself of every meal he had ever eaten… The face of the man from Shadar Logoth floated in his head for a moment. He looked furious. And near to sicking up. Without any doubt he was aware of Rand in that moment, and Rand of him. Move a hair in any direction, and they would touch. No more than a hair.

- Knife of Dreams, Within The Stone

Not only can each see the other, but they are aware of each other when this occurs:

Abruptly another image was floating his head, a man's face, and his breath caught. For the first time, it came without any dizziness.
For the first time, he could see it clearly in the moments before it vanished. A blue-eyed man with a square chin, perhaps a few years older than himself. Or rather, he saw it clearly for the first time in a long while. It was the face of the stranger who had saved his life in Shadar Logoth when he fought Sammael. Worse. . . .
He was aware of me, Lews Therin said. He sounded sane for a change. Sometimes he did, but the madness always returned eventually. How can a face appearing in my mind be aware of me?
If you don't know, how do you expect me to? Rand thought. But I was aware of him, as well. It had been a strange sensation, as if he were . . . touching . . . the other man somehow. Only not physically. A residue hung on. It seemed he only had to move a hair's breadth, in any direction to touch him again. I think he saw my face, too.

- Knife of Dreams, Vows

Neither was channelling at the time, either – hence no illness. Rand had just finished seeing both Mat and Perrin through his links to them when this sighting of Moridin occurred. It is as though using the ta’veren links to the max triggers his link to Moridin without the usual channelling.

The ultimate consequences of the link where Rand, desperate to escape Semirhage’s sadism, draws on the True Power through his link to Moridin:

At that moment he grew aware of a strange force. It was like a reservoir of water, boiling and churning just beyond his view. He reached toward it with his mind.
A clouded face flashed before Rand's own, one whose features he couldn't quite make out. It was gone in a moment.
And Rand found himself filled with an alien power. Not saidin, not saidar, but something else.
Something he'd never felt before.
Oh, Light, Lews Therin suddenly screamed. That's impossible! We can't use it! Cast it away! That is death we hold, death and betrayal.
It is HIM.

Rand closed his eyes as he knelt above Min, then he channeled the strange, unknown force. Energy and life surged through him, a torrent of power like saidin, only ten times as sweet and a hundred times as violent. It made him alive, made him realize that he'd never been alive before. It gave him such strength as he'd never imagined. It rivaled, even, the power he'd held when drawing from the Choedan Kal.
He screamed, in both rapture and rage, and wove enormous spears of Fire and Air.

- The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done

Rand feels ill every time he seizes saidin, but he channelled the True Power “okay” in the sense of not being ill. Actually he felt great, and seriously tempted to use the True Power again. Such is its corruption that only by balancing the lure of the True Power with that of an enormous amount of the Creator’s One Power available through the Choedan Kal could Rand resist the temptation. The Land sure was sickened by its Champion using the True Power though.

We know Moridin is sickened when Rand seizes saidin. It would be interesting to know if Moridin feels the reverse of Rand when channelling: ie okay when channelling saidin, ill channelling the True Power. Or has the Dark One neatly trapped them both and can neither channel saidin without sickness, but only the True Power?

Whatever else, the link certainly incapacitated Rand as a channeller.

While Rand’s link with Moridin is wrong, leading to corruption and death, his link to the other two ta’veren is right, bringing reassurance and…gasp…information with the potential for cooperation. The link allows the three to sense each other and see what each other is doing.

Rand first began to sense a link to Mat and Perrin when he was locked in tne beox by Elaida's Embassy with only pain and LEws Therin for company:

Something flashed in his mind. Not images, just flickers of color and motion. For some reason they made him think of Mat, and Perrin. The flashes had begun inside the chest, them and a thousand more hallucinations. In the chest, where Galina and Brian and Katerine and the rest stuffed him every day after he was beaten.

- A Crown of Swords, Pitfalls and Tripwires.

Perrin senses his link to Mat and Rand before Mat does:

As always of late when he thought of Rand, colors swirled in his head, and as always, he ignored them.

- Winter’s Heart, Prologue

and is the first of the three to see clear visions of the others rather than swirls of colours.

Mat’s first ‘vision’ of colour swirls occurs by Winter’s Heart, In Need of a Bellfounder:

He grimaced and rubbed at his forehead as a faint rush of colors seemed to swirl inside his head. That happened lately whenever he thought about either man.

After his link with Moridin is formed, Rand has trouble with his visions of Mat and Perrin – they make him stumble:

And Mat was not here? Had never been here, apparently. Colors whirled in his head, almost an image he could make out. In a heartbeat it vanished, but he staggered.

- Winter’s Heart, Ideas of Importance

perhaps because the extra link interferes. But he soon is no longer disconcerted by them, and uses them even – unlike his link to Moridin which continues to be a source of discomfort, sickness and corruption until at least The Gathering Storm.

For all three ta’veren it takes time – or practise – for the colours to resolve into precise visions of what the others are doing.

The Really Big Event of Rand cleansing saidin causes colour swirls to form unbidden in Mat’s and Perrin’s minds, in Perrin’s case resolving into his first clear vision of Rand, but both Mat and Perrin knew that Rand was behind the vast usage of the Power. Mat and Perrin will probably sense other Really Big Events that happen to Rand unbidden in this way – unless they have gone questing in another world.

The psychic connection of the three ta’veren by the Pattern is ‘right’ or healthy and will be crucial in the Last Battle not just for planning battles, but because the three will support the world spiritually as well as physically against the Dark One’s onslaught: “the three shall be one”, as prophesied in the Karaethon Cycle; (see Numbers Symbolism essay regarding the significance of Three versus One). The three-way link allows this to happen.

This situation can be likened to that predicted in Zoroastrian end times (and Jordan had quite a number of books in his library on Asian religions according to Maria and Alan at JordanCon). Saoshyans, the final saviour of the world, will be conceived by a virgin, and he will overcome the power of evil at the end of time and resurrect the bodies of the dead. Saoshyans and six helpers will then lead the work in the world, communicating with each other miraculously (Encyclopaedia Britannica). (For Rand’s parallels to Saoshyans see Rand essay.) Likewise the three ta’veren are each able to see what the others are doing by a vision through swirling colours and together will hopefully defeat the Shadow with the important difference of preventing the end of time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Towers of Midnight Cover Art

By Linda

TOR released the final version of the US cover for Towers of Midnight today:

It's one of the better covers I think. And it shows one of the most hotly-anticipated quests in the series. A good choice of scene!

The Tower of Ghenejei is depicted as stone which gets a metallic sheen when activated, yet in the books it's a tall column of metal.

Thom doesn't have his harp or flute because carrying a musical instrument through the doorway would be an obvious violation of the agreement with the *Finns. The idea is to 'cheat' while keeping to the letter of the contract. (Like most Aes Sedai do with their Oaths...)

Mat carries a bag of tricks - with items that appear innocuous but allow him to get the better of the *Finns. Aludra's matches should be there. I expect Mat can enter the Tower with his ashandarei because the *Finns gave it to him and if they took it back it would violate their bargain with him.

It strikes me that this is one of the few Sweet WOT covers with no onlookers or followers - just the three foreground figures. New Spring might be the only other one.

The changes from the previous version of the TOM cover are:

1) both Noal and Thom (making his mark) have white hair
2) Mat now has his trademark hat and his ashandarei is depicted more authentically
3) the triangle is now point down as described in the books
4) a typo corrected in the word Gathering.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Crossroads of Twilight Read-through #4: Meeting at Cross Purposes

By Linda

People complain that if only the characters would talk with each other, things could be sorted out. Yet in Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm, Logain and Rand do talk, and a fat lot of good it was. Rand’s meeting with Logain, Bashere and Loial actually made things more divisive.

Bashere wanted to talk to Rand first, and alone. Considering that his news was that the Shadow were after the Seals, this was quite reasonable. Logain also thought his news about what Taim is doing and the danger he represents was deserving of a private report:

Bashere and Logain both wanted to talk to him, but not in front of anyone, especially each other it seemed... [The Aes Sedai with Logain were] not prisoners, and certainly not guards, but Logain had been reluctant to explain with Bashere present, and Bashere reluctant to leave Logain the first chance to talk to Rand alone.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

Bashere sees Logain, or perhaps all men who Bond Aes Sedai, as a threat:

Bashere spent more time peering into his winecup than looking at anything else, but whenever his eyes touched Logain, he unconsciously ran a thumb along his sword hilt. Rand thought it was unconscious.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

This is quite different compared to his attitude to the Asha’man who fought in Altara. It is a pity Rand didn’t hear the men out separately, starting with Bashere.

Bashere’s obvious distrust of Logain, and Min’s comments on her viewings, particularly regarding Logain perhaps thinking he is the Dragon Reborn, don’t help:

“You have to do something” Min muttered, folding her arms beneath her breasts. “Logain’s aura still speaks of glory, stronger than ever. Maybe he still thinks he’s the real Dragon Reborn. And there’s something . . . dark . . . in the images I saw around Lord Davram. If he turns against you, or dies. . . . I heard one of the soldiers say Lord Dobraine might die. Losing even one of them would be a blow. Lose all three, and it might take you a year to recover.”

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

It's typical of Rand at this stage that he focussed on the former and not on the latter warning. Rand went to the meeting feeling antagonistic thanks to Min, and practically brandished his dragons in Logain’s face. Then he wondered why Logain wasn’t receptive to Rand’s own news that he cleansed saidin. Of course that also depends on how Logain was informed of it.

Logain’s report was:

“I assumed it came from you.” His eyes moved slightly in Bashere’s direction, and his mouth tightened. “Taim does a great many things people think are at your direction,” he went on reluctantly, “but he has his own plans. Flinn and Narishma and Manfor are on the deserters’ list, like every Asha’man you kept with you. And he has a coterie of twenty or thirty he keeps close and trains privately. Every man who wears the Dragon is one of that group except me, and he’d have kept the Dragon from me, if he dared. No matter what you’ve done, it is time to turn your eyes to the Black Tower before Taim splits it worse than the White Tower is. If he does, you’ll find the larger part is loyal to him, not you. They know him. Most have never even seen you.”

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

Taim is trying to remove the Asha’man close to Rand because they aren’t the ones he suggested – the Darkfriend ones he suggested.

Rand disregards Logain’s warning that Taim gives private classes to prospective Dreadlords and advances them faster than other Asha’man. Logain and Rand refuse to believe each other; refuse to acknowledge each other’s standing. Rand sees Logain as feeling competitive toward Taim and to Rand. He's also miffed that Logain doesn't believe Rand cleansed saidin. And he knows from Min that Logain has great glory to come. Logain sees Rand as allowing an evil to perpetuate and also as domineering. And he knows from Min that he will have great glory. They'd both rather be the only bull in the paddock, but they aren't.

What Logain assumed came from Rand is the order to capture Toveine’s expedition. It is not the Bonding of the Aes Sedai that Logain is talking about since the Asha’man state that Taim was furious at them Bonding any (The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit), so it was obviously not part of his orders.

It was partly Rand’s pique that Logain didn’t believe Rand had done the impossible that led Rand to discount Logain’s assessment of the danger Taim presents and to think Taim is a problem he can face another day. He could not be more wrong.

Rand decided to make truce with the Seanchan at this time because of Bashere’s report on the attempt to get Seals and Logain’s report on Taim:

The seals on the Dark One’s prison on one hand, Taim splitting the Asha’man on the other. Was the seventh seal already broken? Was the Shadow beginning the opening moves of the Last Battle? “You told me something once, Bashere. If your enemy offers you two targets. . . . “
“Strike at a third,” Bashere finished promptly, and Rand nodded. He had already decided, anyway. Thunder rattled the windows till the casements shook. The storm was strengthening. “I can’t fight the Shadow and the Seanchan at the same time. I am sending the three of you to arrange a truce with the Seanchan.” Bashere and Logain seemed stunned into silence. Until they began to argue, one on top of the other. Loial just looked ready to faint.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

His three aides are not keen on Rand putting aside two important problems to potentially making a third problem. As Cadsuane spelled out to Rand, a truce with the Seanchan effectively legitimises their takeover of territory and will therefore be unpopular with most nobles. He might gain an alliance with the Seanchan, but he'll antagonise his mainland allies or potential allies. (With true brilliance Rand ends up antagonising almost all his allies in The Gathering Storm.)

Misled by Min and by his own feelings of resentment and competition, Rand distrusts Logain when he’s actually among the most loyal of the Asha’man.

Rand’s link to Moridin was making Rand strongly nauseous and dizzy at this stage. By The Gathering Storm the link had greatly corrupted Rand’s judgement and Rand’s treatment of Logain could be an early manifestation of this corruption.

My next post will compare Rand’s links to Moridin and to Mat and Perrin.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crossroads of Twilight Read-through #3: Agents in Andor

By Linda

In the last few books, the theme of the gaining and use of information is important in the Andoran sub-thread as Elayne’s position is under threat from spies and saboteurs. The ethics of torture for ‘good’ purposes now looms large.

Elayne’s council is trying to get as much information as possible on what is going on, while trying to stop her rivals and other ‘interest groups’ from doing the same. She is controlling access to, as well as obtaining, information. Even the meetings with the First Clerk and First Maid are used as cover for a quick Warded conference between Elayne, Aviendha, Birgitte and Dyelin (Crossroads of Twilight, What Wise Ones Know). Note that Warding such meetings must happen less frequently once Aviendha leaves, since Elayne usually can’t channel well and there is no one else to trust.)

Mostly the inner council discuss Elayne’s ruse of using the Borderlanders to unite Andor and even ‘helping rumours along’:

She was counting on news of the Borderlanders, if not on the Borderlanders themselves. Word of an army that size entering Andor should be leaping ahead of it like wildfire in dry grass. No one but a fool could believe they had marched all those hundreds of leagues to try conquering Andor, but everyone who heard would be speculating on their intentions and what to do about them, a different opinion on every tongue. Once the news began to spread, anyway. When it did, she had an advantage over everyone else. She had arranged for the Borderlanders to cross into Andor into the first place, and she had already arranged for them to leave. The choice had not been very difficult. Stopping them would have been a bloody affair, if it could have been managed at all, and they wanted no more than the width of a road to march onward into Murandy, where they thought they would find the Dragon Reborn. That was her doing, as well. They hid their reason for seeking Rand, and she was not about to give them a true location, not when they had as many as a dozen Aes Sedai with them and hid that fact, too. But once news of them reached the High Seats.... “It should work,” she said softly. “If necessary, we can plant rumors of the Borderlanders ourselves.”

- Crossroads of Twilight, What Wise Ones Know

The chapter is aptly named considering that it is about the knowledge gained or held by all Elayne's allies, not just the Wise Ones.

Of course the Borderlanders have their own secret intentions as Elayne is well aware – but she doesn’t know what they are. Nor really do we yet.

The meetings also reassure that Elayne was not fooled by Hanlon’s charade.

However, is there someone/thing which is fooling them?

Like Rand, they don’t think about what is happening at the Black Tower, a place where information is even more tightly controlled. Elayne has considered the Asha’man might have spies in Caemlyn (and none have been found as yet), but she hasn’t considered getting agents at the Black Tower herself. Yet her Andoran guards’ carefully supervised visits there would not discover much.

Aviendha thinks all the uncovered spies should be killed immediately – which would result in quite a few deaths:

“Hairdressers, footmen, cooks, the master cabinetmaker, no fewer than five of Master Norry’s clerks, and now one of the librarians.”

- Crossroads of Twilight, What Wise Ones Know

Elayne was taught that since there will always be spies, it is better to know who they are and use them by controlling what they learn and feeding them misinformation at important times:

There was no point in discharging the spies, or killing them as Aviendha had suggested. They would just be replaced by spies she did not know. A spy is your enemy's tool until you know her, her mother had said, but then she is your tool. When you find a spy, Thom had told her, wrap him in swaddling and feed him with a spoon. The men and women who had betrayed their service would be "allowed" to discover what Elayne wanted them to know, not all true, such as the numbers Birgitte had recruited.

- Winter’s Heart, Expectation

Many agents don’t work for Elayne’s enemies:

Not that every spy necessarily worked for an enemy. Most of those the First Maid had uncovered took money from more than one source, and among those she had identified were King Roedran of Murandy, various Tairen High Lords and Ladies, a handful of Cairhienin nobles, and a fair number of merchants. A good many people were interested in what happened in Caemlyn, whether for its effect on trade or other reasons. Sometimes it seemed that everyone spied on everyone else.

- Crossroads of Twilight, What Wise Ones Know

Some are potentially damaging agents though. Ester Norham, a hairdresser, may be one, since she is named. It is not yet known who she works for.

Milam Harnder, the Second Librarian in the Royal Palace, works for the Brown Ajah. In Lord of Chaos, Beyond the Gate Demira Eriff claimed he had been her agent for nearly thirty years and sent him a message to meet her. He did not turn up; therefore her message was intercepted by her attackers. In Crossroads of Twilight, the innkeeper of the Hoop and Arrow sent pigeons north after each of his frequent visits, and three Brown Aes Sedai visited the inn and spoke at length with the innkeeper ( Crossroads of Twilight, What Wise Ones Know). So Hardner is known among others of the Brown Ajah, not just Demira. These three Browns are probably of Cadsuane’s faction, since they were staying at the Silver Swan. Elayne briefly considers the possibility that the third of Aes Sedai standing aside from the Tower split might be in contact with each other, exchanging information and forming plans, but does not follow up on this thought or voice it to anyone else. Yet she is right.

Soon another Brown and sometime Cadsuane ally will be in Caemlyn briefly: Verin. Brown sisters would be most interested in Elayne’s ter’angreal cache and the developments at the Rose Academy.

The Red Ajah also has several agents in Caemlyn, a legacy of Elaida’s time as Morgase’s advisor. It is amusing that the supposedly unworldly Browns were able to keep tabs on Elaida.

Elayne is probably correct to assume that the Red and the Brown Ajahs now know a fair amount about the Kin. When Red Sitter Duhara arrived in Caemlyn under Elaida's orders to rein in Elayne she appeared well-informed.

More immediately serious are the spies of Elayne’s Andoran rivals.

The barber Jon Skellit is an agent for Naean Arawn and is now also working for Elayne, thanks to Reene Harfor. The First Maid even appears to have engineered an excuse for Skellit to visit Arymilla’s camp personally to spy it out:

“The time seemed ripe, and so did Skellit. One of the men he hands his reports to left the city and hasn’t returned yet, while it appears the other broke his leg. The streets are always icy where a fire has been put out.” She said that so blandly, it seemed more than likely she had engineered the man’s fall somehow. Hard times uncovered hard talents in the most surprising people.

- Crossroads of Twilight, What Wise Ones Know

In Knife of Dream, The New Follower, Skellit gave some timely warning that Arymilla’s attack on Caemlyn was imminent.

Norry was able to get very confidential financial information on Elayne’s rivals:

“Have you anything more, Master Norry?”
Knuckling his long nose, he avoided her gaze. “It has...uh...come to my attention,” he said hesitantly, “that Marne, Arawn and Sarand have all recently taken very large loans against the revenues of their estates.” Mistress Harfor’s eyebrows climbed before she got them under control…Bankers never told anyone how much they had loaned to whom, or against what, but she [Elayne] did not ask how he knew. It would be...embarrassing. For both of them…
“It seems they may have borrowed against the same revenues twice or even three times. The bankers, of course, are...unaware...of this, as yet.”…
“Is there any chance the bankers will learn what you have, Master Norry? Before the loans come due?” If they did, some might decide they preferred Arymilla on the throne. She could strip the country’s coffers to repay those loans, then. She might even do it. Merchants rode the political winds, whichever way they blew. Bankers had been known to attempt to influence events. “In my opinion, it is unlikely, my Lady. They would have the right questions of the right people, but bankers are one another. Yes, I think it unlikely. For the time being.”

- Crossroads of Twilight, What Wise Ones Know

The unscrupulous Houses that have mortgaged themselves repeatedly to buy soldiers and allies to promote their bid for the throne would have to milk Andor to recover financially and therefore could not be good monarchs. It is a warning of what is at stake for Andor. Elayne fears that the bankers might decide to put Arymilla on the throne to ensure their loans are repaid.

Out in Arymilla’s camp, we see information, or lack of it, used as a weapon, but one that might damage the wielder:

as yet, she [Elenia] had no idea where she would sleep.
Doubtless in some lesser noble’s tent, with the lord or lady shuffled off to find haven elsewhere and trying to put the best face on being evicted, but Arymilla liked leaving her on tenterhooks until the very last, about beds and everything else. One suspense was no sooner dispelled than another replaced it. Plainly the woman thought the constant uncertainty would make her squirm, perhaps even strive to please. That was far from the only miscalculation Arymilla had made…

- Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness

On the other hand, whatever was goading Naean to recklessness might be valuable to know, and dangerous not to. It might, but finding out presented its own dangers.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness

Besides which, she feared Naean’s threat as much as Naean feared hers. Perhaps more. So long as Naean did not know that, however, her blade had no point.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness

Elenia observes that spies are likely everywhere in the camp and that she and Naean aren’t the only ones prevented from communicating with their supporters: likely so is Sylvase, the heir of demented Lord Nasin Caeren (Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness).

As well as the danger of Arymilla outside Caemlyn, there is that of the Shadow undermining Elayne from within.

Wary of being kept ignorant and expendable, Hanlon and Falion secretly trade information. Hanlon wants to know what Shiaine’s activities and plans are and what Marillin Gemalphin is up to. He wonders if the plan to crown Elayne (and then have her broken) is off and she is to be killed instead. (The Black Ajah’s kidnap attempt was their own idea.) Hanlon thinks either Shiaine or Birgitte are the ones sending men to follow him – he thinks he has Elayne fooled.

Falion wants to know about relationships between the female channellers in the Palace:

Who was friendly with whom, and who unfriendly. Who exchanged private words and who avoided one another. What he had heard them say.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness

Falion is trying to work out the political currents – the Game of Houses – and the important issues among the channellers. She might also be able to determine who are Darkfriends from who Careane spends time with.

In contrast, Shiaine is very well informed: she knows Hanlon’s history better than he does and uses it to intimidate him. Hanlon tried to get Shiaine to divulge information but we don’t know if Shiaine did explain anything to Hanlon and whether she was truthful or not.

Shiaine wants sul’dam and damane freed. Her minions make several arson attacks each night and tried to fire the food warehouses. Careane was instructed to kill several of the Kin, in the end obviously with the Power. The Shadow’s aim is to undermine Elayne’s reign by sowing distrust of female channellers (and reducing Elayne’s pool of channelling talent to draw on) and bringing on famine and civil disorder in the city.

It was disregarding information that was the undoing of this group and resulted in their capture and the rescue of Elayne:

"A woman Warder?" Chesmal said disdainfully.
Marillin shook in her bonds with silent laughter for a moment. "I'd heard that," she said when the shaking ceased, "but it seemed too incredible to be true."
"You heard this, and you never mentioned it?" Temaile said, twisting around to transfer her scowl to Marillin. "You great fool!"

- Knife of Dreams, Nine Out of Ten

Had they known Elayne had a female Warder they might have planned differently.

Once Mellar/Hanlon appeared to be criminal, Birgitte thought torture or summary justice justified:

"I could arrest Mellar," she said quietly, "and have him put to the question. You'd have no need of Hark then."
"A poor joke, my Lady, if I may say so," Mistress Harfor said stiffly. at the same time that Master Norry said, "That would ...against the law, my Lady."
Birgitte bounded to her feet, outrage flooding the bond. "Blood and bloody ashes! We know the man's as rotten as last month's fish."
"No." Elayne sighed, fighting not to feel outraged as well. "We have suspicions, not proof. Those five men might have fallen afoul of footpads. The law is quite clear on when someone may be put to the question, and suspicions are not reason enough. Solid evidence is needed. My mother often said, "The Queen must obey the law she makes, or there is no law." I will not begin by breaking the law."
The bond carried something...stubborn. She fixed Birgitte with a steady look. "Neither will you. Do you understand me. Birgitte Trahelion? Neither will you."

- Knife of Dreams, The New Follower

Once they are proven Darkfriends, Elayne decides to use the Taraboner torturer, Jac Lounalt, to interrogate them (Knife of Dreams, The Importance of Dyelin). Elayne also suggests Norry find spies among Sylvase’s servants for information, the first time Elayne establishes agents herself.

Quite a change…but is it a good one? Too often in the series any slide in ethics whether well-intentioned or not, results in unfortunate consequences.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crossroads of Twilight Read-through #2: Birgitte's Lives

By Linda

In Crossroads of Twilight, Birgitte was drinking very heavily because she feared not only that she would never be with Gaidal again, but that she would forget him altogether:

Gaidal Cain was lost to Birgitte as surely as if he were dead, and on top of that, her memories of her past lives were fading. She remembered almost nothing clearly before the founding of the White Tower, and not all of that. Some nights, the fear that Gaidal would fade from her memory, too, that she would lose any remembrance of actually having known and loved him, left her unable to sleep until she drank as much brandy as she could hold.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Talk of Debts

As if the possibility of forgetting Gaidal isn’t bad enough, Birgitte is/will be less of a source of information on the Age of Legends and the Shadow than she was. Not that Moghedien intended Birgitte to forget anything when she cruelly ripped Birgitte out of Tel’aran’rhiod as punishment for interfering in her plans:

Birgitte had not even known who Moghedien was, so long ago, in the Age of Legends, when she foiled Moghedien's finely wrought plan to lay Lews Therin by his heels. But Moghedien had known her. Only, Birgitte - Teadra, she had been then - had died before she could deal with her. Death was no punishment, no end, not when it meant living on here.

- The Fires of Heaven, Dreams of Galad

This punishment was the fulfilment of a vow Moghedien made to Birgitte in the Age of Legends:

"Have you forgotten what Moghedien promised you when we followed Lews Therin? I saw her, Birgitte. She will know you here."…
"Birgitte, what did Moghedien promise you?"
"She knew what I was, even though I did not. How, I do not know." Birgitte glanced at Cain; he appeared absorbed in his sword, but she lowered her voice anyway. “She promised to make me weep alone for as long as the Wheel turns. She said it as a fact that simply had not happened yet.''

- The Shadow Rising, Need

In the Age of Legends Moghedien somehow recognised Birgitte as an incarnated Hero of the Horn. Perhaps she learned the ‘feel’ of their souls from Tel’aran’rhiod, since she is so skilled there, and could recognise such a soul when in the flesh. It would be useful to be able to spot these influential souls when they are spun out into the main world. (If Moghedien could recognise a Hero by their dreams, she surely would have punished Birgitte by pulling her from her dream into Tel’aran’rhiod as the Shadow were wont to do; but she didn't). Moghedien could come to know all the Heroes in Tel'aran'riod since Heroes are only out of Tel’aran’rhiod for a human lifespan and then return. Since Moghedien had lived over 200 years when the Bore was drilled (The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace), plus the 100 years of the Collapse and the 10 years of the War of Power that followed, she lived long enough to have seen all the Heroes in Tel’aran’rhiod at one time or another.

Moghedien didn’t want to just kill Birgitte – for one thing she didn’t think death was sufficient punishment if it meant hanging out with other souls – especially Gaidal - in Tel’aran’rhiod. She knew what Gaidal meant to Birgitte and ripped her from Tel’aran’rhiod in an attempt to separate her from Gaidal forever:

“I am here as I am, and I remember. All is changed. Gaidal is out there, somewhere, an infant, or even a young boy. But even if I find him, what will he think of a woman more than old enough to be his mother?” She scrubbed angrily at her eyes, muttering, “I do not cry. I never cry. I remember that, the Light help me. I never cry.”
Elayne got up on her knees beside the woman’s bed. “You will find him, Birgitte.” She kept her voice low. Nynaeve still seemed sound asleep-a small, rasping snore rose from her regularly-but she needed rest, not to confront this all over again now. “Somehow you will. And he will love you. I know he will.”
“Do you think that is what matters? I could stand him not loving me.” Her glistening eyes gave her the lie. “He will need me, Elayne, and I will not be there. He always has more courage than is good for him; I always must supply him with caution. Worse, he will wander, searching for me, not knowing what he is looking for, not knowing why he feels incomplete. We are always together, Elayne. Two halves of a whole.”
The tears welled up, flowing across her face. “Moghedien said she would make me cry forever, and she...“
Suddenly her features contorted; low ragged sobs came as if ripped from her throat.

- The Fires of Heaven, A New Name

and to continually regret that separation. What Moghedien achieved is something that happens to Birgitte’s soul occasionally although Birgitte is not aware of it (and Moghedien isn’t either):

This was Birgitte Silverbow, hero of a hundred legends?...Besides, those multitudes of images and auras flashed by too quickly for her [Min] to make out any clearly, but she was certain they indicated more adventures than a woman could have in one lifetime. Strangely, some were connected to an ugly man who was older than she, and others to an ugly man who was much younger, yet somehow Min knew they were the same man.

- Winter’s Heart, A Lily in Winter

Min saw that there are two strands to Birgitte’s lives – the regular one Birgitte is aware of, and another she is not where she is much older than Gaidal. Since what Min sees are pieces of the Pattern, and Birgitte is still linked to Gaidal, she is still a Hero. Thankfully, Moghedien failed to separate the two Heroes.

Birgitte will endure much misery in being so much older than Gaidal, and therefore probably not his lover as she would normally expect and wish to be. She is conscious of what they would normally be to each other and feels incomplete without him since they are “two halves” and she cannot know if/when they will resume the ‘normal’ Pattern of their lives. As far as she knows, Moghedien succeeded in separating them forever.

This observation of Elayne’s:

Birgitte was happy playing with them [children], and a touch sad; she always liked playing with children, especially little boys, and she always felt that way when she did. Elayne knew it as well as she knew her own feelings.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

is foreshadowing of Birgitte playing mother to the child Gaidal and how she will feel about it. The feelings could be a carry-over from that other, not-remembered strand of her lives and at the least add a poignancy to Birgitte’s plight.

Will Birgitte forget Gaidal like she fears? When she dies, she will probably return to Tel'aran'rhiod as per normal but won't remember being ripped out and the subsequent events, since she has no knowledge of this strand of her lives, as though it's not a natural state for her soul, but a predicament that happens occasionally.

In her current incarnation in the waking world, she may not forget him – especially if she meets up with Gaidal the child soon. That will only bring a new pain, however…

Monday, May 17, 2010

Crossroads of Twilight Read-through #1: Darkhounds on the Wild Hunt

By Linda

In Crossroads of Twilight we see that the Wild Hunt is on, the Darkhounds coursing with the Dark One’s purpose driving them, even though he is not among them physically. They make a circuit of Perrin’s camp but he is not their quarry. As far as we know, no one has died of Darkhound wounds in the last three books, and the Wild Hunt is still ongoing.

The hounds make their first appearance onscreen in The Dragon Reborn when Rand balefired one. Soon after, a pack was apparently sent by Sammael to hunt Perrin and perhaps Moiraine in Illian. Darkhounds are black dogs as big as small ponies with eyes and teeth that shine like metal in the dark. We have never seen them in full daylight. They smell of brimstone (burned sulphur) – a whiff of hell – and typically come in packs of ten to twelve.

Apart from avoiding daylight, they also dislike running or falling water:

“Darkhounds like clear, moonlit nights best, blacksmith, rain the least. A good thunderstorm can keep them away completely.”

- The Dragon Reborn, Hunted

They run faster than horses and for longer.

“You can never outrun the Darkhounds, blacksmith,” Lan said, “not on the fastest horse. Always, you must face them and defeat them, or they will pull you down.”

- The Dragon Reborn, Hunted

They left no print on even the softest dirt, only on stone, and they would not stop until you faced and defeated them or put running water between you. Crossroads [or graveyards, Crossroads of Twilight, The Scent of a Dream] were supposed to be particularly dangerous places to meet them, and the time just after sunset or just before sunrise.

- The Shadow Rising, Gateways

According to Lan:

“There hasn’t been a Darkhound seen south of the Mountains of Dhoom since the Trolloc Wars.”

- The Dragon Reborn, Shadowbrothers

Hopper’s assertion that the wolves have not seen Darkhounds in a long time (The Dragon Reborn, Shadowbrothers) is consistent with this. Yet later Masuri said she had managed to cross the trails of seven different packs before Crossroads of Twilight, and presumably these were not all in the Blight.

Lan says that Darkhounds are almost as dangerous as Myrddraal, and harder to kill (The Dragon Reborn, Shadowbrothers). The danger of Darkhounds is in their lethally venomous bite, saliva and blood. Moiraine could Heal a minor quantity of Darkhound saliva on a victim, but doubts she could Heal an actual bite (The Shadow Rising, Gateways). Darkhounds are quite capable of biting through wood or metal.

In The Dragon Reborn, one Darkhound was killed by an arrow and the other nine were balefired. By The Shadow Rising, Darkhounds became much harder to kill, being able to reconstitute if killed simply.

Slowly, the dead dogs and their heads were melting, settling into pools of liquid shadow that quivered slightly, as if alive. Their blood, fanned across the floor, trembled. Suddenly the smaller pools flowed across the floor in viscous streams to merge with the larger, which oozed away from the mosaic to mound higher and higher, until the three huge black dogs stood there once more, slavering and snarling as they gathered massive haunches under them… The Darkhounds had oozed away from that sign before re-forming. Under this sign will he conquer.

- The Shadow Rising, Gateways

Possible explanations are that they were either warded by the Forsaken who sent them, or, perhaps more likely, the Dark One’s increasing access to the world enabled him to augment the Darkhounds’ powers or protection. Balefire is necessary to completely kill them.

The ancient Aes Sedai sign is symbolic of the One Power of the Creator and of the two halves and genders working together to make balance, so the Darkhounds’ ‘reaction’ to the sign may have been real. As with other constructs of the Shadow, the True Power they contain is antithetical to the One Power.

Rand speculates that Darkhounds may not breathe since he could hear the heartbeats of the ones that attacked him in Rhuidean, but not their breath (The Shadow Rising, Gateways).

After The Shadow Rising, there is no further evidence of Darkhounds until Crossroads of Twilight when they are sensed near Perrin’s camp.

Masuri, one of the Aes Sedai with Perrin, ‘happens’ to know a great deal about Darkhounds. Why does Perrin ‘need’ a Darkhound expert with him? Two experts really, since Elyas provided information from a wolves’ point of view. Considering what Masuri divulged, she is probably not Black Ajah. Masuri quotes ancient books that refer to large numbers of Darkhound packs. She has studied Darkhounds and says each pack is identifiable, having its own scent. Masuri has personally encountered eight now. Is this why she is important to Perrin?

Like all Shadowsworn, Darkhounds are contentious among themselves and two packs will attack each other if they meet rather than their quarry (The Dragon Reborn, Hunted). Perhaps this feature could be turned to advantage. When large numbers of packs were around during the Trolloc Wars and the War of Power, they must have been controlled in some way to prevent them rending each other – by Forsaken? (Myrddraal are required to make Trollocs effective fighters.)

The scent of Darkhounds, even the thought of them, induces true horror and terror in wolves and makes even Perrin’s skin crawl. This is because Darkhounds have the corrupted souls of wolves and wolves are especially vulnerable to them:

“They were wolves, once. The souls of wolves, anyway, caught and twisted by the Shadow. That was the core used to make Darkhounds, the Shadowbrothers. I think that’s why the wolves have to be at the Last Battle. Or maybe Darkhounds were made because wolves will be there, to fight them…
They avoid talking about Darkhounds, though, and they avoid Darkhounds, too. A hundred wolves could die trying to kill one Shadowbrother. Worse, if they fail, the Darkhound can eat the souls of those that aren’t quite dead yet, and in a year or so, there’d be a new pack of Shadowbrothers that didn’t remember ever being wolves. I hope they don’t remember, anyway.” Perrin reined in, though he itched to keep moving. Shadowbrothers. The wolves’ name for Darkhounds had taken on a new grimness. “Can they eat a man’s soul, Elyas? Say a man who can talk to wolves?” Elyas shrugged.

- Crossroads of Twilight, Whirlpools of Colour

Perhaps Masuri will work out a way to kill Darkhounds or protect wolves (and Perrin and Elyas) from them. Currently only balefire can kill Darkhounds and not many channellers know that weave or are willing to use it. A single channeller has to be very strong, almost as strong as Moiraine to make it work, although they can link, of course. However it is a destructive, or even sinful, weave with terrible consequences for the Pattern and Creation, so an alternative way of killing Darkhounds would be a good idea. Since Masuri is a Borderlander, she should know that wolves fight Shadowspawn and work to protect them.

Perrin and Masuri both deduced the Darkhounds checked out the camp to report on Perrin to the Shadow.

The pack that circled Perrin’s camp is unusually large – perhaps as many as fifty and extremely impatient with their hunt. Their quarry has apparently been eluding them for some time.

The Darkhounds went on in a southerly direction (Crossroads of Twilight, The Scent of a Dream), although they may not be coursing in the right direction, since we have no further news of the Hunt being successful. (Or of someone dying of Darkhound-induced wounds).

If their quarry is eluding the Darkhounds, it either Travels (or is moved by someone else's Travelling weave), or moves by boat (and thus over running water), or has side-stepped the Pattern and is almost outside it (like Fain/Mordeth has).

So who are the Hounds hunting?

  • Someone not of the big Three (whose ta'veren influence can be sensed in the Pattern by some Forsaken and shouldn't need hunting as such - and anyway the Darkhounds did not attack Perrin);

  • someone who doesn’t know balefire;

  • someone who is hard to find, get near and survive; and

  • someone the Shadow wants dead.

I think I’ll put my money on Fain/Mordeth. The Darkhounds on the Wild Hunt hunting a wild card and ex Hound of the Dark One. It seems appropriate.

The real world myths and legends behind the Darkhounds and the Wild Hunt are discussed in the Darkhounds essay originally written for the Wotmania FAQ and now released in the Reference Library.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Article Released: Character Names Parallels - N

By Linda

Today I posted an article on possible sources for character names starting with N in the Reference Library. Nynaeve is the main entry, but Noal, Nesta, Noam and Naean also feature.

Having got myself organised after JordanCon and a short holiday in New York, I plan to commence the read-through of the last three books with short breaks in between. The first post on Crossroads of Twilight is scheduled for Monday.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Part 4 of Costume in the Wheel of Time

By Linda

The section on Almoth Plain and Falme modes of dress was added to the WOT Costume article today. Out of necessity all three ta'veren wore garments of the countryside folk of this area in The Great Hunt. This is the only clothing anti-fashion Perrin has worn that is not of Two Rivers style or make - but more of his attitudes in the Crossroads of Twilight Read-Through beginning here next week. In contrast Rand had an entire wardrobe makeover in Shienar (plus further garments acquired elsewhere) and Mat in Altara.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New Article Released: Character Names Parallels - M

By Linda

The article on possible sources for character names starting with M has been published in the Reference Library. Quite a few major characters and influential secondary characters have their names analysed in this article: Moiraine, Min, Masema, Morgase, Myrelle, not to mention Matrim Cauthon!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Part 3 of Costume in the Wheel of Time

By Linda

Today I've posted the section on Aiel modes of dress to the WOT Costume article, which are mostly utilitarian. Until recently, this society had little variation in dress since the founding of Rhuidean about three thousand years ago. Descriptions of these changes are also included.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Post #3 of 3 Last JordanCon things

By Linda

Once I made the decision to go to JordanCon, I decided to enter into the swing of things and make a costume. I wanted to do something original, yet fun and in the spirit of the series - my take on things, in other words. Being rather busy with blog posts, embroidery commitments for exhibitions and real life (family, work) I also didn’t want to spend a lot of time on it. Maximum results from minimum effort seemed like a good idea.

Since I was travelling internationally, I decided on the Taraboner style which is fairly formfitting, because it would use less fabric and require no complicated underwear and so would weigh less. (And considering how many books I’ve bought this was a brilliant idea). Choice of colour was easy: red and black, Moridin’s colours, referring to my Taim is Moridin theory. I already had a suitable red and black top and so only had to make a skirt and a shawl. I even had suitable jewellery: a necklace of dark grey shiny iron ore beads. The ore appears metallic yet is blood red in powdered form. The symbolism seemed right.

The skirt didn’t take long to make; it’s a simple style in a non-crushable black fabric. I already had made a black shawl for another occasion and the fabric was really apt, being a machine-embroidered ground of roses. I removed its beaded fringe and replaced it with one of black and red wool. Then came the flame – or should it be dragon’s fang? I decided on ambivalence as you can see in the photos. I had seen an eighteenth century costume detail of a corded motif oversewn with a complementary thread. So I outlined the flame/fang with shiny black cord and embroidered it with the same red wool used in the fringe. My costume was complete!

I saw many excellent costumes at the Con – lovely embroidered shawls and dresses, wonderfully Constructed creatures, convincing main characters. Jason of Dragonmount was Rand in beaten up mode, with a positively necrotic looking side wound and all.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Post #2 of 3 Last JordanCon Things

By Linda

Having travelled so far to come to JordanCon and the east coast of the US and endured considerable jetlag, I realised something new about Travelling in WOT. Channellers move from Cairhien to Seanchan or from Arad Doman to the Aiel Waste and the only tiredness they might feel is from the channelling effort. Moving instantly from place to place might seem fantastical, but doing so without any disturbance to circadian rhythms? Now that’s fantasy.

Another thing is that no character has changed hemispheres onscreen in the books as I did. It was awful losing my sense of direction due to the shadows pointing the wrong way: I literally lost the sun. Normally I have an excellent sense of direction but with the sun's location reversed, I had to consciously work out where east or west must be. Adapting took me about as long as it took to recover from jetlag.

And Sunday night I do it all over again for the return trip...the LONGER return trip!